23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. . A. D. Reid) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present a petition from 65 electors of Victoria praying that the Parliament will take action to ease the burden of unemployment and take immediate steps to implement the following programme: -
The petition is in similar terms to one presented in another place yesterday containing the signatures of many thousands of electors of Victoria.
Petition received and read.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. A week or so ago Dr. A. G. S. Cooper, Director of the Queensland Radium Institute, said that there has been a steady increase in the incidence of lung cancer in Queensland from 30 cases a year 20 years ago to 230 cases in the last year. I suppose that similar increases have been taking place in other parts of the Commonwealth. Dr. Cooper called for a stepping up of research into the problem. Has the
Minister any idea what organizations are doing research into this disease? As this matter is of vital national importance, is it possible for the C.S.I.R.O. to conduct research into the disease with a view to reducing its incidence?
– This question relates to a matter of policy and is one for the Minister for Health himself to answer. I do not think that this matter comes within the scope of the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, but I believe that a number of other bodies can undertake this very important work. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper I will get an answer from the Minister for Health for him.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, by stating that an article appeared in yesterday’spress to the effect that “Queensland tobacco-growers were very perturbed about the low prices they were receiving for tobacco at sales in Brisbane in comparison withprices received at sales a month ago. Is it a fact that tobacco-growers throughout Australia are now receiving prices which are less than the cost of production? In view of the fact that growers in Western Australia will have to start planting for next crop in October of this year can the Minister advise me whether the Government can give to people throughout Australia who wish to grow tobacco a guarantee that next year they will receive for good quality tobacco leaf a price which will be more than the cost of production?
– I believe it is true to say that tobacco is being sold at less than the cost of production. Of course, that is a very serious matter for the industry and the Australian economy. Senator Scott has asked what the Government may do to ensure a payable price for next year’s crop, which is about to be planted. The most adequate answer that I can give to that question is to remind the honorable senator that on Friday of last week representatives of the Australian Tobacco Growers Councilmet the Minister for Trade and the Minister for Primary Industry todiscuss the council’s problems. As this tobacco problem is a very important one, I believe that the following information will be of interest to the Senate generally. After that conference the president of the Australian Tobacco Growers Council issued a statement in which he said, in part - iVe asked the Ministers for Commonwealth technical and clerical assistance to enable our committee to function quickly and effectively. The Ministers agreed to our request without hesitation and also offered to give us any further reasonable help essential to the efficient functioning of the committee. We will now approach the State governments similarly for technical assistance and we are confident it will be forthcoming.
As a result of the committee’s inquiries the council hopes to be in a position some time in October to present objective proposals to all governments concerned.
I think that latter paragraph is the one that relates directly to the planting of the new crop. The council realizes that it must present its proposals to both the Federal and State governments without delay if they are to have any worthwhile effect upon the crop which is to be planted. The Federal Government’s responsibilities in this field are limited. The State governments have very definite responsibilities in regard to quantity and quality. I am sure, as is the president of the Australian Tobacco Growers Council, that co-operation from the States will be forthcoming. The Federal Government has already done what the council requested it to do in this matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether his colleague has caused an inquiry to be made with a view to ascertaining the reason for the absurdly low prices that were paid for tobacco leaf at a sale in Queensland this week, and why tobacco-growers were unable to sell approximately 51 tons of their product. Will the Minister recommend to the Government that it purchase at an economic price the tobacco leaf produced in Australia and re-sell it to the few tobacco manufacturers in this country? Will he also recommend that the importation of foreign-grown tobaccos be restricted to the point where manufacturers will be compelled to buy Australian-produced leaf?
– I am confident that my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, would not recommend to the Government that the steps suggested by the honorable senator be taken, for the very good reason that the Government has always declared that the primary industries should be guided and guarded by the primary producers. In answer to a question just asked by Senator Scott, I emphasized the fact that the growers had established a committee for the purpose of analysing the problems of the industry. That committee is moving speedily and the Government is giving it the help for which it has asked. When the committee has made its findings I am sure that the Government will be influenced by such recommendations as the growers may make to meet their problems.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, also concerns the Minister representing the Postmaster-General because the Postal Department is involved. Is the Minister aware that the co-operation of the Department of Customs and Excise and the Postal Department is needed before the State-owned railway which runs along Port Pirie’s main street can be moved, because certain portions of buildings belonging to those departments are in the path of a proposed new line? Has the Minister for Customs and Excise yet been approached and asked to make available land at present utilized by the department? If so, what was the result of the request? Will he accept my assurance that the re-siting of the railway line at the rear of the main street in Port Pirie is of great urgency from the standpoint of civic development and the safety and convenience of the citizens of the town? Will he treat the request for the re-siting, when it comes, as a matter of urgency, and will my friend, Senator Wade, who represents the Postmaster-General, pass on my views to his colleague?
– I understand that the South Australian Parliamentary Public Works Committee has dealt with a recommendation regarding wharf construction at Port Pirie, including a proposal to purchase part of the present Customs House at Port Pirie. The removal of the railway line which runs along Ellen-street is part and parcel of the wharf improvement project. It is proposed that the railway line should run at the back of the present customs house site. The South Australian authorities have been discussing this matter with my department, and provided that we can obtain suitable alternative accommodation - I think there is no doubt that we shall be able to do so - we will do everything possible to meet this request. I think it is a matter of urgent necessity to remove a railway line which runs along the main street of such an important city as Port Pirie. The re-siting of the line will improve the layout of the city. The department requires accommodation where its officers may do their work, and provided that suitable alternative accommodation is available we shall have the greatest pleasure in assisting the South Australian authorities.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that the post office at South Hobart consists of a room attached to a church building, the entrance to which is along a side path to a back door, that it is a shabby disgrace at any time, that pools of water form hazards after rain, and that the signs are inadequate? As the population growth in this area exceeds that of Sandy Bay, where a new post office was opened recently, will the Minister give consideration to the building of a post office on land that was secured three years ago for this purpose?
– I could not think of a better place for a post office than in the precincts of a church, and I am disturbed to learn from Senator Cole that the surroundings are not in keeping with the usual facilities for business that are provided by the Postmaster-General’s Department. However, I shall bring the considerations he has raised concerning the erection of a new building in the area to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister anything further to say in reply to Senator O’Byrne’s allegation that the Minister did not tell the truth when replying to a question that he was asked yesterday by the honorable senator, as to whether Ansett-A.N.A. did or did not bank with the Commonwealth Bank?
- Sir, I welcome the question because it gives me an opportunity of replying while we are on the air to an allegation that was made against me by Senator O’Byrne when we were on the air and to which, last night, I was unable to reply while the proceedings were being broadcast.
Apparently this matter was reported in Melbourne. This morning, I received a message from Mr. R. L. Cooper, the executive finance director of Ansett Transport Industries Limited, in which he tells me that he has advised Senator O’Byrne this morning that Ansett-A.N.A. has in fact been a client of the Commonwealth Bank since 1955, and that it took over two large overdrafts, as was well known, from the old organization, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, in 1957, in addition to the business it was doing from 1955. He mentions that the business reduced those loans in terms of the arrangements made and sometimes well in advance of the arrangements. His message goes on to inform me that the subsidiaries, Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited and Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited, bank exclusively with the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney and in Brisbane and that they have overdraft facilities with those branches of the Commonwealth Bank.
I think that statement completely disposes of the wicked allegations made by Senator O’Byrne that I deliberately misled the Senate. But I go further than that now that I have the opportunity to do so by recalling for the benefit of the Senate that when Senator O’Byrne was trying to justify and to substantiate this charge, he stated that he had had information from a high Commonwealth Bank officer which supported his charge. I take leave to express doubt as to whether he ever approached a high Commonwealth Bank officer, or, if he did, that a high Commonwealth Bank officer would have given him any information in respect of the matter.
But that is not the point at all. I point out to the Senate the developing pattern of tactics on the part of the Labour Party of trying to involve and compromise public servants and others in the service of this country in order to bolster the false and wicked charges which from time to time it makes in this chamber. I go further and say that Senator O’Byrne, in the weak explanation he made last night after the. broad. casting of our proceedings had finished, concerning his visit to the Library might also have involved a reference officer in our own library. Only last week the directorgeneral of my own department was wickedly and viciously attacked in this Parliament. The two instances of such unwarranted attacks, one by Senator O’Byrne from Tasmania yesterday, and the other by Senator O’Flaherty in respect of the officer in charge of the Bureau of Census and Statistics, are part of a pattern of tactics which, are completely contemptible and should be exposed at every point.
– Mr. Deputy President, the Minister has directed attention to an incident that happened last night.
The DEPUTY PR’ESIDENT. - Order! What does the honorable senator wish to do?
– I ask whether the forms of the House will allow me to make an apology to the Senate and to Senator Paltridge.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator may make a personal explanation.
– You should have done it first thing, not now when you are forced to do so.
– The Minister has explained the situation to the Senate.
– You. had the telegram from Mr. Copper this morning.
– I received a tele.gram. It was my intention, as soon as question time was over, to refer to the telegram that I received from Mr Cooper, executive finance director of Ansett Transport Industries Limited. He has supplied me with information that I have every reason to believe is correct. The information that I gave last night and- that I sought from the Library was correct. The information that I received- from the other source of which I- inquired was incorrect. I apologize to the Senate, for having used that information and I apologize to Senator Paltridge for having said that he deliberately gave me incorrect information.
Senator- HENDRICKSON. - I direct a question to the Minister- representing the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that during the past couple of months innocent men were thrown into prison in Victoria and Queensland? Could such a miscarriage of justice take .place in the Territories administered by the Commonwealth Government? If the answer to the latter question is in the negative, will the Minister explain why, in Canberra recently, a new Australian who had ‘been unemployed for four months, who had nowhere to go and who slept in paddocks and the inhospitable Canberra bush, was sent to gaol for three months, only because he was penniless and homeless? Is this the hallmark of prosperity in the Australian Capital Territory? If the facts are as stated, will the Minister arrange for the man’s- release from prison, secure a position for him and save him from a degrading situation? Can the Minister say how many. Italian, German and Greek nationals are unemployed in the various Australian States and Territories?
– I am not to be taken as assuming that the facts are as stated- by Senator Hendrickson, but I shall endeavour to ascertain- whether there is any substance in what he has said. As the question seeks statistical information about people of various nationalities, I suggest that the honorable senator put it on the notice-paper. If he does so, the relevant department - which is not the AttorneyGeneral’s Department - will give him. the information.
– I refer the Minister for Civil Aviation to his recent statement regarding extensions to the Perth airport, and I ask: What will- be the cost of extending the main runway at the airport? Will this work be carried out this financial year? What other work will be carried out- at the airport this financial year? What will be the total expenditure on these works?
– The cost of extending the runway by 1,000 feet, which I presume is the extension to which the honorable senator refers, will be about £110,000. The other works which are being proceeded with at the Perth airport are the construction of a terminal building, a’ fire; station and a new control, tower. Last, year there: was; an expenditure; in excess of £250,000 on. these works. The total cost of the works at the Perth airport, which will be very largely completed this year, will be approximately £1,300,000.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Is it a fact that loans obtained from the Commonwealth Development Bank carry a rate of interest of 6 per cent.?’ Also, is it ‘a fact that some branches- of the bank demand that repayment shall commence within six months of a loan being granted? Further, is it a fact that” the bank expects loans to be completely repaid within a period” of ten years? Will loans made by the Commonwealth Development Bank on. such conditions be of any assistance to primary industries?-
– Loans made by the Commonwealth Development Bank are treated in the same way, as are loans made by a bank in the ordinary course of business.. The kind of project for which the advance is made determines many of the conditions/ attaching to it, including, the rate 06 interest, the terms of repayment, and’ the total period of the advance. It would be impossible to generalize and to> say that any one set of conditions applied- to all advances made by the Development Bank.
The honorable senator asked, whether these developmental loans were of any use or value to primary industry. I suggest that figures which I cited yesterday in relation to the business so far undertaken by the Development Bank prove conclusively that these loans are of great assistance to primary industry and are widely sought There is no doubt that the expansion of this particular branch of banking will assist greatly in the development of this country, particularly primary development.
– I address these questions to the. Minister representing the Treasurer: Is he aware that, according to trade journals, a fierce battle is being waged between Australian television licensees and the representatives of overseas film and programming agencies over proposed steep increases in the prices of imported’ television films and programmes? These increases, which it- is proposed shall be as great as 33i per cent., will hurt local licensees considerably. If the overseas agencies are successful, does this not mean there will be a substantial rise- in the drain on Australia’s overseas: exchange?” If, as Has been stated by the Postmaster-General, as reported in “Hansard” of 21st October, 1959, Australia was spending £2,750,000 annually on imported television programmes when we had only four stations, can the Minister inform me what our annual expenditure is now that we have ten stations? Can he state the annual” expenditure for each year since 1959?’ Can he also tell me what will be the annual drain on overseas exchange at the end of the current extension, when, including the national channels, we shall have 46 stations operating? Does not the Minister agree that this heavy drain upon our resources would not take place and that this form of economic hijacking against us could not proceed if we had our own film industry? Finally, as this matter is causing concern to Australian producers and very many members- of my trade union, will the Minister urgently consider the best method of fostering our own Australian industry?
