23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport and refers to the proposal to construct a standard gauge line between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle. By way of preface to my question I submit that the construction of this standard gauge line has been recommended by committees from both the Government and Opposition sides. Since the report of Sir Harold Clapp was presented it has been conceded generally that the construction of this standard gauge line is essential for defence and other purposes, and that it should be built. Has the Western Australian Government made application to the Commonwealth Government for monetary assistance to construct a standard gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle? If the answer to that question is, “ Yes “, when was the application made? Has the Commonwealth Government approved of the application? If the Commonwealth Government has not approved of the application what is impeding its decision? When can a decision be expected on this matter?
– In two statements made recently on behalf of the Government - one by the Prime Minister before his departure for overseas, and one by the Acting Prime Minister since that date - it has been made quite clear that this particular proposal for standardization will be a matter now for the closest consultation between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government. Recently a message was sent to the governments of all the States where developmental projects are located in which the Commonwealth might be interested - and that, of course, includes Western Australia - requesting that the States concerned nominate officers for talks to discuss the particular projects. It is only within the last 24 hours, I understand, that a reply has been received at Canberra from the Western Australian Government nominating its officers to take part in these discussions. The officers having been nominated by the State, I presume that the discussions will take place at the earliest possible moment.
I think it is relevant to point out that the Commonwealth Government, in agreeing to discussions concerning the possibility of this work being undertaken, has its eye on the export potential of the works. The Western Australian railways standardization proposal is inevitably bound up with the production of steel and the potential export of steel. The honorable senator will be interested to know that in order to get the optimum result from the establishment of any steel industry, and from subsequent export, discussions have been taking place, and are continuing, between the appropriate officers of the Commonwealth and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in order to ensure that the steel undertaking in Western Australia is of a type and magnitude which will return the maximum output of steel for export in the shortest possible time. I am sure the honorable senator will agree that the priority allotted to the railway standardization project rests largely upon the outcome of these talks that are being conducted between the company and the Commonwealth.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior been directed to a recently published report of a visitor survey conducted by the National Capital Development Commission, in regard to tourist facilities available for visitors to Canberra? The inquiry was submitted to 933 visitors to the capital, 40 per cent, of whom complained that accommodation was inadequate and too expensive. In view of the importance of the tourist industry and the Government’s intention of fostering tourism in all its aspects, will the Minister take the necessary action to have the position remedied?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator referred but I draw some comfort from the statement that at least 60 per cent, of the people who visited Canberra were satisfied. The Government is most anxious to encourage tourists to come to Canberra, because all of us have the very heavy responsibility of building a national capital worthy of this great country. For that reason, 1 can assure the honorable senator that I shall have pleasure in bringing this matter before the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior. I am confident that he will, with his usual zeal, do his utmost to provide the best facilities for those who may visit Canberra.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a press report to the effect that the Government took unfair advantage of the unions in the recent basic wage hearing before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and that Mr. S. T. Frost stated a case in complete opposition to the union’s claims? Did the Government instruct Mr. Frost to oppose the union’s claims? Will the Minister table, for the information of honorable senators, the instructions given to Mr. Frost when he was engaged to appear in the case, and also a copy of the transcript of the matter submitted to the commission by Mr. Frost?
– In the hearing to which the honorable senator referred, Mr. Frost argued neither for nor against any proposition put forward by either side. He merely placed before the commission the facts of the situation on which, he made quite clear, it was for the commission to make its decision. During the course of his address, he did not at any time urge any arguments against the unions’ case as such.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to a recent radio statement attributed to a member of the Queensland Wheat Board to the effect that in addition to the payment on 1st April of 2s. a bushel on this year’s wheat crop, there would be a further payment of ls. a bushel on last year’s crop? Is the statement correct?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator referred, but at this point of time no recommendation has gone from the Australian Wheat Board to the Minister for Primary Industry concerning a payment in April on the 1959-60 harvest. I am confident, though, that in view of the circumstances surrounding the industry to-day, a further payment might well be pending and I am sure that the board will, following its usual policy, make such payment when the requisite funds are available.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer the following question. Have the terms of the loan of £20,000,000 made available to the Queensland Government for the rehabilitation of the railway line between Townsville and Mount Isa been decided? Is the rate of interest prescribed the same as the rate paid by the South Australian Government on the loan it received to standardize certain railways, and the rate the Victorian Government was charged on the loan granted to it to standardize the line between Albury and Melbourne? Is the loan made to the Queensland Government to be repaid over a period of 50 years as are the loans granted to South Australia and Victoria for standardization work?
– I am not aware, as yet, whether the terms of the loan referred to by the honorable senator have been settled. I shall ask the Treasurer what progress has been made, and if it is possible to let the honorable senator have any information I shall be happy to do so. I take the opportunity to point out to him that there is a great difference between standardization proposals such as he mentioned, which were submitted to the States some years ago, and the Queensland proposal which is not for standardization but for the rehabilitation of a State-owned railway.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General indicate whether his colleague is considering an alteration of what many people regard as a most unsatisfactory system of transferring telephones from one subscriber to another, under which the person to whom the telephone is transferred is responsible for all indebtedness contracted by the previous subscriber? Would it not be fairer to both parties concerned if the subscriber were made responsible for all indebtedness up to the date on which he relinquished his telephone?
– The question asked by Senator Lillico is an interesting one which concerns quite a substantial number of people. Because of the complexity of the problem and the legal issues involved, I believe that his question merits an answer which sets out in detail the attitude of the department to this problem. For that reason, if he will be good enough to place the question on the notice-paper I will obtain the appropriate answer without delay.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, by saying that because of the disastrous credit policy of the Government the Australian clothing industry is being adversely affected. Will the Minister cause inquiries to be made into the dumping of large quantities of made-up clothing which are coming into Australia from Hong Kong and Japan? I am given to understand that as Hong Kong is a free port such made-up garments are admitted at the normal rate of duty.
– If there is any suggestion of the dumping of made-up garments into any Australian port, the clothing industry has the opportunity to place that matter before us and ask us to invoke the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act. Having received the information, checked it and found it to be accurate, we will take the requisite action immediately. The act is on the statute-book for the protection of industries in instances such as the one which the honorable senator has brought to my notice. If there is any substantial evidence that such dumping is taking place, I can assure him that we will take immediate steps to rectify the position.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, relates to permits for the export of iron ore. Has the Minister received, or is he considering at the moment, any applications for the export of iron ore from any part of Australia? If he is, can he assure the Senate that any delay which is now apparent is through no fault of the Government or his department?
– I have not previously heard any suggestion that there have been any delays in dealing with applications. If Senator Vincent or any other honorable senator can bring any particular instance before me, 1 will immediately make inquiries. I do not think there is delay in dealing with applications. Dealing with an application is not as simple a matter as might at first appear. In each case, very substantial capital sums are involved. It is not worthwhile exporting iron ore unless you export in pretty big quantities. There is a big investment in the plant and equipment, and as a necessary preliminary, the person who has the iron ore for sale must prove his deposit, its quality and size and give that proof to the prospective purchaser. You cannot buy big parcels without adequate information. That work has to be done and it has to be verified by the Department of National Development. The department has to take into consideration the principles under which the export is permitted. The State Government concerned has to define its own policy. I think that all is proceeding well. Applications are pending. I believe, and would hope, that they are being dealt with as quickly as the circumstances permit.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the controversial matter of snowballing unemployment. Will the Minister make available to honorable senators the sources of information which have caused both him and other Ministers to assert that unemployment is not snowballing in Australia? I ask this question especially as honorable senators, particularly private members of the Parliament, have only newspaper reports to guide them in reaching conclusions on this matter. I ask the Minister to make this information available also because it appears from press reports published yesterday and to-day that three sawmills have closed in Victoria, there is a possibility of 160 employees being dismissed from a carpet factory in Preston, Victoria, and the Ford motor works are again displacing workers. There is also apprehension in the building and textile industries in New South Wales and Victoria. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government considers that those industries, especially the building industry, are like the motor industry in that they are adversely affecting the economy of Australia and should have their activities retarded?
– I am very glad that Senator Sheehan has asked the question in such temperate terms because this is a great matter. I quoted a figure last night and I repeat it to-day: Approximately 73,000 or 1.75 per cent, of the total work force are unemployed.
– Yesterday, Senator Gorton quoted 1.5 per cent. The figure is increasing rapidly.
– Through you, Mr. President, might I suggest that the Senate give me a chance to reply in the same temperate terms as the question was addressed to me? This is an important matter. It would be expecting too much to think that it could be discussed without political bias, because political, economic and social questions are involved.
It is difficult to obtain statistics which adequately cover the situation. The Commonwealth Statistician issues statistics regularly. They are in the form of public documents and are always available. In addition to those, further information becomes available, some of it on a confidential basis. It is necessary to superimpose on those statistics information from other sources, and when you have all the information before you it is a matter of judgment to interpret the figures and to see what the position really is. You start on the basis of an overall Commonwealth figure which you receive first. Then you receive figures from the several States, and you get other information. It is not possible to keep all the figures within your recollection. In answering questions, one instinctively turns to the Commonwealth figure because that is the one that remains in the mind, but I assure the Senate, for myself and, I am sure, for all other Ministers, that even though we may not have the figures in mind we are carefully watching the situation from State to State and, indeed, so far as we can, from locality to locality.
We believe that what we have done is turning out along the lines that we expected. It is very difficult indeed to answer Senator Sheehan’s question in relation to particular factories or particular businesses. There are repercussions on some businesses and not on others. We have to look at the aggregate results. People who are put off from one business obtain employment with another business, quite frequently to greater national advantage.
– That is a bedtime story.
– It is not. We shall be watching the situation.
– What is the good of watching it? What are you going to do to stop it?
– We shall be watching the situation and if the circumstances warrant it, we shall take corrective action.
I say to Senator Sheehan that I watch the building industry figures of each State. I hesitate to cite figures because so often they cover such a short period. We get figures for a month or for a week, and they are not indicative of the situation generally, I know in which States unemployment in the building industry is greater or less than was expected. I am not sure that my judgment in the interpretation of ‘the figures is correct. One sees lists of carpenters and plumbers - people who were seeking employment - and the positions that are vacant, and it is necessary to make a judgment as between factory construction and home building. As I have said, I think that things are going along as we expected they would. If I should be wrong in thinking so, I shall do my best to be informed on the situation as quickly as possible and I shall also do my best to take any corrective action that is required.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Recently the Minister announced the letting of a contract by the Department of Civil Aviation to a French company for the supply of a new long-range radar surveillance system to provide cover for air traffic using the three Adelaide airports at West Beach, Parafield and Edinburgh, thus enabling a closer check to be kept on aircraft and quicker landing procedures during bad weather. Can he say when the equipment is likely to be installed and in operation?
– No, I cannot give a precise answer to the honorable senator. I shall have a look at the matter to ascertain what information I can give to him.
– When replying to a. splendid speech delivered yesterday by Senator Armstrong, the Minister for National Development made a speech which was considered by his party colleagues as being calculated to raise the drooping spirits of Australia’s industrialists and others. I now ask the Minister: Will he have his speech printed and copies sent to the thousands of dismissed workers so they may know that Messrs. Menzies and Co. possibly will have them all back at work again in three or four months’ time? Meanwhile, is there any chance of having the unemployment benefit raised? This, of course, would be more acceptable than would copies of the cheer-up speech.
– That question illustrates the point I have tried to make. All that Senator Brown attempts to do is to make political capital out of what he fondly imagines and hopes to be the situation - the adversity of his fellow-citizens. I repeat that, instead of making any constructive contribution in such matters, all he vainly seeks to do is to gain political capital.
– I address my question to the Minister for National Development in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Some twelve months ago I asked him to consider setting up an instructional school for people from industry to learn about and to be instructed in the use of radio-active isotopes in industry, on a basis similar to that which operates in England. Has the Minister considered this suggestion?
– Yes. The Atomic Energy Commission has considered the matter and has established a special organization to handle the sale and not so much the installation as the proper use of radioactive isotopes. T am sorry that I cannot give details of the arrangement without notice, but I inform Senator Branson that there is in operation a scheme such as I have mentioned. I do not think it goes to the extent of there being a training school.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. It has been stated that the Government is opposed to the recognition of Communist China. Has there been any variation of this attitude which would justify the admittedly unauthorized suggestions in sections of the American and Australian press that Mr. Menzies, the Minister for External Affairs, informed Mr. Kennedy, the President of the United States of America, that in the view of Australia recognition was inevitable?
– There has been no change in the attitude of the Australian Government, which can be described exactly as it has been described by the Prime Minister and by Lord Casey, as he now is, in the House of Representatives in the past.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether it is a fact that the Tasmanian Labour Premier, Mr. Reece, has indicated that Tasmania will withdraw from the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement because of the Commonwealth’s insistence that a percentage of loan funds which are to be made available to the States must be loaned to building societies to enable private enterprise to share in the building and provision of homes. If Tasmania does withdraw from the agreement, will it be required to pay a higher rate of interest for loan funds used for the construction of homes by the State Government?
– Since Mr. Reece attended the conference of Ministers for Housing, I have seen various press statements attributed to him. I did not regard those statements as being an indication that Mr. Reece contemplated Tasmania’s withdrawal from trie Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. At the conference, Mr. Reece protested at the Commonwealth’s proposal to increase from 30 per cent, to 33i per cent, the proportion of housing funds made available to building societies. I gather from press statements attributed to Mr. Reece that he takes the position further and believes that housing money is more appropriately spent by government instrumentalities. There is a profound difference between the Commonwealth’s view and that held by Mr. Reece. The Commonwealth firmly believes that building societies are entitled, to an appropriate share of housing funds provided by the Commonwealth. In the view of the Commonwealth, building societies make very effective use of the moneys that are provided and are to be encouraged. I cannot say what the Commonwealth’s final decision will be because I have yet to take the matter to Cabinet.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister seen a report in this morning’s Melbourne newspaper that a further 980 employees of the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited have been dismissed? If so, and in view also of the increasing unemployment that is occurring in the textile and building industries, referred to by Senator Sheehan, facts of which I am sure the Minister is aware, will he revise the statement that he made yesterday when he said that unemployment in Australia is not increasing? Will the Minister elaborate on an answer that he gave to Senator Toohey yesterday in which he claimed that there were some thousands of unfilled jobs? Senator Toohey’s question sought to elicit information about where those job vacancies exist and where unemployment is occurring. Senator Toohey wanted to know the nature of the unfilled jobs as well as the type of people who were out of work. It is of no use to tell an unemployed baker in Queensland that a vacancy exists in Tasmania for a fitter and turner. Will the Minister please elaborate on the answers that he has given in relation to the unemployment situation?
