19 August 1959

23rd Parliament · 1st Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the Government has decided to resume land in the Tullamarine area, Melbourne, for use in the future as an aerodrome. If so, will the Minister provide the Senate with a description of the precise areas to be resumed? Is it intended that the Tullamarine area will be used as an aerodrome for Boeing 707 and similar aircraft? Will the new Tullamarine area replace the present Essendon aerodrome as the future centre for Melbourne air operations?

Minister for Civil Aviation · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– Yes, the Government has announced its decision to resume certain land at Tullamarine. The question of resumption is currently under discussion between the Department of the Interior, the Department of Civil Aviation and the land-owners, but at the moment it is neither appropriate nor possible to indicate the exact areas that will be resumed. The extent of the development of Tullamarine, together with other aerodrome development in Australia, is being considered by an inter-departmental committee, the appointment of which was announced some time ago by Mr. McEwen in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister. That committee will report to Cabinet, and a final statement on the matter will necessarily have to await consideration of that report.

It is true that the development of an aerodrome at Tullamarine will makeit possible to handle types of aircraft which it is not possible to handle adequately at Essendon at the present moment, but it is expected that certain domestic operations will continue at Essendon for a good many years to come.

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SenatorO’BYRNE. - By way of a preface to my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, I draw attention to the high and growing density of motor cars on our roads, to the consequent high accident rate and to the frequency with which the victims of accidents are taken to hospital in an unconscious condition. Some of the victims may be suffering from diabetes, epilepsy or haemophilia, but doctors are unable to diagnose immediately that an injured person is suffering from one of these complaints as well as the concussion caused by the accident. Is the Minister acquainted with a proposal put forward in Tasmania by the Minister for Health, Dr. Gaha, that Tasmanians should carry a medical identity card bearing a record of immunizations, inoculations, sensitivity and allergy to drugs - sulfanilamides and others - and when appropriate, information concerning diabetes, epilepsy and haemophilia? It is proposed that the card should also state the holder’s blood group and contain a record of tuberculosis and cancer X-rays. Has a similar proposition been considered for residents of the Australian Capital Territory and other Territories under Commonwealth jurisdiction? If so, would the Minister take steps to initiate a uniform medical identity card that would be acceptable to all States, so that code numbers and other references on the cards could be readily interpreted by any medical officer in any State?

Senator HENTY:
Minister for Customs and Excise · TASMANIA · LP

– I am sure that the Minister for Health is fully aware of the proposal put forward by Dr. Gaha. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper, it will be brought to the attention of the Minister for Health, and in due course he will furnish a reply stating whether he is prepared to implement this proposal in the Territories which come under the direction of the Commonwealth.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the spate of publicity given to the fact that certain overseas aircraft were diverted from Mascot airport last Sunday, will the Minister inform the Senate whether there were any exceptional or unusual climatic circumstances on that day which caused the situation? Does the Minister consider that there is any urgent need to lengthen the alternate cross-strip to the jet strip at Mascot? Is there any strip in Victoria suitable for the landing of the largest jet aircraft? If so, how far from the city is it? Is the Adelaide airstrip suitable for the landing of overseas jet airliners? If not, is it possible to lengthen the present strip, and is it intended to do so?


– There were quite exceptional climatic conditions prevailing in Sydney last Sunday. That, in fact, was the reason for the diversion of the two aircraft from Sydney to Brisbane. The wind speed at the time approximated 30 to 40 miles an hour, which caused the permissible cross wind component of the particular aircraft concerned to exceed the maximum. I hasten to assure the honorable senator and, indeed, the Senate, that there was nothing very exceptional about the diversion of the aircraft. That does not happen on a great number of occasions. Indeed, it is not anticipated that climatic conditions will make diversions necessary more than two or three times a year. Diversion of aircraft is part and parcel of ordinary airline operations. I think that the fact that these aircraft were diverted on Sunday has received a degree of publicity rather greater than was warranted by the circumstances.

The honorable senator will be aware that in Victoria the Avalon airstrip is being used by Boeing jet aircraft for training purposes. From an answer which I gave earlier this afternoon, she will be aware of investigations which are being made in connexion with the provision of a new airport to serve Melbourne. As far as Adelaide is concerned, both runways therewould have to be lengthened to take the larger types of aircraft, but fortunately there is plenty of room at Adelaide to enable this to be done, if ever the need should be established.

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– I preface a question directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General by saying that in another place last week the PostmasterGeneral accused metropolitan television interests of peddling the story that country television stations could not operate without the financial and other support of city stations. He warned the capitalistic city in terests that the Government would stop any cornering of programme material by city television stations to the detriment of country interests, and so would ensure that programmes would be available to country stations. We all loudly applaud the strictures so capably made by the PostmasterGeneral.


– Order! The honorable senator will ask his question.


– Yes, I shall do so now. I have searched newspapers published last Thursday in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, and I cannot find one sentence containing the Government’s pledge on country television. Will the Postmaster-General ascertain from the capitalistic press its reasons for deliberately suppressing this important statement, and will he instruct the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that when licences are issued to commercial stations in future a clause will be inserted that will prevent domination by the capital city octopus?


– lt has been fully explained in a statement made a few days ago in another place by the Postmaster-General, and in a statement by me that is now before the Senate, that it is the Government’s policy to establish television in various phases. The first phase was the establishment of television in Melbourne and Sydney; the second phase is its establishment in the other capital cities and the third will be its establishment in country towns and country areas generally. It is also the Government’s policy, as implemented by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, that no station shall be fully owned or dominated by newspaper interests. I presume that this policy will be applied in the case of country stations, and that capital will be raised for such stations in areas where they are to be situated.

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Senator COOKE:

– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Government of Western Australia has submitted to the Commonwealth a request for approval of the expenditure of money on a water conservation and irrigation scheme on the Ord River in the north of Western Australia? Is it also a fact that the Commonwealth Government has some diffidence about approving a payment from its grant of £5,000,000 to allow this scheme to be proceeded with? Further, is it a fact that the Premier or the Minister for the North-West in the Western Australian Government will have to place certain information before the Commonwealth Government and parley with it with the object of getting the Commonwealth’s approval of this scheme? Is the Commonwealth Government applying duress to the State Government in relation to the scheme, which was approved by the last Government of Western Australia and also by the present Government of that State?

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

– As I understand the situation, the Government of Western Australia is most appreciative indeed of the fact that the Commonwealth has doubled its grant for the development of the north of Western Australia. That, of course, is an unprecedented act of practical encouragement for the development of the north-west of Australia - something that the Labour Party never even dreamt would happen. Now, as we have shown practical evidence of our desire to develop this area and as the people of Western Australia are most appreciative of the forward-looking policy of the Menzies Government, the Labour Party is trying to throw a spanner in the works. Let none of us pretend that either Senator Cooke or the Labour Party is interested in the development of the Ord River area. Of course, they are not. All they are concerned about is decrying the efforts of the Menzies Government.

Senator Cooke:

Mr. President, I take exception to that answer. Really, it is not an answer; it is abuse.


– Order!

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Senator SCOTT:

– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise received representations from Western Australia seeking the admission of 12 ft. Claas self-propelled harvesters from West Germany into Australia duty-free? Is it a fact that in the past these harvesters have been admitted duty-free, but that now a 30 per cent, duty is charged? If that is so, why has this action been taken? In view of the fact that West Germany is a good customer for Western Australian produce, especially oats, will the Minister reconsider this matter?

Senator HENTY:

– It is a fact that 1 have received representations from a number of organizations in Western Australia in relation to the admission into Australia, under by-law provisions, of 12-ft. Claas harvesters. These harvesters were always admitted under by-law provisions until similar machines were manufactured in Australia. Similar machines were manufactured in this.. country during the past season, so the by-law admission of harvesters from overseas no longer applies and the duty that has been recommended by the Tariff Board now comes into operation.

The fact that West Germany is a good customer of Western Australia has no bearing on the by-law admission of these harvesters. The only jurisdiction I have is to decide whether a suitable equivalent article is reasonably available in Australia. I have been convinced that a similar machine is available here. Therefore, I am unable to admit harvesters into Australia other than at the proper tariff rate.

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– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Some months ago I asked the Minister for Civil Avation whether the European Common Market would have a serious effect upon Australian civil aviation activities in the light of the fact that at least two important European-based airlines are now actively operating in Australia. Similarly, I asked whether the European Common Market would affect shipping tonnage seeing that French, German and particularly Italian shipping companies are doing big business with Australia. So far I have had no reply. I also asked the Minister to ascertain from the Minister for Immigration whether the European Common Market would affect the Australian migration programme, but I have not had any reply to that question. Now I ask the Leader of the Government in this place whether, when these- matters are being looked into, he will kindly ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether trade officials and secondary and primary industries are. disturbed at the foreboding omens of- the Common Market im the light of the fact that in 1957-58 Australia, sent 22 per cent, of its total exports, valued at £183,000,000 out. of a. total of £800,000,000, to the six countries, concerned, and. in the light of. the fact, that in the ten months ended, in. April, 1959, Australian exports to those six countries had dropped, to. 16. per cent Will the Minister also ascertain, whether the European. Common Market is responsible for the. disappointment that has been expressed, im the United Kingdom because only two. nuclear reactors have been sold by that country to. overseas interests?

Senator SPOONER:

– As the Minister representing the encyclopedia, I can- only do my best to grapple with such a question. With respect to Senator Hendrickson, it involved almost every portfolio in the Cabinet. The main thing in which I am interested’ is the honorable senator’s statement that he is not getting replies to his questions’. I have looked at the business paper and I find that there is no question dealing with any of these matters awaiting a- reply. So1 far as I am, concerned, replies have been furnished to all the questions that the honorable senator has asked. If he will direct my attention to questions to which he has not been given answers, I will ensure that he receives answers. Questions relating to European economic and trade treaty matters are not easy to answer in the best of circumstances, and I take a great interest in seeing the replies that go forward. Should there be a question in the statement that the honorable senator has made, I will have it answered if he places it on the notice-paper.

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– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether it is a fact, that a 32,000-ton tanker, is at present under construction at Whyalla- for Ampol Petroleum Limited? Is it also a fact that the Commonwealth is paying a considerable part of the cost of this vessel by way of a subsidy? Is it correct that this company proposes to use a non-Australian crew to sail the vessel once it is completed? If so, will the Minister intervene to see that the- taxpayers’ money is not spent to sub sidize ships– the owners of which refuse to employ Australian, crews,, even though, such ships are; to- ply between Australian, ports and; other parts of. the world?:


– Yes, it is a fact that a 32,000-ton tanker is being built at Whyalla for the Ampol petroleum company. The decision of the Government, which it was thought would be approved by the majority of people in Australia, was taken in order to further the interests, not only of shipbuilding in this country, but of all’ the trades which benefit from shipbuilding, and’ of all the people who derive direct or indirect employment as. a result of shipbuilding. The subsidy is not payable to the Ampol petroleum company or to the. shipowner. It is. payable to the builder, and. it is payable; to the builder- in order that the ship will; become available: to the shipowner at a price roughly comparable with the- price at which- it could be obtained ia a British yard. The. Government agreed, I repeat-,, to subsidize this- vessel for the- purposes, which- I’ have- mentioned-. It was thought desirable that shipbuilding should be. given a further fillip, and I believe that that, decision was endorsed by the large numbers of people employed, in shipbuilding.

The vessel will be engaged, as I’ understand, it, in the carriage of oil products from overseas ports to Australia. That being the case, and as the ship will not be engaged in the coastal trade, it will not be obligatory on the company to employ an Australian crew. What is to be done will be decided by the shipowners when the ship: has: been completed.

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Senator SCOTT:

– I direct, to the Minister for National Development a question relating to the recent embargo placed by the Commonwealth on the export of beryl. Will he inform the Senate who is the agent who acts- on behalf of the Commonwealth for the purchase of beryl, whether the Commonwealth- Government is paying an adequate price for beryl in Australia, and whether the price, compares favorably with the price obtainable overseas? I should also like to know whether the Commonwealth Government believes that it is obtaining sufficient quantities of beryl. If not, is it prepared to increase the price?

Senator SPOONER:

– My recollection is that the buying arrangements for beryl vary from State to State. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission, which has the conduct of the matter, has appointed various people in the different States. 1 am sure that the price being obtained locally compares favorably with world parity because a good deal of thought and care was given to what would be a sufficiently attractive price to encourage the mining and production of beryl. The question relates to a matter of some detail and of some importance. Although I have given this answer to it, I should like Senator Scott to place it on the notice-paper so that I may make quite certain that what I have said is correct.

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asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. In view of the vital interest of South-East Asia to Australia and the limited knowledge of Asian affairs among Australian people, will the Prime Minister arrange for an authority from the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University to visit the larger cities and towns of Australia and give a series of lectures on various aspects of the subject?
  2. Since South Australia last year set an excellent example to- the- other States by arranging the first and overwhelmingly successful Asian festival, thus demonstrating an awakening interest in this highly important subject which well deserves stimulation and encouragement, will the Prime Minister see that South Australia is not by-passed on this occasion, as it has been on others, should an itinerary be prepared for such an authority?
Senator SPOONER:

– The Prime Minister has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2. I agree that an understanding of Asian affairs is important to Australia. To assist in achieving this end, the Minister for External Affairs arranges tours of Australia by a number of persons from Asian countries, and South Australia is frequently included in these visits. With regard to the specific proposal concerning the Australian National University, this is a matter for the University authorities to determine in the light of their own policies and. resources. The question has, therefore, been referred to the ViceChancellor of the Australian National University.

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asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Has the seventh quinquennial report been received by this Superannuation Board as forecast in the 36th annual report of the board?
  2. If so, does the Government propose to introduce amending legislation this session?
  3. In view of the “healthy” condition of the fund, as set out in the last report, will the Government give favorable consideration to (a) the payment of the full pension to contributors’ widows, many of whom are receiving pensions which are not the equivalent of the age pension, and (b) providing an increase in the dependent child’s pension rate, bearing in mind that the Commonwealth payment in respect of widows is lower than the rates paid by State governments?

– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -

  1. No.
  2. See answer to No. 1.
  3. The Government will bring down legislation to provide the increased benefits referred to in the Budget speech. The widow’s pension will be increased from one-half to five-eighths of the full pension on a contributory basis.

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Second Annual Report

Senator SPOONER:
New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development · LP

– by leave - For the information of honorable senators, I present to the Senate the Second Annual Report of the National Radiation Advisory Committee. In explanation, I mention that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will make a statement in precisely the same terms in another place. The statement is as follows: -

I do not wish to say a great deal because the report speaks most ably for itself. The members of this committee are, as honorable members know, among the most eminent scientists in this country, so that what they have to say in this report must carry great weight. The report is expressed in the most simple lay language and the story it tells is enormously reassuring. We have, as the report says, been fed a diet of news and reports about radiation and its hazards which, to say the least, has been alarming. It is cheering, then, to learn from these eminent scientists that their painstaking investigations over the last year have shown that Australia is one of the “ cleanest “ countries in the world. Indeed, to take a case, the report establishes that the average accumulation of strontium 90 in Australian soils in August, 1958, was about one third of that found in the United Kingdom, one fourth of that found in most areas of the United States, and only one seventh of thai in the mid-western United States. The report goes on to say that the maximum permissible concentration of strontium 90 in the human body laid down by the Committee of the International Commission on Radiological Protection is 110 times greater than the concentration measured in-

Australian infants and 660 times that in adults. These are only two examples which I have culled from this report. I commend the whole text to you so that you may make your own evaluation of the “scare” stories to which we have been subjected.

Two other points in the report to which I feel I should refer concern the use of x-rays in medical practice and the whole question of control of ionizing radiation. Concerning the use of x-rays in medicine, the committee has pointed out in its previous report the dangers that can be associated with their use. In this report its members repeat their warning, but also refer again to the equal dangers which could obtain if public alarm became so great that people were to become unwilling to avail themselves of the necessary use of x-rays in medical practice. I mention this point because I feel that it should be underlined so that people will not subject themselves unnecessarily to even greater dangers through not using this important aid to medical practice.

So far as the control of the uses of ionizing radiation is concerned, the committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government should accept responsibility for the legislative control of all uses of ionizing radiation throughout Australia. Honorable members will understand that this presents constitutional problems as well as other problems, but the committee’s recommendation will be considered by the Government and discussed with the States.

The committee also reports the resignation of Sir Macfarlane Burnet who has been chairman of the committee since its inception. Sir Macfarlane has found that increasing personal commitments make it impossible for him to continue on the committee. However, honorable members well know that the contributions he has made to the committee already have been of outstanding value.I venture to say that only his great sense of public duty has made him find the time which he has already devoted to the work of the committee. In a period when, with all the great modern developments of this nuclear age, we have been alarmed by conflicting stories of dangers of radiation, Australia owes much to Sir Macfarlane and, of course, to the other members of the committee, for the work put into this report and the previous report.

I lay on the table the following paper: -

Second Annual Report to the Prime Minister by the National Radiation Advisory Committee - and move -

That the paper be printed.

Debate (on motion by Senator O’Flaherty) adjourned.

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Senator SPOONER:
Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development · New South Wales · LP

– by leave - I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister. It is in the precise terms used by the right honorable gentleman in another place, and is as follows: -

The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has left Australia on a visit to SouthEast Asia and Europe. The Minister left Australia on 17th August for Singapore and Bangkok, where he will attend the last day of a regional conference of External Affairs’ South-East Asian Heads of Mission. From Bangkok, he will proceed to Europe, spending about two days at each of our posts at Rome, Paris and Bonn, and a week in London for discussions prior to the United Nations Assembly, which commences on 15th September. The Minister will visit Ottawa before going to the United States where he will also attend the Arctic Conference at Washington on 15th October, and an Anzus meeting, the date of which has yet to be arranged. On his return journey, he will represent Australia at the Ministerial Colombo Plan Conference to be held at Djakarta from 10th November to 13th November, after which he will return to Australia.

The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) will act as Minister for External Affairs while Mr. Casey is abroad, and the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) will act as Minister in charge of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

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Debate resumed from 13th August (vide page 106), on motion by Senator Sir Walter Cooper -

That the following paper: -

Extension of Television Services - Statement by the Postmaster-General - be printed.


– When the Senate adjourned last Thursday, I was addressing myself to the statement issued by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) on 30th April last concerning the Government’s policy with respect to the extension of television services to rural areas. I had pointed out that the statement was clear-cut and easily understood by the Parliament and the people. I mentioned that it confirms that the Government is continuing with the policy that it embarked upon when it started to encourage the development of television in Australia. I believe, as I think all other honorable senators do, that the people of Australia understand and accept that policy as being in the best interests of all sections of the community so far as this new and growing industry of television is concerned. I feel certain that the people of Australia are very thrilled indeed to know that, thanks to the speedy development of this Government’s policy, this great medium of entertainment and education will be available to 75 per cent, of our population within a comparatively short time.

The story of the development of television in Australia is one of great achievement, and I feel that the Parliament and the people should express their gratitude to those who are responsible - the Government for formulating the policy, the administrative and executive officers in the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and, by no means the least, private enterprise with its money, know-how and great technical knowledge. They have all worked as a team in this great achievement in Australia and they deserve full credit for this success.

