23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Henty be granted leave of absence for one month, on account of ill health.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that during the absence of Senator Henty, Senator Gorton will answer questions directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, the Minister for the Army, and the Minister for Health and Minister in Charge, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Senator Wade will answer questions directed to the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Supply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact, as reported in the press, that the growth in passenger traffic on civil airlines has not attained the increase which was expected last year? How does current passenger traffic compare with that of last year? Is it a fact that both airlines are considering the acquisition of further frontline aircraft? Could such acquisitions be justified in the light of the current passenger trends and the financial conditions of to-day? What are the respective frontline strengths of the fleets of Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines?
– The first part of the honorable senator’s question relates to the growth in passenger traffic. It was expected that in the early part of this year the traffic growth would be of the order of 5 per cent. That has not materialized. In fact, in the first nine weeks of this year there was a down-turn in the number of passengers carried to the extent of about 3 per cent, fewer than last year. One airline has made an application for the acquisition of a new aircraft. Its first application was in respect of a second-hand aircraft. That was made late last year. The company was unable to obtain a second-hand aircraft. It then made an application for the acquisition of a new aircraft. In view of the position I have described in relation to the lack of passenger traffic growth, that application has been rejected. The other operator has made no application to me. The honorable senator then asked whether I could justify the acquisition of such aircraft. I think the facts answer that question. In the circumstances of the down-turn in passenger traffic I do not think any further acquisitions could be justified. That is why I have rejected the application by the operator concerned.
In answer to the question about the frontline fleets, I inform the honorable senator that each operator has three Electras and two DC6B’s; Trans-Australia Airlines has twelve Viscounts, two of the 800 series and ten of the 700 series; and the Ansett-A.N.A. group has ten Viscounts, compared with Trans-Australia Airlines’ twelve, five being of the 800 series and five of the 700 series. Behind the front-line fleets, apart from the DC3’s and DC4’s there are the newer Friendships, of which Trans-Australia Airlines has nine and the Ansett-A.N.A. group six.
– I intended to ask Senator Henty who is the Minister for Customs and Excise, a number of questions. I regret his illness. Knowing the great fund of knowledge that the Minister for the Navy, Senator Gorton, possesses, I will address the questions to him. Was the banning of the book about Lady Chatterley and her lusty lover the work of the whole Cabinet, or was it done by Senator Henty in consultation with the Prime Minister or after consultation with a few of his colleagues? Is it a fact that the book was banned principally because of the author’s use of a rude four-letter English word? Has Senator Henty ever banned a book on his own responsibility? If he has, which one was it? Has any Minister for Customs and Excise banned any book on his own responsibility? Has the Minister read exSpeaker Norman Makin’s splendid book entitled “ Federal Labour Leaders “?
– Do you want us to ban that?
– No, it is a good book. If the Minister has read it, did he note that Norman Makin was taking no chances of his book being banned because he printed that four-letter English word, “ d-a-m-n “, which although I have been here for 30 years I have never heard used in the Senate, with a “ d “ followed by a dash?
– I understand that the Minister for Customs and Excise, when making a ministerial decision on the banning of a book, naturally dealt with a matter which was the responsibility of the Government. I read the book in question many years ago. It contains quite a large number of various four-letter words and I am not sure to which particular word Senator Brown referred. I am not aware whether the inclusion of certain four-letter words in the book is the reason for the banning of the book. I understand that the Minister placed, a ban on the book in such a way that his ruling could be challenged in the courts of Australia, should anybody desire to do so. I have given this answer off the cuff and honorable senators will appreciate that I am not completely au fait with this subject. However, I understand the position to be as I have stated.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. In view of the fact that importers are still advertising delivery of 1960 season Turkish figs at prices which are onehalf the Australian cost of production and advising clients to take advantage of the low rate of duty of 4id. per lb., in anticipation of a Tariff Board finding that the duty should be increased by ls. 6d;. or 2s. per lb., will the Minister take steps to place an immediate embargo on the further importation of Turkish figs, pending a finding by the Tariff Board and subsequent action?
– It would be quite contrary to usual practice to impose a duty in anticipation of a Tariff Board finding. Nobody knows what recommendations the Tariff Board will make, so I can hold out no hope in that direction. If the circum stances are as Senator Pearson states, and I do not doubt him for a moment, a procedure is available whereby representatives of the industry may go to the Department of Trade and seek a special arrangement. But under the legislation the Minister for Trade may make that special arrangement only after the matter has been referred to the Tariff Board.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact, as stated by Moscow radio in a broadcast this week in which reference was made to Russia’s demand for the extradition of an Estonian migrant now resident in Australia, that Russia and Australia were allies in World War II. against the common plague of fascism? Is it a fact that so far as Russia is concerned, the alliance was made not by choice but as a result of Hitler’s invasion? Did not Stalin originally prefer to ally himself with Hitler in order to destroy Poland in return for territorial gains, which included Estonia? When the democracies were fighting fascism, did not Stalin invite press representatives to publicize his embrace on Moscow railway station of Mr. Matsuoka, Japan’s envoy to Russia and Australia’s enemy? Did not Stalin further invite publication of his even more effusive embrace of Hitler’s military attache, and1 did he not state that the embrace illustrated Russia’s lasting friendship with Hitler’s Germany? Did not Hitler’s subsequent invasion of Russia, rather than Russia’s dislike of fascism, which is communism’s twin, make Russia our ally? Is not Australia’s gratitude for help in World War II. due to the common people of Russia and not to the Soviet Government or the Russian Communist Party? Has the Soviet Government ever done anything for Australia which would justify handing over to Russia an Estonian refugee who denies charges made against him by Russia and whose own country has been the victim of Soviet crimes, including genocide and colonialism of the worst type?
– Most of the matters about which the honorable senator has asked are matters of recorded history. It is a fact that following a meeting between von Ribbentrop, who was then the Foreign Minister of the nazi Reich, and Molotov, who was then the Foreign Minister of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, an agreement was entered into between Germany and Soviet Russia by which the lastnamed country agreed to supply quantities of materials to Germany just prior to Germany’s attack upon the West. At that stage Russia was not in any sense in alliance with those countries that were fighting aggressive fascism.
Stalin’s agreement with nazi Germany did in fact involve an attack upon Poland both by Stalin from the east and by nazi Germany from the west, so that she was attacked upon two fronts simultaneously. In that instance Poland, the attack upon the independence of which was the ultimate reason why the Western powers went to war, was attacked by Russia, lt was only subsequently, when the nazis invaded Russia, that an alliance was formed against an enemy which was then attacking both Russia and ourselves. Until that stage had been reached there had been no alliance; rather was there an encouragement of Germany by Russia.
I agree that the gratitude of the West is due to the Russian people for the sacrifices they made. It is worth noting that the Russian people were invoked to fight for mother Russia and not for the political system under which they lived. I would add1 that I believe also that the gratitude of the common people of Russia is due to the common people of the Western world who fought against nazism and who supplied to Russia so many of the sinews of war. I know of nothing that Russia has done for Australia.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, relates to an amendment of the Public Service Act which was effected by Act No. 105 of 1960. That amendment set out the eligibility of ex-servicemen in Commonwealth departments to transfer from the Fourth Division to the Third Division. I ask the Minister whether representations have been received from either the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia or the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia seeking action by the Government to remove what they, and I. consider to be an anomaly in the application of the amendment to which I have referred, the anomaly being that the opportunity for promotion of a number of ex-servicemen who have studied and have qualified in a number of subjects, and many of whom in 1961 would have passed the required examination to allow them to rise from the Fourth Division to the Third Division, has been affected. I further ask the Minister whether a decision has been made in relation to this matter. If it has not, will he present to the PostmasterGeneral a favorable case with a view to allowing those persons who have been keen enough to study for promotion to complete their studies and, if successful, to enter the Third Division?
– I have no knowledge of representations having been made to the Postmaster-General in relation to the matter raised by Senator Cooke. I shall be very pleased to bring the matter to the notice of the Postmaster-General and to let the honorable senator have a reply with as little delay as possible.
– Will the Minister for National Development say whether one of the reasons for the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore was to encourage prospectors to search for new deposits? Can the Minister advise me of the number of iron ore deposits that have been pegged throughout Australia and the estimated total tonnage that has been found?
– The whole purpose of the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore is to encourage prospecting and search, in the belief that we have in Australia very much greater resources of iron ore than so far have been ascertained. The basis of the scheme is to encourage people to prospect. The proposal is that if a person locates an iron ore deposit, we shall give him the right to export a portion of that deposit. In such circumstances, our total known national reserves will be increasing, despite the export that occurs. We believe that this scheme will not only increase our known natural resources but also earn us a substantial export income. Our knowledge of iron ore deposits, apart from those that are classified as being first-line reserves, is limited. My department has prepared a tabulation which gives such information as is available. The information is available to the public generally and I shall send Senator Scott a copy of the document.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has he seen a recent report, which I think was published in a Sydney newspaper of yesterday’s date, to the effect that quite a number of eminent Australian men and women had severely criticized the type of tripe that is being shown in programmes broadcast by Australian television stations? The programmes referred to depict shootings, bashings, killings and, in fact, crime of every conceivable form. Does the Minister agree that such programmes may have a very bad effect on some adults and particularly on young and impressionable minds? Will steps be taken to ensure proper censorship of television films that come into Australia?
– The PostmasterGeneral has stated from time to time that he is most anxious to improve the quality of our television presentations, with emphasis on the use of local talent. I know that there is criticism of almost every type of film that is shown. There is no easy solution of this problem because we are a diversified people and have many different tastes, although it might be difficult to find any one who would approve of the type of film to which the honorable senator referred. I shall bring the question to the notice of the Postmaster-General, together with the honorable senator’s request that the position regarding the censorship of films be reconsidered, and I shall let him have the Minister’s reply in due course.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply been directed to a column in the Melbourne “ Herald “ newspaper of 11th March in which reference was made to the use of “ L “ plates on a Commonwealth motor car? Will the Minister state the circumstances in which learner plates are permissible on Commonwealth cars?
– I assure the Senate that all Commonwealth drivers, before they are engaged, are both competent and qualified. Knowing Senator Wedgwood’s interest in rehabilitation, I am sure she will know that there is in the Melbourne pool of Commonwealth motor vehicles a light car fitted with all the automatic devices that are necessary to rehabilitate people in the driving of a motor car. I imagine it is this car to which the honorable senator has referred. It carries learner plates. In the hands of a very competent and highly skilled instructor, the car is used to instruct limbless soldiers, spastics and other such people in the handling of a modern car with automatic controls. I think it is fair to say that this is a Government service that meets with the approbation of all thinking people.
– I direct to the Minister for the Navy a question relating to hydrographic surveys of the north-west coast of Australia. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether a conference has been held to determine priorities in a fiveyear plan for the charting of the Australian coast line and whether such priorities have been determined? Will he express an opinion in relation to the advisability of giving a top priority to the preparation of a new survey chart for that portion of the north-west coast between Legendre Island and Bedout Island, covering the approaches to Point Samson and Port Hedland? Is he aware that overseas ship masters approaching Point Samson and Port Hedland and unfamiliar with these waters must depend solely on a British Admiralty chart published in 1883, which is said to be out of date, totally inadequate and dangerous? Does he not agree that from a national point of view, with growing exports of minerals from these ports, an up-to-date cartographic coverage should be prepared as soon as possible?
– There has recently been a meeting of interested parties to lay down a programme for a five-year survey of Australia’s coast line, the interested parties including the Navy, the Division of National Mapping, which comes under the Department of National Development, and various State departments. A programme has been laid down and the interested bodies, including the State governments, have been informed of the programme. At the moment, I have not in my head precise details of the times at which various parts of the coast are to be surveyed, but I shall let Senator Cooke have a copy of that programme, if indeed I have not already done so, as I rather think I have.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question which, relates to international tourism and the Government’s willingness to subsidize this industry in order to assist our balance-of-payments problem. Is the Minister aware that the agreement between the Chevron, and Hilton groups of hoteliers has, now fallen through and, as a result, work on several of the proposed chain of nine international-standard hotels to be built in Australia has either ceased, as in some cases, or will not commence at all? As hotel accommodation in almost all States of the Commonwealth is scarce and often inadequate to fill international tourist requirements, will the Government consider ensuring the completion of these planned hotels, as speedily as possible by either making funds available on loan or by taking up shares in the company concerned? As I understand four-fifths of all international tourists coming to Australia arrive in Sydney, is the Government considering allowing Qantas Empire Airways Limited to proceed with the erection of an internationalstandard hotel to cope with the constant need to find accommodation for these tourists as they arrive?
– I have read in the press that the agreement between the Australian Chevron company and the American Hilton group has fallen through. I think the honorable senator will realize at once that the rest of the question, which involves the possibility of government ownership, either in part or in whole, of these proposed hotels, raises very weighty questions of policy, especially for a government of this complexion. I have no doubt that this development will have an influence upon the Government’s thinking in respect of the general question of tourism, but I have no expectation that the Government would engage in, or become a party to hotel construction or operation. The question about Qantas does, of course, raise another aspect of ‘the matter. It is ‘the practice- of international airline operators to conduct hotels as part of their airline operations in order to meet the increasing demand for package tours. International air operation together with the conduct of hotels falls into a special category.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, refers to the standardization of rail gauges in South Australia and Western Australia. Has the Minister seen a recent press report that the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, is contemplating legal proceedings against the Commonwealth if rail standardization projects are proceeded wim in Western Australia prior to those in South Australia? Does a provision exist in the agreement between South Australia and the Common^ wealth that would enable that State to bring such an action? If the answer to my second question is, “Yes”, will the Minister say whether the Commonwealth can enter into an agreement with Western Australia which would provide for that State’s standardization project to proceed contemporaneously with that of South Australia?
– I understand that the Premier of South Australia has issued a writ against the Commonwealth, and that the action is moving towards a hearing. Sir Thomas Playford, I understand,, claims that, the agreement does afford, a priority to South Australia. As to the rest of the question I do not intend to embark upon what is purely a legal interpretation. Suffice it to say that I understand that there are two views on this legal question.
– I wish to ask you a question, Mr. President. A noise is coming almost constantly through the microphone in front of my table. Will you be so good as to cause an instruction to be issued to those in charge of the equipment to ascertain whether there is a moth in the pipe or whether something else is wrong with it, so .that the equipment can be brought under control?
– The whole matter of sound reinforcement in .the chamber is being looked into, and on Thursday next it is intended to carry out fairly extensive tests. However, I see no reason why we should not eliminate the cause of the honorable senator’s complaint between now and Thursday.
– My question is- directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has his attention been directed to a report in the “ West Australian “ newspaper of 10th March wherein it was stated that, when replying to a question asked by Senator Tangney on the first advance payment of the 1960-61 wheat crop, the Minister said that a payment of 2s. would be made on 1st November?
– I have seen the newspaper report to which the honorable senator refers. If he were to peruse the reply I gave to Senator Tangney on 9th March he would find that I said that the first advance for the 1960-61 harvest was to be made in two payments, that the first payment of 9s. had already been made and that the second payment of 2s. would be made on 1st April. That is precisely nineteen days from to-day and not on 1st November, as reported.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware that the Farmers Union of Western Australia and associated farmer bodies have protested to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Primary Industry about the first advance on the 1960-61 wheat crop being made in two moieties. Is he aware that the farmers’ representatives strongly deny that the farmers are in any way responsible for the inflation that the Government has allowed the country to suffer and have stated that they see no reason why the farming community should be penalized further by an anti-inflationary measure applied to the wheat-growers? They consider that the farmers certainly are not the people responsible for inflation in this country, since almost all of the money they receive is paid out for essential goods, such as machinery, fencing materials, superphosphate and materials for pasture improvement, to mention just a few. Furthermore, the farmers are responsible for a large proportion of our export income, and the Government has stated that it is keen to promote exports. Is the Minister further aware that the cost of production of wheat has gone up and that the farmers, through their unions, have sought the support of members of the Australian Labour Party in their efforts to get fair treatment from the Government and an easing of the unnecessary and unfair burden on wheat-growers by pressing for the amount to be paid in April to be increased to 2s. 4d. a bushel - the extra 4d. representing the increase in the cost of production - and, what is more important, for the first advances for the remainder of the present stabilization plan to be not less than 1 1 s. a bushel, plus or minus any increase or decrease in the cost of production? Is the Minister aware that what I have said represents the decision of the Farmers Union of Western Australia and is not merely my statement?
– I was not aware of the decision of the Farmers Union of Western Australia, but I pay great respect to industrial organizations in rural industries because they are the bodies that speak for the industries. The points that have been raised by Senator Cooke were answered, in the main, when I replied to a question that was asked by Senator Tangney last week. Senator Cooke has laid emphasis on the splitting of the payment as a counter to inflation. He quite loses sight of the fact that many more millions of pounds were involved in the payment of 9s. a bushel this year, as the first payment of the advance, than in the payment of lis. last year, which was made in one lump sum. Senator Cooke also loses sight of the fact that the wheat-grower is obliged to pay interest on all money that is advanced against his crop. In the ultimate, he could be worse off by asking for or demanding that higher payments be made than revenue permits. In view of the fact that the wait has been merely about six weeks, I am certain that the wheat-growers of this country are prepared to make their contribution towards stabilizing the economy and keeping interests costs down to the bare minimum.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Customs and Excise: What authority, if any, is possessed by the Commonwealth Department of Customs and Excise in respect of the importation of stage plays which are blasphemous, indecent or obscene? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the criticism by a number of religious denominations of a stage play about to be produced in Australia, known as “ The World of Suzie Wong “? This play deals with the life and loves of a Hong Kong prostitute and, in the opinion of the religious leaders, is of a depraved and corrupting nature. If the Commonwealth has any jurisdiction in matters of this nature, will the Minister make his own inquiries about the play?
– I do not know what jurisdiction the Commonwealth has in this regard. 1 do know that the play in question has been in production in London for some time, where it apparently passed the scrutiny of the functionary - I think he is the Lord Chamberlain - who is the censor of stage plays. I will find out for the honorable senator what authority the Commonwealth Government has in this respect and shall let him know the extent of that authority.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport by saying that I understand that several companies in Tasmania act as booking agents for the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Is a system already in operation under which these companies refer their bookings to Melbourne for the allocation of accommodation? I refer to the booking of passages from Tasmania to Melbourne. Would it not be much simpler and eliminate the confusion that some people have experienced if one company with branches in the most important centres in Tasmania - for example, the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited - were made the sole agent, so that allocations could be made at Devonport, on the spot, instead of having the round-about method of reference to Melbourne for allocations?
– Under a new system of arranging passenger bookings on the “ Princess of Tasmania “, a system which will come into force on 1st April, all of the accommodation on the vessel will be allocated by one central booking office in Melbourne, which will be operated by the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited. In order to facilitate this and to ensure a minimum of delay in advising clients of the accommodation that has been allotted to them, a teleprinter service has been installed, part of the cost of which is being met by the Australian National Line. By this means, the line is confident that the difficulties which have been experienced at times in arranging bookings will be eliminated and that, the service provided for passengers booking from Tasmania will be at least as speedy as would have been provided if all Tasmanian inquiries were referred to, say, Devonport.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Senate how many Electra aircraft have been returned from the United States of America after undergoing modification? What has been the cost of modifying each aircraft? Is it intended to allow these aircraft, after modification, to travel at their maximum speed?
