23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The Senate met at 3 p.m.
– I have received advice that the President (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) is unable to attend the sittings of the Senate to-day. In accordance with Standing Order No. 29, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) thereupon took the chair, and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration been directed to the case of an English migrant in Brisbane, who was found guilty of an indictable offence which he did not commit and in respect of which he was granted a pardon by the Queensland Government? As information about this unfortunate matter has appeared in the press in the United Kingdom and is likely to hinder the flow of migrants from the United Kingdom, will the Minister take appropriate action to explain abroad all the facts relating to the occurrence?
– I did read of the case to which the honorable senator has referred. I should have thought that it came more within the jurisdiction of the State of Queensland than of the Commonwealth. However, as the person involved is, I understand, an English migrant, I shall ask the Minister for Immigration to furnish a considered reply if the honorable senator will put the question on the notice-paper.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that owners of home units are disadvantaged by the non-allowance as an income tax deduction of rates and taxes paid in respect of such units? As this deduction is allowed in respect of other types of home properties, will the Treasurer take the necessary action to remove the anomaly?
– I am not aware that the position is as described by the honorable senator. I shall have a look at the question and, if the position is as described, I shall ask the Treasurer to state the reasons for this apparent discrimination.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: What are the reasons for the Government’s decision to seek a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help finance the next major section of the Snowy Mountains scheme rather than to rely On the methods of financing previously employed?
– It is considered by the Government that a project of this nature is eminently suitable for financing by the world bank. It is a single, independent work, which makes it initially acceptable to the bank, as 1 understand the position. The honorable senator, of course, will be aware that with so much work going on in this country and so much legitimate development taking place, the financing of projects such as this imposes a great strain on a mere 10,500,000 people. In those circumstances, it is considered that an approach to the bank in respect of a work of this nature would be appropriate.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen a newspaper report to the effect that the Leader of the Opposition has said that the Government, if returned to office at the next election, would implement the dairy industry committee’s report, which includes, amongst other things, a recommendation that the present subsidy to the industry should cease? If the Minister has seen this report, can he tell us at this stage what the Government’s intentions are?
– I have not seen the statement credited to the Leader of the Opposition, but I have studied the dairy industry committee’s report, in which it is recommended that the subsidy be reduced progressively over a period of years. I remind the honorable senator that the present agreement does not expire until 30th
June, 1962, and that the Government has already announced that it is willing to negotiate a further agreement for a period of five years to commence at the expiration of the present agreement. I have no doubt that relevant matters in the report will be discussed when those negotiations take place.
– I desire to elicit some information from the Leader of the Government in the Senate in relation to two pamphlets. The first deals with the European Common Market, and I believe that 100,000 copies of it have been printed. It is somewhat political. I understand that questions about this matter will be asked in another place and that probably the Prime Minister himself will reply, so I shall not proceed further with it.
The other pamphlet, which has been published in Melbourne, has to do with a matter that is very serious, especially to smokers. I understand that this booklet, which discusses the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, will be distributed amongst 200,000 senior school students in Victoria. I ask the Minister whether it is a Commonwealth Government production or a State Government production, or whether it has been produced by private enterprise. If he does not know, will he be good enough to seek that information and make it available to the Senate? If possible, will he obtain a number of the pamphlets for distribution amongst not only smoking senators - perhaps I should say senators who smoke - but others, too?
– I adopt Senator Brown’s statement to the effect that he is quite certain the Prime Minister will reply adequately to questions about the pamphlet which deals with the European Common Market. I am sorry to say that I have not heard anything or seen the press report about the other pamphlet. I do not know anything about it, so I can only ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade inform the Senate what trade advantages were gained by the trade mission which has just returned from New Caledonia and Fiji? What other Pacific islands does the trade mission intend to visit in order to promote exports from Australia?
– Senator McCallum asked me this question last week. I have received this information from the Minister for Trade -
The information which has been sent back by the mission indicates that the advantages gained from it were -
The introduction of new commodities which Australia had never sold previously in the Pacific islands.
Businessmen were able to discuss with importers at first hand the special requirements of the market.
By virtue of mission arrangements, members were able to discuss with government representatives their problems as a group and their own individual trading problems.
Being on the spot at a time when additional foreign exchange was made available for imports, members were able to obtain rather more immediate business than would have been otherwise possible.
The mission terminated officially in Fiji yesterday, but I understand that many members then proceeded independently to visit other areas such as Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga and the New Hebrides.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. When are the two antisubmarine frigates being purchased from the United States of America for the Royal Australian Navy due to arrive in Australia? Was there a state of emergency in naval planning that prevented these ships from being built in Australia? If not, was cost the only consideration involved? Did the Government realize that even if it had cost twice as much to build the ships in Australia, a large proportion of the money would have been returned to the Treasury by way of taxation and employment for Australian trade unionists would have been promoted?
– As these questions relate to the Navy, I should like to answer them. The first destroyer is due to be delivered in September, 1965, and the second in March, 1966. No emergency led to the ordering of these ships from the United States of America. They were ordered from there because of our desire to secure for Australian sailors the most modern equipment of this kind existing in the world to-day, and to secure it in the shortest possible time and at the least possible expense to the Australian taxpayers. If we paid twice as much for these ships, then, unless other defence requirements were greatly cut, the result would be a diminution of the defence potential of this country. Alternatively, the defence vote would have to be very greatly increased - a practice which the Opposition has opposed ever since it has been in opposition. It is the view of the Government that the provision of money for the defence of the Australian people should be directed to securing, for those whose lives may depend upon it, equipment of the kind I have mentioned. The purpose should not be merely that of providing employment in a particular industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it correct to say that conditions in Europe, where the free enterprise system and communism operate side by side, completely contradict Krushchev’s statement in 1955? I refer to the statement in which he said -
If capitalism and communism live side by side the superiority of the Communist system will be obvious. Therefore, we desire peaceful coexistence.
If the Government believes that the great disparity of social conditions in the east and the west, so apparent in Europe, is responsible for the Soviet, following the expedient of all autocracies confronted with similar conditions, creating international diversions with consequent tension, will it do its best to make known as widely as possible that, after 43 years’ trial in Russia itself, and sixteen years in the European satellite States, communism has failed miserably to give its peoples a standard of living approaching that of the Western countries? If the Government believes this, will it endeavour to ensure that all other governments of the free world do everything possible to place these facts before their peoples?
– By way of preface to my reply, I should like to say how much I deprecate the interjections which came from the Opposition side of the chamber about the length of a question which relates to a matter of such seriousness. There is no doubt, in my opinion, that there is a great disparity between the living standards - I refer only to material living standards, not to conditions of freedom - of the countries in Europe which are under Communist domination and those which are in the free part of Europe. This is due, of course, to a number of things. It is due partly to the exploitation by Russia of those Communist fringe countries, which led, amongst other things, to the Hungarian revolution. Whatever the reasons may be - some of them are inherent in the autocratic governments of those countries - in my opinion there is no doubt that the existence in Europe on the periphery of Communist countries of, for example, West Berlin, providing as it does a constant living example of the difference in living standards, material and spiritual, between Communist and non-Communist countries, has led the Russian Government to increase international tension by endeavouring to break its international obligations in relation to Berlin, even at the risk of war.
As to the Australian Government being able to make this matter known to the people of the world, I believe that it will do its best to do so, but I do not think that its best will be one-half as good as the example shown by those people from East Germany who, leaving their jobs, their homes and their countries, demonstrate what the people living in the area think about the matter.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation say what area of land was acquired by the Commonwealth at Tullamarine, Victoria? What was the total cost to the Commonwealth of the resumption of that land? On what date was the final acquisition of land made? Is it intended to build a jet airport of international standards on the site? Have any plans in relation to this project yet been drawn? If so, when will the airport be completed?
– I am unable to give offhand some of the detailed information, such as the actual area involved and the cost, sought by the honorable senator.
I will obtain that information for him. I am not sure that the final acquisition of land has, in fact, been made, although good progress has been achieved. The last figures that I saw showed that about 90 per cent, of the land needed had in fact been acquired. As to plans for development and construction of an airport on the land, as I recently told a deputation from the Victorian Government, that matter will be reviewed late in 1962.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, is prompted by the news that the Government has applied to the International Monetary Fund for a loan for the development of the Snowy Mountains project. Permit me to say, Sir, that I derive great pleasure from the knowledge that this step in public finance has been taken by the Government. Will the Minister tell the Senate when the Government’s application was lodged? Is the application referable only to one particular stage of the Snowy Mountains development or does it embrace the successive stages envisaged in the entire project? When does the Government expect a decision to be reached in the matter?
– The honorable senator referred, in error, to the International Monetary Fund. The organization to which such an application would be made is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I think it is correct to say that no formal application has yet been made. Some informal discussions have taken place and the bank has expressed some interest in the matter. It has sent to Australia a mission to make inquiries and to make an evaluation, if that is the right word, of the scheme. The mission will seek to form an opinion as to the economics and potentialities of the scheme. When the mission has completed its inquiries I imagine that negotiations between the Government and the bank will begin. I think it is too soon to give an answer to the question whether the loan would apply to a particular stage or to successive stages. We have to explain the scheme, its objectives and its results to the members of this mission so that the bank has the facts on the record. This is a fact-finding mission, not a policy-making mission. We will give these gentlemen the information for which they ask. When they have the information, the next step will be for the Government to consider the nature and extent of the representations it will then make to the bank.
– My questions are addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it true that the Premier and Deputy Premier of Queensland visited Canberra last week and discussed loan matters with a section of the Cabinet on Thursday and Friday? Did the Premier, Mr. Nicklin, during his discussions with the Prime Minister about the terms of the loan for the reconditioning of the railway between Collinsville and Mount Isa, state that he was satisfied with the terms? Was the Premier of Queensland offered the sum of £4,350,000 for the construction of beef roads without a requirement that Queensland provide a similar sum? Is it true that a complete analysis of the terms of the loans and grants approved for Western Australia: within recent years disclosed that the loans to Queensland over a similar period were £11,000,000 less than those to Western Australia? Is it proposed to make good in the near future the difference between the sum of £5,000,000, which is being made available to Queensland for beef road construction, and the sum of £11,000,000, in order to increase Queensland’s basic loan position to the Western Australian level?
– I am not sorry to disappoint Senator Benn. If my recollection is correct, in the Senate last week he endeavoured to advance the thesis that Queensland was thoroughly disappointed and thoroughly dissatisfied and that everything was wrong. These things have a habit of sorting themselves out in a commonsense way. The Premier, Deputy Premier and Treasurer of Queensland came to Canberra and saw some of the Cabinet Ministers. We had a discussion. T am certain that as a result of that discussion the Queensland Ministers were quite satisfied of the Commonwealth’s bona fides and its very great desire to do what it can to help Queensland develop as quickly as we all would like that State to develop.
The arrangements that have been made have been the subject of public statements by the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland. They made a joint statement which shows that both Governments arc satisfied with the arrangements that were made, as I think all the people of Queensland would be, except the members of the Australian Labour Party in Queensland. I know that Senator Benn is terribly disappointed about it all. He tried to raise a storm in the teacup, but there was no storm. We just made good common-sense arrangements along the lines that we have had in mind for the last year or so.
– In replying to a question asked by Senator Laught on Thursday last, the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral stated that a detailed investigation was being made in connexion with the further extension of television to country areas in South Australia and that he expected a report from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in the next few weeks. Can the Minister inform me whether a similar survey has been made in Western Australia? If a survey has been made, does he also expect a report from the board in the next few weeks regarding the extension of television to country areas of that State?
– The PostmasterGeneral’s Department is exploring the requirements of all those areas of Australia that have no television services at present. The undertaking given by the Postmaster-General concerning South Australia applies with equal force to Western Australia. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, to see whether he has anything further to add that may be of interest to Senator Branson and the people of Western Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. In a report on the search for oil, which he submitted to the Senate last week, it was stated that five reports, one dealing with oil drilling operations and four with geophysical surveys, had been sent to the printer. Can the Minister say when copies of these publications will be available? Does he intend to table them in the Senate? If not, immediately they come from the printer, will he make copies available to honorable senators who require them?
– I cannot say when the reports will come from the printer. 1 ask Senator O’Flaherty to place his question on the notice-paper. His doing so will have the valuable effect of indicating that there is a demand for the reports and may thus expedite their delivery. I am not certain whether the publications are to be made generally available, but I undertake that as they become available I shall send a copy of each one to the honorable senator.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, also relates to the announcement by the Prime Minister on Friday last that the sum of £5,000,000, to be spread over a period of years, was to be made available for road purposes in northern Queensland. I ask the Minister: Is it possible at this stage to state whether the roads to be constructed will include those the construction of which was recommended by the Federal Inland Development Organization, known as Fido?
– The arrangement that we made with the Queensland Government was that work would be pushed ahead this year on the Julia Creek to Normanton road, for which the Commonwealth is finding, I think, £650,000. The Queensland Government is providing an additional amount. We informed the Queensland Government that we wanted to see the work pressed on with as quickly as possible, within the limits of the finance to be made available. The arrangements ended on the basis that Queensland would clear its thoughts on the order of priority of the roads that it would like to see developed or reconstructed and would bring forward proposals to us. At this stage, the Queensland Government is to tell us which roads it would like to have constructed. Therefore, 1 cannot refer to particular roads, because the order of priority has not yet been decided, although, of course, a lot of work has been done. The benefits anc advantages to be gained from the construe* tion of particular roads have been analysed! and the relevant information embodied in reports. Queensland has to come forward with the programme.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by saying that some weeks ago the Minister was good enough to inform the Senate that a substantial sum of money was to be spent on the port at Newcastle, and that negotiations in relation to the matter were taking place with the New South Wales Government. I now ask the Minister: Have the negotiations arrived at the point at which he can reveal to the Senate what the plans are, and whether there is to be a new coal loader? What exactly are the Government’s proposals?
– The negotiations with the New South Wales Government have been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. It is necessary to translate the result of the negotiations into an agreement, and I believe it will be necessary for that agreement to be approved by the Parliament. So events are in train to bring down the legislation relating to it, if legislation is necessary, before the Parliament rises.
– By both parliaments?
– I do not know. I am talking only in terms of the Commonwealth Parliament. The arrangement in broad is that the New South Wales Government will push on with the work at three places, aiming to complete the work, which in total is to cost about £ 10,000,000 or £11,000,000, within the next three years. The Commonwealth will assist New South Wales to the extent of £2,675,000, of which £1,675,000 will be a repayable grant, and the other £1,000,000 will be provided out of funds that are at present under the control of the Joint Coal Board and which New South Wales will not be responsible for repaying. The Commonwealth funds will match the New South Wales funds in order to provide coal-loading facilities at Newcastle, Port Kembla and Balmain. In my view, this is an extraordinarily important move in the interests not only of the coal-mining industry but also of the steel industry and other allied industries around those ports.
– The two questions that I wish to direct to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affiairs relate to the recent tragic decision of the Soviet Government to recommence nuclear tests. My first question is this: Does the Australian Government concur in the recent notes submitted by Great Britain and the United States of America to the Soviet Government, in which those nations protested about the recent recommencement of nuclear tests and included an offer for instant agreement on the banning of further tests? My second question relates to the remarks of Lord Casey, as reported in to-day’s Melbourne press, which invite the attention of the readers to the very important fact that Khrushchev did not personally announce this recent decision, from which the inference is drawn that the Praesidium of the Soviet, which made the announcement, may be more hostile than Khrushchev towards the Western powers. Will the Minister comment on Lord Casey’s remarks in that respect? Does he agree with the unfortunate inference which this well-informed Australian has drawn in regard to this announcement?
– In relation to the unilateral resumption of testing which the Russian Government recently carried out - carried out, I may say, within a matter of hours after it had declared its intention of doing so, thereby making it quite clear that for months it had been preparing to carry out these tests whilst ostensibly negotiating at Geneva - I would say that the Australian Government would take the same view as the United Kingdom Government and the United States Government about the regrettable nature of the resumptionof those tests in this way by the Soviet Union I have not read the remarks attributedin this morning’s press to Lord Casey. All that I would be prepared to say on thematter is that I cannot see that it is of greatsignificance whether Mr. Khrushchev announced this decision or whether he is morehostile to the Western nations than is thePraesidium of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics It seems to me that the relevant fact is that, because of the preparation involved obviously the test has taken place with the sanction of the Russian Government.The threat posed by the test is not in any way affected by speculation as to who was, in fact, behind the carrying out of the test.
– Has the Minister for National Development received a report from the Bureau of Mineral Resources on the iron ore find in the Northern Territory that was described rather lavishly in the week-end press of Australia? If so, what does the report disclose?
– As I understand the position, prospectors have located a deposit, made some overtures to prospective purchasers in Japan and made financial arrangements for the testing of the deposit. Although there are optimistic reports - which I am not attempting to decry - I do not think that as yet sufficient factual information is available to enable the value of the deposit to be assessed. The deposit is reported to be very large, to contain high quality ore, and to be very favorably situated in relation to transport facilities, but I think that my professional officers would prefer to await the result of testing before expressing opinions upon it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that within the past few days the Government has agreed to grant to the Queensland Government £5,000,000 for the construction of beef roads and that repayments by the Queensland Government will amount to £350,000? Is it a fact also that the Government has agreed that a road should be constructed from Nicholson to Wyndham at a cost of £1,000,000, of which the Western Australian Government will pay one-half- that is £500,000? If these are facts, will the Minister advise the Senate of the principle upon which the Government has acted in regard to these matters?
– I suggest that Senator Cant take other matters into consideration. It is not appropriate to talk in terms of one road in Western Australia. He will recall that we have agreed to make a grant of £5,000,000 to Western Australia for the development of the north-west. that we have agreed to help very handsomely in the construction of the KoolyanobbingKwinana railway, and that we have agreed to help very handsomely in the construction of the Wyndham-Nicholson road and also the road from Turkey Creek. We are quite happy about giving all this assistance to Western Australia and we assure Western Australians that they would never have got assistance such as this had the Labour Party been in power.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, with reference to the recent resumption by Russia of the testing of atomic weapons. Is the Minister able to tell the Senate the normal period taken for the preparation of atomic bomb testing? Is he able to express an opinion on whether preparations for the recent Russian test must have been proceeding throughout the Geneva talks on banning the bomb? If the preparations were proceeding then, does this not underline the almost insuperable difficulties of negotiating an agreement of any kind with Communist governments? Does not the Minister agree that the possibility of similar treachery in the field of trade would make any trade agreement with Communist countries of very doubtful value?
– As I said in answer to a previous question, there is no doubt at all that the recent explosion of a nuclear device by the Soviet Union must have been in preparation for months. I cannot say precisely how long it would take to prepare for a nuclear explosion of this kind. Much would depend on the size of the device to be exploded, on whether it was to be exploded underground, on the ground or in the upper atmosphere, and on a number of other matters of that kind. Without doubt, this recent explosion necessitated months of preparation. From that, it follows automatically that the preparations must have been going on during the time when the talk. in Geneva were proceeding. This indicates that it is essential in any agreement on these matters with the Soviet Union that there should be provision for what the Western powers have been seeking - namely, methods of inspection and control to ensure that the’ agreement will, be: carried out. Otherwise, 1 believe, we could not rely upon its being carried out.. The question regarding trade should be addressed, to the Minister representing the Minister far Trade:.
– I direct a question to either the Minister for National Development or the Minister representing the Treasurer. The question, which concerns them both, relates, to the. approach that has been made to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for help in the financing of a major section of the Snowy Mountains scheme: Can the appropriate Minister state the estimated cost of the section in which- the interest of the bank has been invited?’ Secondly, over what term of years would that work proceed? Thirdly, what percentage of the total cost might the bank bc reasonably expected to provide7 The bank may have a settled principle on the matter. Fourthly, will this not be the first use of loan moneys by the Government for Commonwealth capital works in eleven years, with the exception of a small amount provided annually for war service land settlement? Fifthly; is it a fact that over the past eleven years revenue has been used’ for Commonwealth capital works to the extent of £1,377,000,000, or an average of approximately £125,000,000 per annum?
- Senator McKenna is trying to shoot two birds with the one barrel.
– I realize that.