– The statement that I made in the Senate yesterday was that as late as October of last year there were 15,000 more jobs vacant than there were people available to fill them. I made that statement as an indication that at the time there were ample employment opportunities and that sufficient people to fill the vacancies were not available. Where those employment opportunities exist now is something that any worker could ascertain from the Commonwealth Employment Office, as Senator Sandford must know. I have noticed in this morning’s newspaper a statement to the effect that the Ford motor company is dismissing 980 employees. 1 have been informed by the Commonwealth Employment Office that the 600 employees who were dismissed earlier, and to whom Senator Sandford referred, have already been absorbed into other occupations. That is an indication that the job vacancies to which I referred yesterday did exist.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation a question. I refer to a statement made by the Minister concerning the formation in Sydney of a company to provide a cocktail-lounge bar at Sydney airport. Is it correct that similar facilities will be provided at Melbourne airport later this year and that they are planned for Brisbane and Hobart airports? I think that Adelaide rs made conspicuous because it does not have these facilities. Are the licensing laws of South Australia the main obstacle preventing such facilities from being installed in Adelaide? As the licensing laws in South Australia are not dissimilar from those operating in Victoria - where such facilities are to be established - why cannot they be established at Adelaide? Have any negotiations been undertaken with the South Australian Government to iron out any difficulties that may exist in the establishment of a cocktail-lounge bar in Adelaide? Does the Minister consider Adelaide to be of sufficient importance, in comparison with other major cities, to be regarded as an international airport requiring such facilities?
– The action that is being taken at Sydney and Melbourne airports flows from the Airports (Business Concessions) Bill which this Parliament passed some months ago. Because this question of cocktail lounges aroused, as I interpreted the debate, some resentment in South Australia, I said that I did not propose to do anything in the matter without negotiating with the States. I may say that in negotiating with the States in which we are installing these facilities - New South Wales and Victoria - we have had complete co-operation. In this connexion, I make particular mention of the establishment of the Sydney facilities.
I had not thought at this time of approaching the South Australian Government. This is the sort of situation which, in my judgment, requires a certain amount of time to mature, especially in a State where the government has expressed its hostility to this type of activity. For my own part, 1 say quite categorically it seems strange that a State which justifiably boasts that it produces some of the best wines in Australia should be without a facility at an airport to introduce those wines to interstate and international travellers. That, of course, is a matter upon which no doubt the South Australian Government will ponder. I know that the wine industryin South Australia is pondering upon it and, in the fullness of time, when these facilities are a going concern, and have proved themselves at other airports, the oppositionin South Australia might not be so hostile to the establishment of similar facilities at the Adelaide airport.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the Government decided to make the first advance for wheat for the 1960-61 season in two separate payments? As all such payments to farmers are paid out by them for essential goods such as machinery, fencing, superphosphate and pasture improvement, does the Minister consider it a fair proposition that two separate payments be made? Has the Minister received a request from the Farmers Union of Western Australia (Wheat-growers’ Section) that the first advance for the remainder of the present stabilization plan be not less than11s. a bushel, plus or minus any increase or decrease in the cost of production, and also that the 2s. proposed to be paid on 1st April be increased to 2s. 4d. to cover increased cost of production?
– I am aware, of course, that the first advance for the 1960-61 wheat harvest was made in the form of two payments. The first payment was 9s. and the second payment of 2s. will be made on 1st April. It is true to say that in the first instance the announcement of the Government’s intention was received with some criticism by the producers, but when they had time to examine the position, and to realize what was involved in meeting payments for a record crop, I am sure that the majority of the farmers were satisfied that the Government’s proposal was fair and equitable, particularly when it was recognized that the first payment of 9s. a bushel involved many more millions of pounds than the first payment of11s. a bushel made last year. On some occasions I have heard people ask: How can the wheat-grower finance himself in the coming season with a first payment of only 9s. made available to him by 1st February? No one can convince me that the wheat-grower will use all of his advance to meet his commitments for the previous year. If he were to do so, how could he possibly carry on? I suggest, Mr. President, that the wheat-grower is a good business man and that in the ultimate he will find himself in a position to meet last year’s commitments from the payment of 9s., and the extra 2s. that he will receive on 1st April will be part of his working capital for the ensuing year.
– The Farmers Union of Western Australia does not think so.
– I have no knowledge of the request from the Farmers Union of Western Australia, but I will ask my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has anything to say on that issue, and I shall let the honorable senator know.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the list of goods recently referred for advice to the Tariff Advisory Committee. Has any evidence been received from either Australian importers or Australian manufacturers in respect of tariff item 319(B)(5)? It will perhaps aid the Minister’s reference if I state that the tariff item refers to -
If such evidence, has been received from either branch of the industry, is the Minister in a position to advise the Senate what action, if any, is to be taken in regard thereto?
– I have no evidence about other talking machines. The matter in the honorable senator’s question is technical and I should like my technical advisers to advise me on the position. Therefore, I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper, and T will get a reply for him.
– My question to the Minister representing tie Treasurer refers to the revaluation of the German and Dutch currencies. Is it likely that these financial moves will strengthen the Common Market Six and make them more prosperous, particularly as Australia had adverse trade balances with these two countries during 1960? While it is correct to admit that the proposals will ease international balance-of-payments difficulties for the United States of America and Great Britain is it not a fact that Australian primary produce such as barley, oats, wheat and hides will find the going much tougher because of the tariff barriers of these European countries?
– In a brief statement soon after the announcement of these variations in exchange values, the Acting Prime Minister said it was considered that the impact on the Australian economy and on Australian exports would be slight. The question asked by the honorable senator raises a number of important and technical issues. I should prefer to send it along to the Treasury for examination rather than endeavour to answer it now.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question in relation to the statement published in the press last night and this morning that the Government has decided to abandon its earlier policy in connexion with superannuation funds. What happened between the afternoon of Tuesday of this week ‘and mid-day yesterday to cause the Government to change its an nounced policy in relation to superannuation funds? Has the refusal of banking institutions to co-operate further in the administration of credit issues been the cause of the change of front within 24 hours?
– I think the only thing of note that happened in the 24 hours to which the honorable senator referred was that some of the writing (boys indulged in a few guesses. The details of the Government’s proposals in connexion with insurance companies and superannuation funds will, of course, be revealed when the legislation is introduced and not before then.
Senator HENDRICKSON.^ preface a question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government, toy saying that Commonwealth officers Who are handling large sums of money, such as those paying pensions, and officers of the Post Office and the Commonwealth Bank, have expressed concern ‘because of recent hold-ups. I understand that at present, if an officer is killed in the course of a robbery, provision for his dependants binges upon the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, which we think is inadequate. Will the appropriate department prepare a statement on the present position and see whether anything can be done to put this matter on a more satisfactory basis? Will the Minister ascertain what would be the position in the event of a third party being killed or injured by an officer in a hold-up?
– I shall have to ask that the question be put on notice. I do not know what are the Commonwealth’s arrangements for the insurance of officers acting in those capacities.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Works studied the report of the Public Works Committee on work to be performed at Perth airport? Has he noticed that the committee recommended the expenditure of an additional small amount of money to make the airport capable of handling modified jet aircraft? If the Minister has noticed this recommendation, can he say whether it is the intention of the department to carry out the recommended works at an early date? Will the recommended works be completed for use in 1962?
– I have not seen the report suggesting the extension of the airport to make it capable of handling jet aircraft. 1 know that this is a matter of great importance to Western Australia. I shall bring the matters raised by the honorable senator to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Works, and obtain an appropriate answer.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government. Official sources have stated that, apart from the South African racial issue, one of the urgent issues at the conference of Commonwealth prime ministers opening in London this week will be the admission of red China to the United Nations, which is likely to be supported by most of the prime ministers. Where does the Australian Government stand on this problem? Now that representation at these conferences is evenly balanced between members of European origin and members of Afro-Asian origin, and in view of the fact that London is no longer the centre of Commonwealth gravity, will the Australian Government suggest that future meetings be held in one of the AfroAsian countries, or even in Australia?
– Taking the last part of the question first, I remind Senator Hendrickson that only a few years ago one of the most important conferences of finance ministers was held in Australia. I would prefer to defer answering the question in relation to the business that is before the prime ministers’ conference and the ramifications of it, until the Prime Minister returns and provides the answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. The Administrator’s Speech stated that the Government had approved the acquisition of six coastal minesweepers and the construction of a new specialized survey ship in Australia. Will the coastal minesweepers be constructed in Australia?
– No, they are being acquired from the United Kingdom, being of a type and design which the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are using .and not suitable for construction in Australia.
– T direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that many thousands of FN.30 rifles, manufactured at the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, have been sold to countries overseas? If so, in what quantities and to which countries have they been sold? Have auxiliary units of the Australian Regular Army yet been completely equipped with this rifle? Is it a fact that the equipping of the Citizen Military Forces with this rifle is to be spread over a period of years? If so, over what period is it to be spread? What further exports of this rifle from Australia have been arranged or are in contemplation? Will the Minister explain the Government’s policy in relation to export, and the equipment of our armed forces with this rifle?
– I shall answer first the second and third parts of the question. The rate of delivery of the FN.30 rifle to the Australian Army is up to the planned schedule. The provision of equipment is made in accordance with the operational requirements of the Army and the economic and employment situations. I am advised that equipment of the Citizen Military Forces with the FN.30 rifle is proceeding in accordance with the programme and is expected to be completed within twelve months. I ask the honorable senator to put on notice the questions relating to exports so that I may obtain answers from the Minister for Supply. The final question raises a policy matter. I shall see whether I can get the Minister to make a statement on policy, this being not usual in answer to a question.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether he was correctly reported in the 1st February, 1961 issue of “ Muster “ as saying -
States must be either willing to accept less or there must be an increase in taxation.
Is k the intention of the Government to cut down on the amounts of money made available to the States? If not, will the Minister advise the Senate whether the Government intends to increase taxation?
– I did not see the report in “ Muster “ of a statement attributed to me. I can only say that Senator Cant cannot be doing me justice in his quotation from it. I do not think that the quotation of only a few words would give the full purport of whatever it was I said. I assume that the effect of what I was saying was that great works programmes had been financed very largely from taxation. I must have been talking on that theme. Taxation must be maintained to carry out the works programmes. On our assessment of the situation, it is unthinkable not to continue the works programmes at an adequate level, which means that the amount of money required has to be found from taxation. I am sorry, but I do not remember the particular statement that was mentioned.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, by saying that it has been announced that an Australian mining team will visit the Philippines to investigate the propects of importing Philippines iron ore into Australia and that Japan is sending a team of experts to Australia to carry out a survey of Australian iron ore deposits. In view of the fact that we have large deposits of iron ore in Australia, will action be taken to prevent the importation of this mineral from the Philippines?
– I doubt the accuracy of the statement that there is any intention to import iron ore from the Philippines into Australia.
– I preface a further question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by saying that I take pride in the concept of the National Capital of Australia as a beautiful city. I ask the Minister whether it is reasonable to continue the expansion and ornamentation of Canberra while other communities are forced to defer urgently needed works and there is financial austerity and retrenchment of labour in the building, textile, motor car and electrical industries.
– Apparently Senator Hendrickson wants to damp down and defer the growth of Canberra as the Australian National Capital. This is the first time 1 have heard that suggestion from the Labour Party, but I will take due notice of h. What we are doing in Canberra is what each government does. From our available resources we are apportioning to Canberra the share which we believe is appropriate. We have not cut down on the States’ works programmes.
– My word you have.
– On the contrary, we are augmenting them.
– In accordance with the provisions of section 4z of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1959, I lay on the table of the Senate copies of Licensing Ordinance (No. 2) 1960 and Lottery and Gaming Ordinance (No. 2) 1960 from which assent has been withheld by the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council. In accordance with the statutory requirement, I also table a statement of the reasons for the withholding of assent in each case.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to - That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and 11 o’clock in the forenoon of Thursday.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast, and at 1 1 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate; Provided that if the Senate or the Committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the notice-paper for the next sitting day.
Debate resumed from 8th March (vide page 64), on motion by Senator Mattner -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Administrator be agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator Armstrong had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address-in-Reply: - “ and the Senate deplores the faulty leadership of the Government in directing the Australian economy resulting in -
loss of overseas funds;
failure of the Public Loan Market;
injustice to wage earners;
inadequate social services and housing;
high interest rates, and
shortage of steel “.
.- In resuming this debate I should like to sum up and state clearly the main matter that I discussed last night, namely, import licensing. I believe that it will become an issue on which we all will have to make up our minds. Unfortunately, people who are pressing for something frequently state the case in ambiguous terms. We are ‘being told in a general way that import licensing is a way to protect Australian industry. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am approaching this matter not in a purely theoretical way but as some one who knows a good deal about the history of both the tariff and import licensing in this country.
If certain people want to replace the tariff by import licensing, it would be well that their wishes were clearly understood and clearly stated. I, for one, wish adequate protection for all Australian primary and secondary industries which need it; but let us not have, first, an open, reasonable and just way of protecting them and, second, a surreptitious way of protecting them which enables uneconomic industries to spring up. That is the issue. If the people who want import licensing to be re-introduced can think out a way of using the system that is as just and impartial as the tariff as administered under the guidance of the Tariff Board, I will be quite prepared to look at it because I have an open mind on the method. I am concerned with the principle and the final policy. I am com- pletely opposed to the re-introduction of import licensing under the pretence that it is necessary in order to restore the balance ofpayments but with the surreptitious idea of giving a protection which has never been needed.
– Is that a possibility?
– I do not know. I think it. is a possibility if your party gets into office, and that is one of the things I have in mind. I am sure that if this Government has a method of replacing the tariff, it will be carefully thought out and it will have just and adequate machinery to ensure that protection is given to only those industries which deserve it and need ft.
Now I come to something that is really just as controversial as anything I discussed last night, but not in. a party political: sense. I will probably have a great many arguments about matters that I shall speak about now with people outside this chamber. The Administrator’s Speech contains this statement -
Acting on the advice of the Australian Universities Commission, my Government is proceeding with a three-year programme of Commonwealth and State aid to universities from 1961 to 1963 involving expenditure of the order of £100 million . . My advisers have increased the number of new Commonwealth university scholarships offered each year from 3,000 to 4,000.
I think we all approve of that proposition. How that money is spent and whether it is spent wisely and well is of the utmost importance. I wish to give my own ideas on the real problems that face the universities and the Universities Commission and will ultimately face us because we have to give the final sanction for the payment of the money. Another paragraph of the Administrator’s Speech illuminates the problem. His Excellency said -
The Universities Commission is now examining the most desirable pattern of development for tertiary education.
That word “ pattern “ always amuses me. It became current about 30 years ago and the first time I heard it used in a statement like this, a very learned friend was asked, “ What does ‘ pattern ‘ mean? “ He said, “ Cut off the final ‘ n ‘ and. you will know what it means “. But I think. I can get a more definite meaning. These are the sort of things that will have to be determined on the advice, of the Universities Commission by the universities themselves, but it may be that if there cannot be agreement among the universities, some pressure from outside will have to be exerted. That is something that I, for one, would always deplore unless it was absolutely necessary.
