24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether arrangements have been made by the Government to assist tobacco producers in this country. If so, is such assistance of a temporary nature to meet the present emergency or has the Government in mind a plan to stabilize the industry?
– The Government has made a grant of £175,000 to meet the immediate needs of those tobacco-growers who are suffering hardship as a result of what I might describe as the irregular selling season of last year. It is not the sole prerogative of the Commonwealth Government to deal with the tobacco industry and, accordingly, it has taken a very active part in conferring with the committee set up by the tobacco-growers in an endeavour to induce the States to exercise their influence in an endeavour to meet the needs of the growers. The Commonwealth will do all it can to foster an understanding of the needs of the industry and, by concerted effort, try to formulate a plan to place the industry on a firm foundation.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, deals with the magnificent personal achievement of Colonel Glenn in orbiting the earth and the triumph of the teamwork of American and Australian technicians at Muchea in Western Australia, and at Red Lake near Woomera, in tracking the space craft during its flight. Has the Minister any details of Australia’s contribution to the success of this epic space flight?
– I have been in constant discussion with the Minister for Supply on this subject. The Department of Supply organized the stations that listened in on this great Project Mercury flight. Those stations were in contact with the space craft when it was within range during its flight Shortly after the completion of the flight Mr. Fairhall received a telegram from Mr. Edmund C. Buckley, Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in the following terms: -
Our congratulations and thanks for excellent tracking and co-operation in support of to-day’s manned orbital flight
As the honorable senator has said, the Department of Supply mans two tracking stations - one at Muchea in Western Australia and one near Woomera. Muchea is a command station. The difference between a command station and other types of stations is that a command station would be able, after contact with Cape Canaveral, to bring down a space capsule if, in the opinion of the command station, the astronaut’s condition warranted that action. It is not without interest to know that there are only two command stations in the world outside the United States. One of them is in Australia. As soon as the space ship came within range the command station was in voice contact with it, as was Woomera, and was also in telemetry contact which enabled the men at the station to gauge the health of the astronaut. If, in their opinion, anything had gone wrong, they could have brought the capsule down in a position somewhere off the Queensland coast. I understand that, as could be expected, the Royal Australian Navy was co-operating to the full and would have retrieved the capsule had that been necessary.
– Has the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization observed that the appointment of Dr. O. H. Frankel to a very important position in the C.S.I.R.O. has been widely approved? Is he aware that the Parliament and the people have unbounded confidence in the organization because of its achievements and look forward to learning of even greater successes in the future? Will the Minister be so good as to examine the sample of burr that I have on my desk so that he may note that the barbs on Noogoora and Bathurst burr are like eiderdown in comparison with the prickles on this sample? Because the burr, a sample of which I have before me, is spreading rapidly along the coastal regions of Queensland, including the Cairns area, will the Minister submit the sample to the C.S.I.R.O. in order to ascertain its class and whether it is so noxious as to warrant total destruction by local authorities and State governments?
– I am very glad to hear that the appointment of Dr. Frankel has received wide approval. I believe it merits wide approval because he is a man whose whole career has been devoted to science and, in particular, to grass. I suppose it is still true, and always will be, that grass is the most important and valuable crop grown by any country at any time anywhere. T am also glad to hear from Senator Benn of the confidence with which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is regarded. I believe that its past achievements and the work that it is doing at present merit that confidence from the Australian people. It is staffed by a self-sacrificing and dedicated band of men who have already achieved great things for Australia.
I will submit to the organization a sample of the weed that has been mentioned by Senator Benn, and ask for a report on its make-up. Of course, the banning of it or the declaring of it as a noxious weed would be the responsibility of the State Department of Agriculture and Stock; but if the report suggests that it is a menace I have no doubt that the State department will take that report into consideration. I thank Senator Benn for the sample and hope that we will be able to eradicate the weed before it sticks into too many people.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation in a position to inform the Senate what stage the proposed civil aerodrome at Albury in New South Wales has reached?
– The Albury City Council, with financial assistance from the Commonwealth through the local ownership plan, is undertaking the provision of an airport at Albury that will be able to cope with types of aircraft up to the Fokker Friendship type. Work has not progressed as rapidly as was thought possible originally. The Department of Civil Aviation made pro vision this year for an amount of about £15,000, but because of slowness in the tests undertaken to establish the soil qualities before the runways were put down we will not be spending anything like that amount this year. The design work has proceeded satisfactorily. The department co-operated quite actively with the council in that respect. Also, design work on engineering has gone forward. It is hoped that, as a good deal of the initial investigation has been completed, the work will proceed with greater speed than in the past. For the information of the honorable senator, the estimated cost is £63,000. Under the local ownership plan, the Commonwealth will accept responsibility for approximately 50 per cent, of that amount.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Has the committee of inquiry completed its investigations of the circumstances surrounding the loss of a large passenger aircraft in Botany Bay in the latter part of last year? Further, if the investigations have been completed, is it the intention of the Minister to table the report of the committee in the Parliament in the near future?
– The procedure in this case will be identical with that followed in the Mackay air crash some two years ago. I think that procedure gave complete satisfaction to all those who were interested. Mr. Justice Spicer has been appointed as the chairman of a board of inquiry. The assessors have not been appointed yet, but I expect to be in a position to announce those appointments quite soon. The departmental investigation, about which the honorable senator inquired specifically, is proceeding. The honorable senator will appreciate, possibly more readily than many others, that this investigation, because it covers a larger aircraft and more complex systems, will take longer than the investigation of the crash of the Friendship at Mackay. The departmental experts estimate that this inquiry will take six weeks longer than the previous one. It involves a good deal of scientific investigation, which is being carried out by the Defence Standards Laboratories and the Aeronautical Research Laboratories. As soon as the report of the committee has been completed and the board of inquiry has been established, the public inquiry will proceed. When that public inquiry comes to an end, a report will be tabled and made available to the public.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Has he read a statement by the Premier of South Australia, published in yesterday’s Adelaide “Advertiser”, to the effect that the South Australian Government has already spent £100,000 on investigations concerning foundations for the proposed Chowilla storage dam? Can the Minister say whether an early conference between the Commonwealth and the States concerned is planned? Can he advise the Senate of the present position of the negotiations?
– I do not doubt that the South Australian Government has spent £100,000 on preliminary investigational work in respect of the Chowilla dam. I was in South Australia a few months ago and I saw the nature of the work that was being carried out. A good deal of testing and survey work was involved, so I do not doubt that the amount mentioned has been spent. I thought that more than that amount might have been spent. The honorable senator asked about the arrangements for a conference. When the Commonwealth Government received a report from the River Murray Commission, the Prime Minister stated that the Commonwealth would be willing to contribute one-quarter of the cost of the work, provided that the scheme came within the framework of the River Murray Commission. He suggested that a conference of Premiers be convened to discuss the matter, at which he would attend personally. Prior to the recent Australian Loan Council and Premiers’ Conference meetings, the Prime Minister communicated with the Premiers, reminding them of his previous offer and asking whether it would be convenient for them to hold a conference during the time the Premiers’ Conference was being held. The Premiers replied that this suited them and they were agreeable to the holding of such a conference. However, the circumstances were that the- Loan Council and Premiers’ Conference meetings took a good deal longer than was expected. Time ran short and there was a sort of general agreement between the Premiers that time was not available to deal with this important matter as it should be dealt with. Therefore, the conference was deferred with a general understanding that it would perhaps be held in the middle of March.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government m the Senate. Is the Minister aware that from 31st May all South Africans in Britain will become aliens? Has the Government found time to study the implications of the South African bill, tabled last week in the British Parliament, which will repeal a large number of acts which cover many subjects including the Statute of Westminster, the Nationality Act, coinage, shipping and diplomatic immunities? As all these questions are of vital concern to Australia, what action, if any, does the Australian Government propose to take? If the Minister is unable to answer this question, will he ask the Prime Minister to prepare a statement setting out Australia’s attitude?
– This matter has been before the Government, and the Government has made its conclusions upon it. I prefer not to attempt to answer the question without notice because of its complications, and therefore I ask that it be put on the notice-paper.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I mention again the sirex wasp to which reference was made yesterday. Is the Minister able to give me any detailed information of any action taken by the C.S.I.R.O. to combat the pest in Tasmania after this matter was brought to the attention of the Senate last year? Can he tell me whether the present attention that is being given to this matter by the Commonwealth and State departments of health is being directed in Tasmania only to research, or whether their efforts are being directed to the prevention of the spread of this plague in Tasmania?
– I am not aware of any research by the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization into sirex wasp elimination, nor have I heard until recently of any request to the organization by any government that this should take place. The research that will probably be undertaken by the C.S.I.R.O. - and which will be undertaken if the organization is definitely requested to undertake it - will, as Senator Wade said in the Senate yesterday, be largely carried out, subject to the concurrence of the Tasmanian Forestry Department, in the north-east area of Tasmania and will be directed towards finding out things that are not known at all about the wasp. These include the type of planting and soil that may cause a tree to resist the sirex wasp’s attack; why the sirex wasp, when it lays its eggs, always secretes a certain fungus, which apparently kills the tree; whether the wasp is subject to control by insecticide, and a number of other scientific facts. The prevention of the spread of the sirex wasp will not be the function of the C.S.I.R.O. but will be that of Senator Wade’s department. Since the Department of Health is responsible for quarantine and matters of that nature, it will - I speak subject to correction by the Minister - be responsible for eradication, the removal of infected trees and work of that kind.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate recollect that some three years ago application was made by the Hawke Government of West Australia for permission to export iron ore with a view to concluding a contract with Japan for the export of iron ore and partly treated ore? Does he also recollect that, at the time, the Commonwealth Government found there were not sufficient reserves of iron ore, and that it rejected the application of the Hawke Government? Is it a fact that within twelve months of that time, and after a further survey of the iron ore reserves of Australia, the Government was of the opinion that there were ample supplies, and approval was given for the export of iron ore to Japan and other countries? Can the Minister say whether contracts have been concluded between Australia and Japan, or any other nation, in respect of the purchase of Australian iron ore? Has any application been made to the Commonwealth Government regarding quantities of ore in connexion with such contracts? Can the
Minister state the quantities of iron ore exported from Australia between the time when the Government reversed its decision not to permit the export of ore and the present date?
– Senator Cooke does not state the situation fairly. There were applications made by Mr. Hawke, when he was Premier of Western Australia, which were declined, and there were applications made by Mr. Brand after he became Premier of the State. They also were declined, the situation being that this was a matter of major importance requiring a good deal of deliberation. Again, Senator Cooke is wrong when he says that the embargo was lifted because it was thought that there were ample supplies of iron ore in Australia. That position was not clear at the time the change in policy was made. The honorable senator will recall that the change in policy involved only a partial lifting of the embargo, the general idea being that people who found new iron ore deposits would be entitled to apply for permission to export portion only of the new deposits. The background of the change of policy was the desire to encourage exploration for iron ore and to see whether we had bigger deposits than were then known to exist, there still being a reservation that only portion of any newlyfound deposit could be exported.
The lifting of the embargo has had results which I think could fairly be described as dramatic. The great quantities of iron ore that have been discovered since the embargo was lifted have exceeded the quantities that any one thought were available at the time the change was made. As to the specific transactions that have occurred, if Senator Cooke does not mind, I shall ask for that part of the question to be placed on the notice-paper. I know that applications have been made, but I do not think it would be right to trust to my memory of what has actually been done.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade tell the Senate what progress has been made in the provision of chilling facilities for Australian lamb and beef in Japan or neighbouring countries to cater for the potential market in those countries?
- Senator Lillico was good enough to tell me that he intended to ask this question, so I obtained the necessary information from the Minister for Trade. The Government is actively examining proposals for establishing warehousing facilities overseas. However, it should be noted that perishable and refrigerated goods do not come within the scope of the schemes being examined. The Government is not moving directly towards the establishment of cold storage facilities as it considers that those could best be handled by the export interests concerned, perhaps in co-operation with the refrigerating interests. The Government is aware of the importance of overseas cold storage facilities being made available to Australian exporters and would be ready to consult the industries interested in the problem to see whether there were practical ways in which it could help.
– I address the following questions to the Minister for the Navy: - Is it a fact that the Royal Australian Navy cruiser “ Hobart “ was partially refitted at a cost of £1,500,000 in 1954 and has since been in disuse in Sydney Harbour? Also, is it a fact that the cruiser has now been sold to a Japanese scrap metal firm for the sum of £170,000? What was the cost of caretaking the cruiser from 1954 to the date of sale? How does the Government justify the heavy loss of public moneys that has been incurred in this series of events?
– The cruiser “ Hobart “, which took part in the 1939-45 war, was partially refitted, according to my recollection, in 1951 and not in 1954. She was brought forward for refitting when the Korean War was being fought because it was believed that should war continue she would need to be recommissioned and be able to play a full and proper part in it. With the cessation of the Korean War work on the “ Hobart “ was “suspended.
I do not know and I do not think it would be possible to tell the honorable senator the cost of caretaking the “ Hobart “ specifically during the time she was in reserve in Sydney Harbour, because there is a number of ships in reserve and the caretaking is spread over those ships and is not specifically accounted for ship by ship. The cruiser has been sold through the Department of Supply. I do not know the actual sum which the Department of Supply received for the vessel, but the Minister for Supply would be able to give Senator Poke that information. At any rate, it was in the vicinity of what the honorable senator stated.
At the time of disposal, the cruiser was 24 years old. The reason for disposal was that military and naval opinion is that the reasonable life of a warship is from 20 to 22 years, after which large sums expended on putting in new equipment are unjustified because of the age of the hull. I do not think that, in “the light of this series of events, there has been any large waste of public money in connexion with the cruiser “ Hobart “. She played her full part in one war, she was refitted to take part in another war, and she has since been in reserve. If another war had broken out and had she been needed she could have been used.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that at the recent Premiers’ Conference at least one State Premier asked the Commonwealth Government to set up a committee to investigate ways and means of assisting the development of secondary education in Australia. If so, was that request supported unanimously by the State Premiers? If it was not, will the Prime Minister take steps to indicate publicly which States do not require any such assistance from the Commonwealth Government? If the request was unanimous, in view of the fact that the Prime Minister has told this Parliament on several occasions that it is not within the scope of the Commonwealth Government to interfere in any way in secondary education unless the State Premiers request assistance, will he now set up or move in the direction of appointing a committee to inquire into what assistance is required for secondary education?
– My recollection of what happened at the Premiers’ Conference is that a request was made not for a committee to inquire into secondary education, but for a committee to inquire into primary, secondary and other forms of education, and that the request was made with the primary purpose of obtaining from the Commonwealth additional funds for the States. I notice that Senator Anderson has put on the notice-paper a question in relation to this very topic. I heard the Prime Minister’s reply te the request. He emphasized the extraordinary increase that has occurred in expenditure on education by all States during the period that we have been in office. The Menzies Government has so increased the payments made to the States that the States have been able to raise their expenditure on education - speaking from memory - to about three or four times the level of the expenditure a comparatively few years ago. In addition, the Commonwealth has embarked on a universities programme. My recollection is that the Commonwealth subvention to that last year was of the order of £14,000,000. The Commonwealth also has under consideration at present a report from -a committee inquiring into the condition of teaching hospitals throughout Australia. The Prime Minister, very properly, said that we had a good deal concerning education before us.
