24th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputy appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of the Parliament - the Honorable Sir William John Victor Windeyer, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., a Justice of the High Court of Australia - having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took his seat on the dais.
The Deputy, through the Clerk, directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives, who being in attendance,
The DEPUTY saidMembers of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
His Excellency the Governor-General, not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, constituting me his deputy to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read. (The letters patent having been read by the Clerk)-
The DEPUTY saidMembers of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
I have it in command from the GovernorGeneral to let you know that after members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, members of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker: and later this day you will present the person whom you shall so choose to His Excellency, at such time and place as he shall appoint. I will attend in the House of Representatives for the purpose of administering the oath or affirmation of allegiance to honorable members of that House. (The Deputy and members of the House of Representatives then retired) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I desire to inform the Senate that pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, 1 notified the Governor of the State of South Australia that, in accordance with the provisions of section 9 of the Senate Elections Act, Senator Buttfield resigned her place as a senator as from 9th December, 1961, conditional upon being elected at the election of senators for the State of South Australia on 9th December, 1961, to fill a casual vacancy for the term expiring on 30th June, 1965. Senator Buttfield having been so elected, there was consequential vacancy in the representation of South Australia for the period terminating on 30th June, 1962.
I have received advice from the Governor-General that Senator Nancy Eileen Buttfield has been elected to fill the casual vacancy expiring on 30th June, 196S, and that Senator Gordon Sinclair Davidson was appointed on 8th February to fill the consequential vacancy. The relevant documents will now be laid on the table by the Clerk.
The Clerk then laid on the Table certificates of election of Nancy Eileen Buttfield and Gordon Sinclair Davidson.
Senators Nancy Eileen Buttfield and Gordon Sinclair Davidson made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Sitting suspended from 10.52 a.m. to 3 p.m.
His Excellency the Governor-General entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who. being come with their Speaker,
His Excellency, was pleased to deliver the following speech: -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
Following upon a general election, the Parliament has assembled to deal with important matters affecting the welfare of Australia and the Australian people.
This is the first occasion upon which I have had the honour of addressing honorable senators and honorable members as representative of Her Majesty the Queen at the opening of the Parliament. I am proud to be here and to be able in this way to continue my association with Parliament, to which all the British peoples look to safeguard their freedom and advance their welfare.
The Parliament meets at a time when there are still great tensions in international relations. My advisers believe that the security of Australia depends upon reliance on three central principles of international policy.
The first is that we should be faithful and contributing members of the United Nations, upholding the principles of the Charter. Australia’s voice will always be raised in support of the peaceful settlement, on a just basis, of international disputes.
The second is that we should cultivate, and maintain, friendly and helpful relations with our neighbours, seeking wherever we can to help in the peaceful removal of avoidable causes of difference; and encouraging wherever possible, the development of free institutions of government in those many nations which have recently achieved political independence.
The third is that, to guard against resort to war by those who reject these principles, Australia should have powerful and friendly mutual association with those nations which are best equipped to defend a free peace. - . Associated with, and of course giving a Special character to,’ these principles of policy is a further central principle - steadfast membership of and support for the Commonwealth of Nations.
My advisers desire that the issue relating to West New Guinea should be settled without force or the threat of force, and upon a basis which will give the indigenous inhabitants, at an appropriate time, an effective voice in the determination of their own future.
They support the establishment by negotiation of a free, independent, and neutral Laos.
They will continue to support the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization alliance in planning designed to assist countries in the Treaty area should they be exposed to armed attack or external interference with their sovereignty. There are great and aggressive Communist pressures in South-East Asia.’
My Ministers continue to observe sympathetically the negotiations for the creation of a greater Malaysia. They are profoundly interested in the new nations in the African continent; in some, diplomatic representation has already been established, in others either resident or visiting missions will be arranged.
Defence preparedness continues to engage the active attention of my Ministers against the background of our mutual security arrangements and the need for us to be able to act promptly and effectively with our allies.
The aim of the defence programme is to develop highly trained, well-equipped, mobile, and readily available forces of all arms, backed by scientific research and productive capacity.
A substantial proportion of all equipment is produced in Australia in both Government factories and private industry.
In the Navy, action has been taken to acquire new guided missile destroyers, minesweepers and helicopters. Work in Australian shipyards will continue on two type twelve anti-submarine frigates and a new type survey ship. The conversion of H.M.A.S. Sydney as a fast transport will shortly be completed.
The Army has just carried out a major re-organization. The volunteer Citizen Military Forces continue to attract recruits and should reach the target of 30,000 by June, 1962. The Army will continue with its successful policy of training regulars and Citizen Military Forces together.
During 1962 the Royal Australian Air Force will receive twelve Neptune maritime reconnaissance aircraft and eight Bell Iroquois helicopters ordered from the United States. Arrangements are well advanced for local production of the French Mirage III supersonic fighter. Deliveries are expected to commence in 1963. The first Bloodhound surface to air guided missile unit will be handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force by the end of this year.
Turning now to economic matters, my Ministers have, after many consultations with industry, recently reviewed the state of the Australian economy in the light of measures taken during the last Parliament.
It is their view that the base of the Australian economy has been significantly strengthened in at least four ways.
The trade balances have been greatly improved; the run-down of Australia’s overseas reserves has been arrested, and those reserves have in fact increased in a most satisfactory way.
The internal price level has been brought to a point of stability - a fact of great value and significance to the public and to industry.
The loan market is more buoyant than was anticipated in the 1961-62 Budget. This will reduce the drain upon revenue to support the State’s works programme.
The banks have a high degree of liquidity, and there is a strong improvement in the availability of finance for business and individual purposes.
Nevertheless, my Government believes that recovery in business activity and employment has been too slow. It accordingly has recently announced a series of special measures designed to increase employment and business confidence. To give effect to those particular proposals which require legislative authority, bills will be introduced. These will refer to State grants, unemployment benefits, a rebate in personal income tax for the income year 1961-62, reduced sales tax on motor vehicles and most accessories, and increased loans under the War Service Homes Act. Bills will also be introduced to set up a system of investment allowances in respect of new plant and equipment for manufacturing production, and to increase the capital of the Development Bank.
The Tariff Board Act will be amended to permit, in particular cases, protection of Australian industries by quantitative control in addition to, or in substitution for customs duties. In special circumstances where the Tariff Board after a full enquiry finds that the tariff would .not give the necessary measure of protection it will be empowered to recommend quantitative restrictions to the Government. Still further, a special advisory authority, who has already been, chosen, will be given similar powers to recommend temporary quantitative restrictions upon particular commodities where temporary protection is under consideration. Further changes are contemplated to ensure that requests for protection are handled with the minimum delay.
My Government anticipates that there will be a substantial response to all these measures in the manufacturing field and in the economy at large. National development and growth, the maintenance of a substantial migration programme, and the assurance of growing employment, cannot be achieved without a constant increase in manufacturing activity and production.
Means must be devised to assist efficiency and to reduce unit costs. This will help manufacturers to meet import competition at home and to enter export markets. The Bill relating to the investment allowance has special relevance to these objectives. The allowance will take the form of a deduction from assessable income of 20 per cent, of the cost of new plant and equipment used in manufacturing production. It will give not only general encouragement to investment in the field of manufacturing, but particular assistance in the pursuit of higher efficiency and lower costs.
It will also be important to effect a close liaison between Government research and private manufacturing industry, in order to facilitate a diversification of manufactured products for use and export. A complete review of tariff-making policy and machinery in their relationship to national economic policy will be put in hand.
My Ministers believe, moreover, that the objectives of efficiency and cost reduction are important, not only for manufacturers, but for the great primary export industries, for which an avoidance of rising costs of production is vital.