– Three Australian Electra aircraft have returned from America, having been modified. Two of these aircraft, which belong to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, are operating internationally. They, like other similar Electra aircraft, will operate at the speeds which were applicable prior to the restrictions being placed on them. I cannot tell the honorable senator offhand the cost of modifying each aircraft, but I shall find out and let him know. With regard to domestic operations, the aircraft that have come back have been tested by our own technical men who were sent to Burbank from the aeronautical laboratories of the Department of Supply and from the Department of Civil Aviation to watch the modification operation. These aircraft are quite capable of being operated at the former higher speeds, but we do not intend to permit that until all Electra aircraft operating on the domestic pattern have been so modified. The reason for this is that, for purposes of flight control, it is not thought advantageous to have aircraft of one type operating at different speeds.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the fisheries investigation vessel, “Southern Endeavour”, was disabled recently in the Great Australian Bight and a tug from Port Adelaide was requisitioned to go to her aid? What was the cause of the disablement and how serious was it? In view of the tragic disappearance of the tuna fishing vessel, “ Lincoln Star “, and her crew in the vast waters of the Great Australian Bight, is “ Southern Endeavour “ fully equipped to provide against a similar occurrence?
– The question asked by Senator Hannaford raises technicalities on which I am not informed. I would1 be grateful if he would place his question on the notice-paper so that the appropriate reply may be obtained.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I remind him that over the week-end, following the recent report of the Tariff Board ref using an increase of duty, representatives of the timber industry announced their intention to come to Canberra this week and make representations to the Minister for Trade for the imposition of an emergency duty. Can the Minister inform me whether those representations have been made? If they have been made, what is the result?
– My information is that the meeting is to take place on Thursday of this week. A combination of circumstances has been operating in the timber industry. The Tariff Board declined the representations that were made to it and refused protection. There was a substantial increase in imports until about the end of November. Since then imports have declined quite appreciably. There has also been a fall-off in home building. The combination of higher imports and declining consumption in home building has created some difficulties. A conference will be held on Thursday to see whether a solution can be found.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen press statements that in Victoria preparations have been made to combat the spread of the disease, Spanish influenza, which is believed to exist in that State? Is he aware that serum is being obtained from the Com.monwealth Serum Laboratories for the inoculation of children under a certain age? Can he inform the Senate whether the Commonwealth Department of Health has taken any steps on a national level to ensure that the spread of this dread disease in epidemic form is impossible? What has happened in relation to co-ordination of action by the Commonwealth and State departments of health in taking initial steps to deal effectively with the challenge?
– I have not seen the press statements referred to by the honorable senator, nor dp I know whether any State other than Victoria has sought to secure serum from the Commonwealth Government to enable that State to meet its obligations in the field of public health. However, I am sure that the Commonwealth, as in the past, would co-operate with the States in measures to protect the health of the Australian people generally.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, is related to the question asked just a few moments ago about the timber industry. Is it not also a fact that since the Tariff Board gave its finding the saw-milling interests have approached the Minister for Trade and requested that the matter be dealt with under the emergency powers contained in the tariff legislation that was passed by this Parliament last year? Is it not also a fact that the Minister requested those interests to provide him with additional information which, up to last week at any rate, had not been forthcoming?
– My understanding of the position is that the meeting to be held on Thursday is for the very purpose of forming a panel representing the timber industry to put to the Department of Trade its case in support of the claim that some special action should be taken. That is where the matter rests at the moment. Senator McKellar will know that there is provision for a special reference to a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board to obtain a special duty. One difficult circumstance is that there is a Tariff Board report only a couple of months old; but that problem is to be discussed next Thursday.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. What avenues are open to the Commonwealth Government to recoup any expenses incurred in air and sea rescues of stupid people who put to sea in an 11-ft. dinghy valued at £5?
– As these unfortunate occurrences take place, appropriate action is taken by the Commonwealth to recover, where at all possible, the expenditures which have been incurred by it. Needless to say, the Government is not always as successful as would be desired, and in some cases it is not successful at all.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answers: -
Debate resumed from 9th March (vide page 105), 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 Commonwealthof 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 pleasedto 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;
retarded National development?
injustice to wage earners;
inadequate social services and housing;
high interest rates; and
shortage of steel”.
– Mr. President, when the debate was adjourned last Thursday I was replying to the criticism levelled by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) at the Government in respect of its encouragement of the search for oil. I think I convinced most honorable senators that Senator McKenna was completely off the track when he said that the Government did not have a dynamic policy in relation to oil search. The search for oil in Australia has reached the stage where I would hope, provided the Government maintains its present rate of expenditure and, if possible, increases it, that within the next three or four years oil in commercial quantities will be found in Australia.
– We will have a result sooner than that.
– In mentioning three or four years I was playing safe. The oil companies in Australia and the Bureau of Mineral Resources recognize that oil in commercial quantities does exist in Australia. Believing this to be so the Government has encouraged oil companies from overseas to invest in the establishment of oil refineries in Australia. Senator Benn is shaking his head. Let us look at the facts. When the Labour Government was in office we had one refinery operating, and that only in a small way. Under the present Government an oil refining industry has been established in the mainland States with the exception at present of South Australia and Queensland, but it has been announced that refineries will be built in those two States. Why has the Government encouraged oil companies to build refineries in each of the States? The answer is that each State has an oil-bearing potential. If we find oil to-morrow in Western Australia a refinery is already in existence there to meet the needs of the industry. The same statement applies to the finding of oil in Victoria or New South Wales and within a year or two it will apply in respect of Queensland and South Australia. So Australia is ready to go ahead with the refining of oil once it is found. What a terrific difference the finding of oil would make to our overseas balances! What a boon it would be to Australia if we could find oil here in quantities sufficiently large to satisfy our needs! So much for oil.
The Leader of the Opposition criticized the Government for encouraging overseas capital to help in the development of this nation. I was interested in a recent statement by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) that in the eighteen months prior to 1959-60 about £150,000,000 had been spent on the establishment of new industries in Australia. A great deal of that amount was provided from overseas. It is interesting to note also that factories to the value of £240,000,000 have been started here but have not yet been completed. The Government has encouraged overseas investment in this country as a means of solving our imbalanceofpayments problem. Australia is now forced to import the goods that those industries will be able to make here. When established those industries will employ large numbers of people. So the case put tor- ward on Thursday last by the Leader of the Opposition falls to the ground. He made no really constructive suggestion. All he did was to criticize the Government. He did not say what Labour would do if it were in office.
– We will show you. Wait until next December!
– Very well. The Labour Party has already demonstrated what it will do if it gets into power. The people of Australia will judge the Labour Party on its record. In 1949 Australia’s export income fell by £40,000,000 and the Labour Government allowed the unemployment figure to reach 25 per cent, of the work force.
– That is not true, and you know it.
– The record is in “ Hansard “. I am sorry. If I referred to 1949 I was wrong. I meant to refer to 1929. When Australia’s export income fell by £40,000,000 in 1929 the unemployment figure reached 25 per cent, of the work force. The government in office from 1929 to 1931 was a Labour government. Under a Labour government you will always have more unemployment than under a Liberal-Country Party government. On Thursday last I referred to the fact that in 1949 under Labour the unemployment figure was more than 5.6 per cent, of the total work force.
– That is incorrect.
– All I can do is quote statistics; if they are incorrect, I must be incorrect. These statistics show that during the June quarter of 1948, a year during which there was not a coal strike, the unemployment figure reached 3.5 per cent, of the work force. I challenge any honorable senator opposite to point to any period during this Government’s term of office when the unemployment figure has amounted to more than 3.5 per cent, of the work force.
It will be seen that under She careful planning of this responsible Government terrific expansion is taking place throughout the land. I have already referred to oil refineries. Mr. Court, the Western Australian Minister for Industrial Development has stated that under the Government of Which he is a member, which has been in office for only two years, programmes of national development amounting to £150,000,000 have been undertaken.
– What are they!?
– Senator Hendrickson should read Mr. Court’s statement. I can refer to a few of the matters outlined by Mr. Court. He referred to a steel works costing £40,000,000, an iron export industry amounting to £10,000,000 or £15,000,000, and standardization of railway gauges costing between £35,000,000 and £40,000,000. He also referred to the establishment of a paper mill. The matters referred to by Mr. Court were too numerous to mention. He is a conservative man and his estimate of £150,000,000 was a conservative one. If a Labour senator follows me in this debate, possibly he will tell me the extent to which capital expenditure on national development was encouraged by the Hawke Government from 1953 to 1959.
– It was the best government Western Australia has ever had.
– The honorable senator says it was the best government Western Australia has ever had!
– Your Government is on trial, not the Hawke Government.
– From 1953 to 1959 the Hawke Government did not produce one developmental project in that State the value of which exceeded £1,000,000. But [ have told honorable senators opposite of national developmental programmes worth £150,000,000 upon which the Liberal Government in that State has embarked in the last two years. I again invite honorable senators opposite to examine the record of the Hawke Government over that period of six years and indicate one worthwhile developmental project that it initiated. Honorable senators are asked to produce only one such project. I repeat that I have been able to indicate developmental projects worth £150,000,000 that have been encouraged by a responsible Liberal government, supported by the Country Party.
– That has been uttered by an irresponsible senator.
– You have only to rise and prove my irresponsibility.
– -Then tell <us what this Government intends to do.
– I have been telling, you that for a long time. It is important to realize that it is only during the term of office of a Liberal-Australian Country’ Party government that one oan expect development in this country. It is only during the term of office of that kind of government that capital funds will come in from overseas. As soon as the Labour Party is returned to office - if it ever is - it will prevent that flow of capital. Those who have the necessary money have not confidence in Labour.
– Who told you that?
– You are opposed to the influx of capital from overseas for developmental purposes.
– We have never said that.
– You have never said that? When we borrowed money from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for developmental purposes -
– That is a different proposition.
– When we borrowed that money, the Labour Party opposed it.
– We will oppose the next borrowing of £200,000,000, too.
– You will never have to oppose the influx of overseas capital for private investment, because if the Labour Party were in office it would never encourage the inflow of such capital.
I shall now make a few remarks about rural development which I think should be of interest to members of the Government. In days gone by we had a banking system which went along with our rural industries. The banks financed those industries on a year-to-year basis for the provision of capital improvements. That is why the rural industries have achieved such success. But I am rather of the opinion that to-day the banks are not supporting the development of our rural industries as they did in the past. In 1955 advances of the Australian trading banks to primary producers totalled £220,000,000. By 1960 that sum had risen to £236,000,000, an increase of £16,000,000. Advances by stock firms to their clients rose from -£67,000,000 in 1955 to £113,000,000 in 1960, an increase of £47,000,000. If we examine the relevant banking figures, we find that in 1958 the banks had £335,000,006 on deposit from the primary producers. In I960 the relevant sum was £360,000,000, an increase of approximately £25,000,000. It will be seen that in that period of six years the increase in advances made by the banks to their country clients was approximately £30,000,000 ‘less than that of the stock firms.
I can recall that when I was at home on the farm before I was elected to the Parliament every one around me used to deal with a trading bank and had very little to do with stock agents. But most of those people have changed their banks and some are dealing solely with stock .agents. I do not know that one can blame the banks entirely for that state of affairs. I understand that the trading banks are obliged to place some 17 per cent, of their deposits with the Reserve Bank, that they have to keep another 16 per cent, or more for liquidity purposes, and that they ‘are instructed by the Reserve Bank what rate of interest they shall ‘Charge to primary producers and others. As honorable senators know, the maximum Tate is 7 per cent., the average rate is 6 per cent., and the rate for primary producers is 5i per cent. It would seem that it is not profitable for the banks to advance to primary producers at the rate of 5i per cent. I would rather see the banks charging a uniform rate of interest so that a farmer would have ‘the same opportunity to obtain finance from a bank as would manufacturing firms.
The Government may have to examine ways and means of finding capital for the further development of new rural areas. As I have already indicated., although deposits lodged by the rural community total £360,000,000, the total amount advanced to primary producers a couple of months ago - it has since decreased somewhat - was £236,000,000. On the other hand, we find that the banks have encouraged the manufacturing industries by advancing them a far greater percentage of the money they have on deposit. It is interesting to note that advances to the. manufacturing industries in .1958 totalled £154,000,000 and that in 1960 the sum was £213,000,000. Their deposits in 1959 were £130j000,000 and in 1960 they were £147,000,000. So in actual fact the banks have advanced to the manufacturing industries more money than those industries have on deposit. But they are advancing to the rural industries only approximately twothirds of what is being held on deposit. That may be because of the desire to encourage the manufacturing industries, but I am inclined to think that the chief reason is that the manufacturing industries are paying an interest rate of .approximately 7 per cent, whereas the primary industries have to pay only 5i per cent or 6 per cent., as the case may be.
The Commonwealth Development Bank was established! as a result of legislation introduced1 by this Government, and at the time of its establishment we hoped that it would “work smoothly. I notice that at the moment the bank is charging 6 per cent, interest on loans for developmental purposes. I wish to compare that position with the efforts of the Government of Western Australia, through the Rural and Industries Bank of Western Australia, to encourage rural development in the Esperance Downs area. At Esperance, there is a tract of country of approximately 4,000,000 acres which enjoys a rainfall of from 15 inches to 27 inches a year. It is suitable for grazing and cereal growing, and at the moment it is practically undeveloped.
The Rural and Industries Bank financed some of the settlers in the area, and at a later stage the State Government decided that it .also would advance money to assist development. It appointed the Esperance Plains Development Committee to examine ways and means by which the .government could assist the development of the Esperance Plains area. In 19.51 the committee came forward with a scheme to advance amounts of up to £1,000 to settlers with approximately 500 acres cleared, a house and some machinery. The amount of the maximum advance was subsequently increased to £4,500.
Originally, the committee recommended that loans should be free of interest for three years and1 that borrowers be exempted from the repayment of capital for five years. In 19.58, the scheme was further amended. The maximum loan was increased to £4,506, which was to be interest-free for five years. The term of the loan was increased to 35 years and settlers were exempted from repayments of capital for seven years. The committee appreciated the need for rural development. It also appreciated that it was necessary for settlers to be able to get their properties earning income before being required to repay the loans made to them.
The Development Bank is charging 6 per cent, right from the inception of its advances to primary producers. I do not believe that anybody who has to pay 6 per cent, interest on the money that he has borrowed to develop his property can really assist the development of rural industry. As I understand it, at present the trading banks have no incentive to put money into primary production. If we as a Government want to encourage the development of rural areas, we may need to devise ways and means to encourage the provision of capital for that purpose. Of course, such capital will have to be provided at low rates of interest. 1 suggest to the Government that it should consider the varying rates of interest that the banks are allowed to charge, with a view to encouraging the banks to return to the assistance of rural industries. I also suggest that the Government have a look at the recommendations of the Esperance Plains Development Committee. If the Government is of the opinion that development of the kind being carried out at Esperance is desirable, finance might be made available on a long-term basis, with interest and, sinking fund payments withheld until such time as the settler is able to get on his feet.
As honorable senators may be aware, approximately 80 per cent, of our income that is earned overseas is earned by primary products. Obviously, the quickest way to increase our export income is to encourage primary production. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), at the time when the economic restrictions were imposed in November last, stated that the trading banks would be instructed through the Reserve Bank to make available finance for the purpose of carrying on rural industry. The purpose was to ensure that primary producers would be able to obtain money with which to purchase superphosphate and other such farming needs. That was the action of a responsible Treasurer who wished to see our primary industries being assisted to carry on. Of course, the Government cannot instruct a bank to look after an individual client; nevertheless, an instruction has gone out to the banks that they are not to curtail the advancing of money to primary producers, because it is the primary producers who can do most to earn the export income which is so necessary for Australia.
I turn now to a matter which I believe will be of interest to honorable senators. I refer to the rapid growth of communism and the number of Communists throughout the world. In 1939, there were approximately 170,000,000 people in the world who were controlled by Communists. At that date, the total world population wak about 2,400,000,000. At the present time, more than 900,000,000 people are under Communist control.
– What is the cause of that?
– 1 am not giving causes. We know that the Communists are rapidly gaining control of increasing numbers of people throughout the world. It is our aim - and it is also the aim of honorable senators opposite, I hope - to keep Communists out of Australia. Last November, Mr. L. L. Sharkey, the secretary of the Communist Party in Australia, returned from a conference held in Moscow. On the way, he was feted in Peking -by the deputy leader of the Chinese Communist Party. Now that he has returned to Australia he will no doubt instruct the Communistcontrolled unions to do as he wishes, with a view to retarding the further development of Australia. We have seen the happenings on the Western Australian coalfields recently. Mr. Latta, a self-confessed Communist, controlled the unionists and held them from their work for almost six weeks.
– Do you think that all the members of the unions are sheep?
– No, but I think they are easily led. I ask the honorable senator to allow me to finish my speech, because I think this is a most important matter.
We have seen how the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, which is controlled by another self-confessed Communist, has developed stop and start strikes on the waterfront here, there and everywhere. In Fremantle, the waterside workers were out for more than ten days. Between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000 worth of products were on the wharfs at Fremantle awaiting export. The Communists prevented their export. No doubt that stoppage was the result of an instruction received from Moscow by Mr. L. L. Sharkey and relayed to the Australian waterfront.
There are other aspects of this matter which, cause me concern, Mr. Deputy President. I believe that we can combat the kind of happenings to which I have referred, but .the aspect that concerns Australia most is the infiltration by Communists into the ‘trade union movement. The Australian Labour Party has them on unity tickets. The Communists would not be able, alone, to return a member to this National Parliament, but I believe that they are rapidly gaining, control of the .trade union movement. That being so, and recognizing that it is by and large through the trade union movement that members of the Australian Labour Parity are in this chamber, we are rapidly approaching a time when we shall have in this Parliament trade union representatives whose policies aire dictated by art outside group known as Communists, and that will be a tragedy for Australia. I say that with all sincerity. When the industrial groups endeavoured to keep the Communists out of the trade union movement they had a considerable amount of success.
– What were the industrial groups? You do not know what they were.