We have been very generous to the States with the funds that we have made available to them. Indeed, that generosity is the direct cause of a great improvement in educational standards throughout Australia in recent years. Although the States have been given great sums to improve educational facilities, they are not fairly acknowledging the great assistance the Commonwealth has given them and now are asking for additional funds. Everybody has a tremendous interest in education, but we can cut from the cake only the number of slices that the size of the cake will permit. We have always adopted the principle that it is for each State to allocate from its total resources the proportion which it thinks it should apply to education, and we have made the total amount provided for the States much larger than was originally envisaged.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Last year the Australian Democratic Labour Party announced a policy of establishing a Pacific confederation, which was described by the press and the Opposition in not very flattering terms. Now that the Japanese
Prime Minister, Mr. Ikeda, has suggested a somewhat similar Pacific confederation to counter difficulties arising from the European Common Market, will the Government examine the policy with a view to its possible implementation?
– I am not quite familiar with the latest development upon this matter. I am not familiar with the statement of the Japanese Prime Minister, which is the key to Senator Cole’s question. Senator Cole would be the first to admit that a common market for the Pacific area would have to be based on foundations very different from those that apply in Europe because the essence of the European Common Market is the elimination of tariff barriers between member nations. If tariff barriers between nations in our part of the world were eliminated the effect on our manufacturing industries would be pretty devastating.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer explain how the reduction in income tax, retrospective to 1st July last, will affect individual pay envelopes? I understand that eight months’ rebate of tax is to be given in the four months ending 30th June this year. Does this mean that the actual cash in a person’s pay envelope will be increased for the next four months and1 then, from 1st July next, there will appear to be a reduction in his pay, or will the full rebate be claimed when the taxpayer submits his annual return of income?
– As far as payasyouearn taxpayers are concerned, from the beginning of March the reduction will be commensurate with a total rebate of 5 per cent, spread over the entire year. Assuming that a similar rebate applies in the next financial year it is obvious that the actual amount of rebate as shown in the pay envelopes of that year will not be the same as that during the balance of this financial year.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation advise me how many flights by Viscount aircraft have arrived late at
Perth airport during the past twelve months? Is it a fact that the majority of those late arrivals resulted from the aircraft being forced down at Kalgoorlie? Is this an indication that this type of aircraft is unsuitable for such a long flight? If so, when may travellers to Western Australia expect suitable aircraft to be placed on the PerthAdelaide run?
– I am afraid that I cannot, without considerable research, inform the honorable senator precisely how many flights into Perth or any other airport have been late during any stated period. It is, however, true that there has been a number of late arrivals, as invariably occurs in any air transport system and, indeed, in most transport systems. Some of those late arrivals have been caused by unfavorable weather forcing aircraft to land at Kalgoorlie.
As for the remainder of the honorable senator’s question, 1 am sure he is well aware that both airline operators to Western Australia have recently taken action to stimulate air traffic to and from that State. The two operators will place as many Electra flights on the east-west run as are justified by the traffic offering. I noticed in yesterday’s “West Australian” an announcement by the manager of AnsettA.N.A. concerning the number of special flights that company proposes to operate during the next few weeks in order to cope with a greater traffic demand that will occur during that period for various reasons. That announcement did not surprise me. TransAustralia Airlines proposes to take similar action. It is fair to say that both operators are very conscious of the need to provide the best service possible to Perth, and they are taking every step to see that any reasonable traffic demand is met.
I have already made a statement regarding replacement aircraft that the two operators are considering. The essence of that statement was that after June, 1962, both operators may lodge orders for pure jet aircraft for domestic runs, but that those aircraft will not be commissioned before 30th June, 1964. Already the chairmen of both organizations - not the Government - have publicly stated that when those aircraft are introduced in the Australian network they will be used on the Perth run.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. In view of the urgent necessity to provide adequate housing for physically handicapped persons, including spastics, will the Minister consider extending to cover organizations concerned with the welfare of such people the provisions of the act granting subsidies to homes for the aged? In other words, will the Government grant a subsidy of £2 for £1 to organizations that erect homes and hostels for disabled persons?
– The question involves a matter of policy and I am not prepared to answer it without notice. This matter will be considered when other policy matters are being considered.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the large amount of money from the Australian Loan Council, petrol tax collections and other sources that is allocated through the States to local government bodies, such as shire councils and city councils. I ask the Minister whether the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral makes any check on whether such moneys are spent for the purposes for which they are allocated, and, if he does not, whether the State Auditors-General have any authority to audit, the books of local government bodies, such as municipal and city councils, to see that moneys that have been obtained by them from the Loan Council for specific works, from the petrol tax and from other sources, are spent for the purposes for which they have been allocated. Would such a check show whether the local government bodies were financial or on the verge of bankruptcy?
– My recollection of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act is that the Commonwealth makes money available to the States on the condition that a certain proportion of it is spent on what we loosely call country roads, and that the money is spent by the State governments, not by the local government authorities. The State governments are the spending authorities. My recollection of the provisions of the act is that the State governments and the Commonwealth Government decide on the expenditure of the money in accordance with the terms of the legislation. I do not think this matter relates to municipalities.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, relates to oil exploration in Australia and the connexion such exploration may have with underground water structures. I am sure that the Minister will agree that, in addition to Australia’s objectives in the search for oil, the search for permanent inland water is important and could have a dramatic influence upon Australia’s future development. Is it a fact that the Minister, in statements on 8th January and 30th January, referred to applications for oil search subsidy involving about £339,000 in the first instance and £187,000 in the second, and that in his statement on 30th January reference was made to the setting up of a sedimentary basin study group within the Bureau of Mineral Resources to collect all available data on the sedimentary basins? Does every company that receives a licence to explore and drill for oil and gas supply the Department of National Development with all information relating to water structures gained while drilling? If the companies do not do so, can words be written into every contract making it a condition of the granting of a subsidy for oil search that, if and when water structures are found, a certain sample proportion of that water must be brought to the surface and submitted to the Department of National Development to be supplied to the appropriate study groups, such as the Water Resources Council? Is the Minister aware that this suggestion is in conformity with the procedure that has been carried out voluntarily by oil search organizations in other parts of the world, notably Saudi Arabia?
– I do not recollect the particular subsidies to which Senator Anderson referred, but I have no doubt that what he said is correct. Applications for subsidy are coming in continually and, so that there will be no doubt and no misunderstanding about the matter, each time I approve subsidies I make a public announcement so that every one knows what is going on. Part of the oil search pro gramme is the establishment of a bureau to examine all the relevant information on sedimentary basins throughout Australia. That will be a joint Commonwealth-State effort, aided by the French experts that we have. It will really be a research group to examine all the information on separate sedimentary basins.
But the subject of water was the main point of the honorable senator’s question and I shall outline the situation. We as a government are now subsidizing every drilling operation which is sound and which is approved by the department, up to the stage at which oil is found. Thereafter it is the responsibility of the company concerned. Part of those arrangements, of course, is that all relevant information becomes available to my department. So, it has knowledge and information about the cores of all holes that are drilled under subsidy throughout Australia. I think the State mines departments would have that information in respect of holes that are not subsidized. So the geological information is available.
This subsidy legislation contains a provision that if the Bureau of Mineral Resources considers it desirable the bureau may pay costs, subsidize or get information where the drilling operation is for water, because drilling for water throws up geological information which may be of interest in the search for oil. All these things are being woven together in the two organizations. In consultation with the State governments we have established an underground water resources council, and we are now in the process of seeking the views of the State governments on a total water resources organization. I believe that the honorable senator need have no fear that whatever information becomes available is not known. I hope that as a result of these new organizations that we are creating information will be put on the permanent record as it becomes known, so that there will be knowledge of what is available.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, relates to questions asked by Senator Laught and Senator Wright about the sirex wasp. I ask the
Minister whether he is aware that the sirex wasp was first noticed in Tasmania in the packing material of prefabricated houses imported from a Scandinavian country just after the Second World War and that since then radiata pine forests have been devastated by the” depredations of this wasp in Tasmania. One forest near the Hobart airport at Llanherne is a very sorry monument to the depredations of the wasp. Has the C.S.I.R.O. been assisting the Tasmanian Forestry Department in its efforts to contain the affected part? What is known of the way in which the wasp is now spreading? Because of the serious view that is now being taken of this matter because of the spreading of the sirex wasp to mainland States, will the Minister consider the preparation of a full report on the activities of the wasp so that the general public, boy scouts, youth clubs, silviculturists, foresters and scenery preservation bodies can assist in waging a frontal battle against the spread of this wasp, similar to that which was waged, I believe successfully, against the house fly in China? If the Chinese can eradicate a pest, there is no reason why we should not be able to do so in Australia.
– I am aware, because I have been told by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, that the sirex wasp was first discovered in Tasmania and that it was brought there from either an American or a Scandinavian country. I have seen the devastation that the wasp has wrought in pine plantations, particularly near the Hobart aerodrome. To my knowledge, the C.S.I.R.O. has not been giving any considerable assistance to the Tasmanian Forestry Department because, again as far as I know, that department has not requested any considerable assistance. The department has imported a predator to see whether it will control the sirex wasp. The Tasmanian Agricultural Department also has imported a predator. It does not seem to me that the Tasmanian Government is particularly disturbed by the ravages of this wasp. I remember the Premier of Tasmania saying that, in his opinion, Tasmania could live with the wasp provided good silviculture and husbandry were practised in the State. Nevertheless, it is pleasing that an attempt will be made to eradicate the wasp, using all the resources available in Australia. Senator O’Byrne has suggested that publicity be given to this matter in an endeavour to show people what the wasp is like, so that everybody can cooperate in the endeavour to wipe it out. That is a good suggestion. It is not one which the C.S.I.R.O. would put into practice, but it is one to which the State departments responsible for State forests could well pay attention.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Senate of the present position of the project for a jet airport at Tullamarine, near Melbourne? What is the probable date of commencement of flying operations from Tullamarine?
– I have nothing to add to the statement on this matter that I made some time ago when I received a Victorian deputation, headed by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. The statement I made then was given fairly wide publicity in Victoria. I said that I was unable to give any assurances about the date of commencement of operations. I pointed out that an important factor was the type of aircraft which the domestic airline operators would use in their re-equipment programmes, and I said that they would not be making a decision on that matter, until some time after 30th June of this year. I went on to say that the Tullamarine airport project would not be considered again by the Government until later in this year. That is still the position.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, prior to the last general election, ran a series of programmes called “ The Candidates “, in which candidates in the various electorates were invited to appear on television and address the electors? As these programmes provided a great service to democracy by allowing the public to see and hear the people for whom they were asked to vote, will the Postmaster-General commend the Australian Broadcasting Commission for its initiative and suggest that similar pro« grammes be used in future elections?
– In general, I can agree with the honorable senator that these programmes rendered a service to democracy, because I believe the people should, as far as possible, have the privilege of seeing and bearing those who offer themselves -for election. I am not sure, however, that it would be in the best interests of some candidates to accept the use of those facilities. The matter of broadcasting similar programmes during future elections is one entirely for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It has statutory rights and obligations. I am sure that the PostmasterGeneral would not seek to impose his will upon the commission in a matter such as this.
– My question also is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. By way of preface, I refer to remarks reported to have been made by Dr. J. R. Darling, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, at a conference on mass media held at the University of New England in January last. In making a powerful plea for a long-term scheme to provide financially for the commission, somewhat along the lines of the schemes used to assist the universities of Australia, Dr. Darling said it was difficult for the commission to be efficient in unsuitable buildings and with inadequate capital. Has the Postmaster-General made a study of Dr. Darling’s remarks? If so, what is the result? Will the Minister direct his colleague’s attention to the necessity to rectify the appalling, rabbit-warren-like conditions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s installations in the city of Adelaide, from which stations 5CL, 5AN and Channel 2 are controlled and largely serviced, and from which these radio stations operate under great difficulty?
– I can reply to Senator Laught only in general terms. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has longrange plans for the improvement of its facilities in all the capital cities. Those plans envisage the integration of radio and television services in one building in each of the cities. I cannot give the honorable senator an undertaking that there are plans for the immediate improvement of the facilities in Adelaide, but I can assure him that plans are being made to bring the facilities of the commission eventually up to a standard worthy of a capital city such as Adelaide.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Health, relates to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. Is it a fact that this committee is not called together frequently, nor at regular intervals? Is it true that committee meetings are held only as often as is considered necessary to deal with applications received for the inclusion of drugs and medicinal preparations in the list of pharmaceutical benefits? Is the Minister aware that the tardiness of this committee in considering applications for additions to the list of pharmaceutical benefits is the cause of considerable concern to honorable members and honorable senators who have referred cases to it, and also the cause of considerable concern to the medical profession? Will the Minister, at an appropriate time, table in the Senate the dates and times of the meetings held by this committee during the last two years? Will he call for a report on an application to add Prednisolone tablets to the list, which application was made to the Department of Health by me on 29th March, 1961, on behalf of a constituent? This application was rejected and subsequently was resubmitted by Senator McCallum on my behalf during my absence overseas. Will the Minister call also for a report on an application made by me to the department, dated 30th October, 1961, regarding £he drug Dilantin syrup, which application has not yet been determined by the committee?
– Senator Anderson has asked a series of question which, I am afraid, I can answer only in general terms. I have been asked about the work of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. So that the Senate can appreciate the work of that committee, I think I should remind honorable senators of its composition. It consists of six medical practitioners, chosen from a panel of ten submitted to the Minister by the British Medical Association, the name of which, as from 1st January of this year, has been changed to the Australian Medical Association. One member of the committee is a pharmacist nominated by the pharmaceutical guild, another is a phar- macologist, and another is a pharmacist from the Department of Health. The complete independence of the committee is shown by the fact that it chooses its own chairman. These men are leaders in their profession, and are chosen for their skills and integrity.
The committee met in March and November of last year, and I understand that three meetings are planned for the present year. There certainly has been no tardiness in the committee’s approach to its responsibilities. The ever-increasing number of drugs of great value to the health of the nation coming on to the market demands that a good deal of research must be undertaken and advice obtained from specialist bodies such as the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians before the committee can be in a position to make recommendations to the Minister. In view of the great work that is required before these people can have a meeting, their approach to the problem could never be regarded as tardy. I think the first drug to which Senator Anderson referred - the name of which I cannot pronounce - is synthetic cortisone. If he would be good enough to place on the notice-paper the portion of his question relating to specific drugs. I shall obtain for him a written reply.
Debate resumed from 21st February (vide page 72), on motion by Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan-
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.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania [12.7].- When the debate ws adjourned last night I was directing the attention of honorable senators to the lack of any guidance in the speeches of two of the leading members of Cabinet in the Senate. I had pointed out that early in his Speech, His Excellency said that this is a time of great tensions in international relations. He mentioned the principles upon which Australia’s inter national policy was based, the first of which is that we should be faithful and contributing members of the United Nations, upholding the principles of its charter. This is a time when the leaders of our Government should take all of the people of Australia into their confidence about international matters. There is no shadow of doubt that another world war would be so devastating that we would be annihilated, yet on an important occasion such as this, this all-important matter is evaded by the Government. Let none of us be foolish enough to believe that air raid shelters and other’ safety precautions against atomic warfare that are being taught in various schools will have any worth-while effect.