– -The matters raised by him relate to the administration of two portfolios. It is not possible to give a precise answer, because the negotiations have not yet reached a definite stage.
– But can we get an idea of the magnitude of the estimated cost of the work involved?
– I could give estimates of the cost of the various stages of the Snowy Mountains scheme. I know the contemplated expenditure for the next five years. The cost of each stage of the work is available. I have not that information in my mind at the moment, but I shall have no hesitation in making it available. However; that does not really answer the question. As yet, the manner in which this matter is to be approached has not been defined. As I understand the situation, the mission has been asked to come out to Australia, to look at the scheme, and to make any inquiries it may desire concerning the economics of the scheme. When the facts have been ascertained and the desired’ information has been supplied, negotiations will commence. As yet, no definite amount or definite objective has been- fixed. Our desire is to ascertain the possibilities of an International Bank loan being made available.
I ask for that part of the question which relates to the remaining matters to. be placed on the notice-paper.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a statement in this morning’s press to the effect that two large American oil-producing companies, which produce approximately 1,000,000 tons of oil a year, are to enter the search for oil in Australia? Has he seen a statement to the effect that they have entered into an agreement with an Australian group whereby the Australian group will farm out to them areas which it holds in Queensland? If so, does he believe that this kind of arrangement between American and Australian companies, or between any foreign companies and Australian companies, will speed up the discovery of oil in this country? If he believes in this type of arrangement, could not his department, or the Government, and other Australian companies which hold large areas, enter into the same kind of arrangement? I am sure it would help considerably to speed up the vital search for oil in Australia.
– Senator Scott has asked me a question which I am a little hesitant to answer. The State governments give to various companies tenements or legal titles to areas which grant to those companies the right to search for oil. The rights which a State government gives are a matter for that government. The company concerned obtains its rights from the State government; the Commonwealth is not a party to the arrangement. There has been a number of what are colloquially termed farm-out arrangements whereby Australian companies enter into a bargain with overseas companies, the overseas companies providing not only pounds, shillings and pence, but also technical services from overseas. The Australian companies and the overseas companies will obtain defined interests in the areas concerned inthe event of there being a strike of oil.
In my opinion, these are very good arrangements. It is desirable to get as many people, as many points of view, and as much technical advice as possible from overseas, as well as funds. I think we shall find that the number of such transactions will increase as interest in the search for oil quickens. Such arrangements provide one solution to the problem caused by some companies holding very large areas and by their not doing the work we would like to see done, having regard to the size of the areas they hold.
– Are they local companies?
– Whether they are local or overseas companies, they are in the same category.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-Generalendeavour to obtain from the Australian Broadcasting ‘Commission, prior to the rising of Parliament for the next election, a statement ‘setting outclearly the times thatwillbe available tothe major and minor political parties or their leaders for telecasts from national stations so that, if need be, Parliament may discuss thefairness or otherwise of the proposed allotment?
– My colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, has supplied this answer -
In accordance with its powers under section 116 of the Broadcasting and ‘Television Act, the commission has decided to allot the following total times for election telecasts: -
To the Government parties: A total of two hours on eachofthe national television stations.
To the ‘Opposition: A totalof two hourson each of thenational televisionstations.
No final decisionhasyetbeen made about minority parties.
SenatorLAUGHT asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Will the Minister advise the Senate of action taken on the question of examining standard departmental tender forms to ensure that Australian timbers, especially softwoods, are specified in lieu of foreign-grown timbers?
Is South Australian pine timber now being used by certain Commonwealth departments for the first time?
To what extent has the Australian timber industry benefited through departments now specifying Australian timbers in lieu of overseas, timbers?
– The Minister for Works has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Health, upon notice -
Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have allowed stocks of quadruple vaccine to become so depleted, thus jeopardizing the lives of young children?
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. The South Australian health department asked for a supply of quadruple vaccine in single dose packs. It is understood to have been intended for issue to private medical practitioners. As supplies of single dose packs were not available, an offer was made of a supply of multiple dose packs. These were declined. The relative priorities accorded to quadruple vaccine production and Salk poliomyelitis vaccine production depend on advice given by State health authorities through the National Health and Medical Research Council. The council has recommended that quadruple vaccine production be not undertaken until continuity of supply of Salk poliomyelitis vaccine is assured.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
– On 15th August, Sena tor Sir Walter Cooper asked me the following question: -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral say whether it is a fact that telephone services are provided in two super modern express trains operating between Tokyo and Osaka in Japan and that they have proved so popular, and the returns are so promising, that plans are in hand to extend the service to other trains? If this is so, will the Postmaster-General consider the desirability of telephone services being installed in long-distance trains in Australia?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
The latest information received by the Post Office indicated that the Japanese national railways were planning to provide an on-the-train radio-telephone service on eight express trains on the Tokaido line between Tokyo and Osaka. However, detailed advice as to experience with the operation of these services has not yet been received.
On-the-train telephone services are not new and have been in operation for some years on certain passenger trains in the United States of America, France and West Germany. Post Office engineers are keeping in touch with developments in this field, although, to date, no approach has been made by Australian railways authorities regarding the possible introduction of similar radio-telephone facilities on long-distance trains in this country.
– (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development). - In response to a request that has been made, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Report of Board of Inquiry appointed to inquire into charge against Dr. P. L. Bazeley.
Honorable senators will notice that annexures B to F have not been tabled. Those annexures are statements which were not taken into consideration by the board of inquiry. They were merely transmitted by it to the Public Service Board for its consideration.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That, during the absence of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senator Reid, shall on each sitting day, take the chair of the Senate as Deputy President, and may, during such absence, perform the duties and exercise the authority of President in relation to all proceedings of the
Senate and to proceedings of Standing and Joint Statutory Committees to which the President is appointed.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 334), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1962;
The Budget 1961-62 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1961-62;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States- be printed.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved, by way of amendment -
At end of the motion add the following words - “ but that the Senate is of opinion that they fail to make adequate provision for Social Service Benefits, especially Child Endowment, and Repatriation Benefits; that they fail to relieve the plight of taxpayers, the family unit, the farming community and other sections of the Australian people and that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment, rising living costs, failure of the public loan market, adverse balance of international payments on current account, high interest rates and inadequate housing”.
– When the Senate adjourned last Thursday, I had developed the argument that some consideration should be given to the means test as it applies to the permissible income of £7 a week, beyond which a pensioner’s rate of pension is affected, and I had said that I agreed with the action of the Government last year in extending the amount of assets that a pensioner can have. Before I leave this point, I reiterate that I believe the Government has created an anomaly in regard to permissible income, particularly as it applies to people in receipt of superannuation payments. I hope that the Government will consider correcting that anomaly.
The only other point with which I wish to deal on the subject of social services has reference to a case in South Australia which was brought to my notice recently. The person concerned is a, poliomyelitis victim who has reached the stage of rehabilitation at which he is able to engage in full-time employment, but needs assistance to provide himself with a surgical appliance. He has, of necessity, to wear something which is known in the medical world as a caliper. The cost of replacing this caliper is in the vicinity of £54, and no social service or insurance fund exists to assist him in that way. I suggest to the Government that a fund be established to assist such persons. The cost to the Government would not be great - perhaps only a few thousands of pounds a year - but such a fund would lift an almost intolerable burden from the shoulders of a person in the position I have mentioned. I hope that the Government will give some consideration to that point.
I wish now to comment on a statement made by Senator McKellar, who preceded me in this debate. Referring to General Motors-Holden’s Limited, he said -
The Ford company has re-instated 60 men and General Motors-Holden’s Limited is now working its employees full-time.
I do not know whether the honorable senator intended to convey to the Senate that General Motors-Holden’s is back to normality as regards the employment of its staff, but that is not the case. Apparently Senator McKellar was saying that the company had found it necessary to put a certain number of men off for a short time and that those men had been reinstated. The fact is that thousands of men who were employed in the motor-body building industry in South Australia have not been re-employed, nor is there much hope of their re-employment in the foreseeable future.
– I understand another 60 are to go on short time.
– As Senator Ridley rightly reminds me, another large section of employees of General Motors-Holden’s Limited is shortly to take its share of parttime work. I want to refer to another statement made by Senator McKellar in speaking of General Motors-Holden’s Limited. He said -
But, although it made a huge profit last year, it used the measures adopted by the Government as an excuse to give a lot of its employees one week’s notice of dismissal and then to dismiss them. That was- a dastardly- acf. I sincerely hope, as I have, mentioned, before-, that when people go. to. buy new cars they will, remember, that action taken, by General Motors,Holden’s. Limited.
I am- not bara ia defend General. Motors-Holden’s Limited,, but I rn.us.t- reply- to Senator McKellar’s statement, which was not only- immoderate and intemperate but also did not disclose the. true position. He should be aware that the company did not dismiss those people just to satisfy a whimIt dismissed them because of action taken by this Government. If the, Government had not taken that action, those men would still be employed by the company. In the circumstances, Senator McKellar’s statement was most extraordinary.
Let me refer briefly to taxation. I repeat what I have said in this Senate during, I think, the last three or four debates on the Budget: I hope that the Government “will remove sales tax on foodstuffs, particularly foodstuffs with a dried fruits content. The Government has removed or reduced sales tax on some items, but it appears to have overlooked the assistance that should be given to the dried fruits industry. If the Government took action along the lines I suggest it could remove a heavy burden from the shoulders of housewives. I hope that when next year’s budget is being discussed I will not have to bring this matter to the attention of the government that will then be in office.
With reference to rail standardization, Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia, is reported as having said in a television interview that some people may consider that the South Australian Government has been fobbed off by the Commonwealth’s offer to pay £1,350,000 towards the cost of diesel locomotives for use on the Peterborough to Broken Hill line. I certainly think that the South Australian Government is. being fobbed off. The unemployment situation in South Australia will not be eased very greatly by the allocation of the £1,350,000 if most of the work associated with the building of the locomotive is done, as has happened on prior occasions, in the eastern States. If that happens South Australia will not get any recompense for the Commonwealth’s failure to assist that State in the matter of rail standardization. South Australia has been let down in this regard. The Premier has, at best, put up a sham fight. I do not expect a great deal, of rail standardization work to be done in South Australia for, some, considerable time.
I hope that some attention will be paid, both on a State and a national basis, to the holocaust that is. taking place on our roads… If one picks up a. leading newspaper one sees daily where some persons, or a family have been killed or maimed as a result of collisions, between motor ears and railway engines or motor cars and road transports. It would be interesting to know how many heavy road transports are involved in accidents on our main roads. I am not criticizing the efficiency of the driving of the people who control these road transports, but I think some regard should be paid to the number of transports that are involved in accidents. A study of statistics would probably reveal that the roads between our capital cities are not built to take this kind of traffic. While the present situation continues we will continue to have this holocaust. I would like the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, which brought down a fine report last year, to be reconstituted and directed to inquire into this phase of a very great problem that is affecting the people of Australia so much.
My time has almost expired. I have not dealt with all of the matters to which I wanted to refer in this debate because the time allowed, although perhaps extensive, is not sufficient to enable one to cover every field. I believe that I have made some suggestions of merit, and I hope that the Government will give them proper consideration. In particular I hope that the Government will pay regard to my suggestions relating to social services.
I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) which charges the Government with failure to grapple with the problems of the nation. I trust that my colleagues on this side of the chamber will, when their turn comes to speak, develop that theme.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [4.12]. - I rise to support the motion for the printing of the papers and to oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition. First, let me congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on his Budget speech and on the way he has faced a very difficult task. Since the Budget of 1960-61 was introduced the Government has been confronted with serious economic problems - problems that had to be dealt with very seriously’ if our’ prosperity a’nd’ stability were to be maintained arid- if we were to continue with our great plans df development. Measures- such as those that had to be taken by the Government are’ never popular. A child does not love you very much if you give it a dose of unpleasant medicine, but When it has recovered from its illness it will appreciate what- you have done for it. So it is, I think, with Government actions. Australia faced a serious situation and the Government had to deal with it seriously. If is” important that a government should fee! so strongly and should act so honestly in discharging its responsibilities to the nation arid io the people that it takes the courageous and correct action and not merely the popular action. That, I believe, is a true measure of statesmanship and sound and good government. It is the kind of action that makes for a better country, that gives the people confidence in the future.
The Government has faced special problems. One of the” problems that disturbs all of us is the problem of unemployment. As it’s- record shows, this Government believes in full- employment. Unemployment disturbs Us. Unemployment is a very grave and serious matter for the breadwinner in a family, who is responsible for providing his family’s needs. I say most sincerely that I hope everything possible will be’ done as a matter’ of urgency to bring about full employment. The Government has gives serious consideration- to providing full employment in its Budget. Dealing with the building of homes, the Treasurer” in- his Budget speech said-
We have arranged with the Commonwealth Banking Corporation that a further special allocation of funds will Be provided for housing purposes by the Commonwealth Savings Bank Over and’ above its’ normal provision- Of- such finance. We have also told the State governments that we would be willing to agree to an increase of £5,000,000 in the borrowing programmes of local authorities and the smaller semi-government’al bodies’ so’ that their rates of expenditure on employment-giving works may be stepped up.
That is a Very important point. Housing is one matter that has been the subject of a good deal of discussion recently. I say, as I have said previously in this chamber, that this Government has a proud record of achievement in the field of housing. I noted with- interest that when my leader, Senator Spooner, spoke’ in this debate last week he said that about last November houses- were being built at the tate of about 100,000 a year. Of course, that rate dropped, but flow we hope to have a rate of construction of about 80,000 homes a year. The Minister said he believes that that is more than the number required and will help- to take up the lag. I believe that is very important because one of the most important things in a community is a very sound housing programme. This Government believes in good and proper accommodation for families. You will recall, Sir, that when the Government came into office the housing problem in this country was most serious. The problem of shared homes, shared kitchens and housing camps faced Australia and brought many other problems in its train. This Government immediately tackled that housing problem and I believe it has achieved a very fine record, I am glad to know that the Minister has said that he believes this increasing’ rate of home construction will help to Overcome the present lag.
I also think, Sir, that I should refer to the Government’s record in the field of war service homes. I believe that it is a record which no other government has ever equalled. Let us look at the story of war service homes. The total expenditure since the inception of the scheme iri 191 9 has been £400,108,084. Between 1st January, 1950; and 30th June this year, this Government has provided £347,312,562. To put the story a little differently, approximately 87 per cent. of the total funds’ made available since the inception of this scheme has been provided by this Government since it has been in office. I believe that that is a record upon which we can look with pride.
What do war service homes figure’s like that mean? They mean that a further 161,839 ex-servicemen and Others who are eligible for these homes under the act have become home-Owners, compared with 62,936 people who were assisted under the scheme during the whole” Of the previous 30 years. That, I believe, is a record of which we can be” proud. During the last four years” alone this’ Government has provided the immense sum of more than £140,000,000’ for” war service” homes. I believe that the appropriation for this year, £35,000,000, sets the seal on the work that has been done by this Government in this field.
Also, I think it is interesting to note that, although it is now sixteen years since the termination of hostilities in World War II., applications are still coming in at the rate of about 15,000 a year. That is a lot of applications. Despite that heavy demand and despite all those applications, the Government, by its record allocations for war service homes, has reduced progressively the backlog of applications to the point where there is now no waiting time for ex-servicemen wishing to build or purchase new homes. Again I think that is indeed an achievement of which we can be proud. It means that there is now no waiting time for about 60 per cent, of the ex-servicemen who are seeking this form of assistance.
This Government believes in home ownership and I believe it has done its utmost to assist people to acquire homes. The percentage of home ownership is tremendously high. If it is not the highest, it is one of the highest in the world. It is a record of 70 to 80 per cent, of home ownership in Australia. That, I believe, is tremendously important. I was also interested to hear the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Division (Senator Spooner) mention in his speech in this debate, and again in answer to a question in the Senate, the reduced cost of group war service homes. He said that in Queensland the cost is now £300 cheaper than previously and he gave a figure of £125 as the reduction in the cost of group war service homes in New South Wales. I think that is an achievement of which we can be proud.
Also in the field of housing this Government has thought of our older citizens, knowing so well the difficulties of aged persons in finding the kind of accommodation that is suitable for them in the twilight of their years. You will remember, Sir, as I do, when the legislation was introduced to assist church and charitable organizations in making available the special and excellent accommodation that our senior citizens enjoy to-day. Since this legislation was introduced more than 600 grants have been approved. This has meant a total of £10,659,224. It has also meant- this, above all, is the important thing - that accommodation has been provided for more than 11,000 additional people. This, I believe, has done a very great deal to give to our senior citizens a feeling of security and happiness in the twilight of their years. Can there be anything more important than that they should feel secure in that way? So, let me say again that in all fields of housing, I believe, this Government has appreciated very sincerely the needs of the people of Australia.
I am very pleased, as always, to see in the Budget that there will be increases in the field of social service benefits. Of course, like many other honorable senators, I always wish that the increases could be greater; but I am indeed pleased to note that increases have been granted in age, invalid and widows’ pensions and repatriation benefits, as well as unemployment and sickness benefits and tuberculosis benefits. All these fields of social services are tremendously important. May I say, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that I believe this Government has done more than any other government has done to appreciate the needs of our aged people and, indeed, to appreciate the problems in the field of social services. I remind the Senate again of the way in which the Government has liberalized the means test and introduced the merged means test. Of course, they mean that more benefits are available and more people are eligible for those benefits. I believe these things are important because they show not only a very real appreciation by the Government of the needs of the people but also that the Government has provided practical assistance to very many people.
I always feel that there is a great need for domiciliary services in the care of aged persons. I was very pleased when, in 1957, sums of money became available to the Department of Health for a special subsidy for home nursing. I believe that this has meant a very great deal not only to our aged sick but also to sick people in many places. It has meant that more home nurses are available to care for the sick in their own homes. In Queensland we have several home-nursing bodies, all of which are doing most magnificent work. Not only does the visit of the District or Blue Nurse mean special medical care for the patient; it also means that some one comes in to see the person who is ill and brings that special cheer and care which means so much to a very sick person. These activities have also meant that people who would otherwise have had to remain in hospital are able to go back to their homes and receive special care in their homes. Since the subsidy became payable in January, 1957, £186,110 has been paid. Senator Wood, who is now in the chair, will be particularly pleased to know, as a fellow Queenslander, that Queensland has received the greatest amount of money in this field. It has received £57,142, and that has meant, of course, that more nurses have been available within the State for the care of the sick. I congratulate the Government and I hope that this subsidy will always be available to those who can play such an important part in the care of the sick in their own homes throughout the Commonwealth.
I should also like to speak for a little time to-day about one of the factors of development in our State which I believe has been of great benefit and which, perhaps, has not been given quite as much publicity as have some others about which we hear a great deal. As honorable senators know, I represent the State of Queensland, a State of great distances, a State of varying climate, and a State in which we have a wet season which means that communications, by air and otherwise, are made more difficult at that time. Air travel means a great deal to Queensland. I would like today to pay my tribute to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and to the work that has been done in Queensland in connexion with country airstrips. A great deal of money has been spent, and possibly, a great deal more still remains to be spent. The expenditure of that money has meant the availability of air transport to people who live, in some cases, many miles from other forms of transport. Without air services they would be cut off.
The estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation in the Budget before us provide for the expenditure of £350,000 on aerodrome development grants under the local ownership plan. This plan, I believe, has been a splendid and eminently workable one. It has become well known in the rural areas, for it has made a special contribution to the development of country air services. Under the plan, the Commonwealth is prepared to hand over aerodromes, free of charge, to the local authorities and thereafter to meet 50 per cent, of maintenance and developmental costs. This year’s provision of £350,000 is an increase of £104,000 on that of last year. I am very pleased to note that more than half of that amount will be spent in my own State. It will mean that some very worthwhile work on country airstrips can be done. Since the plan first came into operation in 1958 the Commonwealth has made available more than £570,000 for aerodrome development in Queensland.