Speaking of teamwork, I was privileged to be in Sydney on Friday afternoon. There, in the hotel lounge, I was able to view a telecast of the arrival at Canberra airport of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. I had been privileged to be at the Canberra airport when Her Majesty the Queen arrived some years ago, and I can say now that I had a better view of the arrival of the Princess than I had of the arrival of Her Majesty. Princess Alexandra’s arrival was amazingly efficiently photographed and the image on the television screen was excellent. We were able to follow the plane down and to see the royal visitor very clearly. Further, the commentary by Michael Charlton did everything to put the people who were viewing the telecast right into the picture, right at the airport, as it were. I believe that the commercial stations and the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission worked as a team to obtain that telecast for the people of Melbourne and Sydney, and I take this opportunity of congratulating them.

We have had from the Labour Party a great deal of criticism of the statement issued by the Postmaster-General. Of course, it is in opposition, and its members are entitled to criticize, but an analysis of that criticism would seem to indicate that it is based almost wholly on the fact that honorable senators opposite are hurt at the thought that private enterprise is to have any interest or power in television in Australia. In effect, they have assured the people of Australia that if they had been in power when television was to be developed in this country it would be controlled solely by the socialist government, that there would be no room for private enterprise to enter into it. They can see no good in anything this Government has done to encourage the setting up of companies to operate commercial television stations. One Labour Party spokesman whose statements get more publicity than do those of his leader, was reported recently as having advocated that the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television channels should sell advertising. I mention that to illustrate how stupid and socialistic members of the Labour Party can get in their outlook. I am certain that the people of Australia would be disgusted if commercial advertising were introduced into the national television programmes, just as they would be disgusted if the Australian Broadcasting Commission introduced commercial advertising over the national radio stations.

The Labour Party does not seem to alter its thinking. It just will not wake up to the facts of life so far as the Australian people are concerned, and I take this opportunity of telling the Australian Labour Party that it is my sincere view that the majority of Australians do not now and never will want the Government to be in sole control of any business, amenity or form of education on entertainment. Some people may like that, but the majority of the people like as little government interference in and control of these things as possible. I am certain that the majority of the Australian people would abhor the thought of commercial advertising being undertaken by government institutions.

Some criticisms, insinuations and even allegations have been made about shareholdings in public television companies. I wonder how many of the critics decreased their fat bank credits in order to buy a few shares in these companies, and I wonder how pleased they are when they find that they can sell those shares at a profit even now.

I believe that the Government has made an honest and effective attempt to prevent what it would dislike - a monopoly control of private enterprise television in Australia. The statement made by the PostmasterGeneral shows clearly that that is the continuing policy of the Government. In the rural areas to which television is to be extended, if possible local companies that have no relationship with the main city interests will be chosen to provide the services. lt has also been emphasized that in these rural areas there will be dual services, provided by private enterprise and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I believe that that is a policy that the people of Australia wish to see carried out. Of course, there must in time be certain business connexions between the companies that are dealing in this great medium of education and entertainment.

I feel certain that the Government realizes that it has a continuing responsibility in respect of overseeing television in Australia. It must continue to strive to encourage the improvement and the lifting of the standards of programmes. It must be at great pains to see that it eradicates from television any programmes that could harm the morals of the younger generation. Television is a splendid and powerful means of education and entertainment, but it must be watched. I would hate to think that television could sink so low as some of the magazines and papers that are published in Australia and that flood our bookshops. In my opinion, they do a great deal of harm to the younger generation of Australia. As far as the home is concerned, those magazines can be fairly well controlled, but 1 do not think the same degree of control can be exercised in the home to prevent children watching programmes that are harmful to them. Therefore, it is up to the Government to see that it has the machinery to eradicate such programmes from television.

During the weekend I noticed an article in one of our newspapers almost questioning the right of members of the Parliament to speak about television, and the statement that is before the chamber. The newspaper article implied that members knew nothing about the subject and, therefore, should not express their views. I take strong exception to that attitude. If only experts were to speak on the subjects that arise in the Parliament, there would be very few speeches made here, and not many views would be expressed, because we cannot be experts on all the many subjects that come before us for discussion. Without being too critical, I would say that if editors wrote leading articles only on subjects on which they were fully qualified to write, we would not have many of the leading articles that we now have to wade through. I believe that an editor has every right to express his view on every subject, and I claim that right also for every member of the Parliament, no matter on which side he may be. It is our duty to express our views.

Being a Tasmanian, I have not seen many television programmes in Australia, but 1 did see several programmes during the weekend. However, two years ago, as Senator Benn will recall, I was privileged for six weeks to see quite a lot of television in New York. I watched television at various hours of the day and on various days of the week, whenever I had an opportunity. I can say quite honestly that never once did I see on television in America anything which could be harmful or which could be objected to by any person of any age who was viewing the programmes. That was two years ago, but I believe that the programmes have gone on improving. As a result of talking to a few people in Sydney and Melbourne in recent weeks - I knew that this subject was coming up for discussion in the Senate - I have ascertained that many viewers, particularly grown-ups, feel that too much Western trash is being shown. They also feel that far too many commercials are being crowded in during “ spot “ hours. But they take a philosophical view, accepting that television is -young in Australia. It is gradually being developed, and public demand and pressure by the advertisers will gradually improve the programmes. I think that is just common sense. Television is young in Australia, and it should improve.

Australia is developing television along the right lines, and we, as members of Parliament, should give every encouragement and every credit to those taking part in the development of this industry. I conclude toy saying that, as a member of the Government parties, I am proud of the way in which the Government is developing television in Australia.

Senator COOKE:
Western Australia

– It is pleasing to have a statement from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) in relation to the extension of television services in Australia, and it is good to know that country areas in certain parts of Australia are being considered.

I was rather interested in the complaint by Senator Marriott that a certain newspaper had taken exception to members of Parliament discussing this statement, on the ground that they are not fully qualified to speak on the subject with which the statement deals. I would remind Senator Marriott that when, as he so often does, he talks about Labour’s policy and what Labour stands for, rather than about what his own party stands for, he is talking of something of which he is very ignorant indeed. He knows far less about Labour’s policy than, he knows about television, and he has admitted that he knows very little about that.

I do not profess to know very much about television either, but I would make the observation that Labour strongly objects to the policy of this Government which allows television and other media of propaganda and the dissemination of news in Australia to become concentrated in the hands of powerful monopolies which, to a large extent, are controlled by interests outside Australia, by virtue of their press associations. We are very fearful of what will happen. I think that, to a large extent, we have forced the statement from the PostmasterGeneral that, in granting licences for television stations in country areas, the Government will avoid, as far as possible, the tentacles of the octopus that is already, not only dictating what the people shall have in the way of propaganda, news and entertainment, but also, to some degree, dictating to the Government. Although that assertion will be strongly denied by Government supporters, it has been very clearly borne out. The board established by the Government to advise it in respect of these very matters twice submitted recommendations to the Government, and twice the Government refused to accept them. That is a rather serious matter, because the board consists of properly appointed and qualified persons dealing with a subject which the Government, with full confidence, appointed them to consider. As a matter of fact, the Parliament appointed them. These experts analysed the position and made their reports. The Government said: “ We will not accept these recommendations. Take them away.” In the ultimate result, control went into the hands of the very combine that has such a powerful influence and such a tight strangle hold on the dissemination of news and propaganda.

I have not seen the article that Senator Marriott referred to. I suggest that we are better engaged in discussing subjects about which we have knowledge. We do know that a statutory board of experts appointed by the Government made a close scrutiny of the position and recommended a certain line of action in the allocation of licences, but that the Government disregarded its recommendation and handed the licences to what is probably the strongest combine engaged in the dissemination of news in Australia, with associations throughout the world.

Western Australia has not had the privilege of enjoying television programmes. The latest report I have shows that the first test transmissions have been postponed from 17th August to 31st August. The delay was caused by an accident during tower construction. A damaged section had to be replaced, and further delay was caused by bad weather. The report reads -

Target date for the official opening by the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner, is October 16. Apart from the tower mishap, TVW’s plans are proceeding according to schedule.

The transmitter building is completed and equipment installed, and the installation crews have now moved to the studio building at Tuart Hill (Perth suburb).

We are so far along the track. There is the possibility of test programmes from 31st August onwards. The extension of television to country areas in Western Australia seems to be very far away indeed. Television was established in eastern States before many country areas in Western Australia received reasonable broadcasting services. Even now in huge sections of Western Australia, north of Geraldton, it is difficult to achieve reasonable reception of national and commercial radio transmissions. While commercial and national stations in eastern States are doing a very good job in providing television services in more populous areas, there is a definite duty on the Government to ensure that the other States which, in taxes and otherwise, pay equally for services, get more consideration.

Commercial stations have been established and are progressing satisfactorily. Government supporters are pleased to be able to say that shares in the companies controlling these stations are selling at a premium, and that high profits in the early stages are most likely. But we must not forget the terrifically high charges being exacted from industry for advertising on television. These terrifically high charges are added to the cost of the goods advertised. The fact that television companies are expecting a great margin of profit, together with the buoyancy of their shares, shows that there should be some regulation of the time in which they can amortize capital expenditure and return such big profits. I am quite satisfied that there is a ramp in this advertising. People advertising their products on television are allowed to deduct these expenses from their incomes for taxation purposes, while the amount is added to the cost of the article, which is ultimately passed on to the consumer, resulting in a rise in the cost of living. Recently, I read a report from America to the effect that operators of television stations there regard 80,000 dollars an hour as a reasonable charge for advertising. That is hard to conceive in a country such as this. These charges force up the cost of articles advertised, and this is an aspect that should be watched in the extension of television.

Then we must consider the quite serious matter of the type and quality of programmes presented on television. Technically, the black and white pictures are comparable with those presented anywhere else in the world, and some of the shows are really worth looking at, but most of the commercial stations utilize second-grade films depicting cowboys and Indians, murder, and all sorts of other crimes. The standard of these programmes could be markedly improved. These presentations are being rehashed, and when television comes to Western Australia we shall get the worn-out programmes from eastern

States, and the same old tripey films. We should seek programmes that will foster the cultural uplift of our children, who spend quite a lot of time viewing televised programmes. Television can be a very powerful medium of propaganda.

I watched television in Melbourne last Sunday night. From about 6 p.m. onwards, I saw seven programme items which depicted cowboys and Indians, other forms of shooting - good fun, and all revolver work - and a crime story. The evening’s presentation centred on a glorification of crime, murder and shooting. We finished up with a wrestling exhibition by some American clowns, lt was all very entertaining, but nearly all the programmes were imported. There was nothing with an Australian character. So I think there is very great room for improvement in that direction.

The Government proposes to extend television services to certain nominated areas in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. I speak on this matter mainly to make a plea to the Government to give greater and early attention to the extension of television services in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. Even up to this late date, the power of radio broadcasts in Western Australia has not been stepped up sufficiently for people in Geraldton or north of the 20th parallel of latitude to receive programmes satisfactorily. Probably the Government stands to receive very good revenue from commercial stations, but I think it should extend its services into these outer areas of Western Australia which bear their share of the burden of taxation and the overall cost of maintaining services such as those that are provided by the Postal Department. I feel that very early consideration should be given by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Government to making available better radio and television facilities in Western Austrafia, South Australia and Queensland.


Mr. Deputy President, I join with other honorable senators in commending the Government upon proceeding with the third, and what is probably the most difficult, phase of the introduction of television into Australia. I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) upon the success he has achieved to date. 1 quite agree with the statement of Senator Marriott that the story of television in this country is one of achievement The first phase, as we all know, provided television for Sydney and Melbourne and the second phase extended television services to other capitacities. In this third phase, applications will be called for licences to be granted in country areas.

We all remember the accusations thai were made three years ago when the Government stated that it would, proceed with the introduction of television gradually so that it would not at any time impose undue strain on our social and economic conditions. Senator McKellar pointed out just how fortunate we in Australia had been in being able to avoid the mistakes experienced by countries that pioneered the television field. It was felt in the United States of America that television would find its own level, with the result that many mistakes were made. From the time of the introduction of television, America has been very busy uncovering and rectifying its mistakes. Television proved to be very costly in Canada, and the Canadians were forced to revise and readjust their ideas at an early date. In the United Kingdom, television was introduced with a single government station. Later a commercial station was added, and the introduction of commercial television was followed by a demand for a commercial broadcasting system.

As Senator Marriott has pointed out, Opposition senators have continually advocated the establishment in Australia of a single monopoly governmentcontrolled station. Despite what Senator Cooke says, the Government has followed its policy of belief in the necessity to foster enterprise, so it decided to introduce a dual system of television, and that system has been very successful.

Senator Cooke:

– Labour introduced a dual system in the radio broadcasting field. We had nothing to do with television. You are talking about something you know nothing about.


– I remind Senator Cooke that it is the policy of the socialist party to have a monopoly system of mass propaganda. That is the reason why the Labour Party has continuously advocated the establishment of monopolies in this country. Although members of that party talk about capitalist monopolies, they themselves are the greatest advocates of national monopolies.

Senator Mattner:

– They cannot even run their own monopoly properly.


– That is very true. The Government’s decision has been vindicated by the fact that Australia is ahead of most other countries technically, in variety of programmes and certainly financially - particularly countries that are operating with a system controlled and operated by the government.

I should like to congratulate my Victorian colleague, Senator Hannan, upon the speech he made. Senator Hannan has a great knowledge of television and radio transmission, and I think he paid a very well deserved tribute to the skill of Australian technicians and the standards that have been attained in this country. I know very little about the technical aspects of television, but I have watched a few: programmes. Programmes have been subjected to criticism, some of which was reasoned but much of which was extremely prejudiced. Television, as a medium, has come under fire. I think it was Senator Cameron who criticized it. We should recall that Sir Richard Boyer has said that television of itself is neither good nor bad. 1 believe that is true. In making that statement, Sir Richard said -

It is a wonderful technical advance in human engineering which can give immense rewards if rightly used or be our undoing if employed without a due sense of what is at stake.

I believe that the best way of using it rightly is to foster a vigorous and healthy competition between stations and to maintain good ethical standards. Through competition we have been able to test the tastes and requirements of the Australian public and to correct or dispense with many of the objectionable features of television.

In Australia to-day we have a very wide choice of programmes, and in this connexion I again agree with my colleague, Senator Hannan. In both Sydney, which has a population of a little more than 2,000,000 people, and Melbourne, which has a population of more than 1,750,000, three stations - one national and two commercial, stations - are operating. I understand that the figures available show that that system gives a wider programme variety to the people of. those cities than is enjoyed in any other city in the world. We have heard a lot of talk about western and crime films on television. I. am one of those people who would be satisfied to see less of both; but we must remember that, when all is said and done, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Western stories and films have had a very high reading and audience rating.

Away back in the early days there were western stories, in magazines; later, there were western silent films, and more recently still there have been western sound films. Now we have westerns on television. According to audience rating,, there is a demand for western pictures. They are not cheap to produce, and they certainly appeal to many people. L agree with those who would like to see less violence in films depicting crime, but we have to realize, whether we like it or not, that crime is with us. It is a part of our life and it probably always will be. Whether or not pictures are responsible for more crime is something that has as yet not been proven.

One of the extraordinary things about television is that whilst the early reports on the impact of television were startling and in many cases almost frightening, later surveys have been revising and in some instances completely contradicting earlier surveys. Probably, the types of films have altered, but it is still true that the class of picture that was once considered harmful is to-day being regarded by people of authority on the subject as not detrimental to behaviour. Probably one of the reasons why this is so is that the constant portrayal in a visual manner of the fact that crime does not pay,, and that the bad boy and the bad girl always lose out, while the good ones attain the reward, is having effect. I am reliably informed by people who know something about the subject that these conditions do exist.

I agree that opinions are always debatable and that they are generally inconclusive. It was particularly interesting to hear an opinion that was expressed by Senator Cameron when he spoke last week. In the course of his remarks he quoted a professor in California who had said that, television programmes in America were having a most demoralizing effect on the peopleRecently I picked, up a newspaper, and strangely enough I found that a Dr. Frank Baxter, a university professor in California who did a programme called “Shakespeare “, had discovered that when that film was being shown at a centre, the volumes of Shakespeare’s plays disappeared completely from the library shelves. That supports the argument that was put forward by Senator Hannan, that viewers follow television productions by reading the story, or by reading about the subject of the production. Therefore, I agree completely with those people who say that television can be of enormous value to education.

Those honorable senators who listened to the panel interview of Dr. Frederick, of the University of Melbourne, last Sunday night, or who read an account of it, will be aware that he advocated a special channel to be set aside for educational purposes only. In the Melbourne press to-day I read that Mrs. Frost, the secretary to the National Council of Women in Victoria, had made a similar recommendation.

When we first debated television in this chamber I said that it had been claimed that radio had run a road to every door and that probably television would take the events of the world to the living room of every home. That is true. It does not matter what criticism we may have of individual programmes or productions; it is true to say that through television millions of people have been able to switch on their sets and see ceremonies of outstanding interest, to meet many of the great personalities of the world, and to see drama, ballet and opera. The family which has a television set, no matter how small the home may be;, may enjoy all the culture and all the beauty that is available to people with money.

I would agree with those who say that it is very necessary to cater adequately for children, but I believe that an honest attempt is being made to provide suitable programmes. It is very interesting to know that one Australian production is rating almost equally with a very well-known American children’s feature film. I think that that is a wonderful achievement by an Australian operator. But, Sir, I cannot get away from my conviction that the parents are the proper ones to control the viewing habits of children. It is the responsibility of operators and the people who prepare’ programmes to provide in them a content of suitable children’s films, but after that has been done, the responsibility becomes that of the parents.

I am fortified in that view by the opinion of a leading United States television consultant. This man, Mr. Rudy Bretz, entered the field of television in 1939. He advised the Canadian and German broadcasting corporations, as well as many other broadcasting organizations, on the setting up of television stations and general know-how with regard to television. He was brought to Australia to advise on the construction of a number of television workshops for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This is what he said about the effect of television -

The home that is disrupted by the television receiver is the home that is not too well organized and likely to be disrupted anyhow. If the home is run properly television is no great trouble.

I hope that the opinions that I have expressed - not my own, but ones that have been collected from statements made by people who have made a complete study of television - prove that in Australia we are beginning to live with television and not for it.

I want now to deal with several aspects that have to date escaped attention. It is true, as some of my colleagues have said, that among the severest critics of the Australian Broadcasting Commission have been Labour supporters. I am sure that we all appreciate the fact that Australian Broadcasting Commission programmes are designed primarily to cover cultural and educational subjects. The commission has done a great deal to exploit those fields. I believe, Sir that if we eventually have a channel especially reserved for educational programmes, particularly at university level, the national stations will be the proper ones to provide such programmes.

Senator Cooke said that television had not been a payable proposition to the Government. I do not know what he means by “ payable “; it has. certainly been a fairly costly thing to the taxpayers. After all, the money the Government expends comes from the taxpayers. I do not criticize for one moment the amount that has been expended on television, but in view of what the honorable senator said I think it would be well to remind the Senate that in 1955-56 the expenditure by the Australian Broadcasting Commission was £6,406,890. The expenditure in 1959-60 is expected to be £13,304,000. That is an increase of almost £7,000,000 in the annual appropriation. It would be reasonable to assume that the greater part of that increase has been brought about as the result of the introduction and maintenance of television services in Australia.

Senator Kendall:

– Is that the gross amount?