– One must express admiration fox the consistent manner in which Senator Hannan pursues the establishment of a film industry in this country and the welfare of the fellow members of his trade union. His efforts are very commendable indeed. I am not aware, particularly, of the- circumstances of the battle which is going on between the television station proprietors and the suppliers of- television- material, although, in a very general way, I know th’at the battle sometimes is rather fierce. I have no precise information about the amount of expenditure overseas-. The best I can do is to tell the honorable senator that I will have a- look- at his question, discuss it with the Treasurer and see what precise information I- can get for- him.
– My question is- directed- to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Is it true to say that the Minister for Trade has repeatedly castigated Labour- for its advocacy of state ownership? ls it true to say that the difference between the state ownership advocated by Labour and that practised by the Government is that Labour undertakes state ownership for the benefit of the people whilst the Government, having established a state-owned business, either hands it over holus-bolus to private enterprise, if the business is a paying concern, or deliberately runs it at a loss in order to buttress private enterprise?
– The Government never runs a business deliberately at a loss. The difference between the Government and the Labour Party is, of course, that members of the Labour Party are so lacking in ability that they could not do anything other than run a business at a loss. Senator O’Flaherty has raised a general question in philosophic terms. 1 do not know that Mr. McEwen has been any more vocal than his colleagues in expressing his philosophic views on this subject. We believe that there is so much to be done in Australia that the more we can put in the hands of private enterprise the better it will be for all of us. The work will be done efficiently by private enterprise, and it will be done without the taxpayers having to find the capital required.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has his attention been drawn to the leading article in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of to-day’s date? Is he of the opinion that that article substantiates the claim made by the Government that its economic measures are now working in the best interests of the country?
– I certainly saw the leading article in to-day’s “ Daily Telegraph “. I wish that I had cut it out and brought it into the chamber with me so that T could read it to honorable senators. The article repeats, and confirms, most of the arguments that we on the Government side have advanced during the course of the Budget debate, to the confusion of our opponents. In brief, the article states that business conditions are strengthening, that confidence exists throughout the community and that the Government has been successful in doing what it aimed to do - namely, to steady down the pace of events a little in order to provide a good foundation for better progress in the future.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is he aware of press publicity concerning the action of the Italian Government in assisting Italian migrants who have recently arrived in Australia? Has his attention been directed to a statement, reputed to come from the Italian consulate, that the unemployment benefit in Australia is insufficient to pay for meals or accommodation for migrants and that assistance is being granted to Italian migrants all over Australia? A similar statement has been issued by the Greek consulate. If there is any substance in those statements, what action does the Government propose to take to counter the very bad effects that such publicity has, not only on the future of our immigration scheme but also on Australia’s reputation overseas?
– I read the article referred to by the honorable senator, but I question the reliability of the information contained in it. For what it is worth the article pointed out that the Italian authorities were helping some Italian migrants. I noted also the statement that the Greek authorities were helping some Greek migrants, but that the German authorities did not feel there was any need to help German migrants because most of them were skilled workers and there was no need to worry about them. There will always be some instances when new arrivals in a country will need assistance. It is good to see that where necessary that assistance is forthcoming. The ways in which newcomers to Australia need help are many and varied and it is heartening to note that the appropriate authorities are prepared to help their nationals in this country. The information upon which Senator O’Byrne based his question was no more than a statement in a newspaper. I did not put a higher value on it than that.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that Australian cigarette and tobacco manufacturers are forced by law to use a certain .percentage of locally grown leaf in their products. If so, will the Minister state the percentages fixed for 1950, 1955, 1959 and the present year? Is not this obligation on manufacturers indicative of the Government’s endeavour to foster the growing of goodquality tobacco in Australia?
– Manufacturers are obliged to use a prescribed percentage of Australian leaf in their blendings in order to qualify for duty rebate. The honorable senator has asked for the percentages fixed for 1950, 1955, 1959 and the present year. I would not care to trust to my memory in giving the figures that he seeks. The percentages have varied from year to year because of the increase in the amount of tobacco grown in Australia. The Government has progressively increased the percentage of Australian leaf required to be used in the manufacture of cigarettes and tobacco in order to meet the needs of Australian tobacco-growers. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall obtain for him the information that he seeks.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that certain constituent republics of the Soviet Union, for example the Ukraine, have separate representation at the United Nations? If so, does this mean that Australia recognizes the Ukraine as independent by virtue of that separate representation, or as part of the federal Soviet Union?
– It is a fact that a number of the constituent republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have separate representation at the United Nations. This comes about as a result of negotiations between Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Stalin at the end of the last war, when the United Nations organization was being formed. I understand that the offer to Russia to allow separate representation of some of her constituent republics emanated at that time from Mr. Roosevelt. It does not follow that Australia for this reason recognizes the Ukraine as a separate state. Australia’s recognition and exchange of diplomatic representatives is confined to the federal Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization seen that body’s recent annual report? If so, did he notice in it a statement that research officers of the C.S.I. R.O. have conducted experiments on the improvement of tobacco leaf in Australia by using nitrogenous fertilizers at a particular time of the growing period? What facilities exist for documents such as this annual report being made available to interested parties, in this instance the tobacco-growers of Australia or their associations?
– I have read most of the annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. I noticed the statement to which Senator Scott has referred. I thought it was a very interesting and valuable one. A good deal of research has been done into the growing of tobacco leaf in Australia. A large amount of money has been spent on research by the industry, and the Commonwealth Government has provided ample assistance in this work. A healthy fund exists for financing research into tobacco leaf in this country. The findings of the C.S.I.R.O. are always made available to growers through the State agricultural extension services. T understand that the State extension services have complete liaison with growers in every State and that through those services is passed on the information that comes from the C.S.I.R.O. I know that the industry and the organization have made good headway in their research into blue mould. The information obtained from that research has been passed on to the growers. No doubt the information contained in the annual report referred to by Senator Scott will be passed on in the same way.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Trade: Does the Government propose to borrow money overseas with which to finance the building for private enterprise of huge warehouses in foreign lands?
-Senator O’Flaherty has misconceived what is contemplated. The Government has no proposal involving it in the purchase of huge warehouses overseas. Its proposal - a very useful one from which good results will flow - is to hire storage space in capital cities overseas in which to carry consignment stocks so that buyers may examine the goods and place their orders. Also, as the market develops, we hope to be able to carry sufficient stocks so that buyers may purchase their requirements on the spot and so avoid the inconvenience of delays in delivery. It is not contemplated that this proposal will lead to the Government becoming immersed in big real estate transactions. As yet, the proposal is very much in the initial stage. If it proves successful it will be a very useful experiment. I have no doubt that private enterprise will then rise to the occasion and will itself carry sufficient stocks to meet the demand.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I remind the Minister that in its Budget for the six months beginning 1st April last the Japanese Government announced that it would purchase 5,400,000 tons of coking coal. That is an increase of almost 70 per cent, on the amount purchased in the corresponding period of 1960. Will the Minister say what progress “has been made towards exporting coal to Japan?
– In reply to Senator Wright, I point out that we are at present exporting to Japan as much coal as can be handled with our present port facilities, or at least within about 500,000 tons of present capacity. At the present time about 1,000,000 tons of coal a year is being exported from Newcastle, 1,000.000 tons a year from Port Kembla and 500,000 tons a year from Sydney. The latest information that I have in my mind is that about 300.000 tons of Kianga coal is being exported each year. In the big coal-exporting ports the limitation at present is due to lack of port facilities, not to lack of orders from Japan. The Japanese are willing to purchase the coal but, quite naturally, they are asking whether we are sure that we can make the deliveries, having regard to our existing port facilities. That emphasizes the importance of the arrangements that have been made - which were mentioned in the Budget - ito provide money for the expansion of existing port facilities in New South Wales.
– Did the Minister for National Development notice a report last week to the effect that more than 100,000,000 tons of iron ore had been located in the Northern Territory at a place somewhat in excess of 100 miles from Darwin? Has his department made any assessment of the reliability of the report of the tonnage in the deposit? Does not this report prove that the Government’s policy of lifting the embargo on the export of iron ore is having the desired effect?
– The department cannot give a report on any mineral deposit without making a careful examination, and that careful examination of the deposit referred to has not been made. The department is aware of this deposit, which was identified or delineated by a survey that was made. I do not think I should say more than that the examination has not been made and I have reservations about the deposit being as large as 100,000,000 tons. I agree with Senator Scott that the policy of partially lifting the embargo on the export of iron ore has led to this deposit being discovered and also to a marked revival of interest in prospecting for iron ore. Indeed, I should be surprised if this discovery is not the forerunner to the discovery of a great number of similar deposits.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice - :1. When is it expected that the ‘Tariff Board report upon the importation of Smyrna figs will , De received?
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following replies: -
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate of ministerial arrangements during the absence of the Treasurer on official business overseas. The Treasurer is now on his way to Accra in Ghana for the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers. Following that meeting, he will represent Australia at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation, which will be held in Vienna. The Treasurer will also take up other matters of Government business and will return to Australia at the beginning of October.
During the absence of the Treasurer, the Prime Minister will act as Treasurer and will be assisted in the detailed administration of the Treasury by the Minister for Supply.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill aims to encourage the search for petroleum in Australia and Papua-New Guinea by widening the scope and extending the period of operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act,which I introduced in this Senate in August, 1959. That act has resulted in a very great increase in geophysical surveys by the oil exploration companies. In 1959. there were only four seismic crews operating; there are now sixteen, mainly consisting of experienced overseas personnel and each costing about £200,000 a year to operate. This is an important development because it has resulted in a better understanding of the structure, and therefore of the oil prospects, of large areas, particularly of eastern Australia. It has provided structural drilling targets that enable bores to be properly located so that they may have the best possible chance of finding oil.
The Commonwealth Government assists and encourages the search for oil in several ways. The Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics provides basic geological mapping and geophysical surveys to define the broad features of the sedimentary basins. The Division of National Mapping provides topographic maps compiled from aerial photographs to facilitate mapping by government and company geologists and geophysicists. Oil exploration companies are helped financially by tax concessions to their investors in respect of all moneys paid for shares. A substantial part of exploration activities is subsidized. In the past year the direct assistance cost the Commonwealth £900,000. Taxation concessions of the order of £1,000,000 were made, and subsidy payments amounted to £1,400.000. In this financial year, direct assistance will cost £1,400,000, and subsidy £2,700,000.
When speaking on the Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill in August, 1959, I stated that the Government desired that all exploration programmes which were soundly based on good technical advice should be pushed ahead as fast as was practicable. Since then, 68 geophysical operations and 24 drilling operations have been accorded subsidy, and £3,494,899 has been paid or committed in subsidies. The more directly important results to date are the discoveries of gas and oil at Port Campbell, of gas at Iehi. and of oil and gas at Cabawin. None of these, unfortunately, has so far proved commercial; but the discoveries confirm the opinion of most informed geologists to-day that oil is present in Australia. The methods being used are giving results very economic.ally. by comparison with experience elsewhere, and appear to be leading towards discovery. However, a tremendous amount of basic exploration remains to be done.
Twenty-four sedimentary basins, totalling 1.362.000 square miles, are known on the mainland, and two malor basins, of 100,000 square miles, in New Guinea. Most of the basic topographical, geological and geophysical surveying has yet to be done and only about one million feet of exploration hole has been drilled. The available information ranges from the results of the broadest reconnaissance to fairly precise information about small areas. More and more local and overseas companies are taking an active interest in the search. There has been an appreciable increase in the quality of oil search programmes in Australia in recent years, and the indications are that the size of the effort is increasing.
The task of finding oil in Australia requires expert technical knowledge, preferably with as varied an experience of oil occurrence as possible, and large amounts of capital. The great economic, developmental and defence benefits that would follow the discovery of oil in adequate quantities make the task one of major national importance and well justify the support that the Government is giving it. The task is to provide that support in a way which encourages soundly based search programmes which will lead to increasing confidence and support.
We would naturally -like to see the discovery made and developed by Australian companies with Australian capital. But the capital requirement is so large and the requirement so urgent that we must use over- _ seas capital if oil is to be found as speedily as is practicable. We welcome, and we subsidize, overseas as well as Australian investment in exploration for oil. Several Australian companies have been strengthened financially and technically by making arrangements with overseas companies.
Early this year discussions were held between officers of my department, State Mines Department officers and representatives of the active exploration companies, on the general subject of ways in which the Government might assist the search for oil. Many valuable suggestions were made, particularly related to the work of the department; but the main advice was to extend subsidy to test-drilling operations and to apply subsidy on a footage basis. These recommendations were supported by the Government Members Mining Committee. The French Institute of Petroleum, whose mission in Australia is collaborating with my department in oil search work, by its recommendations for test drilling, agrees with the need to encourage this sort of operation. The subsidized seismic surveys have revealed drilling targets and it is logical now to subsidize the test drilling of these so that that drilling will be carried out quickly. The Government has agreed that these extensions of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act are desirable. I shall now discuss the way in which this bill will give effect to the Government’s new subsidy proposals.