Of this amount £300,000 has been paid to local authorities for airport work that they had carried out before September, 1958, and the remainder has been paid to assist subsequent aerodrome development. The measure of the success of the local ownership plan can be seen when it is stated that throughout Australia 107 local authorities have benefited from it. Forty-six of the aerodromes concerned are in my own State, a State which, as I said before, is particularly conscious of the importance of air transport. Since 1958-59 the Commonwealth has provided more than £1,250,000 for aerodrome development and a further £130,000 for airport maintenance. I understand that in the next few months there will be further discussions with local authorities concerning the programme for this work. Already we have seen the splendid work that has been done in the improvement of runways and terminal buildings at aerodromes owned by Queensland local authorities. Among the districts that immediately come to my mind are Windorah, Aramac, Barcaldine, Clermont, Gayndah and Richmond, and new aerodromes at Dalby and Maroochydore. The aerodrome at Maroochydore was opened only a week or so ago.
This plan means a tremendous amount to the people of Queensland, where air transport is of such great value. While I was attending the opening of one of the far western airstrips recently I spoke to a woman who had attended the school that I went to in Toowoomba, although she had been there some years before. She told me of how, during a wet season when she and her family were out in the far west, they had left that part of western Queensrand on Boxing Day to travel to school for the opening of the school year. They arrived at the school on the day it was: closing for the Easter holidays because of flooded creeks and transport difficulties. To-day, in that same area, because of the work that has been done on airstrips, aeroplanes provide transport. Whether they are privately owned or belong to the civil airlines, aircraft can bring those people in a few hours from that distant area to the metropolis or wherever they may wish to go. In addition, air transport also has meant the availability of medical attention. Sick people can be flown to hospital for medical care, which is something of great value to. people in outlying districts. The work that has been done in air transportation in those areas is an important page in the. story of the development of Queensland.. 1 am also pleased to learn that provision has been made in the 1961-62 works programme for aerodrome construction work to be done at Cairns, Normanton and Springbrook, which will mean the extension of the system of safe flying aids in Queens. land. I am glad to note the proposal to extend a runway at Normanton. This will improve the wet weather capabilities of that aerodrome and so benefit air services in the far-distant Gulf area.
As we in this chamber well know, alltheyear cattle fattening is of great importance in the valuable wet coast, area between Ingham and Cairns. Much has been done already through the representation of our colleague, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), to make people aware of the potentialities, of this important area. The people who have visited the area from this Parliament also have assisted. We are appreciative of the visits of Ministers and private members. There are, of course, special needs, one of which is transport services. Roads are needed to connect with existing railways and shipping services, and the necessary port facilities are required. T am pleased indeed to note that in this Budget special mention has been made of the financial provision for the development of roads in the cattle country. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) spoke in his Budget speech of the provision of £-650,000 for the assistance of the Queensland Government in accordance with arrangements made with the Commonwealth Government for the construction of a road from Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria to the railway at Julia Creek. The Treasurer said -
The provision of £1,000,000 is by no means, however, the limit of the expenditure we have in view. Subject to agreement being, reached with the Governments’ of Queensland and Western Australia, we. are, willing,, and indeed, we intend to provide additional fund’s for roads in these two States. . . .
Only last week-end we heard of the further provision which will be made for Queensland to bring that amount up to £5,000,000 for those most important roads. Surely, Mr. Acting Deputy President, those are the actions of a government which is well aware, of the needs of the northern parts of Australia.
While speaking of northern Queensland, let me turn to a rather different subject. It is also of tremendous importance. Before I do so, however, I want to pay a tribute to the splended work which has been done in Brisbane at the rehabilitation centre at Kingsholme. At that centre the work of rehabilitation goes on day after day. People are given confidence again, after having suffered a disability, to do the things which will make it possible for them to play their part in a particular way in the future. This great work is going on at Kingsholme, but at Townsville, almost a thousand miles away, there is also a need for such a centre. I ask the Minister and the Government to give this matter their attention. Queensland is a large State, and the needs of north Queensland in this respect are real. People in that area who need special rehabilitation treatment have to be brought more than 800 miles to the Brisbane centre. Let us look for a second at; the reasons for the provision of free rehabilitation treatment. One part of the relevant legislation provides that boys and girls of fourteen or fifteen years of age who, without treatment or training, would be likely to qualify for an invalid pension at the age of sixteen years are eligible for free rehabilitation. In Townsville, there is already a very fine crippled children’s home which is doing magnificent work But what becomes later of the problem of training those children for the future? They may have to be sent away 800 miles or perhaps very much further because the centre in Townsville has patients from as far north as Thursday Island, as far west as the western border of Queensland and as far south as Proserpine. All these children will need further treatment and rehabilitation. Furthermore, in the city of Townsville and in the outlying district there are men working in all kinds of activities who run the risk of accident and injury which would make it impossible for them to continue their particular occupation and it would become very necessary for them to have special rehabilitation treatment. The problem that arises then is whether the whole family has to go south so that the person concerned can have treatment. Consider the breaking up or the disturbance of a family in such cases.
At Townsville, which is, I believe, the right and proper location in north Queensland for such a rehabilitation centre, there are full medical treatment facilities available for these particular people and there are interested people who wish to see established in that area a rehabilitation centre. I again ask the Minister most sincerely whether special consideration can be given to the setting up of a rehabilitation centre, similar to the splendid one in Brisbane, at this far-distant part of Queensland - the city of Townsville. This thriving and growing city serves the developing back country in the northern part of Queensland in which men face the danger of accident in thenwork.
Then again, there are problems in relation to children who are crippled or disabled for one reason or another. What is to be the future of them all if they cannot have necessary and proper rehabilitation treatment? What of the men and women who are smitten by polio? What of the heart cases whose work speed must change? What of the tubercular and the nerve cases which need rehabilitation? Yet the nearest centre is hundreds of miles away! It would be a rather terrible thing if people living in Sydney were asked to go to Adelaide for treatment, yet when one looks at the map it is seen that the distances are comparable.
Let me quote what has been said by some leading doctors and others to bear out my remarks on this particular point. Let me quote one opinion–
Under the present arrangement rehabilitees are so far removed from the supervision of the medical specialists who refer them for re-training that a proper liaison and continuity between medical and community action is lost.
The present system of a periodic visit from a field officer of the Rehabilitation Branch in Brisbane- although that branch does splendid work - does not really cater for the needs of rehabilitees in north Queensland. A disabled person cannot be successfully rehabilitated to his community by being removed some thousand miles out of it.
A doctor has stated -
I have been greatly concerned at the lack of facilities in north Queensland for the training of those patients who are discharged from the orthopaedic wards of the Townsville and Cairns hospitals with a physical disability that prevents them from competing in the open labour market. There are always between 60 and 70 orthopaedic cases in these two institutions, of whom 20 per cent, would be benefited if there was a rehabilitation centre in the north for them to attend after discharge.
I have already referred to a part of the relevant legislation concerning rehabilitation of boys and girls -
Let me quote one more statement. A chest physician has written -
When the rehabilitation unit is 800 miles distant from the chest physician, as at present applies, there can be little hope of achieving success in this particular field of medicineship
He was referring to tuberculosis -
So the story goes on and on. The point is that in that particular area there is a need for the provision of a rehabilitation centre for the treatment either of people who have had the misfortune to sustain injury in an accident or become ill or those who were born with some particular disability. A point that has been stressed by a resident of Townsville is that if a centre were established in that city it would help to stimulate interest for the rehabilitee group. I commend the establishment of a rehabilitation centre at Townsville to the Government and to the members of this chamber who sincerely believe in the importance of employment for and assistance to handicapped persons. If a rehabilitation centre were established there, local interest would be taken in reestablishing these particular people in occupations in the district. That is tremendously important. Therefore I do ask the Minister and the Government most sincerely to give very special consideration to this suggestion. I know that we have a splendid centre in the capital city in Queensland, but it is a very large State. There is considerable population in both the northern and northwestern districts of the State. If a rehabilitation centre were established at Townsville, it would serve this large area. I therefore make a special plea for consideration to be given to this suggestion.
While I am speaking about rehabilitation I want to make a plea on behalf of the women - the wives and the mothers - who have been smitten by polio or have suffered some injury and who, in the terms of the act, are not entitled to free treatment at a rehabilitation centre as the breadwinners in the work force are so entitled. In many instances, this causes grave hardship to families.
– That surely must have been an oversight.
– Unfortunately, that is the present provision. I should like to quote the case of a mother of a young family who was smitten by polio and needed treatment. She was, of course, able to have treatment at Kingsholme - splendid treatment; I cannot speak too highly of it - but as she was not in receipt of an invalid pension she had to pay for her treatment. This case proves, if proof were wanted, the magnificence of the treatment that is provided in the rehabilitation field at Kingsholme. This young woman, through being taught in the rehabilitation centre and in the remedial kitchen, now cares for her family and her home in a way which some months before she never imagined it would be possible for her to do. I am sure there are others who need this particular kind of help.
– Why did she not receive the invalid pension?
– She was ineligible to receive the invalid pension because her husband was in employment. I make this point that the mother of a family is of the greatest importance in caring for her children and training them to be citizens. If she cannot run her home and care for them, some one has to be brought in to perform the duties that normally she would perform. I urge the Government to give special consideration to this particular kind of case. Here is something that is most important to the whole family unit and to the care of a mother smitten by this terrible illness, poliomyelitis.
In speaking on these points in the Budget, I congratulate the Government for its record of achievement during its years of office in the field of housing, including war service homes; for the great developmental work done by the Department of Civil Aviation throughout the length and breadth of my State, as well as other States; for its appreciation of the needs of the community; for its work in the care of the sick, the aged, the needy and young children; for its work in the medical field; for the free milk scheme; for the fight against poliomyelitis and tuberculosis; and for providing free medicine and life-saving drugs. How tremendously important all these things are: that is the record of achievement of this Government, which considers the needs of the community and plans for the development of a young country. I should like to pay a tribute also to our Ministers, including those who have by their negotiations, played such an important part in achieving friendship and unity with other nations. That must always be part of the story of the achievements of this Government.
In supporting the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers, I again congratulate the Treasurer. May I say that we are appreciative of the problems that the Government faces, and are indeed proud to be supporters of a Government which has done, not only the things that are popular but, above all, things that are unpopular, knowing that by doing those things it would ensure for Australia prosperity, stability and a future of which we all, as Australians, might well be proud.
– There is a formal motion before the Senate for the printing of the Budget papers, and all Government supporters who have spoken so far have supported that formal motion. To that motion, Senator
McKenna, on behalf of the Labour Opposition, has moved an amendment in these terms -
At the end of motion add the following words: - but that the Senate is of opinion that they fail to make adequate provision for Social Service Benefits, especially Child Endowment, and Repatriation Benefits; that they fail to relieve the plight of taxpayers, the family unit, the farming community and other sections of the Australian people and that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment, rising living costs, failure of the public loan market, adverse balance of international payments on current account, high interest rates and inadequate housing.
The longer this debate continues, the more convinced I become that Government supporters would be much happier supporting the amendment than supporting the formal motion. Despite the congratulations expressed by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) upon bringing down the Budget proposals, I am pretty certain that a report that appeared in the Sydney “Sun” of 16th August more accurately describes the feelings of Government supporters than does the speech that has just concluded. The report reads -
Canberra, Wednesday. Government members last night gave the 1961-62 Federal Budget the coolest reception in years. Behind the closed doors of the party room they listened in dismayed silence as the Treasurer, Mr. Holt, gave them a broad outline of its proposals before presenting them to the House of Representatives. Only a few handclaps marked the end of the statement. In the House they followed Mr. Holt with polite interest but the atmosphere of enthusiasm and expectancy usually associated with the Budget night was missing. Government members had expected a more encouraging Budget in an election year, but they put on a bold face. A seasoned Liberal supporter commented, “They are cracking hardy - they are not really impressed at all *. 1 think that truly sums up the feelings of the majority of honorable senators opposite, if not of all of them.
– Was that from the “ Tribune “?
– That appeared in the Sydney “ Sun “ on 16th August. When replying to Senator McKenna, Senator Spooner tacitly admitted that he would prefer to be criticizing the Budget than to be acting as a defender. One would have thought that as Senator Spooner is the Leader of the Government in this chamber and was the first speaker for the Government - apart from Senator Paltridge, who read a speech on behalf of the Treasurer - he would have given his impressions of the Budget’s proposals. Instead, he began by saying -
I listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) with great interest. Obviously, he had done a great deal of work in preparing this speech. It is not an easy speech to answer in debate because, I say with respect, it was a speech without a theme. It was a speech that did not have a constant thread running through it. It indicated a lack of policy and a sense of what should be done and what should not be done.
It is clear that although Senator Spooner was prepared to give Senator McKenna credit for having prepared that speech carefully and gone into great detail, he came into the chamber hoping to be able to build his own speech around something that Senator McKenna said. This supports the contention in the Sydney “ Sun “ report that supporters of the Government - including the Leader of the Government in the Senate - are not happy with the Budget.
After the lament that he found it difficult to reply to Senator McKenna’s speech, Senator Spooner tried to defend the Government’s unemployment policy. In doing so, he descended to quoting misleading statistics. At page 279 of “ Hansard “ for 30th August, he is reported as having said -
I remind honorable senators of the statement by a very prominent person on the Labour side of politics whom we all respect, that having regard to the natural trend of events in Australia’s economy it was practically impossible to run the nation’s affairs without the number of persons registered for employment being about li per cent. One-and-a-half per cent, of our present labour force of 4,200,000 is 63,000. The number of unemployed is at present 113,000.
Senator Spooner did not name the Labour leader to whom he was referring. He conveyed the impression that there was a respected Labour leader in Australia who accepted the figure of 4,200,000 as representing the size of the work force and as being the correct figure upon which to base unemployment statistics. I assume that the respected Labour leader to whom Senator Spooner referred was Mr. Monk, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I can only make an assumption because the Minister did not state a name. I can recall earlier misquotations of Mr. Monk’s statement on this subject. But one thing is certain - never has Mr. Albert Monk accepted the work force of Australia as being 4,200,000.
Any one who accepts that figure must also believe that if those 4,200,000 persons were out of work they all would be entitled to the unemployment benefit. Of course, every one here knows that that would not be so. We all know that no matter how many of those persons were out of work, quite a number not only would not register for unemployment benefit but would not be able to receive the benefit if they did. To refer, on the one hand, to 113,000 as being the number of registered unemployed, they being people who register because they desire to claim the unemployment benefit, and on the other hand to a mythical work force of 4,200,000 that being a number which nobody can explain satisfactorily-
– We are included in those 4,200,000.
– I assume we would be included.
– What do you say is the proper figure to use?
– I should say the proper figure to use in defining the size of the Australian work force would be that which is applicable to the number of people who would be eligible to claim the unemployment benefit if they were out of work.
– What do you say that is?
– I do not know what that figure is. The point I am making is that the Leader of the Government in this place has referred to an unnamed Labour leader as having said that li per cent, of 4,200,000 would be acceptable to him, or to the trade union movement or the Labour movement, as being the number of Moating unemployed in Australia. Everybody knows that, because of the need to have people available to engage in seasonal occupations, there must be a certain percentage of people who at a particular time in a particular year are not in work. But I challenge Senator Spooner or any other supporter of the Government to name, any Labour leader who has accepted li per cent, of 4,200,000 as. being an acceptable level of unemployment.
Approximately one and- a half pages of the; report of Senator Spooner’s speech were devoted to an excuse for the Government’s action in causing 113,000 people to register as being unemployed. When the Minister referred to an unnamed but well respected member of the Labour Party as having accepted li per cent, of 4,200,000 persons as being an acceptable level of unemployment, he was trying to bolster a weak case, and he knew it.
Senator Spooner continued to misrepresent the unemployment situation by making an odious comparison between the number of unemployed in Australia, the United States of America and Canada. He said that in May of this year 2.4 per cent, of the Australian work force was registered for employment purposes. The comparable figures for the United States of America and Canada were 6.9 per cent, and 7 per cent., respectively. Then the Minister was asked by way of an interjection, which has been credited to Senator Cant but which was made by me -
Is the basis of assessment the same in all countries?
He replied -
I think it is correct to say that the basis is not quite the same but there is a sufficient degree of accuracy in the comparison, for it to be a useful one for these purposes.
It was a useful basis for the comparison made by the Minister. But he did not satisfy me - I do not think he satisfied anybody else in this chamber - that the 6.9 per cent, for the United States of America and the 7 per cent, for Canada were assessed on the same basis as the Australian statistics are assessed. Even if all those percentages were assessed on the same basis, and1 even if the people in America are satisfied with & level of unemployment of 6 per cent, or 7 per cent., and Canada is satisfied with a level of 7 per cent., is any one in this chamber prepared to rise and say that he regards that percentage as being acceptable in Australia? I challenge any member of the Senate to say that ho knows of any voter in Australia Who would accept such a percentage as being satisfactory.
I should say that the accepted and settled attitude of the people of Australia to-day is that we should have full employment - full- employment in the sense in which is is understood, by the people- of Australia, riot in the sense in.- which, it is accepted, perhaps, in America, Canada, Great Britain or any other country. If we were able to accept li per cent, of a labour force of 4,200,000 as being the- normal number of floating unemployed because of seasonal employment, there would not be- caused in any section of the community the heartburning that is being caused by the present unemployment of 113,000 people in Australia. Senator Spooner admitted that the policy, or the philosophy, of the Liberal-Australian Country Party Administration is. such that this. Government is unable to ensure full employment in the- sense in which it is understood by the people of Australia.
– What positive policy do you say should be adopted to remedy the situation?
– The policy that was adopted by the Labour Government before ifr was ousted from office by a government which had pledged itself not only to maintain full employment but also to put value back- into the £1. The tenor of the arguments that have been advanced by supporters of the Government seems to be- that they want: the: people of Australia to believe, as they did in the- depression years, that unemployment is not. man-made.
– Do not be stupid.
– The honorable: senator tells me not to be stupid. If the Government, believes that the. people of Australia will be stupid enough to swallow the. assertion, as they undoubtedly did-‘ back in the depression years, that unemployment is an act of God, it is mistaken. It will be the Government that will be stupid, not the people of Australia.
– You are comparing, an unemployment level of 27’ per cent, with one of 2.5 per cent.
– I. am not comparing anything.
– That was the level of unemployment in the depression. I am making the comparison for you.
– I do not care- whether a quarter of a million people were unemployed in 1939. To have 113,000 people out of work in this present day and age is too much, particularly for those, who are out of work.
– What about 5 per cent, in 1949?
– Any degree of unemployment is too much.
– Do you say that that, was full employment? That is what Mr. Haylen said?
– You. may quote or misquote Leslie Haylen, the honorable member for Parkes, as much as. you like.
– We are not misquoting him.
– You know quite well that this Government took over from a Labour government, which had maintained full employment during the period immediately following the- war.
– Do not be silly.
– Labour maintained full employment, during the period that immediately followed the war and during which all those who had been, in the Services were being rehabilitated. That was long before industry had got through the re-tooling process. I do not think any one. in the Senate other than Senator Scott himself believes what he. has said ad nauseam about the number of persons who were, registered, as unemployed when, there was. a, coal strike in New South Wales. That sort, of statistical argument does not fool, anybody.
– You did not have full employment then.
– This Government assumed office after having promised to maintain full employment.
– There were no unemployed when Labour was in office?
– That was before your time.
– Yes. We have been right ever since.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! I ask honorable senators to allow- Senator Ridley to proceed with his speech.
– This Government went to the. people, not with a pledge to introduce full employment, as it would have done had there not been full employment at the time it assumed office. The. Government took over on a pledge to maintain full employment and to put value back into the £1. Over the greater part of the time it maintained comparative full employment, but only by not putting value back into the £1. In other words, the Government used the vehicle of inflation. Now it is using unemployment, the only control measure it knows of, to try to halt inflation. I ask honorable senators to take their minds back to the first budget introduced by this Government and then to every supplementary budget and succeeding budget. As budget followed budget, the purchasing power of money steadily declined.
Inflation has been increasing during the twelve years of office of the present Government, and the only anti-inflation measures that it has taken at any time - they have been taken usually by means of supplementary budgets - have been those that have thrown a few thousand workers out of employment. The Government has curtailed the purchasing power of those workers by the simple expedient of stopping them from getting pay packets at the end of the week. On previous occasions the Government has been fearful of carrying out this policy just before an election. In the past it has put the policy into effect by supplementary budgets, which, more often than not, followed elections. On this occasion, despite the pleas by Government apologists that they knew what would happen as a result of the policies introduced in November last and as a result of the lifting of import restrictions in February last, the Government misjudged the position. It does not now try to convince even itself that those people at present out of work will be in employment before the general election is held at the end of this year or early in next year.