First, there is the curriculum and the sort of things that are tO’ be studied. This is a most important problem from the point of view of education. It is something I have had to face all my life.. I would put it this way: What subjects should a student be forced to study if he wants to study something else? In the old days, there was no nonsense about pleasing the pupil or the student. Somebody laid down a hard and fast curriculum; you. took the lot of it, you passed, in all of it. or you were cast, into outer darkness. Then there, arose, chiefly in- the United States of America, a delightful school of theorists who sard, “ Why should the poor little man or the little girl study useless subjects or subjects that they do not like? “ So we have had a wonderful freedom of choice. A student’s inclination is a guide but not an infallible one. If a young person has a great interest in chemistry, he will study chemistry;, but there will probably be some parts of chemistry he wants to shirk. If a person has a taste for mathematics, he will do mathematics, but I have not gone far enough in mathematics to know where he would want to stop. Unless he has a good mind and is industrious, there are some things he will not do.
– He would not get past the calculus.
– - I have not got past it myself, and I will take Senator Kendall’s advice on that point. This is of the utmost importance because one of the faults in. our education - it. is a. sort of creeping disease which has grown ever since I was a child: - is the fact that young people are given too many soft, options and things that are easy to do. One person was asked why he took history. He sard’, “ You can do it all in an armchair with your feet on the table and a pipe in your mouth “. But he would not get very far in history unless, he had’ great aptitude for hard thinking and a discerning mind. He. could possibly do enough to pass examinations and make people think he knew something. There are other subjects, however, that he would not approach in that way. To study science, you have to go into laboratories and do experiments.
It is of the utmost importance that education is thorough. There is not a subject I know of which, if fully studied, does not present great difficulties and require very hard work. When Professor Messel said the other day that one of the faults with students simply was that people did not want to work; he was quite right. I am not going to say for one instant that that is the only difficulty that faces students.
– They could not work as hard as Professor Messel1 suggested.
– No, they could not. He is probably an exceptional man; but there is a certain minimum of work which must be done and if a person will not or cannot do it, he must find some other way of making a living. There is one difficulty when we give scholarships. They might fall into the hands of persons who do not appreciate them. That is inevitable.
– It might be the fault of the teacher.
– I would say that a person who gets a scholarship ought to have the capacity for learning, independent of the teacher. I say that deliberately. Teaching could and should be better in many countries, but I cannot imagine anyone who could really become a competent engineer failing because of the teaching. Good teaching is a help and bad teaching probably has the effect of putting a timid student off the study of something he could really do; but we must require of those to whom we give public money by way of scholarships a certain minimum of study and work.
– Do you like the idea of the extra year that is proposed in New South Wales?
– I like the extra year provided it is used in the proper way. It could be of enormous advantage to the better type of student at the university, and it could be a sheer waste. Even under our old system, I know students who repeated a year and did worse the second year. I know others who repeated a year and really rounded off their education in a way they would not have done otherwise.
Another question is whether every university in Australia should give a full course in every kind of subject. There was a time when it was thought that every university should do that at least in what we call the arts and one or two other things. It may be that in the interests of economy and sound education, it would be better if there were a certain specialization among universities. In these days of easy travel when many people live abroad, it would be good if, by agreement between the universities themselves, we could say, “ That is a subject which very few students take. It is important that a limited number of persons in the country should study it. Why not teach that at the University of New England? “ Take such a subject as anthropology. New England might not be the best possible place for that, but I mention that as an example that it might be better for students from all parts of Australia to go to one centre or another to study a particular subject.
There is a great necessity to-day to get the best and to avoid too much mediocrity. That would be mainly at the higher level. 1 think there is a basic course in the humanities, in science and in many other subjects that every university should have. When you come to professional courses, every State will need its law school and school of medicine and so on, but there again it might be well if the States, by agreement among themselves, decided that there was a certain particular study which would be concentrated in one university only or in a limited number of universities.
I mention those matters in order to show that this simple paragraph in the Administrator’s speech indicates a very big problem which the universities in the main will have to solve for themselves, perhaps on the advice of the Australian Universities Commission. It is a problem of which all of us here should be conscious. The time probably will come when it would be a good thing to constitute in this chamber or the other place, or in both, a committee to deal with the whole subject of university education so that we can have informed opinion when the subject comes up for discussion. One of the great services that we can render to Australia, Mr. Acting Deputy President, is to ensure that the money we vote is well spent. When the Budget comes before us and we have a debate, even though we read all the papers that are presented and ask Ministers all the questions that we can think of, we often feel that we are voting money for purposes which, though good, may not be achieved.
I come to the question of transport, including the standardization of railway gauges and the construction of improved roads. I wish to speak briefly about rail standardization because that is a subject that was considered by a committee of Government supporters, including Senator Hannaford, Senator Maher and myself, and private members of the House of Representatives. As Senator Cooke stated during question time to-day, an Opposition committee also considered this subject. Both committees recommended standardization. I am not aware of the full contents of the report of the Opposition committee, but the report of our committee was an admirable and excellent one. I did not write it - Mr. Wentworth did - but I agreed with it. It was written after full consultation with the very active members of the committee who had visited every State except Tasmania, where the problem did not arise. The committee conferred with Premiers, Ministers, members of Parliament, officials, commissioners, engineers and others.
On Monday last, when 1 was in Albury, I was very pleased to go to the railway line and see the realization of the thing that we had dreamed about and written about. I was sufficiently interested to look at the rails and see whether the ends were welded together, because that was one of the questions that the committee had considered, lt went into many minute technical details and the information we acquired provided a real education in the way in which such things are done. Unfortunately, it was not a committee of the House. It might have been better if we had had a joint committee of both Houses, so that there would have been nothing partisan about its recommendations, but since the Opposition committee agreed with the recommendations of our committee and as both committees were working at the same time, there can be no dispute.
The work of the committee provided an instance of private members actually having an influence on legislation and on policy. The subject was discussed with Ministers, and they were most sympathetic. The previous Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, discussed it in the most friendly way with us, while Senator Paltridge, who was then Minister for Shipping and Transport, helped us in every possible way and at every point. He fully informed his mind and allowed us to inform our minds. Therefore, I think that that was a splendid example of work by private members and of co-operation between private members and Ministers.
I am very happy to see that the South Australian and Western Australian parts of the scheme are to be considered shortly. I do not think that there are difficulties in regard to the supply of materials and other aspects. T understand that the political and other difficulties, if there were any, have been removed. In my opinion, the governments and also the people of all the States concerned are quite satisfied that the time has come to link Broken Hill with Adelaide and other parts of South Australia by a standard gauge line, and then, as the final stage - perhaps the two stages will proceed at the same time - to construct a standard gauge line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. I think that when that standardization work has been done there will be a transformation of the attitude towards railways in Australia. There are people who say that railway travel is obsolete and that railways are only needed for heavy traffic. That is not true. To-day, on the Continent of Europe the rail systems have been not only restored but pushed ahead to a degree of comfort and speed that were not thought possible.
– And also in America,
– I have never travelled in an American train, but of course the railways in that country have had a long and fine record. I understand from Mr. McCusker, the New South Wales Railways Commissioner, that the French railways are the best in Europe and that the West German railways are the second best. I have not been to West Germany and neither, I understand, has Mr. McCusker, but he has received many reports from his officers who have been there. In any event, the railways in both France and West Germany, although those countries were devastated by the war, are very good, as any one who has travelled on them will agree.
Although we find that air transport is the best and most comfortable means of transportation over long distances, I think that rail travel for shorter distances will come back into favour. We must pay particular attention to the tracks, as well as to the structure of the carriages. I think that the discomforts of Australian railways about which people complain - they do not exist everywhere - are due to the fact that tracks have not been laid with the best kind of ballast, the best kind of rails and the best method of fastening the rails to the sleepers. Attention to all those details makes an amazing difference to the comfort of rail travel. In future, the utmost attention must be paid to the provision of all the features that make a train as speedy and as safe as possible. In these days of motor transport, with all the dangers and difficulties that arise from it, that is very important. A return to railway travelling would relieve our roads of a proportion of their traffic, or at least prevent them from becoming much worse than they are. At the same time, many people would be able to travel quickly and in comfort.
– You would have to train the staff before you could get people to travel on the railways.
– That is a question that concerns the State governments and at the moment I shall not go into it.
There is only one other matter that I wish to refer to, and that is the building of the Federal Capital. This subject is not mentioned in the Administrator’s Speech because the policy that has been laid down has been pursued steadily. Now, we are in a cycle where things must be completed. I congratulate the National Capital Development Commission on its work. I have great confidence in it. I hope that we shall have an opportunity to discuss this matter at some future time, but if we have not, I hope that every honorable senator will look at the third annual report of the commission. It is an admirable document, well illustrated and easy to follow. I am glad to see the city finally taking shape. In reply to the people who continually complain about expenditure on Canberra, I say that development ought to have reached the present stage long ago, and that the great lost opportunity was the depression of the early thirties. That was the time when unemployment could have been relieved by, say, entering on the construction of the lakes and erecting buildings. All that was done was the erection of the so-called public library - that funny little doll’s house which is not adequate even for present needs - and, I believe, one very good road. I think that is all that the depression produced in this city. Much more could have been done. I am astonished to think that any one who complains about unemployment should say that this is the time at which to stop the development of Canberra. If a project is under way, how foolish it is to defer it. The real point about the National Capital is this: The development of it was deferred again and again and again until the Senate and this Government threw their weight behind a determination to get it to the stage where it was at least a city and a federal capital.
– It is the State newspapers that are whipping up feeling against the National Capital.
– I agree, ‘but some of them have changed their policy. I can recall the reception we got from the State press. I can recall one Melbourne newspaper saying that the politicians were designing a city of Babylonian splendour for themselves. My taste is not one of Babylonian splendour; it is rather one of simple Attic grace.
– It is more Spartan?
– Yes, a little. I am not too happy about some of the buildings that are being erected, but I forbear to criticize because all one can do is to state one’s own tastes and so on. We have all seen that building near the American War Memorial. It looks rather grim and barrack-like, and so do many other buildings. But when we see the whole plan, it is possible that that ‘building will fit into the general landscape in a seemly and proper way. I am very pleased to see the development of Civic Centre.
– The building you referred to looks like a penitentiary.
– That is a term I have used before. But fortunately in Civic Centre there is a variety of buildings. They are not all the same. Some I like; some I do not like. I am very pleased to know that a square, a public place with a fountain in the centre, has been constructed. I shall say nothing about the buildings surrounding it, but I will tell the commission that I greatly admire the fountain and the space in the square.
.- I rise to support the amendment. Needless to say, I disagree absolutely with all that His Excellency the Administrator had to say when he dealt specifically with the present and intended policies of the Government. In the first paragraph of his speech, the Administrator said -
The Parliament has assembled to proceed with the nation’s business and to work to promote the best interests of the Australian people.
I was tempted to interrupt His Excellency. If T could have interrupted him, I would have asked to what section or what class of the Australian people he was referring. The fact that is overlooked by the
Government, and intentionally so, is that the people of this country and those of all other countries that I know of are irreconcilably and viciously class-divided. That state of affairs is responsible for industrial disputes, strikes and turmoil generally, because of the conflict of interests involved.
In this country the owners of land, wealth and capital are becoming fewer and wealthier. They mainly take the form of private monopolies. On the other hand, we have the non-owners who are being increasingly impoverished, so much so that the figures supplied by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in November last showed that 693,000 persons, or one in every ten of the population, are in receipt of pensions - an increase of 243,000 since 1949, when this Government assumed office. The majority of those persons, namely the age pensioners and widows, are quite capable of earning a decent livelihood and should be paid at least the basic wage. But it is found to be cheaper and more profitable to reduce them to the level of destitute wards of the State. If there were to be another war it would be found, just as we found during the last war, that these compulsorily retired workers could do a magnificent job. The two departments with which I was privileged to be associated during the last war - the Department of Aircraft Production and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department - employed all the retired superannuitants and age pensioners they could get. Those persons did a magnificent job both in relation to the actual work that had to be done and in the training of young workers who were brought into commission. Those older people supervised the work of the trainees. But at the cessation of hostilities they were put back on the dole.
So, to-day, we have 693,000 persons who can be said to be subordinated, exploited, impoverished and reduced to the very lowest level as mere destitute wards of the State. And that number is increasing, which means that all that the average young worker in industry can look forward to is. if he lives long enough, to exist as best he can on the dole. He cannot look forward to becoming the owner of land or of the house in which he lives. As I pointed out in August last, during my speech on the Budget, and according to figures supplied by the Institute of Public Affairs, he has to pay about £6,000 for a house and land for which he would have paid £800 in 1939. Not all young people can afford that sum. Those who succeed in acquiring land and a house have to mortgage their property for the whole of their working lives. This is the modern form of ancient Asiatic usury, practised in the pre-Christian era, under which the peasant had to mortgage his body to the rajah before he was permitted to earn a living. The ancient system has simply been modernized in the name of progress and as a result of hire purchase. So, when we are told that the Government is acting in the best interests of the Australian people we must ask ourselves for which class of people it is acting. As things stand at the moment, the answer must be that the Government is acting for the private monopoly interests, including the banks and the financial institutions, which control this nation’s resources. The worker, who creates the wealth, receives only a subsistence wage. That wage is prescribed by the arbitration tribunals, the members of which are paid something like £150 a week, plus allowances, to do their job of keeping the modern slave in his place.
Let us see how the system works. Almost automatically when the worker increases production and reduces the time required to do a certain job, his wage is reduced in proportion to the increase in production because he is paid only for the time that he works. In these days of automation almost all work is done by the machine and all that the worker does is attend to the machine. Two or three weeks ago I visited a mechanized laundry in Melbourne where most of the work is done by machines. With the aid of machines two women employed in that laundry are able to process 600 shirts a day. That will give honorable senators some idea of the extent to which the workers are being exploited to their detriment. The faster they work and the more they produce, the less they get in comparison. Relative and aggregate wages are being reduced but profits are being increased enormously.
So much for references in the Administrator’s Speech to the welfare of the people. The Speech is prepared by Government advisers and is designed to create in the minds of the people a feeling of complacency and trust in the Government. But one law that the Government cannot ignore, amend or repeal is the law of cause and effect. I have told the Senate how this Government’s policy affects the wage-earner and private monopoly interests in control of land and capital. I ask supporters of the Government how they would like to be forced to exist on the dole, which is the unhappy circumstance in which thousands of people find themselves to-day. The worker has no freedom of access to the means by which he lives unless it suits the will and convenience of the employer. Certainly, when the worker is paid his wages he may spend them as he thinks fit, but those who are unemployed or on the dole have no alternative but to exist as best as they can on the dole. They can, of course, commit crimes against property. One reason why there is so much crime these days is the sustained frustration in the minds of the. people, particularly young men who are denied reasonable access to a means of livelihood.
In his Speech the Administrator said -
My Government will continue to try to promote steps towards universal disarmament under proper safeguards and in appropriate stages.