My advisers will therefore direct prompt and particular study to such matters as the more effective extension to the man on the land of the results of the scientific research conducted by such bodies as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This, of course, requires cooperation with the States, which my advisers ‘ do not doubt will be willingly given. The overwhelmingly important fact is that the whole national and international balance of the Australian economy requires that primary production should continue to increase in quantity and, by the most scientific use of the soil and improved methods, hold down costs.
My advisers express full confidence that these varied but related measures, acting together with the great resilient strength of our economy, will lift industrial activity and employment again to an all round satisfactory level. They recall how often in the past the Australian economy has surpassed all expectations in its capacity to produce, to export, to absorb labour and to recover from business setbacks and they do not doubt that these earlier achievements can and will again be equalled and indeed exceeded.
In the field of exports and of trade promotion generally, my Government is and will be engaged in negotiations of the highest importance to the nation.
Great Britain’s application to join the European Common Market, and the negotiations which are now being carried on, have, given rise to major problems affecting Australian exports, particularly those to Great Britain. My Government has approached these problems constructively and with determination, on the one hand consulting with Australian exporters to devise possible arrangements to protect our interests; and on the other taking every opportunity to press home to the Governments of Britain, the countries of the European Economic Community, and of the United States, the importance of trade as a factor in maintaining the countries of the Commonwealth as a source of strength in the free world.
My Ministers have made strong requests for direct Australian participation when discussions affecting Australia’s trade interests are taking place. They will be pre pared, at the appropriate time, to associate Australian advisers from industry with our teams of representatives overseas.
Meanwhile, under the aegis of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, certain commodity negotiations have been commenced which my advisers hope may lead to some fulfilment of their long-standing policy of stable, profitable and reasonably predictable prices for some major export commodities.
Other new matters of significance in trade promotion include the current trade mission to the Middle East, the sending of a trade ship to the Persian Gulf, a major trade drive in South-East Asia, the introduction of direct shipping services to West Africa and South America, and continued investigation and consultations with industry on the feasibility of establishing Australian warehouses in selected markets overseas.
In terms of production, the primary industries, the greatest source of exports, are generally in a healthy state. The volume of rural production in 1961-62 is expected to be slightly less than the record level of 1960-61, but may exceed the volume in any other previous year. As the rural work-force has remained practically static, increased production reflects improvement in farm methods and efficiency.
My Ministers re-affirm their policy of encouraging and supporting the financial stabilization of the primary industries. They propose the continuation for a further five years of the special 20 per cent, per annum depreciation allowance to primary producers in respect of items such as plant and machinery, certain buildings, including houses for farm employees, and fences.
The current five-year plan for the dairying industry expires in June, 1962, and the current five-year wheat plan ends with the marketing of the 1962-63 wheat crop. Negotiations will take place with each of these industries for the development of new i stabilization plans. Similarly my Ministers are discussing with the Queensland Government the terms of a new sugar agreement, since the present agreement expires next May. They do not propose to accept those recommendations by the Committee of Inquiry which would have had the effect of reducing the current retail price of sugar in Australia.
The Government’s scheme of assistance to the gold mining industry, which also expires next June, will be extended for a further period of three years.
My Ministers re-affirm their conviction that the migration programme is an essential factor in the national and economic growth of Australia, and, although fluctuations must be expected from time to time, they will do all they can to maintain the flow which has already done so much for our prosperity, our culture and our security. They are accordingly negotiating for renewal of assisted passage agreements with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, West Germany, Italy and Malta.
Discussions between Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General in relation to monopoly and restrictive practices in business are continuing. So soon as these discussions have ended my Attorney-General will make a statement to the Parliament on the problem, with the purpose of obtaining constructive discussions of this admittedly most complex problem from the various sections of the community who may be affected.
The twenty-six national and commercial television stations which comprise the third phase of the overall plan for television development are now either operating or under construction. All will be in operation by June, 1964.
Good progress is being made towards carrying out the new telephone plan which will ultimately provide a nation-wide sub scriber dialled automatic network. The system is already operating between . a number of important centres. - Work on the submarine telephone and telegraph cable linking Australia with New Zealand and Canada is well up to schedule. Service between Australia and New Zealand will be opened in July. The extension from New Zealand to Canada is expected by January, 1964.
The Government will continue the development of the social services which has for many years been a prominent feature of its policy. Legislation will be introduced, pursuant to the promise made by my Ministers at the recent election, to reduce the residence qualification for age pensions from twenty to ten years, and similar terms will be applied to claimants for invalid pension who were incapacitated before they came to Australia.
Legislation will also be introduced to increase unemployment benefits, particularly in respect of unemployed with family obligations.
My Government is continuing to consolidate and develop the national health services. For this purpose, it will maintain a close contact with State health authorities, professional bodies, and other interests.
Similarly, my advisers will continue to have a lively concern for the welfare of our ex-servicemen who have fought in two world wars and in the more recent conflicts in Korea and Malaya, and of their dependants; in particular they are aware of the special problems of the care and treatment of ageing ex-servicemen.
My Government has continued its support for university development. Currently the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education is carrying out its important investigation and expects to report next year.
In the field of medical education, the Australian Universities Commission has received the report of the committee which inquired into the teaching costs of medical hospitals, and my Government will examine it at the first opportunity.
The Government has established an Interim Council for an Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. This, body will pursue scientific studies of the life and culture of the aboriginal race, and will endeavour to preserve and extend our knowledge of them.
My Government continues to have a deep concern for the social and economic development of the peoples of Asia, and particularly for the improvement of their education and skills. With the co-operation of the States we are sending increasing numbers of experts under the Colombo Plan to advise and teach in a wide range of disciplines. Australia was also represented at the recent Commonwealth conference on co-operation in education. My Government agreed there to increase our efforts in the scheme, particularly in the field of teacher training.
Special efforts will be made in Papua and New Guinea to achieve the targets of educational, social and economic advancement announced by the Minister for Territories in October, 1961.
The first election of Legislative Council members by the indigenous peoples will be followed up by further discussions with the people themselves as to the next step. Native local government will be extended.
A new Department of Trade and Industry has been established in these Territories to encourage secondary and tertiary industries and trade-
There will be an increasing native participation in administration.
The Northern Territory, which has progressed rapidly in recent years, will continue to share in my Ministers’ concern for the development of Northern Australia; and the welfare and advancement of the aborigines will receive full attention.
Having considered the report of a Parliamentary Select Committee, my advisers propose to extend the franchise to all aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who wish to take advantage of it and- exercise this primary right of citizenship.
My Government is pressing on with the vital task of the development of the nation’s resources. Right at the outset of their administration they created a special department of State for this purpose, and the work of its instrumentalities and officers has borne much fruit in the last dozen years.
A great deal of remarkable work has been done. The recent discovery of oil at Moonie in- Queensland and the progress in oil research in other parts of Australia have owed a great deal not only to the encouragement given by Commonwealth subsidies but also to the outstanding work of the experts in the Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources. That we all now have substantial hopes of the presence of oil in commercial quantities is in no small degree attributable to the work of the department and of the bureau.
My Government strongly believes in the development of our north. It regards this as essential, and is determined to continue its efforts in that field. It has given great assistance to basic public works in the area. In addition it has for long been engaged in important research work through the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. It will continue economic and scientific research and survey work with a view to the production of developmental plans. In these matters, the co-operation of the State governments is, of course, essential, and will be sought.
My Government has taken up with the State Premiers and with the Territorial authorities a proposition to establish a Water Resources Council so that the greatest possible amount of basic information on Australian water resources can be scientifically secured and made available.
Work is in progress on the reconstruction of the Mount Isa-Collinsville railway in Queensland. This reconstruction will be vitally assisted by the agreement of my Government to find up to £20,000,000 towards its cost. My Ministers made this agreement because of their belief that this railway will not only make possible a vast expansion of the Mount Isa mine and the transport of its products, but will also offer transport facilities for other industries including cattle, in the northern part of Queensland.