– We have here a couple of their representatives. The honorable senator knows what they were. They were the ones who were fighting the Communists, as I have read in the book. Would the honorable senator like me to read the book to him so that he will know what the Communists are? I am not saying that anyone on the opposite side is a Communist. All I am saying is that the Communists ‘are infiltrating the trade union movement, and 1 challenge the honorable senator to contradict that statement. Facts and figures prove that I am right. These are the people who will in future dictate the policy of the Labour Party, because, by and large, the trade union movement elects honorable senators opposite to this Parliament. That is one of the greatest ‘tragedies that confronts us to-day and it is right that 1 should mention it in ‘this chamber. It is highly dangerous that ‘the Australian people can be controlled in this Parliament by an outside body, acting upon the dictates of Moscow and Peking. Honorable senators opposite cannot deny that the secretary of the Communist Party, Mr. L. L. Sharkey, returned’ from the Moscow conference via Peking, or that he was entertained by the Deputy Premier of red China. Since his return we have had strikes on the waterfront and no doubt we shall have more in future. We have already had a strike at Fremantle, where goods to the value of £2,500,000 were held up for weeks awaiting shipment, because the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia decided that it would not work with the Foremen Stevedores Union. It was a dispute within the union movement itself, organized by the Communists and in defiance of a decision of the court.
– Who was elected to the Senate on Communist preferences? It was Senator McCallum
– I ask for that statement to be withdrawn. It has been made before, and it is a complete lie.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - The honorable senator may, if he wishes, make a personal explanation at the end of Senator Scott’s speech.
– I have no personal explanation to make. A false statement has been made about me and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– That is not correct. You were elected on the preferences of the Communist Party. I said that, and I make no bones about it. It is on record in the Statistician’s book.
– A similar statement was withdrawn here before when I requested its withdrawal.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - You are entitled to make a personal explanation.
– I have no statement to make. A false statement has been made about me.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - You are not taking a point of order.
– I think it should be made quite clear, when there is a stupid statement from the Opposition that a senator on this side may have received Communist preferences, that these second preferences go to any political party. If Communist Party candidates have No. 1 position on the ballot-paper, and their bitter enemies, the Liberals, have No. 2, the Liberals will, of course, get the Communist second preferences, because the Communists vote straight across the paper. They are so dopey that they do not know how to vote. If Labour Party candidates happen to be in No. 2 position, they will get the preferences. I am not objecting to that. What I am objecting to is the rapid growth of communism throughout the world to-day, the methods that communists are using to gain control of the Australian trade union movement, and the successes that they are having. In a few years, if we are not very careful, we may have the Labour Party in government. I do not say for a moment that one Labour representative will be a Communist, but I do say that Labour representatives will be dictated to and1 will obey the orders given to them by outside Communists. I refer to members of the Australian Communist Party, which this Government endeavoured to ban in 1951. However, the people of Australia said, “ No “, in a referendum. In the campaign, the Leader of the Opposition went out and fought the Communists’ cause, and all Opposition members who belonged to the great Australian Labour Party went out and fought for the rights of the Communists. It is interesting to note that six weeks prior to the referendum a gallup poll showed that 66 per cent, of the electors would vote for the granting of power to ban the Communist Party and that three days before the referendum, as a result of the exaggerations of the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Labour Party another gallup poll indicated that the referendum figures would break even. Upon the taking of the referendum, a majority of States was in favour, but because of the large population of New South Wales a majority of the Australian people voted against it. As a result, we cannot control the Communists. Being on this side of the chamber, I believe that the people should know what action the Communists are taking to achieve their objective, and the success with which they are meeting. When I go out on the public platform during the next election campaign, I shall have no hesitation in telling the electors of the rapid growth of communism and of the control that Communists may gain through the Australian Labour Party.
The Australian economy is expanding very rapidly. The Government is accused of proceeding in fits and starts, but we shall always proceed in fits and starts when the economy is balanced on a razor edge. We have to go first one way and then the other. That will always be so. I do not think there was ever a time when such wonderful success was obtained in establishing full employment as has been the case during this Government’s term of office.
– You could not help it.
– When Labour was in office, unemployment figures rose to 5 per cent, during the coal strike in the June quarter of 1949. In 1948, when there was no coal strike, the figure was 3.8 per cent. Yet now, When the figure is not more than 2 per cent, the honorable senator says that we could not help having full employment. If Labour is in government within five years, the unemployment figure will be not !5 per cent, but 10 per cent., because Labour has not a single idea about developing the country. What the Labour Party wants to do is to cut up the cake that is already provided. That is the difference between Labour’s policy and our policy. We believe in developing the country as we go along and dividing the good things that are made in Australia. The Labour Party says, in effect, “ No. We are in office, we will throw out what we have and divide it amongst ourselves.” Honorable senators know as well as I do that within five years not a single £1 would be coming into this country from overseas to provide for its development.
– What about Western Australia?
– I told you the story of Western Australia a little earlier and I do not propose to go over that ground again. I should like to conclude by referring to a critical statement by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that this Government was talking by the yard, was thinking by the inch and would be removed by the foot. I refute that statement.
– You refute it, yet you do not know what it was.
– This is exactly what he said; I shall read it to you -
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 refute that statement, and I say to honorable senators that this Government, of which I am proud to be a supporter, talks by the inch but acts by the foot and that our Australian living standards are improving by the yard.
– I wish to refer to the sad event in the Commonwealth of Australia which occurred just prior to the meeting of this Parliament - the death of Lord Dunrossil - and to pay tribute to our late GovernorGeneral. With honorable senators and honorable members of the other chamber I express my sympathy first to the late Governor-General’s family, and secondly to the Commonwealth of Australia in losing such a great man.
I wish also to congratulate the Administrator - the Governor of Victoria - for the excellent manner in which he presented the Speech that was prepared for him. I think it would be easy to imagine what was in his mind when he was forced, while in an acting position, to read such an anaemic statement to the people from this National Capital. I believe that he must have felt most embarrassed because the statement that was made - -
– I rise to order. 1 suggest that the honorable senator is entirely out of order in referring to the vice-regal representative or to his feelings in the matter at all.
The) ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! 1 uphold the point of order. An honorable senator may not reflect in any way whatever on the vice-regal representative.
– I hope I will never say anything to the discredit of the Administrator or the Governor-General.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator cannot canvass my ruling. He clearly made a reflection on the reactions of the representative of the Crown, which was highly disorderly.
– At all events-
– I think you should withdraw and apologize.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– 1 will withdraw at any time if the Acting Deputy President thinks that I had any thought of raising any controversial matter associated with the duties of Administrator.
I wish to refer to one or two matters in the statement that was read by the Administrator, On page 6 of the printed copy of his Speech he read -
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy.
We do, too, but how many honorable senators realize that it was a Labour government that built the first ships to constitute the Australian Navy, of which Government supporters are proudly boasting to-day. It was a Labour government under the leadership of Andrew Fisher that constructed those ships.
– They would be pretty obsolete now.
– That is true. They would be obsolete. They are out of existence. But the present Government’s Navy is also obsolete and should be taken out of the water.
The Speech refers to the stability of the economy of the nation as follows: -
As has already been announced, the Government examined the impact of its economic measures on the motor and allied industries and decided that the sales tax on motor vehicles should be reduced to the rates payable on 15th November, 1960. Parliament will be asked to approve amending legislation with effect from 22nd February, 1961.
We all remember the incidents in this chamber in November when we were told by responsible Ministers that it was necessary to increase sales tax at least for twelve months, and that then the position would be reviewed.
– That is not true.
– The statement I made is quite correct.
– It is quite untrue.
– All right, we were told that the Government would review the position later. We were told that the sales tax to be imposed on the motor industry was necessary. A couple of honorable senators on the other side realized what a terrible thing this Government was doing to many thousands of people in the Commonwealth of Australia. To the everlasting credit of Senator Wood, notwithstanding all the pressure that was brought upon him within and outside his party - a party which at election times stumps the country and says its members are independent - he refused to vote for the legislation. He maintained his attitude notwithstanding all the pressure that was put upon him and the fact that members of his party refused to speak to him.
– Cut that out! They would not do a thing like that.
– They did.
– He has always been a cobber of mine.
– Let me say to his credit that he was the only man on the Government side who could see the writing on the wall for the motor car industry. He saw clearly the destructive nature of the legislation that was being brought, down in this chamber. I hope and trust that the electors of Queensland will remember that.
On page 9 of the printed copy of the Administrator’s Speech, reference is made to the Snowy Mountains scheme. We all remember, Mr. Acting Deputy President - or at least I do - when the Snowy Mountains scheme was commenced. Its opening was boycotted by the then Opposition led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), Sir Eric Harrison and others, yet to-day they take great credit for this great national undertaking.
– They put up the money for it. That is the main thing.
Senator HENDRICKSON__ No, they did not! We put up the money for it.
– It is going ahead full steam now.
– I am very pleased to know that. So was the motor industry up until November of last year when the brakes were put on it suddenly. I am very much afraid that the benefit that should be derived from the Snowy Mountains scheme will not be derived if this Government remains in office much longer.
Before proceeding any further I should like to refer to some of the comments made by Senator Scott. He referred to the unemployment position in 1929. He said 1949, but fortunately some one corrected him. He never knows where he is. He meant 1929, under the Scullin regime. Nobody will deny what he said. There was 25 per cent, unemployment at that time. It was a disgrace to this nation, but it was due to the administration of the Bruce-Page Government that 25 per cent, of the nation’s work force was unemployed, in 1929. I venture to say that just as many will be unemployed after fourteen or fifteen years’ administration by this Government.
– You hope.
– I do not. I hope and trust that there never will be such a great number of unemployed. When the present Government took office in 1949 we had a state of full employment and money was available for all projects. We had the best economy of any country in the Englishspeaking world. We say that honorable senators opposite want to see a return in this country to the conditions that existed in 1929. They are looking for a recession, because they believe that the workers are getting too much. Their leaders are organizing the defeat of the Government when it goes before the electors in December next. Their leaders hope and trust that the Government will be defeated then, although I know that some of the rankandfile members do not want to lose their seats. Senator Hannaford is smiling. He has drawn No. 1 position on the ballot-paper, and he cannot be defeated, but some of his colleagues have drawn No. 3 position on the ballot-paper and they are not too happy about the situation to-day.
The reason why we say that these people are not fair dinkum and that the Government does not want to hold the reins of office after next December is that we remember that four or five years ago a committee representing both sides of this Parliament was appointed to consider constitutional reform. Every member of this chamber who has studied the matter realizes that the Constitution must be altered if this country is to prosper. This Government received an almost unanimous interim report from the Constitutional Review Committee in 1958 and it received the final report in 1959, but legislation has not yet been introduced to provide for the committee’s recommendations to be submitted to the people by referendum. However, I hope and trust that a referendum asking for additional powers for this Parliament will be conducted at the time of the next general election because no government can properly conduct the affairs of this nation under a Constitution that was drafted in the horse-and-buggy days. This Parliament must have greater powers before we can make an effort to advance Australia comparable to that which was made between 1941 and 1945 by the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government.
In another place, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has moved a very sincere motion of censure on the Government. As the procedures of this chamber do not permit us to do that, we have moved an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Administrator’s Speech. I wholeheartedly support the amendment, which was moved by Senator Armstrong last Wednesday, and I trust that it will be carried. While Senator Armstrong was speaking to the amendment, he had the audacity, according to Senator Spooner, to ask why the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was so often overseas. Senator Spooner was most indignant and said, in effect, that Senator Armstrong should be ashamed of himself for criticizing the Prime Minister, who was overseas and doing a fine job.
– Hear, hear!
– Senator Pearson, who is interjecting, should take his mind back to 1929 and 1931, when the Liberal Party, then led’ by Sir John Latham, undermined the leadership of Jim Scullin. It ruined the Australian Government while Jim Scullin was overseas, trying to rectify the results of the bankrupt policy that had been applied by a previous administration. Apparently honorable senators opposite think that that was all right, because it was a Labour Prime Minister who was overseas. I want to say this to Senator Spooner and other Government supporters in this chamber: Knowing that Mr. Menzies will do as much harm while he is overseas on this occasion as he has done in the past, I look forward to next December, when the people will give a man of outstanding ability - the present Leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Calwell - the right to go overseas to attend to international affairs on behalf of Australia.
Apparently Senator Spooner and other Ministers take exception to any criticism that we make of the Government. What does Senator Spooner want us to do? Does he want us to come into this chamber, listen to the President read prayers, and then get up, bow and leave the chamber? Are we not here to criticize the Government? Of course we are! I say that it was quite in order for Senator Armstrong last Wednesday to comment on the Prime Minister’s overseas trips.
– The supporters of the Government are very sensitive about this matter. They could not get along without the Prime Minister before.
– They will have to do without many things they have had so far. They have had the Corns, and the D.L.P. supporters backing them, but now the Corns, are getting out of step and the D.L.P. supporters are losing their jobs.
– What about unity tickets?
– The only unity that the honorable senator knows of is that between, the Liberal Party and the Country Party. He is here only as a “ Yes “ boy.
– What is the position in respect of amity tickets?
– When speaking in this debate last Thursday, Senator Scott discussed unity tickets and he said that if Labour became the government in the future it would be dominated by Corns in the trade union movement. Does Senator Scott or Senator DrakeBrockman know what a trade union is? They do not know. A trade union is a body that is apart altogether from any political organization. In the trade union movement are to be found Liberal Party voters, Country Party voters, D.L.P. voters, Com. voters and Labour voters. I say in all sincerity to Senator Scott and to other members of the Government who are howling and squealing about some kind of a unity ticket that no political party should be allowed to interfere in the management of a trade union. If I belong to the Postal Workers Union, if Senator Nicholls belongs to the Waterside Workers Federation and if Senator Kennelly belongs to some other union, why should we tell the engineers union what to do? It has a right to manage its own affairs.
This smearing campaign has been started again by Senator Scott and I know that it will go on. I have just been reading the history of the Labour Party and I want to say that this smearing campaign has gone on ever since the days of ‘the late Mr. Watson, the late Andrew Fisher and many other great gentlemen Who gave splendid service to this country. I remind honorable senators that no Labour leader, whether in the State or the Federal sphere, has ever been given one word of credit or praise by the capitalist press during his lifetime. Such men have been acclaimed only after death.
– Are you going to justify unity tickets in the forthcoming election?
– I have nothing to do with unity tickets and I have nothing to do with interference in the affairs of other trade unions. I belong to the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, and I can give Senator Maher an assurance that no Com will be elected to any position in that union. I remind him that in the union to which he belongs, the graziers union, there are many Corns and many D.L.P supporters. I do not know whether they were elected on unity tickets, but I repeat that no Com will be elected to any office in the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. If I do my job in that respect, I think I will have done a fair job. Our party has just held1 elections in which Mr. Chamberlain has been elected secretary of the party and Mr. Stout has been elected president.
– To what union does Mr. Chamberlain belong?
– I do not know. I do not know the history of every man in our party. You seem to know it. Perhaps you will tell the Senate. When Mr. Chamberlain was elected secretary and Mr. Stout was elected president, people opposed to our party told us that we had done wrong and that we were ruining the Labour Party. I read in the capitalist press that the Labour Party would, have to organize again with the Australian Democratic Labour Party. Our party has nothing to do with the Democratic Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Country Party or the Communist Party. Our opponents might just as well say to us, “Why do you not have a lineup with the Liberal Party, such as it has with the Country Party? “
– We would not associate with them.
– No, we would not. We have nothing to do with the Democratic Labour Party. Those who created the party and the electors who have been voting for it are getting jack of it at the moment because they are losing their jobs. Unemployment brings things home to a man. Honorable senators on the other side of the chamber are sitting cosily, receiving a salary of £3,500 a year, just as I am. Most of them are not likely to lose their jobs, but some of them will do so in December. The supporters of the Democratic Labour Party who are losing their jobs in the motor and other industries are the people to whom the Government will have to look for support at the next election. But the Labour Party will come back as the only party that has a plan and a policy to give them economic stability and social security.
Before this Government was elected in 1949 its supporters promised the people, among other things, that they would lift all controls, reduce taxation and provide stability in industry.
– We abolished petrol rationing.
– The reason why the Labour Government continued petrol rationing was that there was a dollar pool and, to the eternal credit of the late Mr. Chifley, he was not prepared to sabotage the dollar pool in order to give the Australian people more petrol to use for pleasure while it was needed for use in industry in our mother country. That is the position.
– Did we use dollar funds for petrol?
– No, we did not.
– Where did you get the petrol?
– From France.
– Don’t talk rot! You used dollars to buy the petrol.
I have mentioned some of the promises that were made in 1949. Anti-Labour governments before 1949 and since 1949 have never produced any plan which would give stability. They have coasted along on the good seasons and the overseas demand for our primary products. Naturally, full employment flowed from that condition. Where is this Government’s plan to meet an emergency? How has Australia got into the economic position in which it is to-day, when we have to submit to all this pernicious legislation? It has happened because the Government has had no plan. Although I hope it never happens, in the natural cycle of the seasons we have drought. What is the policy or plan of this Government if the Creator sends another drought to Australia? It has no such policy or plan.
Had it not been for the purchase of our wheat by China, what would we have done with all the surplus wheat we have? The Government is glad about that purchase, despite all its condemnation of China. 1 do not know what goes on in China or in Formosa.
– You are not going to criticize us for selling wheat to China, are you? That is the finest thing we have ever done.
– No. But when Lord Attlee, who was then the leader of the British Labour Party, went through China and then came to Australia, many supporters of the Government said that they did not want to have anything to do with him because he had shaken the “ hand of blood “ in Communist China.
– The capitalist press said that But to-day the Government is glad to sell wheat to Communist China because we have a surplus. The Australian Labour Party, to which I belong, probably does not subscribe to the philosophy of the people in China any more than it subscribes to the philosophy of the people of Formosa or Russia.
– Why do you use the word “ probably “? Why do you not say, “ We do not subscribe to the philosophy of the people in China “?
– I do not speak of anything that I know nothing about. I have not had the opportunity to go to China since this Government took office; I have not had the opportunity to go to Formosa; and I have never been to Russia. Whatever the set-up is in those countries, if we intend to do anything to bring them into line with our way of life we have to associate with their people. We cannot isolate them because if we do we will have trouble.
I say quite frankly that nobody would expect to throw the few million Chinese on Formosa to the wolves or the waves. Those people probably believe that they are right. On the other hand, we cannot disregard the 660,000,000 Chinese who live on the mainland. I venture to say that, despite all the filthy propaganda that has been used against our party and people who have advocated the recognition of mainland China, in all probability the Prime Ministers who are meeting in London to-day will decide to recommend to the United Nations that Communist China be admitted to that organization. I have had the opportunity to go to the United Nations and I give this warning: If Communist China is not admitted, the day will come when the United Nations will be asking Communist China to join it. Those 660,000,000 people cannot be disregarded, much as we dislike their way of life.
Senator Scott said that the Communists are gaining control. Of course they are! Independence is given to the Congo, Algeria and other places in Africa, but what is done then for those countries? The cream has been skimmed off them and then they are left with nothing. They have a potential which in many cases they do not know now to use, and in other cases they have not the money to enable them to use it. That is how they have been left. If colonies are to be given their independence, they must be given the ways and means by which to work their economies and they must be given some assistance. As I have said, this Government has coasted along without any plan.
– With less than 2 per cent, of the work force unemployed.
– 1 will deal with unemployment in a moment. The Government lifts one control and then puts it back again. Then it does something else. Therefore, I say that the Government has no plan. If we are to have a stabilized economy we must have a plan. I remember that in February, 1942, the Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, said -
The duty of this Government to-day is to prosecute the war effort 100 per cent.; but, as sure as night follows day, peace must follow this war. Therefore, we have to prepare a plan for the peak era.