– You ought to be pleased with this Budget, if it is so bad, because this is an election year.
– Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin was preaching about humanity to some sections of the community. Any honorable senator who has had experience of unemployment must know that there is nothing more degrading or soul-destroying than for a man to be out of work. To say that I, or anybody else in this chamber, wants unemployment for the purpose—
– I did not say that.
– You said that 1 ought to be pleased with the Budget because it could be an election winner. I am not naive enough to believe that the newspapers which are saying harsh things about the Government to-day will say them on the eve of the election in December, if an election is held then. I do not want to see unemployment in Australia to-day, even if it could be an election winner. I do not want to see unemplyoment at all.
I return now to the speech of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He apologized for his inability to reply to the argument of Senator McKenna.
– No, he did not. He merely said it was difficult to reply to it.
– I read out what the Minister said. His words were -
It is not an easy speech to answer in debate.
I made the point that the Minister hoped that Senator McKenna would make a speech that would be easy to answer in debate. He preferred to try to answer Senator McKenna rather than, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, to present arguments in favour of the Budget proposals. He did not, in fact, present any such arguments, except possibly when he tried to defend the Government’s unemploymentcreating policy and misquoted an unnamed Labour leader. Senator Spooner further said -
One of the interesting things, to my way of thinking, is that in the period that has elapsed since November last I have not met anybody who has said to me, “ What you did was unnecessary “.
It has been said that there are none so blind as those who will not see. If Senator Spooner has not heard any criticism of the measures the Government introduced in November last, I would say that there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Perhaps he may have meant that, because he read the criticisms in the newspapers, he did not hear them. In the Sydney “ Sun “ of 16th August - the newspaper that I quoted from a little earlier - the following comment appeared -
The Federal Budget gives no stimulus to Australia’s motor car industry and further sackings are certain unless car sales improve, manufacturers declared to-day.
– If Senator Hannaford will listen, he will learn what was said. He has already had an opportunity to listen to the speech made on behalf of the Labour Party in the other place. If he will listen to what I have to say, 1 will tell him about the reaction of the newspapers to the Government’s Budget proposals and to the proposals that Mr. Calwell made on behalf of the Labour Party. Mr. Calwell stated what the Labour Party will do if it is returned to power after the next election. The honorable Senator will see the difference between a positive budget and the present one, which has been described, to use one of the kindest of the terms applied to it, as a “ stay-put “ budget. 1 refer the Senate to the “ Sun-Herald “ of 20th August. This is another of the criticisms that Senator Spooner has not heard. That newspaper stated -
For every job vacancy listed at labour bureaux there are now nine persons applying for employment. Thousands of others are on part time or subject to periodical lay off. At the end of this year a record number of children will leave school to seek jobs.
Mr. Holt’s Budget speech described this state of affairs as “ the immediate problem “, promised that the “ Government will do its utmost “ to improve it, and then emphasized that “the main impetus to expansion must, of course, come from the buying public and business firms”.
These truisms uttered, he then outlined a budget which gave practically no encouragement to spending by anybody except the Government itself, whose expenditure is increased by ?118,000,000, about twice last year’s increase.
What the Budget really demonstrates is that the first loyalty of this Liberal Government is to certain abstractions such as “ stability “, which it cannot or will not explain in practical terms, and to the self importance and best interests of the system of Government administration which has expanded so spectacularly since Mr. Menzies came to power in 1949.
Another of the criticisms that Senator Spooner did not hear appeared in the “ Daily Mirror “ of 1 6th August, which described the Budget as a “ cowards’ budget “. The newspaper went on to say -
Well, here we have it - a Little Budget by a Little Man, the product of a conspiracy of caution.
The Adelaide “News” of 16th August, under the heading “ The standstill Budget “, had this to say -
Mr. Holt’s 1961 to 62 Budget has failed Australia. It does little for the nation’s economy in the short-term view, and falls well short of being the forerunner of a series of great development Budgets.
It trembles hesitantly on the brink of action, shuffling a cautious step forward with one leg tensed ready for instant retreat.
Again there is no sign that the Government has:
Recognised the need to open new export markets immediately.
Realised we must step up the migration program.
Seen the need to spend big sums on higher education.
Expressed its confidence in Australia’s future.
There is no broad recognition that new highways and railways are vital to the defence of Australia and could well come within the defence vote.
It is quite clear that no member of Cabinet has the strength and the imagination to see beyond a few short-term palliatives.
This much is certain:
The Budget won’t give the impetus for a greater Australia.
It won’t go far towards easing the Governmentimposed economic squeeze.
It is a standstill Budget.
Still Senator Spooner says he has not heard anybody say he did not agree with the action taken by the Government in November of last year.
A little while ago an honorable senator interjected, asking what the Labour Party would do. Let me tell him of the reaction of one newspaper at least to the speech made by the leader of the Labour Party in another place.
In its issue of Wednesday, 23rd August, 1961, the “ Daily Mirror “, in an editorial headed “This Is Better, Mr. Calwell”, states -
It is clear that some very deep and constructive thinking is going on within the Federal Labor Party . . .
Evidence of this came from two different directions in Canberra last night.
The first was Mr. Arthur Calwell’s speech in the House of Representatives on the 1961-62 Budget.
The second was the A.L.P. Federal Executive’s new policy on development which will doubtless become a cardinal point of Labor policy in the next Federal election.
It is not necessary to be a perfervid Labor supporter to acclaim this new manifestation of bold thinking in the Opposition party.
It will be welcomed by every sincere believer in the efficient working of the Parliamentary system.
Under the heading “A Bold Plan” the editorial continues-
In brief, Mr. Calwell promised that if Labor was returned to power it would bring down a supplementary Budget in February.
This Budget would:
Restore full employment within twelve months. Plan if necessary a £100 million deficit to end unemployment and the economic slump.
Remit pay-roll tax on municipal and local government activities.
Make tax reductions to revive the motor vehicle and building industries.
Permit easier borrowing.
Return all petrol tax to the States to encourage road-building.
In addition, Mr. Calwell said, a Labor Government would prepare a bold plan for the development of northern Australia.
Under the heading “ Sound Proposals “ the editorial continued -
In 1958, when unemployment was half what it is to-day, Sir Arthur Fadden, the then Treasurer, budgeted for a deficit of £110 million.
Many leaders of industry have for years urged abolition of the pay-roll tax as an incentive to reducing costs.
That is the view of one of the newspapers which Senator Spooner said did not in any way disagree with the Government’s November proposals. I invite honorable senators to compare that newspaper’s reaction to the Holt Budget proposals with its reaction to the alternative proposals submitted by Mr. Calwell - proposals which the Labour Party will put into effect if it is returned to power at the next election.
If one thing is clear from the remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate it is that the Government either cannot or does not want to do anything about the unemployment situation. The Government came to power in 1949 on a pledge to maintain full employment and put value back into the £1. In 1961 the Leader of the Government in the Senate said, as reported at, I think, page 282 of “ Hansard “-
– I refer the honorable senator to Standing Order No. 406 which forbids an honorable senator to read his speech.
– I cannot find the passage for which I was seeking and I have not been helped by interjections from Government supporters. I think anybody who listened to Senator Spooner’s speech will agree that one of the greatest problems facing the Government to-day is the problem of maintaining full employment while at the same time controlling inflation. What has become of the pledge given by this Government in 1949? Twelve years after giving a pledge to maintain full: employment the Government is still not. happy about the situation. Unemployment is still a problem in 1961.
I support the amendment moved on behalf of the Labour Party by Senator McKenna. Many honorable senators opposite would be much happier speaking to the amendment than to the motion.
– I oppose the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). In this debate I propose to address myself to the likely entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market because I think this matter will be a key issue at the forthcoming election. I do so also in order to refute the allegations that were made by several opposition senators during the recent debateon the subject of Australia and the European Economic Community. As I was. unable to participate in that debate, I propose to use the time allotted to me in this debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers to deal with the projected entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community. I hope to be able to deal with some of the financial aspects of the Budget when the Appropriation bills are being discussed. I ask the forbearance of honorable senators if I take up a littletime this afternoon in dealing with this important problem. It is a problem fraught wtih tremendous possibilities for Britain’s entry into the Common Market could have disastrous repercussions for our producers.
Senator McKenna, the Leader of theOpposition in the Senate, in an otherwise very interesting and informative speech, went to much trouble to make out a caseshowing that the Commonwealth Government had lacked a sense of urgency in its approach to the Common Market problem over the past three or four years. He claimed that the Government failed to take any steps to meet what he said was an obvious threat to our primary export Industries. I want to state at once that there was not any threat to our primary export : industries until very recently. Therefore, there was no need for urgency. When the British Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, was visiting Australia in 1958, he said at a parliamentary luncheon in Brisbane -
We have suggested the formation of a Free Trade area-
That is, Britain has suggested the formation of a free trade area - which would include Britain and not only the countries of the Customs Union, but Scandinavian countries as well. It would have as its object complete free trade in industrial products.
The Free Area would include the Customs Union but would differ from it in that each individual member would be free to maintain its cwn tariffs as regards imports from other countries not in the area.
Mr. Macmillan continued
I said free trade in industrial products - agricultural products would be excluded. We have laid it down that Britain must be free to safeguard the British market for agricultural products from the Commonwealth.
This Government is charged with lacking a sense of urgency; but at that time the Prime Minister of Great Britain, here in our own country, declared that agricultural products would be excluded if Britain were to link up with the Common Market. That remained the position of the British Government, Mr. Deputy President, until the visit of Mr. Sandys a few weeks ago, when he intimated to the Commonwealth Government for the first time that Britain intended to negotiate for entry to the European Economic Community and had to abandon her previous aim of entering the Common Market on the basis of being free to safeguard the access of agricultural products from Commonwealth countries to the British market. The intimation to the Commonwealth Government was only recent and it was dramatically sudden. I am unable to fathom why that was so.
All the available evidence that I can discover stands strongly against the arguments of the Leader of the. Opposition. Indeed, all his quotations from the *’ Hansard “ reports of speeches of the Governor-General in the years 1958, 1959 and 1960 completely disproved his contentions rather than supported them. The quotations that he used clearly indicated this Government’s keen awareness of the momentous decision to constitute the Common Market, which was reached at Rome on 25th March, 1957, between the six European countries known to-day as The Six - namely, West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries of Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. After four years of pressure on the European Economic Community for entry on the industrial free trade basis only, the United Kingdom finally came to the conclusion that that course was not possible of achievement.
About the time when the first reference to the inauguration of the Common Market was made by the Governor-General in the Senate, as referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, the Commonwealth Government supported the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in launching a great trade drive into the markets of Asia and other parts of the world. This big trade drive did not commence after Mr. Sandys came here with the intimation from Britain. It was promoted by Mr. McEwen, acting for and on behalf of the Commonwealth Government away back in 1958. Mr. McEwen launched this great trade drive into the markets of Asia and other parts of the world. His determined drive for exports has gathered momentum from year to year since its commencement and has yielded highly successful results.
The Japanese Trade Agreement, which was denounced in this chamber by one member of the Opposition after another, was negotiated by Mr. McEwen and is one of the striking successes of his vigorous trade dealings. As a prime example, last year the Japanese traders purchased from Australia merchandise and other products to the value of ?160,000,000. As a direct result of that agreement, Japan forged to the front last year by purchasing from Australia more wool than was purchased by any other country that competes for our wool. Japan has increased greatly her purchases of Australian sugar, wheat, barley, coal, minerals and many other products. I submit for the thoughtful consideration of the Leader of the Opposition, who is present, that this is clear proof that the Commonwealth Government sensed the possible loss of valuable markets in the United Kingdom if that country decided to thrown in its lot with the Common Market countries. This is the answer which I give, to the Leader of the Opposition, with respect, when he charges the Government with neglecting to discern the effects which could flow from the new set-up in Europe.
The big Australian export drive did not stop with the making of the Japanese Trade Agreement. In 1958 - one of the years in which Senator McKenna said the Government failed to discern the effects which could flow from Britain entering the Common Market - trade displays were mounted on SS. “ Delos “, a ship which was chartered to visit ports in Japan, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai and Borneo. Early this year “ Straat Banka “, a Dutch vessel, was chartered to carry to South-East Asian ports and cities an Australian trade mission with a load of samples of our primary and secondary industry products.
– An Australian ship should have carried them.
– Apparently Australian ships were otherwise engaged and it was possible to establish a trade mission head-quarters more easily with one of the older ships that were running on those routes and were known in those ports. At any rate, the reason does not matter very much. The big thing is that the ships were used for this purpose. “ Straat Banka “ went to Singapore, Penang, Colombo, Bombay and Karachi. About 60,000 Asian traders visited the ship in those ports and merchandise and goods to the value of approximately £3,000,000 were sold as a result of a visit of that ship to those SouthEast Asian ports.
The Minister for Trade, within the past fortnight, has announced that a third trade ship, “ Chandpara “, has been chartered to carry samples of Australian primary and secondary industry products to South-West Asia and right up into the Persian Gulf area. Mr. Spalding - I think he is a Queensland businessman - has returned to Australia within the past few days after leading a nineteen-man trade mission to the islands of the South Pacific. He said that Australian exports to the South Pacific area would show an increase of 50 per cent, as a result of the activities of that trade mission to the Pacific Islands. This is the important part: Mr. Spalding said that in addition to finding markets for manutured goods the mission “ found a huge market for foodstuffs as a swing has occurred in the South Pacific Islands to Australian eating habits “. Those are Mr. Spalding’s own words, as published in the
Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “. If the people living in the South Sea islands are swinging over from native foods, to which their ancestors had been accustomed for centuries, to Australian foodstuffs, we should be able to develop a class of trade in foodstuffs palatable to them that would be very helpful to primary producers on the Australian mainland.
As a result of the drive which Mr. McEwen has displayed, trade commissioners are functioning in many parts of the world to-day. Their appointment is a part of the measures which are contributing grist to the mill of Australia’s export trade. Capable trade commissioners have been appointed during the last three or four years, the period covered by the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition. Those commissioners are now functioning in many countries and are establishing valuable trade connexions wherever they are located.
The Australian trade pavilion at the great world fair which was held in Tokyo several weeks ago, and at which there were displays from the leading countries of the world, was described by competent observers as the finest there. Reference to this matter is contained in an overseas trade publication which is circulated to every member of the Senate. I think it will be agreed, Mr. Deputy President, that the Government and the Department of Trade are making thorough attempts to promote trade. In addition to the measures that I have just mentioned, I point out that hundreds of Australian businessmen have been going overseas, at their own expense, in hot pursuit of trade. They have been urged forward by the progressive policies of the Department of Trade. Never in our history has there been such a terrific concentration on the sale of our products, both primary and secondary, in other countries.
The old Ottawa Agreement has, by negotiation, been re-arranged on more favorable terms, to the benefit of Australia. It is, therefore, nonsense for the Leader of the Opposition to state, in the terms of the censure amendment that he moved last week, that there has been a lack of foresight and frankness on the part of the Government, as well as dilatoriness in the protection of Australia’s interests. All the evidence is distinctly to the contrary.
Never before has there been such a concentrated effort by the Government and the officers of the Department of Trade to bring Australian products forcibly to the notice of world markets. Those efforts are being intensified, and they are producing results. The drive to increase our trade has got into its stride, during the last four years, the period in respect of which Senator McKenna has charged the Government with dilatoriness and failure to protect Australia’s overseas trade.
Four years ago, when the European Common Market was first discussed, the Commonwealth Government sensed that something might happen to make our trade relations with the United Kingdom difficult in the future. The Government took the bull by the horns at that time and initiated the great trade promotion drive that I have mentioned. We are now seeing the results of the Government’s initiative, at a time when they can be most helpful. As we know, Great Britain originally proposed to exclude agricultural products from the negotiations concerning her entry to the European Economic Community, but now, due to a sudden determination, the reasons for. which I do not know, she has intimated that she intends to negotiate on the basis that agricultural products as well as industrial products will be included. If that happens, it may mean that Australia’s economy will be left more or less high and dry. The preferences that we have enjoyed for many long years in our trade with the United Kingdom will have gone. I am quite satisfied that Great Britain will loyally strive to gain some concessions and worth-while terms as a condition of her entry to the Common Market, but that remains to be seen. The Commonwealth Government has set out to meet the challenge and to promote export trade wherever it is possible to do so throughout the wide world.
The United Kingdom, of course, is facing a very difficult decision. Less than 25 years ago she stood at the peak of her world-wide power and influence. Her economic strength and material resources have diminished gradually but surely since the conclusion of the Second World War. That is a sad fact to reflect upon. When I travelled through the China Sea last year I saw the British flag flying at Hong Kong lt also flew at Singapore, lt did so almost, one might say, on sufferance. Singapore has been ceded self-government in domestic matters, although Great Britain retains defence powers under the relevant agreement. The Governor-General is a Malayan, having been nominated by Britain for that high office. I suppose that in another 30 years Hong Kong will revert to the control of Communist China, under the terms governing the leased territory. At one time the Union Jack flew proudly over manyparts of South-East Asia. Though those days are now regarded as the days o. colonialism, I think that many of the people of the countries concerned were better off under British forms of administration and justice than they are now that they are paddling their own canoes.
Since the winds of change began to blow, one by one the component members of the old British Empire have been conceded self-government and independence. Many countries, such as Australia, Canada and India, began to develop their own secondary industries. These former markets for British manufactures began to close, and the outlook for British trade expansion in those areas became increasingly difficult. So, the great British nation found itself on the horns of a real dilemma. It is my opinion that the United Kingdom must and will link up with the European Economic Community, because it seems that her economic survival depends on doing so. The United Kingdom cannot afford to stand out of an economic community of 250,000,000 people. If we include the population of the United Kingdom itself, the population of the European Economic Community will be approximately 300,000,000. By joining that great group, Britain would have access to markets much greater than those of the United States of America, and also of the Soviet Union. Her entry would mean that the European Economic Community would be a combination of nations having immense power and strength. Great Britain is only a few miles from the shores of Europe, and I cannot see how she could stand out from a market of such potentialities.
I think that the United Kingdom will do her utmost as far as she is able, to protect the interests of Commonwealth countries in her negotiations with .the countries .of the European Economic Community, hut as I see the position, if she does not enter the community she may eventually lack the economic power to be an effective customer of any nation. Nobody can be sure at this juncture of what is to happen. Much depends on the terms and conditions which the European Economic Community will lay down for Britain’s entry.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Deputy President, when une sitting was suspended, I was dealing with the question of the possibility of Britain’s entry into the Common Market, and I had .said that a lot would depend upon the terms and conditions which the European Economic Community set on Britain’s entry. I think it can be said in truth that at present there ls no certainty that Britain will actually join the European Economic Community. There is a strong body of opinion in the United Kingdom against the proposal and at present many people in that country are campaigning strongly against Britain’s entry into the Common Market. This group argues that the Commonwealth countries absorb 42.1 per cent, of British exports and that this percentage will be expanded as the Commonwealth countries grow and prosper. The people in this group say that the Commonwealth countries supply Britain with 38.5 per cent, of all the food and merchandise that the United Kingdom imports. This anti-Common Market group of thinkers - because that is what they are - in the United Kingdom hold that a 2 per cent, increase in trade with the Commonwealth countries and with other countries outside the Commonwealth would be greater in volume than a 100 per cent, increase in trade with the Common Market countries. Let me make that point quite clear, because it is important. This group of people in the United Kingdom think that a 2 per cent, increase in trade with the Commonwealth countries and other countries outside the Commonwealth would be greater in volume than a 100 per cent, increase in trade for Britain with the Common Market countries.
– It is difficult to see how that works out on the figures.
– That is .the contention of people who are .situated very .close to where ;the problem exists and I hesitate, situated .so far .away, to put up a case agains! that. After all, it is Britain’s .problem and this body of (people thinks that that is -the position. I merely state their point of view without necessarily endorsing it.