– I am quoting the amount of the appropriation. Some honorable senators have drawn attention to the fact that the national stations have an audience rating of between 12 per cent, and 13 per cent., whilst the commercial television stations share the remaining 87 per cent, to 88 per cent. I am not mentioning this for any reason other than to show that television is a costly business, and I feel it is only fair to say that the commercial stations with their huge audience rating must be bearing a very high financial expenditure.

We have listened to the usual tirade against commercial television operators by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) who talked about wonderful profits, and a few minutes ago Senator Cooke referred to shares in television companies and the profits that they are making. It is true that there has been a great amount of speculative interest in the formation of new television companies, but I do not believe that the whole of the story with regard to television in Australia has been put before the Senate properly. People tend - and they must make a comparison somehow or other - in looking at the possible returns from commercial television operation in Australia to compare them with the operations in the United Kingdom; but, Sir, the circumstances and conditions under which operators work are very different, for the reason that a commercial operator in the United Kingdom is relieved of all costs in regard to transmitters as they are supplied by the government. In Australia, as we know, the commercial operator builds and pays for his own transmitter. In Great Britain, too, the operator is given an exclusive franchise to exploit a programme. He is given a contract and then he is given an exclusive right to exploit it. That does not happen here in Australia. lt does not need very much imagination to realize that the difference between the population of the United Kingdom and that of Australia means that there is not as much money for advertisers to spend, and therefore the Australian commercial operator will not have as easy a time, if I may put it that way, as has the commercial operator in the United Kingdom. In addition to that, the United Kingdom Government imposes restrictions on the amount of imported film material that can be used in television. There is no such restriction in Australia, and for that reason many of the operators are forced to pay higher costs relatively for the films they use.

I said before that films are popular, particularly overseas films. Here we have a situation in which both the national stations and the commercial stations compete in the purchase of overseas films. Senator Toohey tried to build up a case against private television companies by saying that the licensees were responsible for the rearrangement of programmes that appeared in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Nothing could be further from the truth than that. This re-arrangement was brought about as the result of a report by an independent audience survey rating to which both the national stations and the commercial stations subscribe. So it was not a matter of the licensees, through their own opinions, trying to alter the programmes that had been laid down by the control board. It was the result of a survey which was completely independent.

Mention has been made during this, debate of the need to foster Australian talent. I think that that is being done. Both the national stations and the commercial stations are using live shows, but I do think we have to be extremely careful here. Quantity is never a substitute for quality, and in the live production it is essential that we should, whilst fostering Australian talent, see that our live programmes are of first class standard. Otherwise they will not appeal to the public at all and the demand for overseas, films will increase and the demand for live programmes will consequently decrease. We have done some very remarkable things in Australia in the matter of live telecasting. Probably one of the more remarkable ones was the live telecast from Sydney to Melbourne - a distance of more than 500 miles - of the test cricket match. The telecasting of the Billy Graham Crusade also was most successful. As the film of the crusade is to be shown, all over America it will undoubtedly create greater interest in this country. From today’s press we learn of a special one hour telecast which is to be made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) next week. It is to be shown throughout the world. I understand that next Sunday evening another commercial station is showing a film depicting the development of the Snowy Mountains scheme. Last Friday night, I had an opportunity to witness a direct telecast of a live show from the Melbourne station, GTV9. It costs more than £5,000 a week to produce this programme in which 5,400 different acts and performers have been used. We must remember that, in addition to those who perform before the cameras during live telecasts, there are many people who are helping behind the scenes to put the show over. I understand that this station has an audience rating of over 50 per cent.

I should like to deal briefly with the main matter referred to by the Minister - the extension of television to country areas. I repeat, I believe that this will be the most difficult phase of the whole television extension programme. The Government has assured the country people that they will be able to enjoy programmes comparable in quality to those seen by city viewers. I join with those who believe that that will be a very costly and difficult task. I support those who have expressed concern lest there should be a repetition in country areas of the tendency for those who control press and radio to get a grip on television. Consideration should be given to that possibility when licences to operate new stations are being issued. I repeat, I have no technical knowledge of television, but I do know that it is a very expensive and highly specialized business. It would seem that television must necessarily be in the control of people with the resources and know-how to command an adequate share of the available listening audience.

I commend the Government upon the way in which it has proceeded thus far, and hope that it will examine every aspect of the matter before it embarks definitely upon the third phase of development. I believe that the Government has the machinery to ensure that harmful monopolies shall not develop in the television field. I hope that, whatever it does, it will not forget that the listening audiences in the country deserve to receive television at its very best. For that reason, I hope that a speedy decision will not be made - that every aspect of the television needs of the country dweller will be examined before further action is taken.

Senator McMANUS:

.- I am one of those who believe that television was introduced in this country well before its time. We are at such a critical stage of our development that it could well have waited for another ten years. We are already faced with a serious problem, as a result of so much money being tied up in hire purchase. We seem to have unlimited millions for television, but not the money needed to carry out some essential developmental works. It is amazing that, though we can spend millions on television, the Government must canvass the world seeking £25,000,000 for the development of the Mr Isa railway. Despite all the cultural and other advantages claimed for television, it would have been infinitely better if we had never embarked upon it in this country but had, instead, spent the money on populating and developing northern Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north of Western Australia. I would much rather have seen millions spent upon developing the Kimberleys, and upon putting people there. We have not much time left in which to fill up those areas. We had plenty of time to think about introducing television. However, it has, in fact, been introduced and we must accept that situation. 1 can understand the concern of those who think that the big financial interests have too much say in television at present. Such people are anxious that the country dweller will have an opportunity to share in the profits which seem to be forthcoming from television operation. The Opposition has taken a legitimate attitude in saying to the Government, “Will you give the country people an opportunity to share in the profits?” The Opposition acted quite rightly in putting fairly and squarely upon the Government the responsibility of seeing that the country people got what they wanted, I suppose that every one in this chamber is really a country representative, because each of us represents both the town and country areas of a particular State, but all would agree that most of the parliamentary representatives of country areas are to be found on the Government side. That is only natural. If the big city financial interests do get control of country television it will prove that country representatives on the Government side are not worth their salt. The responsibility is theirs. If they do not obtain justice for the country people those people will have an opportunity to wreak justice on them at a future election.

A week or two ago, while recovering from a bout of influenza, I spent some time - much more time than I am usually able to spend - watching television. The technical quality of the presentation is excellent. One must pay a tribute to our technical engineers, advisers and producers on the way in which they present their product. Having said that, I express keen disappointment at the programmes that we are receiving at the present time. In some ways, I think the programmes are not as good as they were when television was first introduced. There is a tendency for some of the stations, now that they are established, and they can easily sell all the advertising they want to sell, to sit down and lose that spirit of enterprise which characterized many of the programmes in the early stages. Looking at the programmes, it seems to me that we are getting more films and fewer live shows. This may not be borne out by the actual figures and I can only say that it is an impression I have formed; but I must repeat that I am deeply disappointed with present programmes, and I propose giving reasons for making that statement.

First, I realize that there is a limited sphere from which to draw actors, artists and so on for an Australian live television show. But they do exist. Many of our actors and artists have gone abroad and attained front-rank billing, and I am sometimes surprised, when I think of some of the first-class artists I have seen at functions in this country, to find that those particular artists who have impressed me as being excellent, front rank artists never appear to get an engagement on the television shows. I am beginning to wonder whether the television companies are doing enough prospecting for talent. I remember that one station conducted an amateur talent show at one time, and I was interested in it. Naturally, the standards of the actors varied on occasions, but that show has been dropped. Why has it been dropped? That kind of show is essential if new talent is to be discovered and developed. I do not think enough is being done to prospect for new talent. I repeat that, now that television is established and the commercial companies are getting all the advertising they want, it would appear that they are sitting back, that they are prepared just to continue in the old groove, ignoring the spirit of enterprise and taking things as they come.

In my view there are too many films but certainly not enough Australian films. This complaint is not confined to television programmes. Here I condemn the Government for its failure to promote an Australian film industry. I do not hesitate to say that we had a better Australian film industry 15 or 20 years ago than we have to-day. What films are being made in this country to-day? Why, 15 or 20 years ago it was reasonably common to have Australian films presented to us. I have heard honorable senators on both sides saying that something should be done to promote an Australian film industry, but, so far as I am aware, nothing has been done. It is tragic, when television is introduced into the country, and when so many films are being screened, to find that nothing other than the small amount of work being done by Government information centres, is being done to supply national films for the entertainment of the Australian people. If television in this country is to develop a national outlook, it is necessary that more be done to promote the establishment of an Australian film industry.

My next point is that there are too many western and crime films being shown. I like a good western of the character of “ High Noon “, but the trouble I find with many of the westerns screened to-day is that the plots are stereotyped, that one knows in the first five minutes what the film is about and how it will finish. They all appear to run on the same lines. I should like to see more original plots. I realize, of course, that when you are doing hundreds of westerns here and in the United States of America there is a tendency to run out of plots; but if we run out of plots then let us try leaving westerns alone for awhile and placing before the people some other kind of films. On one occasion about a month ago I was placed in a most unfortunate situation. I was viewing a programme from one particular station in Melbourne. It was a western of not very high class. When I turned to the other commercial station I found that it was also putting on a western; and, horror of horrors, when I turned to the national station it also had a western! Surely, there could be some form of co-ordination between the television companies to ensure that all of them do not screen the same type of programme at the one time. I suppose there are difficulties in the way of doing this, but I emphasize that at the moment the viewer is faced with a very great difficulty. Too often we find that the programming appears to be done so haphazardly that the same type of programme is being screened by the three television stations at the same time.

There is great need for more vigorous censorship of scenes of violence shown in films. I recognize that there is some censorship at present. As one watches a film one notices certain gaps at times when one might expect some act of violence to take place. But it is common, especially in the western and crime films, to show fist fights. Certainly there is nothing special about an ordinary fist fight, but I want to comment upon what appears to be the stereotyped method of conducting these fist fights, and to point out that there are possible dangers in the way some of them are screened. I notice that the method of commencing most of these fist fights is to use what we Australians call the king hit. In my opinion it is not good that sometimes in the course of an evening children should see two, three or even four fist fights which commence with one of the prospective combatants, without warning, suddenly turning on his opponent and punching him, obviously in the hope that he will be so hurt by the blow that he will not be able to retaliate. I do not suggest that the king hit was unknown in Australia prior to the advent of television, but it was known probably only in certain circles. I might be foolish or old-fashioned, but I do not like to think that our Australian children are to become accustomed’ to seeing this kind of contest on a television screen two or three times each evening. I do not like to think that Australian children are to be led to believe that the king hit is the normal method of engaging in combat.

The next thing 1 notice is that in many of these fights on the screen it appears to be the normal thing for the contestant who seems to be winning, when his opponent has been battered into a state of almost semiconsciousness, to finish the combat by hoisting his opponent to his feet, holding him against the wall with one hand and battering him with the other, when he is unable to resist, into a state of complete unconsciousness. Some people might argue that there is nothing wrong with that, that it is only a fight; but it has to be remembered that around the cities there are many young children, teenagers in particular, looking at these programmes. I have the feeling that it might not be good to have our young people getting accustomed to the idea that the way to start a fight is to use the king hit, and the way to finish it, if one is lucky enough to be on top, is to pick up one’s opponent when he is almost out and put him properly out. I suggest that the censorship authorities could have a closer look at that kind of thing. I am not suggesting that the television stations should cut out fights completely, because I suppose they take place in real life, but I suggest that you can have too much of the sort of thing to which I have referred.

I pay a compliment to. the Australian Broadcasting Commission, because I think it shows a greater spirit of enterprise than do the commercial stations. That may be natural. The commercial stations are in a competitive field for the purpose of making money. Naturally, they go in for those things which they think will attract the greater number of viewers. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is in the situation that it can afford to put on the types of programme that are attractive to certain sections of the community, but perhaps not to most members of the community. I think there is a greater intellectual content, more good music and more good singing in Australian Broadcasting Commission programmes, and I hope that that will continue.

I hope that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will not go in for advertising. It is wonderful to have one station at least where the film is not interrupted two or three times during the course of its running to advertise somebody’s soap or somebody’s bath, powder. I hope that a definite decision will be made that under no circumstances will advertisements be allowed on A.B.C. programmes. I pay that compliment to the A.B.C, and I put it to the commercial stations that as they are now in the situation that they are able to sell all their advertising time and make very large profits, surely they should now give at least some of their time to what I might term cultural presentations.

At present I am not very happy about the standards of the programmes. The question arises: How can they be improved? I think they could be improved as a result of suggestions made by people who are influential in the community that the commercial stations have an obligation to retain a spirit of enterprise and to go after better programmes. If they do not improve their programmes, then the Government ought to consider giving the stations in the main capital cities a little more competition. Relatively speaking, there is more enterprise in radio to-day than in television, the reason being that as there are more radio stations and more competition, the struggle for a listening audience is keener. If the Government is to consider the possibility of improving programmes, it might consider licensing an extra station in Sydney and one in Melbourne for a start. The stations that are in existence at present are unable to cope with all the advertising that is available. Only the other day I was speaking to a gentleman of considerable prominence in the advertising field,, who said that the commercial stations are pretty well swamped with advertising material. He told me that he had a client who wanted to spend £30,000 on television advertising this year but was unable to get an entry. If advertising is available and if programmes need improving, I suggest that the Government give consideration to providing more competition.

The last matter to which I wish to refer is the use of television in politics. I regret that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has carried into the television field the policy of discriminating in favour of certain political parties which it adopts in the radio field. I have said in this Senate before, and I say it again, that all citizens are supposed to be equal before the law. Therefore, all political parties ought to be equal before the electors. The law lays it down that in an election the returning officers and all government employees associated with the election shall not, under any circumstances, give any advantage to any political candidate. All candidates have to be treated as equal. You can imagine, what would happen if a political party discovered that a candidate of another political party was being given an advantage by a returning officer. But, having declared that all candidates are equal before the electors, the Government permits the Australian Broadcasting Commission to decide that it shall break that principle of fair play and shall give special advantages to certain political parties.

In the last federal election campaign, the party to which I belong was not given by the A.B.C. the radio time even to broadcast its policy speech fully. It did not get even one hour for a broadcast of its policy speech, yet the Government parties and the A.L.P. each received four hours. We were placed in the situation that although we could not broadcast even our policy speech - and we had over 100 candidates - a representative of the A.L.P. had an hour in which to broadcast his policy speech, and he had also periods of ten minutes and a quarter of an hour at other stages..’ For a fortnight before the election he, and other members of his party, were able to give five-minute talks a couple of times every evening, at times when most of the members of a family would be at home and, therefore, the talks would make the greatest impact. When that sort of thing is done, government money is being employed for the purpose of assisting certain political candidates to the detriment of others. Nobody can tell me that any candidate, or any group of candidates, is en titled to have government money spent to give him an advantage over any other candidate or group of candidates.

When the Government or the commission is satisfied that a party exists, and is contesting an election with a large number of candidates, the commission should broadcast or televise only the policy speeches of the parties contesting the election, and leave it at that. If the parties want other time, let them get it from the commercial stations. I say that with full knowledge that probably my party would get less than the others, because it would not have the money to spend with the commercial stations. I repeat that I regret that in television the Australian Broadcasting Commission has perpetrated the very act of injustice to the party which I represent that it has been perpetrating during the last few years in radio.

Recently I wrote to broadcasting commissions in other prominent countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations and asked them what they did. I was interested to learn that in some countries they do not give the political parties any time at all during an election, on the ground that government money cannot be spent as between teams of candidates. I was interested to learn also that in Great Britain, with 50,000,000 people, the major political parties get about one-quarter of the time that major political parties get in this country. I was also informed that the political leaders in Great Britain do not leave it to any commission to make uncontrolled decisions as to what is to be done in regard to times. The leaders of the political parties there confer and reach agreement upon times. When they reach agreement, they see to it that the public money is not expended in the way it is expended in this country to give advantages to certain teams of candidates as against others. Therefore, so far as my researches have been able to establish, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is giving advantages to certain parties in elections and is using government money in the interests of certain candidates in a way which does not appear to be followed to any extent in any other of the major countries of the British Commonwealth. In those circumstances, I hope the commission will have a look at the situation and see what is done in other countries. If it does so, there might be some prospects that candidates who happen to be outside the major political parties will get some reasonable measure of justice.

New South Wales

– The debate has ranged, I think, a little beyond the statement of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson). I have no complaint about that because I have learned a great deal from it. I have heard some very interesting speeches on both sides of the chamber. I think the statement in itself is excellent and I approve of it. Any criticism that is made, whether from our own side or from the Opposition benches, applies, I think, not to what the PostmasterGeneral said but to something that people think he might have said, to some additional policy not stated there.

It is a very short statement, as you know. In effect, all that it says is that we are now in the third phase and are extending television so that 75 per cent, of the Australian people will be able to see it. I can say that I hope we shall very soon go to the final stage, when every Australian citizen will have the right to see it because 1 believe that, as I think Senator Buttfield pointed out, adding to the attractions of the great cities is not advantageous to our national life. It is in the interests of the whole country that we should people as much of this continent as we can. It is in the interests of this country that there should be people in the far-flung open spaces, and in order to keep them there we should give them every advantage that we can give them.

I may say that radio has been a very great advantage to the people in the outback. I know little of television, as you will discern by the time my speech is finished. In fact, most of what I tell you is something that I have learned in this debate, but I happen to know something about radio because I have been in both commercial radio and a national station. My knowledge of the national station is very extensive. I was there for twelve years, and most of my friendly correspondents - the people who took the trouble to write to me and tell me that they really enjoyed what I said - came from the outback. They were people from the western part of New South Wales, western Queensland, the Northern Territory, and all over the continent. Most of the unfriendly let ters I got - I have many of them neatly docketed and piled up at home and at some time 1 may publish them with comments, although some of them could not be published as they would not pass any censor - came from the city.

Like Senator McManus, I could have . wished that we were spending the great amount we spend on television in developing the country, and I may say that I did take action at the beginning to delay the introduction of television. I was one of those - many of my colleagues took the same attitude - who insisted that there should be a full inquiry before television was introduced. One of my objects in moving for that was to delay the introduction, but I cannot support the contention that a government has the right to prevent the people of a country from enjoying the benefits of modern science. After all, this country is now big enough to develop in the way that the great countries of the world have developed. It is quite plain that our citizens want television and it would be quite an arbitrary act on the part of the Government to prevent their having it. That being so, we had only one question to face: Should the Government keep out of it and allow it to be completely commercial, or should the Government come in?

The experience of radio has shown that the dual system that we have is much better than the system of commercial stations only, such as exists in the United States of America, or the system of government stations only, such as existed in Great Britain until very recently. I am talking about radio now, but I think the same will apply in television. The national stations are very much needed from the point of view of good taste, high standards and education. I support the commercial stations, not because I think they are particularly good but because they supply, without expense to the Government, what a large section of the public demands. I have put this point of view before in speaking of radio and other matters and I put it now most firmly and emphatically to the Senate. If you have a national system only, and if you deprive the public of commercial radio and commercial television, then the pressure for the debasement of standards will be so great that it will be Impossible to resist it. I want commercial radio and television stations to be there so that I need not listen to them, so that I may listen to the national stations while all the people who do not want the sort of good thing that comes from the national stations may have their wants satisfied by the others. In the existing state of public taste that is essential, and I am not criticizing anybody else’s taste. “Who shall arbitrate? Ten men love what I hate.” Well, that is their business, not mine, and I am not priggish enough to say that this Parliament or any other body should establish and insist upon the public listening to certain things that we think good. After all, the public has a right to what it wants and the commercial stations are there to give the public what the commercial stations think it wants. If the commercial stations make a mistake, or too big a mistake, ultimately they will fail.