Most people have very little knowledge of the present state of society and do not realize that preparation for war is an integral part of our economy. If this country ceased preparing for war, what would it do with the thousands of persons engaged in preparation for war? I have always maintained that preparations for war constitute a challenge to war. The only question that remains to be answered is when and where the war will begin. This has been the experience in the past but the one thing that rs preventing war to-day is the fear of war. The fear of what another war will do to them is having a restraining effect on the rearguard generals, particularly those who profit so enormously from preparing for war. The Government’s statement about seeking to promote universal disarmament is misleading. We know that our Prime Minister is presently meeting the leaders of other countries. We know that he has recently conferred with the leader of the American people.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was referring to that portion of the Administrator’s Speech in which it was stated that the Government would continue to promote steps towards universal disarmament under proper safeguards and in appropriate stages. I pointed out that the preparation for war and the manufacture of the instruments of war were becoming more and more integral parts of a nation’s economy - particularly the economy of such nations as the United States of America and Russia. I said also that preparation for war constituted a challenge to war.
The position to-day is much more serious than in the past. The military forces of the nations to which I have referred are now trained more efficiently to destroy their fellow men in millions. The question that exercises the minds of governments in imperialist countries is: If we disarm, how are we to provide employment for the millions of workers that will be available for employment, when under existing conditions we cannot find jobs for those who are now unemployed? An imperialist country also fears that if it were to disarm another imperialist country would attack it. That could really happen. The purpose of imperialism now, as in the past, is to control other nations in the interests of the owners of capital. That is the reason for world-wide tension to-day, and it has its origin in the wage system to which I have referred. The circumstances are that wealth is increasing as the result of the increasing productivity of labour in industry and in essential services. Capital is thus accumulating as never before and is being centralized in fewer and fewer hands. That set of circumstances frequently leads to war. Just as Hitler said, leading imperialists say, “ We must either expand or explode.” In other words what Hitler meant and what leading imperialists mean is that they must either control other nations in the interests of their own nation, or they face possible revolution within their national boundaries. That is the dominant thought in the minds of representatives of imperialist countries to-day.
The meetings which are being organized in the name of the United Nations have not suggested whether it is possible to come to any agreement on disarmament. My own opinion is that imperialists will never attempt to come to any agreement until the victims - the working masses - bring pressure to bear upon them. All things yield to pressure. The pressure that is being brought to bear on the Government at the present time is responsible for certain concessions in sales tax and other taxes. The implication is that it is possible for the nations to disarm, but personally I will not believe it until more convincing evidence is brought forward.
Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is mentioned in Senator Armstrong’s amendment, namely, continuing inflation. I have mentioned this matter time and time again and it has been mentioned also by the press and by representatives of the Government, but no one has attempted to state the cause of inflation or what should be done to stabilize the currency. One of the latest authorities to direct attention to this subject is Mr. Graham Hutton, the author of “ Inflation and Society “. At the invitation of the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, controlled not by representatives of Labour, but by representatives of big business, he wrote an article on the subject under the caption, “ Democracy, Development and Devaluation “. The fact that he was invited to write such an article indicates to me that the leading capitalists, bankers and monopolists are now beginning to find that inflation is a double-edged weapon. The article appeared in the October-December, 1960, issue of the “ Review “ published by the Institute of Public Affairs, and stated -
Since war ended over a decade and a half ago, the biggest inflation in so short a period ever recorded has occurred in the democratic half of the world. It has not occurred on the other side of the Iron Curtain, where compulsion by the State has controlled everything from gross incomes, incomes disposable (net of tax), subscriptions to loans (saving by persons and business entities), and differentials of incomes, to the total of goods and services available for sale or for rationed consumption.
In other words what he was saying was that where you have proper control of the nation’s resources you will have State control, or what is known in this country as State capitalism in contrast to private capitalism. He goes on to say -
Democratic governments in this decade and a half have done neither the one thing nor the other. They have allowed inflation of the supply of money and credit to drive the cost of living - and therefore incomes, profits, etc. - up at such a rate that the leading currencies in the free half of the world have lost purchasing-power at unprecedented rates. Sterling has lost nearly half of its purchasingpower since the war ended.
That is perfectly true. What can be said of sterling can be said of the Australian £1, only to a much greater extent. On two occasions I have cited figures issued by the United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer to show that £1 sterling to-day is worth only about 4s. in terms of gold, in comparison with its value in 1914. That makes the Australian £1 worth only about 3s. compared with 20s. in 1914, assessed in terms of gold, which is still the measure of the purchasing power of the currency.
The writer goes on to say -
This democratic kind of inflation - easy to run, hard to explain, harder to halt - is more dangerous to democracy than to totalitarian States.
That also is true. This great danger to this democracy is one of the reasons why so many thousands of men and women are denied the purchasing power to which they are entitled. It is one of the reasons why we are paying exorbitant prices for the things we need. When I received £3 a week as a tradesman before and shortly after federation, I would not have worked more than 40 hours in order to earn the price of a suit of clothes. Today, if I were working at a trade and receiving £25 a week, I would have to work 60 hours for a suit of clothes. The suit I am wearing now cost £35, so it would take a tradesman more than 60 hours’ work to obtain the means to purchase it, although a suit is produced to-day in less labour time than ever before. That is one of the anomalies and contradictions that are not explained by the financial journals of this country and other countries, which are continually directing attention to the dangers of inflation. The writer continues -
No wonder that in nearly all our western democracies these last fifteen years it has become progressively harder, with the inflation, to discover differences of policy between political parties which once used to be thought of as fundamentally opposed.
– Do you agree with that?
– No, I c’o not agree with that. Labour’s policy, translated into simple English, is that land and capital, particularly in this highly mechanized age, is socially produced and should be socially owned. Therefore, our policy, is opposed to the Government’s policy. The writer goes on to say -
Inflation is a more rapid flow of money and. credit than of goods and services to spend it on.
That is true. In other words, inflation means the issue of paper money, representing values considerably in excess of the actual value of the wealth produced. As 1. have said before in this chamber, the only difference between the counterfeiter and the inflationist is that one acts outside the law and if he is detected and found guilty he goes to gaol. The other, who acts within the law, makes enormous profits and sands his representatives to Parliament to perpetuate the process. This extract is pertinent -
Inflation is the political coward’s way of confessing that the citizens cannot be trusted to see this and draw the implications for themselves.
That also is true. If those who understand the cause and purposes of inflation hold responsible positions in society and admit the truth, private banking control and the private ownership of banking, production and services constitute a challenge to them. This article is written by one of the first prominent writers in England to have the courage to direct attention to the position. He concludes by saying -
One thing seems clear in the world as it now is. The democratic West will not be able to measure up to the political and economic challenges flung in its teeth by its own citizens, those of less developed lands, and those of totalitarian countries, until our governments singly and together make their primary aim the establishment of sane and sound monetary systems and currency values. On these are built all decisions about the future. And the biggest challenge to the democracies at present is: Back to democracy, or on to . . . what?
When he writes “ Back to democracy “, he states by implication that we are, for all practical purposes, a totalitarian state. This gentleman states - I agree with him - that there is a limit to the extent to which the government of the day can continue to give effect to the policy of exercising control over the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and over other means of reducing the purchasing-power of wageearners to the lowest level possible or enforceable. The question which the Government has to ask and answer for itself is just how long will the victims of inflation continue to tolerate this state of affairs.
The Administrator, in his Speech, said -
My advisers wish to ensure that, subject to the need to continue measures now being taken to combat inflation and to arrest the drain on our overseas reserves, important’ new facilities will be available to assist production for export.
The Government has been saying that ever since it came into power. We all recollect that the election cry in 1949 was, “We will put value back into the £1 “. Since 1949 the value of the £1 has been reducing and it is still being reduced. Every increase in prices reduces the purchasing power of money. When a statement such as that is made in the name of the Government, in the light of our experience from 1949 until now all we can say about it is that it is a form of political misrepresentation to mislead the people who do not understand the cause of inflation or know how to deal with it.
Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is housing. On the 8th of last month I received a letter from the Minister of Housing in the Victorian Government, Mr. H. R. Petty. I suppose most Victorian Parliamentarians received a similar letter. That letter reads -
Enclosed are copies of two articles written by Mr. Osmar While which were recently published in the Melbourne “ Herald “. I commend these articles to your attention as the slum problem has now reached the stage where it must be considered as a national problem and will require the co-operation of local municipal authorities and State and Commonwealth Governments in order to clear the blight of slums from our major cities.
The first of the two articles to which he referred, which were published under the name of Mr. Osmar White of the “ Herald “, appeared on 30th January of this year. The caption of the article is “ City’s decaying core must be cleaned up “ and it reads -
Melbourne, on all the statistical evidence, is Australia’s most prosperous city. Its level of permanent employment, its per capita income and per capita contribution to public revenue shade the rest.
When the writer uses the words “ per capita “ he is making a purely mathematical approach as distinct from what may be called a geometrical approach. The mathematical approach is to accept the part as being greater than the whole and on the law of averages to include everybody, even the very poor. The geometrical approach would be based on the axiom of geometry that the whole is greater than any part; in other words, that the people as a whole are greater than the few who control the natural resources of the country. The article continues -
Yet between 40,000 and 50,000 people in its inner suburbs live in conditions recently described by the Victorian Minister for Housing, Mr. Petty, as “wretched, sordid and verminous”.
The article also contains these words -
The people who are forced to live in these airless shanties live there because they are, in the main, helpless victims of failure of both State and Commonwealth to deal effectively and realistically with an important aspect of the national housing problem - urban re-development. . . . The area of sub-standard housing is growing steadily. . . . Mr. Petty replied: “ It’s a problem caused mainly by economic ignorance and shortsightedness.”
I would add “ and callous indifference “. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people are living in those conditions and around them palatial hotels and commercial buildings of all kinds are being erected. Millions of pounds are spent on those buildings, but nothing has been done for those people. Mr. Petty went on to say that when enough money and credit was made available by the competent instrumentalities - ‘that is the Commonwealth, State and local governments concerned - the slums could be cleared and urban re-development begun. He estimated that in Melbourne alone the cost would be about £34,000,000. Finally, the article stated -
It is possible to house in pleasant, comfortable, clean conditions two or three times the number of people now squalidly accommodated in areas regarded as grossly overcrowded.
I agree that the abolition of slums is well within the bounds of practical politics, but slums in this country will never be abolished for the same reason as they have not been abolished in other countries. The other article appeared in the “ Herald “ on 31st January of this year. I do not propose to quote from it. It contains statements similar to those I have read.
Why is there a shortage of housing? Answering my own question, I say unhesitatingly that the reason is that the cost of the wages of housing workers is always included in the total cost of production. The main reason why employers and governments never allow such costs to exceed the enforceable minimum is that it would mean a decrease in their profits. The lower the cost of production in the field of housing the greater are the profits, and to the extent that’ money is spent to provide suitable and healthy housing for the workers and their families profits are reduced. That is the present situation, and as long as the actual and potential victims acquiesce in that sort of thing .their position will never be improved in Australia or in any other country. That is one of the reasons why in other countries the reaction to increasing poverty is being expressed in more forceful terms than it is in this country. It was to be expected because you cannot starve humans out of existence. If you attempted to do it, you would have a revolution overnight; but it could be done, and is being done, within limits. Just how long the people will submit to it is a matter for society. As the victims, actual and potential, realize, not from a process of abstract reasoning but from the effects, just what is happening they will seek an improvement of their conditions, but it is a case of needs must when the devil drives.
The question I ask myself is this: For just how long is the Government prepared to acquiesce in this demoralizing slum housing for the actual producers of wealth? How long is the Government going to tolerate it? Here you are in this chamber posing and postulating as the representatives of the people as a whole, pledged to do your best for them. Here you have the machinery of government which you control but you are not using it for the benefit of the really worthwhile people and the producers of wealth. Their share of the wealth of the country is reduced to the minimum while the share of the monopoly-controlled economy of the country is increasing in leaps and bounds everywhere. When I referred to housing, I spoke of the position in Melbourne. It is even worse in Sydney. There are 30,000 applications for housing in Sydney which cannot be met, compared with 18,000 in Melbourne. There are great slum areas in Sydney, both in the suburbs and in the core of the city, just as there are in Melbourne and to a lesser degree in other States.
I turn now to unemployment. The Government claims that the workers are enjoying what it calls full employment. That is not in accordance with the facts. There has always been unemployment and there always will be. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) said in this chamber last night -
The latest unemployment figures that are available show that some 73,000 people in Australia are seeking employment, that number constituting approximately 1.7 per cent, of our total work force. They are the latest authentic figures. Let no one think that I utter them in any casual way.
The Minister is strictly official. He does not seem to be the least disturbed by the needs of the 73,000 persons who seek employment. By implication he has said, “ They get the dole; that is ample for them “. A similar inference can be drawn from the attitude of the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). It does not matter to them so long as they are all right. If the situation were reversed and they were forced to take a dose of their own medicine, I can visualize what their attitude would be. The Communists would possibly be amateurs in comparison in causing disturbances. The Minister for National Development also said -
I believe that the future of Australia depends upon our maintaining full employment.
The Government has never been able to maintain full employment. Full employment has been possible in this country only during the two world wars. When I was elected to the Senate in 1938 there were approximately 500,000 persons unemployed. The government of the day was not worried very much about them. But when the war came, there was full employment for all who were able and willing to work. That was the experience also during the First World War. Now, when we have so-called peace, unemployment is increasing and must necessarily increase to the extent that labour time is a diminishing factor in production and production in itself is an increasing factor. So while: Senator Spooner, Senator McKellar, Senator Gorton and others say that the Government’s policy is to maintain full employment, I want to know what steps they are going to take to give effect to their policies. It does not matter whether the Government will reintroduce import licensing or achieve a balance, of trade. In existing circumstances, unemployment must continue. That is an inevitable effect of current economic processes. In every country, the rural population is declining. Country towns are becoming more or less ghost towns. As the Minister for National Development has said -
In the United States of America 5,750,000 people, or more than 7 per cent, of the total work force, are unemployed.
The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but the. same economic process operates there as here. The rural population of America is being expropriated from the land, according to a press report published last year to the extent of 100,000 workers yearly. In Australia, according to a very exhaustive survey made by a British company, the rural population declined by 70,000 between 1942 and 1952 while production from the land by workers increased by 50 per cent. There you have increasing productivity side by side with increasing unemployment? How is that position to be rectified? What is the remedy? So far as I know, nobody representing either this Government or the American Government has attempted to provide a remedy. According to press reports, the newly-elected President of the United States proposes to grant increased sustenance to destitute people in that country. According to the report, there are 10,000,000 dollars worth of accumulated primary products which cannot be sold at a profit. President Kennedy proposes, just as we do in Australia, to give something to the starving, the semi-starving, the unemployed and the destitute.
It can be said without exaggeration that the whole wage system represents the modernization of ancient feudalism, but the present system is more profitable and more drastic in its effects than was the system in other days. That may seem to be an exaggeration, but leading economists in England said more than a hundred years ago, as Mr. Graham Hutton has said, that such a state of affairs had come into being. Sir William Petty said, about 90 years before Karl Marx was born, “ The earth is the mother and labour is the father of all workmen “. David Ricardo and other wellknown English economists, including Adam Smith, have said something similar. In 1865, Karl Marx, in a long address to a working-class organization in England, in which he argued very closely and very critically, said that poverty could never be abolished until we abolished wage slavery. Of course, very few people took any notice of ‘him; but what he said, and what others have said subsequently, shows the extent to which the position has been understood.