– You do not mind my trying to understand it?
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon, if I am not making myself clear. That is the contention - it is not my contention - of this group of business people “who are profoundly concerned about the possible effects that would flow from Britain’s determination to enter into the European Economic Community. However, as has been stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and others, Britain’s policy at the moment is to negotiate, not as yet to join. It remains to be seen what extent the campaigning efforts of this particular group will affect Britain’s decision on the matter. That is why I say that it is not really certain that Britain will enter the Common Market, but it is my very strong opinion that Britain will have to enter if she is to survive.
According to all reports, the European Economic Community has made tremendous progress since the Treaty of Rome was signed and there is evidence already that there has been some loss of trade to Britain with particular States of the European Economic Community, occasioned by Britain’s non-entry up to this particular point of .time.
The Commonwealth Government has already commenced consultations with the leaders of those Australian primary industries that are likely to be affected by Britain’s entry into the Common Market and of the consequential loss of trade preferences. Our exports of sugar could be very adversely affected and that, of course, would have a serious effect on Queensland because the sugar industry is situated almost wholly in the State which I have the honour to represent in this Senate.
In 1959-60, the United Kingdom purchased 58 per cent, of our sugar exports, which were helped substantially by a preference of from 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, in the British market. A minimum quantity of 300,000 tons of Australian sugar is. purchased annually by. the United Kingdom at a. guaranteed price. This year, the agreed quota is 315000> tons. The only other markets of importance in relation to Aust tralian sugar production are Canada, HongKong,. Japan and New Zealand. These markets are not sufficient to absorb the greatvolume of sugar that we send to the United Kingdom and it would be therefore a dreadful blow to our sugar producers if we lost our preferences and our trade with Britain through that country entering the Common Market. The existing sugar agreement will expire in- 1968-. The Australian export sugar- trade is deeply rooted in the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. The millers and the workers in the. industry,, both in the mills and in the fields, are perturbed about the possible effects if the United Kingdom decides to- link up- with the European Economic Community.
About 90 per cent, of Australia’s dairy products are marketed in the United Kingdom under British Commonwealth preference. These exports, have enjoyed £1 per cent, preference over competing countries outside the Commonwealth. As I see the position, if Britain enters the Common Market these preferences must go by the board. That would be bad enough, but it would lie within the power of the European Economic Community to impose an import tariff as high as 24 per cent., which is the rate now ruling, in the Common Market countries. The European countries are producing an excess of dairy products and Britain, if she became a member state, would no doubt be expected to buy dairy products in surplus supply within the Common Market area. Our dairy products export trade, therefore, stands in imminent peril.
The London butter trade is worth £25,000,000 or more per annum to the Australian dairy industry. The loss of such a market could be disastrous. The chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, Mr. Eric Roberts, has stated within the last week that his board has submitted proposals to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) which, if accepted, would enable the principles of the European Economic Community to operate, yet still retain a fair price for Australian dairy products. I have not had- access to- that scheme: 1 do not know what it proposes, but at least, according to Mr.. Roberts;, that is. now in the. hands, of Mr. McEwen and we can depend on him to make, the: best of the arguments that are adduced.. It appears- certain that if the United Kingdom enters- the- European Economic Community, Empire preferenceswill automatically terminate.
– What do you mean by Empire; preferences?
– Commonwealth preferences. At best, Australia might, after hard’ bargaining, gain some concessions, but the outlook for most of our dairy exportswill’ be really bad if all these developments, now proposed come to pass. The Commonwealth Government is moving heaven and earth to get its case for a fair deal before the European Economic. Community and also before the United Kingdom Government. Indeed,, the aid of the United States of America has been invoked in an effort to preserve old trade connexionsand/ or to provide profitable outlets for our primary exports.
The world is being grouped into large economic and political blocs. That is taking, place in eastern Europe, western Europe and the: Americas, and the vogue could easily be followed in Asian countries. There is solid ground for the strong and statesmanlike speeches; of our Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on the problems arising: from the profound changes engendered by the formation- of the European Common Market. Mr. McEwen has warned us that, the whole economic structure of the freeworld could easily disintegrate and totter.
– When did he warn us. - only a couple of weeks ago?
– If the honorable senate had been here before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, it would have been explained to him.
– Why did the Ministernot discover it years ago?
– The honorable senator missed the point of my remarks beforedinner, which would have provided him with an answer to that question. Mr. McEwen has warned us that the wholeeconomic structure of the free world could’ easily disintegrate. He used the word’ “ totter “. With the formation of big trading groups - that is, the European Common Market, the big market of the United States of America combined with the South American Latin republics, and the Soviet group with is satellites - the world is divided into powerful blocs. That makes it extraordinarily difficult for the smaller countries to survive, particularly those, like Australia, which are remotely placed from the big groups. Mr. McEwen has pointed out that if these big trading groups, particularly those which belong to the free world, such as the European group and the American group, establish impossible tariff barriers against the entrance of food and merchandise from other countries of the free world that are friendly to them, that will tend to destroy the free world community that we should like to see built up on a friendly basis. Australia will follow with extreme anxiety the trend of the consultations between the Australian, United Kingdom and European Economic Community representatives, which are scheduled to take place both here and abroad from this month onwards, because primary production is our greatest source of overseas credits. If we find it difficult to obtain profitable markets overseas for primary products, we shall be dealt a deadly blow. Therefore, not only the primary producers concerned, but also the whole of the commercial community and workers in industry throughout the country, will follow with particular interest, and indeed with anxiety, the discussion and consultations that will take place in Australia, England and maybe the Common Market area during the next few months.
– Do you not think that the countries in the Common Market may reach saturation point and find themselves no better off than they are now?
– That is in the lap of the gods. Nobody can be sure at this juncture just what will happen. What we can see as clearly as mud in a wineglass is that our primary industries will stand in great danger if the United Kingdom finds that it is necessary in her own interests to link up with the Common Market countries. I want to say - the subject is of such importance that this is worth saying - that there is surely a touch of midsummer madness somewhere that obliges our ablest Ministers and negotiators to remain in Austrafia to fight an election during the vital weeks when our future trade position is being decided far away in Europe. That does not seem right to me. This is something that could make or break us in this country. An election is only of minor importance, compared with what can happen unless we are properly protected and our case is put in the highest places by our ablest Ministers, such as, for example, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), and other negotiators who will be called in for these negotiations. If we force these men to stay here to fight an election at this vital time in the history of our country, it will be wrong. As our standards of living and the prosperity we have known are at stake, it is my view that the Commonwealth elections should be deferred until February of next year. Some fellows have a complex on this question of elections. What difference would a couple of months make? Constitutionally the elections may be held at any time within the next few months. These vital decisions will be made within the next few months, probably before Christmas. We must have men who can strike while the iron is hot. It would be of no use to send men over there in April or May to try to determine issues that had already been decided. We should take stock of ourselves, defer the elections and put our best men into these consultations, which will decide the future trading position of this nation. I hear the hollow laugh that betokens the empty mind. As a matter of interest, I mention that I received a questionnaire dated November, 1957, sponsored by a group of Conservative, Labour and Liberal members of the House of Commons, who were most anxious to know the reactions at that time of members of the Australian Parliament to the idea of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market. I suppose that every honorable senator and every member of the House of Representatives received a letter similar to those one, which was signed by Mr. Christopher Boyd, M.P. I studied the letter. The Senate was not in session at the time. I replied to Mr. Christopher Boyd from Brisbane on 14th February, 1958. I said, inter alia -
Mr. Macmillan, speaking at a Parliamentary luncheon at Brisbane, was most emphatic that Britain would enter the European Free Market in the field of industrial products only and informed his Queensland Parliamentary audience that agricultural products would be excluded and said Britain must be free to safeguard the British markets for agricultural products from the Commonwealth. 1 said further -
Looked at by and large at this particular period of history, I feel inclined to support fully the British Government’s willingness to enter a European Free Market. I am not able to forecast the outcome of such a union of countries engaging in free trade. Only time can tell.
Then I added -
It would appear to me that the founding of a European Common Market could well pave the way ultimately to European integration - that political union might be forged out of the Common Market if it can succeed. If all the freedom loving countries of Europe could forget past feuds and national hatreds enabling them to combine into a great United States of Europe, something really big and important to the world could come to pass. The greatest spur to the establishment of a European Common Market with the hope that a political union of the free Continental countries would follow lies in the growing strength of Soviet Russia.
If I, as a Senate back-bencher, was aware that Britain was contemplating joining the Common Market in 1957, it must be assumed that the Prime Minister and the Commonwealth Government would know far more about the matter than I. Of course, this is quite true.
As a final shot against the censure speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition, I shall refer to a statement made by Mr. Menzies at a press conference in London on 9th July, 1957, a copy of which I hold in my hand. Mr. Menzies said, in effect, that there was no reason why the United Kingdom should not join the Common Market on the basis that agricultural products were excluded. There was nothing to worry about at that juncture. The need to worry about the matter has arisen only within the past few weeks since the visit of Mr. Sandys. So the amendment condemning the Commonwealth Government was deservedly defeated during last week’s debate on the Common Market, as the charges were contrary to the facts.
– Why do you say it was deservedly defeated? It was defeated because you have the numbers.
– I have never known any other way of deciding an issue in a democratic parliament. It is the numbers that decide an issue. There is no doubt that during the forthcoming election campaign members of the Opposition will try to make political capital out of the Common Market problem. They will stride up and down the country with fire and sword exploiting the fears of those who are engaged in the export of primary products to the United Kingdom. They will use the same distorted and garbled political argument on the public platform that they have used in the Senate and in another place. They will endeavour to pin on the Commonwealth Government the blame for all the evils, imagined or otherwise, which might flow from any British decision to join the European Economic Community. As the Opposition has no sound election policy, its members will seize on this issue as frantically as a drowning man grasps at a straw.
.- As we all know, Mr. Deputy President, this is a debate on the motion that the Estimates and Budget Papers 1961-62 be printed. Our respected leader has moved the following amendment: -
At end of the motion add the following words: - “ but that the Senate is of opinion that they fail iOmake adequate provision for Social Service Benefits,, especially Child Endowment, and Repatriation’ Benefits, that they fail to relieve the plight of taxpayers, the family unit, the farming community and other sections of the Australian people, and that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment, rising living, costs, failure of the public loan market, adverse balance of international payments on current, account, high interest rates and inadequatehousing.”.
That is a very good amendment which we on this side of the chamber, of course, heartily support. Our leader certainly gave us food for thought in the very able speech he delivered in support of the amendment.
This Budget has been ripped, torn and; blasted. It has been viciously and mercilessly attacked. Editors, entrepreneurs and financiers have said all manner of evil thingsagainst it. Its author, handsome Harold Holt, has been mentally scarified, criticized, denounced and politically damned. Indeed, his friends have already decided to run a. candidate against him. I do not know whether Harold is worried about that. Judging by the look on the handsome facesof our friends on the other side of the chamber, I should say they are not perturbed. The Government’s withers are unwrung. Our friends opposite smile the smile of a political wowser. You know what that is; Mr. Deputy President. It is the smile of self-satisfaction and selfrighteousness, which has been highly developed in our friends on the Government side.
Our friend, Senator Spooner; is not in the chamber at the moment. I have a lot of time for him. I think he is the Stalin, really, of the Liberal Party. The word “ Stalin “’ means, I understand, a man of steel. The honorable senator believes heart, soul and body in financial capitalism. That is the economic system under which we have our being to-day. But Senator Spooner fell from grace the other day when oar great friend from Queensland, Senator Woods-
– Drop the “ s “.
– “ Wood “ is the name, is it?
– That just shows the pettiness of our friends on the other side. They pull me up for the sake of an “ s “. Senator Woods really-
– - Senator Wood, you mean.
– I leave it to those few members of the public who are present to judge what kind of people are on the other side of the Senate when they see them foolishly interject in the way that the gentleman from South Australia is interjecting.
– Do not blame me for that last interjection.
– I am not worried about you. You are merely the product of your environment. You are a hillbilly from South Australia. Hillbillies act in a peculiar way, as we often see on television when hillbilly pictures are being shown. However, I have a lot of time for our friend personally, so I will forgive him.
– without the “ s “ - was practising what the Liberals preach. They say: “ There is freedom of expression in our party, unlike in the Labour Party. In our party every man has the right to speak freely and to set forth his ideas.” The other day we heard Stalin - I mean Senator Spooner - reply to the splendid speech of our leader. He wandered down the dark corridors of political casuistry and came up smiling, but at question time he attacked Senator Wood because the honorable senator had the temerity to speak his mind, as he did once before about the sales tax on motor cars.
– He is a brave man.
– He is brave politically and morally to do what he has done. I do not know about his physical bravery, but I suppose that in that he is equal to any one of us.
There has been much political rodomontade on the other side. We have the same old tactics. After 20 years’ experience in the Senate, and realizing the grave danger in which our country is to-day, I think it is incumbent upon honorable senators to try to understand fundamental economic and political facts, and to realize that merely digging into the past is not going to solve the problem. I should say that Senator Malcolm Scott is a political archaeologist or palaeontologist, whatever the term is. He is always digging into the past.
– As you said years ago, somebody was a troglodyte.
– I would not say Senator Scott is a troglodyte. He is too much alive for that. I did, on one occasion, call Senator Payne a troglodyte. He said, “ Why do you say that to me? “ I said, “ During my extensive historical reading I discovered that men and women, centuries ago, lived in caves. They were known to the intelligentsia and cognoscenti as troglodytes or cave-dwellers. The honorable senator does not live in a cave physically, but he does mentally. He is mentally a troglodyte.” Of course, I would not say that of Senator Scott. I would just say that he is a digger into the past, a political palaeontologist, if that is what they call it. I do not believe in calling people names. I could, as President Truman did to a man who attacked his daughter for her music, call him a snollygoster. I will not explain what that is. Honorable senators can look that up in the library. I could call him a coprolite. Look that up in the library too.
I want to speak for a few minutes to-night about how far the political activities of any government affect the economy of the country, and to what degree the present Menzies Government, during its twelve years of office, has adversely affected the political and economic position of this country, lt seems to me that many of the political gyrations, activities and changes of front of the Menzies Government have had a bad effect on the economic situation. When I heard Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, for whom we have the greatest regard, praise and congratulate the Government, and when I heard other honorable senators opposite congratulate the Government, I was reminded of a man who burns his house down, joins a bucket brigade trying to put out the fire, and then wants to be congratulated because of his activity in putting the fire out. We on this side of the chamber say emphatically that Australia’s problems are due directly to the activity, or lack of activity, of the Menzies Government. In saying that, we do not attack personally any individual on the other side. We are opposed to the policies of the Menzies Government. Even our friend, Senator Wood, warned us a few months ago of what would happen, and he was justified in his attack upon the Government. Members of the Opposition said the same, and time has proved us to be right. We say that the Government is not to be congratulated because it is taking action now to overcome problems created by its wrong policy.
Labour definitely has a policy to meet the present situation. In these days a party that seeks to control the affairs of this country must show clearly that it has a policy for developing Australia to the highest pitch. We must realize our position. We are in the southern seas, with forces of hatred against us. I will withdraw the word hatred and refer to forces of national development and national growth of population. At any time a population explosion might take place. The film that was shown in the Senate party room recently should have been seen by every man and woman in Australia. We should ask ourselves: What has the Government done in face of the terrors that may confront us before many years are over? What are we doing as a people, as a Government, as an Opposition and as members of Parliament to develop Australia to the highest pitch so as to safeguard our people?
Our friends opposite have brought down this Budget. What is the consensus of opinion throughout Australia? Editors, graziers, entrepreneurs of every description, financiers and even men of religion have spoken adversely of the Government because of its Budget proposals. Any reasonable man must admit that the Government has been faced with the greatest of difficulties. No matter whether the Australian Democratic Labour Party, the Australian Labour Party, the Douglas Credit Party or the Communist Party were in power, it would meet with the same difficulties. But those difficulties can be heightened by a stupid policy. If the Labour Party were to come to power it, too, would meet with the difficulties that were mentioned by our friend from Queensland, Senator Maher. This Budget has been called by all kinds of names. It has been called a stay-put budget. The Government has been accused of playing ducks and drakes. In another place during the debate on the Budget an Opposition supporter referred to the Budget as a yo-yo budget. That reminds me of the story about the judge who was sentencing a man to death. In the course of passing sentence the judge, moving his arm up and down, said, “You will be taken from here and hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead “. The prisoner replied, “ I do not mind being sentenced to death, but for God’s sake do not make a yo-yo of me “. The Government’s policies, like a yo-yo, have been up and down and in and out. The Government has been playing ducks and drakes with the economy. The Government has not had a definite policy in the last twelve years.
– No duck or drake could ever beat you.
– What is wrong with the troglodyte? Why has the Government behaved in this way? Admittedly it has been favoured with splendid seasons. Admittedly there has been great development. Why do Government supporters, whether they be in the Senate or in another place, endeavour to give the impression that if Labour had been in power Australia would not have advanced at all? Labour laid the foundations for the development that has taken place since it went out of power. Judging by the way Labour overcame the difficulties of the immediate postwar years, if Labour had been in power for the last twelve years Australia’s development and population would have increased remarkably. That would have been inevitable. A Labour government would not have been so foolish as to play ducks and drakes with the economy. Labour knows where it is going. Labour knows what it wants and is prepared to pass legislation in order to implement its policies and thereby make Australia safe for Australians.
My friend Senator Malcolm Scott likes to dig into the past. To-day, in a drawer in my room, I came across a copy of a statement made by Sir Arthur Fadden. I do not intend to quote that statement to the Senate with the idea of making political capital from it - not in the slightest way. I know that all of us make mistakes. The man who never made a mistake never made anything. All political parties should be prepared to investigate their past and to acknowledge the mistakes that they have made so that they may avoid those mistakes in the future. Sir Arthur Fadden, although my political enemy, was a great friend of mine. He once said: “ Never have Gordon Brown in your electorate. He tells lies and by the time you catch up with him is two miles away.” Sir Arthur Fadden, who was, like so many of them, recommended for a knighthood to the Sovereign by Mr. Menzies, once said -
The United Australia Party- lt is now the Liberal Party - gave its allegiance to the big financial and manufacturing interests of the cities and to the middlemen and monopolists because it received its support and power from those people. How then could the United Australia Party-
That is, the Liberal Party - serve the countryside as well as those in the city who suck the life blood from the countryside? No man associated with the United Australia Party - the party backed and influenced by city interests - could conscientiously serve city interests and ambitions and at the same time adequately realize what the countryside required in the way of legislation.
Reading those words I wonder whether the situation is any different to-day. Is this Government’s vacillating policy directly due to the fact that it is a composite government, made up of interests antagonistic to each other? Those antagonisms are manifest in the activities of the Cabinet and in the Government’s policies. Is it not a fact that the interests of Country Party members of the Cabinet are opposed to the interests of those Ministers who represent city electorates? I admit that with the passage of time the antagonisms to which I have referred have become less evident for reasons of political expediency. The situation that exists in the Government to-day is far different from what it would be if Mr. Menzies had full control of his Government. That must be admitted. The antagonistic interests are present in the Government and they act adversely to the development of Australia.
Anybody who has studied the political history of Australia knows how at all times the Country Party has fought bitterly against the industrial and commercial development of the country. The Country Party has always been bitterly opposed to the Labour Party because it knows that Labour’s view is that if we are to safeguard Australia and to develop and populate the country we must foster manufacturing interests and develop to the full industries other than primary industries. It is a good job that Labour’s policy has been put into effect to a great extent in the past. Australia’s position is better to-day as a result of that than it would have been under a Country Party policy, which aimed at making Australia a wood-and-water joey for the rest of the world.
It is interesting to study America’s internal and external markets position. America has placed greater emphasis on the development of her internal markets. Australia would have been in a better position if she had concentrated more on developing the country rather than depending on outside markets. We know that the powerful squatters and country organizations have always fought in their own interests. Those interests have been opposed to the development of Australia as a manufacturing nation. As Senator Maher pointed out, Australia may have to change radically her policies in view of Britain’s likely entry into the European Common Market. In Europe the fear of communism has brought together such countries as France and Germany, but the Common Market will never solve financial capitalism’s troubles. That may be a step in the right direction for England, but no student of economics will say that the development of the Common Market in Europe is a solution to the economic and national problems of the various member countries.