That is what the Labour Government was doing. I will return to that later. No sensible party or government wants to implement controls if it believes in our democratic way of life; but the Labour Government was forced to use controls, just as the Liberal Government was in 1939. When the war broke out in that year Mr. Menzies and his Government introduced controls of petrol, food, transport and many other things. That action was necessary because Australia was in danger. When the Labour Party took office in 1941 it continued the controls. If controls were necessary during the war, they were doubly necessary during the rehabilitation period in the post-war years from 1945 until Labour went out of office. During the depression years, as Senator Scott pointed out to-day, 25 per cent, of the work force was unemployed. To get stability back into industry it was necessary to introduce controls. Those controls forced people to resist the purchase of luxury articles. Instead of spending money on such articles they kept it in their pockets. During the post-war years, from 1945 to 1949, it was necessary, in the interests of a stable economy, to regulate the building of homes. It was necessary also to regulate expenditure in other directions. That is why Labour retained controls. We believed that if we had remained in office after 1949, within a few years those controls could have been lifted because by then the economy would have become stable.
Senator Mattner is interjecting. The time is fast approaching when the people of Australia will suffer severely because of this Government’s policies, but Senator Mattner will not suffer because he is well off. The people of Australia will very soon suffer severely because of the decision of this Government, in 1949 to allow prices to find their own level. Have prices found their own level? To-day’s high prices are the cause of all our troubles. The Labour Party did not want prices control, but it was forced to impose such a control. It knew that vast areas of Europe had been devastated during the war. It knew that the cities, the towns, the corn fields and the vineyards had been destroyed. It knew that the people of Europe would bid high for Australia’s primary produce. So it decided to fix a home consumption price for export commodities. Under Labour the basic wage would have remained at £5 10s. or £5 12s. a week. As much as possible of our surplus primary production would have been exported to the starving people in countries devastated by war and the proceeds of those exports would have been distributed on a pro rata basis amongst Australian producers. If that policy had been carried out Australia would now have a stable economy. To-day we find that wheat land is selling for as much as £65 an acre.
– My soninlaw just sold some land at that price.
– You must be on a good wicket.
– Not at all! The land in question was part of an estate that was sold and my son-in-law was one of the people who benefited. I am glad that an honorable senator opposite has taken me up on this matter. On the last occasion on which I referred to it Senator Wade said that I was incorrect.
– I did not say that you were wrong.
– You did. As much as £100 an acre has been paid for wheat land. I say that no land is worth more than its productive capacity in normal times. A Labour government would have kept the price of land stable. Under Labour it would not have been necessary to guarantee the farmer 14s. or 15s. a bushel for his wheat. But because of its commitments, the present Government is forced to give such a guarantee. If Communist China had not taken a large quantity of our wheat the Government would have been in the soup this year because wheat production has been high.
Labour planned a stable economy for Australia but the people were misled by Mr. Menzies and the Liberal Party, who said that because the war was over all controls must be lifted. We on this side of the chamber are not pessimists, but what is happening to-day is exactly what we in 1950 said would happen. The Government has come to the end of the road. Labour’s plan was formulated for the benefit not of any individual section of the community but of the country as a whole. Everybody in Australia would have received a reasonable share of that which was produced.
– The people did not believe you.
– No, because of the filthy propaganda that you put out. The Germans believed Hitler in 1932, but they were sorry when they discovered his true nature. The people of Australia will be just as sorry when they discover Mr. Menzies’s true nature. During the Second World War the people, with few exceptions, played their part - the men on the land, the men in the factory, and the soldiers in the Army. Labour’s plan would have given all of them some share in the country’s wealth for the part that they played in winning the war.
– Who would have decided what that share should be?
– The Government.
– Are you an advocate of central economic planning?
– I thought that Senator Hannan was a legal man. I assure him that he will never be asked to defend me because he cannot understand plain English.
– I do not handle criminal matters.
– Senator Hannan knows why that is so. Nobody would brief faim. There are better and more able men ‘in the legal profession handling criminal matters than Senator Hannan. For Senator Han-nan’s benefit I point out that the Chifley Government intended to stabilize prices in this country. A home consumption price would have been fixed for all primary produce.
– Including wool?
– Including wool! The wool industry to-day is in a perilous position. Under Labour our surplus would have been exported’ at world parity and the income therefrom would have been distributed amongst the producers on a pro rata basis. Under that system the economy would have levelled out ‘and become stable.
– What percentage of the wool clip would have been exported?
– It would depend on overseas demand. Supporters of this Government have received high prices for their wool. I know of many people who went .from wheat growing and dairying into the wool industry, but they have had their fingers burnt. Wool is finished! No matter what committees the Government may appoint to examine the wool industry, the price of wool will be governed by overseas demand. It does not matter how clever the members of your committees may be, before anything can be done for the wool industry the people who control pies - those who organize to buy the wool - must be defeated’.
– If that were so how could you fix a price for wool?
– I never at any time suggested that Labour would fix a price for wool. The only wool that needs fixing for Senator Mattner is the wool over his eyes. I said that Labour would fix a home consumption price and that wool would be sold at world parity, which was then about 240 pence per lb.
– Wool was never that price while Labour was in office.
– We knew that it would reach that price.
Let us look at another promise made by the Liberal and Australian Country Parties in 1949. I am not quoting something that was said to me by one of those persons referred to earlier to-day, such as Mr. Sharkey. I am quoting from the present Prime Minister’s policy speech.
– You must be proud to carry that around. I felt proud when I had a copy of that policy speech.
– Senator Scott will not feel very proud about this policy after next December. He will wish that he had never heard of the policy. In his policy speech Mr. Menzies promised the people, amongst other things, security in the job of their choice through stable development of industry and flexible national works. He also promised that there would be no conscription of labour. But what did Senator Gorton say in this chamber last week? No honorable senator opposite was disturbed by what Senator Gorton said because supporters of the Government do not care about the ordinary working man. At election time supporters of the Government are blinded by Communist propaganda. Last week Senator Gorton was asked what was to become of workers who had been put off by the Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited. He said that they had been absorbed into other employment. Is that not conscription of labour?
– No. The job was available and they took it. They were not directed to go there; it was voluntary on their part.
– All 1 want to say to honorable senators opposite through you, Mr. President, is this: The choice of employment for those men was with the Ford company; but this Government, in giving effect to its policy, said, “ That choice cannot be with the Ford company. You have to go where you are directed.” And out they went! I want to give the lie direct to what has been said on the other side of the chamber. If I am wrong, all I want the Minister for the Navy to do is to tell the Senate who those 600 men were and where they were reemployed. If they were re-employed through the Department of Labour and National Service, he must know where they have gone to work. I have before me a telegram from the Trades Hall Council in
Geelong which I received only to-day and which reads -
Sackings Geelong motor and allied industries twelve hundred textile four hundred building two hundred. No alternative employment.
It was signed by the secretary to the Trades Hall Council. I do not believe any one will refute that. I think it was Senator Gorton who said that these 600 men to whom I have referred had been placed in other employment.
Only last week Senator Gorton said that the number of unemployed represented only 1.5 per cent, of the work force. He said that at question time, but a couple of hours later the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) rose in this chamber and said, in effect, “ I keep my eye on the unemployment situation. It is only 1.7 per cent, of the work force.” So it had grown by 2 per cent.!
– You were taught at the wrong place.
– I said it had grown by .2 per cent.
– No, you did not.
– Between 3 o’clock and 4 o’clock the Minister for the Navy said that the number of unemployed represented 1 .5 per cent, of the work force. Two or three hours later, when the Leader of the Government spoke, it had grown to 1.7 per cent.
– It was a fractional change.
– What is .2 per cent, to Senator Maher or to the Minister for the Navy? It is nothing.
– You said it had grown by 2 per cent, in two hours.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! I ask honorable senators to allow Senator Hendrickson to continue with his speech.
- Mr. President, all I said was - and this appears in “ Hansard “ - that at question time the Minister for the Navy said that the level of unemployment was 1.5 per cent, and that later in the day the Leader of the Government in this place said it was 1.7 per cent. Senator Maher asks, “ What is .2 per cent.?” It means nothing to him, because he is not one of the .2 per cent.
When we look into the position created by this increase in the sales tax on cars, we find that prior to the introduction of this pernicious legislation in November last men were asked by the Ford company to transfer to Broadmeadows, where they would be guaranteed full employment. I believe that the Ford company was sincere in its statement. Those men agreed to go. They sold their homes in Geelong on a depressed market and bought new homes on a buoyant market in the Broadmeadows area on the assumption that they would be employed there permanently. But they did not know of the Federal Government’s change of mind and probably they committed themselves for carpets, floor sweepers, washing machines and television sets. They have been given the sack. They have been left jobless at Broadmeadows, with all their commitments, because of the action taken by this Government in November but which it withdrew a couple of weeks ago. I praise Senator Wood for having looked into the future and prophesied what would happen if the Government did that sort of thing. It is easy for honorable senators like Senator Hannaford to sit here in this chamber and smile.
– I was not smiling at that.
– Honorable senators would be very distressed if they were left in that position. Some of these men have wives and little children and they are trying to give them a share of the exaggerated standard of living that exists in the Commonwealth to-day. Let me tell honorable senators that those men are in a very perilous position.
Only last year I mentioned in this chamber that the Bruck mill at Wangaratta was in a difficult situation, but I was laughed at, especially by members of the Australian Country Party. What is the position to-day? Because of the action of this Government in lifting import controls holusbolus approximately 800 employees of the Bruck mill are forced to work 32 hours a week. Those people found it very difficult to exist on the proper wage for their industry. How can they be expected to exist on 32 hours a week instead of 40 hours?
– But Labour advocates a 30-hour week.
– But with the same pay as for a 40-hour week. These men at the Bruck mill at Wangaratta are forced by the action of this Government to work 32 hours a week and they are paid on the basis of a 32-hour week. Senator Scott referred to communism. The shortest cut to communism is to create misery and poverty. No Communists will take this country while we have full employment. But if we create conditions similar to those which existed in 1934 and 1935 under an anti-Labour government, we will have communism. It will breed, and nothing will stop it. The only way in which to prevent communism is to provide social and economic security for the people. If we work men and women 32 hours a week instead of 40 hours and they receive the reduced pay for only 32 hours’ work, we will breed communism.
I can recall that during the depression good tradesmen - carpenters, bricklayers and painters - who had fought for this country during World War I. were sacked, left their wives and children in Melbourne, walked the roads and became Corns. But when they got employment again they became stabilized. If we have unemployment, if we have people walking the roads and three or four men applying for one job, we will breed communism. Just recently a cleaner was required at the Melbourne Technical College. There were 25 applicants for the job! Bunny’s in Glenhuntlyroad, Elsternwick, wanted a driver. Thirtyfive men had arrived by 8 a.m. to apply for the job! If you want to avoid communism, you cannot afford to have that sort of thing happening.
– That is what pleases the Government.
– The Government will not be able to control it. If honorable senators opposite bring about poverty and starvation they will not be able to prevent communism. It will grow, and will do so very quickly. As I indicated earlier, the only way in which to defeat it is to give the people economic and social security.
It is said that there has been no conscription of labour. The Minister said that these men who lost their jobs with the Ford company were directed to another job by the Department of Labour and National Service. That is conscription of labour - nothing short of it.
– If they did not go to the job they would not have ‘got the unemployment benefit.
– -If they did not go they would not have got anything. The Minister has quoted the unemployment figures. But let me point out that numerous workers do not go near the Department of Labour and National Service, because they have to wait for seven days before getting a mere pittance of a few shillings a week. Many of them never register for employment. So I venture to suggest that the level of unemployment is greater than the Government has stated it to be.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate asked recently, “ What is wrong with our 1.7 per cent, unemployment?” He said that in the United States of America there are 6,000,000 unemployed - I believe that the figure is nearer 7,000,000. He also said that in Canada the position is worse than it is in Australia because there is 10 per cent, unemployment, and he went on to add that in England there are 800,000 unemployed. That is all very well. There arc millions of Communists in Russia, but that does not mean that we must be Communists too. There are millions of people starving in India and Egypt. Have we to starve because of that? Only the maladministration of this Government has brought about poverty in this country.
– How are you going to rectify it? What would you do?
– What the Government has to recognize–
– Change of government would be the first thing to do.
– That is necessary, and it will happen. Honorable senators opposite have to recognize that Labour governed this country well from 1941 to 1949. How many people have we heard saying what a wonderful man the late John Curtin was and what a wonderful man the late Ben Chifley was?
– One swallow does not make a summer, though.
– That is right. Mr. Chifley was spoken about in that way when he was out of government, but when they wanted to defeat his government they said he was a money-lender, a rogue, a vagabond and a Communist.
– We did not say that.
– The press said it.
– It was your Labour man, Jack Lang, who said that.
– Who said that he is our Labour man? Cut it out!
– He was a Labour man.
– He is one of your fellow-travellers. Senator DrakeBrackman has asked what we would do to rectify the present position. I give him an assurance, which he may accept with confidence, that the people who devise the policies of the Australian Labour Party, which controlled the affairs of the nation from 1941 to 1949, will bring forward a policy that will lead to a return to economic stability in this country. We can and will do it. The people who constitute the Labour Party are not all lawyers, doctors, labourers or farmers; men from every walk of life beling to this great movement. They are the people who define the policies of the Australian Labour Party. The platform of the party has never changed since it was announced in 1901. We hope one day to see the socialization of the means of life. We hope and trust that one day that will come about, but in the journey to that goal there are many pitfalls.
– How true!
– You may smile, my friend. Our policy is to work gradually towards that goal, and we shall reach it some day. The people look forward to that time. Only last night I heard Professor Brown, during a television programme, speaking of the wonderful country of Denmark. In that country, which has a good socialist government, there is no unemployment; there is no one without a home; there is no one in want. We in Australia have greater potential than there is in Denmark, and we could enjoy the same advantages if we had a different government at the helm.
Senator Spooner has said that he is keeping his eye on the employment position. Let us have a look at the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to see what it says about the matter. 1 do not imagine that honorable senators opposite would suggest that that newspaper supports the Labour Party. On 11th February last the “Sydney Morning Herald” stated that General MotorsHolden’s Limited had put off 2,632 employees.
– A jolly disgrace!
– It is a disgrace, and you can blame your Prime Minister for it. Had Senator Wright stuck to his guns and come over to vote with Senator Wood on this side of the chamber, this unemployment would not have occurred, because the additional sales tax on motor vehicles would not have been imposed. For some reason, Senator Wright changed his mind. On 14th February, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stated that the Ford motor company had sacked 813 employees. On 9th March, the company sacked an additional 980 employees, so that a total of approximately 4,500 people were dismissed- by those two motor companies.
Is Senator Spooner ever going to open his eyes? Cannot he see that something is wrong and that action must be taken if we are to have full employment in this country? In addition to the numbers dismissed by the companies I have mentioned, 170 employees of Borg-Warner (Australia) Proprietary Limited, a subsidiary company making component parts for motor vehicles, also were dismissed, together with 83 from Associated Battery Makers of Australia Proprietary Limited and many other employees of similar organizations. Those people have been thrown on to the scrap heap. What does the Government intend to do about it? What do the supporters of the Government think should be done? What action is to be taken to assist the 4,500 tradesmen, many of whom no doubt have entered into hire purchase commitments., who have been thrown to the wolves?
– All tradesmen?
– No, not all, but very few of them would not have as much ability as Senator Mattner, who really has very little.
Who is to look after those people who have been dismissed from their employment? Has the Government no responsibility in the matter? After all, during the regime of this Government they have been induced’ to purchase homes for £5,000 and £6,000, or to pay rent of as much as £5, £6 and £7 a week. Do not honorable senators opposite think that these men are entitled to some consideration? It should not be forgotten that some of them are returned servicemen who fought on the field of battle for this country. Are the supporters of the Government going to sit back and sneer and giggle at their plight? It seems to me that many of these poor men and their wives and children will be looking at empty plates this winter. It is up to this Government to honour this promise to implement full employment. There are many phases of the motor industry to which I could refer and which have been adversely affected by the Government’s policy, but I do not propose to do so now.
Let me turn to another of the promises that the present Government parties made during the general election campaign of 1949. The Prime Minister stated that, if elected, the Liberal and Australian Country Parties would undertake a steady reduction in the rates of taxation, review indirect taxation and increase tax allowances for medical, dental and education expenses. In what way has the Government reduced taxation since 1949? The present Government parties won the election on the promise to which I have just referred, and other promises, but can any honorable senator opposite point to an instance in which taxation has been reduced? I say that taxation has increased tenfold since the Government came to office.
– Yes. 1 could even say that it has increased by twenty times, because there are so many people who have to go without. When people are going without, there is no limit to the increase of taxation.
The Government has removed import controls. Until February last year, the Government had decided that articles of one kind would be allowed into the country and articles of another would not be allowed in. I have seen applications for import licences for component parts necessary for industrial operations which have been refused by the Government. Overnight, in February, 1959, the Government lifted all controls on imports. Surely honorable senators opposite have met people whose businesses have been ruined because of the overnight lifting of import controls. I have here a letter from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures. I do not wish to read it, but I shall do so if honorable senators opposite would like me to. The letter states that imported articles are being sold more cheaply in Australia than similar articles manufactured here. Some people may say that our costs are too great. Perhaps they are. If wheat land costs £65 an acre, costs of production must increase proportionately. This Government has lived from day to day and has been able to do so because of the good graces of our Creator, who has given us bountiful seasons.
We do not want controls, Mr. President, but if the Government wishes to increase Australia’s export trade there must be some controls. The position should not be regulated by the freezing of funds. It should be regulated legitimately. If there is a commodity that it is necessary to import because it is essential to the manufacture of goods for export, I say that we have to allow it to come in, but some of the commodities we see in shop windows these days, such as canned chicken, should not be admitted. Who, for instance, thinks that we need to import canned chicken, frogs legs, chocolates, fish and fruit. Fancy Australia importing fruit! We should be exporting it. Because the Government has lifted the controls on imports, many such commodities are coming into the country. Senator Wedgwood shakes her head to indicate that they do not. They will be found in Myer’s store, next to the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Melbourne. I do not blame Myer’s; I blame the Government. Anybody will take an opportunity if it exists. Import controls have been lifted on these items.
– How would we sell if we did not buy from other countries?
– That is a good question. But how will we get on if we sell all our wheat and have to buy it back? We will come to the same stage as we had in the depression, when wheat was ls. 7d. a bushel and wool was lid. per lb. There must be some stability between export and import. America has a tariff wall, just as China, India and the United Kingdom have tariff walls. All countries have some control, and why should they not? Why should we ruin one industry?
– Do you disagree with our participation in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade?