As to the standard of the programmes, I am at this disadvantage: I have no television at home and I am limited to the time when I visit a friend or relative, or some club or somewhere else that has it. But I have seen a fair variety of programmes and I am convinced that the technical standard is improving. The first television that I saw was in England six years ago and it was appalling. Certainly what I have seen in Australia is very much better than that from a technical point of view. The programme one could call educational on both commercial and national stations is quite good. Interviews, whether with public men or with people interested in other things, are not only entertaining but also very informative. I may say that the best television programme I ever saw was an interview with Earl Attlee, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was a very long interview; I think it lasted an hour. Both the interviewer and Earl Attlee were very good, and I gained a great deal of knowledge. I gained the great advantage of having the opinions of a man who had been at the centre of things and had played a great part in our history, on many aspects of policy and on many individuals, and I may say that in nine opinions out of ten that Earl Attlee expressed I agreed with him. I feel that I have very much more in common with him than I thought at one time I had.

Senator Toohey:

– And he was a socialist.


– He was a socialist of a kind. But it was not on socialist opinions that I agreed with him. Most of the opinions that he expressed were on matters of history - particularly matters associated with his membership of a national government which included Conservatives, Liberals and socialists. So there was no point whatever in the interjection. I am glad, however, that it was made, because I have been able to make quite clear where I stand.

I have not seen any poor quality programmes particularly those that are alleged to be corrupting to the young. I know that some of the adventure scenes put on are trivial and stereotyped, as Senator McManus said. They .are not the kind of thing that I particularly want to see, but I have not seen anything that has been harmful. I do not believe that adventure, danger, battle, murder and sudden death are corrupting to the young. When I was very young I read all that I could of that kind of thing. There was nothing corrupting in the Buffalo Bill, Robin Hood and Deadwood Dick publications that we used to read. I think that boys of the age of nine, ten, eleven and twelve years are young barbarians quite naturally and that the kind of thing that is put in a little novel or film is quite natural, healthy enjoyment for a young mind.

I do agree, however, that some scenes are corrupting, and I think we should clearly distinguish in our own minds what they are. I agree with the opinions of honorable senators opposite and on this side of the chamber who have deplored what they call horror films. The type of film that depicts almost unimaginable horrors may have a very bad effect on any young mind. I agree also that a sensual film could have a bad effect, but I have not seen too much of that on television. But I think, as I have already indicated, that the adventure story in which the sheriff or a police officer pursues bandits and there is a great deal of firing of guns is completely healthy and in line with what young people - particularly young boys, and no doubt young girls too - have always read. When all is said and done, Ballantyne, Henty and Stevenson were people from whom we learnt a great deal in our youth and all their books were full of incident and adventure.

Senator Buttfield:

– Does the honorable senator approve children having that for seven days a week?


– No, but I think a lot of that will sort itself out. One of the important matters is the cost of the more important kind of entertainment. There, the national station can give a great lead. If it enters the field of really good entertainment and gives a good lead, I believe the other stations will be compelled to raise their standards. But I am genuinely Liberal in that I have little faith in regulation. I think we should aim at a minimum of regulations, a minimum of law, to govern these matters. Let public standards, public taste and the interest of the people who are providing the programme ultimately provide the standard. Let us consider the film industry. Doubtless there is a lot in the film industry that is poor and trivial, but that industry has reached an extremely high standard not only in the field of technical development, but also in the working of plots and the selection of subjects- I am not a great frequenter of cinema shows, but I seldom see a show that has not a great deal of merit. I could take honorable senators to a number of cinema shows in Sydney where they will always get good sound entertainment. When we compare such entertainment with the corrupting things that we saw in our youth when the film industry was just beginning, I think it can be said that the present standards have been worked out by the demand of the public and the interest of the people who provide the entertainment.

I am convinced that the great majority of people will not endure poor quality entertainment for very long. I think the crude programme that satisfies people who are looking at what is in effect a novelty will ultimately be discarded, in the natural order of events, for something that is of a much higher standard. In this matter, I feel that the Liberal policy of letting things work themselves out is much better than that of having overmuch regulation. Of course, I voted in favour of the bill which established the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I think we must have a board that will prevent something that is positively vicious; but, apart from that, I leave the matter to public demand.

I wholeheartedly approve the statement of the Postmaster-General that, as far as possible, priority will be given to the formation of independent companies in the country. I am not in a position to say how far it is possible for them to succeed; but I believe it is possible to form companies, interested in their localities, which could control a station and its policy. It may be that in respect of some matters those companies will find it expedient to buy from the great city factories; but they will say what they wish to buy and will not be compelled to take anything that the big city companies put in their hands. Senator McKenna said that it had been found in America that a small country studio could operate at a moderate cost. There is no one in this chamber who sifts his facts more carefully than does Senator McKenna, and I accept his word when he says that that is the result of investigations made in America of which he has ample evidence. That being so, I think it is fairly obvious that it would be possible to establish country studios which could put on a good show, which could make their own selection when buying from the big city companies, which could control policy and therefore make it possible for an independent point of view to be expressed.

I deplore the tendency towards monopoly control, but we cannot get rid of monopolies simply by deploring them. Nor do I think we can get rid of them simply by nationalizing them; to do that would only be to create a worse monopoly. I would always support suggestions such as those we frequently hear from one of my fellow senators in regard to the application of existing laws or an amendment of them. If monopoly control of newspapers or anything else becomes so great a menace that legislation is necessary to correct the situation, I would have no objection to such legislation. But I point out that these monopolies are not the complete masters of the medium they control. They are guided by public taste, by what the people want. For many years past the great syndicated newspapers throughout the world have provided a great deal of freedom of expression, even though, perhaps those in Australia are a little behind some in other countries. I recall that more than 50 years ago Bernard Shaw, when somebody deplored that Lord Northcliffe and quite a number of other people were gradually getting control of the nation’s press, said, giving chapter and verse from particular issues, “Yes, that is true. But you will find in those newspapers the expression of a point of view quite opposite to that of the great proprietor. “

I have only to mention the instance of our great cartoonist, David Low, who for forty years has expressed his own opinion in cartoons in newspapers which editorially and in other ways have expressed the opposite opinion. It was in the interests of the great news magnates to have the services of David Low, and they got them, but David Low’s cartoons have played on the public mind far more than their editorials. Who now remembers the thundering editorials of the “ Times “ and other newspapers of forty years ago? But who could ever forget a cartoon by David Low? I can still see before me cartoons that I saw in the original as far back as 1914.

Senator Willesee:

– Does the honorable senator say that that applies to the press of this country?


– I do not say so. I am following a general line of argument. I am indicating a tendency. I cannot see any point in trying to pin me down to some sort of statement about what actually exists. I am saying that there is in a monopoly a self-reversing mechanism - something which, without the people doing anything, has asserted itself in other countries and, I believe, ultimately will assert itself. With regard to the newspapers here - I will make my point in my own time and not in response to a positive demand for a statement - I believe that in some newspapers which are said to be monopolistic there is an expression of opinion different from that of the editorial policies and from the policy which seems to come out of the news columns. There are in a number of our metropolitan newspapers correspondence columns. Points of view that are different from those of the newspaper, and sometimes quite contrary to them, are expressed in those columns. You get all those things under a system, not of complete monopoly, which does not exist here, but of quasimonopoly.

I believe we need not be too disturbed about the fact that some very big groups have been formed to control television. I would prefer more and smaller groups, but when a thing is very costly you cannot run it on a shoestring. There was a time when any man who had sufficient knowledge, skill and education to write a leading article and collect news, and who owned a hand printing press, could set up a newspaper. Some of the finest newspapers of the world have been such little ones. That cannot happen to-day, unfortunately. We have to depend on the great newspapers. If a newspaper becomes purely the instrument of one commercially minded man, it will kill itself. In the past there have been newspapers which enjoyed a reputation for integrity and were accepted as authorities; yet some of those newspapers to-day count for nothing. Because newspapers are always expressing one point of view, it does not follow that people accept that point of view. As you know, Sir, in the United States, when Franklin Roosevelt was President, virtually every great newspaper in that commonwealth was against him, yet he won four elections. We have seen the same kind of thing here.

I am not too sure that the fact that a great newspaper is believed to be supporting the Prime Minister, or the candidates of a particular party, is always an advantage. I am quite sure that sometimes it is an advantage to be attacked by some of these great newspapers. I think that the same will apply to television. The best thing that has occurred with television is the kind of instance I mentioned with regard to David Low, and I quoted that because it was the best example. I think that all our stations, both commercial and national, are doing great work on that score.

I would like to refer to what Senator McManus said about preference to political parties. I have a great deal of sympathy for the point of view he expressed. 1 feel that one of the great disadvantages of the enormous power that radio has, and that television possibly may get, is that you cannot allow every individual to put his point of view. Therefore, the authorities must have a formula. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has, I think in perfect good faith, established a formula. It may be unsatisfactory, and if it is, it would be a good thing to revise it. The power, the opportunity, and the right to speak are given to the established parties.

That may mean that it will be far more difficult in the future to bring forward a new party. I believe in competition in political parties, just as I do in anything alse. I really have very great sympathy for the multi-party system, but having studied some of the evil effects of it at short range in the last two months or so, and for a long period before that, but not so closely, I am prepared to admit that it is much better to have either a two-party system or a system so close to it that governments are stable, and when there is a change of administration you get a responsible opposition. Many parties in the past have become corrupted or useless and have vanished, and other parties have taken their place. I think it is the law of life that opportunities for the growth of new bodies should always exist. I would give to any new party that any one wanted to found the radio and television opportunities that it deserved - I have had a shot at founding a couple of parties myself in the past - but how you could do that with national stations, I do not know. The point might be made, of course, that once a party has got its candidates into Parliament it should be given a certain minimum amount of radio and television time. I think that that would be a reasonable thing to do, but even that would not solve the problem because there might be a party outside Parliament which had a good deal of merit, which had excellent men, and which could not get any radio or television time simply because it had not yet got into Parliament. It may happen that at some time in the future a new party will arise that is better than any of the parties here now. If that should happen, it would be to the public advantage to sweep all of us out. But whether you could allow a government station to give radio or television time to a party simply because som* of its members said, “ We are a party and we say we have a good policy “, I do not know. 1 think that the establishment of commercial stations is a part of the answer, because they sell their time. I am afraid you cannot organize a political party of any size or dimensions without money. If parties have money. they can spend it on buying radio and television time on the commercial stations.

This subject, Sir, has been pretty thoroughly threshed out during the debate. I have found the debate a very enjoyable one and I hope that my little contribution to it has not been quite useless. I have enjoyed the contributions of all other honorable senators who have spoken. I conclude by saying that I approve entirely of the PostmasterGeneral’s statement. I feel that the policy that the Government is pursuing is perfectly sound and I hope that it will be pursued until we bring this new means of communication within the reach of every citizen of Australia.

Senator BENN:

– I find it difficult indeed to bring forward a new idea to introduce into this discussion. However, Mr. Acting Deputy President, we are afforded an opportunity to discuss the third phase of the development of television in the Commonwealth. It is well known, of course, that the first phase was the establishment of national and commercial television stations in Sydney and Melbourne. The second phase was the extension of television facilities to the capital cities of Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. It appears that now we have reached a stage in the development of television in Australia at which serious consideration has to be given by the Government to extending television so that it can be experienced by the dwellers in country cities, towns, and hamlets, and in other rural areas. Of course, that is only a corollary to the establishment of television in the Commonwealth in the first instance.

We know that when a television station is established with public money in Sydney or Melbourne, the other capital cities also are justly entitled to television stations. Having established television enterprises in capital cities throughout the Commonwealth, the natural thing to do is to have television extended as far as possible to the country areas. We on this side of the chamber do not under-estimate for a moment the importance of television. It is a medium of mass communication, and it is from that aspect that we view television all the time. I know that it is a source of enjoyment to many people in the Commonwealth to view television and to listen to what is expressed on the programmes and so forth. But we do know that in the Commonwealth at the present time the media of mass communication are controlled through the agencies of the press and the radio stations. It is only another step to the people who control those media to have the privilege of grasping this medium. May I say at- this stage that we on this side of the chamber do not expect any leniency or latitude or assistance in our political attitudes from any television station in the Commonwealth, because we know that they, too, will fill the roll that: has been filled over the last century by the press and by the radio stations. They will join hands with those two agencies, and whenever they can possibly do so they will castigate the Australian Labour Party’s policy.

It has been said that everything is political. I do know that the establishment of commercial television stations has been a political enterprise so far as the country is concerned. We have been told that an inquiry will be made by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to ascertain something about the prospective licensees and where the commercial television stations will be established. There is one feature of this that I think I should state here, and that is that Australia can be relied upon to drag along behind the rest of the world, or at least those countries of the world that we regard as advanced, countries. It is eighteen years since commercial television was established in some, of the advanced countries, but it was not till 1958 that we followed the pattern and established television stations in this country. So it is perhaps good to know that the people of the Commonwealth will be able to enjoy this facility in the future.

The responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is to find out where these new television stations should be allowed to operate, the regions in which they should be established. As a result of the report that was furnished to the Government by the board in 1957, or 1958. concerning the establishment of television stations in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, the people of the Commonwealth now have very little confidence in the board. In their diminishing confidence, perhaps they are in line with the Commonwealth Government, because I recollect that it was the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which first investigated the matter of commercial licences to be approved in

Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. It recommended after an exhaustive inquiry that only one licence should be approved for each of those cities. As most people are now aware, the Government did not approve of the report although it was furnished by a board of experts in their own spheres. What happened at that stage between the Commonwealth Government and’ the board is not clear to everybody. The fact is, however, that two commercial television stations will operate in Brisbane and Adelaide, and one in Perth and Hobart. Of course, there will be a national station also in each of those cities, and such stations will be controlled not by the board, but by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The board will have fulfilled its function once it has furnished its recommendation.

I said a minute or so ago that the Government did not approve of the board?s report; it set itself up as a board and decided that two commercial television stations would be. established in Brisbane and two in Adelaide. As I have said, the people of the Commonwealth now have very little confidence in the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, but they have even less confidence in the Australian Broadcasting Commission. They have listened for too long to the humdrum music that is broadcast from the national broadcasting stations. They are now rapidly becoming antiquated broadcasting stations and the time has arrived for the commission to be shaken up a good deal so that their programmes will be improved considerably.

I recollect a report that was furnished last year by the commission- It was a most remarkable report indeed. One whole page of it was devoted to photographs of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) and the chairman of the broadcasting commission. The report was presented to the Parliament. Nobody can convince me that the interest of a member of this Parliament in the business affairs of the commission will be stimulated by looking at these photographs. One wonders whether the commission expects members of the Parliament to tear out the leaf and paste it in their offices so that these gentlemen may be regarded as pin-up boys. Half of another page contained only the picture of a black poll Angus bull, surrounded by seven students. When I made inquiries about this bull I found that it was possessed by the Liberal Party of Australia and that it manufactured most of the propaganda which was used by the Government parties during the last general election campaign. That was the most remarkable feature of this report.

Members of the Parliament are concerned about the staff of the commission, to which only two or three lines were devoted. No detailed information at all was furnished. We on this side of the chamber particularly are concerned about the staff of the commission. We want to know whether the commission is training its staff so that it can carry out the duties which will be its burden in the future. The report states that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will hold an open inquiry into applications made by companies for the right to operate television stations in areas approved by the Government. Doubtless, evidence will be heard at great length as to the full details of the companies and what they propose to do. The report will go to the Government, and then we shall see what will happen. If the Government runs true to form, it will find fault with the report and dissociate itself from it in some degree so that it can give expression to its own opinion. Finally, of course, licences will be granted. I have not the slightest doubt that any company formed for the purpose of acquiring a licence will be able to obtain all the capital it requires. I have made a brief inquiry concerning the amount of capital a company would need to operate a television station in, say, the Australian Capital Territory. Mr. Acting Deputy President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.

page 171



Debate resumed from 11th August (vide page 19), on motion by Senator Paltridge -

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, 1960.

The Budget 1959-60 - Papers presented by the Right Hon. Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1959-60, and

National Income and Expenditure 1958-59 - be printed.

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

– Some little time ago, the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) tabled the Estimates and Budget papers and moved that they be printed. That motion is now before us. As usual on these occasions, I express my lack of respect for that motion. I do so for two reasons: first, because the Budget papers, some hundreds in number, have, in fact, already been printed; secondly, because it is an offence to my parliamentary sense, and to my idea of proper constitutional procedure, that we, the Senate, should be debating simultaneously with another place the acceptance of the most important financial provisions presented,in the whole of the financial year. I have expressed that lack of respect in other words, on other occasions, and I am merely running true to form in opening on that note to-night. In keeping with that attitude, I move -

At end of motion add the following words: - “ but that the Senate is of opinion that their provisions and omissions inflict grave injustice on recipients of social service benefits - such as child endowment, age, invalid and widows’ pensions, repatriation benefits, maternity benefits, funeral benefits, amelioration of means test - on taxpayers, on the family unit and on other sections of the Australian people and that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment and rising living costs “.

Senator Hannaford:

– It is the same old story.

Senator McKENNA:

– The honorable senator will note quite a variation in the theme as I proceed. There are many items in the Budget that I might select for comment, but time confines me to mentioning only a few. I take the honorable senator immediately to the first change in my theme - the grave errors which appeared in the Estimates for last year. They were errors of a magnitude that can only be described as more than surprising.

Senator Hannaford:

– Have you never made errors?

Senator McKENNA:

– Every one makes errors in estimating, but in all my experience I have not previously seen such gross errors as appeared in the last Estimates submitted in this Parliament. Let me begin by referring to the Estimates of taxation revenue. Sales tax revenue was down £3,000,000 on the estimate. Income tax on individuals was mis-estimated to the extent of £14,000,000 in respect of individuals, and in respect of companies to the tune of £12,000,000. Total revenue from taxation from all sources was under-estimated by £16,000,000.

The Defence services were to be financed by the application of some £78,000,000 from the Loan Fund. In fact, nothing like that sum was used. The actual figure was £37,000,000. Miscellaneous expenditure, which was estimated at £49,000,000, proved to be £66,000,000. The highlight was, of course, the estimate that £102,000,000 would be required for transfer to the Loan Consolidation and Reserve Account to meet commitments throughout the year. In fact, a little under £28,000,000 was transferred.

Let us look also at the grave underestimating of the strength of the loan market last year. The Government intimated that it expected to raise £115,000,000. In fact, it raised £209,000,000.

Senator Mattner:

– You are worried about that, surely?

Senator McKENNA:

– I am merely directing the attention of the Senate to the grave errors in estimating which were made by the Government. I will follow them through to a certain conclusion in a moment.

Let me refer now to the proposal to employ £110,000,000 of central bank credit. In the event, the amount fell to £31,000,000, and that sum need not have been used at all because the Government transferred £28,000,000 from Consolidated Revenue to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve so that it could make room for the employment of some central bank credit. It is not a matter of misestimating by a million, or by ten millions: It runs into scores of millions in place after place. I know the officers of the Treasury and the Taxation Department sufficiently well to realize that they do not make errors of that magnitude. I refuse to believe that they could be so far out in their advice to the Government.