Coming back to the position in Australia, I find no reason whatsoever for complacency. I know the difficulties that have confronted this composite government with its antagonistic interests. In this world we are on the verge of an atomic war and on the verge of a huge population explosion and it is vitally necessary that the power of every man and woman should be utilized to the full to develop and safeguard Australia. Despite what we see in the world to-day, under this Government - its members are decent fellows; there is nothing wrong with them personally - Australia has 113,000 people unemployed and at least 150,000 people semi-unemployed. Yet we stand in our places and attack the totalitarian countries no matter where they may be. Is there a totalitarian state in this wide world that would allow 263,000 useful people to be idle? No! Then how can we expect to beat the totalitarian states with that form of democracy? To my way of thinking, it is absurd that supporters of the Government should be so complacent in the face of the terrors which may confront us in the near future.
I am not making a political attack at all. My time is very short. I will not be bothering the electors for very much longer. From an Australian point of view, I say that every man and woman in this Parliament should look at the situation fairly and squarely and realize that there is something rotten in the state of Denmark and there is something radically wrong in our economic situation when so many people are out of work. I put it to honorable senators, as good Australians and members of this Parliament, that there is something radically wrong when the Prime Minister of Australia gets hot under the collar and says that Labour people are destroying the confidence of the people of Australia. Ever since I was a boy 60 years ago, when J sold my first pamphlet for the Labour movement-
– Do not flatter yourself. That was 70 years ago.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood).- Order!
– There are people in the galleries. Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the Labour side. Those gentlemen are on the Liberal-Country Party side. They are supposed to have more education than we have, yet stupid remarks come from them when a man is trying to speak seriously on a very serious matter: I know the grave consequences to Australia that will follow if we do not wake up. We are living in a fool’s paradise. Do not make any mistake about that.
– Of course we are. We have had a succession of Menzies Governments.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I ask Senator Dittmer to allow Senator Brown to continue his remarks.
– I am trying to help him.
– After all, we should judge the activities of any government in relation to world conditions. Government supporters flatter themselves by saying that this is a wonderful Budget. I was in this Senate in 1937 when a £100,000,000 Budget was introduced and the people of this country were astounded. I understand that this is a £1,935,169,000 Budget.
Coming down to my State of Queensland, if 1 may be pardoned for coming down from the elevated standard I have adopted to deal with parochial matters. I say that this Government - flattered and congratulated by some Queensland parliamentarians - has done so little for Queensland that after twelve years it has offered to spend £650,000 to build a road from Julia Creek to Normanton for the transport of beef cattle! Just imagine that! After twelve years the Government is going to spend £650,000! We welcome the offer, but it is a pity that that money was not spent years and years ago. Queensland has been neglected, as has been stated by the members of the tory parties in Queensland - Nicklin, Morris and company - and also by Senator Ian Wood and many others who owe allegiance to the tory parties. Queensland indeed has been neglected.
There is .no .room /for complacency. As a matter of fact, members <of .the Australian Country Party must realize that even farm incomes ‘have fallen from ?472,000,000 to ?467,000,000 a year, and 1 am told that the farmers are working harder and longer and producing more than ever before. I am told that .the income from the dairy industry is down by ?4,000,000 and the income from ,the wool industry is down by ?49,000,000. I do not say that such falls are all due to the Government. The point I am making is this: Do not flatter yourselves; do not congratulate yourselves; do not be so complacent; ask yourselves why this is so and how we can overcome our economic difficulties. Will we overcome them by using the methods that the Government has used - that is, by putting men and women out of work and destroying the confidence of enterprising people such as the manufacturers and others? That is not the way to do so. In our democracy there should be some method whereby, in a time of stress, the financial powers of Australia can be utilized for the purpose of keeping our people at work. We say that that can be done.
I was dealing with Queensland. I wish to direct attention to an article written by Mr. Harold Cox, who is a capitalist writer in the capitalist press. This is not the Labour Party speaking - not at all. Mr. Cox has written this article under the caption “ Canberra got out cheaply “, with pictures of Senator “ Stalin “ Spooner and Mr. Robert Gordon Menzies. He refers to Mr. Nicklin and his friend, whoever he was, coming down to Canberra and he says -
The net result of the meeting is that Queensland in the end must find the whole of the ?29 million estimated to be necessary to reconstruct the Mount Isa railway.
But at a time in the life of the Parliament when hand-outs have become the order of the day . . .
There will be an election soon -
We are not jealous of Western Australia. We say “ Good luck “ to them. We want to see that State go ahead. We want everyone to go ahead. The article goes on to say -
As most of the West Australian Government’s share will come from the State’s consolidated revenue, it is inevitable that the Grants Commis sion will jack up the State’s special ; grant .to meet this commitment, and the real Jesuit almost certainly will be ‘that ‘the Commonwealth will pay the lion’s -share -of the money.
That is the money that is ‘to be lent to Western Australia. That is exactly what Senator Wood said, but Senator Spooner hauled him over the coals for running against his party. Western Australia is to receive money from ‘the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Good luck to it. I am not jealous of it, nor .is Queensland. It .is hardly fair ito Queensland, though.
Mr. Cox went on to say ;
Had the same .nominal division of the cost -of the West Australian railway been applied to the Mr Isa railway the Commonwealth would have paid about ?10 million as a straightout contribution, whereas it is to provide nothing but to give an extra ?4.35 million for ‘Queensland roads. Thus the Commonwealth comes off more than ?5 million better and Queensland ?5 million worse than would have been the case had -the allocation basis tor the West Australian railway project been applied ‘to the Mr ‘Isa project.
Perhaps Senator .Spooner will deal with this matter at a later stage. He has already explained, in a certain .way, that the Commonwealth is assisting to finance the Western Australian railway line because it qualifies under the rail -standardization legislation.
The Government must realize that not sufficient work has been done in the field of oil search. I know that money has been spent in the .search for oil, and I know that Senator Spooner and Senator Scott are apt to ask, when the matter is raised: “What did Labour >do? What did Alfred Deakin do? What did Sir George Reid do? “ They go right back to the past. I remember that at one time in this Senate when I was speaking and Senator Hardy was speaking-
– Both at the same time?
– No. I was speaking and he was chipping in. He asked me, “What did Nelson say in 1805?”, and -I replied, “ Kiss me, Hardy. Go to sleep.” It is not a matter of what Labour did or did not do. The fact is that we are now up against world .developments that call for the greatest expenditure of national energy for the purpose of safeguarding Australia. As our leader in the Senate has pointed out time and again, it does not matter about past events; the Government is not doing, sufficient now in the search for oil. There is no need for me to speak, at this time of what it would mean economically for Australia if a gusher were to be found.
An article on the subject of oil search appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ newspaper a short time ago. It related to an interview with a Mr. Rudman, an American, who had made some very significant remarks. The article stated that he was prepared to invest £500,000 a year in the: search for oil in Australia. Evidently he is an expert in this field. He is reported to have said that about 100 of his business associates were willing to invest 9,000,000 dollars a year for ten years for oil exploration in Australia. He went on to say -
Drilling for oil in. Australia should be increased by about 100 times.
I say to the Government: Do not sit back in the breeching. Do hot become complacent.. Do not think you will be returned to power and that therefore there is no need for you to do anything. Take notice of these men who have spent a lifetime in trying to find oil and realize that you are not doing enough in this regard.
I do not want to be a Jeremiah or a prophet of doom, or to paint a pessimistic picture. We as Australians are faced with the threat of the nuclear bomb. We are also faced with the breeding millions to the north and with the likelihood of a population explosion which could have dire effects on. this community. I have spoken before in the Senate in this context and have mentioned a remark made by General Cariappa on leaving this country to go back to India. Honorable senators may remember that he was the representative of India in Australia for a year or two. He said that Australia was part of Asia and that it was like having a big house occupied by one or two people, while the occupants refused rooms to good people who wanted accommodation. As the motion picture that was shown in the Senate club-room recently illustrated, the Indian population is increasing at the rate of millions a year. When I saw the picture T thought of China and of the statement by Mao Tse-tung that if there was a war and China lost 10,000,000 people in January it would make up that population loss by December. We know that the
Chinese population is increasing at an everaccelerating rate. Population increase is one of the greatest problems of other countries; yet our problem is lack of population. Do. not make any error about it - the people who control China to-day are merciless men. If Japan should ever go “ Comm.”, God help us, because then there would be a combination of China and Japan.
I propose to read to the Senate a few words taken from a book by Roy MacGregor-Hastie called “Red Barbarians “. At the third congress of the Rumanian Workers Party at Bucharest, Khrushchev stated: -
We do not intend to yield to provocation and to deviate from the general line of our foreign policy - a policy of co-existence, a policy of consolidating peace. One cannot mechanically repeat now what Lenin said many decades ago on imperialism, and go on asserting that imperialist wars are inevitable until socialism triumphs throughout the world.
I ask honorable senators to listen to what Mao Tse-tung had to say in reply to Khrushchev’s statement, a few weeks after the congress to which I have referred. These are his words and this is how he looks out at the world -
As pupils of Lenin and Leninists we must utterly smash al! attempts of modern revisionists to distort and carve up the teachings of Lenin. We believe in the absolute correctness of Lenin’s thinking, that war is an inevitable outcome of systems of exploitation and the source of modern wars is the imperialist system.
Mao Tse-tung believes that there is only one solution of the struggle that is going on between the free world and the Communist regime, and that is war. That is why we in this country should think hard and behave ourselves politically. That is why we as a parliament should try to find a solution of the economic difficulties that confront us, and why we should fight all the time to build up such a financial and economic system that we can bring into Australia thousands of our fellows from overseas who, like ourselves, will work for the advancement of Australia. Instead of decrying one another or telling the people to go out and spend we should be trying to find a solution of our difficulties. Did you ever hear such a petty argument in all your life coming from a man who was supposed to be intelligent, when we are faced with a most serious economic situation and thousands of men are out of work when every man should be in work? All he can do is criticize the Labour Party and say that we are destroying the confidence of the people. It does not require confidence to produce wealth. It requires the placing of men and women in our factories, the use of all the forces of production, and the bringing together and proper organizing of them. Men and women should be given something to fight for and something to work for. The young people do not want rock ‘n’ roll and all the blather you hear on the radio. You need to impress upon the young men and women that they should have an Australian outlook and fight for Australia. You have to organize Australia. You have to put our people to work. If you do so, you will be in a better position to fight those who would impose upon the world a system that would destroy all democratic freedom.
– I always welcome the debate on the motion to print the Estimates and Budget Papers because it gives one an opportunity to introduce matters which one would like to bring before the Senate for consideration but which ordinarily one cannot discuss. I would prefer not even to refer to the Budget, but as an amendment to the motion for the printing of the papers has been moved, I shall have to give some reasons why I am opposing the amendment and supporting the motion. I shall do so as shortly as possible.
To recapitulate all the arguments that have been given in another place and here, as well as in the press, would be tedious. The plain fact is that, although the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell) denies this, there was a boom. There was a very dangerous boom, and the Government had to take some corrective measures. It had to take such corrective measures as it could, and although nowadays I am afraid it is fashionable to help the confusion in the minds of some electors by giving the impression that this Federal Parliament is omnipotent, our measures are limited by the Constitution. There are certain things that we cannot do. That fact has to be considered when you ask, “Why did the Government use credit restriction? “ Credit restriction was the main part and the least controversial part, of the Government’s measures.
I think virtually everybody who has examined the situation says that either this should have been done or something else should have been done because it was necessary to correct the overseas balances. It was necessary to see that we had enough money in the bank to pay for what we wanted. The alternative measure was one which we had recently abandoned, or had almost entirely abandoned, leaving only a few fragments of the previous policy - that was, the policy of import controls.
We are being urged by certain business interests who think they will profit thereby to re-impose import controls, which I think the Opposition has promised it will do ii it is elected to office. The fact should be remembered by everybody that we are by treaty bound not to use import controls once the trade balance has been corrected. Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that is laid down for all countries. Therefore, when the trade balance has been corrected - and everybody admits now that it has been corrected - import controls are not permitted.
Import controls are being asked for mainly on the ground that they will protect Australian industry. That’ is an illegitimate method of protecting Australian industry. We have two methods. We have the tariff, which is decided virtually by the Tariff Board because the Parliament nearly always accepts its recommendation. In the case of an emergency, where the Tariff Board hearing would be delaying matters too long, we have set up a system of quick hearing by public servants who will give an emergency duty to protect an industry that is threatened. That is all that the Government should do to-day, and I hope that we have heard the last of import controls. I think it is a thoroughly vicious and bureaucratic method of correcting an evil and that if we can find another method we should use it.
Now, partly because of credit restriction but also, I think, because many people who, with blind self-confidence, were rushing into speculation and other things have suddenly found that it is wise not to do so and a certain chill has set in, we have an amount of unemployment. I shall briefly say what we are doing to correct it.
We are using many positive methods, some of them being short-term credit. The reduced sales tax is beneficial to the consumer, particularly the consumers who need’ it most - young people who are beginning to set up a home, lt will also stimulate those Australian industries which supply their needs.
We have provided money for local government. I have heard two different views in this chamber about the efficacy of that provision. One is that you could pour out any amount of money and it would be used. The other is that probably not much of it would be- used. I believe that a great deal of it could be used. Honorable senators who know anything of local government are aware that many municipalities and shire councils could undertake work speedily and that the money made available to them would provide employment quite quickly.
I feel a great deal of pride in connexion with rail standardization because I was a member of the Government members’ rail standardization committee, headed by Mr. Wentworth, which recommended standardization. This work will provide an enormous amount of employment.
Another matter in which I feel a great deal of pride is the development of Canberra. I have always thought that Canberra should have been built in a period when there was unemployment. Unfortunately, very little use was made of the available resources to build Canberra during the worst period of unemployment in the country in the 1930’s. A few little things were done. A road was made, and a tiny library building was constructed. We would not have been facing the enormous expenditure with which we are confronted to-day if any of the governments that were in power during that period had used the unemployed resources to build this capital city.
In the field of social services, certain people have asked why the Government has not improved this or raised that. The basic need attended to by the Budget has been the need of the people. While we have not satisfied completely the demand of any one group, we have increased war pensions and general pensions - the field where the effects will be felt most.
I come now to the subject of taxation. It is true that there have been great demands for reductions of taxation. Such demands are made whenever a budget is under consideration and they are constantly borne in mind. I listen to the arguments on the subject from both sides of the Senate, read about it, and try to see what we can do, and I know that an enormous amount of our expenditure is fixed and, that without abandoning our attempt to make this country secure a great deal of it cannot be reduced. Taxation is an intricate problem which I do not profess fully to understand. I often doubt whether anybody fully understands it. The problem has become so intricate that you cannot make one move in this field without affecting all kinds of other considerations.
Some people object to sales tax. I do. I would prefer that we could do without it and without a tax on employment, but there are various canons of taxation. One is to place it where it can be borne best and the other is to collect it where it can be collected best without evasion or avoidance - the euphemistic term that is now being used instead of “ evasion “ - and, furthermore, to place it where it will not depress initiative or enterprise. I think that income tax, if all incomes are assessed fairly, is perhaps the fairest of all taxation. It is also a form of taxation that always tends to reduce effort and initiative because people resent income tax more than they resent other forms of taxation. I know that it is possibly because they do not always realize they are paying the other taxes; that is, unfortunately, human nature. The certainty of collection is one of the greatest canons of taxation.
I have thought that there were other things the Government could have done but I am certainly not going to say that, because it did not do one of the things I thought and suggested it should do, the Government’s judgment, based on sources of information that I have not got, was wrong.
Finally, I think that the greatest thing that this Government has done is its terrific drive to develop our exports. Every day we get information, if one cares to read it. showing that the Government’s attempt to increase exports has resulted in exports being increased greatly. The other day, for instance, we renewed for a year a treaty with France, by which France agreed not to sell flour from its subsidized wheat in our traditional markets in the Middle East. To-day, I asked a question and received an answer which indicated that a mission had just returned from New Caledonia and other islands of the Pacific. Reading information supplied by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), one finds that everywhere our Department of Trade is enormously active and is expanding our trade.
I shall conclude what I have to say about the Budget and its measures by quoting from the Governor’s Speech at the opening of the New South Wales Parliament. The Governor’s Speech, as we know, expresses the opinion of the government of the day, which in New South Wales is a Labour Government, led by Mr. Heffron The Governor said -
My advisers have full confidence in the underlying stability of the economy and feel sure that the present situation will prove but a temporary pause in our economic growth and development.
That is quite different from the gloom that we have heard from some honorable senators opposite and I think that the reason is quite obvious. The Premier of New South Wales, being in a responsible position, is somewhat different from those who sit in opposition and can therefore criticize and try to throw the whole blame on this Government.
There are several matters upon which I wish to commend the Government. These have probably very little election value. In fact, possibly I might even make some enemies by mentioning them, but I think that they are of enormous importance to this country. I welcome the appointment of a committee to inquire into tertiary education. As honorable senators know, this Government has established the Australian Universities Commission, which has inquired into the state of the present universities and has recommended payments to them. That has been wholly beneficial and has prevented the universities from stagnating. In that field alone the inquiry must go on and those universities must expand. But tertiary education to-day goes far beyond what used to be considered university education. Virtually everybody in the community, except the person who is content to be an unskilled labourer for the whole of his life, needs constant education and re-education. Apart from the old universities, which gave education in what used to be called and are still called the humanities, the scientific schools, and schools for medicine, law and so forth, we have always had a system of tertiary education for industry. The universities must expand. New skills must be devised and more and more trained technicians must be turned out. lt is obvious that this is a national problem and that if the existing universities attempted to shoulder it all they would simply stagger under the burden.
It is possible that we need some new types of tertiary educational bodies. Personally, I do not think that people should be misled by names and believe that, because one body is called a university and another is called something else, there is any difference between them except a dfference of function. It is not a question of superiority or inferiority. In the State of Massachusetts, in the United States of America, there is a great institution which is called an institute of technology. It has what would be called a university side. It is mainly concerned with technology, with training engineers and all kinds of other technicians, but it has a liberal educational side. It was my privilege some years ago - nearly ten years ago now - to visit Dean Burchard, of that great institution, who certainly would equal in scholarship any university professor that I have ever met.
When we get the committee’s report we may have to do a great deal of thinking. We shall need all the information that we can get, because it is quite possible that this committee will recommend some rather big changes in our tertiary education system, but that is something that must be faced. I am .gravely perturbed for the future of the world when I reflect on the enormous material gains, gains in prestige and gains in careers which seem to be flowing to one particular group. It is not that that particular group should not get them, but it would be a disaster if it attracted all the brilliant people who could profit by it.
It is a great fallacy to think that any advanced study does not require high intelligence. Years ago in the schools, when people found it was rather futile to try to teach everybody Latin or Greek, various other courses were devised. Some people thought of woodwork and various craftmanships as being for those of inferior intellect. But in the schools it was found that the brighter, boys excelled in all studies. The idea, that because a person could do Latin he could not do good woodwork, or because a person could do woodwork he could not do Latin, was found to be completely fallacious. Perhaps from lack of interest or lack of some special skill or some special little: trick in the brain, some people seem to be unsuited for certain subjects, but I think it is the opinion to-day of everybody who has studied education that there are different degrees of intelligence. I will not say that that has been proved, but it has certainly been made to appear very possible, partly by intelligence tests and various other tests. To-day, the theory is that in every 100 persons there are so many of very high intelligence, so many of average, so many of less than average, and so many of poor intelligence. This is the point: In general, the highly intelligent person can do anything, the moderately intelligent person can do a great many things, and the person of rather poor intelligence; can do very little very well.