Work is also going ahead on the improvement of certain New South Wales coal ports, and the construction of “ beef roads “ in Western Australia and Queensland, and is in hand for the improvement of coal-loading facilities at Gladstone, Queensland, the conversion to diesel of the Broken Hill-Port Pirie railway, and the Western Australian standard gauge railway project. These add up to a formidable total of Commonwealth expenditure, in some cases over a period of years. The principle which my advisers have applied and will continue to apply is that they will be prepared to examine with State governments special works of a kind calculated either to add materially to export trade and income or to save imports.
My advisers are able to report progress in the works of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. The first major section of the scheme, the Upper Tumut works, will be brought into full operation one year ahead of schedule. The second major phase, the Snowy-Murray development, is already in hand, and large contracts have been let. So far the money for the Snowy Mountains scheme has come from revenue, but my advisers were recently able to effect a borrowing of 100,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development in respect of the next section of the scheme. The securing of this loan is itself a tribute to the soundness of the Snowy Mountains enterprise.
The River Murray Commission has prepared a report on technical aspects of constructing a dam on the River Murray at Chowilla, which would store 4,750,000 acre feet. Preliminary examination with the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia is already occurring. If construction is accepted as a River Murray Commission work, my Government will contribute one-quarter of its capital cost.
It is further worthy of note that Australia will before long have petroleum refineries operating in each of the mainland States.
In all this my advisers have an abounding faith in our present and a sure hope for our future.
I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties, in the faith that Divine Providence will guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. (His Excellency the Governor-General and members of the House of Representatives retired).
Sitting suspended from 3.40 to 4.20 p.m.
The PRESIDENT again took the chair, and read prayers.
The following bills, originated in the Senate during the last session of the Parliament, were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment: -
War Service Homes Bill 1961.
Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill 1961.
Airlines Agreements Bill 1961.
Australian National Airlines Bill 1961.
Air Navigation Bill 1961.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Airlines Agreements Bill 1961.
Australian National Airlines Bill 1961.
Air Navigation Bill 1961.
War Service Homes Bill 1961.
Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill 1961.
Commonwealth Banks Bill 1961.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 1a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 2a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 3a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 4a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 5a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 6a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 7a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 8a) 1961.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 9a) 1961.
Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1961.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1961.
States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1961. Audit Bill 1961.
Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill 1961.
Western Australia Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill 1961.
Railway Agreement (Queensland) Bill . 1961.
Coal Loading Works Agreement (New South Wales) Bill 1961.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1961.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1961.
Navigation Bill 1961.
Customs TariffValidation Bill 1961.
Railway Equipment Agreement (South Australia) Bill 1961.
– by leave - I wish to advise the Senate of ministerial arrangements. Although few changes have been made, I will detail the complete Ministry. The Ministry consists of 22 Ministers, as follows: -
The first twelve Ministers will constitute Cabinet but the practice will be continued of co-opting other Ministers as required. Mr. Holt will continue as Leader of the House of Representatives and I will be Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Federal Executive Council. Senator Paltridge will be Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In the Senate, I will represent the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Social Services.
Senator Paltridge will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for Territories, the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Repatriation.
Senator Henty will represent the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for the Army and the Minister for Supply.
Senator Gorton will represent the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for External Affairs and the Attorney-General.
Senator Wade will represent the PostmasterGeneral, the Minister for Primary Industry, the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for Works and the Minister for Air.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party has appointed me as the Leader of the party in this chamber, Senator Kennelly as the Deputy Leader, Senator O’Byrne as the Whip, and Senator Poke as the Deputy Whip.
– by leave - I wish to state that I shall be the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party and that Senator McManus will be the Deputy Leader.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the Opening Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament this day.
– by leave - It is with deep regret that I advise the. Senate of the death on 20th December last of the Right Honorable Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page, G.C.M.G., C.H., a former member of the House of Representatives.
Sir Earle Page was member of Parliament for the Cowper electorate from 1919 until a few days before his death. He was Leader of the Australian Country Party from 1921 until 1939. He was a member of the Standing Orders Committee from 9th March, 1923, to 7th August, 1934, and from 3rd December, 1937, until the time of his death.
Sir Earle was leader of the Australian delegation to the United Kingdom and the United States to examine banking, electricity and road and rail transport in 1924-25. He was Commonwealth Treasurer from 1923 to 1929, and was Chairman of the Australian Loan Council from 1924 to 1929. The right honorable gentle man was Acting Prime Minister in 1923, 1926, 1935 and 1937. He served two terms as Minister for Commerce from 1934 to 1939 and. from 1940 to 1941. He was chairman of the Australian Agricultural Council from’ 1934 to 1939 and leader of the Australian trade delegation to the United States and the United Kingdom in 1936 and 1938.
As all honorable senators are aware, Sir Earle was deeply interested in the Department of Health. He was Minister for Health from 1937 to 1939 and, after the war, from 19th December, 1949, to 11th January, 1956. In 1951, while Minister for Health, he visited Canada and the United States to study problems associated with health administration. From 1st September to 22nd November, 1952, he served as acting Postmaster-General during the absence overseas of the Honorable H. L. Anthony. He visited the United Kingdom and the Netherlands from August to September, 1953, attending the Seventh General Assembly of the World Medical Association at The Hague.
Sir Earle was Prime Minister for a period of nineteen days from 7th April to 26th April, 1939, following the death of the Right Honorable J. A. Lyons. In the academic sphere Sir Earle was the first chancellor of the University of New England from 1955 onwards. In the First World War Sir Earle enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was surgeon to the Australian General Hospital at Abassia Egypt, and No. 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station in France. During the Second World War he was the Australian representative on the British War Cabinet in 1941 and 1942 and a member of the War Cabinet from January to May, 1941. He served on the Economic and Industrial Committee of the Cabinet from June to October, 1941. He served as a member of the Australian Advisory War Council from 26th August, 1942, to 29th September, 1943, and again from 24th February, 1944, to 31st August, 1945. He was created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1938 and Companion of Honour in 1942.
Mr. President, I like the procedure that we adopt in the Senate of p.utting , on record in “ Hansard “ the particulars of the parliamentary careers of those to whom we pay our tributes in these circumstances. The Parliament was such a large part of their lives that it seems to me that the story of their contributions to national affairs is stated most appropriately in the official records of the proceedings of the Parliament. This applies particularly to the late Sir Earle Page. Few people have served in this Parliament as long as be served! Few members of the Parliament’ indeed have held so many high offices in the Parliament and in the government of Australia as he held.
Mr. President, we respect his memory; we pay tribute to the work he completed both inside and outside the Parliament, in his profession, in the Australian Imperial Force and in so many voluntary organizations covering such a wide field of activity. I know that I speak on behalf of all members of the Senate when I say that we convey our deep sympathy to his widow and the members of his family. I conclude, Mr. President, by moving -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Right Honorable Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page, G.C.M.G., C.H., former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia and member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Cowper from 1919 to 1961, places on record its appreciation of his long and distinguished public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion that the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) has proposed. The sketch of Sir Earle Page’s career that the Leader of the Government has outlined to the Senate is a record of activity, of achievement and of public service of such extent and import that it would be difficult for one who did not know him to believe that it was the record of only one man. But there is no such difficulty for those of us who did know Sir Earle Page. We were sharply aware of his sprightliness, his physical vigour and the zest of a forward-thrusting mind grappling with every national problem and restlessly seeking a solution of it. His interest and knowledge extended to fields as diverse as constitutional matters, agriculture, commerce, health and finance in all its aspects. In all these fields, and in many, others, he left indelible marks on the national scene.