This bill will amend the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959 to include test drilling and also detailed structure drilling in the operations eligible for subsidy. These are technical terms not used in the present legislation; and I shall explain them presently. The bill will also introduce amendments to provide an alternative method of determining the subsidy to be paid, and to extend the period of operation of the scheme to 30th June, 1964.
Drilling in relation to petroleum falls broadly within one or other of the following categories -
The second and third categories, that is, detailed structure drilling and test drilling, may be classed together as detailed exploration drilling. It is to these categories that subsidy is to be extended by the amendments in the present bill.
Let me say a little more about these categories of drilling. In some areas the only way to determine structure is to drill a number of bores to a distinctive stratum, believed to be structurally related to the deeper reservoir strata. Such a group of bores can constitute a single structure-drilling operation and the proposal is that they may be approved and subsidized as such.
The final exploration operation before discovery is test-drilling, in a known rock sequence and on an established structure. In this case, the main unknowns are the presence or absence of oil, and related information on quantitative characteristics of the reservoir strata. After the basic exploration has been carried out, the main exploration effort turns to test drilling. Even when this stage has been reached the chances of success are still low. In the United States of America only about one such bore in nine drilled produces commercial oil, only one in four to seven of these producers is profitable and only one of them in about three hundred results in the discovery of a major pool, that is, with reserves of more than 50,000,000 barrels of recoverable oil. On the other hand, it is imperative that all possible test drilling be undertaken. In some cases where there are found to be indications of variability in the reservoir rocks, several test bores may be required on a single structure.
Stratigraphic drilling yields stratigraphic information, detailed structure drilling yields structural information and test drilling yields reservoir information.
The principles under which subsidies will be granted under the amended act are as follows:
Experience may well show that it is necessary to vary the rates over the three-year period. During this time, changes in general conditions affecting drilling costs may occur. The areas in which the search is intensified may change. For this reason, it is proposed to prescribe the subsidy rates by regulation, thus leaving more flexibility should variations be necessary.
All aplications for subsidy for operations started before the commencement of the amending act will need to be covered by the principal act of 1959.
Under the amended act, as under the principal act, the terms and conditions under which a subsidy will be paid will be set out in an agreement between the Commonwealth and the company whose operation is to be subsidized.
In relation to subsidized detailed structure drilling or test drilling, the bill contains special provisions as to the repayment of the subsidy to the Commonwealth in the event of the discovery of commercial oil.
The information obtained by the subsidized operations will be made available in full to the Bureau of Mineral Resources on behalf of the Commonwealth. To date, this information has been made available for the public, in the terms of the subsidy agreements, twelve months after the finish of the field operation. It is proposed in all future agreements to make this information available six months after the end of the field work. Detailed summaries of the information are being published by the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
All applicants will be required to furnish information on the location of the proposed operation, the applicant’s financial capability to carry it out, a detailed programme of the operation and the reason for its being undertaken. All applicants, except those who apply for a footage-rate basis for subsidy for a drilling operation, will be required also to furnish a detailed cost estimate of the. operation..
From the information supplied by the applicant and otherwise known, the department will assess the value of the proposal in relation to the search for ail and recommend to the Minister whether it should be approved or refused. The secretary may. defer making a recommendation.
Where the application is for subsidy on the basis of a percentage of cost, as under the present act, costs allowable for calculation of subsidy will be those reasonably incurred in carrying out the type of operation for which approval has been requested. In a drilling operation, these will include direct drilling costs, coring, running and cementing casing, electric logging and other bore-hole surveys, testing, cost of preparation of site and construction of access roads or air strip, camp accommodation, delivery of plant, materials and personnel, erection, installation, dismantling and removal of plant, &c, and. the preparation of reports. In a geophysical survey or bore-hole survey, the costs will include the cost of moving into and out of the area, carrying out the programme of field work and preparing reports. The details of costs to be included will be set out in the relevant agreement.
In the case of drilling operations to be subsidized on a footage-rate hasis, the agreement will specify minimum requirements in the programme of operations, particularly as to casing, electric and other logging, coring and testing. Payment will be made according to the applicable scale and on the basis of total depth drilled and checked as to depth by independent measurement. Such check measurements will be supervised wherever possible by a Commonwealth or a State officer. In cases of doubt, payment will be made only for the depth adequately covered by electric logs, the depth measurements of which are continually subject to check.
As at present, it is proposed that payments on account of subsidy will be made progressively. In general, no subsidy will’ be payable until, in the opinion of the secretary, at least one-quarter of the field’ operation has been completed. Thereafter, progress payments may be made when claimed by the company, as each quarter of. the total field operation is completed.
At any stage, total progress payments will be limited to 80 per cent, of the estimated amount of subsidy due at that .stage. The balance will be payable when the whole operation, including the final report, is completed to the satisfaction of tile Minister, in the terms of the agreement. In operations of short duration, the number of progress payments may be limited, at the Minister’s discretion.
The bill contemplates that agreements may be made and operations commenced during the three years 1961-62, 1962-63 and 1963-64, but it is recognized that some operations, in respect of which agreements will have been entered into before 30th June, 1964, may not be completed before that date. The bill accordingly provides for such an operation to be completed, and thus to qualify for payment of subsidy, prior to 30th June, 1965.
Subsidy is payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of this act. The amount appropriated for 1961-62 is £2,700,000. As a result of the information gained in the discussions with the industry that I have already mentioned, my officers are confident ‘that this appropriation will be sufficient to cover the payments of subsidy that would need to be made in this financial year for all the proposed operations that are likely to be brought forward and to merit approval under the amended act. The fact that appropriations will be made annually does not, of course, imply ‘any break in the continuity of the subsidy scheme, which, as I have said, the bill contemplates will run for three years.
The bill also contains a number of amending provisions not concerned with changing the principles on which subsidy is available, tout intended to facilitate the administration of the legislation. The need for these provisions has been shown by experience. I shall not discuss them in detail at this stage; I shall merely say that the provisions in this category are those in clauses 4 (b), -4 (c) (2b), 4(d), 5, 8 and S (2.) of the bill.
There can no longer be any doubt that oil and gas exist in Australia and many experienced professional oil-exploration men are sure that commercial deposits will be found. The Government’s petroleum search subsidy has resulted in the introduction of substantial overseas capital and, equally important, .the technical experience of companies that have found oil under many different conditions. Also, it has enabled Australian companies to carry out additional work with the funds available to them so that they are able to explore their concessions to the point where larger overseas companies may be interested to join with them and to provide capital.
The Government, by means of the subsidy act, by its taxation concessions to oil exploration investors, and by its provisions of services through the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Division of National Mapping, has clearly affirmed the importance of the discovery of oil. This amendment goes another step in helping in the tremendous task. It brings us to the situation that there is liberal governmental assistance right from the commencement of operations through taxation concessions up to the stage at which oil is found. I doubt whether more encouragement is given elsewhere. I believe that subsidy in this new field of detailed exploration will attract more capital and more operators to the search for oil and therefore I commend this bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion toy Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next at 3 p.m.
Debate resumed from 6th September (vide page 440), 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 “.
.- It has been pointed out that the presentation of the Budget and the subsequent debate in both Houses of the Parliament give ample opportunity to discuss not only the Budget itself but also all factors affecting the Australian economy. It has been said that the Budget is one of three prongs bearing directly upon the economy, the other two being the findings of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the decisions of the Tariff Board. It is arguable as to which of the three has the most potent influence on the economy.
Some time ago the Government introduced measures which, in its wisdom, it thought were appropriate to adopt to correct trends in the economy that were adverse to employment and to our trading relations - trends which would have become more adverse had something not been done to correct them. It must be remembered that we depend for our prosperity, as much as any other community on earth, upon our ability to trade with the rest of the world. These measures brought with them a lot of unpopularity. Attempts were made by political parties to make much capital out of the fact that the Government, for the sake of stability in the economy, was compelled to do things that many people deemed to be contrary to their own personal interests. It is encouraging to read in to-day’s press, not only in the “ Daily Telegraph “, to which Senator McKellar referred, but also in the Melbourne “ Age “, that there is a tone of distinct confidence in the commercial life of Australia. The leading article in the “ Age “, which newspaper some people hold in very high esteem, goes so far as to state that the economic measures applied by the Government some time ago have been amply justified.
I took a lot of interest in a gallup poll, the result of which was published only last week. It has been said of these polls that except in one instance they have never been wrong. The one instance was in the case of the presidential election in the United States of America at which President Truman was a candidate. The conclusion reached by the poll was wrong, it was said, because the poll was taken too early in the piece and public opinion changed just prior to the holding of the election. A gallup poll in regard to the Government’s economic measures showed that in April 39 per cent, of the people thought that the Government had been right, and 45 per cent, thought that it had been wrong. Another poll in August, only a few months afterwards-
– On what date in August was that held?
– I have not the date. It was in early August. I assure honorable senators that this information is quite authentic. In August, 48 per cent, of the people said that the Government had been right in the action it took, 39 per cent, said that it had been wrong, and 13 per cent, had no opinion.
– That was last month?
– Yes. A majority of 9 per cent, of the opinions sought supported the view that the Government acted correctly in adopting the economic measures it applied some time ago. Surely the Opposition can gain very little comfort from the indications that are to be seen everywhere that Australia’s economic position has very definitely improved.
I should like to refer to one aspect of Senator O’Byrne’s speech before I deal with other matters. The honorable senator roundly castigated the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for his observations about unemployment. Senator Spooner expressed his very deep concern about the present unemployment situation in the Commonwealth.
– What is he doing about it?
– The Government is doing quite a lot about it. As time passes the results of what the Government is doing will become obvious to any one who wishes to see them. Senator Spooner based his remarks upon a contention that had been advanced by a man who has had years of experience in the trade union movement, who probably all his life has devoted his attention to industrial matters, and who probably has had more or at least as much to do with employment in Australia as has any other individual. I refer to Mr. Monk. I was sufficiently interested in what he said, as reported in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph “ in March last, I think it was, that I cut out the report. The report of Mr. Monk’s remarks reads -
Real unemployment does not start in Australia until 1.5 per cent, of the work force is registered as unemployed, because Australia needs about 1.5 per cent, floating population to deal with seasonal work.
– They are not included in the figures issued by the Statistician.
– There has always been a lot of contention about the correctness of the figures issued by the Statistician. In the present circumstances, the Opposition, for political purposes, would like to make the figures as high as possible. Honorable senators opposite want to exaggerate the figures to the utmost possible extent, because they hope that if they can induce the people to believe that the unemployment situation is very much worse than it is. in desperation the people will turn towards them in December next and will put them in office. Mr. Monk went on to say -
When I tell people overseas that our unemployment figure is less than 2 per cent, they say, “That is not a problem at all ‘.
The correspondent who wrote the article from which I am quoting said -
If Mr. Monk’s minimum figure of 1.5 “floaters” is accepted, this means that real unemployment does not start until after 63,000 is reached.
– Do you agree with Mr. Monk?
– Do you?
– Do you agree with that?
– I asked you that question. Mr. Monk, because of his vocation in life, would make that essential figure, as he describes it, as small as possible.
– Is the present unemployment figure 1.5 per cent.?
– Mr. Monk said that an unemployment level of 1.5 per cent, was necessary.
– But is that the present unemployment figure in Australia?
– The present figure is 2.7 per cent. On the basis of what Mr. Monk has said, that leaves an actual level of unemployment of 1.2 per ‘cent.
– There are 113,000 persons out of work.
– There are 113,000 registered.
– That figure ot 113,000 includes Mr. Monk’s figure of 65,000. This Government is doing its utmost to correct the present state of affairs. I repeat, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that the measures set in train by this Government will ultimately have a definite influence on the unemployment situation. It was on Mr. Monk’s statement that Senator Spooner based his remarks. The Minister did not evince any callous disregard for unemployment.
– Not much!
– He did not. We on this side of the chamber regret that more people than usual are out of work just as much as does the Opposition. I leave Mr. Monk’s comments and quote what Mr. Haylen has said. Mr. Haylen said that 4 per cent.-
– He mentioned 5 per cent.
- Mr. Haylen said that if 5 per cent, of the work force was unemployed that could be regarded as full employment. A lot of people try to make political capital out of the present situation. For weeks past we have read in the Tasmanian press statements that have been designed to have that effect. As a matter of fact, Senator McKenna went over to Tasmania and he said that unemployment had been deliberately created. That statement was highlighted in the press. Any person who is in his right senses and who has any political nous at all knows - Senator McKenna knows this quite well - that any Government which deliberately set out to cause unemployment in an election year would be setting out to commit political suicide.