I recall that Senator Spooner took me to task on this matter and claimed that the key to the last Budget was the £110,000,000 of central bank credit that was to be used. It was said to be the whole base and purpose - the central feature. In truth, the whole concept vanished; the key was thrown away. One has two choices. One can conclude either that there was gross incompetence in preparing the Budget last year or that there was, in fact, a deliberately false presentation of the prospects. With reluctance, I am driven to the conclusion that the second proposition is the correct one and that the reason for the deliberately false estimate that £110,000,000 of central bank credit would be required is now quite obvious. That Budget was prepared unscrupulously, with a view to the approaching elections. It was designed to negative the measure of social justice which Labour proposed to effect by way of reform. It laid the base for the falsehood that if our proposals were implemented central bank credit in addition to the £110,000,000 would be required for the purpose. In the final result, £110,000,000 was not required at all. The figures show that most plainly. If the honorable senator has been seeking a new element in the debate he now has it. That is the central point on which I attack the Budget papers and the proposals that are before us.

Senator Mattner:

– There is not much truth in it.

Senator McKENNA:

– The honorable senator will have an opportunity to deal with my charge later. Let me pass on to indicate the vast growth of Commonwealth expenditure that has taken place down the years under this Government. In the last year of the Chifley Government - only part of it was left us to serve - we ran Australia on £567,000,000. That was the amount required for the ordinary annual expenditure of the Commonwealth. Today, that figure has been swollen to £1,385,000,000 - far more than double what it was. One of the main reasons for that has been inflation. The Government, in 1949, promised the people of Australia that inflation would not be allowed to proceed further. In fact, it promised to put value back into the £1. Since then we have seen prices and wages double, and every one on a fixed income has been placed in the direst straits. Australia has, by reason of its high cost structure, found difficulty in holding its foreign markets. Another factor was the mismanagement of this Government, the wrong financial policies that it has pursued from time to time. I throw one element in to its favour - the natural expansion of our economy, the spilling into our economy each year of more persons, both local and migrant, and the effort they contribute to the production and welfare of the country.

Senator Hannaford:

– But that is purely incidental.

Senator McKENNA:

– That is one of the factors. I cannot put them all in line when 1 make a speech. I mention one, and then the other three. But I do concede the point, and it is a point that was never conceded by the Government when, at the 1954 elections, as spokesman in the matter for the Opposition, 1 put the argument thai the Government, with the natural expansion of the economy that takes place, could look to an increase of approximately £100,000,000 a year from that source. And that has proved to be so, with the exception of one year in the interim. But the natural expansion of the economy is not due to any virtue on the part of the Government; it is due to the natural development of the Australian economy and the activity of the Australian people. I give the Government no credit for that, although I concede that it is one of the factors that has led to increased expenditures.

Now let me come to what I shall be told presently is the highlight of this Budget - the taxation concessions that the Government has made available with a great clangour of bells. They represent a 5 per cent, reduction amounting to £20,000,000 in a full year. The Treasurer, in putting the matter forward, said that the proposal would encourage effort, saving and enterprise. He said that the Budget had been put forward in the spirit of social justice to all sections of the community. Let us have a look at the impact of these taxation proposals. According to the latest figures made available by the Commissioner of Taxation, there are 3,700,000 taxpayers in Australia. Of those 3,700,000 taxpayers, 2,600,000 earn incomes of £1,500 and less a year. The great majority of the taxpayers are in that category. Of the £20,000,000 involved, 2,600,000 people will get £8,500,000; the remaining 1,100.000 taxpayers will get £11,500,000.

Let me translate that into terms of saving per year and per week. The 2,600.000 taxpayers will get an average of £3 3s. per year or ls. 2id. per week by way of relief. Some will get more and some will get less, spread over the range up to £1,500 a year. But the 1,100,000 taxpayers who get the. £11,500,000 by way of taxation concessions will enjoy relief amounting to 4s. 3d. a week or £11 a year. So, for the great majority of the lower paid people there is a most insignificant concession whilst a fairly major one will be enjoyed by those who are in receipt of higher incomes. As 1 have said, some will pay more and some will pay less.

Let me now take the ones who will pay more. The Commissioner of Taxation says that there are 57 persons in Australia earning incomes of £50,000 or more a year. The proposed 5 per cent, reduction will put into the hands of each of those 57 another £2,000 a year or £40 a week. So, the range of these concessions to the people of Australia runs from something in the nature of ls. a week to £40 a week. We of the Labour Party say that is not fair. Where is the saving to come from under those proposals? I ask anybody in the Senate to indicate to me how much the 2,600,000 taxpayers will contribute out of their average of ls. 2id. a week to the saving the Treasurer says will be made. Who is going to save? It will not be the great majority of the people, because the concession to them is completely insignificant. The only people who will have any savings will be those who have already got much. And that is the approach of this Treasurer to a position which he claims will do social justice. I shall be very interested to hear honorable senators on the Government side attempting to defend that proposition. But it does not stand alone there because, when we turn to the relation of direct taxation to indirect taxation, we find that the emphasis is shifting continually from direct taxation, from taxation based upon the ability of people to pay, to indirect taxes where everybody in the community, rich and poor, pays the one flat tax. Let me explain the change that has taken place under this Government in that matter. The emphasis has been entirely altered and shifted. I think everybody knows that whether we be comfortable, rich or very rich, we all pay the one flat rate on liquor, tobacco, petrol, spare parts for autos, motor cars, furniture and many other things that are used by everybody in the community. We say that in the interests of social justice that flat taxation should be kept to the minimum.

In 1948, under the Chifley Labour Government, flat taxes amounted to only 43.5 per cent. Since then there has been an enormous rise and to-day it stands at 51.9 per cent. In 1948-49, the last full year of the Chifley Government’s term of office, indirect taxes amounted to 56.5 per cent., on a graduated scale. Under this Government, indirect taxes amount to 48.1 per cent. The trend is completely reversed, and to-day we have the Treasurer dipping into the pockets of the great majority of the people, regardless of differences in incomes, and letting out of the taxation range people on particularly high incomes.

Senator Spooner:

– You would have kept the high war-time rates in operation.

Senator McKENNA:

– The honorable senator can say that if he likes, but I do not subscribe to the thought he is putting into my mind.

Senator Spooner:

– Is not that what you say?

Senator McKENNA:

– No. I say the fairest thing socially is to raise taxes on a system of graduation based upon the ability of people to pay. That is the proper basis. This Government has altered that emphasis entirely and put it on to flat-rate taxation as far as it can go. That is reflected in the type of concessions the Government proposes to give. These concessions could have been brought in quite differently. The Treasurer might have looked to those on the lower rung, granted them greater exemptions and started off his taxation proposals with a new tapering-off scale. But he does not do that. He does not give the benefit of taxation concessions to the great mass of the people; he gives the real benefit to those who have got- much.

Now let me come to what he has done in addition in this Budget. First, he gives £20,000,000 in a full year by way of taxation concessions on the basis which I have already put to the Senate, and then he starts immediately to take £17,800,000 back in postal charges of all kinds. Let not anybody who merely sends a few letters or an odd telegram, or who makes an odd telephone call, say that it will not matter much to him. The point is that the great bulk of those charges will be paid by the business community; and what the ordinary man must never forget is that every penny of those extra charges will go into costs, every penny will be passed on to the average man in the street, not at the base of the charge, but added to the cost, and everybody who handles the goods or who takes part in providing the services involved will add his margin of profit to it. Although postal charges might not make a direct impact upon the individual in this community, in the end the full £17,800,000 of extra charges will be spread over the whole community, with the addition of a profit margin. It must add to costs and it certainly will be passed on as part of the cost of producing goods and providing services.

Let us look for a moment broadly at the need for this type of increase in postal charges. The statement of account filed in February of this year deals with the position of the Post Office at 30th June, 1958. That is a year ago, but it is the latest statement available. The Post Office is not a losing concern. In the year ended 30th June, 1958, it made a profit of £4,000,000. It has accumulated reserves of £135,000,000, built up out of profits made down the years. The Post Office is not a fading show. It has reserves for future development of every kind, all provided from profits. It cannot be said by the Government that the Post Office has to be put on a competitive basis with another supplier of postal facilities. This is a monopoly. It has no competitor. I submit to the Senate that there is no reason why the Post Office should make a profit. It is sufficient if the Post Office gives an efficient service in all its phases to the people of this country and pays its way. It should not be used as a taxation medium.

We see foreshadowed in the speech of the Treasurer the possibility of further great charges. He is softening us up by pointing out that since 1945 some £400,000,000, taken from the Government’s revenues, has been handed over to the Post Office for capital works - works which will endure for centuries. He postulates the proposition that the Post Office should pay interest on that money. The Commonwealth Government paid no interest on it. It took that money, in the nature of a capital levy, from the people of this country. The Government raised the money without interest and passed it over to the Post Office. The Treasurer is now foreshadowing an extension of the interest-mad policy which runs through all the transactions of this Government, by suggest) ag that the Post Office should pay 6 per cent, interest on this money. The Government, of course, has appointed a committee to justify the procedure, or it is about to appoint a committee for that purpose. In due course it will be able to say, “ See what it costs to run the Post Office. Is it right that this interest charge “ - a fictitious charge - “ should burden a successful institution such as the Post Office? “

This is not the end of postal increases. This Government has a phobia for them. Let me mention a few. On first-class mail matter, when the Labour Party left office, the charge was 2id. per ounce. In 1950, this Government lifted that charge to 3d.; in 1951, to 3id.; in 1956 to 4d.; and it now proposes to lift it to 5d. It has doubled the charge during its period of office. It proposes to more than double the charge for second-class mail matter. The charge was Hd. at the time of the Chifley Labour Government, and this Government proposes to lift the charge now to 5d. for the first 2 ounces. On registered articles the base charge has been lifted from ls. 3d. to 2s. Telephone rentals are to increase by £4 per annum in the metropolitan area, if used for business purposes, and by £2 if used in a private residence. For the first time business and private users in the country are to be taken off the one level. They have hitherto been on the one level. The increases of rentals for telephones in the country will range from 5s. to £2 12s. fid. The cost of local calls is to rise from 3d. to 4d. The cost of trunk line calls is to be increased by 10 per cent.

Having regard to the financial position of the Post Office, the whole thing is just outrageous. It is plain taxation. The increases will provoke the utmost resentment throughout the country and in every home once the people realize that the result will be inflated costs, and that the ordinary little people will be paying every penny of the extra £17,800,000.


– Plus something.

Senator McKENNA:

– Plus something, as the honorable senator says - plus the margin of profit. If there is one thing which I recommend to the Government, it is that it have another look at this position. I urge it to recast its thinking. I can promise the Government the most emphatic opposition when the legislation to give effect to these proposals comes before us.

I have just shown that £17,800,000 of the £20,000,000 taxation remissions has already gone. To make a good job of offsetting the taxation relief, the Government has interfered with pharmaceutical benefits, which hitherto, on a limited range of drugs, have been free. The Government found itself in a . mess of its own making over pharmaceutical benefits, because in 1957 it did two things. It took the limit off prescribing so far as expensive, powerful antibiotics are concerned, and allowed them to be prescribed to deal with minor complaints. The second thing it did was to allow flavouring to be used - one of the most expensive, and at the same time useless, things that could be incorporated. The cost of pharmaceutical benefits has risen considerably since these changes were made.

I should like to give to the Senate some information that the Minister for Health (Or. Cameron) has supplied to us. In 1956-57, before those two changes were made, the general benefits payable to chemists and doctors were of the order of £8,500,000 a year. In 1957-58 they jumped to £11,500,000, and 1958-59 they have taken a tremendous jump to £16,500,000. Of course, that type of thing is certain to happen when there is no control of prescribing. Under the new proposal, although the range of drugs will be increased, it will not be unlimited. Many things will be left out of the scheme. It is perfectly certain that if no proper restrictions are imposed over-prescribing will take place.

Consider how the number of prescriptions has jumped. According to the Minister’s figures, the number of prescriptions has risen during the last two years from 14,000,000, through to 16,000,000, and now to 20,000,000. As everybody will have to pay at least 5s. for a prescription, another £5,000,000 will come back to the Treasury. That is another form of taxation. Where is the social justice? Who pays this taxation? It is paid by the sick people of Australia, it is paid by the family units, and it is paid by the elderly people who do not come under the pensioner medical scheme. This Government is lifting the burden of financing pharmaceutical benefits from the community as a whole and is putting it on to the backs of the sick people, and, above all, on to the backs of the family unit and the aged people. I should like somebody on the Government side to express his approval of that proposition when he thinks it out.

It is interesting to see that despite the fact that there is to be a reduction of £20,000,000 a year in taxation, the Treasurer is budgeting to receive £78,500,000 more than was received last year. That is attributable to the natural expansion of the economy. The public might think that with a reduction of £20,000,000 in taxation, as compared with last year, less would be budgeted for this year than was budgeted for last year, but that is not so. The Government is budgeting for another £78,500,000, and if the £20,000,000 had not been remitted the Government would have collected just on £100,000,000 more this year than last year.

Let us follow into one more field the trend of the Government’s thinking in relation to taxation. Hitherto the allowable deduction in respect of payments for superannuation or life assurance was £300 per annum. This Budget lists the amount allowed to £400 per annum. For anybody who is able to pay that amount, the new provision is a splendid thing, because it represents a remission of at least another £50 in income tax to anybody on a middle income, but I invite somebody on the Government side to tell me in due course how many of the people will save £8 a week out of a taxation remission of ls. 2id. a week to enable them to take out an additional life assurance on which the premium amounts to £100 a year. How many of the 2,600,000 little taxpayers of this country, who earn less than £1,500 a year, will be able to afford £8 a week for their private superannuation and insurance? So we see who will get the benefit of this new provision - only the people who are able to afford to insure themselves against the future to the extent of the very large sum represented by £400 a year in premiums. The great bulk of the people will not- benefit; only the few will do so. The cost to the revenue is estimated at £400,000 a year, which also will find its way into relatively few hands. With those thoughts I leave the taxation field, and pass to the subject of social services. After doing virtually nothing for two years, the Government now proposes to make a handout, according to its figures, of some £14,000,000. It has given us no details of the cost of hospital or pharmaceutical benefits; we have had to guess at those. That is very unusual. When a Treasurer introduces new proposals, he should be in a position to give some indication of the cost. The Budget proposes an increase of 7s. 6d. a week in age, invalid and widows’ pensions. I say that that is shamefully inadequate, having regard to the increases in living costs since the last increase in pensions was made, and to the fact that only quite recently there has been an increase of 15s. a week in the basic wage.

But more important than the things the Government has done in this Budget are the things it has not done. There is not one penny increase in child endowment, and that shows an utterly callous indifference to the family unit. The level of child endowment for the second and subsequent children has remained the same since 1948. It was fixed eleven years ago, and its value, of course, has dropped by at least one-half. The one thing that the Government has done in the field of child endowment was the provision, in 1950, of 5s. a week for the first child. What is that worth to-day? Maybe 2s., or thereabouts. I would say that this Government has, by its disregard of child endowment, betrayed the utmost indifference to the welfare of the children of the nation and the importance of building the family unit.

Maternity benefits have remained static since 1943. We take the blame for five years of that period, during the war and immediately after the war. But this Government has been in office for ten years, and has plainly set its face against increased maternity benefits. Last November, we offered to double the amount. We offered to treble funeral benefits and to increase by 15s. the allowance for wives of invalid and age pensioners. In the field of child endowment, we proposed to double the amount allowed for the first child, making it 10s., and to give 17s. 6d. for the second child and £1 for all the others. That would have cost £58,000,000, and, looking back from this viewpoint, it is interesting to realize that that could have been financed, without raising another penny, within the framework of the Budget that the Government itself presented in this place last year, and we would still have had money to spare, without invoking central bank credit.

Senator Paltridge:

– Would you have paid it out of loan money?

Senator McKENNA:

– No, we made that completely clear.

Senator Paltridge:

– How would you have paid it?

Senator McKENNA:

– The Minister will recall that this Government proposed to apply £110,000,000 of central bank credit. Every one of our social service proposals would have been paid for out of revenue, Not one penny would have come from loans or central bank credit. If a modicum of central bank credit had been required, we would have applied it to its proper purpose of capital works, instead of making capital levies on the people down the years to the order of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Let me refer to the repatriation benefits that the Government proposes. One matter of substance that is proposed is an increase of 15s. a week in the payment to totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen. We say that that is niggardly. We put our view of the matter before the people last year, when we said that we considered that the barest, irreducible minimum that these 12,000 persons should receive was the basic wage, which to-day is £13 16s. With the proposed increase of 15s., this Government will pay £12 5s. a week to men in that category. There is to be a paltry increase of 7s. 6d. a weeK in the general rate, and the increase for service pensioners is to be the same as that for age pensioners.

One theme that I should like to develop for a moment in the time remaining is that this Budget makes no attack whatever on the internal cost structure. It makes not the slightest contribution to an attack. In fact, it has taken deliberate steps to add to the cost structure. There is no relief from sales tax or pay-roll tax, which together, according to the Budget figures, will amount to £203,000,000 this year. As the Tariff Board told us, for every £1 of those taxes £2 goes into the cost structure, so the Government itself is responsible for adding £400,000,000 per annum to the cost structure of this country. Nobody expects the Government to abolish these taxes overnight, but at least it could take a step in the direction of reducing costs. However, not a thing has been done. Sales tax and pay-roll tax are factors that most adversely affect the man on the land, who is in enough trouble as it is. Farm income, according to the statement of national income, was £409,000,000 last year, lt was £329,000,000 in 1949-50, the Chifley Government’s last year’, and if those amounts are equated in terms of money values, the truth is found to be that the income of farmers to-day is far lower than it was when the Chifley Government went out of office.

Senator Benn:

– And their debts are higher.

Senator McKENNA:

– I would have no doubt of that. Look at the position of wool last year, according to the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician.

Senator Branson:

– You do not hold that against the Government, do you?

Senator McKENNA:

– The wool-growers produced 10 per cent, more wool, but the value of it fell by 14 per cent. Honorable senators opposite are interjecting, but I point out that that was the very statement made by the Statistician in his White Paper. Even that industry, thriving as it has been, is in need of reduced costs. The whole farming community is in need of help. But this Government offers nothing to the farmers or to secondary industry. No relief in the form of depreciation allowances is mooted in the Budget, even though we are still so largely dependent upon primary production, both as regards quantity and value, for our balance of payments equation. When we are so dependent upon our primary producers, we ought to have far more regard for their needs and to help them to stand up in foreign markets, because that is where we earn our foreign exchange.

Last year, we were down £187,000,000 on our trading on current account. As a result of the unpredictable influx of private capital and loans from abroad - a situation upon which we cannot rely from one year to the other - it was made up to the tune of £177,000,000, and in the end our overseas balances were down only by £10,000,000. That was due entirely to the influx of capital during the year - an even which may not be repeated in any other year. ,The Government remains dependent upon the farmers of this country to produce commodities with which they must compete on world markets. For that reason, it should be addressing its mind, not to imposing more postal charges on the farmers, but to taking steps to reduce their costs. One would have expected a government of the calibre of this Government and of its professed belief to make a move on indirect taxes in order to reduce the costs that inevitably come back on secondary and primary industries.