I want to stress this in speaking of education, because we hear debates which seem to me to be almost as bad as some’ of the debates in another parliament of which one has read, which become a mere matter of name-calling. I have not joined in the current controversy - there are two or three current controversies in New South Wales - for the simple reason that I think it is better that Federal and State politics should not be mixed up too much, and because I do not want to be involved in foolish controversies and made to appear to be supporting one group, whereas I can see the errors of that group as well as the errors of another. For instance, I read in a newspaper that somebody had used the term “ intellectual snobs “, to describe certain people who wanted to preserve certain studies in the interests of the very bright people who engage in them. The term “ intellectual snob “ simply has no meaning; because the words are quite opposite. A snob is a person who has a lot of mean admiration or a lot of mean things, or wants something not because he really appreciates it but simply because he thinks it win make him appear brighter in the eyes of the foolish. Intellect is simply something that operates and exists almost as a natural force. So I want to keep away from these controversies.
I shall now make a little review of the work of the Australian National University - I have read its reports - and make one positive suggestion. The Canberra University College, as honorable senators know, was by an act of this Parliament made part of the Australian National University. Much water has flowed along the Molonglo since then and time has shown that this, was a good measure and that the two institutions are working well together. They are known now as the Institute of Advanced! Studies and the School of General Studies, and I am very happy to congratulate the Canberra University College on having full university status. I believe that it will develop and become one of the most important universities in Australia.
Let me say in passing that I read with very great pleasure in the final report of the college that the first of the new buildings had been named the Haydon-Allen building after the two original lecturers. I do not know Professor Haydon, but I have no doubt that he well deserved that honour. Professor L. H. Allen, who was the Professor of English but who was equally qualified to lecture on classics and half a dozen other subjects, is one of the greatest teachers this country has produced. I am’ happy to say that he is still a resident of Canberra. I hope he will live long to enjoy the honour that has been conferred upon him.
I come now to that part of the Australian National University which is now known as the Institute of Advanced Studies. I confess that I have not read the whole of the report, but I am afraid there are parts of it which are unintelligible to any one who is not a specialist. I have glanced through it to get as good an idea as I can about what the particular schools are doing, but when one comes to a description of some experiment in physics or some course of study at the John Curtin School of Medical Research one simply does not know what it is about. I asked one of my friends who is a doctor what they were doing and he said: “I know nothing about it. It is not clinical research. That is the ultimate kind of research which we hope will be of great benefit to medicine. As to what they do exactly, I am afraid I could not tell you.”
– Did you not say that a person of high intellect could handle most things?
– Yes, but you cannot handle anything unless you have learned the tricks of the trade. For one thing, one must learn a vocabulary of a few thousand words. One has to spend hours and hours studying that aspect of the matter. The real point is that when you get to specialization you have a specialized course. For example, I could not handle an aeroplane because I do not know how to do so. There is no point in the interjection, although I know such a statement is all right as a passing reference. In all of these special studies it is necessary to spend years and years in study to understand even the basic concepts and how they are worked out. The point I do make is this: If a man had gone to the John Curtin School of Medical Research instead of to the School of Physics, probably he would have done just as good work there, apart from personal tastes, of course.
I turn now to something of which I have some knowledge - the School of History. I regret that Sir Keith Hancock has resigned from his position as Director of Social Sciences. I am very glad, however, that he has retained his appointment as Professor of History. That is a subject in which I have a much greater interest and about which I know a lot more. I am glad to note that the School of History has in hand quite a number of excellent research projects. I hope that ultimately they will mean that our history will be written. It is not written now. When Senator Brown was speaking he used the expression “ Everybody who knows our history “. The plain fact is that none of us knows our history, because it has not been written. The only way in which one can acquire a knowledge of a particular part of our political history is to make a careful study of the original documents. If one wants to understand what happened at a particular period, one has to go through all the rele vant “ Hansard “ reports. In other countries that work is done by a large army of specialists, and one can get informative secondary studies which give one the information desired. I hope the university is doing that kind of work.
Let me mention one or two specific examples. Dr. Lloyd Ross was a student at the School of History for a few months. He attended there in order to be able to complete a work which he had begun years before - a biography of a former Prime Minister, John Curtin. I believe that work will be a very valuable addition to our biography, of which we have too little. Another great work that has been undertaken is the production of an Australian dictionary of biography. That will be of very great value. In England, in any Continental country or in the United States of America, one can get authentic information about almost any great character of the past. But similar information is not available here. I do not know one biography of an Australian statesman or public man which I would regard as being worthy. We have compilations, we have partisan publications, and we have little snippets of information here and there. But the picture that almost everybody has of the great men of the past is a partial and biased one. Therefore, to have a dictionary of national biography will be greatly to the advantage of all our young people and to the future education of this country.
However, work on that publication is proceeding very slowly. I note that Mr. M. H. Ellis has been appointed editor for the first volume, which covers the period from 1788 to 1825. Mr. Malcolm Ellis wrote the biography of Macquarie, which is one of the few really good biographies ever written in this country. But the period with which he is dealing was before the period of our constitutional development. Professor Manning Clark, who has already prepared a very fine source book of Australian history, is editing the second volume, which covers the period from 1826 to 1850. Only provisional editors within the various colonies have been provided to cover the period from 1851 to 1890. That was the period in which virtually the whole of our constitutional development occurred. Until 1843 all the Australian colonies were Crown colonies.
In 1843 New South Wales received a partially elected Legislative Council and in 1851 the remaining colonies, with the exception of Western Australia, received partially elected Legislative Councils. It was not until 1855-56 that responsible government was given to all the colonies except Queensland, which was not then in existence, and Western Australia, which did not receive it until 1890. So the history of all that constitutional development, which is of tremendous value to any student, is scattered in the Mitchell Library, in the National Library and in a lot of little pamphlets here and there; it is not collected into the form in which it could be of value.
Now I come to the positive suggestion thai I said I wanted to make. I believe thai education should be left to the States. Unfortunately under our system of finance a great deal of the money must come from the Commonwealth Parliament. Let me say that I am fully in favour of more money being made available for education. But I do not think that the centralization of policies here at Canberra is desirable. I do not think an attempt to direct the whole system from one centre would be good. In fact, our systems are too big already. Certainly the New South Wales system is far too big. I repeat that education should be left to the States. I think that the States are doing very well. We have been urged about twenty times this evening not to be complacent. I am not at all complacent about the State systems of education, but I do believe that they have developed very well indeed. I believe, moreover, that every State has a good system for the training of teachers.
I suggest that the Australian National University should establish a training school for secondary teachers. I know that some secondary teachers will not welcome that suggestion. They will say, “We did not have that training, but we are good teachers “. I was trained only as a primary teacher but was made a secondary teacher. While some of the elements of teaching are the same whether one is teaching children or old men and women, a special skill and a special degree of knowledge are demanded of those who teach in secondary schools. France has what is called a superior normal school or training college. The French have many such colleges for the primary teachers, but they have a superior one for secondary teachers. That has become a great training school not only for teachers but for people in all professions, including university professors. There are university professors, of course, who have great knowledge but also who have no skill whatever in teaching. That means, of course, that their knowledge is largely wasted.
Having made that suggestion, I hope the Commonwealth Office of Education, which may have some interest in the matter, will consider it. I note that one of the duties of the Commonwealth Office of Education is to undertake research relating to education. Another is to establish and maintain a liaison with other countries and the States in matters relating to education. I commend the suggestion to that department. I commend it also to the committee which has been appointed to inquire into tertiary education, and to the National University. Therefore, Sir, I feel that this Budget is sound, under .the circumstances of the present day, and is a reflection of sound government policy.
– When I have listened to speeches in this House I have often thought how much better it would have been if the last half of the speech had not been made - in other words, if the speakers had followed the old advice to stand up, speak up and shut up. However, I thought that the latter half of Senator McCallum’s speech was very good. He dealt objectively with a subject which his background fits him peculiarly well to deal with. The only thing I can say about the first part of his speech was that he displayed the admirable quality of loyalty, but, unfortunately, I must attach the adjective “ blind “. I thought that in that part of his speech he was under a complete misapprehension, because he said that Mr. Heffron, the Premier of New South Wales, has faith in the future of this country whilst his Labour colleagues in this place have not. The proposition that we have tried to put before the public for the last twenty months now is that the Labour Party has complete faith in this country. We do not believe that even the activities of the Menzies Government can prevent the country from progressing. What we say is that national development has been needlessly hindered by the sto’p-and-go policies that have been pursued by this Government, particularly in the last twenty months.
– Which have proved so successful.
– Senator McKellar says, “ Which have proved so successful “. One thing I admire about honorable senators opposite is that they continue to say that, even though every newspaper and every objective writer in the country has said -exactly the contrary about the results of the -Government’s economic measures. Senator Ridley pointed out to-day that Senator Spooner said that he had not heard anybody say that he thought the Government had done anything wrong since it abandoned import controls. Senator Ridley said that there were none so deaf as those who would riot hear, and I thought that that summed the position up admirably. Senator McKellar has said that the Government’s economic measures have met with admirable success, but the present number of 1 unemployed - about 1 13,000-^is the highest since the end of the war.
When 1 read the Budget speech and the papers attached to it I was reminded of a passage in Gibbon’s “ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire “. In his amazing style of writing, Gibbon depicted a man standing on a great mountain. There was an abyss in front of him, a morass behind him and canyons on each side. I am not professing to use Gibbon’s exact words, but he said that it was impossible for the man to advance, unthinkable for him to retreat and untenable that he should stand still. I think that that is the position in which the Government found itself when it set out to prepare this Budget. By its own actions, it had created a situation in which it was impossible to advance.
I <lo not -think that you can look at the economic situation to-day merely in terms of this Budget. After all, a budget is only one of the media of fiscal and economic policy. Therefore, we must go back and loOk at what has happened over a period of time. Since this Government came into power, nearly twelve long, weary years ago, rt has pursued a policy of stop and start, df dropping import controls, of encouraging import ‘businesses only to send them broke overnight, and of putting on harsh controls one day and taking them off the next. That has been the pattern over the last twelve years. But there has been a special pattern during the last twenty months, and the Government’s actions in that time nave been more vicious in their application than ever before.
When the Government abandoned import controls, it created, so to speak, an abyss. It had to halt in front of that abyss last November. When the Government abandoned import controls, it did so on the basis Of one of those neat sets of economic theories. There is something fascinating about economic theories. You start off with a syllogism, a double base, and arrive at a conclusion. It is always a pleasant mental exercise. You can always convince yourself of what you want to be convinced of. However, I do not know of any field in which the theorist comes to nought so quickly as in the field of economics. The theorists work these things out on paper, but they forget that they are not dealing with paper men and women. They are dealing with the minds of people - traders, manufacturers, workers and importers. There are many factors that come into the field of economics, and many economic theories faiL Ohe of the economic theories on which the Government worked when it abandoned import controls was that the abandonment of those controls would lead to lower prices on the home market. Have there been lower prices in Australia during the last 20 months?
– What about houses? Senator Spooner quoted figures the other day.
– What about lawn mowers and furniture?
– Houses, lawn mowers and furniture. That is a pretty wide range. Let us take the subject of housing. We had cheaper houses in Western Australia six years ago, without the dropping of import controls. The Labour Government in that State decided that it would cure the housing shortage and, so to speak, it threw everything at housing. During the three years that it took that Government to overcome the housing shortage, the price of houses went up, but when the position was reached that there was no longer a great queue of people waiting for houses, there was an immediate decline in the cost of houses. There was. more competition by tenderers, and so- on. What happened had nothing to do with what the Commonwealth- Government had done. It was merely a question of supply and demand; it was as simple as that.
One of the industries in Australia most affected by the dropping of import controls is the textile industry. When the Government lifted import controls and allowed, textiles to come into Australia from cheap-labour countries, we did not get cheaper textiles in Australia. Take an article such as a man’s shirt, an every-day commodity which is sold in ‘great quantity. The market becomes accustomed to a certain price for a certain type of shirt. If a. medium quality shirt was selling at £2 or £2 10s., it was carrying a mark-up on the manufacturer’s price of 25 per cent, or 26 per cent. When the Government allowed Japanese shirts, for instance, to come in, the retailer did not say that he would reduce the price of shirts. The market was attuned to a price of about. £2 for a shirt of that quality. The retailer, instead of marking up the manufacturer’s price by 25 per cent, or 26 per cent., marked it up by 80 per cent. He provided the goods that the public was accustomed to buying, and he provided them at the price that the public was accustomed to paying. The only results of the application of the Government’s high economic theory in that instance were to strike a blow at the Australian textile manufacturers and to give a greater profit to the big retailers.
The Government has another theory. It is that if the manufacturers in Australia are unable to compete with imports on the home market, they will be able to help the export drive by disposing of their goods overseas. That is a nice, neat economic theory. It should have been realized that the only way to improve our exports is by a form of subsidy. I do not mean a subsidy in the narrow sense and I do not overlook the possibility that some day a Commonwealth government will be forced to subsidize exports. The Government must allow young manufacturers to achieve a high rate of production so that their unit cost will be low. When they are forced into a low rate of production, inevitably their unit cost rises. Then the Govern ment’s purpose is- defeated in two ways, because the community is deprived of a cheaper product and the manufacturers are unable to: compete on overseas markets. Instead of encouraging manufactures to increase production and so achieve lower unit costs, the. Government aimed a direct blow at them. It forced them to become importers. In Sydney and Melbourne textile manufacturers who were forced out of the export market had to turn to importing, in order to remain in the game. If the Government does not give the manufacturers some protection it forces, those manufacturers, who have invested capital in Australian machinery and who. employ Australians, to import the goods manufactured by workmen in other countries. After all, we have been, living in a. protectionist society for longer than most of us care to remember. All that the Government will do by its policy is create employment, in other countries and create unemployment in Australia.
The Government seems to have an almost pathological attitude towards manufacturers. I cannot understand why the Government, bends over backwards to help importers but will not assist manufacturers, who. make great capital investments in Australia and who must keep abreast of trends in new machinery and skills. They are the great employers of labour in this country. The importers, on the other hand, do not make great capital investments in Australia.. They do not have great skills in manufacturing. They do not employ hundreds and thousands of people.
What other reasons led the Government to abandon import controls and then to try to reverse the situation by the November economic measures? It is interesting to note what Mr. Menzies said on this matter. I propose to quote from a speech made by him at the time when he decided to take a backward step and remove the extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars. He said -
The effects of the boom included an increased demand for imports, while our export income, so dependent on primary products, remained somewhat depressed. This, I should point out, is not because primary production has fallen; on the contrary, it has increased. But the “terms of trade “ have moved against Australia very significantly since 1953. By that I mean that the prices of imports, as contrasted with the prices of exports, have not fallen, so that the imports we can buy for a given quantity of exports have been reduced. If our terms of trade are taken as an index figure of 100 in 1953 (itself a relatively normal year) the figure to-day is 65. This, which is beyond our control, since we cannot fix the price paid by the world for our exports, is at the root of our present problem. The terms of trade have moved against us more than against almost any other country in the world. In the result, our overseas reserves, vital to our activities as a great international trading nation were (and are) falling at too rapid a rate. We have been living beyond our means internationally, with the result that reserves are being drawn upon to meet current business payments. This is not good business, as every businessman knows.
– From what statement are you quoting?
– The statement of the Prime Minister in connexion with the removal of the extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars. The statement was made the night before his departure for the United States of America.
– In February this year?
– I think so. The Prime Minister points out that here was a situation that had been worsening since 1953 - in other words, the value of imports greatly exceeded the value of our exports. What would one expect a government to do in those circumstances? The Government did the one thing that the Prime Minister seemed to indicate should not be done; it increased the rate of imports. In other words, in order to empty the bath, instead of pulling out the plug you turn on the tap full bore, and then wonder why the bath overflows. The trading situation had been going against us since 1953, yet the Governmen stepped up the flow of imports in order to see what would happen. When the Government announced its November economic measures it had gone as far as it could go. It could not go any farther in that direction. If it had done so it would have stepped over the precipice. It would then have had to admit its error. The Government was then in the second position of the tripod; it was unthinkable to retreat in spite of the fact that the Department of Trade was saying that the situation could not be held much longer. Retreat was unthinkable because of the Government’s pride. The Government has reached the stage where it is almost preaching the doctrine of infallibility. Retreat was impossible also because the Government could not change the policy that it had adopted in February of last year towards importers, those spoilt darlings of the Australian business community. So the Government tried to correct the position by introducing a credit squeeze. The one person you do not get at with a credit squeeze is the importer. I know of no law that can be passed which will prevent an exporter in London from making credits available to an importer in Sydney, or stop an exporter or a financier in Japan from making credits available to an importer in Melbourne. The importer was the one person in the community who was peculiarly immune to the November credit squeeze. But the manufacturers were -not immune. They were caught from all angles until in the early part of this year people in Melbourne and Sydney who were forced to borrow money were being charged interest rates as high as 18 per cent, per annum. That was one of the positions into which small businessmen were pushed by the Government.
– Where did this take place?
– Around Melbourne and Sydney, and possibly in Hobart, too.
– Are not the moneylending boards-
– The honorable senator may make inquiries for himself. I give him my word that I can take him to businessmen who will tell him that they were asked to pay interest at the rate I have mentioned. It is not sufficient for the Government merely to say that it will apply a credit squeeze. Overnight certain businesses had to seek accommodation to tide them over a temporary period of difficulties. When they sought accommodation they discovered that the ruling rate of interest was high. That was the position that obtained for a few months in the early part of this year. As you squeeze the manufacturers - the great employers of labour in Australia - so inevitably you get unemployment. The Government took one of its small backward steps into the morass it had created when it realized its stupid error in increasing by 10 per cent, the sales tax on motor cars. In announcing the removal of the surcharge the Prime Minister, taking a step back into the morass, said - this is another of those lovely economic theories that are so enticing to look at-that the Government did not intend to create unemployment but rather to deploy or reemploy the people. Inferentially at least, what the Government was saying was that the manufacturers were making the wrong kinds of goods. If a Labour government had said that, I wonder what hue and cry would have been raised. But it was said by a Liberal government. The great free enterprise people, who are assumed to let you invest where you can and make your money where you can, suddenly said to many people: “You are employed in the wrong industries. If we are able to put the brakes on them we will gently pick up employees from one set of manufacturing industries and take them over to the other. We are going to push employees out of the textile industries and the motor car industries and take them over to other industries.” Those other industries have never been defined.
How men skilled in one side of the textile industry, or in motor body building, upholstery work, or making instruments for motor cars can be absorbed, in the middle of their working lives, in industries in which they have never worked, I do not quite know. But the Government is going to transfer them somehow.
The fact is that when these great haters of controls, who would not push people about, tried to shift people to other industries, about 113,500 of them missed the bus completely and many thousands of others have merely one foot on the running board. Of course, this re-deployment of the work force is just high economic theory that could not be worked out. This idea that it is better for nations with cheap labour, but not Australians, to manufacture textiles is a theory that would not be tolerated by Government supporters if they were in Opposition; but somehow they seem to think that it is a great theory at this particular time.
When the banking legislation was being debated we were told that part of the charter of the Reserve Bank of Australia was the preservation of full employment. Government supporters are strangely silent on that to-day. Senator Spooner - that strange fellow - came up with some most amazing statements the other night. He said that he had searched through the unemployment figures from a different angle from Senator McKenna’s approach to them. For once I can agree with him. Senator Spooner’s approach was certainly entirely different from the way Senator McKenna or anybody else would look at normal statistics. Senator Spooner came out to allay all our fears; but, on his figuring this Government considers that the normal thing is to have about 50,000 people not unemployed but, in his words, looking for employment. Evidently there is a difference between those two terms, but I do not quite know what it is. He said, in effect: “What are you worrying about? There are always about 50,000 people unemployed.” Actually, the figure came out to about 46,000, but 4,000 is not very many to Senator Spooner. He said, “There are about 113,500 people unemployed to-day, which is only about twice the normal”. I suppose that if the figure went to 150,000 he would say: “What are you worrying about? It has only gone up another unit. Instead of being twice the normal unemployment figure, it is now three times. So why worry about it?”
T notice that the Prime Minister, when he was dealing with this matter in another place, said, “ I am not looking for anything exciting in this upturn of unemployment. Things will r<o along quite quietly.” What a nice attitude for two leaders of a party in the Parliament to be taking when unemployment is at the highest figure in modern times, or since the end of the Second World War. The only sign of abatement is the effect of normal seasonal requirements. Yet Government supporters talk with smug complacence. I hesitate to use the word “ arrogance “, but it is getting very close to arrogance when the Prime Minister says. “ In God’s good time everything will be all right”, and Senator Spooner says, “ The figure is only a bit more than twice the norm anyhow”.