If a world war breaks out between the major nations thermo-nuclear weapons will be used, and that will be curtains for us. We have to face up to the seriousness of this threat to mankind. Having this in the back of our minds, what efforts should we make to face honorably and with fortitude the great problems that are threatening to take mankind willy-nilly into a third world war? First, the Government should reaffirm that its policy is unwavering support of the United Nations. The process of disintegration of the United Nations is taking place in various parts of the world. We have witnessed the Suez Canal fiasco; we have seen the situation that has arisen in the Congo; we know what happened and what is still happening over Cuba; and we have seen the situation that has existed and has not yet been settled over Guiana and Goa. Also, right on our doorstep, a situation has developed over West New Guinea.
Unfortunately, as I view the whole scene, transgressions of the great principles are taking place almost each week. Each transgression makes the previous one seem not as bad, and the next one seems not as bad as it would have been had it been in isolation. This is a very bad atmosphere and leads to an unhealthy state of mind. I believe that the Government is not strong enough in its declaration of policy. It is certainly lacking in an important sphere, that is, informing the people of this country what it is doing about these problems. I want to make the point strongly that the United Nations, because it is a conglomeration and accumulation of human beings, will always make errors. A human being is always liable to error, and both individually and collectively basic errors will occur. The only way in which man has survived his liability to error has been to gain by past mistakes, to remember them and, if possible, not to commit them more than once.
The United Nations has been through a difficult period, and uninformed people say that it is going broke because some of the member countries are defaulting in their payments. To my mind that is a challenge to this Government to take up the cudgels on behalf of the United Nations, to reaffirm the great principles embodied in its charter, and to get- the Australian people right behind the effort to take up Australia’s full share of the bonds that are being issued to finance the operations of the organization. Many loans that have been floated in this country have been oversubscribed by men of goodwill who are patriotic and believe that the loans were designed for the development of this country. I believe that the same principle applies to the financing of the activities of the United Nations.
Instead of a vague mention being made of the necessity for supplying funds for the continuation of the activities of the United -Nations, this should be made the subject of front-page headlines and it should be continually emphasized by the leaders of our country. This is sadly lacking in the Speech that His Excellency made to Parliament regarding the future activities of the Government, particularly in international affairs. As His Excellency said, the Parliament meets at a time when there are still great tensions in international relations. Because of the lack of a definite and clearcut policy, and because of the policy of drift that has been followed by the Government in international affairs, we find the situation that has been developing in regard to the Dutch and Indonesian dispute over territory that is so close to Australia. The United Nations Charter provides machinery for the referring of such disputes to that body, but because of vested interests on one side or the other that has not been done. The Indonesians, for their part, believe that they have an historical claim to the territory, and the Dutch, for their’ part, take the attitude that they have been there for a long time, that it is a good investment and that what they have they would like to hold. The machinery of the United Nations has never been used fully to settle the dispute. Aus tralia could have taken the initiative, and should have done so, in having the dispute fully aired at the United Nations.
The full strength of that body, which in the final analysis represents the greatest strength, if we are to survive as a species, because it is moral strength, could have been brought to bear. Instead, as has happened so often, we seem to be taking the line that the fellow with the big stick is going to win anyway, and so we should get on the band wagon with him. I think it is a shocking thing to wait and see whether a strong country intends to go a certain way, and then to say, “Well, that seems to be where the strength is. We will go with it.” That is perhaps the way to save your skin, but if we are to exist in this Asian sphere, the time has come for us to give a moral lead. Whether it is at the cost of additional financial assistance or additional worry for our country, it is our responsibility to show that our form of society, our civilization and our approach to moral problems are firmly established. This Government has failed to give a moral lead in helping to solve a problem that is so close to us.
Similar remarks could be made of the Government’s attitude to the European Common Market. The Australian people are not well informed on the implications of the Common Market for this country. The probable results of Britain’s application to join the Common Market and the alternative arrangements that we may have to make should be explained to all sections of the Australian public, because the whole of our economy will be affected. There may be improvisations, methods of expedience, or forms of bargaining, barter or agreement which could alleviate for some sections of our community the full effects of Britain’s entry into the Common Market. The people in this country who are likely to be affected by Britain’s decision should be informed beforehand of what to expect at the worst.
Reference has been made in some quarters to the possibility of forming a Malaysian economic federation. Let us consider that matter. An honorable senator stated earlier to-day that we could perhaps arrange liaison with Japan with the object of breaking down tariffs and trade barriers. As I see the position, Australian secondary industry would go out of existence in a very short time if the Japanese had full access to our markets for the products of manufacturing industries. There is practically no field in which we could continue to produce goods for consumption, either in Australia or overseas, if we had to compete with Japanese standards on an open market. In consequence, we would have to revert again to the position of hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Asian countries. On the other hand, if we are isolated from the markets provided by the people of Europe - and it would appear that we shall be isolated from the American markets, to which we have only limited access now - where will we find the economic balance to enable us to carry on such a federation as that suggested?
Our nearest white neighbours, our kith and kin in New Zealand, number only about 1,500,000 people, or a potential market of approximately the same proportions as that provided by the city of Sydney. In Papua and New Guinea there is a very limited population with whom we could trade because of the inability of the native people to earn very much more than a bare subsistence wage. It might be possible for us to sell some rice and lap-laps, and perhaps a few trinkets, but the demand from that area would not be very great and would not make a significant impact on the Australian economy as a substitute for the present trading arrangements that we have with other parts of the world. If we turn to Malaya, we find there a population of 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 people, with standard’s that are much lower relatively than ours. The capacity of the people of Malaya to buy our goods in sufficient quantities to keep our economy buoyant is very doubtful.
We would have to by-pass Indonesia. Because of what I regard as a long record of faulty foreign policy, the Indonesians would not, in my opinion, be over-anxious to do a lot of trade with us. More or less by their own choice, they are trying to become self-contained or to trade within certain trading groups. Therefore, the field for common market arrangements in Asia is very limited so far as the possibility of maintaining our present standards, or extending them, is concerned. India, of course, is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, but I believe that, because of our faulty external affairs policy, our relations with India are not as good as they should be. Our policy has alienated that little spark of brotherhood, of Empire or of Commonwealth, which previously could have resulted in much closer co-operation on the part of India, from the trading angle and from every other angle, than is the case at the present time.
– Yes. I think that the support of a military dictatorship in Pakistan has alienated Indian co-operation.
– Since when has there been support of a military dictatorship in Pakistan?
– For the last three or four years - since the military coup took place, resulting in military people gaining control.
– In what sense has there been support?
– There has been support in every way. We approve of the military regime. Our representation there has given its support.
– Do you say that if we were hostile to Pakistan we could make friends with India?
– We do not expect those two nations to make friends of each other, but before the coup took place in Pakistan there was an agreement to live and let live, to co-exist, where as under the present state of affairs friction is growing.
– What are the specific instances of Australian mistakes in external policy?
– I ask that the crossexamination take place a little later. The important point that I am making-
– The point of utmost importance which I am making is that we in this country, as part of the British Empire early in the piece and now as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, traditionally have had protection through our various trade agreements and our shipping lanes and have been able to build up a standard of living a long way from the source of inspiration for that standard which was to be found in Britain and on the Continent. Although there has been no geographical change, economic circumstances are changing rapidly. In my opinion, the foreign policy of this Government, which should be taking a much more serious view of the situation and should be taking much more effective action to cultivate friendship with our near neighbours with a view to future trade, is disastrous.
– Do you think Mr. Calwell’s foreign policies are right?
– I shall read Mr. Calwell’s policy. He said -
The Australian Labour Party stands for the maintenance of Australia as an integral part of the Commonwealth of Nations, with complete cooperation with other units of the Commonwealth of Nations-
– Including Pakistan?
– Yes, including Pakistan, with its present unfortunate military dictatorship. Pakistan is a very unhappy bedmate. That is my own personal view. Mr. Calwell’s policy statement continued - in order to ensure joint action against aggression. We wish to strengthen Australia and the Commonwealth and the United Nations.
The Chifley Labour Government helped to set up the United Nations, and Labour gives it, as always, unwavering support. We believe in extending and widening the agencies of the United Nations Organization, such as U.N.E.S.C.O., so as to provide more assistance for the peoples of the underprivileged countries of Asia and Africa, where hundreds of millions of human beings go hungry every day, and where disease and misery still abound, in spite of all man’s vaunted progress and the increased scientific knowledge at man’s command. We will extend the Colombo Flan. We believe that all nations should be members of the United Nations.
– Do you support India’s unilateral action in Goa?
– The extract I have just read follows the pattern of the Labour Party’s policy. In my opinion, it was because of the weakness of this country’s stand in not only the United Nations but also other fields, that the Goan situation arose at all. Let me read the following passage from the Charter of the United Nations -
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined - to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in bur lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights-
Human- rights include self-determination. Human rights are involved in the old policy of colonialism which was accepted in the last century but which is being challenged throughout the world to-day. The charter continues - in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women of nations large and small,
Let us take the situation in Goa. That arose, partly through our fault, because in the United Nations the matter was not given much more consideration and because much more pressure was not applied to find a solution.
– Who went into Goa?
– We were recreant to our trust when India went into Goa and claimed a bloodless victory.
– There were not many there to kill.
– It does not matter whether there was a small number or a lot of people there. It is the principle that was involved. Matters of principle are involved in the solution of these problems. To-day people of influence in high places think that the United Nations is a nuisance and that it is interfering, in other people’s business. If that state of the mind is allowed to exist we will get back to the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest and the thought that might is right. That in turn will take out of international affairs the spirit that was behind the establishment of the United Nations and will inevitably lead to a clash of the major powers without any moral appeal and without there being any machinery to try to prevent such an awful thing happening. We have seen on the part of the Australian Government not only a lack of leadership but also hesitation and a failure to oppose such developments as the policy pf apartheid in South Africa. Such an attitude is immoral. The Government, in implementing its. international policy, has not had the intestinal fortitude to stand and vote against that wretched policy which has been pursued by Verwoerd. How can we expect the members of our community to display the confidence they should have in our democratic processes, to have a sense of purpose and to try to sustain all that is worth preserving in our way of j;f- «.*.en We find immorality in international affairs? ‘ *
Another thing that is very damaging’ to the United Nations is the interpretation of the provisions for representation on the Security Council. How stupid our attitude must appear to thousands of millions of people throughout the world when we recognize Chiang Kai-shek as being the representative of China when obviously continental China should have a seat on the Security Council. The Republic of China inherited a place on that body. Are we fooling ourselves or the vast number of people throughout the world who are involved personally in these problems when we say that Chiang Kai-shek’s regime nominally is China and that therefore, as his regime is represented on the council, its opinions must prevail. In reality we are avoiding the issue. We are immoral; we will not face up to principles. That is where degeneration is occurring. We look at so many of these matters in the light of shortterm expediency. The Government is saying: “We are getting away with it. We have the numbers. It does not matter. The people have a short memory.” But the Government is building up a legacy which somebody will inherit, whether it be this generation or succeeding generations. As His Excellency said when delivering his Speech, there are great tensions in international relations. He pointed out that we should cultivate and maintain friendly and helpful relations with our neighbours. But we qualify the term “ our neighbours “. We think of our neighbours as being those who suit us economically or who perhaps can be of gain to us immediately. Those who do not suit us, we do not treat as neighbours. We treat them as something to avoid, like the plague. That type of attitude cannot last. It has no historical substance. It is not based on moral law or any other law. A group of people should not be able to say, “ We know that we must get on well with our neighbours, but we shall exclude these people because their country is a military dictatorship “. We equivocate in relation to great issues because the government of the day has not the fortitude to come to grips with them.
His Excellency said -
The Government believes that recovery in business activity and employment has been too slow.
When we direct attention to this matter, the only response that we can get from Government supporters is that some member of the Parliament in another place said something about 5 per cent, of unemployment. Has not the Government a responsibility? Have not Government supporters a responsibility to show the way out of this very serious situation wherein 140,000, 150,000, or maybe 200,000 people are affected by unemployment?
All the measures that the Government evolves to alleviate the situation are shortterm measures. This is another example of expediency. The Government claims, of course, that private enterprise can work out its own destiny. I do not believe that. I believe that private enterprise, left unassisted, would get into such a mess that it would be overwhelmed by public opinion. This Government provides assistance to private enterprise. Our good friend, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), follows that policy with the airlines.
– He guides them.
– That fs a charitable word. He guides the airlines to enable them to survive under the private enterprise system If he did not, we could say farewell to Ansett-A.N.A.; it would not survive. The fundamental reason for this is that Trans-Australia Airlines is a public service and its competitor is a private organization devoted to profit making. If profit does not come to private enterprise, it will not be interested in whether members of the public walk or crawl on their hands and knees.
– Trans-Australia Airlines makes a profit.
– Of course, it does, and the profit is paid into Consolidated Revenue. I believe that it should be devoted to restoring to the public the little services that were taken away. I refer to the provision of free newspapers, sweets to offset the effect upon the ears when aircraft are taking off and landing, more cups of tea - the number was reduced on certain trips - and free transport to and from airports. The abolition of the last-mentioned provision meant another 10s. to Ansett in respect of each passenger, because the public has to pay. All of these little services to the public put T.A.A. in the forefront. They have been gradually whittled away in an effort to provide the 10 per cent, return on capital that Ansett must pay to his shareholders.
– Are you not a shareholder in T.A.A.?
– Did you not advance some money?
– I have helped it all the way through, because I believe that, despite the shackles, it is a glowing example of a good organization conducted for the benefit of the people. It is a truly democratic organization. It is a great pity that Senator Paltridge was so generous towards the private airline. Had he not been so generous it would have been proved, much to the dismay of Government supporters, that a public enterprise conducted by men of goodwill, given inspiration and a higher purpose than the mere pursuit of profit, could produce something worth while. It would not follow the policy of getting in for its cut. It would not say, “ I’m all right, Jack “, and then get on with the business of making a profit. This is one of the barriers through which we must break. There is a challenge to us, whether we like it or not.
I mentioned earlier the Chinese who went out chasing house flies. I have not been to China, but I have read reports stating that that actually happened. The continental Chinese said, “We are plagued by house flies, which spread disease. They are a curse. Let us get stuck into them “. Every Tom, Dick and Harry - or, in the Chinese equivalents, Wang, Ming and Cheng - got out with fly sprays or fly swats, with the result that the number of flies in China was reduced tremendously. This was because the authorities got to the youth of the country. I do not think that it is brain-washing children to give them something to do and to teach them hygiene.
– What about bush flies?
– There are probably enough people in China to get rid of the bush flies. However, I do not want to get off the point. We have been linked traditionally with the European economic system, but we must face the fact that a divorcing process is going on as a result of members of the European Economic Community making agreements amongst themselves. We must face up to the future. There does not seem to be any desire on the part of the Government to take the people into its con fidence and let them know what is going on. Senator Henty said last night that it was a wonderful thing to be uncommitted. He said, “ We did not tell the people anything; therefore, we have an open cheque in relation to whatever measures we take. We had a victory at the polls completely uncommitted “.
– What a victory!
– Yes, because of the Communist votes that went to “ Killen the Magnificent”, as he was called.