This boosting of costs is not confined to the particular matter I have mentioned. One sees it in operation in relation to other defective policies adopted by this Government, lt is the meanest government that I think has ever disgraced the Commonwealth. Let us consider the financing of Commonwealth capital works in recent years. Every penny required by the Commonwealth for its capital works programmes has been taken from its taxation resources. The total capital levy by this Government up to this year was £938,000,000. This year it proposes to pay another £142,000,000 for capital works. Yet it still has the audacity, as Minister after Minister has indicated in this chamber, to require government instrumentalities which get this money to pay interest on it.

How do the States get on at the hands of this Government? This Government takes the revenue for the year and undertakes the whole of its own capital works programme, which this year will amount’ to £142,000,000. Then, when the States want help from that revenue for their own capital works the Government dribbles the money through the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve and makes a loan to them. During its term of office, and up to June last, this Government made loans totalling £576,000,000 to the States in that way. How does that work out on the Budgets of the Commonwealth and the States? I developed this theme at great length a year ago. The public debt of the Commonwealth in 1949 was £1,825,000,000. To-day it is £1,649,000,000- a fall of £176,000,000.

Senator McKellar:

– Hear, hear!

Senator McKENNA:

– Let me hear the cheers in the States House when I come to the next item. In 1949, the public debt of the States was £1,008,000,000. At 30tb June last, it was £2,391,000,000- an increase of £1,383,000,000. Are there any cheers now, or cries of “ Hear, hear “? I do not hear any. That situation has been brought about by the fact that all the dear money that is raised in this country, all the money that comes in from the loan fund bearing interest, is, with the magnificent generosity of this Commonwealth Government, given to the States, together with the burden of repaying each year some portion of the principal and the whole of the interest. When they have run out of loan money and the Government is handing over its interest-free taxation collections to the States, it charges them interest.

Now let us look at the interest position as between the Commonwealth and the States. In 1949, the annual interest bill for the Commonwealth on the public debt was £51,057,000. To-day, ten years later, it is £51,936,000. Over a period of ten years the Commonwealth’s interest bill on the public debt has risen by less than £1,000,000 a year. Are there any cries of “ Hear, hear “?

Senator Mattner:

– Yes.

Senator McKENNA:

– And I join in. Now let us, as representatives of the States, see what we have done. In 1949, the interest bill for the States was £32,312,000; to-day it is £95,863,000. While the Commonwealth’s annual interest bill during the ten-year reign of this Government has risen by less than £1,000,000, that of the States has risen by £63,000,000. And, of course, it is the States which provide all the intimate services for the people. They have had to tax the people to get the money to pay the interest on the taxes the people have already paid. Then this Government has to tax the same people again to give the money to the States to pay the interest on the taxes that it has lent to the States. It is the most fantastic performance that one could imagine. It is little wonder that I make the point that this Government behaves with the utmost selfishness instead of doing the fair and decent thing and saying to the States in the spirit of the partnership of federation, “We have got a lot of money without interest. You have a big works programme; so have we. We will share all interest-free money with you proportionately. In relation to the moneys raised on the loan ‘market - the onerous money, the money that carries with it repayments of principal and interest - we will take our proportion.” I finish on this theme as I began - that is, by saying that there has never been such a selfish Commonwealth Government as the present one. No one is more responsible for putting the States in their present most difficult financial position than is this Government.

I now pass to another theme. I have not left it until late in my speech with any deliberation but simply because I cannot comment on all the important matters at once. I come to the question of unemployment. The first of the two references to this subject that I could find in the Budget Speech appeared on page 1 of the printed copy, where the Treasurer said that last year unemployment fell. The other reference appeared at page 3 of the printed copy, and read -

To keep all resources, and particularly our resources of labour, fully employed is, of course, not only a social obligation but also a vital economic need.

Let us see how the Treasurer has discharged that moral and social obligation. Since 1956, this Government has created a steady pool of unemployment. That is what has happened, despite the laughter of honorable senators opposite and all the smooth talk engaged in by the Government. There is a loud ringing of bells if the number falls by a 1 ,000 or 2,000 in a month. Let us observe the trend over three years. Let us start with December 1955, just before that iniquitous little Budget that the Government parties did not tell the people about before the 1955 general election, although three months later the Government landed £115,500,000 of additional taxation on them. That is the thing that has done the damage to the employment position in this country.

Senator Paltridge:

– And the people reelected us three years later.

Senator McKENNA:

– lt is extraordinary how long they suffer you. Probably it is because they are deceived by unscrupulous things such as you did with your Budget last year. The one thing at which this Government excels is smooth talk.

Let us look at some facts in relation to unemployment. In December, 1955, at the time of the general election, there were 16,266 people unemployed in Australia. For the whole of the following year, 1956, after the little Budget, the number was never less than 31,000, and it finished at 36,000 for the year. In the following year it was never less than 46,000 in any month, and it finished at 58,000. In the following month the number rose to 74,000. In the next year, 1958, it was never less, on any day of any month, than 56,000, and 1958 ended with the number at 64,000. This year, it has never been less than the figure reported the other day - 63,000.

Let us go back and look again at the years I have mentioned. In 1956, the number of unemployed was never less than 31,000; in 1957, it was never less than 46,000; in 1958, it was never less than 56,000; and so far this year, it has been never less than 63,000. There is the plain trend. There are loud cheers from the Government when the number falls for one month, but we must look at the overall position down the years. The figure has been continuously rising, from 31,000 to 63,000.

Where, in this Budget, is there the slightest approach to solving that enormous problem, which is a tragedy for 63,000 individual human beings, plus their dependants? I have looked in vain for such an approach. The Government simply dismisses the matter by talking about this vast human problem for so many individuals as a percentage of the work force, in the most statistical, inhuman way. Here is a Budget that the Government professes to be proud of. Let somebody on the Government side indicate to the Opposition where this Budget even begins to make any approach to solving the problem of unemployment. senator Robertson. - Has the honorable senator me unemployment figures for 1948?

Senator McKENNA:

– No. I regret to say mat 1 am discussing the ten years of this Government’s administration. 1 do not see any virtue in delving into any other years.

Let me say a word or two about my old friends, the trust funds. They have been taken out of the Budget papers this year, but 1 have found them in the Financial Statement. They were in the Budget papers for very many years, but all the particulars are still available. 1 wish to refer to our old friend, the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Account. It stood al £300,000,000 at the beginning of the las! financial year, and the Government has added to it, as I said in another context in this speech, £28,000,000 out of revenue - £28,000,000 that it did not require, because the Government has that fund exceedingly well invested in the most realizable securities. Practically every bit of it has been built up out of revenues collected from the people and tucked away in this account. Last year, the Government used £100,000,000 from the account to wipe off Commonwealth debt. It collected £10,000,000 in interest on its securities - really good securities. The Government still has a balance, in very good securities, of £237,000,000 in that trust fund. Only £52,000,000 is in treasury bills. There is a reservoir available to the Government’s hand in any emergency for the redemption of debt, or for any general budgetary purposes. It is a beautiful nestegg. Having a credit balance of £237,000,000, we see the fraud that it was to take out of revenue £28.000,000 last year and put it into that swollen account. That was done only for the purpose of enabling some semblance of central bank credit to be used.

I see that my time is rapidly running out. On looking at the Budget papers I find references throughout to prosperity. Tha« is the theme from beginning to end. But there is no prosperity for those on fixed incomes, no prosperity for 63,000 unemployed, and no help for the family unit in the community. When we talk of prosperity, I will concede the Government one record. I have obtained the AttorneyGeneral’s report on the very latest bankruptcy position. Last year, this Gov.rnment had the distinction of being in office in a year when the highest number of bankruptcies occurred since the depression year of 1930-31. There were 1,846 sequestration orders at the depth of the depression, and last year, under this Government, there were 1,608. Let us look at the trends in bankruptcy, particularly since the little Budget. In the first year of office of this Government there were 308 sequestrations. Since then, the number has risen steadily year by year, from 382 to 636, to 687, to 769, to 798, to 1,200 in 1956-57, to 1,357 in 1957-58, and to 1,608 last year - the highest figure, as I have said, since the depression year of 1930-31.

Senator Paltridge:

– Does that include the bankruptcy of the Labour Party?

Senator McKENNA:

– No, it does not include that, because the Labour Party is one body that will not be sequestrated. The honorable senator may be completely assured of that. I have not included in those figures the number of assignments that have been made during this Government’s term, and which have risen from 72 a year to 433.

I set out to show that there was no justice in these Budget proposals, and that there is evidence of indecision, muddle and falsification running right throughout the work of this Government There is a general air of tinkering and of chaos in the nation’s affairs. We of the Opposition have moved the amendment that I have indicated, intending it as a vote of censure on the Government because of these Budget papers.

Senator SPOONER:
New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development · LP

– I lead for the Government in this debate, and in many ways I follow an old, familiar trail - that of my political opponent, Senator McKenna, who has put the views of the Australian Labour Party. Those views this year, as in past years, have not been constructive. The Labour Party puts forward a series of comments about the destruction and havoc that it alleges this

Government has wrought upon the community. We always have a string of prophecies about evils that are to come in the future. In truth, the views that have been put forward on behalf of the Labour Party on this occasion, as in the past, are completely different from the realities of the situation. The Labour Party lives in a world of its own, a world of distortion, a world of vain imaginings, a world in which the wish that the Government would make errors is father to the thought that the Government has made errors - and nothing is further from the truth. On this occasion, the claim is made in even more extravagant terms than it has been made in the past. There is an accusation of a deliberately false presentation of Budget papers, an accusation of a conspiracy on the part of Ministers of State, Treasury officials, Commonwealth Bank people, and on the part of all those who had a say in the preparation of the Budget. Well, Mr. Deputy President, the real situation is that nobody could take such an accusation seriously, and it does little justice, or little compliment, to the Labour Party that it sinks to the depth of making an allegation such as that on such an important occasion as this.

What I want to do is to reply, as far as I can in the time available to me, to each one of the critical comments that Senator McKenna has made, but I am certain that T will do this more effectively if I start off and give some background and some perspective to the great national matters that the Budget deals with and that each Budget deals with. Let me start by saying two things: First, this is Mr. Holt’s first Budget, and I congratulate him upon it. Secondly, I pay a tribute to his predecessor, Sir Arthur Fadden, who is not with us this year - who bore the heat and burden of the Treasury for so long, and who made during his period of office such a notable contribution to Australian progress and development.

Sir, I said that I would provide a background. I believe there is no better way cf providing a background than by making a few brief quotations from the Budget Speech itself, because despite what Senator McKenna has said to-night, the Budget Speech is an accurate document upon which the integrity of the Government depends and upon which the personal standing and reputation of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and his professional advisers is pledged. A Budget speech states in sober terms what has happened, and it anticipates events in the future in a traditionally conservative manner. We have been told by Senator McKenna that the world is falling in ruin around our feet, that all is wrong, that Australia is headed for a decline and is headed for bankruptcy. Let us contrast these comments with some of the measured statements that are contained in the Budget Speech. I will just give half a dozen brief sentences -

Generally, 1958-59 proved a better year than we expected this time twelve months ago. It was a notable year for rural production and, in the secondary field, the majority of industries increased their output. Employment rose considerably and unemployment fell. . . . Construction of houses and flats ran along somewhere about 80,000 a year, which is a very high figure.

Senator O’Byrne:

– Many more houses are needed.

Senator SPOONER:

– I know that the honorable senator does not like this, but I am quoting facts and figures. The Treasurer continued -

In the first nine months of 1958-59, new money raisings by listed companies were £144,000,000, compared with £84,000,000 in the corresponding period of 1957-58, an increase of 72 per cent.

. instead of our overseas reserves falling by something over £100,000,000 . . . they fell by only £10,000,000.

Fortified by this improvement, the Government has . . . raised the ceiling for import licensing from £800,000,000 a year to £850,000,000.

This is a story of which any government can be proud, and I can only think that in the criticism that Senator McKenna makes he has a feeling of disquiet in his mind, realizing that if on an evil day for Australia Labour was ever recalled to power he would not be able to repeat the performances of this Government, as set out in the sober facts contained in the Budget Speech. It is a fair thing to say that one feels a sense of pride, not only in the achievements of the last twelve months, but in the note of confidence in the future that the Treasurer strikes in his Budget Speech.

It is obvious that the Treasurer is bringing to his new portfolio the tradition he created in his own old portfolios of Labour and National Service, and Immigration, a tradition of seeking co-operative effort throughout the community, a tradition of being successful in the things that he does. That is the point that is rankling with the Opposition. Honorable senators opposite can see him bringing to the Treasury these qualities that are going to be as successful there as they were in the great industrial portfolio that he held. There were fewer industrial disputes during the period that he held the portfolio of Labour and National Service than during the regime of any previous holder of the office. This is a confident approach, and again I propose to prove it by a few extracts - a few very brief statements - from the Budget Speech, because they set the tone of what the Government aims to do in the forthcoming year and what the Government will undoubtedly achieve in the forthcoming year. I shall quote them in staccato terms -

Expansion must go on . . . The amount provided for payments to the States this year is £321,728,000- which is no less than £35,100,000 more than last year.

This, I think, might be an appropriate occasion to refer to the foolish argument which Senator McKenna advances concerning charging interest on money provided to the States. What Senator McKenna would ask us to believe is that he would be a veritable Father Christmas, lending untold millions to the State governments and not charging them interest on it. It is a fine story until you turn over the page and look at the other side of the picture. Who is going to pay this interest if the States do not? Is the Commonwealth Budget to be reduced by the amount of interest we receive from the States? If we do not charge interest to the States, the Budget income decreases accordingly and we go to the taxpayers and ask the taxpayers to lend money to the States free of interest. Is that a reasonable proposition to advance when you add the further ingredient that the Commonwealth-State Financial Agreement provides that when the moneys that are advanced to the States are repaid the Commonwealth shall pay one-half of the sinking fund repayments. Therefore, the proposition which Senator McKenna would really ask us to accept is that not only do we lend money to the

States free of interest, but, in addition, we pay half of the capital; we give them half of the capital as a gift. I have seen some examples of frenzied finance, but this is more frenzied than any I have previously encountered.

Let me go on to emphasize further statements from the Budget speech. Here are some of our objectives for the forthcoming year. We acknowledge the responsibility to keep all resources, particularly resources of labour, fully employed. This is not only a social obligation; it is also a vital economic need. The basis is laid down so that the achievements of the past decade can be equalled or surpassed in the current decade.

As a measure of our confidence in the future we are increasing the immigration programme which is, in so many ways, the key to future development in Australia. A point which should be specially noted by honorable senators is that we believe there must be partnership between Government and business, but we stress that in any national effort it is the individual citizen who counts. When we hear the unsound proposal that we act as Father Christmas, giving money to the States free of interest and accepting responsibility for half of all sinking fund repayments we feel bound to ask the private citizen, who counts for so much in any national effort, to consider the cost of adopting the crazy financial proposals that Senator McKenna advances.

The story of Australian development in recent years is indeed a stirring story. It is a challenge to us all to maintain a similar tempo in the future. Our approach is along these lines: So far as we are concerned, the Menzies Government is in the business of government for keeps. We play this game seriously, and with a sense of national obligation. We know that we can stay in government for keeps only if we maintain the confidence and respect of the Australian people. We can do that only by facing up to what has to be done, and doing it. That is the purpose of the Budget proposals. It is the background against which one should consider the criticism by the leader of the Australian Labour Party. The Budget has been called in some section* of the press, “A give and take Budget”. I see it as giving and taking in a responsible way, for the better ordered government,, development and progress of Australia.

Let me put, in simple terms, a series of questions to honorable senators in respect of matters that have attracted the criticism of Senator McKenna. What is wrong with increasing postal charges to an extent sufficient to cover rising costs? That, in simple language, is the Budget proposal. What is wrong with making a charge for pharmaceutical benefits so that Australia may avoid the disastrous experience of other countries which have failed to face the problems inherent in these social schemes.

Senator Sheehan:

– To which governments’ are you referring?

Senator SPOONER:

– If possible I will deal with this matter in greater detail later. lt is axiomatic that unless we do what is. proposed, we shall be unable to achieve our aim of dividing the resources of Australia equitably between those who are entitled to them - meanwhile ear-marking an appreciable part of those resources as a foundation for the increased population, development and progress that we envisage.

Let me turn now to some of the matters that Senator McKenna has criticised in detail. He got on his old hobby horse and galloped off in all directions at once in pursuit of his pet theme - inflation. Let us look at the situation in recent years, and the effect of that situation upon living standards in Australia. In the last eleven years retail prices have increased by 110 per cent. Nominal wages have increased by 130 per cent. Let honorable senators make no mistake about it. Judged by comparative world standards, we have done well in this matter of price trends. I know that the facts hurt honorable senators opposite. They live in a world of make-believe, and hope that the people will accept their fairy stories. The facts are that, at December, 1958, Australian retail prices were approximately 3 per cent, higher than in June, 1957 - eighteen months earlier. Those were eighteen critical months in Australia’s trading history.

Senator Ormonde:

– What was the price level in 1949?

Senator SPOONER:

– I am speaking now of the trend in the last eighteen months. During that period, in which retail prices in Australia rose 3 per cent., prices in Canada rose 4 per cent., prices in the United Kingdom rose 4 per cent., prices in South Africa rose 5 per cent, and prices in New Zealand rose 8 per cent. Honorable senators who are versed in these matters realize the importance of such comparisons to a great trading nation in a competitive world, because internal costs are vitally reflected in the cost of exports.

Some of the greatest nonsense that emanates from the Opposition is concerned with the continual allegation that because of price increases, Australian living standards have fallen. There is hardly a statistical reference which will not show a rise in Australian standards of living. That is one of the proudest boasts of the Government after a decade in office. I know that the facts make honorable senators squirm, but I shall state them for all that. In the last decade the number of motor vehicles in Australia has increased from 592,000 to 1,755,000- an increase of 196 per cent. There is now one private car for every 5i people in Australia. Labour would like the people to believe that we are facing national bankruptcy, but here are the real figures: The number of refrigerators has risen from 112,000 to 193,000. The number of washing machines produced totalled 164,000 last year, and in 1957-58, no fewer than 285,000 television sets were put on the market. That is not a bad effort for a country whose living standards are supposed to be falling. Measured by prosperity, by stability of the currency, by high employment levels, by welfare generally, Australia ranks as one of the happiest and most prosperous countries in the world. Anyone who wishes to create a different impression has the task ahead of him. No wonder Labour loses election after election. It is simply unable to face the facts of life and put matters before the public in a reasonably frank way. We are told that our provision for the pensioner and the socially under-privileged is inadequate. Let me state this great problem to the Opposition from another angle. I ask honorable senators opposite to look at table 8 on page 22 of the White Paper on National Income, which is the statistical register of what is being done. That tabulation, which I think is a reasonable fount of knowledge on matters such as this, shows that since we have been in office cash payments in social services have increased from £119,000,000 to £345,000,000 and that those payments now represent 32 per cent, of the total Commonwealth cash outlay by contrast with 26 per cent, ten years ago.

Senator Toohey:

– What about the value of the £1?

Senator SPOONER:

– The answer to that old parrot cry is that to-day we are appropriating near enough to one-third of our total cash outlay to social services and benefits for the under-privileged as compared with 26 per cent, when the Labour Government was in office ten years ago. That is the short answer to the criticism of the Opposition. lt is important that all Australians realize that near enough to 32 per cent, of our total cash outlay is paid out in benefits for pensioners and others who are socially under-privileged. We have every desire and1 every anxiety to do the right thing, and I believe it is true to say that what we are doing is not equalled in many other countries.