Despite all that has happened in the past and all that is happening at this very moment, the Government is conspicuous by its silence. It has not said what it proposes to do. As Mr. Graham Hutton has said, the Government has adopted a coward’s approach. It is afraid to face the truth. Apparently, it intends to wait until such time as there is a catastrophe and it is either forced to yield or is forced out of the position it now occupies.
– In rising to play my part in this debate I want first of all, as is natural, to join in the loyal sentiments that are expressed in the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. I also wish to say that I and the people of Tasmania desire to pay tribute to the late Lord Dunrossil. I support the motion before the Senate and strongly oppose the amendment to it that has been moved on behalf of the Australian Labour Party. I shall refer to the amendment only briefly because it so clearly shows the muddled thinking, lack of initiative and lack of interest in Australia that characterize the Australian Labour Party of to-day. Nevertheless, the amendment is in keeping with the expressed views of the leader of the party.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), during a television appearance in Hobart, did more to help the Liberal Party in Tasmania than anything else for a long time. In fact, we now rather like television there. Mr. Calwell was asked what the Labour Party would do and what remedies it would provide for the current economic difficulties. This person who may be the next Prime Minister of Australia, knowing that he would not be able to achieve office for at least eighteen months, replied that it was not the duty of the Opposition to put the Government right. He said, “ When the election comes around, it is for us to offer our alternative policy”.
I believe that it is the bounden duty of every honorable senator and every member of another place who knows that there is something wrong with the administration of the country to be upstanding, to say what he thinks is wrong and to provide an alternative. Does the Australian Labour Party really mean to say, “ We are going to be in opposition for the next three years. We could not care less about Australia. All we will do is say that you are wrong. Wait tor three years and then we will help Australia to get out of its difficulties.” If that is what the party says, surely that is a disgusting and contemptible outlook for a national political party to adopt. All that the Opposition has said, in the meaningless amendment that has been moved, is what it thinks is wrong with Australia to-day.
The economic policy of a national government in a vast country that is rapidly expanding and which has great material resources yet to be developed, must affect people in many walks of life and all spheres of activity. So, when a government announces economic policy, the growth of pressure groups, in business and in politics, immediately is stimulated. When the ugliness of unemployment begins to appear, those pressure groups can do great harm to the nation and cause terrific hardship, whether they are pressure groups in big business, trade and commerce or politics. I think that it is a great sin for any person in Australia to say anything about the economic conditions in this country or to take any action that will cause alarm to spread and result in even one person losing his employment. There is not one member of the Parliament who sincerely wishes to see any Australian who is fit and willing to work, out of work. To contend otherwise would be to make a disgusting accusation against any of us. The same is true of all decent people everywhere in Australia. But at a time such as the present, pressure groups use their influence to try to force the Government to change its ways. People who are exporting want help, and so, too, do people who are importing. People whose markets are declining, perhaps because of their own fault and inefficiency, are liable to turn against the Government and to blame it. It is only right that all decent Australians, instead of asking “What can the Government do for us?” should ask “ What can we all do for Australia? “ and thus cause the pressure groups to lose their influence.
I should like to refer briefly to import licensing. The Government has stated that it will not re-introduce this control. The Australian Labour Party, on the other hand, has stated that it should be re-introduced and that if Labour were returned to office it would re-impose import licensing. I hope that no Australian government will ever have to re-introduce import licensing. It has harmed many. If we have any memory at all and if we are honest we must admit that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have been strongly critical of import licensing and have pointed out its deficiencies and unfairness.
I hope that no representative of Tasmania be he a member of the Australian Labour Party, the Liberal Party or the Australian Democratic Labour Party, will go back to that State and say “We want import licensing to be re-introduced “, because when it was in operation we in Tasmania were at the wrong end of the scale. Many of the old established imported lines that were retailed in Tasmania were brought into Australia by Victorian and other mainland wholesalers. When import licensing was introduced their quotas were cut down. The Victorians and other mainlanders suffered to a degree, but the Victorian wholesalers could not have cared less about the Tasmanians. It was we in Tasmania who went short. Tasmania, like the rest of Australia, is developing quickly and solidly and we want more businesses to provide for the needs of the people. But when Tasmanian business people have said “ We can sell certain goods in Tasmania. What about a licence? “ they have been told that they had no quota in the base year. So not only business people but also consumers do not want import licensing to be re-introduced. We all know that some people who did have import licences and who had been too greedy or whose business started to fall off, and who did not want to use the full value of their licences, used them for other persons who could not get licences and sold goods to those other persons at a premium of from 15 to 25 per cent. As a result, costs went up.
I am very glad to note that the Government is to continue its drive for exports. I believe that the proposals outlined by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in another place last night will, when put into effect, be of great economic value to this country, as long as business people and producers also try to wage a campaign to sell abroad at a fair and reasonable price goods that are of good quality and are well packed. I believe also that if waterfront employees and the shipping companies play their part and join in this drive to deliver our products abroad in a fit and reasonable condition, this Government will give all the incentive that is required. I think that we, the people of Australia generally, should look to ourselves. Since the abolition of import licensing, Australians have gone wild and have been buying things simply because they happen to carry the label of another country. Charity begins at home, and if we want Australians to be employed and our goods to be used, we ourselves should buy them. There are many commodities that we must import; but I should like to see the Government say to the chambers of commerce, chambers of manufactures, trade unions and other organizations, “ In the quiet winter months let us have an all-out ‘ Buy Australian-made goods’ campaign “. I have referred to the quiet winter months, because it is then that we will face danger. Let the Government set an example, and let big business set an example.
A lot of rubbish or unnecessary goods are being brought into Australia and are being bought by Australians. I do not believe that we should be controlled out of doing that, but as Australians we should realize the responsibility we have to use what good Australians are growing, producing or manufacturing. I am not sure that it would do any harm for the Department of Trade to call a conference of some of our biggest importers, the chambers of commerce and chambers of manufactures and say to them. “We do not intend to re-impose licensing. But we are living beyond our means and are bringing into Australia goods which we really do not require and which are interfering with our own production. Cannot you boys have a look at your list of imports and cut out the unnecessary things, the rubbish, and those commodities that are coming in in unfair competition with Australian goods? If you do not put those imported goods on the counter, the Australian people will not be able to buy them.” Such an approach would be consistent with freedom, initiative and loyalty to one’s country.
I am glad’ also, Sir, that this Government is showing a continuing interest in the tourist industry. During the last five or six years honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have been playing their part not only here but throughout Australia awakening people to the possible value of the tourist industry to this country. It seems that the State governments have woken up. In February, during the last recess, State Tourist Ministers met at Hobart. They seemed to be enthused about the possibility of expanding the Australian tourist industry and of co-operating to get tourists here. The Liberal Government of Western Australia sets a very fine example when it has the Premier of that State as its Minister in charge of tourism. That shows that the Western Australian Government is really interested in developing the tourist trade in the west. I hope this Government will use every means it can to give a lead in getting people to visit Australia from abroad.
We must remember that each year an increasing number of people in this prosperous country are travelling through Europe, America and other countries and that the money they spend is going out of this country. We talk about our balance of payments situation. It is lovely to see people travelling; travel broadens their minds. It is good to see a prime minister travelling, too. And it was nice for Senator Benn, who is smiling, and me to travel. But money that is spent by Australian tourists who go abroad goes out of this country. It is our task to bring people into Australia to enjoy the great facilities and beauties that are to be found here. I believe that if this Government were to take a continuing lead in attracting tourists, it could do a lot of good.
Time and time again for several years the subject of banking has cropped up in this Parliament. There have been Jong and acrimonious debates about it. But eventually the Government got its legislation through both Houses. But I hope there will be no necessity to alter the banking structure of this country for many years to come. Undoubtedly there are some problems associated with the banking system. The fringe banking organizations are helping to develop harmful effects in the Australian economy. In some respects the Common- wealth Banks and the trading banks areresponsible for this situation because they have given overdrafts to businesses and’ individuals at a certain rate for, say, four years. That may have been all right 40 years ago, but the practice has continued, and. the banks have seldom,, if ever, except as a result of a credit squeeze, taken any notice of those overdrafts not being repaid. The result has been that people have beenliving on overdrafts. After all, the cheapest way to get money is to pay bank interest rates for it. Money has been flowing out from the banking system into hire-purchase companies. It has been flowing into other forms of activity, which re-lend the money at about 8 per cent, interest to enable clients to carry on their businesses. Money that is being drawn away from the banking system in that fashion is not available to people who now need it. My discussions with other people lead me to believe that this is not a matter in which the Commonwealth Government should intervene. It should not interest itself in hire purchase. I am not an economist and I cannot say whether the Government should release more money from special accounts. I think the situation’ is one that should be dealt with by the banks themselves. They should see how they can improve it. The banks should get back into the business of banking.
I want to say something now in the knowledge that it will be recorded in “ Hansard “ and in the hope that it will come to the notice of the appropriate Minister and his department. We now have wonderful sea and air transport across Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. But the airlines are not operating in what I would term a sensible way in order to give the value and efficiency of service that one is entitled to expect from the aircraft and the crews who operate them. Each airline now operates three services daily to Tasmania. Each aircraft leaves Hobart within ten or twenty minutes of its competitor. Quite often a race develops to see which aircraft can get its engines started first and get first call on to the tarmac. The aircraft leave Hobart, set down at Launceston, and then fly on to Melbourne. There is no intra-state air service between the north-west coast, where about 60,000 people live, and Hobart. It is just as difficult to-day to get from Hobart to Burnie, except by private car, as it was 25 years ago. The omnibus services and the railways have not improved, except in comfort. The roads have improved a little but the time taken to do the journey is no different from what it was 25 years ago. The airline operators should endeavour to provide a service from Hobart to the north-west coast and on to the mainland. They have been pig-headed in their attitude towards this matter. Each is frightened to let its competitor in on something that might prove to be good.
I hear groans from an honorable senator. Exactly the same difficulty is experienced in relation to the air service between Sydney and Tasmania. During winter, early summer and early autumn we do not have a service from Sydney to Tasmania, but when the tourist season is about to commence each airline runs services on Saturday and Sunday at approximately the same times. Surely it would be possible for each airline to run a service on each of two days in the week without operating on the same day as its competitor. In that way the number of services could be increased by using the same number of aircraft and the same crews and at no extra cost to the airlines. Modern aircraft will carry up to 68 passengers and it is absurd to suggest that all passengers from Sydney to Tasmania would want to leave Sydney on the same two days in the week. I hope that the Department of Civil Aviation will confer with .the Australian National Airlines Commission and Ansett-A.N.A. in an endeavour to improve the already excellent and efficient air service between Tasmania and the mainland.
I oppose the amendment and support the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply.
– Like Senator Marriott, I support the terms of the motion. I agree with what the mover, Senator Mattner, and the seconder, Senator McKellar, said in support of the motion. I also support the Opposition’s amendment. I join with previous speakers in deploring the tragic suddenness of the death of Viscount Dunrossil, our late GovernorGeneral. On a suitable occasion I have already expressed the sentiments of the Opposition in relation to that tragic happening.
I come directly to the amendment moved by the Opposition in the name of Senator Armstrong. His amendment pinpointed the present state of our economy. I invite every thinking member of the chamber - I trust that all honorable senators come into that category - to look at the amendment. It directs attention to continuing inflation, loss of overseas funds, unemployment, failure of the public loan market, retarded national development, injustice to wage-earners, inadequate social services and housing, inequitable taxation, high interest rates and shortage of steel. I invite any honorable senator to deny that that is a factual statement of the unhappy position of the Australian economy to-day. The amendment begins -
That the following words be added to the Address-in-Reply: - “ and the Senate deplores the faulty leadership of the Government in directing the Australian economy resulting in - “
Then follows the list of circumstances that I have just mentioned.
It is my purpose to document that charge. It is a deplorable fact that the ills of Australia to-day, after eleven years of Menzies Government administration, justify the Opposition in documenting those items. This can be attributable only to complete lack of leadership on the part of the Government. In this place yesterday Senator Spooner outlined the great advances that have taken place in the country - in productivity, in population and the rest. I would say that those advances have been achieved more in spite of the Government than because of it. When one thinks of the difficulties that the primary producer has had1 to face in fighting inflation, seasonal fluctuations and price fluctuations in overseas markets, and when one recalls that the wages of the workers under federal awards were pegged from 1953 to 1956 and pegged again in 1959 by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at the instance of this Government, one is forced to the conclusion that the proper people to whom to pay tribute for the greater productivity of this country are the primary producers, the industrialists and, above all, the workers of Australia. Despite the difficulties, the hurdles and the injustices they still produced results that are very good for this country.
It was good to hear the figures quoted by Senator Spooner and have them recorded, but it is also right that the Government should not take credit for the whole of that progress but should leave the credit to the people of Australia primarily who, despite the hurdles and difficulties set for them by the inept leadership of this Government, were able to make the progress they did. The nation is certainly entitled to look to the national government for leadership, and that prompts me to inquire into the elements of leadership and to apply those elements to this Government and to its actions.
Some honorable senators may remember that in September, 1952, after I had observed the Government in action for some three years, I was prompted to analyse for myself what were the elements of leadership. I could see that the country was not getting leadership and in a speech, made in September, on the Appropriation Bill 1952-53, 1 analysed for myself, and put to the Senate, what I considered were the elements of leadership. The main element, of course, is purpose. Leaders must have a purpose. I say nothing in criticism of the Government as to its purpose. It is not necessary for me to do that. Let me state that the Government has the good of Australia at heart. The one charge I would make about its purpose is that it does not see with sufficient clarity or intensity. In leadership it is essential that there should be a clear view of the target being aimed at.
The second element in leadership, in my view, is policy. Leaders must know the way to the goal and they must have a policy in order to lead their followers to that goal. It is on the question of policy that I attacked the Government in the matter of leadership. Policy resolves itself into three elements, the first of which is knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge. T think everybody will agree that the Government of this nation is in a most favoured position to get all the knowledge that is required. The whole of the statistical and other resources of the country are at its disposal every day of the year. The Government has no excuse for not having the knowledge. Every time Cabinet meets it has before it graphs and detailed statistics dealing with every major trend in the economy of Australia. The knowledge is immediately before it but where the Government fails is in applying that knowledge.
The second element in policy is a capacity for action, and in the theme I develop I propose to show that the Government has failed dismally in translating thought into action. It is that failure on its part that has led to its suddenly panicking when it saw how it had allowed the nation to drift. Without proper consideration the Government adopts panic measures and then, to the confusion of the nation, speedily retreats from those measures. That has been the pattern during the whole eleven years this Government has been in office.