– You ought to regard it as completely disreputable to say that Killen was elected by Communist votes when the Labour candidate got Communist votes in the ratio of four to one.
– The figures were given last night by Senator Henty. Only 95 of the total Communist preferences of 508 went to the Liberal candidate, but they were the votes that elected him.
– You got 400 of them.
– The point I make is that the votes that elected him were Communist preference votes. However, that is beside the point. Senator Henty said that it was good that the Government was uncommitted and could take whatever measures it liked when plans for full employment went awry. He said that if the housing situation became somewhat grave or the timber industry were depressed, the Government could take certain measures. He said it was wonderful to be uncommitted. But how are we to survive as a democratic economic unit if we use only make-shift measures and have no longrange planning?
The Government has had twelve years in power, but all it does is to plan from one year’s Budget to the next. It is a disgrace in this day and age that we provide for expenditure for only twelve months. At the end of a financial year the Service departments say, “We cannot go to bed with our surpluses. We had better spend them.” There is then a mad rush to get rid of unexpended amounts, because any surplus would go back to Consolidated Revenue and the departments would not have the benefit of it in the following year.
This is a practice that this Government inherited from the past, but, having had twelve years in office, it is utter stupidity when the Government fails to plan ahead. We should plan, not for the next three years, but for the next twenty years. Senator Wade knows as well as I do that if he, as Minister for Health, could only get his hands onto enough money, he could give effect to some of the magnificent plans of his highly efficient officers and improve the working of the Department of Health throughout Australia, but his hands are tied behind his back.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was outlining some of my views on the Government’s shortcomings. The people of Australia registered their disapproval of the Government in no uncertain way at the recent general election. They expect this new Parliament to give practical effect to their wishes. This Government’s record over the past twelve years shows that it has tended to disregard the obvious approaches that are needed for the wellbeing and advancement of Australia. It is perhaps opportune to point out that during the last twelve years under this Government we have had three distinct recessions, each of which affected disadvantageously people of good will who were putting initiative and ability into their efforts to develop some particular phase of the Australian economy. Through no fault of their own but because of a pre-determined policy on the part of the Government those people, who should have been sharing in a growing and prospering community, had their hopes and ambitions dashed to the ground. That was a tragic state of affairs. In many instances the persons concerned suffered physical breakdowns. Some had coronary occlusions. The health of others was affected in other ways because of the worry to which they were subjected. Many of them got into serious financial difficulties. It is a great national tragedy for men to suffer the disappointment and frustration of having their life’s work destroyed through causes not of their own making.
On three occasions in the last twelve years we have had a recession in this country due to the policies applied by the
Government. For how long must we continue to have this outdated cycle of boom and bust which is doing not only a disservice to this country but also is losing us influential friends in other countries? It is disgraceful for the Government to be so lacking of vision that it applies the economic principles of the 19th century to meet problems that arise in the middle of the 20th century. It is important for the Government to encourage people in business to plan ahead and to strive to lift their horizons. The idealist describes his goal as the light on the hill; the businessman describes his goal as stability with a large measure of security. But how can businessmen have confidence in the economy when the record shows that just around the corner there may be still another recession? It is said in business that survival rests with the slickest, but people who subscribe to that philosophy must remember that many other fundamental rules govern our living together as human beings. The basis of our democracy and civilization is Christianity. I do not want to preach to the Senate but I stress as strongly as possible the fact that to-day neighbourliness, brotherly love, charity, kindliness, tolerance and all the other great basic Christian virtues and teachings are at a discount for the simple reason that there is no profit in them.
Last night Senator Henty said that the Government was uncommitted; that it could meet crises as they arose; that the Government was not obliged to tell the people what it proposed to do because the people trusted it to take the necessary action to correct a situation as and when it arose. I do not think the people are satisfied with that policy. The Government may have power but, if I may say so, it is power without glory. How are the immediate problems facing Australia to be overcome? We face some very basic problems. The first is how to get the people back to work. It is stupid to say that it is wasteful to circulate additional money in the form of social service payments. Very few people in receipt of social service benefits save any money. All that they receive is immediately put back into circulation. The most elementary student of economics knows that when the pump is being primed and money is going into circulation, everybody will get his share in one way or another- in services or otherwise. So what harm does it do to increase social service payments? If we cannot put a space craft into orbit we can give a substantial amount of money to a section of the community that will spend it. We cannot afford to put a man into space. A space project, as well as being tremendously important strategically and scientifically, creates a tremendous amount of employment. It puts a lot of money into circulation. Indeed, the space programme is being used by America as a means of keeping the American economy afloat. We cannot afford to attempt to put a man into space, but an effective way of putting more money into circulation end of helping the economy is by increasing our social service commitments. Senator Henty said that it was shocking for the Australian Labour Party to suggest burdening the community with increased child endowment, widows’ pensions and age pensions. The Christian works of mercy are to look after the widows, children and aged and to bury the dead. We are getting away from the very things that have formed and consolidated our way of life. There is no profit in doing many of these things, and therefore the better way is to give a little to the unemployed people. The Government hopes that the unemployment problem will diminish, so there is more chance of it having to pay out less in social service payments by giving money to the unemployed than by giving it to children, widows and other recipients of social service benefits.
The guide to the standard of living and happiness in the community should be the contentment and well-being of the individual citizens. How can any community tolerate the amount of unhappiness and insecurity that must exist in every home in which the bread-winner is deprived of the dignity that comes with being able to be independent and to come home with his wages and pay his bills, and so hold the respect of his wife and children? I believe that that is more important than the money that can be earned by (having men at work. Having men at work is a means to an end. A man is not employed unless a profit can be made from his labour. On the other hand, very little can be produced unless labour is used in its production. In the business world the yardstick is that you do not employ a man unless you can make a profit out of him. As my learned and very respected colleague, Senator Cameron, has said over the years, there are only two alternatives for a successful businessman; either he overcharges the consumer or he underpays the employee. When that process breaks down and the employee goes on the scrap heap, the Government is now prepared to subsidize the employee and keep him fit so that when he is needed again to operate the machinery he has enough strength to be able to come back to work.
When you look at the implications of that philosophy you see that it is so shallow and so shortsighted that there must have been more than the shock that was given to the Government on 9th December to galvanize it into action. Evidently it is impervious to shock. This country will never prosper and take its place as one of the great nations and leaders of the world unless we can snap out of the thinking which causes us so wastefully to go into a recession every few years. With the small army, or perhaps it is a considerable army of economists, financial advisers and other people who have dedicated themselves to the study of these problems, one would think that the time between these recessions and difficult periods would lengthen; but the recessions seem to be coming more often.
I suppose that if ever there should be a recession it should be after a war, after you have spent all your substance on the defence of your own hearth and home. That should be the time when you should be poor because every one had been prepared to spend to the limit in order to preserve the basic and fundamental liberty of the people. But one would think that in a peace-time economy the time between recessions could be lengthened; that is, if these recessions are inevitable, a view to which I do not. subscribe. However, it appears that instead of the periods between the recessions being lengthened they are becoming shorter. I say that it is negative, wasteful and nationally puerile for that to continue.
Many different matters are mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. I hope that all of them will be canvassed. I express the view that despite the fact that members of the Government are confident that they have hit on an expedient to make the economy go, every one in this country knows that its policy is stop and go and that after the go there will be a stop. Expediency will not be the solution.
The balance of payments was mentioned earlier to-day. I mentioned it in an earlier part of my speech last night. Supporters of the Government have expressed great satisfaction about the happy situation in which we are placed because we have been able to recover our balanceofpayments position; but many hidden factors are implicit in that. The reasons for our difficulties are cumulative. Money from overseas is coming into our key industries and buying up our key resources. Each year the interest bill is becoming greater. The balance-of-payments problem arises from, amongst other things, insurance, shipping freights, other charges, and also interest payments, which are a growing factor. As we balance our payments one year by importing capital, we are making a rod for the backs of future generations who will have to pay the interest on the money that we import.
– The Government is putting the country in pawn.
– Yes, it is. Members of the Government say that we want to sell Australia, but they are selling it down the drain. If they were selling our products the position would be different, but they are virtually selling Australia because the man who controls the economy and the finances of the country holds the destiny of the people in the hollow of his hand. As a matter of fact, it was once said of some one that he held the destiny of the people in the hollow of his head. One would think that that head conceived the plan to put us on this ridiculous scheme of selling our basic resources, including things that are up and coming in world importance, such as bauxite, the wonder metal. The little interest that the Tasmanian Government has held would be the biggest interest that Australia has in the aluminium industry. The rest of the industry has been subtly but certainly sold overseas.
– It has been given away.
– As the honorable senator says, it has been given away because over a period of years the capital investment will be only chicken feed. With the potential of our aluminium industry, our vast bauxite resources and the potential of the hydro-electricity from the Snowy Mountains scheme and our smaller schemes in Tasmania, Australia could become a major producer of the wonder metal, aluminium. Through the process of balance of payments and encouraging overseas interests to invest in Australia we are selling our birthright, and we have no right to sell it. Many generations of our people, including the builders and pioneers of this country, sunk their gains back into the soil. They built fences, put down bores, built roads and built lovely edifices and monuments to their citizenship; but this generation, under this Government, is selling out that birthright. It is not sinking the gains back into the country. The Government is allowing cartels, or whatever you like to call the accumulation of capital, to come to this country and buy all that the pioneers had so much difficulty and trouble in building up. To me it is a wicked process.
Let us get to grips with the facts. No matter what party is in office, the government of the day is finally responsible to the people of Australia. No family business, no municipality, no city, no State and no country can thrive without some forward planning. 1 know that the word “ planning” is anathema to Government supporters; they dislike the word because, to them, it has a political flavour. They accuse the members of the Labour Party of being planners and they associate planning with communism and things of that sort. Let me remind Government supporters that the experiments in planning which are going on throughout the world now are here to stay. Whether or not we like the political philosophy of the governments controlling vast numbers of people in the countries concerned, we must admit that tremendous human experiments are being made, although at great cost. That has been the case in the past in the mining industry. Men who contracted silicosis in the mines were the pioneers of modern techniques of mining. The same applied in other branches of industry. Advances were made only at great cost in terms of human life and human suffering. Despite the fact that we disapprove of the methods used, the human experiments that are taking place in various parts of the world could well be watched by us to see whether any advantages can be gained from them.
One of the important lessons that we must learn is that in the modern world no nation can prosper without planning. In every field - whether it be hydro-electric development, the exploitation of mineral resources, the development of primary, secondary, or tertiary industry, the extraction of wealth from the seas, the making of surveys, or the conduct of scientific research - long-range planning will have to be done to obtain the best results. I appeal to the Government to wake up. The Government should abandon the idea that planning is bad because we on this side of the chamber have been advocates of planning. Forward planning will involve a big change from traditional policy. The method of financing the country’s affairs will have to be changed. The old-fashioned stupidity of working according to annual budgets will have to go. The production of year-to-year budgets is a wasteful procedure. It restricts the capacity of intelligent men to plan for the future. They should be able to plan, not for a few months ahead, but for much longer periods.
What happens now? We meet here in August. Two months of the current financial year have gone before we start thinking of the financial provision for that year. It is nearly October by the time the democratic procedures of debate have been observed and the Budget is passed. By the time the machinery is ready for action and the Public Service is really geared to go ahead, Christmas comes. When the Christmas holidays are over, and the legal fraternity go back to their duties, it is getting on towards the end of January or the beginning of February. Only then do we really get down to the important work of spending the money provided to finance the nation’s affairs from 1st July of the previous year. In effect, only two or three months are available to carry out the proposals of the Government. I do not think I have exaggerated the position; I have stated what often happens. It is not good enough.
I hope that in the time the Government has remaining to it - I do not believe that time will be very long unless the Government does something exciting and dramatic - it will devote itself to thinking about the nation and its destiny rather than about expedience and makeshifts. The Government will have to look at the budget situation and make plans to cover five years, and even ten or fifteen years ahead, so that the best use can be made of the limited resources of this expanding community.
I should like to repeat the concluding words of the Governor-General -
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.
That is the responsibility which the Government has on its shoulders - to further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. It will not do that unless it evolves some new, bright and progressive ideas and puts them into effect.
.- I should like, first of all, to associate myself with the expression of loyalty to Her Majesty contained in this motion. I congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion. I was interested in a remark of Senator Robertson’s, when she was worrying about the post office clock in Sydney. I remember, as a young man, that clock being taken away and inquirers being told that it had been taken away because it was too far from the quay. Sydney people will appreciate that. I congratulate the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) on the change in the composition of the guard of honour provided for the Governor-General when he opens the Parliament. It was very nice to see a naval guard of honour instead of a guard provided from Duntroon, as is usual. I hope that Duntroon will be generous enough to appreciate that. It might be possible for the Royal Australian Air Force to provide a guard of honour next year when the necessity next arises.
I was interested in a paragraph of His Excellency’s Speech which reads -
The second is that we should cultivate, and maintain, friendly and helpful relations with our neighbours. . . .
A little later, His Excellency said -
My Government continues to have a deep concern for the social and economic development of the peoples of Asia. . . .
To my way of thinking, the peoples of Asia include the people of continental
China. My views on that subject are well known and there is no need for me to Testate them now. Time is going on, and the day may have passed when we could have formed a great friendship with that large sprawling country to the north of us - a country which is, indeed, Asia itself. I do not propose to pursue that subject, except to say that I think it is a pity that we may have lost our chance. I do not know whether there will be a further chance in the future. I was looking recently at the population figures for Formosa. There are about 10,500,000 people on the island, about 9,000,000 of whom are indigenous inhabitants, leaving a very small percentage of people who perhaps would wish to go back, or could go back, to the mainland some day. I have invited the attention of the Senate to that because His Excellency referred to “ our neighbours in Asia”, and to my way of thinking the people of China are our neighbours. I worked with them for seven years. They are an intelligent, hard-working and lovable people, and I shall never change my views on this subject.
I turn now to a subject that was raised by Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan - the shocking upheaval of Manus Island, that tremendous base which was built by the Americans during World War II. at a cost of about £120,000,000. I went there in JanuaryFebruary, 1950, to find out what had gone on, and I saw literally square miles of wrecked motor vehicles and other machines from which small parts and engines had been removed. The scrap remaining after the Chinese had taken what they wanted was taken by crane to a dump half as high as the ceiling of this chamber and covering many square miles of the island. Honorable senators will recall that the Australian Government sold almost everything on Manus Island to the mainland Chinese. When we hear the Leader of the Opposition in another place talking about our relations with the Dutch and the Indonesians, we should bear in mind that had it not been for the Chifley Labour Government, of which he was a member, we should to-day have had one of the strongest bastions in the world, stretching from the mainland of New Guinea across to the British Solomon Islands. I mention this so that honorable senators will not be confused by what is said on the subject. It is too late to do anything about the situation now, but I merely want to mention that it is one of the reasons why we have to walk a little carefully and choose our friends among the most powerful nations in the world, in other words, the United States of America.
This being a time when we are looking for new ideas, when the Government is reorganizing and strengthening its forces, a few suggestions seem to me to be warranted. I have in mind a few things tha could be done not only because they would] be welcome but also because they would) remove some anomalies. His Excellency said in his Speech that the Army has just carried out a major re-organization. He said that the volunteer Citizen Military Forces continue to attract recruits and should reach the target of 30,000 by June, 1962. Public servants who are members of the Citizen Military Forces are given time off from their jobs for military training.