I propose to quote- a statement made by- Mr. Kenny, president of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, because it is in keeping with statements that have been made by people who are in prominent positions and who take due cognizance of the state of the Australian economy. The press report of Mr. Kenny’s statement reads -
Expedients such as import controls, emergency tariffs and exchange rate manipulations were not the long-term answer to Australia’s, balance of payments problem, a commercial leader said today. “The solution lies in our ability to gear our Costs and prices to the outside world “, he said.
Surely that is a reasonable contention. Reference is made in the Opposition’s amendment to rising costs. During this debate I have heard a tremendous lot of comment about the inflationary spiral in Australia. Inflation has been a problem ever since the last war ended.
– No, it has not.
– Oh, yes, it has. There was inflation when the Chifley Government was in office.
– It occurred only after this Government abandoned prices control.
– Let me recapitulate what actually happened about prices control in 1948. The High Court had never ruled that the Commonwealth Government did not have the power to operate prices control. The issue had never been before the High Court and it had never said that the defence power, under which the Commonwealth had operated prices control during the war, had lapsed. Mr. Chifley, at a referendum, had asked the people to vest power in the Commonwealth Parliament to control prices for all time, and the people had rejected the request. Mr. Chifley then said, in effect, “ If you will not give me power to control prices for all time, I will not operate prices control at all; the States can do it “. That is what happened. I am one of those people who have no confidence whatever in prices control. I believe that is only a means of recording price rises and, far from having any beneficial effect on the economy, it aggravates the things it sets out to correct.
In this debate we have heard a lot about rising costs and inflation. From time to time the Opposition makes statements about excessive costs which are playing havoc with our export production, but during the time T have been in the Senate I have never heard one constructive- suggestion made by the Opposition as to how the position can be corrected. It is true that on more than one occasion Senator McKenna and Opposition speakers in another place have advocated putting to the people by way of a referendum the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. I understand that the implementation of those recommendations would involve about twenty amendments of the Constitution, and Senator McKenna is a super-optimist if he believes that the people would grant those powers to the Commonwealth. He has said that if the people did grant the powers it would be possible so tj control the Australian economy as to prevent rising costs. I have no faith in that expedient whatever. I have not a closed mind about constitutional amendments and I concede that there may well be room for constitutional review, but when you deal with rising costs by the operation of prices control and other controls, you deal simply with effects and you do not get down to the root cause of the trouble.
I support this Budget because I believe it is more likely to bring stability to the economy than the proposals of the Labour Party. Mr. Calwell said that if his party was elected in December he would bring down a budget in February, and that budget would provide for an increase by £100.000,000 of the expenditure on social services. I have been amazed many times by the promises made by the Labour Party in this country and in New Zealand as well; The Labour Party in New Zealand, as well as the Labour Party in Australia, has proposed to increase the expenditure on social services by millions of pounds a year and at the same time to reduce taxation. That proposition has never made sense to me. The last time that the Labour Party in New Zealand made such a promise it said, in effect, “ If you elect us, we shall increase the expenditure on social services by millions of pounds a year. Not only frill we decrease taxation, but we will grant every taxpayer a rebate of £100”. The New Zealand Labour Party actually did position in- this country is going along on the grant that rebate, but its next Budget contained the most vicious taxation proposals in the history of New Zealand. The Opsame leg,
-The Government you support is increasing social services expenditure.
– Yes, but not to the extent of £100,000,000 a year; The Australian Labour Party proposes to increase social services expenditure by £100,000;000 a year and also to re-introduce import licensing, which is in. itself inflationary because it curtails supply. It tends to confine. the: sources of. supply to a few people. The Opposition proposes to finance its enlarged social services programme by deficit budgeting, which again in itself is inflationary.
– That is not unprecedented.
– It would be unprecedented to do it with the economy of Australia in the condition in which it is to-day.
According to the Australian Labour Party conference that was held in Canberra about a fortnight ago, a Labour government would establish - this is a real snorter - a government-owned international shipping line and a general insurance company. Quite apart from the cost involved in establishing such a shipping line, if our exports had to go overseas under the same terms and conditions as goods are shipped around Australia, that would be a drastic blow to our export trade. The Labour Party says also that if it were in power, the Commonwealth would make cash grants to the States to enable them to establish factories. I suppose the Labour governments in some of the States would accept such an offer, but I do not know what the position would be in States governed by Liberal governments which do not believe in that sort of thing.
The Labour Party’s conference went on to propose that the Queensland Government and the Western Australian Government be given special grants to establish local steel industries. May I say in passing, in spite of all the criticism that has been levelled at the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, that if there is one. industry in Australia, that is efficient it. is the steel industry operated by that organization. The Broken Hill organization produces steel, more cheaply than does either the United States or Great Britain. Nevertheless, Labour proposes, if it is elected to office, to establish local steel industries. The Labour Party’s conference said further that a Labour government would seek an agreement with New Zealand on the production of aluminium whereby state-owned smelters could be established. I do not know what the Bell Bay people think of that. Mr. Reece has said that the deal that the Commonwealth Government made over Bell Bay, in spite of the opposition of Labour senators, has ushered in a new era of prosperity in Tasmania.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was referring to decisions reached by the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party, which met here in Canberra about two weeks ago. The federal executive decided that if Labour was returned to office it would establish a governmentowned international shipping line and a general insurance company. Labour would make cash grants to the States to enable factories to be established. Special grants would be made to Queensland and Western Australia for the establishment of steel industries. A Labour government would seek an agreement with New Zealand in relation to the production of aluminium. Under that agreement state-owned smelters would replace privately owned smelters and the two countries would join forces on international marketing. A Labour government would give financial aid to the States to enable them to establish their own oil refineries. A Labour government would ask Western Australia, and Queensland to hand over to the Commonwealth control of the areas of those States adjacent to the Northern Territory so that the Commonwealth would be responsible for the development of the entire northern part of Australia. A Labour government would, welcome overseas investments in Australia but only on stringent conditions laid down by the government. Such conditions could, easily mean that in the aggregate- overseas investments in this country would be, drastically curtailed.
When you add to all those things that 1 have mentioned the deficit financing advocated by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, the reimposition of import controls and the provision of an extra £100,000,000 for social services, it will be seen that far from correcting the inflationary conditions about which the Opposition has complained for years, those provisions would very materially worsen them. You do not need to be an economist to realize, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, that Labour’s policy, if put into effect, would set up a condition of terrific inflation and would add to costs of production, thereby militating more than ever against a healthy export situation.
I support the Budget. I can see no ray of hope in the programme announced by the Opposition. As I said earlier, in my opinion the greatest difficulty confronting the economy is to try to make our costs of production conform to those of countries with which we wish to trade. If we cannot do that our export industries, which are in a parlous plight now, will deteriorate still further. Although this Budget is important to the economy and is a fit and proper subject for discussion in this National Parliament, another body whose decisions are of great importance to our cost structure and to the economy generally is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I for one feel the greatest uneasiness at the set-up of that commission. Senator Wright dealt fully with this matter yesterday. He quoted portion of the finding of the commission in 1961 in its basic wage judgment when .it added more than £200,000,000 to Australia’s wages bill. The extract from the judgment to which Senator Wright referred is well worth repeating. The commission stated -
On the material before us we must conclude that our overseas balances are not in as satisfactory a position as they have been in earlier recent years, but that the position is not dangerous; further there are signs that the position is improving.
Well, the position did not improve. The commission said that the position was not dangerous at the moment although it had deteriorated to some extent. So, because the position was not dangerous in the commission’s opinion, it took the very action calculated to make the position dangerous. It added so substantially to our costs that our export industries were placed in a most parlous position.
In my view the action taken last year by the commission - it was referred to by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech last year - was largely responsible for the stringent economic measures that this Government was compelled to take. Last year Mr. Harold Holt dealt with those measures and said -
One was to strengthen resistance to the rise in prices and costs and, in particular, to prevent large increases in the factors which affect costs generally. That was why the Government intervened in the basic wage proceedings and advised the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of some of the consequences of granting further large wage increases before the economy had had time to absorb those made not long before.
I agree with Senator Wright that Australia should pay to the wage-earner the highest possible wages and should provide the best conditions that the economy can sustain. I believe implicitly in that policy. But when you go beyond that - when an arbitration commission makes decisions that are not accompanied by an increase in our export earnings - decisions that are not realistic, that add to inflation and provide increases that have no inherent value - you are not only conferring upon the wage-earner useless awards but you are also doing very great harm to the Australian economy. You are materially worsening the position.
– What is the cure?
– You should criticize the judges of the commission not public servants.
– In voicing my criticism of the arbitration commission I am in the good company of a Labour Premier of Tasmania - a former president of the federal body that controls the Australian Labour Party - who. in one of his lucid moments, said that the decisions of the arbitration commission cause inflation. He referred to the commission’s decisions as unrealistic and irresponsible. It is true that immediately after making that statement he got into trouble with the federal conference of the Labour Party. It is also true that he tried to explain his statement away to some extent; but that is what he said and it is a dictum with which most of us must agree. Any one who thinks about the position realizes the narrowness of the gap, which has been instanced in this chamber many times, between what the primary producer receives for his products and what it costs him to produce them. That gap must narrow still further with the continuous inflationary increases that are brought about by the decisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– The commission has to grant the increases to enable people to live.
– Then the dog is just chasing its tail, as it were. No great benefit is conferred upon any one. The Prime Minister, referring to that decision, said that it was a decision that did nobody any good. I well recall his statement. The Australian primary producers, who are responsible for earning so much of our export income, are compelled to buy their requirements and compete on the markets of the world under those inflated conditions. That position is fundamentally wrong, particularly when Australia is trying to boost its export trade. I believe that until some adjustment or revision of the Australian arbitration system is made we shall never know from day to day what action may be taken that will put the Australian economy in jeopardy.
Let me quote from a review by the National Bank of Australasia Limited in August, 1960, more than twelve months ago. That review said -
Something in excess of 1.1 million employees are engaged in manufacturing industries in Australia, representing about 38 per cent, of recorded employees, yet the products of secondary industries account for less than 15 per cent, of our export income. Indeed, if highly manufactured goods such as electrical equipment, machinery, motor vehicles, etc. are considered, the proportion would be only about 10.5 per cent.
The balance of our export income is earned by our primary producers who, I repeat, have to purchase their requirements under inflated conditions that are brought into existence in order to benefit people who do not contribute more than 15 per cent, of Australia’s export earnings.
When we read reports by people in the commercial life of this country, such as that review by the National Bank only a year ago, of the inefficiency in some Australian secondary industries brought about because they have never had to stand up to the chill winds of competition, we realize why some Australian manufacturers are still campaigning - I believe they are campaigning in a most reprehensible fashion - for the re-imposition of import licensing. In the press only a few days ago there was a big advertisement calling on the people to consider what they want for their children when they leave school and saying that unless things in this country were altered - for instance, unless import licensing was re-imposed - there would be no occupations for the children. I say that the people who inserted that advertisement are simply trying to cash in on import licensing. They are trying to take advantage of the benefits that accrue to them through that system of control. For the sake of this country they should be prepared to put their own houses in order and do their utmost to place themselves in a position to compete upon the world markets for secondary products.
I can quite understand that after being in a comfortable position for years, by being able to exploit, at least partly, according to their will, the benefits that accrue from the local markets, such persons are loath to lose those conditions. However, I believe that in many cases those conditions have induced a state of inefficiency which has prevented many Australian industries from adding to Australia’s export income. That is why I say that the Government is to be commended completely for the courageous action it took when it said, in effect, “ We will remove import licensing which we believe is detrimental to the Australian economy, which is inflationary, and which is inducing conditions that cause manufacturers to sit back and expect protection for their goods on the local market, although they have the natural protection afforded by this market, being half the distance round the world from their competitors, without the added work and efficiency which are entailed in looking for markets overseas “. Until we can reduce our costs, increase our efficiency and place ourselves in a competitive position, Australia’s external trade balances will always be in grave jeopardy, in spite of the efforts of this Government. I believe that the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has done all that is humanly possible to exploit overseas markets and enable Australia to trade in the world and pay its way. That is what we have to do. He has done everything that a man could do to enable Australia to compete and to earn its own living through world trade.
Now, Mr. Deputy President, I should like to say a few words about my own State, Tasmania. Over the past few months so many things in Tasmania have been attributed to the credit squeeze that it has been a matter of wonder to me that so many ills could be attributed to one thing by so many people. Even the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in its news service not long ago, speaking about unemployment in the midlands of Tasmania, said that the credit squeeze had an adverse effect. The news reader went on to speak about the adverse weather conditions that Tasmania has experienced in the last year. So many things have been said about the credit squeeze that I am reminded of a speech made by the Honorable J. J. Dedman, who was a Minister in the Chifley Government, many years ago. He read a lot of statistics, as Senator McKenna did in his speech on the Budget. The statistics cited by Mr. Dedman sought to compare conditions that existed under the government of which he was a member and those that had obtained under the previous United Australia Party administration. Finally, he got down to suicides and quoted statistics to show that there were fewer suicides during the Chifley regime than there had been under the previous administration. I suppose that his remarks are recorded in “ Hansard “.