As my time is running short I should like to turn for a few minutes to the question of pharmaceutical benefits, because the Opposition endeavours to raise a hue and cry about this issue. The original concept of pharmaceutical benefits was to provide a limited list of life-saving drugs. We advanced from that to a pensioner scheme which provided a long list of drugs other than life-saving drugs for the benefit of pensioners. In recent years, there has been rapid development in the evolution of new and costly drugs. Almost immediately these new expensive drugs are put on the benefit list, they are widely prescribed by doctors who apparently feel no inhibition about the cost of those drugs to the community as a whole. This is illustrated by the fact that the number of prescriptions has increased from 6,500,000 to 13,300,000 whilst the cost has increased from £7,300,000 to no less than £18,500,000. We propose to take the commonsense approach to the matter and bring the scheme back to a good foundation. Instead of having one list of lifesaving drugs for pensioners and a separate list of drugs for other people, we propose to have one list covering all drugs available and make a charge for certain of them thus reducing the temptation for doctors to prescribe costly drugs when less expen sive ones would do, and to require people other than pensioners to pay what will be only a comparatively small amount for the tremendous benefit they obtain.

I repeat that we have got to keep our feet on the ground. If a Government is not prepared to carry out the reorganization that is needed in the evolution of a great social scheme, it cannot expect to hold the confidence of the people. As I have pointed out already, we are in Government for keeps. We are here to hold the confidence of the people, and we can only hold that confidence ‘if we face up to problems such as are inherent in these matters. In 1948-49, the expenditure on pharmaceutical benefits was £149,000. That was when Labour was in office. In 1959-60, that figure had increased to no less than £24,056,000, and any party irresponsible enough to attempt to make political capital out of a Government’s doing its job in that way deserves to lose elections, just as the Opposition has done in the past.

I turn now to the proposed increased postal charges. Post and telegraph charges have not been increased since 1956, and the general increases proposed are substantially less than the general movement of costs over the years. As a Government, we believe in social justice, in rising standards of living, and in higher effective pay rates for the people. I point out also that in a period in which the wage rates of postal and telephone employees have increased by from 175 per cent, to 250 per cent, the first-class letter rate has risen by only 60 per cent. Stating the position in another way, since 1951, increases in the basic wage have added no less than £22,000,000 to the annual post office wages bill. In the face of figures such as those, what ground for complaint is there about a policy of making reasonable additions to charges in order to recover those increased costs? I remind the Senate that we did not seem to have much compunction about doing that when we adopted with alacrity the Richardson report which increased parliamentary salaries in line with increased costs. We should not adopt one policy for one class of the community and another for ourselves. Then, we have heard a great story about how the proposed increases will affect the people of Australia. According to the computations given to me, the average cost of the proposed increases in postal and telephone charges will be approximately 8d. a week per head of the population. It must be remembered here that this includes the huge amounts that companies and societies will pay, and their inclusion reduces the cost to the ordinary family to a very small item indeed.

Let me finish on the note that I do wish the Labour Party could forget its traditional carping critical approach to the Budget, that it could take a national outlook, take a look at the future and attempt to evaluate what will happen. Under the proposals submitted in the Budget, £50,000,000 is put directly into the hands of the public through social services, repatriation benefits and tax concessions. Another £50,000,000 will go into the pockets of the spending public as a result ©f the increase of 15s. a week in the basic wage. Add to that the strengthening that is occurring in our export markets, the inflow of capital from overseas and the incentive to industry that will arise from these tax concessions. Do not forget that these tax concessions are skilfully placed. They will benefit the small companies - the big companies of to-morrow and the prospective employers of the people of Australia.

I finish by saying that all the signs and portents are that next year bids fair to be good enough to make the Opposition just as angry, twelve months hence, as it is to-night.

Senator COLE:
Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party · Tasmania

– I have already referred to this Budget as a cold mixed grill. As food a cold mixed grill is not very appetising, unless, of course, you are starving. This country is not starving. I repeat that the Budget is a cold mixed grill. It is cold because there is no warmth in it for the pensioners or the family wage earners. It is very mixed. It gives something with one hand and surreptitiously takes it away with the other. It is a grill because it does contain some meat in its proposals, especially in regard to immigration. For the welfare of the migrants who have come to this country, let us hope that the meat will be attractive meat in the not far distant future.

This Budget is just a statement of facta. It does not show any vision at all. It contains no statement of any policy to remove the anomalies that were apparent in all the other Budgets that have been brought down by this Government. You can say that the Government has been a good housekeeper. We can grant it that, but the concluding words of the Budget Speech are greatly at variance with the facts. Honorable senators will remember those concluding words -

The Budget …. has also sought to express a spirit of social justice to all sections of the community and to provide fresh incentive for future national progress.

Those very worthy sentiments are not carried into effect in the Budget that has been presented to the Parliament.

I want to deal first with the social services side of the Budget. The social service proposals, I suppose, evoke more publicity and arouse more interest in the ordinary person than any other proposals in the Budget. As ordinary men and women, we know that the 7s. 6d. increase that is to be given to the pensioners is very miserly. We know that it is unjust and that it will not help the pensioners in any way to improve their lot in this country, especially as, only a couple of months ago. the basic wage increased by 15s., with a corresponding rise in prices. As far as the pensioners are concerned, the Budget is unjust.

The Government could have done something about pensions, because the money is available. In the last Budget, a deficit of £110,000,000 was expected but at the end of the year the deficit was found to be about £60,000,000 less than had been expected. The money saved could have been used to provide for the well-being of the pensioners, and the country would have been no worse off. The same result may occur at the end of this financial year. The Government cannot make the excuse that it cannot provide for pensioners.

Once again I re-state the policy that 1 have advocated to this Parliament during the debates on the last four Budgets. I suggest that a tribunal be set up to study the needs of the pensioners and that the Government should, give . effect to the findings of that tribunal. We did that for ourselves in dealing with our salaries. The

Parliament- set- up a tribunal to’ consider the remuneration of its members,- and the findings were accepted by the Parliament. Why cannot the same thing be done for the pensioners? When we have brought- forward this suggestion, we have always been opposed by the Evatt Labour Party.

Senator Ormonde:

– The Labour Party.

Senator COLE:

– Do not be ashamed of it. lt is the Evatt Labour Party. Every time we have brought forward our proposal in this chamber, we have been opposed by the Evatt Labour Party, which says that it is the duty of this Parliament to fix pensions. It did not follow the same argument when we were discussing the salaries bill. When the social services bill comes before the Parliament iri the not-far-distant future, I hope that party, will join in unity with the Democratic Labour Party to give effect to this proposal.

Senator McCallum:

– Not a unity ticket!

Senator COLE:

– =They have been playing about with unity tickets with the Communists. Why not, on this occasion, for the welfare of the pensioners, join in a unity ticket with the Democratic Labour Party?

One very important aspect of the Budget has not been touched upon. I refer to child endowment. Once again we. find thai the Government has done nothing about child endowment. Once again the Government has not mentioned child endowment in the Budget, lt should be realized that the only way to do justice to the family man and his wife and children is to increase child endowment. Under our present wage structure, that is the only way in which we can recognize the responsibility of the family man. In the Australian community to-day a very large section is suffering great hardship because of a serious decline in the standards of living. These, of course, are the family men. It is a fact that skilled and unskilled family men, thousands of when at present receive an award wage of £15 a week, are unable to meet their family commitments, and so their wives go out to work. Honorable senators know that as well as I do.- The present basic wage, being based on economic considerations. Kas teased to make adequate provision for the. needs of a family. The only practical means df providing arid maintaining a reasonable level of family income is to increase’ child endowment. Even if the scheme’ that I intend to place before the -Seriate in a few moments were adopted, ii would serve only to restore the 1-948 valuedf child endowment,- which has declined by 50 per cent* as a result df increased prices. To day a family nian with four children receives about 12 per cent, of the basic wage in child endowment, this percentage being less than half of the percentage received in child endowment in 1948. Let us remember what John Curtin said in 1941 when he proposed an increase in child endowment -

Thus we shall have the correction of a glaring social anomaly of a large family experiencing privation and making sacrifices which would not have been necessary if the’ family frere riot so large. We ought riot to’ regard if aS economically inevitable that there must be’ Hardships if there are two, three or more children in the family.

Senator Marriott:

– Who do you suggest brought in child endowment?

Senator COLE:

– I did not suggest anything.

Senator Scott:

– You said John Curtin.

Senator COLE:

– John Curtin said that when proposing an increase in child endowment. 1 want to bring forward a scale of payments that will do no more than restore the 1948 level. I have brought this proposal forward before. We propose that the amount paid for” the first child remain at 5s., but that the payment for the next child be raised to £1 and that the amount for each succeeding child be increased progressively by 2s. 6d. In that way justice would be done to family men out of the profits that they help to produce.

The merit of this proposal is that it will increase the family income in proportion to need. In view of the fact that almost half the number of all of the eligible children are first children, a gradually increasing rate can be paid without raising the total amount excessively. Indeed, the addition-’ cost for all children after the fourth would be insignificant. We could, of course, play politics on this issue arid say that the amount paid in respect of the first child should be ind eased. That would add greatly to the Burden. Birt no, we wen child endowment payments spread according to the needs of the family

The economic effects of the graduated family endowment scheme that we propose would be far less inflationary than a uniform increase in the fate payable for first children dr for all children, because the payments we propose would be related to needs. Forty-six per cent, df all children are the first children in families, arid 76 per cent, are first and second children. Obviously* a uniform increase would be relatively more expensive without providing commensurate social benefits. Indeed, of all families receiving child endowment, 36 per cent, are one-child families; and 34 per cent, are two-child families, so that only 30 per cent, of all families have more than two children. A graduated scheme would benefit the larger families, whose demand would tend to be for the necessaries of life, and any increased demand would be only a relatively small percentage of the total demand for consumer goods and services. It would have the effect of encouraging increased production of necessaries.

Someone referred to the cost. The money required to give effect to our proposal would be in the neighbourhood of £42,000;000. From where would it come? Judging by the last Budget, the money would be in the Treasury. The estimated deficit last year was £110,000,000-, but it turned out to be less than £30,000,000. In other words, the Government saved almost twice the amount of money that would be paid in child endowment under our proposal. Child endowment increasing on a graduated scale is the only way to give justice to the family man.

To-night, I want to put before the Senate a plan foi- getting rid of what is, I suppose, the worst anomaly in the pensions field, namely, the means test. I have brought forward before in this Parliament a comprehensive superannuation scheme. Tonight, I want to propose what is known as a voluntary contributory national superannuation scheme* which can be introduced without the compulsion that is obnoxious to quite a lot of people. Everyone should be encouraged to make some effort to prepare for his old age or retirement. In these days it is accepted that one ought to insure himself against any considerable risk. Old age and retirement -must be considered not as -a risk, but its a virtual certainty, except under very tragic circumstance’s. By the method of insurance, the fisk is shared. The greatest benefits for the most “persons are gained for the least outlay. In other words, each person accepts a measure of personal responsibility for his requirements when he eventually reaches retirement. It is our belief that a great majority of the people would be willing to do this if they were able, but under present conditions the cost of insurance is too high to be practicable for the majority of citizens. By means of a flexible Government subsidy to bolster the benefits from insurance contracts a Working plan can be produced.

If no alternative plan accommodates the claimants, the Government is faced with a certain pay-out for age pensions. It would seem to be better to subsidize payments, to a greater of lesser degree, under an insurance contract. In all circumstances a part is less than the whole; thus the Government pay-out by way of subsidy at any time would be less than the payout for pensions. The taxes levied to provide the payout would be less if the Government had to pay only a part by way of subsidy than if it had to pay the whole by way of a public pension. The Government gets its finance from the people, who contribute in proportion to their capacity to pay. Thus, any government expenditure 6*n this plan would satisfy the requirement of those who rightly maintain that the richer people have an obligation id help to provide for the poorer. Furthermore-, by paving the way for the Government to pay any part up to brit not including 100 per cent, of the subsidy needed by certain uninsurable cases whose needs are iri excess of the average, this plan provides a valuable flexible component which makes it almost universally applicable. It goes without saying that the means test would be abolished for all those who were contributors under the plan, The flexible-, adequate government subsidy would convert an impossible, theoretical plan into a practical, workable, dignified scheme which would be in accord with the expressed wishes of the majority of the people of Australia.

This scheme -could be brought forward by the Government to the insurance companies. We would find that the greater proportion 6f the people df Australia would take advantage of it, because at the present time if they contribute to a superannuation fund they are not allowed, iri a great number of cases, to participate in the full benefits of the pensions scheme. If the people knew that they could provide for their welfare and still obtain the pension benefits provided by the Government, 80 to 90 per cent, of them, as is the case with the medical benefits scheme, would take advantage of this scheme of voluntary national superanuation. I commend the scheme to the Government. To adopt it would be one means of getting rid of the means test. Those persons who did not subscribe to it would rely on the pension alone. The means test would not come into the scheme at all.

Senator Kendall:

– Why not make it compulsory for everyone to contribute and thus do away with the age pension?

Senator COLE:

– This would be the first step towards what T hope would be a compulsory insurance scheme. I believe that, if the Government were to adopt the plan I have outlined, the people would be educated in the advantages of a compulsory national scheme.

I move on to the subject of migration. One of the pleasing features of the Treasurer’s Budget speech was the announcement that the Government had decided to increase the migrant intake. Let us hope that the Government will go all out to fill its quota and not do as it did last year when it failed miserably to attain the target of 115,000 migrants. I think the reason why it failed was that, because of political pressure brought to bear by certain organizations, it thought it should maintain a certain ratio between the number of English migrants and the number of southern Europeans. The result was that eligible people in southern Europe were not given an opportunity to make up the deficiency in the quota of migrants from the British Isles. Other honorable senators know as well as I do that the number of English migrants will fall off increasingly. Britain is receiving from such places as Jamaica almost as many migrants as we are receiving from Britain. Britain prefers to keep her own people there. So we will have to show greater vision in trying to attract to Australia people who want to better themselves. If people come here to better themselves, they will show more initiative and drive and will make a greater contribution to the development of this country.

I hope the Government will keep that fact in mind when it is carrying out its migration policy this year. I believe that the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) will do that; otherwise there would be no sense whatever in raising the quota of migrants from 115,000 to 125,000. Immigration means greater development. If we wish to hold this country, we must develop it and fill it with people. The only way we can do that in the short time available to us is to persuade people to migrate here from other countries.

I should now like to deal with the taxation proposals that are set out in the Budget. The proposed reduction of 5 per cent, in income tax has been dealt with very fully to-night by Senator McKenna. In presenting this Budget, the Government is really giving pence to the pensioners but pounds to the wealthy. Income tax is levied on a graduated scale, and it is proposed that the reduction of 5 per cent, shall apply to all incomes. We have heard to-night an explanation of the effects of the income tax reduction, showing that it will have little effect for the wage earner but will be of quite substantial benefit to those in the higher income brackets. I believe it is time that a select committee of the Senate was appointed to examine the incidence of taxation. The Senate must make its presence felt within the next few years. Otherwise, like the Legislative Council in New South Wales, it may be threatened with abolition. In my opinion, the appointment of a select committee of the Senate to investigate the incidence of taxation would provide us with an opportunity to do some good work.

As I have said, so far as taxes are concerned, the Government grants concessions on the one hand and takes them away on the other. There is no reference to reduction of sales tax in the Budget papers. As we know, sales tax affects every family. I have here to-night a copy of a letter that was sent to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), before the Budget was presented, by one of our very strong and worthy supporters, Mr. F. J. Riley, who is secretary of the grocers’ union. Mr. Riley points out very clearly that the incidence of sales tax is doing a great disservice to the family man in particular, and to Australia generally.

In his letter to the Treasurer he stated that the executive committee of the union had resolved that -

In view of the early presentation of the Budget to Federal Parliament, the Federal Treasurer be respectfully requested to remove sales tax from articles manufactured by members of the union. The articles are: Pastry mixes, bread crumbs, jellies, custard powders, cornflour, blanc mange, arrowroot, laundry starch, ice block mixes, citric and tartaric acid, junket crystals, tooth paste, boot and furniture polish and cosmetics.

All of those commodities, which are essential in. the home, are subject to sales tax.

Mr. Riley pointed out that there would be a considerable drop in prices if sales tax were removed from such commodities, because there is great competition between the various organizations that market them. If sales tax were removed, it would give the businesses concerned a great opportunity to reduce prices, which they want to do. However, it does not seem that we shall be able to do anything to reduce sales tax this year, but I hope that if the Government introduces a supplementary budge; it will consider favorably a reduction, ot sales tax on the commodities I have mentioned. The pay-roll tax also affects the family man, because it is one of those iniquitous taxes that are passed on. I believe it is time that the Government seriously considered removing it. During my remarks to-night, I have been trying to make the point that the family man has been treated very badly by the Budget that we are now discussing.

Before I conclude, I wish to deal with certain other matters that are not necessarily concerned with the Budget papers. I want to discuss some aspects of international affairs and the way in which they affect us. As the Budget proposals virtually control the finances of the country and, consequently, our actions in certain areas outside Australia. I believe I am in order in referring to such matters. First, I wish to reiterate the definite aims of our party in relation to a subject with which I propose to deal in a few moments. The Australian Democratic Labour Party declares that Australia’s security and survival depend on a foreign policy uncontaminated by Communist propaganda, and a domestic policy that will ensure the speediest possible development of Australia. To achieve these essential objec tives, all members of the Democratic Labour Party accept the obligation to reject completely any political party that will compromise with Communist foreign policy and propaganda and which forms an association with communism by allowing its members to associate in trade union ballots on united front election tickets. Such a political party must inevitably fall under Communist influence, undermine the security of Australia and weaken our democracy, and must be considered by the Democratic Labour Party as a political danger to Australia.

I wish now to deal with several very important happenings which have a bearing on the affairs of this country. First, I want to discuss New Guinea. Dutch New Guinea is a danger point for Australia. I compliment the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on his recent statement on this subject, in the course of which he said that he would work for the integration of all the people of New Guinea and for their right to self-determination. We hope that that objective will be achieved in the notfardistant future. In the meantime, we say that there must be a strong combination of Dutch and Australians, in order to safeguard the people of New Guinea from being taken over by a foreign country. We must resist the transfer of sovereignty over any part of New Guinea, Dutch or otherwise, to an outside power.

To the north of Australia lies Laos, a very important part of South-East Asia. Considerable harm could be done to Australia if the present unsettled conditions in Laos were allowed to continue. Therefore, I invite the attention of the Government to the serious state of affairs in South-East Asia that has resulted from the Communist aggression against the kingdom of Laos. Some people maintain that there has been no Communist aggression, but in to-day’s newspapers there is strong evidence that the aggression against Laos has come from North Viet Nam. The aggression against Laos has tended to be overlooked because the world has had its mind centred on the Berlin crisis, but it cannot be ignored as a direct challenge to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and unless faced with resolution it may herald the disintegration of Seato as an effective barrier to aggression. The strategic importance of Laos can be seen from a glance at the map of South-East Asia, lt has borders with Thailand-and Thailand, as you know, is a member of State-Cambodia, South Viet Nam and Communist controlled North Viet Nam. If the present aggression against the constitutional government of Laos is successful, then countries vital to the Seato lines of defence will be brought under stronger Communist pressure. The task of defending the area, an advanced line df defence for Australia, will be made much more difficult if a hole is punched iri this cornpact group of States close to the borders of red China, India and Malaya.