It was characteristic of the man that the only task he set himself which remained unfinished was the writing of his autobiography. He was far too much concerned with the present and the future to bother greatly about the past. I trust that it will be possible for his memoirs to be published as he left them, for they will be, intimately and richly, a part of Australia’s history of the past 42 years.
Sir Earle was a redoubtable fighter for his ideals. In private association he was cheerful, vivacious and full of challenging and stimulating thoughts. With all his varied interests, Sir Earle Page never ceased to be the doctor. “ How are you?” from his lips was never a formal greeting. It was the expression of a kindly professional interest in your physical well-being, followed always by a battery of questions upon the subject. As you answered, you felt that he was making his own kindly, independent medical assessment of you.
On behalf of the Opposition in the Senate, I extend to his widow and children our sincere sympathy in their bereavement. I trust they will be consoled by the thoughts that Sir Earle lived a full and rich life of service to his country and to his fellow men, that it can be truly said of him that he filled “ the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of distance run”, and that his passing has been mourned throughout Australia.
.- The Australian Country Party would have me join the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) in the motion of condolence on the death of Sir Earle Page. His passing is a sad personal loss to my party, for we owe him much, but the loss to Australia far exceeds the party’s loss, for he certainly proved himself, a great Australian statesman.
The Leader of the Government has spoken of many of his achievements, but I should like to refer to some of the highlights of the Australian legislation of which the late Sir Earle Page was the chief architect. Very early in his political career he propounded the federal aid roads scheme, which has been perhaps the greatest single factor in developing our country areas. Parliamentary support for this measure emphasized the dependence of national growth on prosperous rural dwellers.
His next major achievement was the remodelling of the Commonwealth Bank, making it a central banking institution. I believe it is fair to say that his vision is reflected in the service the Commonwealth Bank is rendering the Australian community to-day. He was the first chairman of the Australian Loan Council, and he lived for many years to see the real worth of his forward planning for the Australian economy through this medium. As Treasurer in the Bruce-Page Government he incorporated the averaging system into the income tax law, and wrote into the legislation provision for those concessions and deductions which he considered necessary to the development of the primary industries, which were so dear to his heart. Perhaps his greatest personal achievement was the formation of the Australian Agricultural Council, which has since become an integral part of the Australian system of Commonwealth-State participation. The principles he enunciated on that occasion have set a pattern for a unified approach to many problems which beset the Australian economy.
The late John Curtin, while Prime Minister of Australia, with a high appreciation of Sir Earle’s great talents, sent him as a special Australian envoy to the British War Cabinet shortly before the attack by Japan on Malaya and Pearl Harbour and, during the latter years of the war, commissioned him to visit New Guinea and make recommendations on the control of malaria, which was taking such toll of Australian and American troops. With other distinguished medical colleagues he advised on measures that greatly improved the position. However, I believe that the achievement from which Sir Earle derived the most personal satisfaction was the launching and consolidating of our current national health scheme while he was Minister for Health in the Menzies-Fadden Government. So impressed was the Government of the United States of America that only last year it invited him to Washington to assist it with a health scheme comparable with ours. Surely this is a record of national service that few men could achieve.
A great humanitarian, determined to provide a better way of life for people, particularly those living in rural areas, Sir Earle will always be remembered by the people of this country for his work with gratitude and pride. To Lady Page and our late colleague’s sorrowing family we extend our very sincere sympathy.
– On behalf of the Australian Democratic
Labour Party I wish to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Mckenna) and the Minister for Health (Senator Wade). Sir Earle Page had a political career that was second to none. I believe that his passing closes a chapter in our political history. To his sorrowing wife and family we extend our deepest sympathy.
– Mr. President, I wish to associate myself with the motion before the Senate concerning the death of our friend and colleague. Sir Earle Page, commonly known to his friends as “ The Doc “, was the founder of the Australian Country Party in 1919, and for many years he was the leader of that party. “ The Doc “ devoted his career as a Minister and a member of Parliament to the great benefit of the country, resulting from the various pieces of legislation that he was instrumental in putting on the statute-book, but he also devoted a great deal of time to his practice of medicine.’ In the Grafton district, his own part of New South Wales, he was looked upon as the doctor of doctors. He did a tremendous amount of good helping those who were sick and in distress. Throughout his career he was full of vigour and energy, and he carried on with his work almost until the day he died.
Our late colleague was largely responsible for my entering upon a political career. I can well remember how he assisted me prior to my first election in 1928. I met him some months previously, when he talked Country Party matters over with me. I received a telegram to say that he would meet me in Goondiwindi, one of the country towns in Queensland, and that he would take me on a whirlwind tour of that State. I remember it still, and I assure honorable senators that it was a whirlwind tour. We were away for nearly a month on that election campaign, which resulted in my being the first Country Party senator from Queensland. As has been said by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by the Leader of the Opposition, and also by Senator Wade, on behalf of the Australian Country Party, over the years Sir Earle gave a tremendous amount of his time to the improvement of health legislation and medical benefits. His final work in that respect was the National Health Act which, on behalf of the Menzies Government, hs steered through the Parliament. I extend my sincere condolences to his widow and the members of his family.
– As a member of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Country Party, I would like to support the remarks of those who have paid their respects to one of Australia’s great men. I had the privilege of knowing Sir Earle Page for many years. It gives me much satisfaction to look back and recall that after resigning his portfolio as a Minister of the Federal Government, the Country Party in New South Wales tendered him a complimentary dinner in Sydney. On that occasion men from all over Australia and from the top ranks of the professions came along, despite much inconvenience in many cases, to pay a tribute to Sir Earle.
Reference has been made to the splendid work that Sir Earle Page performed for Australia, work that will live and be of great benefit for years to come. Perhaps uppermost in his heart was the creation of a new State of New England, a work that he did not live to bring to fruition, and also the damming of the Clarence River, in the district from which he came. He had worked hard on that project for a great number of years. Senator Sir Walter Cooper said that the medical profession lost one who would have risen to great heights in it when Sir Earle turned to politics. I am told by those who should be in a position to know that he would have been one of Australia’s leading surgeons had he not had to devote more time to politics than he could to medicine.
To-day, we are paying our respects to a very great Australian who will be remembered for many years to come as one of this country’s statesmen. I join previous speakers in expressing sympathy to his widow, his daughter and his sons.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I suggest, Mr. President, that as a mark of respect to the late right honorable gentleman, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 4.49 to 8 p.m.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 28a, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator K. M.
Anderson, Senator G. C. McKellar and Senator I. A. C. Wood to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That, during the unavoidable absence of (be Deputy President, the President be authorized to call upon any one of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the chair, without any formal communication to the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to reduce by seven hundred and fifty pounds the minimum deposit required from purchasers, and to increase by that sum the maximum advance available to borrowers, under the War Service Homes Act 1918-1961.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Senator Sir NEIL O’SULLIVAN (Queensland) [8.3]. - I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I deeply appreciate the courtesy of my leader, Senator Spooner, in entrusting me with the sponsorship of this motion. During a fairly lengthy term of service in the Senate I have proposed many motions, but this is the first occasion on which I have proposed one of this description, and in the scheme of things I am not likely to do it again.
To-day was the first occasion upon which His Excellency the Governor-General has presided at the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament. With due respect, X, should like to assure him of our pleasure at seeing him here. We all hope that his stay with us will be one of pleasure and contentment to him. I am sure it will be gratifying to us. This is the first occasion upon which the Senate has met since the last general election. Some honorable senators may know that we have’ been through a general election, although the effect has been, I think, more pronounced in another place than it has been here. But now that the tumult and the shouting have died away, we can take stock of. the situation and look ahead. There is no great merit in looking back and having recriminations. The people have spoken. We, as parliamentarians, have neither the desire nor the right to criticize the decision of the electorate. We are the servants of the electors and we accept their verdict, not only because we have to, but also because it is the proper thing to do.