The third element that I see in the question of policy is the ability to see and plan ahead. To anybody who has observed the trend of things during the past eleven years it is quite clear that the Government has not had a clear vision of the path ahead, has not planned ahead, but has been moving from situation to situation. As each situation has become acute only then did the Government do something about it. Last evening Senator Spooner referred al some length to the administration of the Labour Government up to 1949. I am not going back quite so far, but a charge of lack of leadership having been levelled against the Labour Government I feel duty bound to document it and prove that it is wrong.
I desire to deal with the eleven years since the Labour Government went out of office before I deal with more current events. I refer first to 1949 when the present Government promised to put value back into the £1. What action did it take? It rested on its oars throughout the first three years it was in office. In its first year of office the basic wage rose 13s. per week; in the next year it rose 38s.; and in the third year 13s., making a total of £4 2s. per week in three years due to cost of living increases. During that time the Government remained completely inactive despite its promise to put value back into the £1.
I remind the Senate that in 1950 when the Labour Party was pressing the Government to do something to halt inflation Senator Spooner said in this place on behalf of the Government that inflation was a matter for the people themselves. He said that they had to halt it, that the Government could do little. The Government threw down the reins and let inflation run. Yet the Government had given a solemn promise to put value back into the £1. ls that leadership? Was that ability to see ahead the ills of inflation that were being inflicted upon people in every section of the community whether they were in business or out of it.
Let me refer to capital issues. Capital issues were controlled when this Government came into power in 1949. One of its first acts was to discontinue the control of capital issues, the purpose of which was to channel money into those directions that were vitally important to Australia at that time. The Government completely discontinued the control of capital issues in 1930, but becoming alarmed at the uneven balance or ill-balance that developed, the Prime Minister in a half-hour talk to the nation on 6th October of that year indicated that the control of capital issues would be re-imposed to prevent the wrongful development of the economy. How long do you think it was before he put that decision into effect? It was five months later that the control of capital issues was re-imposed, and in the meantime all sorts of luxury industries mushroomed. In order to counteract this growth, along with other troubles, the Government then brought in the horror Budget of 1951-52. I think we can recall that Budget. Additional taxation of £472,000,000 was imposed upon the people of Australia that year. There was not one aspect of taxation in which taxes were not increased. We saw the punitive increase of 661 per cent, in sales tax.
– What year are you talking about?
– The horror Budget was introduced in 1951-52 when sales tax went up to 66$ per cent. It was designed to put out of business the very concerns that the inaction of the Government and its abolition of capital issues control and the delay in re-instituting that control had brought into being. That demonstrates two things from the nation’s viewpoint - inability to see and plan ahead and when the Government did see what was necessary, incapacity to act. If we apply the test of leadership in that matter, the Government fails.
Let me pass now to the excess profits tax. In his speech dealing with rising prices and their cause the Prime Minister solemnly promised the nation that an excess profits tax would be introduced. On 5th December he told the Parliament that that had not been forgotten and that the Government was still determined to have an excess profits tax. We have not seen that legislation from that day to this. That was a solemn promise given to the people. Is that leadership? Did the Prime Minister see the goal? If he did see it, why did he not find a way to it? The Government got lost on the way to the goal. It saw the goal clearly for a moment and then its vision was obscured.
Let me pass to import controls. Senator Marriott has just been referring to them. They were again introduced by the Government in March, 1952, and they ran for over seven years before they were eased out. The whole history of the Government in relation to import controls is to apply them with great stringency, to let up, and then, when trouble develops, immediately to clamp them on again. The classic instance of that situation was in 1954. There was an election for the House of Representatives in May. The Government lifted import controls very largely in April, immediately on the eve of the election. There was a flood of imports. The great warehouses and emporiums of Australia were full of imported goods which were very largely of a luxury nature, very pleasant things to which to have access, but awfully damaging to our balance of payments position. In that very year, through the Government’s ineptitude in relaxing import controls, within six months we lost £142,000,000 of our sterling balances overseas. We have had that spectacle of moving, danger developing, and stopping again throughout almost every aspect of the Government’s administration. Now we have come to the situation where, after seven and one-half years, the Government suddenly abolished all import controls. We opposed that move, in the early part of last year, when speaking to a similar motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. We could see that the sudden lifting of them would inevitably cause a great deal of unemployment and dislocation in this country and must lead to a terrific problem in regard to our balance of payments. I hope later to deal at length with the importance of that.
Let me look at the Government’s record down the years in relation to taxation. One of the solemn promises upon which it was elected was that taxation could be and1 would be reduced. Within about two years we had the horror budget, imposing taxation to the extent of £472,000,000. In 1956, we had the little budget, imposing taxation to the extent of £115,500,000, on liquor, tobacco, petrol and motor cars - all the things that are used by practically all the people. The Government was reaching into the pockets of the little people. Under this Government in the last eleven years we have seen sales tax on motor cars grow from 8i per cent, to as high as 40 per cent. The 10 per cent, increase to 40 per cent., which the Government imposed only in November last, has now been removed.
I want to say something on the subject of leadership in the matter of defence. I shall deal with it only very briefly and inadequately. Let us take the Belgian FN.30 rifle. The Government told us in 1954 that we were to make that rifle. Two years later, it said that it would not have the plans for another two years, which meant a delay of four years. Having got the plans, the Government said it would be another two years before we were in production. Now that the rifle is in production, what is the story? The Government has equipped the regular forces. It has not equipped auxiliary units; that is only in the process of being done. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) has indicated in a public statement that the Citizen Military Forces will be equipped with this rifle over a period of some years ahead. The rifles have been produced at Lithgow, and what have we done with them? We have been selling them abroad to New Zealand and to Ghana and we are negotiating to sell them in thousands to Malaya, whilst our own troops in Australia are unarmed with the new rifle. There is -the story of dithering and delay from 1954 until now. The equipping of our own armed forces is still not complete and the end is not in sight. The story is that the Defence Estimates are not sufficient to enable the armed forces to be equipped with this rifle. Having regard to the fact that this Government has been spending nearly £200,000,000 a year on defence, I say that that is a complete disgrace. There is no more sorry record on the part of the Government, indicating its inability to act, its indecision, and a sad end result for this country.
I turn now to fighter aircraft, which are badly needed in Australia. It was admitted by the Government in 1957 that our fighters were outdated and had to be replaced. The Government decided on the American Starfighter but almost immediately realized that its decision was wrong and that we could not use this aircraft. It has taken the Government four years, right up until now, to select a replacement for our existing fighter. I was told in the Senate yesterday that we are to get the new aircraft in a few years. We are going to manufacture some part of them in this country - which part we have not been told - and in the meantime our aircraft production industry is languishing beyond words.
In regard to bomber aircraft, the then Minister for Air told us in 1957 that the need for a bomber to replace the Canberra bomber was the most acute problem in the Air Force. Four years have gone by since then and we have not yet even selected a new type. This is in a matter as vital to our defence as air protection. We were told by the Government in 1957 that the Navy lacked ships of an appropriate kind. We are still in the same position. We have not one submarine of our own, although it is now acknowledged that submarines are the best opponents of offensive submarines.
I mention these matters to show the Government’s dithering, delay, incapacity for action, and inability to plan and see ahead. When it does plan, it does not act. I come to another phase of the economy. Back in 1955, when the economy was again disturbed, when we were presently to be visited with the little budget, the Prime Minister was disturbed over the position in the hire-purchase field. At that stage, outstandings ran at about £182,000,000 for the year. So the Prime Minister met the entrepreneurs in the hire-purchase field. He made a gentlemen’s agreement with them, by which they would peg their lending at the then level, insist on a 33J per cent, deposit on motor cars and limit the period of lending to two and a half years. He announced the gentlemen’s agreement with great pride in this Parliament on 27th September. Three months later, the hirepurchase companies publicly repudiated the agreement. They threw it completely overboard and they went on the spree that we have seen. From) that day, hire-purchase outstandings rose year after year in phenomenal leaps from under £200,000,000 to £500,000,000. In the meantime, until November last, not one thing was done by the Government to seek any control. Where is the leadership in that? An honorable agreement made with the Government is jettisoned by the other party and the Government sits supinely by and lets these companies run riot in the country. It picked up in November, seeking to condition them by dealing with their deductibility allowance for interest paid which, we are told, is now to be changed.
It is a sad story of lack of leadership. I tell it in some detail, selecting only a few items. In relation to recent matters, the Government has been consistently lacking in leadership. Yesterday Senator Spooner said that the Government had followed consistently a forward-moving policy. It has been consistent all right. It has been consistent in its complete lack of leadership in every phase of activity that matters.
Now let me come up to date, to the Government’s recent economic measures. In February last year, alarmed at the state of the economy, the Government did1 three things. First, it lifted import controls and said that imports would compete with Australian-made goods and lower prices. The truth is that that has not happened. Secondly, it imposed bank credit restrictions and asked the banks not to help people to import. In other words, the Government itself abdicated import controls and asked the banks to exercise them. So, import controls were not really abolished; the Government only shed immediate responsibility and threw the responsibility at the banks. The Government’s third action was successfully to petition the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission not to grant the workers an increase in the basic wage. The commission acquiesced and froze wages, but it did nothing about excess profits or the vast reserves - in addition to dividends paid - that many of the major companies had1 been building up.
In August, 1960, the Government took two further steps. It decided that in order to stem the demand in the community there should be a budget surplus of £15,000,000.
– What would you do about company profits, senator?
– Just let me tell you the story of the Government which you support. I will tell you what we would do in due course and in my own time. In August, 1960, the Government budgeted for a surplus of £15,000,000 to stem the demand1 in the community and, in one more fit and start, it abolished the 5 per cent, income tax rebate it had given the previous year, in order to stem or dam the spending power of the community. The Government talked about the prosperity of the nation throughout the whole year, and then in November the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made the frank admission that we were in trouble in four ways. First, our overseas funds were under threat; secondly, there had been an undue increase in bank advances; thirdly, excessive interest rates were being paid and charged by the non-banking financial institutions; and fourthly, there was a serious shortage of steel and the motor car industry had grown out of proportion and out of balance.
At that stage four steps were taken. First, the banks were asked to impose even more severe restrictions. Non-banking financial institutions were told that interest paid beyond certain levels would not be allowed as an income tax deduction. Sales tax on motor cars was increased from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. We were also told that forced loans would be imposed upon insurance companies and superannuation funds. Many of these proceedings were vague. We were told that the banks had increased their advances by £150,000,000 since February, 1960. Where was the leadership by the Government when, having directed bank credit restrictions in February, 1960, it stood by and watched bank advances grow by £150,000,000 between February and November? When the Treasurer blamed the banks for increasing the advances, the manager of the Bank of New South Wales was reported in the press as saying that the Government knew all about it and indeed, knew the trend every week of the whole period. Of course, the truth is that it did. Nothing shows this Government’s lack of leadership more plainly than the fact that, having imposed bank credit restrictions in February, it sat by and let the banks run up £150,000,000 in advances in a period of about nine months.
If one looks at the directive to the banks, as expressed by Dr. Coombs in his policy statement, one finds that, in effect, there are capital issues controls and import licensing in excelsis under the banks, to the extent that the banks can in fact be operative. To prove that point, let me give a few extracts from Dr. Coombs’s statement. The banks were requested to achieve a considerable reduction in advances outstanding by the end of March, 1961, and to bear in mind the need to provide appropriate finance for export production. Dr. Coombs said that reliance on bank finance should be reduced in directions where there was already excessive demand upon available resources of materials and labour, where it would contribute to the demand for imports, or where it would stimulate speculative tendencies in the economy.
Then the banks were forbidden to make advances for the following purposes: The holding of stocks, the provision of consumer credit, building construction where social purposes such as housing are not involved, other capital projects, investment in shares and real estate ventures. The statement then continued -
With regard to the continuing high level of imports, banks have been asked to be especially restrictive in allowing the use of bank advances to finance imports.
What is that directive other than an attempt to impose capital issues controls covertly upon the people and activities of Australia and to exercise import controls through the banks with discrimination, if they wish, and without a right of appeal? I say that it is a completely craven action by the Government to walk out of an open, honest control in a situation where our balance of payments is threatened and then throw the responsibility at the banks to be the arbiters and determiners. Import controls have not been abolished. They are being exercised inefficiently by the banks. What we have in Australia to-day is truly selective import controls. I shall make a case for that before I conclude. It is useless for the Government to pretend that it has got rid of import controls. They had settled down to a position where everybody in Australia was very happy with them. There is no doubt that essentials were being imported, and we might well have weathered our present overseas balances difficulties if the controls had been retained.
An extraordinary thing that happened was that the non-banking financial institutions were told that they would not be allowed deductions for interest beyond certain levels. Legislation to that effect was introduced in November. Already we have been told that that legislation is to be reviewed and altered. Does that sound like leadership? Does it sound as if proper consideration was given to .this grave economic matter when the decision must be changed within three months? The sales tax on motor vehicles was increased in November, but the increase was suddenly revoked in February, only a month or two later. The forced loans from insurance companies and superannuation funds and all the other measures were vigorously defended by the Treasurer to a delegation from the Australian Council of Trade Unions on 21st February and completely changed on the following day, at the instance not of the Treasurer but of the Prime Minister. The increased sales tax was lifted, the forced loans proposal is to be modified, and in the press to-day we are told that it is to be completely abandoned. I have no doubt you will find that is true.
– Shock treatment!
– It just indicates the complete lack of consideration that was given to these proposals a few months ago in a matter as vital as the economy of Australia. I know it is not easy to find a solution for any one of our ills, and I know there is no solution that is all good. A solution, in our intricately woven economy, can only be selected if it will do the least harm; but it is perfectly clear that the Government did not address its mind properly, or almost at all, to what it was doing in November, and now it has had to re-cast its thinking. The increased sales tax on motor vehicles was imposed and now it is gone. Interest deductibility is to be revised with fresh legislation.
Forced loans are to be completely abandoned. In that connexion, the Government adopted a highly discriminatory approach in dealing solely with insurance companies and superannuation funds. If there were to be forced loans, why not consider other financial institutions? Why was the proposition confined to insurance companies and superannuation funds? Now that the Government is talking about incentives to the insurance companies and superannuation funds and getting them to invest in loans by giving them more consideration in respect to income tax, why not consider the State savings banks of Australia? They were the biggest contributors to loans. They supported the Chifley loans better than any other set of institutions in Australia. They have the greatest load of 3i per cent, bonds. Their average earnings have been brought down so low that when it became necessary under the Government’s policy recently to increase deposit rates with the private trading banks, it was possible for the savings banks to put up their rates to their depositors by only i per cent.
I invite the Government to give some consideration to bodies of that type, and not to be so tender about the life insurance companies or so ready with income tax deductions. I invite the Government to have a look at the State savings banks which down the years, in war and in the post-war period, so loyally supported the low interest rate loans. Their depositors are the people of Australia and particularly the little people of Australia. The little people are not concerned in a huge way with insurance. If the Government is looking at incentives, it should look beyond the insurance companies and the superannuation funds. I think it is deplorable that the nation is led by a government which has changed its step so often in just a few months in the way T have indicated.