Economic measures similar to those which the Government has been compelled to take have been taken in the United Kingdom also. According to press reports, the economic measures in that country have even invaded the housewife’s larder. The tax on refrigerators, washing machines, television sets and other such items has been increased, whereas the Government in this country proposes in the present Budget to reduce sales tax on such articles. The New Zealand Government has been compelled to apply a credit squeeze. I assure honorable senators that the measures taken by the government of that country are staggering when we compare them with the measures taken here. For instance, in New Zealand, the deposit required on the purchase of a new car or truck on terms is 66-2/3rds per cent, of the purchase price, while the term over which repayments must be made is only twelve months. For the purchase of a second-hand car or .truck, the deposit is 50 per cent, and the term for repayments is eighteen months.
– They would be hard to sell.
– That may be so. Nevertheless, the document from which I am taking the figures is authentic. ‘Pressure has been put on the trading banks in New Zealand, and many other measures have been introduced. They follow much the same pattern as those introduced by the Australian Government, despite the fact that New Zealand has a very comprehensive system of import licensing. Mr. Calwell said that he would re-impose import licensing.
– No, he did not.
– Well, selective licensing.
– That is the word.
– The interjections remind me of the change in the policy of the Labour Party, which was for so long described as socialism.
– It still is.
– At a certain conference of the party it was decided to preface the word “ socialism “ by “ democratic “. I have never been able to understand the difference between socialism and democratic socialism. No doubt the object was to tone it down a little and to attempt to make the policy of socialism just a little more palatable. Now, the Labour Party is putting the word “ selective “ in front of the words “ import licensing “. I do not know whether selective import licensing would be any different from the form of import licensing that this Government operated. I suspect that that form of import licensing also was selective, inasmuch as the licensing authorities surely would not have tabulated a lot of articles on a piece of paper, stabbed at them with a pin and said, “ Well, that one is ‘for it, and so is this one”. 1 take it that the system was selective, iti just the same way as Mr. Calwell proposes to have a selective import licensing procedure. The point I am making is that New Zealand has had to continue and, in fact, to tighten drastically, the system of import licensing.
– But it is still selective in New Zealand, too.
– I suppose it is selective. As I have said, that country has been compelled to tighten its import licensing system. At the same time, it has been compelled to apply a credit squeeze which, in many respects, is far more severe in its operation than anything we have experienced in Australia.
– Our import controls have been lifted now.
– Yes, that is so. It follows, Mr. Deputy President, that having regard to the experience of New Zealand, the introduction of import licensing does not automatically do away with the need for other economic measures.
I have chosen to speak of Tasmania because there has been a spate of criticism in the press of that State in regard to the measures taken by the Commonwealth Government. That government has been blamed, for political purposes, for nearly everything of an adverse nature that has happened in the State. It is not so long since a local member of Parliament made headlines in the press by stating that there were more than 400 registered unemployed in his electorate. Similar statements have been made from day to day. Much political capital has been made of the fact that Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie has been compelled to reduce its staff, and that the timber industry is in a parlous condition.
If 1 had to state the principal cause of any distress that may exist in Tasmania to-day, I should say that it is the fact that the State has experienced the most severe drought in its history. I call to mind the conditions that existed 30 years ago. I was then, and I am still, a potato farmer.
– I thought you were. You look like one.
– I am not a bit ashamed of it.
– They were good potatoes, too.
– Yes, I am not ashamed of them, either. In those days, from the time that the potatoes were hoed until they were dug, they did not benefit from any worth-while rainfall. In the year that has just ended, from the time that the potatoes were sown until the crop was dug, there was scarcely any rain at all. Cash crops died in the ground. Cows dried off at the end of February. There was a terrific depletion in the amount of produce that came from the farms.
– But the Prime Minister said that we had had a bountiful season, with the exception of an area in Queensland.
– No. He meant Tasmania.
– 1 do not know what the Prime Minister said in that regard. I am speaking of my own State.
– Are you admitting that the Prime Minister does not know what is going on?
– The honorable senator should listen to me for a moment. I believe that the severe drought that the State experienced was the greatest contributing factor to adverse conditions that may exist in Tasmania at the present time. The effect of the drought has been felt in all areas of the State. Mr. Reece, the Premier of Tasmania, was anxious that a Premiers’ Conference should be called to discuss unemployment. He has continually made press statements castigating the Commonwealth Government because it has not granted this, that and the other thing to Tasmania. I believe that of all the propositions that were placed before the Commonwealth Government by the Premier of Tasmania, not one of them was properly documented and costed. They dealt only in generalities. According to the press, he has said, “You can get be’ef roads for Queensland, but we have put this up and we have put that up,” and he has proceeded to list a number of matters. He said that they were all turned down and coldshouldered. 1 instance one case - the Fingal valley thermal power station. Mr. Reece discarded that as being uneconomic. He said that the Commonwealth should take it over. In a vague kind of way, he put the matter before the Commonwealth, as far as I know, but the Commonwealth did not take it over. . The Hobart “ Mercury “ said that Mr. Reece had initiated a new conundrum: “When is money not money? “ And the answer - “ When it is the property of the Commonwealth “. After the Fingal valley thermal power station scheme had been placed before the Commonwealth, the State Parliament set up a committee to investigate its possibilities. I am quoting facts, not hearsay. Surely it is reasonable, if you expect the Commonwealth to come to the party with this, that or the other project, to supply at the outset specific data on costs and other factors to it. There were other things that he claimed he had placed before the Commonwealth.
– Was that why Tasmania did not get them?
– The State did not get them because the proposals were not put up in the proper way. The Commonwealth Government could not be expected to put up money to help this enterprise or that enterprise merely on hearsay requests. Mr. Reece was reported in the press as having castigated the Commonwealth Government because it had not granted the request.
– That was the right thing to do.
– Oh, yes! In one of his statements, Mr. Reece dwelt at great length on the parlous condition of the timber industry in Tasmania. He instanced the quantity of timber that was stockpiled because the Commonwealth Government, in accordance with its economic policy, had allowed a great quantity of timber to be imported and he said that, as a result of the credit squeeze, many prospective homeowners had not been able to go ahead with the building of houses and that, in turn, had resulted in a decreased demand for timber.
During the last sessional period, this Parliament passed the Loan (Housing) Bill 1961, which extended the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement for a further period. Victoria was on the ball and began to build at once. The Tasmanian Parliament met on 20th June and the necessary bill was passed on 2nd August. It was laid down that under the agreement money could not be provided to the co-operative societies or to the Agricultural Bank until the bill had received Royal assent. I am informed that, after such a measure receives Royal assent, it takes about two months to get really started with the housing programme. Does not the delay of the Tasmanian Parliament in pass ing the necessary legislation make one wonder, in view of the fact that, week in and week out, statements that have appeared in the press under the name of Mr. Reece have referred to the parlous condition of the timber industry? I have quoted facts, not hearsay. I have checked the position, and I have seen no explanation for what occurred.
– The proper constitutional procedure must be followed.
– Apparently a tremendous delay in the implementation of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was deliberately caused.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the amendment that has been moved by my leader, Senator McKenna. The speech that was just delivered by Senator Lillico was one of the most amazing speeches I have heard since I have been a member of this chamber.
– It was amazingly good.
– I heard Senator Lillico laud the Government for its November economic measures, and he went to the trouble of reading to the Senate the results of two gallup polls that were conducted. Mr. Deputy President, I remind honorable senators of Senator Lillico’s actions in November and December last, when the economic measures were before this chamber. At that time did he think that those economic measures were good for this country? I admit that all people are entitled to change their minds, but I believe that Senator Lillico should state the grounds on which he has changed his mind on this subject.
I have heard Senator Lillico speak many times in this chamber, but I cannot recall an occasion on which he did not attack the wages and conditions of the working people of Australia. We all know that he is a conservative, who has descended from the feudal era. We all know that he would like to have slave conditions operating in Australia, but he should not use this chamber as a pulpit from which to state his beliefs.
It is noteworthy that on every occasion during this debate on which Opposition senators have stated in substantiation of the figures they have produced that those figures have been supplied by high government sources, they have been accused of belittling and criticizing public servants. I have never heard such an attack as the attack that was made to-day on the judiciary of Australia by Senator Lillico; he made a straight-out attack upon the judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Not all those judges were appointed by the previous Labour Government. Most of them have been appointed by this Government. Yet a supporter of the Government is prepared to rise in this chamber and criticize them. It has been my belief that in this place one may not criticize the judiciary of Australia.
Senator Lillico quoted a long statement, attributed to Mr. Albert Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in which Mr. Monk allegedly said that li per cent, of unemployment was normal in Australia, in view of the seasonal conditions. At present that figure would cover about 63,000 persons. I say that H per cent, unemployment is what is termed seasonal unemployment in Australia. When one examines the Statistician’s figures, one finds that that li per cent, of unemployment is not included in the statistics on unemployment that are produced to this Parliament. That was admitted by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in March last.
– He admitted nothing of the kind.
– The unemployment figure does not include the 63,000 seasonal workers. There are, in addition, 113,500 people alleged to be unemployed to-day. I say “ alleged “ because this Government has cooked the unemployment figures. I hope to be able to show, not from the figures quoted by the Government, but from the Statistician’s figures, that that is exactly what is going on.
Senator Lillico stated that he had no confidence in the system of prices control. He has no confidence in constitutional reform. I remind him that six members of the government parties sat on the Constitutional Review Committee, which was appointed by the Government, not by the Opposition. He has no confidence at all in six leading members of his own parties. He also has no confidence in import controls, and no confidence in high wages and good industrial conditions for workers. In what has he confidence? The one-eyed potatoes that Senator Vincent mentioned are about the only things in which he has confidence.
I want to deal with a few matters that have been dealt with in the Budget. I have heard honorable senators opposite, without exception, laud the Budget brought down by the Government for the year 1961-62, but if we examine the Australian press of the time the Budget was brought down, we find that not one newspaper gave the Budget a favorable mention. I go further and say that the Government itself did not give the Budget a favorable mention. I refer to the supplementary measures that the Government has been forced to bring in since the Budget was introduced. There is no question whatever that beef roads in Queensland were not considered in the Budget. Railway standardization and development lines in Western Australia were not considered in the Budget, and the beef road from Nicholson to Wyndham was not considered. All of these matters have been dealt with in supplementary measures, brought in because the Government was in a tight spot with a Budget that had been criticized throughout Australia. Yet the one idea of honorable senators opposite is to stand and say that this Budget is a good Budget. Of course, to them it is a good Budget because the intention is that we shall continue to have 113,500 or more unemployed. I hope to be able to prove, on the Government’s own estimates, that the number is higher than that.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had the audacity to criticize the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell. I remind the Senate that before coming into this Parliament the Prime Minister was recognized as a leader of the bar. The first thing that he said, in reference to Mr. Calwell, was -
I would like to say to my distinguished friend, if he were in the chamber, that, as a matter of advocacy, it is a very great mistake to overstate your case.
He went on to use the word “ boom “ 33 times in his own speech. Whom was he trying to convince that there was a boom? Was he trying to convince himself or the people who follow him, who are not capable or game enough to speak for themselves? Those were the people whom he was trying to convince, and he talks about over-stating a case! For what was he trying to find excuses? Let us have a look at the position. He was trying to find excuses for the deliberate creation of a situation in which 113,500 people are unemployed in this country, plus 63,000 seasonal workers who are not taken into consideration in that figure. I hope to be able to show the Senate that those figures are correct.
In addition, in criticizing the leader of the party to which I have the honour to belong, the Prime Minister said -
That is what happens every time we try to direct the attention of the nation and of honorable senators opposite to what is going on. We are described as preachers of gloom. I remind the Senate that the Leader of the Opposition talked about a deficit budget to cure unemployment. By a mass of arithmetic, the Prime Minister worked the cost up to £250,000,000 a year. Who was preaching gloom? Who was destroying the confidence of the Australian people? Was it Mr. Calwell or was it Mr. Menzies? Who was trying to frighten the pants off the Australian people in an election year? Honorable senators opposite ought to think of these things. The Prime Minister went on to say -
He immediately then set out to destroy the confidence of the people by referring to the £100,000,000 deficit proposed by Mr. Calwell and working it up to £250,000,000 a year. He went on to talk about another £250,000,000 in 1962-63. Who is the preacher of gloom in these circumstances? Honorable senators opposite want to use the pulpits when it suits them to do so. The Prime Minister talked about the Australian people being gullible. He said that we thought they were gullible, yet earlier the same morning, speaking on the Berlin issue, he had accused the Australian people of being gullible. One cannot talk with two voices all the time.
I heard somebody say in this chamber this morning that the Australian Labour
Party wanted greater unemployment in this country. No member of the Australian Labour Party ever made such a statement, but it is being attributed to us in an election year. The Prime Minister said -
I perfectly well believe that there are honorable members opposite who would regard another 100,000 on the list of unemployed between now and December as the greatest political triumph in their lives.