In case members of the Australian Labour Party take some undue flattering unction to themselves, thinking that there has been a vote in favour of the Australian Labour Party and the socialistic philosophy that it professes, I would ask them to desist. There has been definitely a swing away from the Government. There has been what I would describe as a punitive vote against the Government, but do not let it be thought for one moment that there has been any great change in the political philosophy of the Australian people. I am quite sure that they are as strongly opposed to A.L.P. socialism to-day as ever they were before. If anybody was frightened - apart from Mr. Calwell, who was frightened at the prospect of having to take over the task of leading this country in such perilous times - 1 think that disgruntled supporters of the Liberal Party and the Country Party had the biggest fright. There is a certain amount of wisdom, not in holding a post-mortem, but in looking back for the purpose of seeing what light that can throw on the path ahead, and for the purpose of giving both the Government and the Opposition an opportunity to see what mistakes have been made and to take appropriate steps to ensure that mistakes will be rectified and will not be repeated.
His Excellency made reference to Australia’s obligations to the United Nations. Fortunately, that is one of the far too few matters upon which Australia speaks with a substantially united voice, whether the spokesman be a supporter of the Govern ment or a member of the Opposition. We, as Australians, are dedicated to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which, as honorable senators will remember, are, substantially, that war as an arbitrament will be discarded and that no longer will national and international differences be put to the test by violence and war. We in our own short lives have experienced two devastating world wars, with all the ensuing human misery and destitution. The enlightened 51 nations, the original members of the organization, decided that no longer would national and international disputes be sought to be resolved by war, because war, as we have found in our bitter experience, resolves nothing and creates destitution, misery and human suffering. The nations decided that no longer would they seek to resolve difficulties and differences by war. Instead, an institution called the United Nations was to be created, which would formulate an international conscience, outlaw war, and bring about a state of international thought whereby the weak would have equal rights and equal protection with the strong, and the strong would pledge themselves seriously and solemnly to ensure that justice would prevail, that the mighty would no longer prevail over the weak, and that might itself would be subject to the rule of international law. Such was the conception of the United Nations, but I would suggest that honorable senators who are interested in this magnificent conception read and study well recent speeches made by Mr. Adlai Stevenson, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and Lord Home, the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom. Those speeches are very thought-provoking. I take the liberty of quoting remarks made by Lord Home with regard to the United Nations and the recent developments. When the United Nations was established it was thought that it was the prelude to Lord Tennyson’s conception of the parliament of man and the federation of the world, but this has not yet proved to be the case.- Lord Home said -
The double standards as applied to Europeans and Russians, and Europeans and Afro-Asians became so blatant that I felt bound to draw attention to it in the U.N. Assembly. I said:
The United Nations and in particular this Assembly must show itself to be impartial, must be seen to be impartial. I’m only going to ask this question; I’m not sure of the answer. Is there growing up, almost imperceptibly, a code of behaviour where there is one rule for the Communist countries and another for the democracies? One rule for the bully, who deals in fear, and another for the democracy because their stock in trade is reason and compromise?
But if the United Nations is to be the body which we wish to see, which guards the weak, and is jealous of the independence of small nations, then they must not yield to the temptation to put public pressure always upon the reasonable nations because they feel that in the last resort those nations will be decent and, therefore, will give way. That would be to deny justice to others which they themselves wish to enjoy.
Lord Home continues -
Russia’s Empire is occupied by military force and ruled by fear. No one who has witnessed what has happened in Hungary and East Germany can have any doubt that Russia’s colonialism is the most cruel and ruthless in history. In the United. Nations her technique is undisguised - it is that of the bully.
By contrast, the British record is one that has freed 600 million people in fifteen years and transferred then from colonial dependence to complete independence within the Commonwealth, where they are equal partners and in no way subordinate. We are moving fast - perhaps faster than in prudence we ought - in the direction in which the new countries want to go. The United Nations members know that to be true but they seldom condemn the Russians and constantly harass us. It seems as if pushing at an open door is not good enough for them. To co-operate with the metropolitan power in completing the process of independence in an orderly way: to ensure that new nations get a good start in international life is apparently emotionally unsatisfying and politically unrewarding.
Since we in Britain are agreed on independence anyway, the only way to pick a quarrel is over timing. Self-government to-day regardless of whether there is anyone capable of governing - independence to-morrow even though it would mean other Congos.
I do not propose to weary the Senate with reasons for the conclusions to which I have referred. I do, however, point out that membership of the United Nations has increased from an original 51 to 104. Most of the newer members have very recently emerged from a state of colonialism. They have been brought to a standard where they are capable of. self-government, largely as a result of the patience and statesmanship of British statesmen. Those members owe their full independence to the efforts made by Britain on their behalf. But although they have arrived at a state of independence it can hardly be suggested that these recentlyemerged countries are, in experience and wisdom, as capable of dealing with intricate and difficult world problems as the nations with hundreds of years of civilized tradition and experience behind them. The danger that I see in the United Nations, as has been pointed out by Lord Home and also by Mr. Adlai Stevenson, is that numbers are no substitute for wisdom. The people in the recently-emerged nations, who are not long accustomed to the ways of civilization as we know it and are not accustomed to controlling their own affairs or participating in the control and direction of the affairs of other people, are liable, in their enthusiasm, to allow themselves to become the victims of catch-cries and shibboleths.
The Government is to be highly commended for the very prompt and realistic steps it has taken to restore confidence and stimulate employment to mitigate the effects of the rather shocking unemployment situation that has arisen from time to time. Some of Mr. Haylen’s colleagues on the other side of this chamber may agree with his statement that we can put up with 5 per cent, of the employable people being unemployed, that that is a tolerable state.
As a Queenslander, I am particularly pleased that the Government has given special consideration to what I believe are the special conditions prevailing in Queensland. My State, and to some extent Western Australia, are States apart. I do not mean in distance; I mean that in Queensland we have particular and peculiar problems. We have a very vast State. We have very few substantial secondary industries. We have a State that is affected very violently from time to time by prolonged droughts. Some of our major primary industries, for instance, the meat works and the sugar mills, provide only seasonal work. The people in those industries are paid well during the period of seasonal employment. Some of them receive enough to live on until they find other jobs somewhere else. Unfortunately, many of them drift away from Queensland. They go to the southern States and take with them the money they have earned in Queensland. We all hope that the time will come when those seasonal workers will find off-season work within their own State. I am quite sure that a more generous treatment of our local authorities will go a long way towards solving that problem. When the meat worker has finished killing and the sugar worker has finished cutting, instead of having to leave his particular area and go to another place to spend his money or look for another job he should be able to find work in his own area. If more generous treatment were accorded to local authorities, water schemes, bridge building, road building and a variety of other activities for which local authorities are responsible could well absorb those seasonal workers, and in that way what is really a great tragedy for Queensland and Queensland industry could be mitigated.
I think it would be quite wrong to interpret a plea for sympathetic consideration of Queensland’s special needs as being in any way un-Australian or parochial. We in Queensland take as much pride and delight in the magnificent Snowy Mountains pro ject as any other Australians, although we know that Queensland does not benefit directly from it. We wish well the aluminium project in Tasmania, although it has no special interest to us in Queensland. We are delighted that Western Australia has been treated remarkably well in relation to the magnificent projects of development there. AH that is good for Australia, and, as Australians, we Queenslanders delight in that. We are very pleased to see the construction of a standardgauge railway line linking Sydney with Melbourne. That will not benefit Queensland but, as Australians, Queenslanders are delighted to see it. We feel, however, that greater consideration should be given to Queensland’s claim for a larger share of the expenditure of such departments as the Department of National Development, the Department of Defence and the Department of Supply.
The latest figures I have are those for the year 1959-60. In that year, exports from Queensland were valued at £181,321,000, and the State imported overseas goods to the value of £50,858,000, thus contributing to Australia’s overseas balance to the extent of £130,463,000. Some allowance must be made for goods landed in southern ports and transported overland to Queensland, but that will not materially affect the figures I have given.