It has been said in this place time and time again that the question of overseas balances and funds is the most important question affecting the nation. I will not deny that, but I do not concede it. I think there are very great problems like our local loan market, continuing inflation and others and I concede them to be of the very highest importance. Unfortunately, it is not generally understood in Australia that what happens in our balance of payments position affects the lives of everybody in the country. In order to import we must export. That is obvious.
The difficulty is that when we come to exports, we find ourselves so heavily dependent on primary production, and particularly on wool. Primary production has two sets of troubles. It has seasonal troubles that affect the quantity or volume of production, including fires, floods, pests and the rest. The primary producers are also in difficulty about prices. They are vulnerable because they cannot determine the prices they will get for their commodities overseas. We fluctuate in the quantity of production and the prices our products realize overseas. That makes our balance of payments position always vulnerable. Last year, wool returned us £386,000,000 of our export income and other primary products returned to us £354,000,000. That amounted to £740,000,000 of a total export income of £938,000,000. Those figures indicate how heavily dependent we are on primary production and on one commodity in particular - wool.
– Has the Leader of the Opposition included the mining products in those figures?
– Yes, they are included in the return from other primary products, £354,000,000. That includes the income from metals. We received £386,000,000 for wool and the figures together make a total of £740,000,000 of our total export income of £938,000,000. Because of that vulnerability, the Government introduced import licensing in March, 1952. Nothing we can do will cure that position. We have to be ready always to resort to import licensing in a period of stress. That is why we have had import licensing. We have had the experience of the Government relaxing controls and then tightening them for the past seven years.
Our imports are important because our employment position depends entirely upon them, particularly in the case of our heavy industries, such as engineering, chemicals, paper production and similar industries.
They are the greatest providers of employment. Unless we oan earn enough through our exports to import the commodities that are required to keep our main industries going, we cannot have employment in Australia or preserve our standard of living. The obvious thing to do is to build a safeguard in overseas funds so that for a reasonable period ahead we can be sure of vital imports.
A survey was made by an Australian secondary industries body in October, I960. Of course, the organization concerned has an interest in this matter. It is the Australian Industries Development Association. Its survey showed that in 1957-58 only 65 per cent, of Australia’s total merchandise imports were essential for the effective functioning of the economy. The organization claimed that capacity already installed in Australian industry could1 have replaced imported good’s to the value of £272,000,000 and given employment to an extra 100,000 or more employees. One would expect a degree of special pleading from an organization of that sort. Those people have a vital interest; but let the Government look at that claim which was made in October, I960, investigate it and deny the claim if it can. It is important to this country.
– The report says nothing about costs.
– I regret to inform the Minister for Civil Aviation that it does. It points out that the increased productivity that would be possible by gaining the extra £272,000,000 would enable costs to be reduced. The report did address itself to that point. We are not so dependent on imports as it might seem.
Our trouble in this field has not developed only recently. According to our trading position - .taking the balance of imports over exports - we have been in the red for the last three years. In 1957-58, we were down by £174,000,000; in 1958-59, by £207,000,000; and in 1959-60, by £242,000,000. Of course, that grave deficiency year by year has been made up by borrowing by the Government, by .the inflow of capital from abroad and, now, by the reduction of overseas balances. Those are the three ways in which it has been done. In the current year there has been a most alarming growth in our imports.
We are faced at .the moment with a terrific loss in our overseas balances. On looking at the Reserve Bank statement for January, 1961, I find that between December, 1959, and December, 1960, we lost £170,900,000 of overseas funds. In the six months to the end of last December we lost £106,300,000, and it is quite certain that, on present trends, by 30th June next we shall have lost another £100,000,000. That will bring us down in our overseas balances to under £300,000,000.
As we are importing at .the rate of approximately £1,000,000,000 a year, there is only enough for about a third of a year, to carry us over an emergency. We could use our overseas balances to finance only about three months’ supply of essential commodities for this country.
– That is excluding exports, of course-
– I am putting to the Senate .that on current account, as between imports and exports, we are losing out. We are in the position of a spendthrift who will eventually be a bankrupt, or one who is spending more than his income.
– But not at the rate of £300,000,000 a quarter, surely.
– I did not say that. I said that we have sufficient safeguard for a three months’ supply of essential commodities. I am saying that that is wholly inadequate and most dangerous.
This Government, by its policy decision to lift import controls in February last year has led us to the relatively desperate position that we are facing to-day. I put it very seriously to the Senate .that we have to be awfully careful1 about the inflow of foreign capital into Australia. It is all very well to make up our deficiency year after year with about £200,000,000 of foreign capital coming in, but in doing so we are adding to our future problems in regard to balance of payments. We have to pay dividends on that capital. When we borrow, we have to pay both principal’ and interest. We are adding to the problems of future years.
During the last five years an extraordinary amount of the industry of this nation, has passed into the hands of foreign companies. The Reserve Bank, in its statement of November last, pointed out that £750,000,000 worth of foreign capital had been invested in industries in Australia during the past five years. Approximately £450,000,000 was used by foreign-owned companies to establish or purchase industries in this country, while £300,000,000 was invested in established Australian industries. lt was stated that governments had borrowed about £100,000,000 overseas as well. In the same period of five years, we paid out £500,000,000 in dividends to foreign investors. Those figures give some idea of the significance of the money that is coming in. 1 recognize the need for the development of industrial activity in this country. There is a certain virtue in that, but one cannot shut one’s eyes to the great dangers, such as the danger that we shall lose control of our own industries. There is also the point that we are under an obligation to repatriate both the debt and dividends. This capital inflow is a complete gamble. The Government has gambled successfully on it year after year, but the year or the day that it dries up we shall be bankrupt. We shall be bankrupt if we fail to attract about £200,000,000 a year- and there are signs that our credit is not as good as it was. Senator Armstrong made that quite clear when he referred, last night to a loan that closed in London on 25th January last. We sought £20,000,000 on the London market. Two lots of securities were offered, one of £10,000,000 maturing in 1975 and the other of £10,000,000 maturing in 1983. The first one was over-subscribed. Of the second one. less than £2,000,000 was subscribed on the London market, and the underwriters, not being able to sell the loan, had to take up the remaining £8,000,000 themselves. That is indicative of Australia’s form on the London money market to-day. So that it looks as though the Government’s reliance on foreign borrowing is coming to an end. When that happens, one may expect the flow of foreign capital to become a bit flighty, too.
In effect, what we are doing at the moment, and what the Government has been doing during the last five years, is to leave our balance of payments position entirely to the whim of foreign capitalists; - and who is not concerned about that? If they fail us, we shall be in really serious trouble. At the moment, it looks as though we shall have, by 30th June, only about £300,000,000 as our substantial reserves, or only enough for three months’ supply of vital materials for this country. I say, therefore, that we are following the course that a bankrupt takes, and that is the case that the Opposition makes for import controls. We contend that in this dangerous situation the Government must be able to say, “ Well, certain things are vital to the economy. Sixty-five per cent, of what we get is in that category, and the remaining 35 per cent, does not matter at all when it comes to fundamentals.”
I recognize that something must be done to improve the position. We are asked what we would do. The Government has indicated that it is prepared at this stage to provide incentives for our export industries. In the light of the situation that has developed over the years, why wait for eleven years before providing incentives? Why wait until we reach the present position before something is done? Why wait until we are in a really desperate position? I do not object to incentives being given, but I ask that incentives also be thought about in connexion with that other institution of which I have spoken. Import licensing is one thing; stimulating our exports is another.
I come now to the subject of oil, a subject with which Senator Spooner and the Department of National Development are particularly concerned. I have spoken on this subject again and again in this place. I have referred to our complete and utter dependence on overseas sources for every gallon of oil that we use; to the fact that our defences would be completely immobilized without oil; that our whole economy would be brought to a standstill without it; and that imports of oil are costing us £135,000,000 per annum. What are we doing about oil search in Australia? Although Senator Spooner has assured me that I touched him on the quick when I said that there was not sufficient development in oil search in this country, in my view oil search represents one of our greatest failures. We have at least twelve great sedimentary basins spread over 1,500,000 square miles, or half the total area of Australia. Over that area of 1,500,000 square miles in all our history we have sunk 500 little holes, 123 of them being shallow holes down at Lakes Entrance.
The unfortunate part about the history of this matter is that we have been engaged in wildcatting - looking for a needle in the haystack - with no intelligent approach at all. Let me tell the history of the search for oil, mainly from the Government’s own sources of information. In 1954 Dr. Raggatt, the very competent Secretary of the Department of National Development, which directs the Bureau of Mineral Resources, said, when speaking of possible oil-bearing areas in Australia -
So little was known in 19541 He continued -
Moreover, so little is known about the conditions under which oil occurs and so little about the sub-surface geology of Australia that what appear to be long shots may well hit the target.
I refer now to Report No. 41 of the Department of National Development in relation to the search for oil, which was published in 1958. Listen to this -
Almost all drilling undertaken to date in Australia and Papua-New Guinea has been wild.catting
Not my phrase, but the department’s - in the sense that insufficient was known about the stratigraphy and structure and geological history to drill for expected targets.
That was the department’s report.
– How do you find out?
– I will tell you, but first let me complete the history of what has not been done. Mr. Rogers, the chairman of the Vacuum Oil Company Proprietary Limited, in the course of an interesting address he delivered in May, 1959, had this to say -
In fact, so little is known of the detailed geology of more than a fraction of these sedimentary areas that the question whether Australia will ever be self-sufficient in crude oil production remains at this stage impossible to answer.
Now I come to a witness whom I am sure the Minister will not contradict, because he himself was that witness. I am about to quote what he said in August, 1959, when he introduced a bill to increase the subsidy for the search for oil. At that time he cir culated a paper for the edification of members of the Parliament, in which he wrote a foreword. This passage appears at page 13 of the paper -
In point of fact, we have only the broadest geological and geophysical information for most of the sedimentary basins. The regional geology in Papua, in the Sydney Basin, and in the Carnarvon, Canning, Fitzroy and Bonaparte Gulf Basins of Western Australia, is reasonably well known, but detailed information, especially as regards sub-surface geology, is lacking in all but a few small areas.
That was what the Minister himself said in 1959.
A little while ago Senator Scott asked me what ought to be done. Time and time again in this place I have said what ought to be done. Wildcatting is of no use. It is useless for the Government to follow along lamely behind what the department has acknowledged to be wildcatting schemes. The first thing to do is to gain a knowledge of the geology of our sedimentary basins - to have geophysical surveys of the three types that are required.
– Do you say that that has not been done where the drills have been sunk?
– In a quite limited!, local way.
– It has been done in a quite limited, local way. The Minister for National Development has indicated that, except in the case of a few small areas, the sub-surface geology of the artesian basins is unknown.
– How do you find out?
– If the honorable senator will listen, I shall tell him again for about the tenth time. The thing to do - I have argued it over the years - is to build up the Bureau of Mineral Resources. It is for the Government to make a systematic survey of the sedimentary basins.
– How long do you think that will take?
– It will take time. But it will take less time after you start. You must make a start.
– Do you really think that a start has not been made?
– A very insignificant start has been made, according to the Minister’s own statement.
– I just do not believe that you are as ignorant as that. I do not believe that you know as little about it as that.
– I am quite certain that the Minister knows very little indeed The Government has been quite lacking in imagination in following on lamely behind private enterprise, which the Minister and the department have acknowledged has been wildcatting without adequate geological knowledge.
– I have never heard such nonsense spoken by a responsible person.
– Neither have I.
– I am quoting to the Minister his own findings about his own activities.
– Do you mean to tell me that you think we are sinking holes without adequate geological knowledge?
– I say that om main artesian basins in Australia have not been surveyed adequately or properly, and that a proper start has not even been made.
– That is not what you said a minute ago. You spoke about wild.catting
– I was talking about wildcatting ‘operations in Australia up to 1958. Let us come to the most recent report.
– Let us get off the subject of oil.
– Not at all. Let us consider the report of the Petroleum. Institute of France. I applauded when the Minister brought in that body to assist in the search for oil. He presented its report quite recently. He did not make available the programmes that the institute suggested, but he did make a statement. That statement confirms every word that I have said - that we know very little about the geology, either surface or sub-surface, of the great basins in Australia where oil may be found, with the exception of two areas, one of which is in Papua and the other in Western Australia, where most of the money spent by private enterprise has been invested.
– Are you suggesting that we claim to have an adequate knowledge of those two areas in Papua and Western Australia?
– No, but I said that there was more knowledge of those areas than of other places. They are the main places where money has been spent. Let me put the matter in perspective. In 1957, the Government provided a subsidy of £500,000, and in 1959 an additional subsidy of £1,000,000. It spent approximately £350,000 on the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and the whole of the expenditure of the Division of National Mapping was about £80,000.
– Where did you get that figure of £80,000?
– That was the total expenditure for the Division of National Mapping for last year.
– Oh! You must have missed a couple of columns.
– If I throw in taxation concessions, which the Government says amount to £2,000,000, we have a total concession of about £4.000,000. That represents approximately 8s. per head of the population of Australia. When I point out that the Government raises in taxation an amount of £135 18s. lOd. from every man, woman and child in this country and that it spends 8s. of that amount on assisting the search for oil, it will be seen how lacking in imagination and a sense of urgency the Government is and how inadequate is its approach to the search for the one thing that could dramatically change our balance of payments situation, save our imports, give us exports and, if we could find it in commercial quantities in reasonably accessible areas, revolutionize our internal costs.
The Government has asked for suggestions. I give it this one: Get on with the search for oil with a bit of life, urgency and imagination. Senator Spooner has said repeatedly that we cannot get the know-how.
– We would have some fun if we went along in the way you suggest.
– The French institute reported to him that it was prepared to make specialists available to help in carrying out the programme.
– You opposed the last grant of a subsidy to assist the search for oil.
– Yes, and I will tell you why. The amount in question was inadequate . and the Government’s approach to oil search was inefficient. I opened the debate in this place on that matter and I stated our opposition on those grounds. We are asked for practical suggestions to help the balance of payments position. I say instantly that we should get on with oil search. Let us see whether we have oil in this country. What the Government has done up to date in the search for oil clearly shows lack of leadership.
Let me deal now with the public loan market. Our amendment deals with this matter. The public loan market is the biggest failure financially in the Commonwealth. This year the loan market fails by ?220,000,000- ?140,000,000 of Commonwealth works and ?80,000,000 of State public works. During the eleven years of this Government’s term of office the loan market has failed by ?2,000,000,000; and the people of Australia have been taxed to that extent. After eleven long weary years the Government recognized the seriousness of the position and in November last, acting in panic, it decided to legislate for compulsory loans. After eleven years it recognized the need to do something. The taxpayers of these immediate years were called upon to pay to the tune of ?2,000,000,000 whereas they would have paid only the barest moiety of that amount year after year if the loan market had been sustained. Why was the loan market not sustained? Inflation frightened people out of the loan market. Rising interest rates made the loan market unproductive to people who had subscribed to loans at lower rates of interest. Another factor was the high interest rates obtaining in the non-banking field. Inaction and lack of leadership on the part of the Government have led to the collapse of the loan market. It was good to see that the Government had become frightened at last and had been stampeded into contemplating legislating for forced loans. But it has lost its courage and has already beat a hasty retreat over that matter.