– On full pay.
– That is so. However, the owner of a garage or small workshop cannot afford to pay an employee full wages while he is away for, say, three weeks’ military training. During the last session of Parliament I suggested that something be done about this. Nothing has been done, and I now come forward with another idea. I do not suggest that we should take away the privilege that public servants already have, but I suggest that we make it easier for those who are not public servants. This can be done, up to a point by giving them a rebate from income tax of the pay that they receive from the Army, Navy or Air Force while they are performing voluntary duty. This is not an unfair suggestion. It would not cost the Government .much, and it would make a big difference to the volunteers. I have met dozens of young men who, though they have volunteered, consider that it is most unfair that the public servant training alongside them should get leave on full pay while they get only their service pay, which has to be tacked on to their ordinary earnings for the assessment of income tax. I suggest to the Government that it has a look at this suggestion.
I do not deny that the unemployment at the present time is far, far higher than any honorable senator on either side of the House would want. However, the Opposition should not be smug. If one bears in mind that in the years immediately following World War II. about 12,000,000 man-hours were lost through strikes, one will have a better appreciation of the unemployment position when the Opposition was in government and when the Liberal-Country Party is in government. It is useless for Opposition senators to say smugly, “ We never had any unemployment like this when we were in government”. It does not matter to a man who is unemployed whether he is uneemployed because of a strike or for any other reason; he still does not get paid, unless he receives some small strike pay from his union. I recall reading in one of Mark Twain’s stories about a man who had reached the age of 98 and was being interviewed by a press representative. He was asked to what he attributed his longevity. He replied, “I put it down to the fact that I go for a long walk every day, and that I do not drink - that is, if you don’t count whisky “. Similarly, Opposition senators are saying, “We did not have any unemployment when we were in office - that is, if you don’t count strikes “. That is the way I propose to look at it, and that is the way in which it should be regarded. It is no use being smug about it when the Opposition had just the same troubles.
The following paragraph from the “Journal of the Company of Master Mariners of Australia” of October, 1961, may be of interest to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). It is as follows: -
A British small shipyard group, Seawork, has received a £1 million order from Ghana to build six long-range fishing vessels. All six ships are to be delivered by the end of March, 1962. Four of them will be tuna-purse-seiners and the remaining two will be stern trawlers designed to carry 200 tons each of frozen fish. They have all been designed by Burness Corlett and Partners and will be built to the “ Hydroconio “ form of hull construction. Each ship will be about 130 feet long ….
Surely if a little country such as Ghana can spend £1,000,000 on fishing vessels to improve its fishing industry, why in heaven’s name do we in Australia continue year after year to postpone tHe day when we must undertake fisheries survey work? A small country such as Ghana spends £1,000,000; we have spent nothing. We received £800,000 from the sale of the installations of the Australian Whaling Commission, but nothing at all has been done of a long-term nature for fishermen, such as has been done all over the world and as Ghana is doing at present. I ask the Minister to take this matter to the Cabinet to see whether we cannot get some arrangement on the lines of that which other nations have made. I raise this matter in the Parliament so often and talk to the Minister about it, but I get absolutely nowhere.
– Would not Ghana’s need for fish supplies be due to a shortage i “ animal proteins?
– That could be so.
– We are in a somewhat different category so far as proteins are concerned.
– Of course, we could export fish and derive income in that way. There is more to the fishing industry than the fish which the honorable senator and I have for breakfast.
Still on the subject of shipping, I congratulate the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) on the new departure involved in the decision to build a most up-to-date survey ship instead of having to rely, as we usually do, on old vessels that have been converted, with new gear installed in them! The vessel that, is being built will cost just over £2,000,000 and will be fitted with all the latest gear. Indeed, I think that two helicopters, in addition to the echo sounding gear, will work in conjunction with the mother ship. I have some knowledge of the matter and know that the Minister for the Navy had more to do with this project than Ministers frequently have in such cases.
I am sorry that Senator Laught, of South Australia, is not in the chamber because the subject that I am about to mention usually is referred to by whichever of us speaks first during the debate. I refer to the chartering of ships for the Antarctic. At the present time, we are doing even worse, or better, depending on the way that we look at the matter, because we have two ships down there. They are the “ Thala Dan “ and the “ Nella Dan “. The charges for the services of such vessels now amount to more than £750,000, with which sum we could comfortably have built a very nice Australian ship for Antarctic work, a ship in which our men could have been trained and taught to do all the various things that they have to learn if they are to work in the extraordinarily severe conditions in that area.
– The sum of £750,000 is the amount that has been spent since charters began.
– Yes. I again bring this matter before the notice of the Government in the hope that some day something will be done. If ever war broke out in Europe and we could not obtain from Denmark the services of these ships, we would not be. able to go to the Antarctic because there would be no other ships available. There would be no country from which we could borrow ships, because if there was a war in Europe there would be no possibility of our making arrangements of that kind.
– The entire running costs of the ships are paid for out of that £750,000.
– I appreciate that. If we decided to build a ship for Antarctic work, its construction might be given to one of our smaller shipyards, such as that at Maryborough, in Queensland.
I wish now to refer to the matter of sales tax on food, again in the hope that the Government will do something about it. To my way of thinking, there should be no sales tax on any kind of food. Over the years, bread has not been subject to sales tax, but if it is bread with a few currants or sultanas thrown into it, it is subject to sales tax at the rate of 124 per cent. Similarly, sales tax must be paid on biscuits. It is interesting to note that while sales tax is payable on biscuits for human consumption, there is no sales tax on dog biscuits. I have brought this matter forward on three separate occasions but nobody has taken any notice. Nevertheless, I shall keep on trying. I am sure the Government must be aware of the position, because a considerable amount of correspondence has been sent to private members of the Parliament and no doubt it has been sent to Ministers as well.
I was interested in Senator O’Byrne’s remarks about the inflow of private capital from overseas. His opposition to the inflow of private capital seemed to me to be due to the fact that the flow is not regular, that there is not a steady stream all the time. Of course, there is not. We do not need overseas capital flowing- in a steady stream all the time. If you fill your bath with water you do not need to leave the tap running. Overseas capital comes into this country as and when required. No overseas company is going to put a lot of money into Australia unless there is reason to do so, such as the starting of an enterprise, or the financing of some project about which an entrepreneur has already told it, or the installation of plant to further an arrangement already made with a government in Australia. The argument presented by Senator O’Byrne to the effect that the inflow of private capital is no good because it is irregular is just plain nonsense.
Reference has been made to the desirability of subsidizing shipping. It has been said that if it were not economic to use our coastal vessels on overseas voyages, the losses should be made good by way of subsidy. Such a system would lead us into an awful lot of trouble. 1 remember that, thirty or thirty-five years ago, soon after the First World War ended, the Americans set out to capture the trade from the British merchant service which was not in a very happy position at that time, having lost about 4,000 ships during the war. Even with that big start, the Americans did not do very well. They found that it was uneconomic, so they began subsidizing the shipping services. They worked out a scheme whereby a ship that carried even one letter was paid a dollar a mile. Frequently, a ship would carry only one letter, or a very small bag of mail. For example, they paid 7,000 dollars for the voyage of approximately 7,000 miles from Sydney to San Francisco. A ship would receive 7,000 dollars for carrying one letter on that trip. That system operated on the shipping routes all over the world, but because most of the mails were being carried by British keels, the American vessels often carried only one bag of mail. I think it was Senator Kennelly who discussed this matter and who was so keen about it. I suggest that he read something on the subject of shipping subsidies. If he does so, he will find that it is not such a simple thing as he appeared to think it was when he was speaking in this chamber. The Americans got themselves into a lot of trouble with it eventually, and it has now disappeared altogether from the American scene.
Recently, I read three or four pages of an article by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). I wish .to congratulate him on the work that he has done over the years for the Territory of New Guinea. The small rumpus that is going on at present in little Buka need not have occurred, in my opinion. Years ago, I suggested that, instead of speaking about a head tax in New Guinea, the nomenclature should be changed and the term “ social services contribution “ adopted, as in Australia. Had that been done, no stigma would have attached to the tax. I can just imagine what the newspapers of some countries will have to say about the present trouble on Buka Island. It still is not too late to change the name of the tax. I leave the thought with the Minister that instead of calling it a head tax, the annual native payment based on the amount earned could be called a social services contribution. I feel sure that a lot of the stigma which attaches to the collection of this comparatively small amount of money could be removed. I understand that the amount the authorities are trying to collect at little Buka from some thousands of natives is approximately £124. So the amount is not exorbitant; the natives are not over-taxed. They just object to the use of the term “ head tax “, which of course went out of use in most countries long ago.
Senator O’Byrne cast around to see to what other countries we could sell our products and so improve our balance of trade. Amongst the press releases that were issued yesterday, I think, I noted a statement to the effect that last year we sold approximately £17,000,000 worth of goods to Canada. Canada will be sending a trade mission here very soon following upon our sending one there some, time ago.
I have covered the few matters about which I wished to speak. I ask the Government to examine my suggestions. They are not just fly-by-night suggestions. Particularly do I commend to the Government the suggestion in regard to sales tax on food - a tax which never should have been imposed - and my suggestion about the possibility of giving to young recruits who are willing to serve in the Army or other ser vices a rebate on the money they earn in the service so that they will not have to pay tax in addition to losing time at their ordinary jobs. I support the motion.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy President, having on a number of occasions taken the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and, before her accession to the throne, to her father, there is no need for me to restate my loyalty. I offer my congratulations to His Excellency the Governor-General, who represented Her Majesty here only two days ago, upon bis appointment to the high office he holds. I trust that he will prove to be a great asset to this country. Possibly other countries are jealous of Australia because of her bond with the Sovereign, a bond which keeps together members of the Commonwealth of Nations in various parts of the world. We live in a democracy in which people have the opportunity from time to time of determining what policies they will submit to the community and would like to see implemented in the interests of the country. I sincerely hope that the system under which we live will continue to operate for all time, unless a better system can be evolved. I cannot foresee a better system being instituted, but I do foresee the danger of inferior systems taking the place of the system of government under which we now live. Let us hope, though, that that does not happen.
I have listened very patiently to some of the speeches that have been delivered by supporters of the Government. I could not help pricking up my ears when I heard some amazing statements made by one of the Tasmanian representatives in the Senate who holds office as a senior Minister. That gentleman stated quite frankly that this Government did not need to plan in the interests of Australia but that, as a matter of expediency, it could and was prepared to meet any situation as it arose. Any country that has not planned ahead for its social security, its economic security or its defence has gone under. I hope Senator Henty was not voicing the opinion of all his colleagues on the Government side when he made that amazing statement. Any government, whatever be its political colour, must plan ahead if it wants to ensure economic security.
– But you cannot be certain that everything will go according to plan.
– That is quite true. The honorable senator cannot name a businessman in Australia who does not plan ahead, and I am doubtful whether she can name a businessman who has not been confronted with a situation in which things did not go to plan. Businessmen meet those emergencies when they arise. The only planning that this Government has adopted since it assumed office about twelve years ago has been the planning or the blueprints that were left behind for it by the Labour Government. Labour left behind it a blueprint for finding full employment for every able-bodied man and for the steps to be taken when private enterprise slackened activity as a result of any credit squeeze or pressure of that kind. For years this Government carried on with those plans. But gradually those plans were exhausted and the Government had nothing to take their place. Since 1954, when the plans left behind by Labour started to run out, this Government has floundered. It has employed methods of expediency to meet the situations that have arisen from time to time. Sometimes its methods have been successful and sometimes they have been disastrous.
In the past eighteen months there has been disaster after disaster and we have listened to statements from the Government and its senior spokesmen such as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and particularly the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is responsible for the Government’s fiscal policy, to the effect that the means employed have been necessary to stabilize the economy. The Treasurer has had the audacity to say from time to time that the Government was achieving its objective. If it has been achieving its objective, that objective has been the placing of tens of thousands of persons in a state of misery and poverty each month. The Government has achieved its objective so successfully that it has stopped progress from one end of Australia to the other and has brought about the highest level of unemployment we have experienced since the big, disastrous, man-made depression of the ‘thirties was brought upon us.
It was not until the Australian Labour Party, which plans ahead, told the people towards the end of last year what it was prepared to do, and until the majority of the electors voted for Labour in the other House, that this Government awoke to the fact that Labour’s planning was acceptable to the people. The Government had accused members of the Labour Party of being calamity howlers and of putting forward a programme that would make the nation bankrupt, but overnight it adopted quite a number of Labour’s proposals. Apart from the planning of the Australian Labour Party, the Government has been bankrupt of ideas. Now it has adopted a portion of the plans recently laid before the public by the Labour Party, and it intends to introduce measures to give effect to them during this session. The Government admits that those measures will be only a stop-gap, or an expedient for the time being. It has not told us whether it has any plans to take effect after July. The Government says that the measures it now proposes will stabilize the position, which got out of control. We haJ from the Treasurer statement after statement to the effect that everything was under control. Now, however, the Government admits that the situation got out of control, and it is adopting a portion of the policy of the Labour Party in order to bring the situation under control.
What are the Government’s plans for the future? We know of the existence of the European Common Market. We have seen the plight of farmers in years gone by. Can anybody visualize what will happen if our butter and cheese market collapses upon the United Kingdom’s entry to the Common Market? The dairying industry will collapse if we do not move fast.
Is the Government relying upon another rise in the price of wool? Certainly, wool prices are increasing at present, but the Government should have planned in the pat. when fantastic prices were being received on the export market for wool and some other commodities. As was pointed out by Senator Henty, the Government was shortsighted then and paid no attention to the future. It has decided to meet situations as they arise. How did it meet the situation when the bottom fell out of the wool market and prices started to fall? ls the Government so shortsighted as not to appreciate that other countries may go after our markets? With increased primary production, although populations are increasing, markets will be highly competitive. From where is the money to come to pay for the goods we need? The Government has made no provision whatever.
Can any Government senator tell us of any planning in relation to Australian primary producers for the next five years? Do not think for one moment that any fiveyear plan or three-year plan is taken from Communist Russia or any other Communist country. The Australian Labour Party had five-year plans and three-year plans for primary industries and other industries during the war years. It had long-range plans for keeping the economy stable after the war. As I have said, these plans were adopted in part by the present Government and until the blueprints ran out the Government was going along satisfactorily.
Has the Government made any plans for the dairy industry, the major exports of which are butter and cheese? Will these commodities just be left to take their chance? Will we see a repetition of the conditions in the 1930’s, when the dairy herds were taken to the slaughter houses and killed for bone meal or for sausage meat. If there is no planning and the bottom should fall out of the markets, there will be no relief for the farmers.
– How much milk do you plan to drink?
– If it is any news to you, my dear lady, I have considerably more experience in regard to milk than you will ever have. Just prior to my election to the Senate I was farming and I was dependent on dairy production for my income. I produced butter fat and sold it for as little as 6id. per lb. That was a shocking state of affairs, which prevailed under a State Libera] government and a Commonwealth Liberal government. Not until we got a Labour government in Canberra did the primary producers, particularly the dairy farmers, receive a pennyworth of assistance in any shape or form from a Commonwealth government. We needed a Labour government in office to stabilize the dairy industry and stop the slaughter of the herds by providing a subsidy on butter and cheese. This pulled the industry together.