– The Gatt arrangement will not be worth the pencil in my hand when the European Common Market begins to operate, with the “ Six “ and “ Seven “. The honorable senator should examine the agreement. He will see that it will not then operate. Import controls should be lifted wherever possible. Next, we shall be importing wool. Russia will have an over-supply of sheep. She will shear them and we shall import the wool, throwing our own into the Yarra, just as we threw away potatoes and onions during the depression, when workers were starving.
Housing is very important. What is the Government doing about it? It is tightening the control on funds. The value of building in progress in November last year amounted to £61,800,000, but only a month later, in December, it had fallen to £43,900,000. When I tried to obtain a home for a person in Melbourne, the Director of the Housing Commission of Victoria, told me that 18,000 people awaiting homes were on the books of the commission and that these included many returned soldiers who are the responsibility of this Government, but cannot get homes through the War Service Homes Division. Under our migration policy, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are coming to this country. I can take any doubting person in my car through the suburbs of Melbourne and show him six or seven families living in one room. They can afford to pay £10, £12, or £14 a week for this accommodation. Where does the returned soldier who fought for this country get accommodation?
– We shall have to decline the invitation as we have become used to riding in Rolls-Royces.
– Senator Hannaford was very glad to accept a ride in a Rolls-Royce from New York to Buffalo. He is afraid to tell the chamber that, but what is wrong with having the good things of life? Honorable senators opposite think that they are the only people who should ride in decent cars and have television sets and washing machines. We are all entitled to them. My wife is as good as any other man’s wife.
Housing is a very important matter, yet this Government is doing nothing about it. I want the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to tell the Parliament, so that the people may be told, the Government’s plan for the future development of housing for the people all over the Commonwealth who need it. I do not know the position in other States but I doubt whether any Victorian senator will dispute that 18,000 people are on the waiting list of the Housing Commission of Victoria and that these include many returned soldiers who should be obtaining houses from the War Service Homes Division. What has the Government done regarding them? It provided £40,000,000 a year ten years ago, when £1 bought 10s. worth of goods. To-day, when £1 buys only 3s. 4d. worth of goods, it is still providing only £40,000,000,. which cannot build the homes, that ex-servicemen require.
This Government gained control of the Parliament by subterfuge. It has carried on by subterfuge ever since. It has never gone before the people and given an account of its stewardship: At each election it has produced the old red herring, the “ Com.” First, it was Mr. Petrov. We should have a look at a serious, matter in relation to him. While we have many people unemployed, will the Government tell the people whether it is still paying the Petrovs £5,000’ a year to live in Queensland? I am1 told that it is.
– You heard the wrong, whisper.
– That is what 1 am told. I am told that they are living in Queensland, so the honorable senator had better be careful; he knows, how bad they are. The Government has since 1949 continued a smearing campaign against the Australian Labour Party. There is nothing new about it. I have just read Norman Makin’s history of the Australian Labour Party, which shows that a similar smearing campaign has gone on ever since the late Mr. Watson’s time. It went on long before Senator McCallum was sixteen years of age.. Of course, he changed his mind when he turned sixteen. The campaign has gone on ever since. Although the leaders and members of the great Australian Labour Party have been smeared, we have never changed our name, our platform or our policy, and we never will change them. The day will come when we will return to office. We hope it does not come in the circumstances in which it came in 1941, when a government elected by popular vote of the people reneged and discarded the reins of government in the greatest crisis that ever faced the Commonwealth. We do not want it to happen again, as it happened then when Mr. Menzies repudiated promises he made to the people, and left the country to the Japanese. We want the people to believe in Labour and to elect us on a popular franchise. That day will come, because this Government is doomed. Most thinking people who read the anaemic address given by the Administrator on behalf of the Government will agree with me. I heartily support the amendment moved by Senator Armstrong.
.- I listened with a great deal of interest to the: entertaining speech delivered by Senator Hendrickson. It sounded like the Labour Party tub-thumping oratory of days gone by. We do not often have speeches- of that type in the Senate these days. Senator Hendrickson, of course, has travelled all round the world, from China to Peru, but he has not enlightened us very much on the particular problems that confront us. to-day in this country.
– They are your problems.
– They are the problems of every thinking man in this country.
– Senator Spooner said that there were no problems.
– There are always: problems. It is the essence of political life that we have to meet the problems that confront us from time to time and get round them to the. best advantage. That is the position in relation to the particular economic measures with which we have to deal. L must say that I did not get very much enlightenment from Senator Hendrickson.
I support most wholeheartedly the expressions of loyalty to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen which are contained ir> the Speech of His. Excellency the Administrator, Sir Dallas Brooks. I rejoice, too, in the successful ending of a wonderful tour of India, Pakistan and Iran by Her Majesty and Prince Philip. The tour could not have come at a better time to strengthen British Commonwealth friendship in that part of Asia. I regret, however, that some cross-grained English newsmen have been needling Prince Philip in a very disgraceful way because he shot and killed a maneating tiger in the Indian jungle.
– Was it the socialist tiger?’
– I would have been very pleased if it had been the socialist tiger and he had killed it for good and all.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– English pressmen who engage in the kind of sniping I have mentioned have very little to do, having regard to all the important subjects that matter a great deal in the world to-day to which they could apply their talents. The Queen herself, while engaged in this grand tour of goodwill throughout that part of Asia, also had to endure the barbed shafts of criticism from that strange character of the peerage, Lord Altrincham. So I say with all my heart, “ God save the Queen! “
I join in the expressions of deep regret at the death of Viscount Dunrossil while holding office as Governor-General of the Commonwealth. He was truly a very distinguished man who served his country most worthily on the battlefield and in the House of Commons. The people of Australia, I am sure, sincerely mourn his passing. I offer to Lady Dunrossil and the members of her family my very sincere sympathy in their tremendous loss, and I pray that God will comfort them in their time of great sorrow.
I regret, Sir, the rather mean reference made by Senator Armstrong to the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), whilst the present economic measures are in operation in Australia. Senator Armstrong is a man who generally rises above that sort of thing, but I think that last week he let himself down a bit when he criticized the absence of the Prime Minister at this particular time.
– He was criticizing his absence all the time.
– When the Prime Minister is absent from this country he is always engaged on a mission of high importance. Great events are happening in the world outside this country of ours. The Prime Minister is in London at present attending a very important gathering of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. Subjects of the greatest importance to the world, as well as to our own country, are being discussed there at the top level. Whatever honorable senators think about the Prime Minister politically, I think they must all agree with me that he is the right man in the right place at the right time when these matters of great importance are being discussed. From my observation and experience nobody in this country is more capable than Mr. Menzies of representing Australia at these high-level conferences.
The Prime Minister has left behind him in this country highly capable leaders who are competent to direct the course of the economic measures that have been introduced. I refer to men of great ability such as the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) - one of the most outstanding men in the political life of this country - the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) - a very capable man.
– You will get on, Ted!
– I face the facts of life. These three men are outstanding men in the top grade of Australian politics. In addition to them, there are men of great merit who are capable of assisting in the task of seeing that the economic measures which have been decided upon function correctly. In criticizing the absence of the Prime Minister, Senator Armstrong resembles - to my way of thinking, at any rate - a man wandering in the forest who cannot see the wood for the trees. Senator Armstrong became steamed up about our own domestic difficulties which are trivial when viewed against far graver events on the much wider stage of world affairs. It is on that stage that the Prime Minister is rendering most valuable service, not only to Australia, but also to the whole free world.
During my recent tour of Japan and some parts of South-East Asia I found that generally the small nations in that area were living in a constant state of dread of attack by Communist China. The state of their economies in some instance is not good by any means, but that was the least of their worries. The pressure of the 650,000,000 famine-stricken people in mainland China, and the appetite for power and expansion of the Chinese Communist leaders, constituted a source of fear and worry to all concerned among the smaller nations of South-East Asia. In a telegraphed news message to the “ Courier Mail “, Brisbane, last week, Trevor Smith stated that the President of Pakistan had informed the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London that Communist China was covering the whole of South-East Asia with an army of 500,000 men fully equipped and trained for war. If that is true, the feelings of the smaller nations of that area aTe understandable.
His Excellency, the Administrator, said in his Speech in this Senate last week that the Commonwealth Government would do all in its power to promote steps towards universal disarmament under proper safeguards. However, I am satisfied that disarmament is an empty pipe dream unless Communist China reaches agreement with the rest of the world on this paramount issue. I do not think that Communist China wants disarmament, but I may be wrong. Whilst I was in Tokyo I noted a telegram in the “ Japan Times “, an English language newspaper published there. It may interest members of the Senate to know that five daily English newspapers are published in Tokyo - three morning newspapers and two afternoon newspapers. They are published entirely in English. In October last year the “ Japan Times “ published a telegram from Peking in which the Foreign Minister in the Communist Government of China, Mr. Chen Yi, called for intensification of military training for a massive attack on Taiwan. That does not look very healthy.
It is my view - and I said so when speaking on disarmament at the Interparliamentary Union Congress in Tokyo - that an invitation should be sent to Communist China through the appropriate channel - Russia may be - to sit in on disarma- ment talks even without a seat in the United Nations at present. 1 mention these matters to show Senator Armstrong and those who think as he does that dangerous forces are at work in many parts of the world - forces which are far more worrying than the transient effects of the economic measures that are before this Parliament to-day.
I directed attention, Sir, in previous years to the dangers implicit in prices chasing wages and said that an awful crash was inevitable if the ever-rising spiral of costs was not corrected’. I have shown previously in this Senate - those who heard me will bear me out that this is rights - that wage increases granted in the early post-war years had been f ollowed, as surely as night follows day, by price increases in much the same proportion. This movement has continued ever since, until our manufacturing industries have largely been priced out of the markets of the world.
In my opinion, our industrial courts, I regret to say, in their judgments have generally failed to strike a balance between productivity and the cost of living, with the result that our export industries have suffered gravely. Annual wage and salary increases should not exceed increased productivity. In the United States of America, it is said that those who get more pay than is justified by their productivity earn the wooden nickel - that is, money which begins to lose or has lost its purchasing power. In other words, inflation is the great destroyer, and hits the wageearner hardest of all. The amount available to be shared amongst us all depends on how much we produce. If we produce more, we can pay more. Let that ‘thought sink into the mind of every honorable senator in this chamber. The amount available to be shared depends on how much we produce. If we produce more of the goods that are required, we can have more. We can have better wages and better times.
Australians .generally have been living, in my view, beyond their means, both locally in this country and internationally, until inflationary boom conditions began to develop fast. Credit has been too easy. The motor car industry supplies proof of that. The burden of Senator Hendrickson’s complaint to-night is that the motor industry has been delivered a smashing blow. No fewer than 330,000 new motor vehicles were registered during 1960. Most of these vehicles were purchased on time payment through hire-purchase companies. At the end of 1960, the hire-purchase debt stood at £440,000,000, having increased by £60,000,000 during that year. Because of easy credit, people have been able to purchase motor cars and other manufactured1 goods on very small deposits - frequently on no deposit at all - with the result that those who have used the facilities of hire purchase now stand ‘indebted to those companies in a sum of £440,000,000. Many of the hire-purchase companies have been offering up to 10 per cent, interest for money from the investing public in order to make sure of attracting sufficient funds for the redemption of short-term loans. In these circumstances, I say to you all that there was no escape; credit had to be restricted if economic stability was to be maintained. There is no answer to that.
The Prime Minister has pointed out that this high-interest borrowing outside the banking system had two evil effects. First, it increased the burden on the general run of taxpayers - that is you, me and the rest of us in this country - because the high interest payments were treated as business expenses and became deductible in taxation returns, to the point that 40 per cent, of the interest was being met by the Treasury. That means that it was being met with money collected from the Australian taxpayers as a whole. You, I and the rest of us in Australia have been making that tremendous contribution to the firms that are engaged in these high interest collections. We are paying to keep the crazy business going. Action has now been taken to prevent these high interest payments from being fully deductible for income tax purposes. Some changes have also been made in the bank interest rates. Interest on fixed deposits rose in November last from 2i per cent, to 4i per cent, on a twelve months deposit basis. These measures are being taken to check this trend.
In the current financial year, Sir, 65 per cent, of the cost of capital works, both Commonwealth and State, is being met from Commonwealth taxation revenue. This course has been forced on the Commonwealth because money urgently needed for national development, for the employment over a wide field of labourers who look for employment from these sources, has been attracted away from the savings banks and the field of public loans. The wisdom of using revenue for capital works depends largely on the point of view. Our big Snowy Mountains project, which has been superintended by our worthy leader in the Senate, Senator Spooner, has been financed, as far as I know, up to the present from revenue sources. There are different points of view on it, but I want to say to the Senate that it is a source of pride to me - others may feel differently - that many great public works have been financed during our term of office without resort to borrowing, although I agree that the time has come to ease the burden on the presentday taxpayers. As a result of these measures, I am sure that in the next financial year loan money will become much more abundant and by its use the taxpayer of the future will carry his share of the cost of public works constructed in this period of Australian development. In the next year, as the result of these economic measures, there will be a more abundant How of loan funds than has been the case in the past, and the taxpayer of the future will accept his share of the burden. Mr. President, I take pride in the fact that over a period of years now we have been able to finance great developmental works out of revenue without incurring any loan responsibility for the people of this country. We have done our share. In the future, as loan money becomes available because of the Government’s economic measures there will be better times and works will be financed largely from loan funds. So, the taxpayer of to-morrow will contribute his share to the cost of public works of this country by loan money being used for that purpose.
An interesting fact that I have always noted is that where borrowing is easy governments are prone to pursue a borrowboomandburst policy to court electoral popularity. I am not saying that that applies to the present Government only; it applies to all governments. In Canada in recent years government borrowings have been so large that not enough capital has been available for private investment. In Australia the reverse has been the position. There has been no shortage of capital for private investment, but insufficient money has been available for Government borrowing. Truly one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
– Tell that to the local authorities in Queensland.
– What do you mean by that?
– They are in need of money.
– Of course they are. You know very well that while the present conditions have prevailed not only the local authorities but also the States and the Commonwealth itself have had to depend on a very limited supply of loan money. That is why the Government has been forced to use revenue for developmental works. That is also why there is a shortage of funds for local authorities. I hope that as a result of the Government’s economic measures there will be a better day not only for the Commonwealth but also for the States and the local authorities; loan moneys will flow more freely and there will be better days for those bodies.
I point out that the boom in 1960 included an increased demand for imports, but our export income fell substantially because of the lower prices received for wool and other products on overseas markets. Let us never forget that 80 per cent, of our export income is derived from primary production. The result has been that our overseas balances have been caught between rising outgoings for record imports and reduced incoming returns from our exports. Our overseas balances are running down so fast that they create real concern. I confess that this weakness in our London funds is the greatest worry confronting the Government. After studying the facts involved in the present situation, I have supreme confidence that the present economic measures will gradually produce stability.
The Government has abolished import controls. That is a good move because trade is a two-way business. We cannot expect other nations to support us by liberally buying our goods if we are not prepared to buy goods from them in return. We cannot be dog-in-the-manger. That dog will not bark. We have to buy from other nations if we expect them to buy liberally from us. The abolition of import controls is all to the good. The Prime Minister’s assurances that those controls will not be re-imposed are based on his solid belief that the balance of payments position can be safely held. I agree with him and with the general attitude of the Government to this issue. The balance of payments position can be safely held even when import controls have been abolished.
The Prime Minister has also given an assurance that the Government has no intention to devalue the Australian £1. During my tour of Japan and the South-East Asian countries, I was very humiliated to find that the money-changers were not very willing to accept Australian money. Honorable senators opposite are interjecting in an attempt to convey that this Government is responsible for that position. I point out that Mr. Chifley had the chance to put matters right when he was in office, but he did not do so. The Australian £1 was not looked upon too kindly by the moneychangers in the ports which I visited. The English and American currencies were the ones they wanted in every case. I confess that that was a blow to my pride. Nevertheless, I see no point in devaluating the Australian £1 any further than it has been devalued to date. That would make our position with other countries very difficult.
In order to make our economic position doubly sure it is imperative for us to boost our exports and to encourage those engaged in secondary industry. The Government is giving major pay-roll and income tax concessions to encourage Australian manufacturing companies to concentrate on the exportation of their merchandise. I am all in favour of giving such concessions to those engaged in secondary industry who will make the effort to sell goods on the world’s markets so that our London funds can be strengthened. They are making their efforts under very difficult conditions because of the high cost structure in this country. I believe it would be fair enough to give somewhat similar concessions to the exporters of primary products. After all, our wool-growers, dairy farmers, meat producers and cane-growers have been bearing the burden of maintaining our overseas funds and they should be given the same consideration as that given to the manufacturing industries.
I shall now refer to the subject of rural credit. Under the economic measures the trading banks have been given specific instructions to “ bear in mind the need for providing finance for export production in the rural and mining industries and to give special consideration to the needs of rural customers affected by adverse conditions “. It should be emphasized that no farmer or grazier should be denied credit for stocking up with sheep or cattle if he has an abundance of feed following the recent good rains in many parts of Australia, irrespective of his credit worthiness. Financial houses can, cover their advances in such cases by stock mortgages. Even if a farmer or grazier is not considered credit worthy by the bank while he has feed and water on his property money should be made available for the stocking up of that property with sheep or cattle, as the case may be, that will provide export income.
– What authority should extend the credit?
– The authority has been placed in the hands of the banking and financial houses. Generally speaking I think they are in favour of extending credit wherever possible. I -do not know of any farmer or grazier who has been treated badly by the banks but I have heard1 of some individuals, whose credit worthiness is not good, being denied credit despite the fact that their properties are well grassed and well watered owing to recent rains. It would be a waste of the land of this country, at a time when we need’ produce for export, to withhold credit from a person who was not credit worthy but who desired to re-stock his property. Australia needs to raise as many sheep and cattle as the land will support in order to assist the export drive. We should use to the utmost the resources that nature has given us. If necessary the banks and financial institutions could secure their loans by taking stock mortgages. In that way farmers and graziers who would1 not qualify for a loan under normal circumstances would be able to contribute something towards this country’s export income.
I hope that a matter as important as this one is not left entirely to the judgment of a country bank manager who may not have a proper appreciation or understanding of the directive that was issued to the banks. Such a manager may know a farmer who has been an unsatisfactory client of the bank in the past and with whom the bank no longer wishes to do business. Because of the bounty of nature that farmer’s property may now be well grassed and his dams may be full of water, but he is told that he cannot obtain credit with which to stock his property. A farmer in that position should be able to overcome his difficulty by negotiating a stock mortgage with the financial institution. I hope that no man on the land is denied credit as a result of the Government’s action.
The sale to mainland China of wheat and barley worth £27,000,000 will certainly make a valuable contribution to our overseas funds in the current financial year if sufficient loading berths can be assured for the number of ships required to move such a huge quantity of grain. Latest reports suggest that if the Australian Wheat Board can deliver the grain to mainland Chinese ports not later than October next there is a good1 chance of negotiating a further sale of wheat to China, estimated to be worth an additional £30,000,000. That will mean an export earning of about £60,000,000 - a wonderful shot in the arm. I hope that we can make those sales to mainland China because we badly need outlets for our big surplus of wheat.