The Prime Minister would like the Australian people to think it. Again he, not the Australian Labour Party, is the preacher of gloom. We are not preaching gloom. He tries to tell the Australian people that we want more unemployed, but at the same time he fixes the figures instead of giving the true unemployment position to the nation which he is supposed to represent but which he has misrepresented for the past twelve years.
– That is a reflection on the electors.
– Of course it is a reflection on the electors.
– It is no wonder that the Australian Workers Union is in strife.
– Actors Equity is not quite in strife yet; but if the honorable senator is in that organization much longer it will be in strife: The Prime Minister said -
What would the Leader of the Opposition do with the Budget for 1962-63? Would he go flat out for another deficit of £250,000,000? Is that what we are being promised by this party that wants development and hates unemployment?
I remind the Senate that ours was the first party in Australia to produce full employment. I remind Senator Scott, who talks about unemployment, that in the depths of the war in 1940 there was still 8 per cent, of unemployment in Australia. He can obtain that information from the Australian year book. In the depths of war, when we were fighting for our existence, there was 8 per cent, of unemployment. Never mind about 1949, when a coal strike was in progress. Let him go back to a time when we were fighting for our existence. In 1939 there was 12i per cent, of unemployment, yet conservative governments had been in office since 1932. Honorable senators opposite have much for which to apologize before they may cast stones at senators on this side.
Mr. Menzies also said something that is interesting when we remember his remark about over-statement of a case and recall that he was a leading member of the Australian bar. 1 could mention many cases in which he appeared on behalf of the trade union movement when he was at the bar but in which he did not make a very good fist of things. This is what he said in his speech on the Budget -
The history of the Australian Labour Party shows that on many occasions it has had the answers when members of the present Government parties did not have the answers.
I ask honorable senators opposite to consider what happened in Australia at the commencement of the Second World War. The government of the day, which consisted of the parties now sitting on the opposite side of the chamber, got out of office to allow the Labour Party to pull the country through the rigours of war. I ask honorable senators opposite to consider what happened during the First World War. “Which party was in office at that time? I ask them to consider what happened in 1929, when the Bruce-Page Government destroyed the economy of this country. Of course, the Government will not accept responsibility for that state of affairs. It says: “ That was something that was going on all over the world. There was nothing we could do about it.” Every time something goes wrong, this Government blames world conditions. But when something goes right, the Government takes the credit. The Prime Minister has said that the Australian Labour Party has never had the answers; but I have listed a few things it has done. Never is a long, long time.
What about the marvellous post-war reconstruction programme that was introduced by the Australian Labour Party? Was not that one answer? Of course, we could not hope to get any credit from supporters of the Government for that. What about the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank? Was not that an answer?
– We heard about that this morning.
– I am glad the honorable senator has made that interjection. I sat in this chamber this morning and heard the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) make a bitter attack upon Senator O’Byrne. Senator O’Byrne had the courage to apologize. But three years ago in this chamber Senator Paltridge made a bitter attack upon Mr. Joe Chamberlain. So far Senator Paltridge has not had the intestinal fortitude to apologize. Let us look at things in perspective, if you want to talk about what happened this morning.
The Labour Party introduced full employment for the first time in the history of Australia. Moreover, it made provision for many social service benefits. If Senator Scott looks at the Budget papers, he will find that not all those benefits have been introduced since 1949. There is also the Snowy Mountains scheme? Did we have an answer there? Did we have an answer when we relied upon internal borrowing as distinct from mortgaging Australia overseas? While I am on that point, I understand that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is going overseas very shortly.
– You are wrong again. He has gone.
– He has gone overseas to borrow more money at high rates of interest, but at the same time he has cancelled a stand-by loan of £45,000,000 from the International Monetary Fund which could have been borrowed at low rates of interest. Again Australia is mortgaged. Is the Treasurer now at Tahiti swimming and spear-fishing?
What has the Government done with the immigration scheme? Did not Labour have an answer when it introduced that scheme? Of course, it did! What about the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, Trans-Australia Airlines and the Commonwealth Railways? So we see that the Prime Minister - this man who warns other people about making over-statements - himself sets out to make over-statements; He spoke of the tragedy of unemployment and said -
The whole of our policy is designed to remove this tragedy.
When I look at the Budget I cannot see any sign of such effort. Then he made the most amazing statement I have heard for a long time. He said -
The whole of our policy has been to get rid of inflation.
Has any one ever heard anything so ridiculous, especially when we consider the inflationary spiral from which we have suffered since 1949? There has been nothing like it in the history of any other country. In spite of the inflationary spiral from which Australia has suffered the Prime Minister, I repeat, had the audacity to say -
The whole of our policy has been to get rid of inflation. . . .
At the same time, he accused the Australian Labour Party of having a time-honoured policy of inflation. He referred to it as EvaattCalwell inflation. It is easy to see that this is an election year and that everything that can be thrown at the Australian Labour Party by this Government will be thrown at it. However, in time the Government will have to answer for its own sins.
Now I wish to deal with what the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) said a few days ago. Actually, he said very little, because he did not have an answer to the propositions that were advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Senator Spooner tried to mislead the Senate on several occasions. Referring to Senator McKenna’s speech, Senator Spooner said -
As he said, at present 113,439 people are registered for employment in Australia. . . . How serious is this situation? … I found only two months in recent years when the number registered for employment was below 50,000. . . The number of unemployed is at present 113,000, which is only-
T emphasize the word “ only “ - 50,000 in excess of what even Labour supporters regard as a normal figure.
Then the Minister produced a schedule of percentages of unemployed in other countries. But, when challenged, he promptly admitted that the method of calculating the figures in other countries differed from that used in Australia. The bases of assessment were not the same. So we had this man, the Leader of the Government in this place, trying to convince the people that the number of unemployed, which the Government says is 113,000, is only a little greater than it was previously. Senator Spooner went on to say -
The methods that we employed have served their purpose. . . . We have done that which we thought we had to do. We believe that we have done it successfully. . . .
Of course the Government has been successful in carrying out a policy that was deliberately designed to create unemployment! I hope to be able to prove that in a little while.
Every month the Government produces for the benefit of the Senate and the Australian people figures which it alleges disclose the unemployment situation. I remind honorable senators that the figures produced by the Government do not take into account all those people who are out of work but who are not registered for employment. Moreover, they do not take into account rural workers and private family domestics, despite the fact that those domestics register for employment at the various Commonwealth employment agencies and despite the fact that the rural workers constitute the 1.5 per cent, of floating unemployed that are involved in seasonal work. So, instead of taking 63,000 from approximately 113,500, the Government should add the. two figures.
– It should do that because the Statistician’s unemployment figures do not take into account part-time workers in many industries. Part-time employment is rife in the textile industries. The unemployment figures do not take into account unemployed migrants in hostels and waterside workers who are unemployed because of a roster system. Waterside workers do not obtain work every day. An examination of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority reveals that approximately 1,000 waterside workers are unemployed in Sydney every day.
– Do not forget that they are on a much better thing than unemployment relief. They get attendance money.
– They are on attendance money of £1 4s. a day. At present the unemployment benefit is £1 4s. 6d. a day and in this Budget the Government proposes to increase it to £1 15s. a day. The attendance money that is paid to waterside workers while they are unemployed is less than the amount of the unemployment benefit.
– Do you have regard for-
– I do not have regard for anything except the figures with which this Government is trying to hoodwink the people of Australia. I have a press report of a statement by Mr. Menzies in which he said that the credit squeeze has gone. I wonder whether he has told the 113,000 unemployed people that the credit squeeze has gone. Do they know that it has gone? Of course, they do not. He also spoke about an upturn and said that the economy of Australia was improving, but the Chamber of Manufactures does not say that. I have a press report here which reads -
Manufacturers expect employment-
Not unemployment - to be about 2 per cent, lower in September than in May, according to a Trade Department survey released to-day. A decline, but not as large, is also expected in output.
The Prime Minister says that there is an upturn, but the great manufacturing industries, which have been affected by unemployment to the extent of 14.6 per cent, of their employees, expect that in September there will be a further decline in employ.mnt by 2 per cent. It is not the Australian Labour Party that is the calamity howler on this occasion.
On top of all this, the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) went to Western Australia and said that the job shortage was a surprise to him. Although the Government deliberately set out to create a job shortage, under the pretence of halting inflation, one of the leading members of the Cabinet now says that it is a surprise to him that there is such a shortage. During a television interview on 28th August, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said something which was amazing, coming from a person who had claimed in his Budget speech that unemployment was a matter of concern to the Government. He said in that interview -
I don’t think it would be a good thing for people who may have lost their jobs to go back to the same jobs in the same industries.
Let us analyse that statement. It simply means that the Federal Treasurer does not want those people who are out of employment to be re-employed in the industries in which they were previously employed. He expects them to go to other places to get employment. He expects them to leave their homes, families, friends and everything they have gathered around them, and to go to some other place to get employment - a place where there are no facilities for them to live with their families.
– That is what Mr. Chifley said they would have to do.
– Mr. Chifley did not say that, but your Treasurer has said it now. His statement is reported in the public press. Many of these people are living in housing settlements. Some of them have partly paid for their homes, and their furniture. The Treasurer expects them to uproot themselves and lose all that they have gathered to themselves over the years. He expects them to go to other places to work.
In order to show further that unemployment has been manufactured by the Government, let me quote what another leading member of the Government said on television. In December last the Minister for the Interior, Mr. Gordon Freeth, speaking in a television interview in Perth, said that when you find a condition of over-full employment action has to be taken to correct it. That is exactly what the Government set out to do by the measures that were brought before the Parliament on 16th November last. There were 35,000 unemployed then. That is what the Government regards as over-full employment.
– That is not right.
– Get the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures and have a look at them. There were 35,000 people asking for jobs. That was a condition of over-full employment, according to the Government. That was a position that had to be corrected by the Government. It was corrected in such a way that by January the number of unemployed had doubled, the figure being 70,000. Every month since then unemployment has snowballed at the rate of 10,000 a month.
– What was the figure in November?
– It was 35,000.
– In the building industry there were eight jobs for every man applying.
– There were 35,000 people unemployed in Australia. lt i: useless to ask whether they had been working in the building industry. Whenever attention has been directed to the number of unemployed, the Minister representing the Minister for National Service has told us how many job vacancies there were, but he has not told us how many of the people who were unemployed were capable of taking those jobs. The Government cannot have it both ways.
The policy initiated by the Government last December was a deliberate attempt to create unemployment, and Government supporters have to suffer the consequences of the Government’s action. It is interesting to try to find out the correct unemployment figure. In order to do that, you have to turn to the figures for employment, not the figures for unemployment. The figures for unemployment have been cooked; there is no question about that. The Commonwealth Statistician estimated in July, 1961, that the work force, excluding rural workers and female domestics, was 3,050,000. In that month, 44,000 people were registered for employment, making a total work force throughout Australia of 3,094,000. The annual addition to the work force, estimated by the Statistician - not by me - is 100,000,000. That is the increase as a result of school children becoming eligible for employment and migrants coming to this country.
– I think you are a little out there.
– I am not making the statement. It was made by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– You said 100,000,000.
– I am sorry; I meant 100,000. The statistician has issued these figures. That gives an estimated work force of 3,194,000. The total number employed at 30th June this year was 3,022,000. When, from the number of persons in the work force, you subtract the number of persons who are employed, you find that the number of persons who are unemployed is 172,000, and not 113,500 as stated by the Government. There are 172,000 fewer persons in employment than there should be. That means that over and above the number of persons registered for employment 58,500 are unemployed. The figure of 172,000 does not include persons who are working short-time, nor does it include, unemployed rural workers, seasonal workers,, female domestics or waterside workers who are on rostered time. So, instead of thenumber of persons unemployed representing 2.7 per cent, or the work force, which’ is the proud boast of the Government when’ it contrasts Australia’s situation with that: existing in other countries, the number represents 5.4 per cent, of the work force. I do not suppose the unemployment of an. additional 2.7 per cent, of the work force matters much to honorable senators’ opposite.
– Where do you get a female domestic?
– The number of persons unemployed would not worry the honorable senator who interjected. He is not one of the 5.4 per cent, so he has nothing to worry about.
Many statements have been made by Government spokesmen claiming that there has been an upturn in the economy and that unemployment will decline in the future. The Budget Papers, which were produced by the Treasurer and not by me, show that last year unemployment and sickness benefits totalling £7,139,918 were paid. This year it is estimated that the cost of such benefits will be £8,600,000, or an increase of £1,490,082. However, as the Government estimates that the increased rates of benefits provided in the legislation now before the other House will cost an additional £1,000,000, is in fact budgeting for an extra £500,000 to be paid in unemployment and sickness benefits. That is a clear admission by the Government that it expects unemployment, on the average, to run at a higher level than it has been running this year. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is prepared to admit that the unemployment situation is worrying the Government. I must not confuse the Senate. Not all of the £500,000 that I mentioned is referable to the unemployment benefit. The Government expects to pay out this year an extra £311,000 in unemployment benefits alone. It also expects that the number of unemployed migrants in hostels - these people are not entitled to unemployment benefits - will increase because it has provided for a further £179,000 to be paid out in special benefits. That is the picture painted by the Treasurer so far as unemployment is concerned. Yet honorable senators opposite have the audacity to stand up in this Parliament and say that the Government is worried about unemployment and is budgeting for the payment of additional amounts of unemployment benefit.