A Labour government was required to devise a plan to stabilize the price of wheat which was then only ls. 9d. a bushel at railway sidings in order to hold the wheat farmers on their land. I tell the honorable senator that I have forgotten more about primary production, both on the practical side and on the theoretical side, than she will ever be able to learn. Our export market for butter and cheese, which is principally in the United Kingdom, could fade overnight. What will then happen to the Australian dairy herds? Has the Government any plan or, as Senator Henty said, will it meet the situation when it arises? Will the Government meet the situation after the herds are slaughtered? The Government includes members of the Country Party. Knowing the effects that must follow from the United Kingdom’s entry to the European Common Market, they, at least, should try to devise some plan to save the dairy industry.
We were accused during the war of wasting millions of pounds through the Apple and Pear Marketing Board. It is a fact that thousands of bushels of fruit were bought which went down the rivers, rotted, or were fed to cattle, but we did not want that industry to be lost to Australia. Our attitude was that if we could spend millions of pounds on providing shells for the destruction of armies, we could spend a few hundreds of thousands of pounds, or even millions of pounds, if necessary, to save a great export industry. So we saved that industry. We found the money to save it even during the crisis of war. If we could take that action at that time to save an industry which now exports £4,000,000 worth of apples each year to the United Kingdom, surely this Government could devise a plan to stabilize the agricultural industries so that the United Kingdom’s entry to the European Common Market would not bring disaster, as the loss of markets during the First Great War brought disaster to certain primary industries. I ask the Government, and particularly members of the Country Party, who claim to represent primary producers, to try to devise a scheme. If the Government is barren of ideas, it should consult the leaders of the Australian
Labour Party. We will provide it with a plan, but first it should try to devise one of its own.
One of the Government’s measures to stabilize the economy is a reduction of 5 per cent, in income tax. I do not doubt for a moment that this will be welcome, but other courses would have been preferable. Other reductions would have been far more beneficial to the community in stabilizing the economy. I am referring now to sales tax. If sales tax on most commodities had been reduced by 5 per cent, the result would have been a fall in the price of those commodities of at least 7i per cent. Although the Government may not be able to stop prices from rising, at least it could have done something towards stabilizing prices. Here was an opportunity for the Government to do something that would give relief to the people most in need of it - the family man who pays heavy sales tax on the foodstuffs that he buys.
A reduction in sales tax of 5 per cent, would have, meant a reduction in the price of scores of commodities. A glance at a groceries journal will show that scores of commodities carry sales tax of 12£ per cent. Here was an opportunity for the Government not only to stabilize prices but also to bring about a reduction in prices. If the Government had had the foresight to reduce sales tax on commodity items it could have ensured that the reduction was passed on in the wholesale and retail prices. But action such as I have suggested would have meant giving relief to the family man and to invalids. The Government preferred to give relief to people on high incomes. They will benefit by hundreds of pounds as a result of the 5 per cent, reduction in income tax. The Government did reduce by Ti per cent, sales tax on motor cars. What is more essential to a human being - a motor car or food in his stomach and in the stomachs of the members of his family? The privileged few who can afford a motor car will pay less in sales tax for it, but essential foodstuffs still carry heavy sales tax. For instance, self-raising flour carries tax at 17 i per cent, and bread is taxed at 12i per cent. If the Government had ^applied to foodstuffs the concession represented by the 7i per cent, sales tax reduction on motor cars and the 5 per cent, income tax reduction, many foodstuffs that now carry sales tax at 12i per cent, could have been exempted from sales tax. In this way the Government could have reduced prices and would have had a ready-made argument to present to the court when the next basic wage application is heard. It could have told the court that the prices of many items of foodstuffs had dropped by 12i per cent.
If the Government had the interests of the people at heart it would have adopted the measures I have outlined instead of granting relief to only a select few in the community. My suggestions would have given benefit to everybody, not only to the privileged few. It is true that the Government’s action in reducing sales tax on motor cars will create more employment in the motor car industry. But how many more jobs would have become available in industries manufacturing foodstuffs if the price of those commodities had been reduced to such a level that people on the lower incomes could have bought more of them! When I speak of people on the lower incomes I am reminded of recipients of social service benefits. Can they afford to buy all the essential commodities? Of course not! Production of those commodities is stifled because the community does not have sufficient purchasing power. My suggestions, if adopted, would lead to more men being employed in the production of essential commodities. The. Government’s attitude to these matters is wrong. It has retained sales tax at 2i per cent, on furniture. What is more essential to a young married couple, a motor car or furniture for their home? The Government knows that young married people do not have enough money, generally speaking, to buy motor cars. Nevertheless, it refuses to help them to buy furniture. The Government has no plan for anything. Its policy is a stop-gap policy.
A great deal has been said about unemployment. I have shown how more people could be absorbed into industry. The Government has made certain grants to the States, to be expended by the end of this financial year. What provision is being made for the future? After June will the 5 per cent, income tax reduction be discontinued? Will sales tax on motor cars be restored to 30 per cent.? Will sales tax on other commodities be increased to offset the loss of revenue brought about by the reduction in sales tax on motor cars and the reduction in income tax? Has the Government any plan at all? If it has, why does it not tell the people about it so that industry may have something solid on which to plan? How can anybody engaged in production for the home market have any confidence of security in the future? Nobody has any security, not even the wealthiest section of the community. The wealthy people in the community are holding tight to their purses because they do not know what step the Government will take next. An industrialist may decide to manufacture a commodity to be sold at a small margin of profit. Over-night the Government may proclaim that commodity not to be an essential commodity and impose sales tax on it of 12£ per cent. What would be the result? That sales tax could mean the difference between keeping a factory going and closing it down. Nobody dare plan with confidence unless he knows what the Government intends to do. If the Government were to say that it had given the banks a free rein to give credit whereever it was needed we would see unprecedented progress in this country in the next five years. But the Government will not do that. If it did so it knows that there would be jobs for everybody seeking work. It is only lack of confidence in the future that causes unemployment. I heard Senator Spooner say that there must always be a certain amount of unemployment. Only a lunatic would quarrel with that statement. That is not news. There is always somebody who is unemployable. Somebody is always shifting from one job to another. People move from Victoria or Western Australia to Queensland to work. During their travels they are unemployed. Seasonal workers are occasionally out of work. We do not need the Leader of the Government to tell us that there must always be some unemployment. But the total need not be as high as 60,000 - the figure suggested by Senator Spooner. There are always a few thousand people who are unemployable and then there are always a few thousand people in transit from job to job. A man might leave one job and have a fortnight’s holiday before getting another one. A few thousand people will always be accounted for in those ways, but nothing like 60,000 people. I should say that in a population of about 10,000,000 the maximum for those categories would be 35,000 to 40,000, but the usual figure would be round about 30,000. Therefore, any excess over 30,000 represents people who want work but cannot get it.
We have not the true figures from the Government because before a man can be registered for employment he has to satisfy the department that he has tried to obtain a job. He is asked where he has been to find a job. If he has no money to enable him to go from place to place, he cannot tell the department where he has been. In many cases he goes from place to place and is simply told ‘that there is no work; his name and address are not taken. When he goes along to register for employment he is asked, “Where have you applied for employment?” He replies, “ At such and such a place “. When the department checks up there is no record of it. So he is not registered as unemployed. He is simply told that he has not tried to get work.
Let us look at the other side of the picture. When a man is duly registered he has to be registered for seven days before he receives any benefit. He has probably been out of work for two or three weeks Juring which, in all honesty, he has been looking for a job. His wife and family have to starve or live on light rations for another seven days after he is registered.’ Is that right? Is that stabilizing the economy? Is this a human policy? Is it a Christian policy? Senator Henty says in effect: “ We will meet these exigencies when we come ito them. No planning is needed to find a job for the man who will be displaced when the Snowy Mountains scheme finishes. Let them be displaced. We will meet that position when it comes. When they are displaced we will think about starting other works “.
I remind Senator Henty that before the Labour Government went out of office in 1949 it had blue-prints to follow and it followed them. They have been completed, but there is none to take their place. Surely the Government will plan for after 30th June when these expedients and these gifts it has made have expired. Surely it has some plan that it can tell the people of
Australia about so that the economy can be stabilized. It will never be stabilized while there is no security or even a promise of security to the public. There are such people as contractors who build homes and captains of industry who plan ahead. How can they plan ahead if they do not know whether there Will be any markets or whether customs or excise duties, sales tax or other impositions of that nature will be put on commodities? The people’s hands are tied behind, their backs unless the Government, regardless of what political colour it may be. can say to them.:. “ Here are our plans. We give you a guarantee that this will operate, for three- years, five years “ or whatever it may be.
The Government has also stated that it intends^ - I emphasize the word “ intends “ - to consider further plans for the development of the north of Australia. .1 agree that it has given a few hand-outs to Queensland, but that was not before time-. It took a shock to make the Government give those hand-outs. The Australian Labour Party had to lay a clear-cut plan before the people of the north of Australia before the Australian people were prepared to give the Government that shock. If every State had voted as Queensland did, the Government would have been annihilated. Tasmania and Queensland are the two States that have been suffering most. It took a shock of that nature to wake the Government up to its responsibilities.
Members of the Government, particularly Senator Henty, still claim that it is not the responsibility of the Government to plan ahead, but only to meet these emergencies as they arise. They say, in effect, “ When one job cuts out we will think about starting another one “. How can you ask a man, who has purchased land and wants to help people who need homes by building homes, to invest money in that way if he knows that the home purchaser has no security and is liable to be out of a job and unable to find the necessary deposit? Naturally, that builder folds up. If we look at the statistics from about 1956 until now,, we find that- thousands of contractors have gone out of business because there has been no security. That also applies to primary producers, secondary industries and private investment wherever you turn. Unless these people can see some security they will not invest.
Yet this Government is the champion of private enterprise. Why does it not put forward a plan and let private enterprise see that if it is prepared to speculate in the interests of the development of this country by providing homes for our homeless people it has some security for its investment. To-day it has none under this- Government because there is no planning. The people do not know that the present release of credit will not end at 30th June. If this release of credit is to last for two or three years, why does not the Government tell the. public that it is not temporary and that they are safe for two or three years at least? The Government cannot look far enough ahead to- make such a statement. While we have a government of this nature there never can, be any security.
I have listened’ to< recent statements on the news broadcasts. They have been very prominent. They have said, for instance, “ Australia’s overseas balances are in a very stable position and have increased by £5,000,000 in the last week”. Then the next sentences say that the increase is due partly to an overseas- loan that has been floated: in the United States of America or England, and that the actual increase in our overseas balances is such and such an amount. We have had some experience of governments that considered they had sufficient brains and ability to stabilize the Australian economy with money borrowed from overseas to finance imports. I remember well the speeches that were made from this side of the chamber when Mr. McEwen launched out on his wholesale lifting of import controls and. allowed a flood of imports into Australia. I remember well the protests that were made from this side of the chamber and the propositions that were advanced to the Government to stabilize the economy. The Government was told of the damage that that action would do to Australia and we were accused of being calamity howlers when we told the Government that it would bring about wholesale unemployment.
What has been the result? Imports have come in unchecked; factory operations have slackened; industry is becoming stagnant; we have reached the calamitous position of having 131,000 people registered: for employment, as admitted by the Government, and probably another 50,000 who are not registered, at this time which the Government claims is prosperous. If this is a prosperous time, I would not like to see something that was not prosperous.
Let me get back to our overseas balances. The Government is boasting about Australia’s healthy financial position overseas, but our overseas indebtedness has increased by hundreds of millions of pounds! That money has been used to finance imports and pay the interest on money borrowed from overseas. No country can have a stable economy unless it can balance its export and import payments. If you take only commodities into consideration and exclude moneys borrowed from overseas, Australia has had adverse trade balances year after year. Therefore, our economy must be going to the dogs. The country must be becoming unstable. It is little wonder that private investment from overseas is easing up. Investors can see that under the present Government there is no security. They could set up a factory to-day and tomorrow they could be forced to close it down because of a flood of imports from Japan, Jamaica or some other country. Until investors can be given some security, we will be forced to continue to borrow from overseas in order to pay for our imports. That is not idle talk but a statement of hard, cold facts. No government can avoid facing those facts.
Again, the private banks were willing to assist private industry, but the Government prevented them from doing so. The Government tightened up on the various branches of the Commonwealth Bank and would not let them assist the economy of Australia. In other words, the Government introduced a credit squeeze, claiming that that was necessary. We see now* the disastrous results of that policy. It was ridiculous for the Government to say that too much money was in circulation to maintain a healthy economy when hostels throughout Australia were crowded with migrants who had not had a job for months. That has been the policy of the Government in the past, and we have no guarantee yet that there will be a change of policy in the future.
Senator Spooner said today that our immigration policy must continue. Of course, if we had a government with sufficient brains and intelligence to develop this country properly we could do with twice the present flow of immigrants, but the Government is bringing people into the country only to put them into hostels to riot against one another and against the methods of the government of the day. That is asking for trouble. The Government has sown the seeds of communism, which it claims to abhor so rauch, and those seeds are germinating throughout the country. The Government has been the greatest fosterer and helpmate of communism that this country has seen during the last twenty years. No legislation produced in this country has done more to assist communism than the legislation of this Government during the last eighteen months, yet the Government talks about its hatred of communism. If the shock that the Government received at the last election does not wake it up, we shall have a new government in the very near future.
Let me go back to financial matters. The Government has claimed that it could not obtain enough money from the Loan Council or from the public to finance its public works. That is perfectly true. It could not borrow the money it needed because those who had the money had no confidence in the Government. If there had been confidence in the Government, there would have been no lack of finance from those sources for the purposes of development. But the raising of loans was not the only course open to the Government. It was not necessary to tax the people to the hilt in order to finance public works such as the Snowy Mountains scheme. It was not necessary to tax the people heavily in order to raise revenue to lend to the States for public works, forcing the States to pay interest upon that revenue, as this Government has done. As I have said many times, that was a thimble and pea trick.
If the money lenders of this country did not have sufficient confidence in the Government to lend money to it, the Government could have called upon its own bank for money to finance worth-while reproductive works of value to the development of the country. The money was there, and the Government, if it had so desired, could have used it to stabilize the economy. I do not say that the Government should have gone to the Commonwealth Bank and said, in effect, “We want £400,000,000 to be released immediately to the public “. That would have been foolish. However, it is only a lunatic who would say that it would not have been a wise policy, instead of paying exorbitant rates of interest on loans, to go to the Commonwealth Bank and obtain from there the finance necessary to carry out public works that eventually would be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the nation. It must be remembered that the assets backing the Commonwealth Bank are worth more than the assets of all the other banks in Australia, even if you multiply them ten times.
When you have assets, what is wrong with using credit? It was all right for Sir Arthur Fadden to use credit to balance his budget and to use it, in disguise, to cover a surplus. If it was sound policy to do a thing like that, surely it would be sound financial policy to use the resources of the Commonwealth Bank, not only to finance the Snowy Mountains scheme, but also to build the Mount Isa railway, to put the roads through the north of Australia that are so urgently needed, and to harness the waters of Tasmania or other States.