The dairy farmers are pleased at the decision of the Government to maintain the annual subsidy to the industry until 30th June, 1962. The Commonwealth Government has also indicated that it is prepared to discuss at the appropriate time with the State governments concerned and leaders of the dairying industry the basis for a further five-year stabilization plan beyond 30th June, 1962.
Undoubtedly quite a number of people have been hurt by the credit restrictions. In particular the motor trade has suffered but from my observations the great majority of citizens has felt very little discomfort from the Government’s measures. We have only to look around us to see how few people, other than those associated with hire-purchase companies and the motor trade, have been affected badly by these measures. The Government acted and a few particularly vulnerable industries will feel for a time the effects of the pinch. If the Government’s action had been deferred until next year or later I believe that a much wider range of people would have been affected. The hire-purchase companies and the motor manufacturers have had a long and very profitable run. Let there be no mistake about that. Those people cannot expect that run to go on indefinitely. The whole tone of Senator Hendrickson’s speech was that the Government should not have interfered at all - that the motor trade and the hire-purchase companies should have been allowed full rein to pursue a policy of laisser-faire. Should the motor manufacturers and the hirepurchase companies have been allowed to go on without reduction, like the words from the song “ Kathleen Mavoureen “, may be for years and may be forever? Those people have had a good go and they cannot expect to be allowed indefinitely to draw off the great bulk of investment funds at cates of interest much higher than those offered by1 Commonwealth bonds. The work of national development must proceed. How can it be done without funds? We had reached the crossroads and a decision had to be made. Were the motor manufacturers and the hire-purchase companies to be allowed to draw off the great bulk of investment funds, as Senator Hendrickson suggested, or was the Commonwealth to receive a fair share of those funds? That is the decision that had to be made. What decision would honorable senators opposite make?’ I know where I stand and I think I know where most thinking people in Australia stand on this issue.
The Government envisages schemes of vigorous road development in north and north-western Queensland, the Northern Territory and the northern part of Western Australia in order to assist the beef and other export industries there. It envisages the improvement of port and loading facilities for the export of coal, lt envisages standard gauge railways between Broken Hill and Port Pirie and between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle as vital links in our export trade. The Government believes that, by the provision of better rail and road transport facilities, the cattle industry can be geared to earn a further £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 per annum in exports. With my knowledge of the cattle areas of this country I think this can be done. If good loading facilities are provided it is estimated that a further £10,000,000 per annum can be earned from the export of coal. I think it can safely be said that once the railway between Mount Isa and Townsville has been reconditioned the production of metals and ores from Mount Isa, Mary Kathleen and elsewhere in that area can be stepped up sufficiently to earn £20,000,000 per annum over and above the current value of exports from the area.
The goal is a big one but it is being approached quickly in north-western Queensland. Our greatest potential for export earnings is our wool if only some sensible method of selling it can be devised. Under the present system we are not selling our wool for profit; we are giving it away at bargain prices. Wool is our greatest exportable asset. Our wool clip is fully sold every year, notwithstanding the gloomy predictions that have been made over the last 40 years about competition from synthetic fibres.
The Commonwealth Government has appointed a wool inquiry commission, and I can only hope that some good recommendations will emanate from that commission. The- intrinsic value of wool - the genuine, inherent or basic value - to the world is far greater than our growers are able to secure on markets which are governed by pies and other restrictive practices in order to keep down the price. We need a more sensible method of marketing our wool. Improved methods of marketing would mean .tremendous additions to our export wealth. There are so many people pulling against one another that our greatest asset is not producing the wealth that this country is entitled to derive from it. We must find a better selling method.
Mr. Alan W. Campbell, the managing director of Queensland Primary Producers Co-operative Association Limited, which is the largest wool broking firm in Queensland has said1 -
No raw material is worth any more to a manufacturer than the price at which, in a bottomless market, a competitor is able to buy it.
Mr. Campbell meant that every manufacturer of woollen goods would like to see a basic price for wool. Price falls provide opportunities for the speculators, but they mean a loss for the manufacturer of woollen goods. Under the auction system, a great number of speculators buy on the low market and sell on the top market.
They are the men who reap the rich profits that are to be found on the happy hunting ground of wool auctions. The man who is engaged in the manufacture of woollen fabrics, whether he be in Australia or elsewhere in the world, wants to have a basic figure below Which he knows the price of wool will not fall. He is prepared’ to compete at that level, but he does not want to be the victim of circumstances in which his competitors are able to buy at a much lower price after he has bought his wool. The manufacturers, the really good members of the wool business, are not getting a fair go at our auctions. As I said earlier, the speculator is getting all the profits.
A basic price for wool is of the essence of the floor price plan about which we have heard a lot in recent times, and which I am glad to say is attracting a greater number of supporters each year. Large numbers of wool-growers are looking forward hopefully to the recommendations of the wool inquiry. Having been a wool-grower, I have seen the game played from the selling side and the growing side, and I want to tell honorable senators that things are not right in the wool industry and that every year Australia is losing a king’s ransom through the manipulation of the wool auctions. If honorable senators want proof of that statement, let them read the report of Mr. Justice Cook of New South Wales, who was appointed a couple of years ago to inquire into the trouble at Goulburn and the wool industry generally in New South Wales. His report is in the Library and is available to every one with an inquiring mind to read. In fact, in my view, we do not now need a wool inquiry commission. If we were to take note of Mr. Justice Cook’s report, we would have all we needed to enable us to take the requisite action to rectify the present state of affairs.
We cannot do anything without the goodwill of the wool-growers throughout Australia. I regret to say that there are always great differences of opinion and that we have not been able so far to get a majority view on a right and sensible method to sell our wool. I repeat that as a result of our present selling methods we are losing large sums of money. If we were to get what I describe as being the intrinsic value of wool - the genuine value, the basic value - we would be able to put our overseas balances in credit ten times over. But we are not getting that value. If only we could evolve a satisfactory method of marketing our wool, we would find a solution to our present problems. But tremendous influences are at work in this country to prevent that being done.
The Comalco company, in partnership with the Kaiser Aluminium and Chemical Corporation, expects to raise the aluminium production capacity of the Bell Bay smelters in Tasmania to 25,000 tons annually by 1964 and to 60,000 tons per annum later. In Queensland, the Comalco company expects to have a 360,000 ton per annum alumina plant operating at Weipa by mid- 1966, involving an ‘expenditure of from £30,000,000 to £40,000,000. Thus an aluminium industry will be established on the eastern shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is estimated that almost one-third of the production of this plant will be sold outside Australia, so a big source of export income is being established. The development of this industry will mean to the Cape York Peninsula what Mount Isa has meant to north-west Queensland.
– What will they manufacture?
– Not ingot?
– The aluminium will be manufactured at Bell Bay.
– It will be sent to New Zealand.
– I am just as pleased to see development in New Zealand as I am to see it in Australia. I regard New Zealand as being a sister-State of the Commonwealth, and I am just as pleased to see this industry go there as to see it come here. We have to live alongside the New Zealanders. They are Britishers, like ourselves, and I do not regret that big plant toeing established in New Zealand, where there is plenty of water and power.
– It would give employment to 300 Queenslanders.
– Where would we get the water in north Queensland?
– We have 200,000,000 tons of coal at Blair Athol.
– They cannot find sur.ficent water on the Cape York Peninsula.
The alternative would be to go to New Guinea, but with the state of the world being what it is I would prefer to see this plant established in New Zealand than to see it established in New Guinea. As I have already said, I have no regrets about this plant being established in New Zealand. The New Zealanders have to live. They are a good people, and I wish them success. We cannot afford to adopt a doginthemanger attitude in relation to such matters.
I am pleased to note that the Japanese steel mills have placed an order for 100,000 tons of unwashed hard coking coal, which is produced at Moura, in central Queensland. Deliveries are to begin early this year. In fact, I think, they have already begun. The Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ newspaper of to-day’s date states that -
Japanese steel mills have placed a new order for 184,000 tons of Kianga coal, worth more than £700,000. First shipments will be made in May from Gladstone. So more than £1 million worth of coal will be shipped from the central Queensland field to Japan over the next 10 months. Thiess Bros.-
The Thiess brothers, two very able Queenslanders, -.have been most progressive in developing this coal trade from Queensland with the Japanese steel millers. Mr. Les Thiess said yesterday that the letter containing the order from Japan also asked whether more Kianga coal was available. According to the “ Courier-Mail “ article, Mr. Thiess said that the Japanese would be told that Kianga could supply 255,000 tons over the next nine months. The article continued -
This, with shipments of Moura coal, could mean a total export of about 400,000 tons between May, 1961, and March, 1962, which would be close to the capacity of the existing railway facilities.
I have mentioned those matters, Mr. Deputy President, to show that everything points to the beginning of a very extensive and valuable export trade with Japan, both this year and in following years. These developments open up prospects for far bigger export earnings from coal.
The mineral yield in Queensland rose last year by 16.4 per cent, above that of the previous year. I should say that the bulk of the metals produced would be exported to overseas markets. I wish to say something about sugar, which is an important Australian industry, particularly in Queensland. In support of my contention that not everything ls wrong in the Australian scene to-day, I point out that during 1960 a record total of 776,061 tons of raw sugar was exported overseas. The 1961 sugar crop is estimated to be worth about £67,000,000 to the Australian raw sugar producers. The export ingredient of that sum will approximate £32,000,000, while the balance of £35,000,;000 will come from sales of sugar for home consumption. It will thus be seen that our great sugar industry is pulling its weight in the field of exports.
The Government has come to terms with the life assurance companies and the custodians of superannuation funds, whereby a much larger percentage of the funds of those organizations will become available for investment in Commonwealth bonds in the new financial year.
– Who told you that?
– I am not in close touch with the negotiations, but from what I have heard, that is what I understand. If my understanding is wrong, I shall be glad to hear from anybody who can correct me.
As I see the position, Sir, there is no sign whatever of depression anywhere on the Australian horizon. On the score of unemployment, the remarkable feature of the measures taken by the Government is that, as Senator Spooner stated recently, only 1.7 per cent, of the ‘total Australian work force is seeking employment at this time. Some of the persons concerned may be unemployable because of age, sickness or other causes.
In my view, the full effect of the credit restrictions will not be felt until later in the year. It is fair to assume ‘that there will be a rise in the unemployment figures as imports begin to contract, but of course at this stage I .am unable to indicate the extent of the rise. I cannot measure it. Time will determine what it is to be. In saying that there will be a rise, I may be wrong. There may not be an increase at all in unemployment, but I do not like to state a base without providing for the possibilities. It is my view that as imports contract there could be a rise in the unemployment figures.
It seems to me that future prospects for our export earnings are very bright. When we (have passed through this period of adjustment and have corrected the weaknesses which have appeared in our economy, I feel certain that we shall continue to enjoy the wonderful run of prosperity and full employment that have been the outstanding features of the present Government’s long term of office. I reject the doleful amendment moved by Senator Armstrong and’ support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-RepIy.
– I associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen that are embodied in the AddressinReply. I wish to express my very profound personal regret at the unfortunate and untimely death of our late GovernorGeneral, Lord Dunrossil. I feel that it was a great tragedy for a man who had occupied the positions that Lord Dunrossil had occupied, and who had been selected for what is probably one of the greatest positions to which a citizen of the British Commonwealth can aspire, to die so soon after reaching the shores of Australia. As has been truly said, he died at the height of his fame. Whatever our political thoughts might be, we cannot help but feel melancholy about it.
Having said that, Mr. Deputy President, I wish to say that I subscribe wholeheartedly to the amendment moved by Senator Armstrong, to which he so ably spoke when the debate was in its infant stages. If I can avoid doing so, it is not my intention to indulge in tedious repetition. I feel that there is in this chamber far too much repetition and re-hashing of things that have been said before. I shall endeavour to do my best to make a new approach to the situation that we are discussing and perhaps to introduce one or two new arguments to the debate. Whilst the matter is fresh in my mind, I want to make one reference only to the speech that was made by Senator Maher. He said that as a consequence of the Government’s credit restrictions and other economic measures only two sections of the Australian business community had suffered, and he cited hire-purchase companies and the motor body building industry. I think that even his colleagues would1 disagree with the contention that only two sections of Australia’s economic life had been adversely affected by the Government’s economic policy. Has not Senator Maher heard of the electrical trade? Does he not know that the firm of Pope Products Limited, in South Australia, and its counterparts in other States, have been forced to retrench large numbers of employees as a direct consequence of the Government’s economic measures? I see Senator Hannaford nodding his head in agreement.
– You are assuming something that I really did not intend.
– I must have made a mistake. The honorable senator’s head must have been nodding for some other reason. It appeared to me that he was nodding agreement. He must know, as I know, that there have been substantial retrenchments by Pope Products Limited, Philips Electric Industries Proprietary Limited, and other electrical firms in South Australia, which deal in television and other electrical equipment. There have been many retrenchments and statements have been made by Sir Barton Pope and other leading industrialists in South Australia. Has Senator Maher not heard of the textile industry and the difficulties confronting it as a result of the Government’s economic measures? Has he not heard of the building trade and its troubles, and has he not read the statements made by those people who occupy leading positions in that industry? When he tries to dismiss the position with an airy statement that only two sections of our business life are affected by these credit restrictions, he is adopting a completely unrealistic attitude.
– The fact remains that only 1.7 per cent, of the work force is seeking employment, so the position is not too bad despite all that you say.
– The honorable senator is changing his ground. He said that only two sections of our business life had been affected. Now, when I direct his attention to the fact that many sections of our business life have suffered very adversely as a result of the Government’s actions, he diverts attention to the percentage of unemployment.
– Many of those persons who were retrenched have been absorbed in other industries.
– I propose to have something to say about that at a later stage of my address. It might be timely to introduce another note into this debate now. When Senator Spooner spoke, on behalf of the Government, in opposition to the amendment moved by Senator Armstrong, he said that he expected the Opposition to criticize the Government, and that there was nothing unusual about that. He said that what he called the carping criticism coming from the Opposition benches could be easily discarded when one took into consideration the biased nature of the Opposition. Let us take the position as it stands. It is not so much a question of the Opposition’s criticizing the Government on its measures in the last twelve months as of that person to whom Senator Spooner so frequently referred in his speech, the man in the street, critcizing the Government. Let us see what he has to say and what he is thinking about the matter. If his thoughts run parallel to the thoughts of the Australian Labour Party, which is Her Majesty’s Opposition, even Senator Spooner must acknowledge the validity of the criticism that we level against the Government, especially as that criticism is endorsed by supporters of the Government. I propose to submit at a later stage proof that the Opposition does not condemn merely by virtue of the nature and structure of our parliamentary life. The things that we say are being said through the length and breadth of the country.
Senator Spooner referred to the bias of critics, no doubt arrogantly implying that nobody had the right to criticize the Government and that no criticism could have any validity because of the excellence of the Government. That intolerance was directed not so much against us in this chamber as against the people who assisted this Government into office. I refer to the big business institutions of Australia. They are the ones who are criticizing the Government’s activities and they are in the best position to know just what has been the effect of the Government’s measures upon the economic life of Australia.
– Do not forget, too, that some have an axe to grind.
– What axe have they to grind?
– Do you not know very well? They have been enjoying boom conditions.
– If the honorable senator makes a specific interjection, I shall endeavour to give him a specific answer. I ask him exactly what he means by that interjection.
– I give you a case in point. I refer you to the statement of Sir Barton Pope, when he put men off before any economic action by the Government could have come into force.
– Am I to understand that Senator Hannaford is accusing Sir Barton Pope of placing a wrong construction on the Government’s activities? Is he accusing Sir Barton Pope of making a lying statement in saying that he was forced to retrench his employees as a result of the Government’s economic measures?
– You are trying to put words into my mouth.
– I ask Senator Hannaford whether he is prepared to say to the Senate this evening that Sir Barton Pope was not telling the truth.
– I would be prepared to say that Sir Barton Pope was not telling the truth.
– Who is making the speech? Is it Senator Hannaford?
– I have an opinion to express. I still say that Sir Barton Pope’s firm was wrong in claiming that retrenchment was caused by the Government’s economic policy. I say that it was not caused by that policy.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! Senator Toohey has the floor.
– Thank you. In effect, what Senator Hannaford is saying, although he is skirting around the problem, is that Sir Barton Pope was handling the truth carelessly when he made a statement about the Government’s economic measures. I am particularly interested in the question of unemployment, and especially in its relation to South Australia. Last week I asked a question which was answered by Senator Gorton, as Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. He gave what I consider was a Silly Willie reply. I asked for the numbers of people unemployed throughout Australia and the numbers in the respective States. I went on to ask whether the Minister, in replying, would refrain from confusing the position by reference to the alleged number of what are called unfilled vacancies. 1 have a great respect for Senator Gorton’s mental ability. I do not think I am doing him an injustice when I say that he appreciated fully what was implied in the latter part of the question, but he preferred, as I said, to play Silly Willie because it was a question that embarrassed the Government. On every occasion when we have probed the Minister for Labour and National Service through the Minister who represents him in this Senate, and when the probe has been made directly in another place, we have had given to us - in addition to a number of unemployed totalling, say, 66,000 at a given date - some further information. In order that the position can be blanketed in some way the Minister carefully goes on to say that there are some 50,000 unfilled vacancies. I have said on many occasions, but I want to repeat the statement in order to give it added emphasis, that this is a dishonest approach to the situation. The expression is used in an attempt to create the impression that despite the fact that some 66,000 people are unemployed in, say, March, 1961, they can readily accept another job. That is not the case at all, and it certainly has no application to the position which exists in South Australia at present. All this vague talk of unfilled vacancies is most unfortunate.
The Government speaks of its dampeningdown process. It is extraordinary how many words have been coined by the Government in the last four or five years as a subterfuge to hide its real intent. Ministers talk no longer of unemployment, but of disemployment. Certain sections of the business world are to be dampened down, not dealt with. Big businesses are referred to as fringe institutions. This play on words is quite dishonest. It is interesting in a way, but it is an attempt to disguise the intent and the result of the Government’s activities. You can disregard, in the main, all these answers about unfilled vacancies and go back to the basic fact that the fellow who was a process worker in General Motors-
Holden’s Limited, and who was dismissed as the result of the Government’s measures, is not eligible for the type of vacancy which is so glibly referred to by the Minister for Labour and National Service in another place and by the Minister representing him in the Senate.
I was interested enough to have a look at the advertisements in the Adelaide “Advertiser” to-day to see just what was offering in the field of employment and just what these unfilled vacancies were. I found that there were only 118 advertisements from employers seeking labour. A large proportion of them were seeking juveniles, and a fair proportion were seeking highly skilled tradesmen with qualifications that no process worker who had been dismissed from General Motors-Hold en’s Limited could possibly possess. A number of housemaids were required. That is a very significant thing. We have not seen those advertisements frequently in latter years. I do not know whether it is a trend back to the old order, but it is significant that there were a number of such advertisements. There were only about half a dozen advertisements for labourers or process workers - people who might be looking for work because they have been dismissed from the motor body industry as a consequence of this Government’s activities. Each applicant was required to have experience in the building trade or experience in scaffolding. Those who have some ‘knowledge of the building industry will know that a good builder’s labourer is a man who is required to employ a fair degree of skill.