I want to say a word or two now about matters affecting Western Australia.
– Do not tell me you are after more money for Western Australia. You have the lot now.
– Senator Henty is incomprehensible. I wish he would remain silent. In another place the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Browne) spoke of the wonderful action of the Commonwealth Government in increasing assistance to the gold-mining industry. Honorable senators should spare the time to read what the Treasurer said about the increase in the gold industry subsidy. The amount spent last year on assistance to the gold-mining industry was £698,658. This year the Government estimates that the amount will be £660,000. So although the Government purports to be increasing its assistance to the gold-mining industry, in fact it has budgeted for a reduction in the amount of assistance. How much assistance will the gold industry get from the Government? Every ounce of gold that is produced in Australia is an exportable commodity - a commodity capable of being sold on any market in the world. The Government and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie have told the people in the gold-mining industry that they will get greater assistance from the Menzies Government, but the fact of the matter is that the Budget provides for a reduction in the amount of that assistance. The legislation that has been foreshadowed will do nothing to assist that section of the industry that really requires assistance. I am not one who pleads the case of big producers, but I do plead for help to the people who are associated with the big producers - the people who have built homes in the centres where the big producers operate. This Government does nothing to assist the big producers to develop their mines and to assist them to win the gold from the ground. I want to counteract the false publicity that has been given to this matter by the Government and by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
The industry will not get from the Government what the honorable member for Kalgoorlie expects it to get.
Let me say something now about the town of Geraldton in Western Australia, I invite the attention of the Senate to section 79a of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. That section reads, in part - (1.) For the purpose of granting to residents of the prescribed area an income tax concession in recognition of the disadvantages to which they are subject because of the uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation and high cost of living in Zone A and, to a lesser extent, in Zone B, in comparison with other parts of Australia-
It is unnecessary for me to quote further from the section. The scheme introduced in 1945 by a Labour government was designed to assist with tax concessions those persons who resided in remote areas of Australia.
– Why did you not include Geraldton?
– Whether Geraldton is included in the prescribed area is a matter of interpretation. The Commissioner of Taxation has ruled that it is not included.
– The Labour Government did not alter the act.
– The appeals in this matter have only recently been lodged and this Government has done nothing in the matter. I direct attention to this matter because I know a little about Geraldton and its climate. It is true that the act refers to disadvantages as regards climatic conditions. Climatic conditions in Geraldton are quite good, but I emphasize that they are no better than are climatic conditions 10 miles further north. If climatic conditions in the area 10 miles to the north of Geraldton warrant the application of a Zone B allowance, there is no reason why Geraldton should not be treated similarly.
– Why don’t you shift it further north?
– The honorable senator does not know where Geraldton is. Likewise, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie does not know where Kalgoorlie is. According to the act, this boundary is supposed to skirt various road board district boundaries and eventually reach the coast; but it does not reach the coast because the boundary of the road board district which it follows cuts out before the coast.
Another amazing fact is that since 1945, and during the period for which this Government has been in office, part of the Upper Chapman road board district has been ceded to the municipality of Geraldton and is presently part of that municipality. The approximately 300 residents of that area who used to be in the Upper Chapman road board district have been ruled to be still eligible for the Zone B taxation allowance. So, within the municipality, some people are entitled to that concession and others are not entitled to it, simply because of the changing of a road board district boundary.
Of course, isolation is difficult to deal with. Whether Geraldton is an isolated area is problematical. For purposes of comparison, I point out that under the Public Service Regulations allowances are granted to public servants because of isolation, and the measuring rod of isolation is distance from a capital city. If that is any criterion, Geraldton happens to be about 300 miles north of the capital city, Perth. Of course, there are other disabilities associated with Geraldton. For instance, to the best of my knowledge, the only medical specialist in the area is a specialist surgeon. If a person requires any other specialist medical attention he has to go to the capital city for it. Many other things that are available in the capital cities are not available in Geraldton. An instance is tertiary education. I say that Geraldton is isolated.
It is interesting to compare the cost of living in Geraldton, as shown by the “ C “ series index, with that of towns within Zone B. In 1945 the only Australian town that had a higher index figure than Geraldton’s was Kalgoorlie. The figure for Kalgoorlie was 1,202, and for Geraldton, 1,170. As the years have progressed, Geraldton has become the dearest town in Australia in which to live, according to the “ C “ series index. I emphasize that because a person in Darwin is in Zone A and is entitled to a much greater taxation allowance. In 1955 the “C” series index figure for Darwin was 2,553, and for Geraldton it was 2,771. In 1956 the figure for Darwin was 2,729, and for Geraldton it was 2,885. In 1957 the figure for Darwin was 2,753, and for Geraldton it was 2,926. In 1959, the last year for which I was able to get figures, the figure for Darwin was 2,900, and for Geraldton it was 3,112. A person in Darwin is entitled to a zone allowance of £180 a year, plus an adjustment of dependants’ allowances. Yet, although Geraldton is the dearest place in Australia in which to live, a person who lives there is not even entitled to the Zone B allowance. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the following table in “ Hansard “: -
I have almost concluded my remarks on the Budget. It is completely unnecessary for me to try to describe it. It has been variously described throughout Australia and’ not one of the descriptions has been favorable to it. I commend to the Senate the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [3.41]. - Mr. Acting Deputy President, the motion before the Senate is the one that is usually moved at the commencement of a budget session. The Budget Papers have been presented and an amendment to the motion for the printing of those papers has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) In my opinion the Budget is a very sound one. It has to be considered in the light of what has happened during the previous twelve months. It is common knowledge that approximately ten months ago, in November last year, the Government decided that action had to be taken to check the inflationary spiral. At that time measures were introduced and they were criticized not only by members of the Opposition but also by the Australian press and many other people, including many supporters of the Government. However, some steps had to be taken at that time. I firmly believe that had they not been taken the present position would have been a great deal worse than it is. The members of the Government say that, although in some cases those steps were, perhaps, a bit drastic, it was necessary that they be taken.
We must also consider inflation in the light of what is happening in Australia and what has happened over the last eleven and a half years. During that period there has been great development and a great inflow of migrants. They are two elements that will bring about inflationary pressures. The value of a migrant’s work does not catch up, until he has been here for twelve months or two years, with the value of things with which he is supplied when he arrives here, such as clothing and, in the case of a married couple, housing and all the other things which enable migrants to settle down in a new country. A migrant does not assist the economy of the country immediately he arrives. For some time after his arrival he must buy goods that were produced before he came, thereby adding to inflationary pressures. During a period of development and of migrant intake, the economy is more or less balanced on a knife edge. It is a very difficult matter for any government to check inflation. Nevertheless, the measures taken by the Government are showing results.
Unfortunately, there has been a degree of unemployment. With economic measures such as those which the Government was obliged to take, somebody must suffer. However, the Government is continuing to do whatever it possibly can to restore to employment those who have been unfortunate enough to lose their employment. Members of the Opposition have suggested that the Government deliberately caused unemployment because it thought that too many people were in employment. I can say definitely that there is no truth in that statement. The Government has kept the employment position under review during the whole period that it has been in office. For many years it kept the work force in full employment. In fact, in some periods during the last eleven years there was overfull employment. In other words, there were more jobs available than there were people to fill them. So, we have had overfull employment, and now there is a degree of unemployment.
It is obvious that the economy is now on a much sounder and better basis than it was ten months ago. There is greater stability in prices and wages, which is essential to full-scale development. Had the position that existed ten months ago been allowed to remain unchanged, conditions would be very much worse now than they are. It is pleasing to note that the economy is picking up. According to the Melbourne “ Age “ and the Brisbane “Telegraph” newspapers of to-day’s date, the secretary of the Clothing Manufacturers Association has reported that the clothing industry has turned the corner and needs hundreds more workers. The clothing industry believes that the credit squeeze, as it is called, has had the effect that the Government desired, and that the economy has turned the corner.
The Sydney Chamber of Commerce, in its annual report, has stated that the Government’s economic restrictions saved the country from a bust, and that the majority of Australians are coming round to that view. The supporters of the Government have said repeatedly that had the conditions that existed previously not been corrected, there would have been a state of boom and bust in a short period of time. It is also encouraging to note that the results of the latest gallup poll show that, of the people questioned, 48 per cent, supported the policies of the Government, 39 per cent, were against them and 13 per cent, were neutral. The poll conducted about six weeks ago indicated, on the contrary, that 48 per cent, were against the Government policies and 39 per cent, in favour of them.
The theme of the speeches made by the members of the Opposition has been, for the most part, unemployment. I do not blame them for stating their views on that subject. As I have said, the Government expected that some unemployment might occur. It is doing all that it possibly can to restore unemployed persons to employment again. The period of office of this Government has been one of great expansion. In this connexion it is interesting to note that Professor Karmel, of the University of Adelaide, recently said -
Over the past decade Australia has produced a remarkable record of growth. Since 1948-49, the population has risen by 30 per cent, and the volume of production by 60 per cent. Thus, we have provided for a rapidly-growing population at a steadily rising standard of living. Factory output has almost doubled. Rural output has increased by one-third and, further, we have done this almost entirely from our own resources.
We can look forward to a continuance of these conditions. The part of that statement that is most encouraging is that we have been able to progress to such an extent with our own resources. That is not to say that we have not been able to get any loan money or investments from other sources. Indeed, during the last ten months, great confidence has been shown in this country by overseas investors, who have continued to invest large sums of money in Australia. This shows that they are quite confident of receiving a satisfactory return on their money.
It is evident that, as Australia is a big country and has only a relatively small population, in view of the large amount of developmental work to be done we cannot afford to have any able-bodied man out of employment. The Government has realized this and it has made provision in the Budget for projects that will provide further employment opportunities in this country.
It is estimated that there will be a cash deficit in this financial year of £16,471,000. Last year, there was a cash surplus of £15,791,000. This means that in terms of overall results, this Budget will represent a change of approximately £32,300,000 in the expansionary direction. This, while not a huge amount, will assist in the provision of employment by increasing the spending power of the community. This, in turn, will stimulate industry and reemployment. But that is not all. In this financial year, payments to the States willi be almost £32,000,000 greater than last year. This money will be expended on theprovision of schools and hospitals and in: the carrying out of other works by the States. Such works also will relieveunemployment.
In this financial year, the Government: will expend in the provision of social services £27,626,000 more than was expended’ under this heading in the last financial year:. In addition to the increases granted in this Budget, I point out that this financial year will bear the full cost for a year of increases granted last year compared with the additional cost in relation only to nine months, that was incurred in the last financial year:.
The total additional expenditure involved’ in 1961-62 will be about £18,500,000. to. addition, the provision of new benefits by this Budget will cost £9,000,000. So ai further £27,500,000 will be added to the spending power of the community. As we know, many people who are in receipt of” social service benefits are in indigent circumstances, and consequently they will” very quickly spend the additional money provided to them on food and clothing.
I turn now to war and repatriation services on which it is estimated that the total expenditure in this financial year will be £4,330,000 more than in 1960-61. Of theamount of £4,330,000, £2,559,000 represents the cost this year of the provision of new benefits.
The Budget makes provision for the expenditure of £1,000,000 on roads in this financial year, some of them in my ownState, Queensland. Of this amount, £650,000 will be provided to Queensland’ to enable the construction of a road from Normanton to Julia Creek. The remainder will be expended on roads in the Northern Territory. As we know, much of the expenditure on the construction of roads in the back country of Australia is accounted for by labour costs. Therefore, the additional expenditure on roads of even £1,000,000 will put a lot of men back into- employment. In addition, the provision of these roads will be advantageous to the people who are living in the back country. These roads will be of great assistance to the cattle industry and will help us to increase exports of meat. Instead of cattle having to be driven on the hoof over long distances, they will be conveyed by road trains and so reach their destination much quicker.
In this Budget, the Government has extended for three years the provision of subsidy assistance in connexion with the search for oil in Australia. This proposal is embodied in a measure that was introduced into the Senate earlier to-day by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). The Minister has said in his second-reading speech that an additional £1,800,000 will be made available for the payment of subsidies to various companies engaged on oil search. It is very pleasing indeed to note that many oil companies from overseas are now cooperating with Australian companies and the Australian people in the search for oil in this country. The oil search programme has already been stepped up considerably and I am glad to say that in my own State oil has already been found, although not in commercial quantities. I think that there is a good deal of substance behind the hope that oil will be obtained in commercial quantities in that State. If that happens there will be a tremendous uplift not only to Queensland but to the whole of Australia, and our balance of payments position will be greatly eased.