Western Australia’s effort is only chickenfeed, compared with Queensland’s. In 1959-60 Queensland exported to other States goods to the value of £115,760,000, but imported from other States goods to the value of £230,778,000. In its interstate trading, Queensland had a debit balance of £115,000,000. The balance was in favour of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. By way of interstate trading, £115,000,000 more went out of Queensland than came in, whereas in the overseas field Queensland had a favorable balance of £130,000,000. Queensland is, therefore, a very good customer of the southern States, as we in Queensland pay our share of the customs duty which protects the industries in the other States - and I am all in favour of it. I am very delighted to see, as I am sure all other Queenslanders are, the following passage in the Governor-General’s Speech -
Similarly my Ministers are discussing with the Queensland Government the terms of a new sugar agreement, since the present agreement expires next May. They do not propose to accept those recommendations by the Committee of Inquiry which would have had the effect of reducing the current retail price of sugar in Australia.
A very proper conclusion, and one for which I commend the Government entirely. It must be borne in mind that since 1954 the average price of foodstuffs in Australia has increased by more than 30 per cent, but the price of sugar has increased by only 22 per cent. Therefore, the increase in the price of sugar is substantially below the average increase in the price of all other foodstuffs. This is because of the efficiency of the industry in absorbing the increasing costs. However, honorable senators must bear in mind that during World War II and for many years afterwards not only were the Australian people assured of a regular and ample supply of sugar, but also the price of sugar in Australia was less than one-half of the world parity price.
In the last year for which figures are available the Queensland sugar crop was worth £68,000,000. The overseas income that Australia received from its export of sugar in that year, helping to build up our overseas balances, was about £34,000,000. More than 8,500 farmers and 3.8,000 employees are engaged in the sugar industry. Queensland, from Mackay north, has a greater concentration of white population than any other part of the world in the same latitudes, and that is due entirely to sugar. So, if anything happens to the sugar industry, beware of the future, not only of north Queensland but also of the whole of the Australian economy, because sugar is about our fourth largest export income earner.
I warmly support the Government, and particularly the Minister for Trade, the Right Hon. John McEwen, for the prompt action that has been taken to ensure that economic Australian industries will not be devastated and perhaps hurt beyond repair by a sudden glut on our market of competitivelymade goods from overseas. The Minister for Trade has appointed Sir Frank Meere, former Comptroller-General of Customs and Excise - a man of unrivalled experience in these matters and one who enjoys the confidence of everybody engaged in trade, industry and commerce - to tender advice so that prompt action can be taken to ensure that no worthwhile Australian industry is hurt beyond repair by a sudden inrush of competitive goods. The Tariff Board has done a magnificent job. I have seen institutions similar to our Tariff Board and I have found that our board is head and shoulders above any comparable institution in any other country. True it is there are delays. The human factor may be responsible. A Tariff Board hearing cannot be arranged in 24 hours. It takes much longer to do so. Sometimes it may run into months, if there is to be a proper hearing, and in the meantime irreparable damage can be done to a worthwhile Australian industry. A man of the experience of Sir Frank Meere will be able to advise the Minister so that prompt action can be taken pending a full hearing and so that irreparable damage will not be done.
Quantitative restrictions, perhaps.
My advisers desire that the issue relating to West New Guinea should be settled without force or the threat of force, and upon a basis which will give the indigenous inhabitants, at an appropriate time, an effective voice in the determination of their own future.
Australia’s attitude to this very delicate problem has been consistently and clearly set out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick). Hopes are still high that this situation will be resolved without resort to violence, but unfortunately no contribution to that happy end has been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
As we all know, Mr. Calwell is a man of infinite charm and undoubted personal integrity. He claims, of course, that he is no warmonger. That is not disputed. Even the Victorian A.L.P. executive knows that Arthur Calwell is no warmonger. But in his excursions into foreign affairs he is a mischief maker. Instead of making officious and irresponsible statements about the security of northern Australia and New Guinea he should be striving to repair the damage he did to that same security when he was a member of a government that virtually kicked the United States of America out of Manus Island, one of the greatest bastions of freedom in the Pacific, a bastion on which the United States had spent more than 100,000,000 dollars. The United States was prepared to maintain that base without expense to us. When Dr. Evatt was
Minister for External Affairs and Mr. Calwell was a member of the Cabinet, the government of the day tossed America out. It paid twopence, or something of the kind, for a few bits and pieces, but very little was taken out. What the Chinese pirates did not loot the jungle reclaimed. When we came to power in 1949, that fine bastion of freedom in the Pacific was controlled by a Royal Australian Air Force sergeant, with three or four white R.A.A.F. men and a few native troops. That was the base upon which the United States had spent 100,000,000 dollars, the strongest base in the whole of the Pacific area.
Goodness me, how foolish Mr. Calwell is! Have honorable senators opposite no influence with him at all? He was a member of the Cabinet when three Dutch ships, battered from fighting, not for their own homeland but in helping to keep the Japanese away from Australia during the battle of the Java Sea, limped into Australian waters seeking succour and repairs. By direction of Jim Healy and the Waterside Workers Federation, supported by the government of the day, those ships which had been fighting for us had to limp over to Noumea, in New Caledonia, to be succoured. This is the Mr. Calwell who speaks about Mr. Menzies’ appeasement. This is the man who virtually wants us to go to war against Indonesia for the sake of West New Guinea. The waterside workers, I repeat, would not repair the ships or succour the sailors. But now Mr. Calwell comes out as the great champion of the Dutch, whom he did his best to oust from Indonesia. It is not for me to say who is right or wrong in regard to West New Guinea. All that I, this Government and the Prime Minister desire is that the matter be settled without resort to violence. But poor Arthur comes in and wants us to go to war against the people he did his best to install in authority in Indonesia!
Reference has been made to Great Britain’s application to join the European Common Market. In my humble opinion, Great Britain has no alternative but to join the Common Market. Since the acceptance of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 the internal tariff barriers of the Inner Six have been reduced by more than 40 per cent, and their trade has increased at a considerably higher rate than has that of Great Britain. Those countries say that within the next few years their internal tariff barriers will be abandoned altogether. I say that Britain must either join the European Economic Community or become a tenth-rate power. A weak Britain would provide a very poor prospect for us. Ties of blood are stronger even than ties of trade. I believe that if Britain joined the Common Market she could become the leader of the European economic union. The “New York Times “ stated recently that the purpose of this economic union was twofold - that, first, it was economic and, secondly, it was political, the major aspect being the political one. The article in question further stated that the real purpose of this economic union was to prevent future wars in Europe.
American capitalism does not enter into this. For years when we were boys at school we learned how the balance of power in Europe was kept. But it is no longer a balance of power in Europe; it is a balance of power in the world. There is no reason why Britain, with her tradition, her experience and her character, should not be the leader of a United States of Europe. If the other members of the European Free Trade Association join the European Economic Community, the population of this group will be in the vicinity of 300,000,000. Their productive capacity will be greater than that of either the United States of America or Soviet Russia. So if we have on one side of the Atlantic Ocean a United States of Europe led or supported by Great Britain and on the other side the mighty United States of America, during the lifetimes of our children and our children’s children those powers will be able to contain communism and all will be able to look forward to an era of peace that is beyond our present dreams - peace for generations to come. With those two mighty powers seeking to promote world justice and world peace, world communism could not live effectively.
The attainment of this objective must cost us something. But is not world peace worth paying something for?
In conclusion, Mr. President, I express the hope that the Twenty-fourth Parliament of the Commonwealth, proceeding on the basis of unity in essentials, liberty in matters doubtful and charity in all things, will make a really worthwhile contribution to the prosperity, happiness and contentment of the Australian people.