What I have just mentioned exposes, I feel, the airy-fairy nature of statements by Ministers about unfilled vacancies. It is no good to Bill Jones, who has been dismissed from General Motors-Holden’s Limited, to be told that there are plenty of vacancies for university lecturers, or that there are a number of vacancies for ‘technicians in the field of radio and television. It is no skin off the nose for the Minister to talk in the terms of these vacancies, but the man in the street, about whom he refers so frequently, is not qualified to take jobs listed1 in the unfilled vacancy field. He is what he professes to be, namely, a process worker.
I say with every degree of sincerity that I can muster that there are men in South Australia to-day over the age of 50 years who have been put off from the motor body building industry as the result of this Government’s activities and who are now practically in the unemployable class. Nobody wants them. They are the forgotten legion the way the world is moving to-day. Do not tell me that I do not know what I am talking about. A member of my own family who is in this age group has the ability and mental agility to work and hold his own- in most places, but he cannot find employment because he is in the wrong age group. No man over the age of 50 years who is put off in this country in this time of selective employment will find employment unless he is extraordinarily highly skilled. It is hopeless for any member of the Government to try to say that this sort of thing is not happening in every State of the Commonwealth.
Then again we hear talk of 1.5 per cent, or 1.7 per cent, of the total work force in Australia being unemployed. I have pointed out that that is not a true reflection of the unemployment position in this country because it covers only the number of people who are registered as unemployed It is well known that there is a transition period1 between the day on which a man becomes unemployed and the day on which he claims unemployment benefit. When a man ceases to be employed in one industry he is prepared’ for a week, or a fortnight or perhaps a month, to give it a go to find another position rather than approach the Department of Labour and National Service and claim unemployment benefit. The picture presented by the Government is a phoney one which has been carefully designed to prevent the general public from understanding what the employment position in Australia is at any given time.
– That is a phoney argument.
– -It is not.
– You are mixing the number of registered unemployed with the people receiving unemployment benefit.
– It is not a phoney argument. A person can be unemployed without being in receipt of unemployment benefit.
– You are mixing your argument.
– I appreciate the fact that the Minister is not conversant with what happens to people who are unemployed. He has never gone through that sort of thing.
– How do you know?
– I have.
– How do you know that I have not?
– I would be very surprised. I have tried to acquaint myself with the activities of those who compose this Senate, and to the best of my knowledge the Minister has never known pangs of unemployment. He can tell me if I am wrong.
– Tell us how you would have attacked the situation and how you would have remedied it.
– Before I go on to explain how I would remedy the position let me say that it is not solely my responsibility to remedy the situation. However, I think it could be remedied by going back to the situation that existed when Labour was last in office. I know that Government supporters will say that there was unemployment then. They will talk in terms of some 3 per cent, or 5 per cent, of unemployment in 1949. That is completely dishonest, because the only unemployment in 1949, which the Government is so fond of referring to because a Labour government was in office at the time, was caused solely because a coal strike occurred that year. Honorable senators opposite know that that is a fact and they know also that during the régime of the Labour Government there was no unemployment. When they talk about conditions under the Labour Administration between 1945, when the war ended, and 1949 they talk about controls and restrictions. That is what they have done during this debate. It has been said that all sorts of things happened in the four years before the Liberal Government took over. I think that honorable senators opposite tend to forget many things that happened between 1945 and 1949.
– Such as strikes.
– There will always be strikes; neither you nor I can stop them.
But 1 am not referring to that. 1 am referring to the fact that between 1945 and 1949 a great deal of rehabilitation had to be undertaken. It ill becomes the Government to speak sneeringly about what happened in those years and about the efforts of the people who served on various rehabilitation boards. 1 sat on one of those boards, on which there were men who had a political outlook different from mine and who probably disagreed very bitterly with my views. Their views were the political views of this Government, and 1 say that you do less than justice to those people when you talk disparagingly of the work they did under a Labour administration. There were terrific difficulties in the community then. I do not know whether Senator Hannaford was associated with any of the post-war regional reconstruction training boards.
– I do not know why the honorable senator is focussing his attention on me in these matters. I do not think I have ever made any of these charges.
– I do not want to be unfair to Senator Hannaford, but he has been the most persistent interjector.
– I have always given the Labour Party due credit for what it did during the post-war period.
– I shall refer to your colleagues. Senator Spooner, who is a very clever advocate, had a lot to say about the alleged deficiencies of those years. If honorable senators will read the report of his speech, they will find that what I am saying is true. All I am setting out to do is to present in perspective the position that existed between 1945 and .1949. If honorable senators want to make comparisons between the conditions in those days and the conditions of to-day they should have full regard for the situation that then existed and the difficulties of the time. If their tolerance permits them to do so, they should even go so far as to imagine themselves in the position of an administration which had to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of returned servicemen and place them in industry. That administration had to give consideration to the problems of those ex-servicemen - some of them were very big problems - and it successfully carried out its task. When honorable senators opposite refer to some of the things that
Labour did not do when it had an opportunity to do them, they should remember the basic task that confronted the Labour Government. It was to rehabilitate eXservice personnel, and I should think that every decent-minded citizen in this country would acknowledge that everything else had to take second place to that very laudable objective. When honorable senators opposite make comparisons, all I ask them to do is to acknowledge the things that Labour did in those years.
I said at the outset that I would establish that it is not only the Labour Party that is attacking the Government on its economic measures. Many people who are more closely identified with the Government than perhaps we are, and who have been its most ardent supporters, have views similar to ours on this matter. Before I touch on that point, however, I want to make reference to the Government’s decision last year to increase the sales tax on motor vehicles by 10 per cent. The increased tax was applied for three months. A couple of Government senators said at the time, as we on the Opposition benches were saying, that the increased tax should not be imposed. They were quite vocal about the matter, and one went to the extent of voting against the measure. Without trying to weep crocodile tears on Senator Wood’s behalf, I say that he was consistent in his attitude and that time has vindicated his approach to the matter.
What really happened as a result of the increase of the rate of sales tax on motor cars? All that the Government succeeded in doing was savagely to penalize every person who bought a motor car during the period of three months that the increase from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, applied. It was never suggested by the Opposition that the only nigger in the woodpile as far as the motor body building industry was concerned was the 10 per cent, increase in sales tax. We knew that it would have some effect on that industry but we also knew that the credit restrictions would have a damaging effect. I say that the 10 per cent, increase of sales tax was an unnecessary and savage penalty on a section of the Australian motoring public. What it really meant was that everybody who bought a car in the period between November of last year and a week or so ago had to pay an extra. £100, or ever more, for the vehicle. Anyone who bought a car prior to the increase of sales tax in November last did not have to pay the additional amount, and anyone who has bought a motor car since the additional tax was lifted will not have to pay that additional amount. As I have said, all that the Government succeeded in doing was to inflict a savage penalty on one section of the Australian community.
Then, at the very time when the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was defending the increased sales tax on motor cars, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) dropped a bombshell. On the eve of his departure for overseas, he announced that the additional tax would be removed. The Treasurer was left, like Mohammed’s coffin, suspended between heaven and earth. Obviously, he was not consulted before the Prime Minister dropped this bombshell. I <1o not know whether the additional sales tax that was paid by purchasers of motor cars during this three-month period can be refunded, but I say that if it is possible the Government should do so. The fact that this additional tax was removed within three months of its imposition proves conclusively that the Government should not have imposed it in the first place. I know that if I had bought a car during that period and had to pay an extra £100 because of the additional sales tax, I would not think it unreasonable to expect that that amount should be refunded to me.
– Certainly you would not vote for a government that compelled you to pay that extra amount.
– One would be a glutton for punishment if he did.
– Would you mind repeating that?
– Senator Ridley said it was unlikely that the people who were penalized in that three months would vote for the Government, and I replied that they would certainly be gluttons for punishment if they did.
– I would vote for the Government, and I bought a car during that period.
– Obviously the Minister was prepared to go down with the ship.
– I am prepared to say afloat with it.
– Would Senator Toohey apply the same line of reasoning if something similar happened in relation to other commodities? Would he advocate a refund of the additional sales tax paid?
– The Government does not usually adopt such a hit-and-run policy on all items that are subject to sales tax. The Government imposed this increase against widespread opposition and against the advice of the Opposition. It kept it on for three months and then suddenly lifted it. That proves conclusively that it should never have been imposed in the first place. I say that it is not an unreasonable criticism of the Government to say that people who bought cars during that period were savagely penalized. There is no doubt about that. As Senator Ridley said, Senator Gorton has a vested interest in the Government. He can make such a sacrificing gesture and smile. On his ministerial salary he probably would not be as adversely affected financially as some other people who bought cars during the period when the increased sales tax was in operation.
I want to refer to some of the critics of the Government. I shall leave the opposition from the Australian Labour Party and refer to Sir Douglas Copland who from time to time has made statements which Government supporters have seen fit to eulogize because those statements have supported Government policy. Sir Douglas, in his latest economic review, has hit the Government for six, so to speak, because some of the things he said are exactly the things that we have been saying. I do not think that anybody would suggest that there is a unity ticket between the Australian Labour Party and Sir Douglas Copland. So, we can only assume that he has arrived at his conclusions without any assistance from anybody on this side of the chamber.
– That has been the position since he was economic adviser to the last Labour Government.
– The fact that his criticism is almost identical with oura-
– That is not surprising.
– That is not surprising to the Minister?
– No, not a bit. He has been saying these things all the time.
– It is surprising to me because if my memory serves me correctly I can remember statements made by Sir Douglas Copland which have been quoted by supporters of the Government in order to foster the idea that they are doing a good job. I would class Sir Douglas as an impartial person who makes his statements after careful consideration of the position. At least he has one advantage that Senator Gorton and I do not possess, and that is that he is accounted an expert in the field of economics.
– Only because he was the price controller under the last Chifley Labour Government.
– Your Government appointed him to a few positions.
– Out of Australia.
– In Australia, too.
– I would not have a bar of him as an economist.
– I ask Senator Gorton whether he is suggesting that Sir Douglas Copland’s political sympathies are identical with those of us on this side of the chamber.
– Absolutely and definitely, yes.
– That is very interesting news to me. I do not think your colleagues would support you in that contention. I can assure you that he is not a member of the Australian Labour Party. I thought that he was more likely to be a member of the Liberal Party.
– No, we would not have him.
– Irrespective of what his political sympathies might be, let me deal with his statement as one by a person who is well versed in economics. This report of his statement reads -
Reverberations should go on gathering strength into this quarter and into the September quartet, he says.
He sees’ no prospects of rapid export gains; the possibility of a return to import restrictions; no improvement in the employment situation in the car industry; and total unemployment of between 150,000 and 200,000 overall.
These are as gloomy a set of predictions as we have seen for some time from the standpoint of business as a whole.
They gain peculiar emphasis when it is realized that they come from Sir Douglas Copeland, the arch-enemy of professional Jeremiahs and a passionate advocate of continued national development.
– Who said that?
– This statement was made by Sir Douglas Copland and it is quoted in the monthly bulletin released by the Melbourne brokers, Walter P. Ham and Company. I hope that I am not doing an injustice to Walter P. Ham and Company, but I cannot help feeling that the political sympathies of these brokers would lie with the Government rather than with us.
– I am a bit on your side this time.
– I thought you would be. That is what that company quoted Sir Douglas Copland as saying. The report continues -
From the investors’ point of view it is obvious that the share market must in the short run be hit if such a set of conditions develop.
Most companies are already reporting concern about prospects for the current half year, although this worry for the present has tended to be obscured by good performance and dividends for the first half of the year. . . .
There is no indication of any loosening of the credit “ squeeze “; indeed, it may become a stranglehold if the run-down of our internal reserves continues.
Sir Douglas is a shrewd prophet when he says that internal conditions may force a return to import controls.
I think that he would be a pretty good prophet. I know that when we have talked about the re-imposition of import controls supporters of the Government have said, “ Over our collective dead bodies “. I do not believe that. The hit-and-run policy the Government has adopted during the last four or five years will make the reimposition of import restrictions inevitable. I am not impressed by any denial by any supporter of the Government during this debate that import restrictions will be re-imposed. I am certain that they will be re-imposed and I think Sir Douglas Copland is on the right track when he also contends that.
I come now to another criticism of the Government, not toy the Australian Labour Party but by the Government’s own supporters or people who might reasonably be expected to be its supporters. The Victorian Employers Federation, m its newsletter, has discounted Senator Spooner’s claim that the Government’s financial policy would lead to the building of more homes. Senator Spooner said, in effect, that more homes would be built by the Government and that the credit restrictions and the economic squeeze would not affect the positron. Government figures released the next day showed a drop of 43 per cent, in the housing and flats approvals in January, compared with the same period last year. The newsletter continued -
Before the credit squeeze there was an 18 months’ lag in housing. Clearly, with fewer homes being built this gap is increasing during the credit squeeze, not narrowing. How can more and cheaper homes be built when there is less finance available to build homes? Further, builders’ costs are rising because of reduced activity.
The article concludes with these words -
The housing and migration programmes are closely linked. We cannot sustain a full migration programme if our housing is restricted.
So, again we hear the voice of the critic. In this instance the critic was a very important group of men associated with the Victorian Employers Federation. It is not only the Australian Labour Party that is criticizing the Government’s policy and attacking the Government in terms of the amendment moved by Senator Armstrong. The Government is being attacked from outside the Parliament also. What we are saying in this chamber is being echoed outside it, or is being said outside before we say it. The same note of criticism runs through all the statements, and every article expresses the same fear - that the Government has gone too far along the road of expediency and consequently the economic problems of the country will be worsened.
I ask honorable senators to listen to a statement made by the secretary of the Co-operative Housing Society of Victoria only yesterday. He was referring to a drop of 16 per cent, in home-building in Victoria. The secretary, Mr. T. A. Collins, said -
If this trend continues beyond March 31st there will scarcely be any large-scale builders left in the home building field.
What is the position? Is Mr. Collins lying or rs he telling the truth? It is quite easy to dismiss the Opposition’s criticism by saying that its job is to oppose and to criti cize and that it is here to bury Caesar not to praise him, and therefore its criticism has no validity because of its partisanship. I freely admit that that argument can be put forward on the basis of logic. But you cannot ignore the criticism of the Victorian Employers Federation. You cannot ignore the criticisms of Professor Sir Douglas Copland and his business and economic associates. You cannot ignore the voice of the co-operative building societies when they say that home-building in Australia is in a serious plight. No matter how carelessly honorable senators opposite dismiss with a sneer and a flourish criticism levelled from this side of the chamber, they cannot still the voice from outside - the voice which Senator Spooner so aptly described as the voice of the critic.
I turn now to what I consider a very important matter - one that I have referred to on every possible occasion in this Senate, namely, the serious shortage of steel in Australia. It may be remembered that in my first speech in this chamber I dealt with the shortage of steel. That was back in 1953. During subsequent debates I have from time to time referred to this matter and I have pointed out that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, excellent firm though it may be in other respects, has limited steel production in Australia to suit its own ends and has been permitted by Liberal governments in the States and in the Commonwealth to dictate the terms under which steel will be produced in Australia. Nobody can deny the truth of that statement. The B.H.P. has been allowed to dictate its own terms in relation to steel production. Our need for steel is becoming more imperative and impelling every month. We have been forced to import steel, thus depleting our overseas balances. Steel can be produced in Australia at less than half the cost of imported steel. It is stupid for any government to allow a monopoly to dictate terms to it and to force it to dance to the tune called by that monopoly. The B.H.P. has restricted the output of steel to suit the interests of its shareholders and each year Australia is faced with a shortage of steel.
Let us keep political considerations out of this matter of steel production. The Government should tell the B.H.P. that if it cannot satisfy Australia’s requirements, the Government will step in and do the job itself. The Government should take a firm stand in this matter. 1 understand that an honorable senator from the Government side of the chamber has on the notice-paper a motion calling for a discussion of the steel industry. If my understanding is correct I commend the honorable senator concerned. By all means let us have a discussion on this matter as quickly as possible and if the B.H.P. is limiting the output of steel, let us do something about it immediately.
– What has been the rate of increase in production by the company since 1953?
– I cannot give the figures offhand, but ‘the rate of increase since 1953 has by no means kept pace with Australia’s increased requirements of steel. Senator Wright may be aware, as most honorable senators are, that I am not the first to sound a warning about the shortage of steel. As far back as 1949, Mr. Dickinson, who was Director of Mines in South Australia for quite a number of years, drew the attention of the South Australian Government to the necessity for doing something to improve steel production. Let us face it; there has been procrastination. The B.H.P. , in order to satisfy the needs of a few shareholders, has been allowed to limits its production of steel.
– Would you say that the production of steel had doubled since 1953?
– No, I would not. The point I am making is that the company would have had to increase production tenfold in order to keep pace with. Australia’s requirements. The United States is a country where free enterprise is supposed to have all the virtues in the world of business. Yet the American Government is not beyond taking legislative action in respect of the American steel industry. The United States Steel Corporation, one of the biggest steel manufacturing companies in America, was at one time required by the American Government to seek public subscriptions in order to expand its activities in accordance with the growing needs, of. American industry. United States legislation contains machinery to require things, of that kind to be done. We in Australia should learn from what was done in America. Surely we will not still be faced with a shortage of steel twelve months, two years or ten years from now, if we live that long! There is no excuse for a shortage of steel in this country. There would be some excuse if we lacked the natural resources with which to make steel, but we have some of the greatest reserves of the best grade ore in the world. It is farcical to think that we are exporting iron ore and buying back the finished product. Surely all honorable senators will agree that that is not a satisfactory position.
– Do you know whether the Krupp organization was consulted about the establishment of an alternate steel industry in Australia?
– No, I do not know whether that organization was consulted. Despite the significance or otherwise of Senator Wright’s question, I think we must all agree that the problem is a serious one. If we agree on that point, the next thing we should do is throw politics out the window for a while at least and see whether we can arrive at some solution to the problem. We must do what we can to utilize our raw materials and obviate the necessity to import steel. The importation of steel adversely affects our overseas balances because we are forced to pay fantastic prices for steel on the world markets.
– The company is prepared to establish a £40,000,000 steel plant in Western Australia.
– I understand that is so. Let us hope it is not a case of too little too late. Even when that plant is in full production, if the situation is not treated as urgent and if something is not done to increase still further the production of steel, we will continue to be faced with a shortage. Let us apply ourselves to the task and use our existing resources to increase steel production.
– In accordance with your party’s policy, would you advocate nationalization of the steel industry in order to obtain extra production?
– When we talk about nationalization, we must bear in mind the limitations imposed by the Constitution. The Constitution will not permit us to nationalize the steel industry.
– In view of that, what power would a government have to direct the B.H.P. to take in fresh capital?