An additional £6,000,000 is being provided for capital works. That may not appear to be a great sum, but it will certainly help to put people back into employment. Therefore, in 1961-62, £103,000,000 more will be available for distribution for the purpose of providing work than was available in 1960-61. This is not a tremendous sum, but it is quite substantial. It will bring quite a number of people back into employment, as it seeps through the community in payment for foodstuffs, clothing, other consumer goods, and road works.
I should like to mention also that £5,000,000 is to be provided as additional capital for the Commonwealth Development Bank. This bank has been in exis tence for only a short time. We of the Country Party expect it to be of great assistance, not only to country people but also to secondary industries. It was established to assist those who could not gel assistance from the private banks, and so can do no damage by taking custom away from private banks. Although £5,000,000 is a considerable sum, I do not think that it is enough to meet the legitimate demands of people requiring assistance for developing land. Many people, especially in the back country, need a great deal of capital. They are good, sound persons who know their work, and they could do a lot with a little financial help, but they cannot obtain it from the private banks. If the Development Bank, which was established for this purpose, could assist them more, that would be of great benefit not only to the back country but also to our export potential. The back country needs development, especially for cattle and sheep production. We can sell the products for which it is suitable. All that is needed is money for development. I am quite sure that there is sufficient demand to justify a considerable increase in the additional capital being provided for the bank. That extra amount of £5,000,000 will go into the community by way of loans. This means that £108,000,000 more will be available this year than was available last year. This will promote confidence and assist materially in giving work to quite a number of people.
Before leaving the matter of unemployment, I think we should understand what is really meant by full employment. I was very interested in Senator Lillico’s reference to a statement made by Mr. Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to the effect that it was necessary to have a floating work force of about H per cent, for seasonal employment. Senator Cant said that people in seasonal employment were classed as rural workers. I think that that is quite wrong. Seasonal workers comprise shearers, sugar cane cutters, fruit pickers, hop pickers, meat workers, canners, and other persons in employment of that type. I have always understood that when unemployed they can obtain unemployment relief, in which event they are included in the number drawing relief. Therefore, they would be included in the latest unemployment figure of 113,000.
There must be a floating population for seasonal work, whether or not it is li per cent, of the work force. If there were not such a floating work force, seasonal work would never be done. Year after year, seasonal workers - shearers, canecutters, meat workers - return to the jobs they had in the previous year. I take quite a lot of interest in a statement by such a man as Mr. Monk, because he is the well respected head of a great industrial organization. I do not think that he would make such a statement without giving the matter very careful consideration and knowing what he was talking about. If there is 2.7 per cent, total unemployment, and li per cent, represents seasonal unemployment, we have just over 1 per cent, real unemployment. It is recognized that many seasonal workers are contract workers. However, whether they do contract work or are paid weekly wages, they are paid more than is normally paid to wage-earners in other occupations.
I should like to refer to the great work that has been done by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and his department over the years, especially the way in which they have gone about getting additional markets overseas. I am quite certain that for some years Mr. McEwen has been building up trade with other countries with the thought in his mind that at some time or other, because of the United Kingdom entering the European Common Market, we might lose our traditional trade with Britain. He and the Government have not been slow and dilatory in this respect, as the Opposition seems to think. Honorable senators opposite seem to think that only now is the Government looking overseas for additional markets. I point out that the Department of Trade has been looking for such markets for the last three or four years. As a matter of fact, as soon as it was thought that the European Common Market was proving to be successful, the Government did all it possibly could to establish trade posts overseas. We now have 33 trade posts in different parts of the world, and another four are to be established.
Since November, 1959, there has been much press publicity and advertising in South-East Asia and Africa, and I understand that the value of Australian manufactures sold to countries in those areas as a result runs into tens of thousands of pounds. Australian manufacturers have gone out of their way to meet competition throughout the world. I congratulate those who have been able to sell their products in the face of very strong competition. I feel sure that they will be able to increase their sales. The Department of Trade has arranged for vessels to visit the countries of the East to display our products. The results have been very gratifying.
I understand that provision has been made this year for an expenditure of £890,000 on overseas publicity. In other words, almost £1,000,000 will be expended to boost our exports. Over the last eighteen months it has been mainly our secondary industries that have been boosted. For some considerable time our primary industries have been able to sell their exportable products. Although for some years to come we may not be able to match our current sales to Great Britain, every effort is being made to build up our export trade with other countries. I was very interested to note the following report, which appeared in the Brisbane “Telegraph” of 4th September, of a statement that was made by Mr. A. P. Whitington, the president of the Export Council of the Australian Chambers of Commerce, at the annual meeting of that body -
Mr. Whitington said that in the coming year Australia would undertake an export drive on a scale far exceeding anything attempted before.
The Federal Government would contribute massive aid, he said.
Ground work for an expansion of trade with South-East Asia had been laid by the successful sea-borne mission of the “Straat Banka”.
If Australian exporters would join in the drive, a rewarding expansion of exports could be expected.
Mr. Whitington told the council that the probable entry by Britain to the European Common Market constituted a serious threat to traditional exports.
Australia eventually would lose valuable preferences in trade with Britain. While the impact might be gradual, it was imperative that the term of grace available should be used to seek and develop alternative markets.
The report continued -
In defence of the credit squeeze, Mr. Whitington said that the Federal Government had been wrongly charged with measures that had precipitated a minor recession.
Danger signs were evident before the Government acted, and had action not been taken the Australian economy could have suffered a far greater reverse, he said.
Certain of the measures applied were ill chosen, but overall the corrective steps were courageous and, if politically unpopular, were emerging as statesmanlike rather than merely expedient.
The abolition of import licensing, ako criticized, had benefited the economy by the resulting greater inflow of cheaper goods.
That is an indication that many of the secondary industries agree that the Government has done the right thing and that now, after a lapse of ten months, there is an upturn in the economy. There is no doubt that, as the situation gets better, greater confidence will be engendered. The economy will pick up and it will be much sounder than it was ten months ago, when there was a boom. I have very great pleasure in supporting the motion for the printing of the papers.
– It is rather strange that at this stage of the debate I should be following my colleague, Senator Sir Walter Cooper, because it is the usual practice for a member of the Opposition to follow a speaker from this side of the chamber. Having proposed an amendment criticizing nearly every section of the Budget, the Opposition has folded up after only twelve of its speakers have taken part in the debate.
Since I have been in this chamber it has been the practice for the Opposition to move an amendment to the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and, in that amendment, to claim that the Government has failed to make adequate provision for social services, repatriation benefits, age pensions and things of that nature. This year, however, the Opposition saw fit to propose an amendment which, as I have said, criticized about every section of the Budget. After listening to Opposition speakers, 1 feel that they have been hard-put to substantiate their amendment.
In an election year it would have been easy for the Government to bring down a budget which was popular with every section of the community. This Government has a very good record over the past twelve years and it has the confidence of the people. It has seen fit to bring down a budget which will maintain that confidence. When budgets are brought down by a government they are judged to be good or bad, popular or unpopular, according to the effect they have on each section of the community - on employers and employees, on consumers, on taxpayers and on pensioners. Although the Opposition has criticized this Budget to some extent, no great criticism has come from the various sections of the community.
Over the past twelve years the people of this country have experienced a period of expansion that many of us twelve years ago never thought would be possible. A large majority of the people do not know what it is like to live under a government of the political colour of the Opposition. In order to emphasize the point I am making, I point out that a child born when this Government came into office would be twelve years old to-day. Young men and young women who did not have a vote when the Government came into office are now 32 or 33 years of age. Before the Government came into office they would not have taken much interest in politics, and because of their experience during the past twelve years they have no idea of conditions that could exist under a Labour government.
The Budget brought down this year is one of the soundest budgets brought down during the time I have been in this chamber. It aims at stability of fiscal policy and plans for tremendous expansion. It will give continued confidence to thi business people of this country; it will enable Australia to continue to attract the tremendous inflow of capital that has come in during the past twelve months; and, despite what Opposition senators have been saying, it will enable a high degree of employment to be continued. The Budget proposes increases of social service payments and increases of capital works expenditure, and it will give a stimulus to the economy without creating another inflationary boom. An inflationary boom is one of the most dangerous things that can happen in a country whose economy is based mainly on its primary industries, as is the case in Australia. I am very happy, therefore, that a budget such as the present one has been brought down by the Government.
Perhaps the section of the community which, more than any other, feels the effect of every budget brought down is the primary producing section. The primary producer is at the end of the row, as it were. Costs are passed on, but when they reach him they cannot go any further. It is rather interesting, therefore, to read what this section of the community has said about the Budget. To my knowledge, it is one section of the community that has not complained, although it is a section that could well have done so. I direct Senator McKenna’s attention to a statement by Mr. T. M. Scott, the president of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. He is a primary producer, and a man with a great deal of experience behind him in the affairs of primary producers. On the day following the introduction of the Budget, Mr. Scott, when asked for his reactions to it, :said -
Mr. Holt has brought down quite a normal Budget and the Government is to be congratulated for having resisted pressure to introduce measures which could result in a resurgence of inflation.
Restraint of inflationary pressures is the prime objective of rural industries, and this should be borne in mind before leaping to criticize the Budget.
That is a statement made by a man who, over the years, has suffered from the cost increases that have occurred in primary industry as the result of inflation. He refrained from criticizing this Budget. 1 point out to the Opposition that over the years the primary producers of this country have, from time to time, called on the Government to do something about halting cost increases. Last year, in February arid November, the Government brought down measures, the ultimate aim of which was to try to solve the problem of rising costs’. The Opposition has criticized those measures individually, but at no time has it looked at the measures as a whole. That is something that the Government has tried to do. My Western Australian colleagues, some of whom have spoken in this debate, said nothing about factors prevailing in Western Australia just before the Government’s economic measures were introduced last November. At about that time the Premier of Western Australia had to approach the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and ask that skilled migrants coming to this country and bound for the eastern States be put ashore at Fremantle so that the Western Australian Government would have sufficient skilled workers to continue some of the projects that it had under way at that time. Young apprentices in workshops at, for example, Midland Junction, on completing their apprenticeships would pack their bags and go to the eastern States, where they could get far larger weekly pay packages and where conditions were more prosperous than in Western Australia at the time.
Let me deal with a few of the matters raised by Senator McKenna. He referred to the fall in farm income. I ask Senator McKenna and his colleagues on the other side of the chamber what could reduce the incomes of farmers more quickly than the continual rise in costs and wages? Primary producers are people who, generally speaking, sell their products on the world’s markets. They take what is offered for those products. Unlike other sections of the community, primary producers cannot place their products on the market after taking into consideration costs of production and adding a certain percentage for profit. Mr. Calwell, speaking in another place, said that farm income had fallen by £35,000,000 between the years 1956-57 and 1960-61. He compared that fall in farm income with the increase that had taken place in wages and salaries. According to him, during the period to which I have just referred wages and salaries increased by £743,000,000. How much of that fall was due to increases in wages? I believe that a great deal of it was due to that cause. In an election year such as this, Senator McKenna and his colleagues opposite become very worried, about the primary producer. But how worried were they when the workers in industry approached the arbitration court seeking higher wages and better conditions, particularly in the primary industries, basing their argument on the prosperity of Australia? Now honorable senators opposite say that prosperity does not exist and that Australia is on the brink of a disastrous depression. At no time except on the eve of an election have honorable senators opposite given any thought to the increase in wages and costs as it affected the primary producer. [Quorum formed.]
Some years ago the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, abolished federal land tax. However, the New South Wales Government immediately imposed a State land tax. Today, the Government in New South Wales is collecting more in land tax from that
State than was collected formerly from the whole of the Commonwealth. I would like Senator McKenna to explain how he thinks that the granting of three weeks’ leave to rural workers will help the primary industries. The matters to which I have referred are worrying the primary producers. From time to time the Opposition has criticized the Government for the action that it took to stabilize the economy last November. That action would not have been necessary if the primary producers had received for their commodities last year the prices that they received in 1953. If they had, instead of our primary products earning £880,000,000 last year they would have earned something like £1,320,000,000. In that event there would have been no need for the action taken by the Government. Despite the efforts of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) who, during the past four or five years, has negotiated trade agreements, renewed existing trade agreements and established trade commissioner posts overseas, farm income has continued to fall. Senator McKenna and his colleagues set themselves up as a party that worries about farm costs. In 1958 the Australian Country Party saw what waa happening and set up a committee to investigate the situation. That committee pro duced a report which was put into booklet form and printed under the tide “ The Crisis in Farm Costs and Income “. That booklet has been circulated throughout Australia and I know that many parliamentarians on both sides of the Parliament have read it thoroughly. 1 turn now to say something about the Commonwealth Development Bank, which was referred to by Senator Sir Walter Cooper. I am very pleased that the Budget provides for an increase of £5,000,000 in the capital of the bank. However, I do not think that £5,000,000 is sufficient. I would have liked to see the increase doubled or trebled, because in my opinion the bank has a most important function to play in this country.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I lay on the table of the Senate the report of a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board on the following matter -
Senate adjourned at 4.45 pan.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 September 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610907_senate_23_s20/>.