They are the people who said, “You are calamity howlers; you are apostles of gloom “, because we warned the Government about the unemployment situation. We said that there was an inevitability about it. We were not the only ones who said that this was the inevitable result of what the Government was aiming at. The Prime Minister said that it was inevitable that people would be displaced, but that overall they would settle down in these new industries that he was going to get from somewhere - from Shangri-la; that is about the only place from which he could have got them.
He says that we are apostles of gloom and we should not talk like this. When an Opposition sees goods from overseas cramming the shelves of Australian shops, manufacturers battling to maintain thengreat capital holdings and their staffs on the pay-roll, workers unemployed, and purchasing power being depressed not only through unemployment, but also through working wives being put out of their jobs, overtime being dropped and people working short time, is it supposed to remain silent? Mr. Menzies seems to be getting irascible in his old age. He says that we should stop talking about these thin gs. because, if we continue, we may frighten people. He says that we have no right to discuss this matter in public. I wish he would look at the American scene. When America gets into a spot like this, the position is the complete opposite. The publishers of magazines, such as “ The Businessmen’s Weekly”, devote the whole magazine to examining the economic impact on various types of people, and giving their views on what the Government should do, what the trade union movement should do, what the manufacturers should do, what the importers should do, and so on. Yet, in this country, if we take the words of the Prime Minister, as an Opposition we should huddle up in the corner and say nothing about it.
I notice that Mr. McMahon - that great industrialist; that rugged industrialist - who, I understand, is the Minister for Labour and National Service, said the other day that it was quite obvious that the basic wage could do better than support a man, his wife and three children. Obviously, Mr. McMahon is a bachelor; otherwise he would not say stupid things like that. He was not worrying about these matters a few months ago. He is calling us “ gloom mongers “ to-day. In November last year he said -
There is no reason in the world why any one should be hurt as the result of these measures. If people are wise they can avoid suffering any hurt from them.
He said that when the Government’s economic measures were brought down last
November. Three months later in a press statement he said -
I am sure of this-
He is always sure of something -
The only cautious thing the Minister for Labour and National Service did when he said “ by the end of March “ was not to say which year. It is just as well he did not do so. References to gloomy predictions and so on have been the response of the Government to our warnings not only now, but also over the past months. What the Government does not like about our predictions is not that they are sowing gloom in the community, but that so far they have been so right.
This Government has never admitted in words that it has failed. When it increased the sales tax on motor vehicles by 10 per cent, that was right. When it beat a hasty retreat after taking £4,000,000 in excess tax, that was right. The Government is always right. I have not known any other government that could say one thing and do the opposite so readily. But the Government finally admitted its great failure and the error of its economic ways when it had to cut down the darling of its policies, immigration. Through thick and thin over the years the Government had stuck to its immigration policy. I think it was good that the Government did so. But finally, by its own actions it was forced to admit failure - not with its voice but with its actions - by cutting down on its immigration policy.
Where have all these things led us? In regard to our overseas balances, we found that our imports were at too high a level, and the Government took away all import restrictions and thus made our position worse. On the question of inflation, despite the interjections that were made a few minutes ago, the index shows that prices are still rising in spite of the fact that there is unemployment. By pushing down local production the Government has attacked the problem of unit costs in the completely wrong manner. What amazes me is that the Government uses that approach although up to a year or two ago it used to say that the answer to inflation, high wages and high costs was greater production. The Government used to talk about that ad infinitum.
Now we do not hear anything about that, although it was the Government’s forte, something it wanted very much. The Government is not practising what it preached a year or two ago. The Government has created a situation and it does not know how to deal with it. It can only sit and hope and pray. It has no answer to our economic problems.
There is only one other matter that 1 want to mention. I have noticed that it is proposed to increase pension rates, and supporters of the Government have had a good deal to say about that. Senator McCallum said that the Budget came down on the side of those people with the greatest need. I challenge any Minister or responsible person in this Parliament to explain why, for nearly twelve years, child endowment has not been increased. All that the Government did was to introduce endowment for the first child. When Labour left office the basic wage was about £6 5s. a week, and we were giving child endowment of £1 a week for a man with a wife and three children. In other words, our contribution to the family income was a major one and constituted a very high percentage of the basic wage. To-day, with a basic wage of about £15 a week, a similar family receives only 5s. a week more, although costs, margins, and so on all have risen.
If the Government does not believe in child endowment - and that seems to be so - it should have the courage to say that it does not. If there are real economic reasons which justify the failure to increase child endowment and to make a contribution to the family wage, I challenge honorable senators opposite to state those reasons. Perhaps some of their departmental advisers may be able to help them. Is the failure to increase child endowment due to the fact that in the field of social services pressure groups are developing and that greater pressure is being exerted by one set of recipients of social service benefits than by another? Is it because most of the supporters of the Government live in wealthy areas where they do not see the poverty of people on low wages who have large families to support? Is it because of a lack of sympathy that nothing has been done for year after year? It is contemptible in the extreme that no attempt has been made to defend the position.
This Budget is the result of a situation created by the Government itself. It just does not know where it is going. The utterances of the members of the Government have been belied by the results of their actions. The Government started to take action in panic. It dropped import controls when, for a period, exports had been greater than imports. That was a basic error which the Government was not big enough to admit having made. Then, these socalled haters of controls introduced economic controls, the most vicious form of control of all time. Anybody can become used to a control that is reasonable and consistent, but that cannot be said of the Government’s attempt to belt people in business, people such as manufacturers who are so essential in a young country like ours and who have had to make great capital investments. In addition, the Government has caused the unemployment of workers. Far from being a government which does not believe in controls, it has imposed the most vicious types of control.
This Budget has been floated almost on a sea of despair. It has less purpose than any Budget I have seen, due to the fact that the Government does not know where it is going and therefore does not know the kind of budget to concoct.
– To the motion that the Budget Papers be printed, Mr. Deputy President, the Opposition has moved an amendment. Rather than simply say that I propose to vote against the amendment, I shall go through it slowly and deal with each aspect of it, because I think that there is a very good answer to the majority of the matters mentioned in it. First, the Opposition seeks to add to the motion words to the effect that the Senate is of opinion that the Budget Papers fail to make adequate provision for social service benefits. During the last few years this Government has introduced two of the most widely sweeping social service benefits that one could think of. I refer to the assessed means test provisions, which have made such a tremendous difference to so many people, and the scheme for aged persons homes which was introduced some years ago. I mention those two matters, because when one is dealing with the Budget it is of no use speaking of events during the last five years or so. It is necessary to go back further than that and to study the record of the Government during its period of office.
The proposed expenditure on social service benefits this year is £27,500,000 more than last year. The total expenditure on social services this year will be be £358,000,000. That is a very large percentage of the total budgetary provision. Indeed, £36 or £37 is required from every man, woman and child in Australia just to pay for social services. Surely the Opposition realises that there must be a limit. Does it not. appreciate that there has to be a framework within which the officers who are working out the details of the Budget may operate? The procedure is not very elastic. We are budgeting to-day, I understand, for a deficit of approximately £16,000,000. Of course, increased revenue may alter the position, but we do not know at this time whether it will or not.
The next matter dealt with in the Opposition amendment relates to child endowment. Senator Willesee challenged some honorable senator on this side of the chamber to explain why the Government had not done anything about child endowment since it introduced endowment of 5s. a week for the first child. I am afraid I do not know sufficient about the economic side of the matter to take up the honorable senator’s challenge, but I will say this: I may be a little old-fashioned, but in the days when I was younger and got married I had no intention of asking somebody else to bring up my children for me. I still hold that view to-day. I know that it is not in keeping with the policy of my party, nor with that of the Opposition, but nevertheless that is my personal view. So much for child endowment.
– You would ask them to go into uniform to protect assets-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid).- Order!
– The amendment states-
– You will not even increase child endowment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– The amendment states that the Budget Papers fail to make adequate provision for repatriation benefits.
– At 18, you would compulsorily put them into uniform.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! Senator Dittmer, will you refrain from interjecting? Otherwise, I shall take action.
– It is a material question which has concerned me for years.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– When they take?-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! I shall not warn you any more. I have had enough, and so has the Senate. I shall take action if you persist in a running fire of interjections.
– On the question of repatriation benefits, prior to working out the details of the Budget the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League and other ex-servicemen’s organizations contacted the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Osborne). They presented a series of nine questions which they asked the Government to take a good look at. Six of those requests have been partly acceded to - not to the extent sought by the’ Returned Soldiers League and other exservicemen’s organizations, although they have expressed themselves as being very well satisfied with what has been done. By the Budget increases granted this year, the cost of repatriation benefits will rise by £4,250,000 to £102,250,000.
– Senator Kendall, will you tell me-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– Reading further down the amendment that I am examining. I come to the question of taxpayers and the family unit. I point out that taxpayers with families have been helped a lot by the reduction of sales tax on articles for home use from 8i per cent, to 2i per cent. Furthermore, the manufacturers of household goods have stated that this reduction of sales tax has boosted the sales of those goods. The point that intrigues me is that the Opposition always seems to think that we could reduce secondary taxation - that is, sales tax and the like - without at the same time increasing personal income tax. That is not quite possible.
– The United States has done it. -Senator KENDALL.- THe Opposition’s contention is due primarily to the airy fairy way in which it deals with taxation, which has no relation whatever to the facts.
Sneator Dittmer. - Look at the percentages in the United States.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– In the Opposition’s amendment there is a reference to unemployment. Up to a point, I must agree with the Opposition’s contention because I myself have a feeling that our experts in economics have made a mistake somewhere. Why there should be an enormous number of unemployed in this country at the present time is completely beyond me. 1 feel that the advisers to the Government in this connexion very definitely have made a mistake. I cannot put my finger on that mistake because when I was at the university I only did one year in economics and I am afraid that at the end of that time I knew very little more about the subject than when I embarked on the course, In this particular instance, 1 must agree with the Opposition that some other steps - again, I do not know what steps - should have been taken, that something should have been done that was left undone to prevent unemployment from rising to the extent that it has risen. The Government is doing all in its power to remedy the situation. We must remember that quite a number of the people who are unemployed would have lost their jobs apart altogether from the credit squeeze because the manufacturers, particularly in the motor car industry and one or two other industries, were accumulating so much stock that they would have had to put men off. That, of course, was not the fault of the Government, and the Government is doing all it possibly can to increase the number of the work force. I am afraid that there will be quite serious trouble in Queensland very soon because the meat works will be shutting down this year, earlier than usual. It is not the fault of their managements. The position is due to the dryness and the reduced turn-oft of beef in the Northern Territory, which has had the worst season for 50 years. The Government cannot be blamed for that. Neverthless, for this reason unemployment in Queensland will reach a peak within a few weeks.
Another factor that should be highlighted when mention is made of unemployment is that the Opposition appears to forget the number of man-hours and man-days that were lost through strikes when it was in office. I have taken out some figures in this matter which show that 1,300,000 man-days per year were lost in this way during the regime of the previous Labour Government. Honorable senators opposite cannot laugh that off and say that they are referring to current unemployment, noi unemployment through strikes. It makes no difference to a man who is unemployed whether he is unemployed because he has been ordered to strike or because he has been put off. From the standpoint of his wages, the effect is the same. 1 emphasize the fact that in each year during the previous Labour Government’s occupancy of the treasury bench, 1,300,000 man-days were lost through strikes. In my own mind, I link that with unemployment.
Proceeding to read further, I note that the amendment refers to rising living costs. I shall quote an example to show that actual salaries and wages have risen slightly more, proportionately, than costs. In 1930, I received a salary of £260 a year, which was reasonable enough in those days. One would get by on that salary. I built a house, which cost £1,400. The cost of the house was equivalent approximately to my salary for five years at that rate. A few years ago - since the war - I built another house, which cost £5,500. Incidentally, it has not yet been paid for, but that is another story! I find that the salary of the job for which I was paid £260 a year in 1930 has risen to such an extent that now only four complete years’ salary in respect of that job would discharge the cost of this house. It will be seen that the actual rise in salaries has exceeded the rise in the cost of housing. To all intents and purposes, the job now is similar in all respects to what it was in 1930, and the two houses are of practically the same type.
The next point that is mentioned in the Opposition’s amendment concerns the failure of the public loan market. That failure was caused largely by the tremendous inroads that were made by hire purchase. By hire purchase, money was milked away from the people to buy the things that they thought that they needed, and which possibly they did need, with the result that money was not available for government loans. When television was introduced in this country, many people rushed madly to obtain television sets by means of hire purchase. That in itself absorbed a tremendous amount of money which otherwise might have been channelled through savings banks or insurance companies or in some other way - even by personal investment - into government loans. The fact that the loan market failed was not due to a lack of confidence. Goodness me, 1 should have thought that it would be acknowledged that the Australian people over the last eleven years have shown their confidence in this country by returning this Government to office time and time again. They must be gluttons for punishment if they have no confidence in this Government.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid).- 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.
– The other day, the Minister for Air (Senator Wade) was good enough to give me some information that I had been pursuing for some time regarding the method of tendering for government contracts. He supplied me with a letter he had received from the Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth) in another place. I shall read it to lay the foundation for what 1 am about to say. It reads -
Senator Willesee has sought some information about the circumstances in which the Department of Works invites contractors to register for particular jobs.
With certain large or complicated contracts, or where time is likely to be an important element, the department may publicly invite prospective tenderers to register. This is done some four to eight weeks prior to the actual drawings becoming available. During this period the department is able to check on the building and financial capacity of each contractor, and his ability to complete the job within the time specified: As soon as the department’s documents are ready, they are supplied to all those who have registered, to enable them to submit their tender prices.
In addition to saving a good deal of time, this system can also save some contractors unnecessary expense. The preparation of a tender for a big job can be a costly procedure, and if a contractor clearly does not have the capacity for the job, he is given the opportunity of withdrawing. Having once registered, however, he still has the right to put in a tender.
There seems to be quite a complication about this matter, which is causing much heartburning in more than one State. It was brought to my notice by two contractors in Perth some time ago, and 1 have been trying unsuccessfully until now, because of a misunderstanding - not the fault of Senator Wade, but in the department - to get an explanation. I think it is pretty clear from the letter what happens. Instead of merely calling open tenders, the department gets people to register and then examines their financial position, their ability, their staff, and the type of work they have done, in order to determine whether they are capable of carrying out the department’s requirements. So far so good, but one would think that the moment that was done, the issue would be clear. I am assured by more than one contractor that the examination is indeed thorough. Banks are contacted and the financial position of the tenderers is ascertained. Plant is examined and balance-sheets over the previous few years are scrutinized. Particulars are obtained of the jobs they have done, the type of machinery they carry, the experience they have, their qualifications, their foremen and artisans. In other words, a very thorough examination is made.
One would think that that stage having been reached, almost automatically the lowest tender would then be accepted. I know that at this suggestion everybody throws his hands- up in horror and says, “There is always a provision that the lowest tender need not be accepted “. But that provision is made for a very good reason in law. For instance, I or somebody with as little knowledge as I have of big contracting jobs, might tender for a big job. The provision would then be relied upon. It is obviously meant to exclude such people. However, when prospective tenderers have been vetted and checked, they have a right to expect that the lowest tender will be accepted.
As it seems to me that this may be the gravamen of the whole problem, I shall repeat one line of the letter. 1 have been very loath to make accusations or get hot under the collar about this matter, because I worked long enough in a department to think that the department must have had some good reason. This is the passage from the letter that I wish to repeat - if a contractor clearly does not have the capacity for the job, he is given the opportunity of withdrawing.
That is a matter that I want to clear up. I am informed that at that stage, in those circumstances, the department will say to a contractor, “ Do you wish to continue with your tender? “ No information is given to him. He is not told that he is not suitable. The position would not be understood by anybody who did not know the contents of this letter. If any one of us were in such a business situation and were asked, “ Do you still want to continue with your tender? “, he would say, “Yes, certainly I want to continue”. An innocent question such as that surely does not convey to a person that in departmental eyes he is unsuitable or undesirable. The department conducts this vetting, which is concerned with very minute detail and is rather personal. Many people would object to having their business affairs raked over in this manner. Having done that, surely the department should have the courage or the straightforwardness to say: “ You are not the type of contractor that the department requires. Therefore, we do not intend to consider your tender.” This off-hand procedure of merely asking the simple question, “Do you still wish to tender?”, to me at any rate would indicate that the department wanted to be sure I was still interested. Far from being an indication that one was an unsuitable tenderer, it could very easily give the idea that he was a very suitable tenderer and that the department wanted to be sure his tender for this big job was going to be received.
The Minister’s letter states that a great deal of money may be involved in tendering. Strange to say, that was the very basis upon which the complainants came to me in Western Australia. They said that they had put much time and money into tendering. As we all know, in these matters the moment a tender is lodged the amount of it becomes common knowledge in the industry, because there is no point in concealing it any longer. Thus, Jones, Smith, Brown and Robertson, know that Jackson has got the job because his tender is the lowest. Jackson immediately prices out the job and does not proceed with other tenders. He knows that his is the lowest tender for a big government job and he believes that he will get it. The department vetted and checked him, and in fact asked him whether he was still going to tender. Therefore, he believes, he is likely to get the job. Thinking that his hands will be full, he does not tender for other work. In fact, the position is that the poor fellow was not even in the race before the barrier was raised.
I understand that contractors in other States are affected in the same way and that the position is causing a great deal of bewilderment in various trades. Big contracts involve not only the building industry, but also people engaged in the use of heavy machinery and earth-moving equipment. Confusion and embarrassment are being caused. Naturally, when it is known in a trade or industry that although a person has been vetted and his tender is the lowest he does not get the job, people wonder what is wrong with him.
I was wondering whether I could obtain through you, Mr. Deputy President, greater clarification from the Minister. It may be that I have misunderstood the position. I read out the whole of the letter, as I thought that an honorable senator might seek to correct me by interjection. It seems to me that there is a very serious gap in the procedure. In relation to tendering for government work, we must be above reproach at every level. All sorts of things can be said and the reputation of people, including departmental officers, damaged. Therefore, through you Mr. Deputy President, I ask the Minister whether he can obtain some further information on this matter and, if my analysis is correct, whether he can either defend the situation or perhaps agree that there is room for improvement in this type of tendering.
– I have listened with a great deal of interest to Senator Willesee’s reference to the calling of tenders for public works. Whilst I am not sufficiently well informed in relation to the procedure to give him the precise information that -he requires, there are one or two points I should like to make before taking the matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth). Senator Willesee emphasized that a great deal of vetting was done prior to the letting of these vast contracts and, as he said, there is very good reason for that. The Government is desirous of saving the prospective contractor or the potential contractor large sums of money involved in costing a job when it might be quite apparent to the department that he is inadequately equipped to undertake the work. The Government has adopted that policy merely in the interests of potential contractors. I think it is fair to say that in many cases, if not most cases, that action is appreciated. Senator Willesee has suggested that the Government might say to a potential contractor after it has vetted him: “You are inadequately equipped. Therefore, you cannot tender for this job.” To do that would be quite contrary to government policy. This is a free enterprise government, and we insist that any man in the land, whether he be of vast or limited potenial, shall have an opportunity at least to state a case in his own interest. For that reason, I say to the honorable senator quite bluntly that I cannot foresee the day when this Government will say to a contractor, “We have examined your position and we are of the opinion that you should not even lodge a tender “.
When tenders are lodged, the same process is followed in all cases. Not always is the lowest tender accepted, but in most cases it is. I do not think the honorable senator would quarrel with that. The government of the day, regardless of its political colour, is charged with the responsibility of expending the taxpayer’s money. For that reason it must get the best possible results it can.
Having said that, Mr. Deputy President, I shall be very happy to discuss the matter further with the Minister for Works. If the Minister can let me have any further points or more precise information on the points that have been mentioned, I shall pass them on to Senator Willesee. If the honorable senator were to name some specific instances in which he believes an injustice has been done, I have no doubt that the Minister for Works would be very happy to examine his submissions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 September 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610905_senate_23_s20/>.