– Mr. President, I rise with pleasure to support the motion that has been proposed so ably by my colleague, Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan. I should like to thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) for the opportunity that has been afforded me of supporting this very important motion. I join with Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan in thanking His Excellency for the Speech he delivered this afternoon. I am sure we all join in extending a very cordial welcome to His Excellency and Lady De L’Isle and in wishing them a very happy sojourn in Australia. We hope they will be able to remain here long enough to see the fruition of a lot of the very wonderful projects that have been started during the period for which this Government has been in office and which when completed will make Australia one of the most wonderful countries in which to live.
When commencing his Speech, His Excellency very properly said that this Parliament was meeting in a time of very great international unrest. I am sure we all greatly deplore that unrest. A tremendous responsibility is cast upon the free countries. I am sure that we in Australia, situated as we are in the Pacific region, regard it as a privilege to be able, perhaps, to do and to say something to help in solving some of the world’s very great problems. The GovernorGeneral stressed that we are tremendously interested in helping to find the peaceful solutions of these problems. The spread of education, the advance of radio, the introduction of television, and quick travel, have all helped to bring very rapid development, for which some countries perhaps have not the best foundations and for which they have not been able to prepare properly. There has been in those countries a great demand for self-determination and Australia has the privilege of helping to guide them in the ways of democratic living. It is Australia’s desire always to support the efforts that these countries are making to find solutions of their very serious problems. It is our desire always to help in finding peaceful solutions. We like to think that ideas and advice from countries such as ours will assist in finding solutions of problems without resort to war.
Bui in the midst of thinking about international disputes and problems, Australia has not neglected to put her own defences into good order. We want peaceful solutions, but we must not neglect to provide for the defence of this country of ours. Honorable senators will notice that the GovernorGeneral stressed that the Army has been almost completely re-organized, that the Navy and the Air Force have gone through similar processes, and that all arms of our defences have been considerably strengthened and brought completely up to date. .However, we still hope that the defences that have been prepared will not have to be used.
Another good feature referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech is the spread of diplomatic relationships. Many countries have established diplomatic relations with Australia, and we are very pleased to welcome their representatives so that they may observe our way of living. There has also been great development in the establishment of trade commissionership These things go to prove that Australia is out to help the peoples of other countries and to promote international understanding. Australia, of course, has played a very important part under the Colombo Plan. There is no need to go over the history of it. At the beginning we made mistakes, but over the years those mistakes have been corrected. We now know that it is of no use to send complicated machinery to people who are not able to use it. We have changed our ideas and we are now sending, along with material help, experts who can assist the people to understand the machinery that is provided. Australia is planning an extension of the Colombo Plan, and we hope that finally we shall be able to say that the plan has been a complete success and that many countries have benefited from what Australia has done.
I was glad to hear Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan stress the value of the work of the United Nations. There is an exceedingly grave situation, because some countries are not honouring their obligations to the United Nations, which has done so much through its various agencies to help to find peaceful solutions of problems and to provide better health and food and a higher standard of living for so many countries. We all regret very much the sudden and tragic death of the former SecretaryGeneral, who had made tremendous strides towards establishing the United Nations as a successful body. The new SecretaryGeneral has been faced with terrific problems, not only in bringing quarrelling people together, but also in relation to the difficulty that was carefully explained by our Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) in a statement issued in Canberra last week. This statement, which we should all read, indicates that it is the bounden duty of every Australian and every citizen of every other free country to try to improve the position, so that the work of the United Nations can go on to a successful issue. Up to date this is the best organization that we have ever had for bringing peace to the world, for bringing nations together and for giving material help. Sir Garfield Barwick announced that Cabinet had decided that Australia should take up 4,000,000 dollars worth of United Nations bonds. He recalled that the acting Secretary-General of the United Nations had explained to the General Assembly at the end of November, 1961, that the United Nations was facing bankruptcy before the end of 1962. Its principal financial problem was a cash deficit resulting from the unwillingness of some member countries, particularly Communist countries, to pay their assessed contributions. As Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan said, an appeal is being made to the International Court for a decision on this matter, so that those countries which have not paid their dues over a certain time will not have a voice in the work of the United Nations. I think we all agree that anything Australia can do to bolster the work of the United Nations is worthwhile.
We can derive great satisfaction from the fact that under this coalition Government our defences have been put into very good order. The provision of defences suitable to the times in which we live has been one of the objectives of the Government. The 1961 credit squeeze, which the Government felt was necessary to curb growing inflation, had some very disastrous results. We all acknowledge that. Unemployment increased in some States, with very serious results: Recognizing that adjustments had to be made, the Government called together many leaders of commerce and industry - people who are able to give valuable guidance in regard to new economic measures - and it is now proposing certain measures which should help to get over the difficulty and to bring relief to those people who, unfortunately, felt the effects of the squeeze severely. For instance, income tax is to be reduced. Many of us will receive more in our salary envelopes than we expected. Additional sums of money have been provided through the Australian Loan Council for expenditure on developmental works. The States have received considerable assistance from the Loan Council. It is now up to them to commence undertakings that will provide employment for as many people as possible. At the recent meeting of the Loan Council it was agreed that the States should receive the following sums: -
That is a very noble set of figures and my only comment is that perhaps Western Australia did not receive a sufficient allotment. If the State governments now play their part and commence developmental projects, much will be done to ease the unemployment problem, which has been very great in some States.
Although I am pleased to hear that income tax will be reduced, I must express my extreme disappointment at the Government’s retention of sales tax and pay-roll tax. It is beyond my understanding that sales tax on a luxury such as a motor car should be reduced by 7i per cent, while sales tax at the rate of 12i per cent, is retained on foodstuffs that are in every-day use in the community. I do not know of anything that would do more to circulate money in the community than the complete abolition of sales tax and pay-roll tax. Those taxes are hangovers from wartime. Surely we have progressed to-day to the stage where we can do away with taxes that were imposed to meet the extraordinary demands of wartime but which are not necessary during peacetime. I ask the Government to consider this matter. 1 am sure that the Government will recognize that the abolition of sales tax and pay-roll tax will greatly assist every member of. the community and will do much to keep money in circulation.
I was pleased to hear the GovernorGeneral’s remarks about housing. I am very proud of this Government’s record in the field of housing, and there is promise of better things to come in the years ahead. The housing record of this Government has never been bettered by any other government. This Government has provided £780,000,000 for housing in the last twelve years. The ratio of home ownership per head of population is higher in Australia than in any other country. The housing record of the coalition Government that has governed Australia over the last twelve years is a very proud one. Seventy-five per cent, of Australian families own the homes in which they live. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber applaud that state of affairs, but the socialists on the other side of the chamber say, “ How depressing to see so many little capitalists in the country] “.
The Government’s record in relation to war service homes and homes for the aged is second to none. Its investigations during the last few years have revealed a problem in connexion with the housing of veteran ex-servicemen and it is making large sums of money available for the establishment of homes for veterans. I have had the pleasure of visiting some veterans’ homes and the occupants have expressed complete satisfaction with the way in which they have been treated by the Government.
The Government has promised to continue its policy of assisting export industries by providing subsidies. Nobody can deny that Australia’s trade position has greatly improved during this Government’s term of office. A great deal of the credit for that improvement is due to the efforts of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) who has worked hard to make Australia one of the foremost trading nations of the world.
We in Western Australia are pleased to know that the gold-mining industry is to receive assistance. We are anxious to know when television services will be made available to people in country areas of the State. We are watching developments carefully. We want the people in the country areas to obtain the best television programmes possible. There must be no repetition of what took place when radio reception was* extended to country areas. On that occasion the country areas received only second- ; rate programmes. We hope that only tha best of television programmes will be made available to people in country areas.