Let me say ‘something about unemployment. T am shocked at the Government’s attitude to unemployment. I was shocked on 17th November last when the Government brought down its economic measures. On that occasion I quoted figures to show that after the little Budget in March, 1956, the number of persons unemployed reached a peak of 36,000. In the next year the number had increased to 58,000. A year later the number was 74,000 and a year later still it was 81,000. In 1960 the number of unemployed reached 69,000. In January of this year the number was 71,000, and we are told that it is now 73,000. Senator Spooner claims that there is no unemployment and that in fact Australia is suffering from a state of over-full employment. Let me quote what he said on 17th November last, which is almost identical with what he said yesterday. Last November Senator Spooner said -
It is almost incredible that the Leader of the Opposition should attempt to establish that there has been unemployment in recent years and that the Government’s present proposals will lead to further unemployment, especially when it is quite clear that one of the principal results of the inflationary trend has been over-full employment.
Senator Spooner speaks of overfull employment during a period when we have had peaks of unemployment of 36,000, 58,000, 74,000, 81,000, 69,000, and 73,000 persons unemployed!
– What was the figure in November last year?
– I cannot say, but in December last the figure stood at 69,000.
– Those figures represent only registered unemployed.
– That is the point, but let me keep to the official figures. Senator Spooner and his supporters dismissed those figures and said that they represented only 1.5 per cent, or 1.7 per cent, of the work force. For years unemployment has been a constant problem for something like 70,000 of our people. Those people have been confronted with unemployment day after day and year after year. Unemployment is a terrific human problem for each person concerned. I would say that unemployment as a chronic sore that has for too long afflicted this country.
– What is the opinion of Mr. Monk on this matter?
– I do not know what opinion Mr. Monk has expressed on the matter. I am expressing my own opinion, but I know that he, too, is very concerned about the unemployment position. Senator Spooner dismisses the matter and says that the number of people unemployed represents only 1.7 per cent, of our work force, but the problem has a terrific impact on the 73,000 people concerned. It concerns not only each of those 73,000 people but also their unfortunate dependants, and accordingly if one took into account every person who is affected by unemployment that number could probably be trebled. I cannot understand how Senator Spooner could claim that the Government’s proposals would not lead to further unemployment because the Government said that they were designed for that very purpose. The Government has said that what is happening is what was expected to happen. That is what Senator Spooner told us yesterday. I have never before seen such confusion among people who are supposed to govern us. I say quite frankly that we on this side of the chamber regard 73,000 persons unemployed as a most serious situation. The Government apparently regards the situation with complete indifference. It claims that we have full employment in Australia.
– You must have been worried in 1949.
– We were for a few months when the coal strike was on, but only at that time. Your own Prime Minister, in his policy speech in 1949, said that there was full employment, and there was.
– You never got the figure down to 1.5 per cent, in your lifetime as a government.
– We did much better than that. Let me get back to the theme of leadership. The Government, feeling that the Constitution may have become outmoded, appointed a committee representative of both sides of the Parliament to inquire into the Constitution. It has had the committee’s report for two and a half years. Yesterday we were told that the Government is still considering the report. Is it not a fair question to ask where is the Government’s leadership when a report of a parliamentary committee can remain untouched for two and a half years? Where is the Government’s leadership? Is the Government able to reach a decision?
– The leadership has gone to England.
– The leadership has indeed gone to England and has taken the report with him to read. I am amazed that Government supporters do not blush when they are reminded that the Government has had a report of that nature in its hands for two and a half years and has done nothing about it. The Government has made no decision on the report, adverse or otherwise.
Last year we were told at the opening of the second session of this Parliament that legislation would be introduced to deal with restrictive trade practices. Npt only has that legislation not been introduced but we were told by His Excellency the Administrator on Tuesday last that the Government now intends to have talks with the States about restrictive trade practices. I feel ashamed for supporters of the Government who have to sit behind a government that can make an announcement that it will introduce legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and then, twelve months later, make the same announcement again. I venture to suggest that if the Government is in office next year a similar announcement will be made once more.
– You will be in the same place next year.
– I am not prepared to prophesy about that. I am happy to leave that matter to the electors.
– That is why we are getting this constructive speech.
– At least you have received a few practical suggestions.
Let me say a word or two about the industrial front. Our amendment refers to industrial injustice. There was the pegging of the basic wage from 1953 to 1956. Again in 1959 the basic wage was pegged. I invite any honorable senator opposite to tell me what single thing has been done during this Government’s term of office to reduce the high interest rates paid by the workers of Australia. What single .thing was done to halt the increase in profits and the accumulation of vast reserves in the hands of the major companies? That is a challenge to anybody on the Government side. No move was made against excess profits or huge reserves.
This Government professes to applaud the principles of equal pay for equal work regardless of sex, but what has it done to implement that policy?
– Have the unions applied to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for a decision on equal pay for the sexes?
– I cannot answer that question, but I point out that the Government is one of the largest employers in the Commonwealth. It could, give a lead by affirming the principle in its own service. If it were to give such a lead the principle would be followed in industry.
– Does not the Arbitration Commission have to fix wages?
– Not for the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government itself and this Parliament have the complete and absolute power to fix the rates for Commonwealth employees. The Government can also lay down the rates and conditions applying in the Territories.
– Would you do that?
– I am talking about the present Government, its affirmation of a principle, and what it has done. I venture to say that the Labour Party would do something about the matter.
– The Government never pegged1 the basic wage.
– The Government applied to the Arbitration Commission last year to do that very thing. The Government made a direct application - the only government in history to make such an application - and the commission bowed its head to that request.
– To the case that was put forward.
– To the case that was put forward, if you like.
It is rather interesting to hear the Government at this stage, after eleven years of office, talking about advancing money to the States to help a programme of develop- ment in the country - roads for the north, further developments in the search for oil, rail standardization and the rest.
– All very laudable.
– All very laudable but let me ask just one little question. Why wait eleven years? Under proper management, could not that have been done during the past eleven years? Why this sudden interest in development on the eve of an election? Is this something that will be said by the Government again and again before the following election, if the Government is still in office?
– Why this vicious speech on the eve of an election?
– I would regard this as a most charming, objective address to this chamber, in which not only am I putting a case lambasting the leadership of the Government but I am also documenting that case and challenging members of the Government to answer me.
– You are doing that without bias?
– I do not mind whether you have bias or not, but as you have introduced a political note into this discussion let me say that this Government is now recognized by the people of Australia as a kind of luxury that the country can no longer afford. The people have put up with the Government for too long, as they have with a lot of expensive imports.
Just to conclude this talk, I am reminded of a very good story I heard told by a very distinguished Australian at the Hobart regatta luncheon. He told it in a completely non-political context. It is I who shall be giving it a political complexion when I say to this Government that it thinks by the inch, talks by the yard and is about to be removed by the foot.
– I should like to associate myself with the expression of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. I should like also to congratulate the Administrator on his excellent Speech delivered in this chamber on Tuesday afternoon. It contained a considerable amount of meat and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) referred to it to-day on quite a few occasions. I should like also to associate myself with the remarks that have been made about the sad loss of our Governor-General, Lord Dunrossil.
Before I commence a speech which I intend to be constructive I must answer some of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition. As we approach a general election we find that the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Opposition are very loud-voiced in making destructive attacks on the Government. Senator McKenna tried to convince us that since this Government was elected to office in December, 1949, it has never had a constructive thought, and has wavered from day to day, bringing down measures that occurred to it at the time and withdrawing them shortly afterwards. In actual fact, he said, the Government has no policy. But the Government’s policy is plain. Its policy is full employment, great expansion and increased prosperity for all in Australia. The Government has maintained that policy throughout the eleven years it has been in office. Never during one of those eleven years has it had the number of unemployed that were in Australia during the last three months of the Labour administration. Senator McKenna says that he is sorry for the Government because 1.7 per cent, of the work force of Australia is unemployed. But during the JuneSeptember quarter of 1949 more than 5.5 per cent, of the work force of Australia was unemployed.
– During a coal strike, was it?
– It was a coal strike, but if you want me to select a period when there was no coal strike, I go to June, 1948, when 3.5 per cent, of the work force was unemployed. If a member of the Opposition who follows me in this debate has sufficient courage to quote one occasion during the eleven years this Government has been in office when more than 3.5 per cent, of the work force has been unemployed, I will be very interested to hear it. I do not believe that any member of the Opposition can produce the evidence.
It is a fact recognized by everybody in Australia that if you have a Labour Government you must put up with unemployment. I will give reasons for that statement. The position is quite simple. We had a Labour Government in Western Australia for six weary years, from 1953 to 1959. Under a Liberal-Country Party government in 1953 we had the lowest percentage of unemployed to work force of any State in the Commonwealth. That percentage became the highest in Australia in 1959 under a Labour Government. Prior to the election of Mr. Hawke in 1953, approximately 13 per cent, of migrants to Australia were getting off the boat at Fremantle. After Mr. Hawke’s election, the figure dropped to less than 2 per cent, in 1959. The Brand Government is now expanding the economy of Western Australia and endeavouring to attract migrants there to restore the State to the position that existed prior to 1953.
The honorable senator said that this Government governs in fits and starts. He referred to the introduction of the horror Budget in 1951-52. He was not quite fair, because he did not say that that followed a year of great prosperity. Wool prices increased to almost £1 per lb. in March, 1951, and about £700,000,000 or £800,000,000 was received from the sale of wool. There was a need to deduct 20 per cent, of the income of wool-producers to meet their taxation commitments in the following year. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government increased taxation in that year by almost £400,000,000.
– Four hundred and seventy-two million pounds, of which £114,000.000 was attributable to wool.
– That is so. We had to increase sales tax and all the other taxes in an endeavour to stabilize the economy after the greatest boom in wool prices that Australia has ever seen. We recognize that that is a responsibility of responsible government. We are proud of having done that. I remember going out in Western Australia to explain the wool tax measures. They were not popular at the time, but within twelve months they were recognized as essential. Wool-growers had tax deducted from the proceeds of their wool clip and held in reserve to meet their taxation commitments in the following year, and they were very pleased about that when wool prices receded to 3s. or 4s. per lb. If that had not been done, they would not have had the money to meet their tax commitments.
The honorable senator mentioned only two matters that I thought were constructive. He said that we should re-impose import licensing immediately and he criticized us for lifting capital issues control. The other point of interest to me was his reference to the search for oil. This Government, which is representative of the Liberal Party and the Country Party, does not believe in restrictions. We try to get away from them. We have endeavoured to get away from import licensing and we have at last achieved that objective. I believe that import licensing, in itself, is unfair to the people of Australia, and particularly to those who are engaged in business. In order to give effect to import licensing, a quota year is selected. The last one that was used was the year 1951-52. People who had quotas in the year selected get import licences and others who are eager to become importers are unable to get licences. As a result, there is a trade in import licences. They are sold, some for 10 or 15 per cent, of their quota value. There is a black market in import licences, just as there was a black market in 1949 when prices control applied. Therefore, I do not think it is desirable to resort to import licensing if we can possibly get away from it.
Australia is one of the greatest trading nations of the world to-day. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said in another place last night that we are the tenth greatest trading nation in the world. If we want to remain as such, we must allow our people to trade with any country which has the money to pay for our goods. If we are nasty and tell Japan that we will not allow Japanese goods into this country, what will happen to the primary producer who is producing wool? We rely on competition from Japan and other wool-buying countries, which export goods to this country, to create a demand for our wool. If we had import controls that resulted in a cessation of imports from Japan, she would no doubt refuse to buy our wool. This, of course, would lower the standard of living in Australia. I believe that the standard of living that the Government has achieved is much higher than it was under Labour’s administration and that it will be even higher than it is to-day. We shall develop and expand to the point where we shall be not the tenth greatest trading nation but the eighth, seventh, or even the fifth or fourth greatest trading nation.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the foreign investment which this Government is eager to obtain and which is bitterly opposed by every member of the Opposition. How can we, as a small nation, expect to expand if we do not have foreign capital coming in for the purpose? Let us assume that Labour had been in office for the past eleven years and that there had been no foreign investment in Australia. We would now have no oil refineries. We have spent £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 of capital coming into this country - not earned in it - on the establishment of oil refineries. Labour would have barred that, I suppose. There would have been no money for new manufacturing industries. I remember that when we wanted to borrow money from the International Bank to purchase bulldozers for the building of roads and equipment to provide transport for the development of our outback areas, the Labour Party, in all its wisdom, opposed the proposal to the bitter end.
The Leader of the Opposition went on to criticize the Government’s policy in relation to oil. He said that only some 500 holes had been drilled in the course of oil search in Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I should like to remind him that about 450 of those, holes have been drilled since 1950. Then he said, “How can you expect to find oil in Australia when you are using wild-cat methods? You are putting holes down anywhere at all without any geological information.” I have never heard so much nonsense in all my life. Does the Leader of the Opposition imagine that any oil company would pay half a million pounds for a drilling rig, transport it to Australia, say “We will put a hole down here “ and then blindly erect the rig? That is what the Leader of the Opposition implied and what he thought when he said that we in Australia were wild-catting. Wild.catting means putting down a drill anywhere at all without any information, in the hope that you will find oil. In fact, before a company decides where it will drill a hole it carries out a geological survey of the area, perhaps first by plane and then on the ground. Having carried out the ground survey, it puts a seismographic team in the field and gets a complete picture of the underground structure. With the latest instruments it is possible to map the structure even 10,000 feet underground.
– Have you ever seen one of those rigs?
– Have I seen them? My friend, I have been to the majority of the oil drilling sites in Australia. I have spudded in drills and spat on the bit. That is the custom. The fellow who performs the spudding-in ceremony spits on the bit for luck. I have seen quite a bit of that. A lot of work goes into the preparation of a site before drilling actually takes place. In some cases more than £100,000 could be spent in determining a site on which to drill a hole.
The Leader of the Opposition has said that we have been wild-catting, but since the Government has been in office it has endeavoured to create an atmosphere in Australia and outside Australia so that companies would come and help us search for oil. First, the Government provided a drilling subsidy on a £1 for £1 basis, which cost about £1,000,000 to £1,500,000 a year. The Government allowed a 100 per cent. tax deduction on money subscribed by people in Australia for shares in oil search companies. That provision was made to encourage the Australian people to retain their investments in the search for oil in Australia.
I have no doubt that the Government, through the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), causes the officers of the Bureau of Mineral Resources to spend a lot of their time in the field. They are always out in the field looking at various structures and the Division of National Mapping carries out mapping programmes of those structures. I was very sorry that the Leader of the Opposition had the audacity to criticize the Government when it is endeavouring to do everything possible to find oil in Australia:. Let us compare what this Government has done with what the Labour Government did prior to 1949. In 1946 it bought a rig and when it went out of office in 1949 it still had the rig and it was not erected anywhere. What a record!
Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 5.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 March 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610309_senate_23_s19/>.