That would be sound policy, with the proviso that enough man-power and materials -must be available. They are the real national assets. I have said many times before, and I say it again now, that no war ever stopped for want of finance. All the money put into a war is blown away and there is no return from it, but no wax would ever stop for want of finance. However, a war would stop immediately if manpower and materials were not available. You fight a war with man-power and materials. You develop a nation, not with borrowed money, but with man-power and materials.
The Government dealt us a disastrous blow when it introduced credit restrictions at a time when there were already 100,000 unemployed people in Australia. There were 60,000 or 70,000 people registered as unemployed^ and at least another 40,000 not registered. Despite those facts, the Government brought in its credit squeeze. Is it any wonder that the economy of the country got completely out of hand? Such methods were tried back in 1929. Those of us who were active in those, times remember the big three who came out from England. The big three from the Bank of England brought disaster to Australia with the advice that they gave to the Bruce-Page Government and others. Disaster was piled upon disaster, and a procedure was followed similar to that which was embarked upon by this Government, of tying up finance at a time when unemployment was rife. Private enterprise decided that it could no longer trust the Government and it would withdraw its credit. That is what happened, and honorable senators know what followed. It took from 1929 until the outbreak of World War II. in 1939 to get over the results of that. It took a war to wake the Government up to the foolishness of such a procedure.
For the information of the more junior members of the Senate, and probably of another place, I state that when World War II. broke out Australia had a Liberal Government. We knew that we had entered upon a struggle for our existence, but eighteen months after the war broke out Australia still had 200,000 unemployed. The brains of members of the Government were not sufficiently alert to put into operation the machinery that would achieve a war effort great enough even to absorb the unemployed. Though the armed services had been built up, there were still 200,000 unemployed. That was the aftermath of an experiment that the Liberal Government tried to right the economy of this country. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) would have been very young at that time, but older men in the Government must remember those times, and though we are verging on the same state of affairs again the Government meets Parliament after an election still with no plan for the future. Are we to continue in this manner? If the same thing were to crop up as happened in 1941, would we find ourselves in the same position as we were in then, with no defences for this country?
I never expect the Government to tell me or the Senate the details of its defence plan. If it did so it might as well put all the details in writing and send them to our potential enemies. However, if there has been no more planning for the defence of this country than there has been for the economic security of Australia and its social progress, an outbreak of war to-morrow leading to a major conflict throughout the world would find us in a most perilous position. Our defences would be in the same condition as the economy of this country just prior to the recent election. Let us hope that the spending of £200,000,000 on defence each year has resulted in the establishment of some defences that can be swung into action, though they are not evident to the public and members of Parliament cannot find out anything about them. Perhaps the Government has them. Let us hope and pray that it has. If it has not, God help Australia! Preparedness is needed in every community.
It took an election to wake the Government up to the fact that invalids, the aged, the unemployed and those who were sick were on a very meagre allowance. Having been awakened to the fact, the Government adopted what it could from the Labour Party’s policy, but only, to use its words, as a temporary expedient. Will the Government discontinue these temporary measures after 30th June, or will they remain permanently? I sincerely hope that what the Government proposes to do will be permanent. I sincerely hope also that the Government has touched only the fringe of the relief that it proposes in such matters as sales tax and advances to ex-servicemen so that they can obtain homes after having been debarred for so long from the opportunity of having them.
I sincerely hope that the Government has not even touched the fringe of what it intends to do to develop the. north of Australia. The Government has announced that it proposes to liberalize the franchise for a section of the community there. After all these long years, the Government, after seeing what is happening in the Congo and in other parts of Africa, and having witnessed events nearer home, in West New Guinea, has become fearful of what could happen here. It has taken all these things to wake the Government up to the fact that the Australian natives not only have a stake in this country ‘but also have a right to that stake. It has taken bloodshed, slaughter and disruption in other parts of the world to awaken the Government to that fact. Has the Government recognized it because of fear, or does it appreciate its responsibility out of a sense of humanity? I give it the benefit of the doubt: I hope that it appreciates its responsibilities out of a sense of humanity to a race of people who for far too long has been kept under the heel. I do not excuse any government. No government has done as much as should have been done for the natives of Australia.
During my overseas tour I heard many people say, “ Natives cannot do this, and they cannot do that “. I found in the course of conversation and close observations that they could do things as well as any European. If honorable senators want an illustration of what natives can do they have only to look at the advancement of the people of New Guinea. I give due credit to this Government for what it has done in its twelve years of office, and credit also was due to the Labour Government that preceded it and did the spadework for the reforms in New Guinea. In fact, this Government has done a great job. However, it realizes, just as my colleagues and I do, that the natives of New Guinea hav responded much quicker than was expected, though some difficulties are being experienced there at the moment. It will be found that with perseverance the natives in the north of Australia will respond as quickly as the intelligent sections of the natives of New Guinea. The Government has a long way to go yet if it proposes to serve humanity and if it wants to feel safe from criticism at international conferences and at the United Nations and does not want Australia to be insulted time and time again. We have left it a little late, but it is never too late to make amends, to put ourselves right in the eyes of the world. Therefore, I hope that the Government will devise a major plan designed to bring the north of Australia into a far more productive state than it is at the present time. I hope that the tens of thousands of natives who are becoming better educated each year will advance still further and attain a better standard of living than they now have.
If we look at the true picture of the West New Guinea situation we shall say that West New Guinea belongs to the natives who live in that country. I claim that they are the people who should decide whether they want to be on their own, whether they want to be with Indonesia, or whether they want to be with us. I hope that it is not long before the people of that part of New Guinea which is administered by Australia will have such a choice. There are tens of thousands of people in Australia who have had the heel kept down on them over the years. They should have a stake ih the north of Australia. It is high time that this Government, or some other government which may be elected in the very near future, recognized the rights of those people and realized that they are not just wood and water joeys for anybody who cares to walk into that area. The country once belonged to them and they are entitled to a worthwhile stake in it now.
This Government, or some future government, should be prepared to devise a plan to give those tens of thousands of people their national heritage and to encourage them to help us hold one of the greatest assets that this country could possibly have. If the people of New Guinea, in the course of a few more years, are to take over not only the productive work of their country but also the government of the country, surely the natives of Australia could be educated to such a standard that they could be given a stake in Australia. In that way they might be encouraged to look up to the European race. In the course of time, there is no reason why they should not have their own representatives in this Parliament. ls there anything wrong with that suggestion? I tell this Government, and any future government that succeeds it, that unless those things are done, further insults will be thrown at Australian delegates when they attend conferences at the United Nations and elsewhere.
I listened very attentively to Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan when he spoke on Tuesday evening. I congratulate him on so ably proposing the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, but at the same time I must disagree with his wilful and deliberate misrepresentation of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell. I challenge Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan-
– I -rise to order, Mr. President. I submit that the ‘honorable senator is completely out of order in saying that an honorable senator from this side of the chamber had wilfully and deliberately misrepresented the Leader of the Opposition in another place. Such imputations of improper motives are completely beneath the dignity of this House. The honorable senator should be. directed to withdraw those words.
– I do not think they would be objectionable to Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan. He does not object.
– Order! Senator Aylett, those words are to be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the words “ wilful and deliberate “, but I remind the Senate that Senator Sir Neil ©”Sullivan made the statement that the Leader of the Opposition - and he referred to Mr. Calwell - certainly wanted to declare war on Indonesia. I say that no such statement was ever made. I challenge Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan and Senator Wright to produce such a statement in print. I have withdrawn the words “ wilful and deliberate”, Mr. President, but I say that that was a most irresponsible statement to make.
– And ignorant.
– No, I would not say that, because I am quite convinced that Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan meant to make that statement and that he, intended to make it for one purpose. It was made in an endeavour to misrepresent the Leader of the Opposition. It was a false and misleading statement. I say further, Mr. President, that nobody knew better than the honorable senator, when he made the statement, that it was false.
It would suit Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan better if he were to try to influence the Government’s delegates at the United Nations to press for the Charter of the United Nations to be given effect in each instance in which it would seem there was danger of a conflict breaking out, whether between Indonesia and Holland or between any other countries. When the use of force is threatened, it is time for the United Nations to sit up and take notice. The Dutch Government put up a proposition to the United Nations. If that proposal was acceptable to this Government - and I daresay it was - why did not our delegates at the United Nations force, the issue more strongly? Why did they not make their voices heard? Are they prepared to be mere puppets at the United Nations conferences? Why did they not take the initiative? I think that the Dutch proposal was a reasonable one.
The Leader of the Opposition has reiterated time and again the attitude of the Australian Labour Party to disputes of this nature, in whatever part of the world they may arise. If we are to be part and parcel of the United Nations, let us be so. Let Australia take the lead, as Senator O’Byrne said it should. We have on the spot a very able Minister who could probably hold his own in any United Nations discussion, just as Dr. Evatt did when he was there. Let our Minister take the initiative and force the issue, and let Australia show the world that a few million pounds spent in an effort to keep the peace is far better than hundreds of millions of pounds spent in fighting wars for the destruction of humanity. The United States of America has spent thousands of millions of pounds in various parts of the world, not for aggressive purposes but in trying to keep the peace. She has spent that money in the backward countries to assist in production and in many other spheres. Why has she done that? She believes that spending a few hundred million pounds to maintain peace in the world is far better than spending that money on war. This Government should adopt a similar attitude and should be prepared at all times to back the United Nations. We should be prepared to play our part in the pursuit of peace if called upon to do so by the United Nations. 1 hope the Government has plenty of proposals concealed in its defence programme, because very little is apparent to the public of Australia. I do not blame the Government for scrapping equipment that is out of date. Hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of equipment was scrapped during the last war. As soon as projects were finished they were outdated because of the progress of the war, even though they were essential when first envisaged. But if the Government is planning only from day to day and is doing only that which is apparent to us here in the Senate, then we are in a perilous position. As far as we can see, the Government has only one or two little plans for the Navy and only one or two proposals for equipment for the Air Force, that equipment to be supplied in 1962. What is to happen after 1962? Do the Government’s plans for defence end with 1962 just as its economic plans cover the position up to 30th June next? Mr. President, if this Government does not move now and move quickly, the next shock it will get will come not only from Queensland and Tasmania but from all the States. Government supporters will get a. shock when they find that Labour’s numbers are overwhelming and find themselves in Opposition.
– I am pleased to associate myself with other honorable senators in a pledge of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and to welcome the newly-appointed Governor-General. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) made a very pleasant gesture when he invited Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan and Senator Robertson respectively to move and second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, particularly in view of their retirement from the Senate in a few months’ time. Both honorable senators marked the occasion by delivering very thoughtful speeches which commanded the close attention of honorable senators.
I listened with great interest, as I always do, to the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who can always be depended upon to use his persuasive skill to make the best of a bad case. Senator Aylett seems to have gained greatly in stamina and strength from the time spent in enjoying the balmy breezes of the costa d’ora, the gold coast, of south Queensland, because he has delivered a very long speech - he was quite within his rights - on various subjects covering mankind from China to Peru.
The 1961 general election has come and gone and the Menzies-McEwen Government has been returned to office with a very small majority. Many experienced and capable Ministers and Government supporters were defeated. They were men of outstanding merit whom this country could ill-afford to lose. When the Government went to the polls it had completed twelve years of office and many political observers expected that the lapse of time and the disappearance from the scene of our old friend Dr. Evatt might result in a swing of the pendulum. Of course, they were not disappointed, as all the world knows. The swing against the Government was strongest in Queensland, which had felt the effect of the very necessary economic measures more severely than bad most other States. In Queensland the feeling against the Government was accentuated by continuous drought conditions which existed throughout most of the State. There were other very important factors, too. I do not propose to conduct a post mortem beyond saying that if the Government’s post-election policy had been submitted as the pre-election policy the Government would have swept the Opposition off the boards in the constituencies.
The Government has responded with promptitude and very great courage to the pressure of public opinion. An income tax cut of 5 per cent, for the current tax year will increase every taxpayer’s purchasing power and confer benefits over the whole taxable field and in the whole community as well. A reduction of Ti per cent, in the sales tax on motor cars is most welcome, but in my view it is hardly enough. On this point, I completely disagree with Senator Aylett. He seems to think that motor cars are possessed only by the privileged classes in the community. A limited number of motor cars could be classified as being in the luxury division, but in my judgment 85 per cent, of the cars sold in Australia to-day cannot be described as luxury vehicles. In Australian conditions a motor car is no longer a luxury but an absolute necessity. Therefore, sales tax should be reckoned on that basis. In earlier years the ownership of motor cars was in the hands mostly of people who were in privileged positions and were wealthier than most of the community; but that is not the position to-day. It is the aim of every family in Australia to-day to possess a motor car. The motor industry should be helped by a reduction of sales tax to find a wider market for its cars. The reduction of 74 per cent, in the sales tax is really good and will be deeply appreciated by individual car owners as well as the industry itself. It is a good start, but there is room for a further cut in due course.
Ex-servicemen will appreciate the opportunity that has been given to acquire a war service home of greater size and better quality than was possible with a loan of £2,750. The increase of the loan by £750 to £3,500 will prove to be a big help to the very deserving body of men who served in the forces. Unemployment, of course, is a terrible social bugbear. It is heartrending to come across numbers of poor fellows, with families to keep, who are able and willing to work but are unable to obtain employment. It is a disastrous situation. Apart from the inhumanity of it, there is an economic loss to the nation, because every employed person has a cash value, while an unemployed person has no cash value.
The Prime Minister told the Premiers in Canberra on Thursday last that the provisional figure of unemployment in Queensland in the month of January, 1962, stood at 30,400, which is equivalent to 5 per cent, of the State’s total work force. He also said that such a high percentage could not be allowed to continue. I remember some years ago, during the time of the late Mr. Chifley, when Mr. Haylen, a prominent member of the Opposition in another place, declared that 5 per cent, of unemployment was normal and we could not expect any condition of society in which it did not apply. He justified the existence at that time of 5 per cent, of unemployment. The Prime Minister has declared that 5 per cent, of the work force is an intolerable number to have unemployed. I agree with him and, as I am indicating, steps are being taken to try to meet that situation.
– What number do you suggest?
– I do not make any suggestion. I recognize, of course, that many poor fellows are unable to qualify for employment because of ill health or invalidity and for other causes. They must be subtracted from the total numbers that statistics show as being unemployed. The matter is very difficult. Judged by standards in other countries, even 5 per cent, of unemployment is a reasonable figure in this country. The United States of America, Canada and Great Britain have higher percentages of unemployed than we have. But this is a new, progressive country, and the Government has been adopting forward policies. Where so much work is required to be done, we have every right to expect that we will be able to put up the money required to keep in employment every man who is able and. willing to work. That is the aim of the policies of the Prime Minister, now that he visualizes the extent of unemployment in some parts of Australia.
This is a country with- big seasonal industries, which in some periods can- provide an enormous quantum of employment and at others provide no work. I refer to such’ industries as the sugar industry, when the cane has been harvested and the mills have finished’ crushing, and to meatworks in dry times, when the fat cattle do not flow in and the workers are released from their employment. It is very hard to control- that sort of thing, and there must always be some percentage of unemployment in every State, because we have so many important primary industries, and- secondary industries too, which are- subject to seasonal conditions and fluctuations of price and. production. lt is, very hard, to answer the question put by Senator Cant. The number likely to be unemployed is completely unpredictable-. It is, dependent upon rainfall and a host of other conditions which are very difficult to calculate. At any rate, I say that in to-day’s conditions 5 per cent, is too high.