Following upon the massacre df many thousands df the citizens df Tibet, the new red aggression which involves armed forces, supplied arid supplemented by the Communist Government df North Viet Nam. again draws attention to the defiance df international law by Communist governments. I urge the Government to make an urgent request to the United Nations and to the Seato powers to give an unequivocal declaration of support to the people of Laos. The Democratic Labour Party also calls for intervention by Seato military forces, if so requested by the Asian powers, iri order to stop at the beginning this Communist aggression which could quite easily gather momentum towards Australia. We say that Australia needs to be protected. 1 believe that the resumption of diplomatic relations with Russia and the reopening of the Russian Embassy in Canberra could and should have been avoided: At no great cost to ourselves we rid Australia of a nest of espionage agents, but we have been foolish enough to allow them to come abck. It may be that this has been done for trade purposes. If that, is the case, all I can say is that we are selling our birthright for a mess of potage In Melbourne shortly there will be held what is known as the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament. This is another body sponsored by the Communist Party, and another means that has been adopted to soften the people of Australia in their fight against communism. Once the softening-up is accomplished, we can expect very little in the way of safeguarding the future of Australia. I think that this organization should be declared a front for the Communists in this country and outside it.

The question of the recognition of red China is in a similar category. Is it not time that we realized that the recognition of red China would endanger the welfare and the defence of Australia? I believe that the people who advocate recognition of fed China are doing a grave disservice to this country. I should like to compliment the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) upon his recent forthright statement supporting the non-recognition of red China. lt is a pity that the newspapers and a lo. of other people in this country are not so forthright. But once again, it is a matter of trade. They do not seem to realize the danger that this can bring to Australia. Great Britain has recognized red China, but is not accorded full diplomatic rights in red China. Great Britain is sorry that it ever recognized red China. It was reported recently in a newspaper that Mr. Macmillan a short time ago said to Mr. Kishi, the Prime Minister of Japan -

Under no circumstances give recognition to Communist China.

Great Britain knows that it made a mistake in recognizing red China, and yet some foolish people in this country continue to advocate the recognition of red China, which would bring very much closer the doom of Australia.

Finally, I should like to say a word in relation to summit conferences. We believe that the proposal to hold a summit conference is foolish. It is time the people realized that there can be no compromise with dedicated Communists. A dedicated Communist has only one thing in his mind - the day of the revolution, the day when communism will overrun this world. The only compromise that a dedicated Communist will make is one that might hasten that day. He has no conscience* A dedicated Communist regards those with whom he negotiates merely as chattels - persons without souls. That is the reason why the Communists can murder millions of people without a twinge of conscience The Communist philosophy is that once a person has been used to bring closer the day of the revolution and is of no further use in that connexion, he should be discarded like an animal that is of no further use; he may be destroyed. The Communist approach to the matter is that as such a person is of no further value so far as the revolution is concerned, there is no good (purpose to be served by keeping him alive. So he is destroyed. That is the outlook of those whom our leaders would meet in a summit conference for the purpose of talking things over. They are making fools of us. We know that they will not compromise. I believe that by the current interchange of visits we are making their job of trying to overthrow the world easier for them. We do not support compromise with the Communists, or summit talks, fothey fail to give any satisfaction whatever to people in concentration and slave camp’ behind the iron and bamboo curtains. The Budget has done very little for the pensioners, and even less for the family man. Accordingly, we support fully the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna.

Senator Hannaford:

– That is unity for you!

Senator COLE:

– I am very pleased to see unity on such a good cause. Our unity with the Evatt Labour Party, on the economic side, is quite considerable. It is only on certain other matters - notably in the foreign affairs and political fields - that we disagree. I support the amendment.


– To-night, I find myself in a somewhat curious role. I rise to address myself to the Budget and find that, although I am a Tasmanian who normally lives happily with other Tasmanians - for we are a pretty peaceful crowd over there - I must strongly oppose views that have been expressed by fellow Tasmanians in this Senate. I refer to the Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna, and to Senator Cole, the leader of the Cole Labour Party.

Senator Cole:

– Will you stress that title?


– It is tantamount to throwing cold water on the honorable senator, but I will do as he asks. Senator Cole merely repeated to-night what he said before the last election campaign, and in such statements as he was able to get published, concerning pensions. I do not belittle any one who seeks increases for those who are entitled to Commonwealth social service benefits, but I do dislike people who merely mouth these things and lack sincerity. I lay that charge against Senator Cole. He castigated the Government for not increasing child endowment but failed to mention - perhaps he did not knowthat the cost of increasing child endowment by ls. a week for each child– and there are 3,000,000 such children-would be £8,000,000 per annum.

The honorable senator also produced an extraordinary scheme which was aimed at increasing age pensions. I listened as attentively as I could, but he seemed to me to ignore the invalids and the widows, as well as unemployment and sickness benefits. He appears to believe that the Government is wrong only in that it has not sufficiently increased age pensions.

When the honorable senator spoke on foreign affairs he was really at sea. He did not want to agree with the Australian Labour Party, and he hated agreeing with the Government. In the result, he did not have many real thoughts about what we should do. His only direct statement was a condemnation of the Government for resuming diplomatic relations with Russia. I am not ashamed to say that I praise the Government for doing that. I know why diplomatic relations were breached in the first place, and I believe that the Government acted correctly on that occasion, but we have to live in the world of the present. We are a leading nation and, as far as is humanly possible, must play our part in bringing peace to the world. That can be done only by having diplomatic relations with all sorts and conditions of people. Therefore, anything that we can do to restore relations with Russia, and perhaps help to promote world peace, will be to our credit.

I do not propose to deal at length with the speech of my Tasmanian colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna. Interesting and able as was his speech, I felt that he Was effectively answered by my leader. However, I did hear him accuse the Government of meanness towards the States. His political colleague in Tasmania, the Deputy Premier, Mr. Fagan, praised the deal that Tasmania got from the Commonwealth Government for the current financial year. I believe that any unbiased person would say quite honestly that the Premiers’ Conference that was held before the close of the last financial year was the most successful conducted during this Government’s regime. Usually the Premiers criticize the Federal Government for weeks afterwards, but this year we did not hear criticism until Senator McKenna, knowing that we were on the air, expressed views contrary to those of his Labour colleagues in Tasmania.

The Budget details were clearly given by the Treasurer (Mr. Holt). Their importance was such that they were widely published in the press. For those reasons, honorable senators are aware of the details of the Budget. Naturally, it was not long before the Budget-namers engaged in a sort of give-it-a-name competition, and decided to call this the give-and-take Budget. How can any Commonwealth Budget, in this economic and financial climate, be anything more than a give-and-take Budget? Whatever the Commonwealth pays out must first be taken from the pockets of other people. Last year we debated a Budget that provided for a deficit of £110,000,000. The economic climate was a great deal better than we, or our advisers - and even you moaners over there - thought possible. Because of that, the Treasurer was able to announce at the close of the financial year that there was a deficit of only £30,000,000. Of course, although we in this Parliament are inclined to refer to it as “only £30,000,000”, the fact is that it is money that has to be found somehow at some time by the people of Australia. In the Budget Papers before us are set out the ways by which the Government proposes to raise money. Those papers contain the Estimates of revenue and of expenditure. If these Estimates prove to be accurate, we shall finish this financial year with a deficit of approximately £61,000,000.

It is very easy indeed for honorable senators opposite, whose memories are so short that they do not recall the time when they were in Government, ‘to be critical of this Government in their efforts to pander to those who receive social benefits from the Commonwealth; but it is equally obvious that the present members of the Labour Party are unable to offer any constructive suggestions to rectify any of the so-called faults in this Government’s financial policy. I have experienced this attitude on the part of the Labour Party for the last six years. Every year, its members are most vociferous, but they forget two most important points. The first is that at every election since 1949 the people of Australia, by their vote, have confirmed and approved the policy of this Government. By their vote, they have carried the Government from strength to strength; our numbers have not been whittled away. The second outstanding fact is that the record of the last ten years of government by the Liberal and Country parties is one of great development in this very richly endowed land. Our standard of living has been not merely maintained but increased. Our people are happy and prosperous.

The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has been chided both in this Parliament and in the daily press for having said, prior to the introduction of the Budget, that it would contain a good story for everybody. Unfortunately for the Labour Party, the unbiased, sensible people of Australia realize that he spoke truly of the Budget he was to introduce. If we take only a few brief extracts relating to matters of importance to all Australians, we see that the Treasurer did speak the truth. He was able to indicate that employment had increased and that unemployment had decreased. As one sign of the prosperity enjoyed by this country, he was able to show that 242,000 new motor cars were purchased in Australia last year, that 80,000 flats and/or houses were built in Australia last year and that, instead of a possible fall of £100,000,000 in our overseas balances, there was a drop of only £10,000,000 and, because of that, the Government was able to permit additional imports to the tune of £50,000,000. There are many other heartening signs, but those to which I have referred briefly are appreciated by the people of this rapidly developing country.

Hand in hand with the development that we are experiencing goes the necessity for us to seek wider markets overseas. When the history of this era is written, I feel that great credit will be paid to Mr. McEwen, the Minister for Trade, and his departmental officers, because although the Minister provides the initiative, drive and incentive the officers of our various trade posts do the work. It is very gratifying to know that these officers are meeting with great success indeed in expanding markets overseas which are of such tremendous importance to primary producers, manufacturers and those engaged in all other spheres of Australian endeavour. Those are the things upon which a government is judged and that is why the people are happy with this Government.

It is my view that a national government has two kinds of responsibility. The first concerns major items of national policy such as defence, on which we spend £190,000,000 a year, development, which includes housing, the search for oil, which we have already debated, and such great undertakings as we have at Mount Isa and the vast Snowy Mountains scheme. Then, of course, there are the responsibility of trade, to which I have already referred, and the further responsibility of external affairs. Each year we are becoming more important in world affairs. We live in times when there are great problems connected with the maintenance of peace, and it is of the utmost importance that our Government and the nation as a whole should obtain and retain powerful friends and allies particularly to our near north. The efforts of this Government, conducted through Mr. Casey, the Minister for External Affairs, have proved most successful, and the people of Australia are grateful for that. Another item of major Government responsibility includes social service and repatriation benefits. I do not have the time to deal with those matters to-night, but they will be the subject of legislation that is to come before the Senate in the weeks that lie ahead, and I shall be able to express my views on Government policy and decisions with respect to them at a later stage.

Another Government responsibility is the administration of the acts of this Parliament and of the vast and complicated Commonwealth Government departments. Although the Government has done an amazing job in formulating and putting its policy into operation, I believe it is time some definite action was taken to see whether we can improve the administration of our legislative enactments and that of Government departments. This Budget, to my mind, gives no indication that the Government is concerned with that aspect of administration. I do not see any tidying up or any sweeping away of anomalies. The

Government has dealt with the big things, but has ignored the smaller yet important aspects of governmental responsibility. I refer particularly to the Department of the Treasury, in which is included the Taxation Branch. During a time of rising costs, and when we are trying to develop our trade by gaining new markets and retaining old markets abroad, we have to try to cut the costs of the things we want to sell.

This Government, or any other Commonwealth government, should look into the matter of reducing costs affecting our trade and commerce. Take, for instance, the sales tax. I believe that the sales tax is levied on far too many categories ot goods. The amount of tax collected from some of the items on which it is levied is insignificant. The collection of the sales tax is done by the business community at its own expense. I know of one firm in Hobart - I will give no indication of it. other than by saying that it is an important firm as far as costs in primary production are concerned - which has to meet an expense of £3,000 a year in the collection of sales tax and the completion of returns for the Commonwealth Government. 1 believe that a sincere effort to streamline the sales tax administration and the sales tax laws could result in a great saving to trade and commerce, with little reduction in the revenue received by the Commonwealth.

In that respect, I was pleased to read in the Treasurer’s speech that he is going to fulfil a promise that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech. A committee is to be set up to carry out a competent and independent investigation of the taxation laws. I express the sincere hope that there will be no delay in the setting up of this committee. After all, the Government has been in office for ten years. That is quite a long time, and I do not think it should delay any further in setting up this committee, which I hope will go into some of the anomalies of the taxation laws that cause frustration and restraint and cost the taxpayers money.

Although it may seem only a minor item, I take the opportunity to suggest that the Government look into what I think is an absurd anomaly in the income tax laws.

A taxpayer is able to claim deductions for his wife and children. If he is a widower, he can claim for a housekeeper, If he has an invalid wife and his daughter stays at home to be a daughter-housekeeper, he cannot claim any deduction for his wife, although he can claim for the daughterhousekeeper. I will not elaborate the matter any further, but I think it is quite obvious that where a family is in that position, the husband should be able to claim an allowable deduction for taxation purposes in respect df his invalid wife. I hope that the Treasurer and the taxation officers will look into that matter.

Another anomaly that I have been made aware of in discussions with electors in Tasmania is that student nurses are not given the privilege of freedom from sales tax on books they have to purchase for their studies in the nursing profession. This is only a small item* but it is these small items that the Government should look at in order to give a fair deal to some people, and in order to help the Australian taxpayers.

I am certain that the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) would be surprised if I addressed the Senate on the Budget and did not refer to some aspects of his most important portfolios. I want to refer to the necessity to provide adequate runways at aerodromes in Australia. Some weeks ago I read in a newspaper that that great Australian, Sir Hudson Fysh. on his arrival back in Australia from a trip overseas, said that it was more essential for Australia to provide adequate runways to meet the new jet age than it was for Australian airports to have flash and luxurious terminal buildings. I will hot refer in detail to what happened at Kingsford-Smith airport last week-end. I was at the airport about two hours before the incident to which reference has been made took place, and the winds Were very strong then.

I put to the Minister quite sincerely the need for ah urgent appraisement of the situation at the Llanherne airport at Hobart. In 1948, under the Labour regime, the Public Works Committee of the Parliament inquired into the provision of a hew airport at Llanherne* At one stage it seemed almost certain that the committee would suggest that there be two runways at Llanherne, but eventually, because df information given by the meteorological people, the committee decided that only one runway would be built. Whether the weather pattern is changing in southern Tasmania, I do not know for sure, but I have been told by some one who should’ know that it is changing, and that we aregetting far more south-westerly winds thanpreviously. Those winds are of a greater velocity. They are the cross winds which build up a wind component which isdangerous to aircraft landing at Llanherne.

We have a wonderful terminal building, at Hobart, which the Minister was good enough to open. We are spending hundredsand hundreds of pounds on beautifying the approach to the air terminal. But any part of Tasmania is beautiful without being’, titivated with shrubs. I travel by air a lot, and I Would rather see that money spent on constructing an alternative runway at Llanherne. I know that other places in Australia are clamouring fdr the same sort df thing, but if one of our modern aircraft were to crash at Llanherne because there was nd alternative runway - the cross wind component having caused the crash - theloss would be greater than the cost of providing that runway. I believe that the Government - not the Minister - would standcondemned if it had not made an honest attempt to provide this runway after inquiring into my allegations and finding that the runway was definitely required. My time has expired. I ignore the amendment moved by the Leader df the Opposition. I support the Budget and hope that the Government will attend to some of the matters that I have brought forward.

New South Wales

.- In the short time that we have available before the adjournment, it seems hardly worthwhile for me to examine this tremendous Budget. Commonwealth budgets have increased year after year with the growth of population and the failure of the Government to restore the value of money. Inflation is increasing all the time, so when the budget time comes round we are reconciled to the fact that, automatically, there will be a larger budget. We have also reached the stage where we are reconciled to the fact that, for those people in our community who need most the help of governments, it will be a worse budget than the one last presented.

I listened to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who has the remarkable gift of being able to see good in everything that the Government does. When the Leader of the Goveriment an the Senate can justify everything, even making a virtue of the fact that in a period of eighteen months that he chose our inflation compared favorably with that of some other countries, and when he can see merit in this Government’s handling of finances during ten years, to my mind he is slipping fast beyond hope. What is the story of this Government’s handling of inflation? Great credit is taken for the Government in the Budget Speech. Who is to say what next year’s budget will be, because since 1949 wc have seen ups and downs, with stopandstart budgets, depression in 1952, recession in 1956, and panic budgets. Then the Government comes before us and the Australian people seeking credit for itself because Australia is a wonderfully prosperous country. The Government is riding on the back of a great country. I have said before and I say again to-night that if any honorable senators opposite are emerging as statesmen they can thank the Labour Party for it, because those of our problems that we have not been able to handle have left the Government in office. Let honorable senators opposite never make the mistake of believing that they are in government because of the good they have done or the way they have run the country in the last ten years. That is my fatal admission, and I know it. Honorable senators opposite know it to be true. If they were honest, they would admit it.

What is the position with inflation? 1 shall give the Leader of the Government some figures relating to the period from 1947 to 1957. The year 1957 was one of the years he selected in his comparison with overseas countries. The purchasing power of the Australian £1 fell more than did most of the world’s currencies during the ten years from 1947 to 1957. For this information I am quoting from an authentic source, and if honorable senators opposite ask me for it, I shall give it to them.

Senator Henty:

– What is it?


- Mr. Arthur Calwell, Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party. Citing United Nations figures, he stated that the value of the Australian £1 had dropped by 53 per cent, from 1947 to 1957. The only countries worse off than Australia in that period were Finland, France, Greece, Japan, Brazil and Chile. Australia has the honour of being mis-governed almost as much as the two American republics that I have mentioned. It is beyond comprehension that any one should seek to take credit for this Government’s handling of the monetary situation in the last ten years. What amazes me is the cheekiness of Ministers and other government supporters in putting their case so emphatically that one would think that they even believed it themselves.

Senator Spooner’s speech had a rather beautiful opening. It was so unlike him that obviously he did not write it himself. He enjoyed the smirks and guffaws of Opposition senators who realized that it was a little too polished in comparison with his normal presentation. He painted a beautiful picture of the prosperity that this Government had brought us. I cited Arthur Calwell, but he cited the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in proof of the great prosperity that the country is enjoying. I had noticed the wonderful build-up that was given the new Treasurer, the first Liberal Treasurer for twenty years, and one hoped that he might translate the name of his party to his approach to the Budget. Unfortunately, he did not do so. The great build-up given to the first Liberal Treasurer for so many years led one to expect some rather interesting developments and a new approach to our problems, but it was the same old horse-and-lorry story again.

When the Budget Speech was delivered last week, I was eager to hear a number of things that we had a right to expect. All of the newspapers had stated that pensions would be substantially increased, that an investigation would be made with a view to decreasing taxes, and that industry would be encouraged. But what happened? In spite of the great prosperity described by Senator Spooner, I looked through the Budget in vain for indications of substantial increases in pensions. I thought that child endowment, so long forgotten, would certainly be increased, as would the maternity allowance that has remained untouched for fifteen or sixteen years. I thought that those would be matters of a kind to which the new Liberal Treasurer would direct his attention, because there is a self-made case for assistance to pensioners and the recipients of child endowment and maternity allowance. Those are sections of the people that need no advocate because their stories are clear for all to read. But apparently the new Treasurer was too busy on other matters, too busy considering the £17,000,000 that he would get from the people through the medium of the Postal Department, to worry about child endowment and maternity allowance. I thought that his Budget Speech would herald great assistance for secondary industries.

Debate interrupted.

page 196


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, 19 August 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.