In the field of national development, I am sure that all of us are proud of Australia’s achievements. One thinks immediately of schemes such as the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is so highly’ regarded by the International Bank that it has agreed to finance the construction of the works associated with the Upper Tumut section of the scheme. This is an indication that the International Bank is completely satisfied with the Government now in power in this country.
Tremendous discoveries of mineral deposits have been made in Western Australia. In an interview recently the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) said that vast iron ore deposits had now been discovered in Western Australia. He said that those deposits could total more than two billion tons - four or five times Australia’s present known reserves. We are very pleased to know that at last the Federal Government has recognised that it has some very good assets and some very valuable land in the one-third of Australia represented by Western Australia. The Government has taken a long time to reach this conclusion. We who came to this Senate in 1949 came with the feeling that we represented a Cinderella State. It took us a long time to convince some Ministers that the development of Western Australia was worth while. At one time Western Australia thought of seceding from the Commonwealth. I do not know what the Commonwealth would do now if Western Australia decided to secede, having in mind the very valuable deposits of iron ore, bauxite and limonite that exist there.
The development of mineral deposits in Western Australia is part of a very fine pattern of development of all kinds which will benefit not only Western Australia but also the rest of Australia, just as the discovery of gold many years ago saved this country from ruin. It was the gold discoveries in Western Australia that kept the whole of eastern Australia going when all its banks failed and nobody had a penny to bless himself with.
We are very pleased that the development that will take place in Western Australia embraces the building of a standard-gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana. The building of a railway is a- wonderful way of mopping up unskilled labour of which, I am sorry to say, we have far too. much in this country that provides free education. I believe that is one of the problems that the Parliament should, try to solve, because the unskilled workers in our community are the people who create the unemployment problems. The building of this railway will be a wonderful thing for Western Australia. It will relieve the unemployment, which has not been terribly great. It has been a problem, but not so much of a problem in Western Australia as it has been in some of the other States.
I should like to refer to a great number of other matters in this speech. One is the advancement in thinking about the position of the aborigines and the establishment of an institute to study the. problems of the aborigines from all quarters. Another is loan moneys. I should like to refer to many other matters, but I am afraid my time will be exhausted and I will not be able to discuss them. They will have to be dealt with at some other time. However, I do want to ask the Government to look at one matter, that is, the preservation of relics and old buildings in this country. To-day we are so close, in point of time, to the foundation of Australia that there are still many very wonderful relics and beautiful old buildings. But there now seems to be a generation of people whose idea is to root up everything that is old, including politicians, and put in something new, something that they think will be of more value. I believe that it will be a great mistake if we lose many of these wonderful examples of ingenuity and experience that the pioneers of this country provided for us.
I believe that in many of our States there are what are called national trusts. Those national trusts are trying to take charge of relics and old buildings and do something to, preserve them. I have been making inquiries in all the States and the cry is the same everywhere. The trusts have not enough money to be able to do the things that should be done. I know that we have preserved some relics. In Tasmania we have preserved those terrible convict relics at Port Arthur. On Norfolk . Island we have done the. same. I am sorry, Senator Henty, but the Port Arthur relics are really terrible, although they are a tourist attraction. We are preserving things of that sort, but there are other very beautiful things that we do not seem to care twopence about. They are liable to fall into decay unless the Commonwealth comes to the aid of these national trusts.
Recently. I was a guest at a very beautiful place in Victoria called Como, which the national trust in that State has acquired. It was one of the first dairyfarms in Australia. It is 100 years old. It is in perfect condition. The four-poster bed, the furniture and everything else are the same as they were 100 years ago. The national trust in Victoria is having a hard time trying to preserve many of these beautiful old buildings. Senator Henty will be interested to know that even the Customs House was in danger for a while. People were going to pull it down
We have . similar troubles in Western Australia. We have a very beautiful building called the Barracks which stands up at the end of our noble street, St. George’s Terrace - the best street in Australia. People are threatening to pull down that beautiful building, which was built by the convicts, in order to build a road, if you please. Where will the road go to? It is to lead up to Parliament House. This is almost the last straw - destroying a beautiful building like the Barracks in order to build a road leading up to Parliament House. We have some other beautiful buildings in Perth. We have the Town Hall and the Cloisters, which were built by convict labour - not that Western Australia was ever a convict settlement, mark you. Oh, no! We asked for convicts to be sent to do some of the work that was necessary. That is how they came to be there.
We have many beautiful things all over Australia and we are finding it difficult to preserve them. I do not know whether many of the people from Sydney realize what a wonderful thing they have that nobody else in the rest of the world has. I refer to the clock that should be on top of the General Post Office. I think it was removed by the Postmaster-General’s Department. Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) please tell him about this? That clock is the only one of its kind in the world. I have not time to tell you all about it to-night. It has a most wonderful history; it has the most wonderful works; and, as I said, it is the only clock of its kind in the world. The Town Planning Association of New South Wales has tried to have that clock put back where it ought to be, but where it is not. The Postmaster-General has now promised that as soon as money is available the clock will be restored. I think it behoves every honorable senator from New South Wales to press the Postmaster-General to provide the money through the national trust, the Town Planning Association or in some other way, so that that beautiful clock can be enjoyed not only by the people of Australia but also by the tourists who come here.
In Australia we also have some beautiful churches that were built by the convicts. There is one at Port Macquarie. That very old church is in danger of falling to pieces. St. James’s Church in King-street, Sydney, is a perfectly beautiful building. It was built by the convicts. In my room at the Hotel Kurrajong I have a piece of copper with the broad arrow marked all over it, which formed part of the first roof of the tower of St. James’s Church. That copper was from the keel of the first warship that came into Sydney Harbour. My father, who was a building contractor, was asked to remove the copper from St. James’s Church and put on a new roof. He did that, and I have some of that historic copper. That beautiful little St. James’s Church is an example of the beautiful ideas of architecture the original builders had.
– Your father built the Treasury Building in Brisbane, too.
– Yes, that is right. I plead with the Government to take an interest in and help the national trusts of Australia and ensure that relics are preserved not only for tourists to see and for you and me to enjoy but so that the history of this country can be taught to our rising generations from these wonderful examples of what people were able to do in those times.
In the Northern Territory too, people want to preserve some lovely places. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has assured the people that he is right behind them. That is all very well, as long as the Minister, from that position, provides some financial help to enable the Northern Territory trust to preserve these things in the centre of Australia.
I should like to add one thing before I finish. We have heard a lot of criticism from certain people who are trying to persuade the public of Australia that this Government has been a complete failure. How erroneous that is! How can anybody in his right senses say that a government that has done as much as this Government has done in the past twelve years is a failure? Let me mention some things that will bear repeating and remembering. We have seen, in the last twelve years, a transformation. Under a federal system, in 1949 the States were allotted £208,000,000 from Commonwealth revenues and Commonwealth loans, but last year the States received £593,000,000. Our trade has advanced, and Australia is now the tenth greatest trading nation in the world. The Australian voice is heard, and increasingly heeded, in the world’s highest councils. I hope that Australia’s voice will be heard in the negotiations that are going on at the present time in the European Common Market.
This is a country where savings bank deposits have more than doubled; where the production of steel has more than trebled; and where wool production has increased by 50 per cent. This is a country where motor car ownership has extended from one car to every seven people twelve years ago to two and a half cars to every seven people to-day. Under plans already approved, television will, in a few years time, be accessible to more than 90 per cent, of our people. Age and invalid pensions and other social services are provided, not at the yearly rate of £85,000,000- as in 1949- but at the present rate of £358,000,000 a year. Yet some people say that the Government is a failure!
Mr. President, in conclusion I should like to congratulate the Government on its past successes and to say that I hope that the plans outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech will come to fruition and make this country the most desirable in the world in which to live. I support the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 9.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 February 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620220_senate_24_s21/>.