– I do not say that the Government would necessarily have that power. But it reposes in the States collectively; they have the right to make a decision. I think the honorable senator will agree with me when I say that I believe nothing could prevent this Government from giving a lead to the States by saying, “ We will call a conference of the State Premiers to see whether we can ascertain what the Stales are prepared to do “. If nationalization were the only answer, 1 should say that it would be far better to have the steel industry controlled by governments than to have in the field a monopoly which is producing steel only in quantities to suit itself. So, even though talking in terms of nationalization is unreal, because the power does not reside in the Commonwealth Parliament to nationalize the industry, it would be far better to have production controlled by governments than not to have anything done at all.
– It was done by the same Premier in the water rights case.
– That is right. To have Commonwealth and State relations decided on a legal basis in the High Court of Australia is indeed an extraordinary situation.. It has never arisen before in our history. Whatever criticism may be levelled against the Chifley Labour Government, a situation never arose in which even Liberal Premiers in any of the States either threatened to or did in fact take out writs against it.
– New South Wales joined in the challenge to uniform income tax until you coerced that State out of it.
– I think the joining of New South Wales in. the challenge to the Commonwealth on that occasion was more of a token gesture. I believe you recognize that to be so, too. But in recent years a peculiar situation has arisen in which Sir Thomas Playford apparently has not been able to negotiate with a government of the same political colour as his own government and in which he is not prepared to talk on terms of understanding but only to take legal action in the high court.
The conversion of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway line is very important to South Australia. But again we have come up against this age-old problem of one State contending against another on the matter of priorities. I believe that South Australia has a better claim than has another State, because the motor body building industry, which is South Australia’s basic secondary industry, is . in the doldrums. Extra development work in South Australia would be very helpful at this stage. Doubtless the Commonwealth has decided what it intends to do and we shall hear from the Government in due course.
– Or from the court.
– I do not think the matter will go that far. I believe some agreement will be reached’. Probably Sir
Thomas will fly to Canberra within the next week or so, there will be headlines in the “ Advertiser “ and the “ News “, and Sir Thomas will come home with the bacon. That form of personal advertisement appeals to the South Australian Premier very much.
I dealt a moment ago with expressions of disapproval of the Government’s policy by outside bodies. I must not omit reference to the opinion of the Taxpayers Association, because the members of that association open up a new field in the assessment of the Government’s intentions. In its latest journal, the association says -
It was not surprising that the Life Offices Association expressed its “ unqualified opposition “ to the new Liberal-Country Party open disavowal of a basic liberal principle. Nor will it surprise anybody that the N.S.W. Taxpayers’ Association - and, we have no doubt at all, the Taxpayer Associations of other States - should join equally vehemently in voicing repugnance and the determination to resist to the utmost.
It is extraordinary, indeed, that in a situation in which so much that should, long since, have been disclosed, still remains in doubt, the only thing about which the Treasurer has been definite is the Government’s intention to proceed with a measure which will serve as a precedent for virtually any confiscatory move future, openly Socialistic, governments may care to make.
It is quite clear that the Taxpayers Association is of the opinion that this Government is a socialist government and that its action in forcing loans from the life assurance companies and other bodies is a socialistic measure. If there has been any conversion to socialism on the part of the Government, it ought to be congratulated. There is no doubt that the Taxpayers Association believes that ‘the Government’s action in relation to the life assurance companies is a socialistic measure.
When I commenced my speech I tried to introduce some new thoughts into the debate. I searched diligently for a new angle of approach and tried to follow through the line of thought that I adopted. In relation to steel, I have never spoken in this chamber with greater sincerity. The production of steel is vital; it is a matter that we cannot afford to ignore much longer. I hope that some good will come from the remarks that I have made.
I conclude my speech on the note on which T began. It is this: During this debate the Labour Party has moved an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply in which it suggests that the Government has lost the confidence of the people because of its failure to face up to certain economic issues. I said earlier that the views I intended to put forward were, in the main, the views of persons who could reasonably be regarded as unbiased observers and who, if they had any political leanings at all, would lean towards this Government. All the quotations I have introduced into my speech have come from persons who occupy responsible positions in the Australian community in economic and other fields. The arguments advanced’ by those persons support everything that we on this side of the chamber have said and everything that the matt in the street is saying. I believe that the observations of these people have proved that this Government no longer has the confidence of the Australian people. No matter how much the Government may whistle to keep up its spirits, the attitude of the community will be demonstrated in no uncertain way when the election is held’ at the end of this year.
Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) 110.0]. - I wish to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty that are contained in the motion before the Senate, and also with the expressions of regret that have been voiced concerning the passing of Lord Dunrossil. I join in expressing very deep sympathy to his widow and family. I should also like to place on the records of the Senate my congratulations to Mr. Scholtens and the staff which assisted him in the arrangements for the State funeral. As it was the first time that a GovernorGeneral of Australia had died while in office, there was no precedent to be used as a guide. I think that every honorable senator will agree with me that the terrific job of organization, in the limited time available, was well done and is deserving of praise.
May I say, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that I think that Senator Armstrong’s recent attack on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was most unjust. As the Senate will remember, Senator Armstrong attacked the Prime Minister for being absent from Australia.
– So frequently.
– I shall quote from “ Hansard “ so that there will be no mistake. Senator Armstrong said -
No doubt it wai not the problems facing the Australian economy that kept him in Australia, but the pleasure !o be gained from watching the fifth cricket test between the Australians and the West Indians, and of being here in Canberra for the nice social game.
The honorable senator said that he did not think that that comment was uncharitable. 1 disagree. He went on to say -
The Prime Minister is now attending a conference ti Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London.
Having said that, he deplored the fact that the Prime Minister was away from Australia during its economic crises. He continued -
If the ability of the Prime Minister is as great as ae tries to make us believe it is, one might be pardoned for thinking that he would be here in Australia attending to his responsibilities.
J wonder whether Senator Armstrong was suggesting that Australia should not be represented at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference by its Prime Minister. If he takes the trouble to read my remarks, he will be reminded that the Prime Ministers of the member countries of the Commonwealth agreed to hold a meeting in London beginning on 8th March. The member countries are the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia. New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, the Federation of Malaya and the Federation of Nigeria. As on former occasions the Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland also has been invited to attend. The previous meeting was held in May, 1960. At that meeting, the view was expressed that meetings should be arranged more frequently than in the past. Apparently, Senator Armstrong is suggesting that we should not be represented at such meetings by our Prime Minister. I disagree with him most violently. The conference that is taking place at this point of time is probably one of the most important that the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth countries have ever attended. Yet, Senator Armstrong is deploring the fact that we as a nation have our Prime Minister attending it.
I was delighted with the Prime Minister’s announcement, which was supported by a statement by the. Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), that the Commonwealth was discussing with the State governments concerned the construction of roads in the Northern Territory and the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia as an aid to the mining and beef industries. The Acting Prime Minister stated recently in another place that at present the Commonwealth Government is having active discussions with the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia regarding the standardization of railway gauges. It is indeed heartening to know that the right honorable gentleman has stated -
By planning now, the way should be clear for us to proceed in 1962 on such projects to increase our export earnings.
To me, that statement suggests that the negotiations have reached such a stage that by 1962 we should see something being done in the way of road construction and rail standardization. My colleague, Senator Anderson, has suggested to me, during a discussion about this vast roads programme for the north, that not only will it assist the beef and mining industries but that it also will provide employment opportunities for unskilled workers. That is an important point that I have not heard suggested in this debate.
I am convinced that the Government is entirely right in deciding to construct what I hope will be all-weather roads in the north, because I am of the opinion that that is the quickest way to assist the beef and mineral export industries and also to promote development. As a member of a Government members committee, I have had discussions about this matter with responsible people and they have all agreed that the quickest way to develop and open up the north is to establish good, all-weather roads. I therefore am delighted that the Government has arrived at the same conclusion.
Speaking as a Western Australian and a« a representative of Western Australia, 1 remind the Senate that the development of the north has thrown a terrific financial burden on the State Government. Last week, the Commonwealth Grants Commission met in Western Australia, and the chairman, Mr. P. D. Phillips, was reported to have said that -
Much of W.A.’s financial trouble seemed to stem from its task of developing the North-West . . The State Shipping Service, used to assist that development, alone took a great deal of money. Though W.A. administered the
That was his opinion.
– Does it come within the scope of the Commonwealth Grants Commission to make announcements of that kind?
– I do not know. I am only citing what the chairman of the commission is reported to have said.
I ask the Government to treat as urgent the proposal to construct a standard-gauge railway between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana. The Premier of Western Australia, while discussing the problems of the State with the Commonwealth Grants Commission, is reported to have said -
The proposed standard gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana was important to the the Government’s plans. The cost of £35,000,000 was beyond the State’s resources. 1 think it will readily be accepted that such a cost would be beyond the resources of the State. The Premier is reported to have continued -
The decision of the Commonwealth on the proposal was of the utmost importance as it would enable a start to be made with the establishment of an iron and steel industry, which was recognized everywhere as the cornerstone in the establishment of secondary industry. 1 point out to Senator Toohey that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which he maligned, has signed a contract with the Western Australian Government to establish an integrated steel industry in Western Australia at a cost of approximately £40,000,000. Surely the Government must be impressed with the case presented by the Government of Western Australia, because this railway will make possible the development of a major steel industry, which must result in a cutting down of the outflow of money for the importation of steel, with a consequently lessened draw on our overseas funds.
The Government’s decision to increase the grant to the Australian National Travel Association for tourism is very welcome but I suggest, with great respect, that to provide £100,000 is only to pay lip service to the need for the encouragement of tourism. I suggest it would be far more realistic and produce far greater results in earning overseas capital if the grant were raised to £350,000 in the coming budgetary year. Surely an extra amount of £250,000 is not a lot to ask for an industry that brought us in £12,500,000 last year. I am convinced that with the right type of promotion, which can be obtained, only by spending money, this figure could be trebled within the next six or seven years. 1 ask the Government to consider also some form of income tax rebate for those people who subscribe voluntarily to the funds of the Australian National Travel Association. I believe that there is an anomaly now in respect of tax concessions for such subscriptions. If a company involved in the actual transport of tourists makes a contribution, the amount is an allowable deduction for income tax purposes, but if a trading firm, such as the Myer Emporium of Melbourne, makes a contribution to encourage tourism, that is not allowed as a tax deduction. I ask the Government to have a look at that anomaly. There is no doubt that the activities of the Australian National Travel Association over the last years have shown some very encouraging results. I have figures for the first nine months of 1960, which are related to the figures for the corresponding period of the previous year, and these show quite a remarkable increase. From January to September, 1960, the number of tourists from New Zealand, which is our biggest, market, was 23,760, which represented a 42 per cent, increase on the figures for the previous year. From the United States there were 6,800, an increase of 27 per cent.; from Canada, 1,036, an increase of 35 per cent.; from the United Kingdom, almost 7,000, an increase of 12 per cent.; from Europe, almost 3,000, an increase of 8 per cent.; from the Far East, almost 3,000, an increase of 4 per cent.; and from South Africa, 538, an increase of 32 per cent. There is no doubt that these figures prove that the increased activity of the Australian National Travel Association over the last three years, and particularly during the last ten months, has shown quite steady results. My suggestion that the Government should increase its grant to £350,000 is supported by the amount of money that other countries are appropriating for this industry. I was amazed to learn that Indonesia intends to spend the equivalent of £A. 12,500,000 in the next eight years to attract tourists, and that the South Korean Government has designated 1961 as “ Visit Korea Year “ and has announced as attractive programme for overseas tourists. This emphasizes the fact that tourism is an industry that can no longer be ignored.
We should have a look at provisions for both entering and leaving Australia. Senator Henty has said that his department watches this aspect closely, in order to make it as simple as possible for people who visit this country to come in and go out. Overseas publicity is essential. We cannot sell our wares unless we advertise them, and they have to be advertised well. This costs money, as we know. More attention should be given not only to the form of advertisement but also to the comfort and entertainment of visitors when they arrive. In the publication, “ Industry Today “, an editorial states -
The world is shrinking rapidly, and Australia is no longer out of reach as a holiday resort to people in America and Europe. However, we are isolated to some extent in regard to our opinions and our estimation of ourselves, and we should do well to take heed of such candid, but kindly criticism as that meted out by Dr. Ernest Dichter. President of the Institute of Motivational Research of New York . . .
I like that title - . . who is currently on a business visit to Australia. Dr. Richter said the glamour of Australia is not publicized widely enough in the United States. “ The tourist wants to see something romantic and different, but the impressions of Australia, left by some films are of dusty roads, millions of sheep and ramshackle homes “, he said.
He is dead right, in relation to some of the films that have gone out of this country to sell Australia. He went on - “ The term ‘ down under ‘ is a bad one for no American wants to go ‘ down under ‘. Australia needs to create a dozen or more specific symbols of itself other than the existing impression that the country’s dusty and that the people drink beer and gamble all day. Australia is a reluctant bride and is not helping people to fall in love with her as she could.”
– You should see some of our Queensland films.
– I have not seen them. I only hope that if they are good they are going overseas. The editorial concludes -
What applies to America is probably just as true in other countries whose citizens we want to invite here.
It is well for us to remember that 50,000,000 tourists, that is, five times the population of Australia, are on the move annually. Austria offset her deficits in the national Budget by tourism alone. I have suggested raising the travel grant from £100,000 to £350,000. Expressed in terms of Australian currency Britain spends £1,000,000 a year in tourist promotion, France spends £1,500,000 and Russia spends £1,250,000. Europe last year had more than 36,500,000 tourists. I mentioned earlier that the tourist trade brought us £12,500,000 last year, although we had only 70,000 tourists. Italy had 8,000,000 tourists. I understand that the Italian economy to-day is tied to tourism. Italy is not a rich country, and tourism is one of its most important income earners. West Germany had nearly 5,000,000 tourists and Switzerland, France, Spain and Austria a little more than 3,000,000 each. These figures show just how much we are missing out in respect of this money earner. A few nights ago I asked one of the top men in the Australian National Travel Association. “ How rauch could you spend to promote this industry overseas? Could you spend £500,000?” He replied: “ No, not at this time. We could not get you value for the money because we must have trained personnel in this business, and we would have to set up offices overseas, but we could spend a lot more than we have at the moment.” I said, “ What amount? “ He replied, “£350,000”. When we consider the impressive returns that other countries are obtaining from tourism, surely that is not a lot to ask, because we are seeking to increase our earnings overseas! We should capitalize on the fact that Australia has lovely and varied beauty spots. I cannot speak from personal experience, but I am told that our beaches are unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Some curious features are peculiar to Australia. For instance, our wonderful climate is certainly an attraction for tourists and we should capitalize on it by selling its attraction more vigorously overseas than we do. It is a climate which permits outdoor sports of various descriptions to be enjoyed virtually all the year round. So much for the tourist angle.
I congratulate the Government on the decisions announced by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Ewen) on taxation measures to stimulate the export drive.
– Do you think they will be all right?
– I do think they will be all right, and I only hope the Government will implement them as soon as possible. A tax allowance of 16s. in the £1 is to be offered to companies developing overseas markets. I think that is a very worthy proposal, as is the decision to grant a rebate of pay-roll tax.
– I understand the Treasurer is not too pleased about the new proposals.
– I am led to believe otherwise. I am convinced that the stories that the press have tried to get across to the public of a disagreement between the Treasury and the Department of Trade are just another attempt to embarrass the Government. Let us be frank. The press of this country has taken unto itself the right to be Her Majesty’s Opposition because we have not an effective political Opposition in this .Parliament. Why do you think the press is kicking the daylights out of the Government? It is plain for anybody to see that the press is trying to be Her Majesty’s Opposition, and it is making these attacks to try to embarrass the Government. I am convinced of this, because I am led to believe that the decision of the Government was made a week before the press statement that there was trouble between the Treasury and the Department of Trade.
– Why do you think the press would want to embarrass the Government?
– I will allow you to draw your own inference. Let me get back to the proposal to allow a rebate of pay-roll tax. Because this is rather complex, I should like the statement to go into “ Hansard “ in its correct form. This is what the Acting Prime Minister said -
There will be a formula which, up to a point, will increase the benefits of pay-roll tax abatement as the taxpayer lifts the level of his export sales. The rebate will be allowed according to the increase in the value of the exports which an organization achieves over the value of the average of its exports in the base years 1958-59 and 1959-60. The rebate will be calculated having regard to the proportion which increased export sales bear to total income from the sales.
The rebate will apply for three years from 1960-61. In the light of the experience of those three years the policy will be reviewed.
The other proposal mentioned by the Deputy Prime Minister was the proposal to assist in the development of warehousing facilities to accommodate Australian products in overseas countries. 1 think it is a sensible proposal and I am at a loss to understand why it has not been adopted much earlier, not only by this Government, but also by other governments. It is ohe of the most sensible proposals I have heard for a long time. Obviously, the fact that goods are there to be seen by a prospective purchaser, and he knows that they are available for immediate delivery, must have a significant effect on the sales of the particular commodities.
An honorable senator opposite asked me whether I thought that these measures would be any good. Because of the down turn in our overseas credits I hope that the Government will implement all of these proposals - the standardization of rail gauges, the construction of roads in the north-west of Western Australia, encouragement to tourism, proposals to encourage export trade and the provision of warehousing facilities. I hope that the Government will treat these matters as urgent.
As a member of this chamber, and as a Western Australian I desire to re-affirm a protest that I have made on a number of occasions, I think that my South Australian colleagues will join me in doing so. My protest is against the omission of Western Australia and South Australia from phase three of the extension of commercial television stations. Surely at least one station could have been established in country areas in these States! I do not think that would have upset the Government to any extent. I know that there is a terrific demand for trained personnel and that the sale of television sets imposes a strain on the economy, but why should Western Australia and South Australia be left out of the programme? The least the Government can do, I think, is to satisfy the worthy people who live in the country and who lack many of the amenities which city dwellers take for granted. The Government should try to include the country people in phase three of the extension of television stations. Country people make a very great contribution to the nation’s economy and surely it is right and just that they should not have to wait until last for television services. Why should Western Australia and South Australia have to wait until last before receiving the benefits of this great medium of communication?
When I say that these country people make a great contribution to the economy of Australia, let me remind honorable senators that Western Australia provides an important market for the other States. It imports annually goods to the value of £123,000,000 from the other States of the Commonwealth and yet its country areas will be the last to receive the benefits of television. A total of £115,000,000 worth of exports go from Western Australia, or nearly 12i per cent, of the nation’s total exports. That is accomplished by 7 per cent, of the Australian people.
I wish to touch also on another matter that causes me some alarm. There is a tendency to-day for people and governments in Australia, whenever they bump up against a problem, to talk of granting greater .powers to the Federal Government. It is a tendency that we in this Chamber must resist. This suggestion, if it were taken to its logical conclusion would lead to a virtual dictatorship by the Federal Government as the result of centralization of all power in the one government. It would mean the ultimate extinction of State parliaments. All power would be vested in this Federal Parliament.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 March 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610314_senate_23_s19/>.