I am sure that we shall substantially reduce that figure during the months that lie very closely ahead. If the people who make up the 5 per cent, of the work force that is unemployed in Queensland could be put in. employment on an average wage of, say, £10 a week, their earnings would be of the order of £1,500,000 a year. This amount, spread amongst the vendors of merchandise and foodstuffs in Queensland; would have a most stimulating effect upon industry in that State. The economics of the situation demand the placing of as many unemployed as possible back on the pay-rolls of industry so that they may exercise their full weight and make a cash contribution to the economy of the State-. Their purchasing power would give a great stimulus to industries supplying the goods to satisfy their wants.
To provide increased assistance for those poor fellows who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed, the- Government is wisely increasing the unemployment benefit for adults by 7s. 6d. to a total of £4 2s. 6d. a week. The Government has made a most generous grant of £10,000,000: to the States for the relief of unemployment. The grant is an outright gift. The official term for it is “ non-repayable “. I do not know for sure, but I should think that the grant of such a substantial sum for distribution amongst the States for the relief of unemployment would be without precedent in the history of the federation. Queensland’s share amounts to £3,340,000; so my State receives the lion’s share of the £1-0,000,000 because it has the highest proportion of unemployment. I- am sure that every one of Queensland’s citizens is highly appreciative of the Government’s splendid- contribution for the relief of unemployment and the stimulation of industry.
In addition, the Government is providing £900,000 for housing and; £1,545,000 in loans to semi-governmental and local authorities in Queensland. A far greater sum- is spread over all the Australian States. For my purpose, I have confined my attention to Queensland’. The total- amount that will be paid, by the Commonwealth Treasury to the credit of the Queensland Government is £5,785,000, to. create employment and restore confidence amongst the people of that State.
Queensland will also receive an extra amount of £1,003,000 in tax reimbursement this year. This windfall results from a readjustment that became necessary when the 1961 census revealed that Queensland’s population had been underestimated’ for the purposes of the tax reimbursement formula by more than 40,000. As a result of over-estimation of the population of Victoria, that. State received a reimbursement that properly belonged to Queensland. It was money which did not belong to Victoria and by all standards of dealing it was due for refund to Queensland once the census position was known. However,, the Prime Minister, with the tolerant judgment of Solomon, decided, not to, enforce, the Commonwealth rights against Victoria. So every Premier was. happy, because, nobody lost. Queensland gained over £1,000,000, New South Wales gained £175,000 and South Australia gained £43,000. Even the Prime Minister seemed to be happy, although the Commonwealth had to bear the loss. It seems rather odd that an error of such magnitude could occur in the estimate of population. I would like to hear from any honorable senator who can throw any light on this matter. A miscalculation of 40,000 in the population is rather remarkable because usually the statistical estimates are very close to the mark.
Arising out of the Commonwealth Government’s bonanza the States and local government authorities will receive £25,000,000 for new works and housing. It is estimated that the reductions in income tax and sales tax will place an extra £30,000,000 in circulation between now and 30th June next. That is a large increase in the amount of money flowing through the economy, and it will have a profound influence as time goes by. It will help to restore confidence and get industry back to the stage it had reached before we ran into our inflationary and financial difficulties. From there I hope that we will begin to climb slowly upward.
For good measure the Prime Minister has informed us that the overall credit position throughout Australia is much easier than it has been for some time past. The availability of credit to industry and the stimulation created by the additional money in circulation will, within the next few months, give new heart and confidence to everybody. The generous financial provisions to which I have referred are a platform from which to launch a massive attack on unemployment. But to succeed we must have the utmost co-operation of the State governments and of those persons capable of providing employment. Everything possible must be done to create a strong consumer demand. It has been truly said that one man’s spending is another man’s income. If that principle is given practical effect, we may look forward to better days.
A further tax concession to industry, included in the recent relief measures, was a 20 per cent, investment allowance in respect of new plant or equipment. This will be in addition to the normal depreciation allowance. The aim of this allowance is to encourage manufacturers- to instal new plant and thereby boost production and reduce costs. Some manufacturers still use ancient types of plant and their costs of production are high. The installation of modern plant frequently leads to a reduction in costs of production. That is what we need to-day above all else. I am not aware of the exact formula of this concession. I understand that it is still being i developed and that it will be announced later and will be dealt with by us in legislation.
Splendid work, under the leadership of Mr. McEwen, Minister for Trade, has been done in obtaining export markets. We must increase our export earnings so that our secondary industries may expand and absorb the large numbers of young people leaving schools and universities each year and seeking places in the sun. Nothing is more valuable to Australia than outlets for our manufactured goods. The Department of Trade is encouraging manufacturers to roll up their sleeves and seek overseas markets. For example, a special taxation allowance is granted for expenditure on market development. Trade promotion expenses incurred outside Australia carry an income tax allowance of £2 for each £1 so expended. That concession should encourage progressive manufacturers diligently to seek business in other countries. It is a good incentive to a manufacturer to know that he can claim a tax deduction of £2 for every £1 spent by his representatives in Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Singapore in the pursuit of export markets. Pay-roll tax rebates operate in favour of any employer whose export sales have increased above the annual average of the export sales made by him during the base period of two years ended 30th June, 1960. That again is a very attractive incentive for the .manufacturer to go out after business in other parts of the world. This Government, with Mr. McEwen as Minister for Trade - the right man in the right job - is striving hard to create permanent employment by the vigorous pursuit of overseas markets. Australia is developing into one of the great trading nations of the world. The chartered trade vessels “ Velos “ and “ Straat Banka “ have carried our products along the coast of Asia with great success.
– When will we know that for certain?
– Orders were placed by merchants in Singapore alone for £3,000,000 worth of Australian manufactured goods and some primary products, samples of which were mounted on the “Straat Banka “. The “Velos” was in Yokohama and other Japanese ports and large orders were placed by Japanese merchants for our goods. The “ Chardtara “ has been chartered and is at present en route to the rich sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. Press reports suggest that very good business is being transacted there.
– What types of goods are being offered?
– Australian manufactured goods and Australian primary products.
– Electrical goods, and dairy produce.
– A wide range of Australian manufactured goods is being offered. I have not seen one of these trade vessels mounted for a mission but I am assured by those who have seen them that they present a display of which Australia may be proud. Mr. Warren McDonald, who is well known in Canberra, is leading the mission to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. He is accompanied by able banking officials and by Australian manufacturers. Those people are well equipped to quote firm prices and to transact business. That is the way to do business. Go out into the firing line! You cannot do business sitting in a dingy office in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane. The man who beats the bushes gets the bird. To sell goods you must meet people and stir things up, but your prices must be attractive. Mr. McEwen has been a tremendous leader in this sphere. He has built up a magnificent Department of Trade which is co-operating really well with our Australian manufacturers, and our manufacturers are cooperating with it. That is the way to build up our industries and create employment. lt is far belter than having to make grants for the relief of unemployment and so on. Let us build on a good solid foundation and bring business into the country.
The Labour Government’s annual expenditure on trade promotion and publicity in 1949 Was £15,000. This Government has increased that expenditure to approximately £1,000,000 for the current financial year and is spending a further £1,000,000 on the maintenance of one of the strongest trade commissioner services in the world to-day. Those figures help one understand that some vigour is being injected into this great trade drive by our Department of Trade and the manufacturers in our big cities.
– What was the figure under the Labour Government?
– It was £15,000.
– What was it in 1901?
– 1 am sorry, I do not know. J was not taking much interest in these matters at that time.
The proposed amendment of the Tariff Board Act, which is referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech, is giving much concern to many leaders of primary industry. They fear that ‘ increased protection will add to the burden of primary’ producers’ who already are working under the handicap of the high cost level of Australian industry but have been responsible for the maintenance of our vital London funds in a healthy condition of credit. I believe that the Government is doing the best it possibly can to meet the tariff problem fairly as between the primary producers, the manufacturers and the consumers. We shall have a better understanding’ of what is proposed when the amending legislation comes before the Senate shortly. I believe in a reasonable measure of protection for our manufacturing industries, but the tariffs awarded are often very substantial and are strengthened further by a super tariff in the form of the 25 per cent, exchange rate.
An example of what can happen in this tariff world was referred to by Senator Benn last evening. He complained that the handkerchief industry was entitled to increased protection although an investigating tariff body had recommended against an application for an increased tariff. Senator Benn said that Australian-made handkerchiefs were commanding only 50 per cent, of the Australian market. He claimed that Austraiian manufacturers should have the whole of the market. -.By way of interjection I said to him last even* ing, “ If we can profitably win 50 per cent, of the market for Australian-manufactured handkerchiefs, logically we should have the whole market “. He scratched his head and said that it was a riddle to him and he did not know how that position came about. But it is no riddle at all to me. There are manufacturers who want protection not to enable them to compete reasonably against merchandise from other countries, but to eliminate competition altogether. That is a very happy condition if you can get it. lt seems to me that Senator Benn was putting up a case for that type of manufacturer. He said that some manufacturers are able to command half of the market. When I asked him why they could not get the other half he said he could not solve the riddle.
There must be a reason like that which I have given. Suffice it to say that an emergency tariff body investigated the complaint of the handkerchief makers and decided that they had nothing in their case. Senator Benn is not satisfied. He says in his own words, “ They should get a little more protection “. That is the sort of thing that will send our costs sky high and help to make it impossible for Australian industry to compete, on its cost level, with manufacturers from other countries. That is only a simple illustration; but if the Labour Party were in power and accorded this increased protection to a wide field of Australian manufactures, in no time we would have to call back our ships and businessmen and cancel our hopes of trading with other countries where we are doing good business.
I must say this in justification of the good type of manufacturer: Fortunately, the great majority of manufacturers - many of whom I know personally in my own State - are most anxious to co-operate with the Department of Trade in the promotion of exports. Evidence of that is found in the success of all our trade missions abroad over the past three- or four years and the success of our trade ships that have gone to various Asian ports. There are really good fellows among the manufacturers who are bending over backwards to cut their costs as much as they can and co-operate with the Department of Trade to try to build up a sizeable export trade in our manufactured products. They do not want to leave the whole of the burden on the primary producer who to-day is called upon to find the hundreds of millions of pounds that are necessary to keep our London funds in balance.
Another threat to increase costs and cause general instability is the proposed application by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for a 35-hour week. An editorial in the February issue of the journal “ Industry To-day “ states that the present 40-hour week, after the deduction of time lost through annual leave, sick leave and public holidays, gives an average working period of 36.3 hours. That figure excludes tea breaks. So, the net number of hours worked by people engaged in industry today on what is called the 40-hour week is really 36.3 hours a week.
I say that the trinity of rising wages, shorter working hours and increased protection to local industry is a greater enemy of employment than anything else. If those three features of our social life work together they can be a greater enemy to increased employment than anything else I can think of. A 35-hour week would be a dangerous experiment at this time when we have so much unemployment on our hands. The argument that many more people will be employed with a 35-hour week than with a 40-hour week is completely fallacious. All it would do is create such a measure of instability, uncertainty and unpredictability that our industries which were stable previously would lose ground, and because of higher costs they might have to release from employment many good fellows who are employed to-day. We have to keep up with world conditions. The easy times wc knew during the immediate post-war years - those honeymoon conditions - have disappeared from the scene. To-day there is a hard, tense struggle for trade. If we burden ourselves with restrictive costs, that will rebound on the men employed in the factories and on other sources of employment in our country.
I should like workers in industry to give deep and serious thought to the advocacy of a 35-hour week. In fact, my strong advice to them would be to reject it, realizing that high-cost goods cannot be sold on the world’s markets. Some eight or ten years ago - in the early post-war years - I read in an English journal that the masters, of heavy industry in West Germany had such a good year, sending their export in over the world, that they decided to” offer a 10 per cent, increase of wages to their employees. Notification to this effect was sent to the secretaries of the unions connected with heavy industry, but, to the great astonishment of the employers, in due time, they received word from the union secretaries that they had put the proposition to the men at big meetings and that the men had rejected the offer. The grounds of the rejection were, first, that such an increase of wages would send up costs of production by 10 per cent., which would make it more difficult for German goods to compete on the markets of the world, and secondly, that the increase would do the men themselves no good because, as costs of production went up in Germany, the costs of food, clothing, and everything else needed for their homes and families would rise in the same proportion, or in a greater proportion. Those hard-headed, solid German workers in coal mines and big steel works turned the offer down. As a result, German trade is buoyant. Workers have to be brought into German industry from every country in Europe outside the Iron Curtain. The Germans are jumping out of their skins with buoyancy of spirit and with the thrill of success, if I may put it in that way. Their goods are being sold in the markets of every country of the world. That shows which is the right approach, if you can only get big bodies of men to see it in that way.
Unfortunately, in Australia the trade union leaders, I regret to say, are giving a wrong lead to the men they organize. The result is that’ the men want to get more and more money, forgetting that every time wages are increased, an increase in costs occurs right throughout the country. The net result is that the men are not better off. They are worse off, because the increased costs make it more difficult for us to sell our goods out of our own markets, in competition with countries which face up to these issues. That is the way I see it. That is the way the German workers saw it, and they can show results from forgoing a wage increase offered to them. They have been able to build up great industries and market their goods all over the world at prices the rest of the world can afford to pay. If the Germans can do that sort of thing, why cannot we?
– The employers control conditions.
– An offer was mad by the employers. The workers were under no compulsion whatever. It was the men who controlled the matter; they said they did not want the extra money. They said, “ Let us recover from the effects of the war. Let us win markets so that we can keep industry going and have jobs.” The important consideration to them was, not a 10 per cent, wage increase, but to have jobs. Those are thoughts that I think every honorable senator, and everybody connected with the organization of trade unions, should ponder over. I do not say these things with any malice towards the unions. I know that it is natural for every one of us to want to get a few more pounds, but if, in getting a few extra pounds, we lessen the capacity of. an industry to give widespread employment, what is .the good of the extra wages? They are of no value at all. We should determine a wage and a number of hours in industry which would enable us to hold our jobs and sell our goods. That is the lesson of commerce.
Australia’s holdings of international currency - gold and foreign exchange - reached the record sum of £602,000,000 in December, 1961. At that point of time our overseas balances were better than ever before in our history. Last year there were grave fears that our overseas balances were running down to danger level, but the economic measures taken in November, 1960, had the desired effect, and now we are building up our overseas credits. I realize, of course, that in that’ total there are invisible sums that I cannot dissect, but the plain fact is that our export values are gradually going up and our import values are falling. The result is that we have a large sum of money standing to our credit in London.
The Government is financing major developmental works designed to supplement and strengthen the big export drive being undertaken by the Department of Trade throughout the world. Work is proceeding with great speed on the reconstruction of the railway line connecting Mount Isa, Townsville and Collinsville. When this job is completed, Mount Isa Mines Limited expects to double its exports of lead and copper. That would mean an export value of approximately £40,000,000 per annum from one single unit of industry in Queensland. The actual export income of Mount Isa Mines Limited for 1961 was £19,000,000. The export income has been as high as £22,000,000. Of course, there have been fluctuations in the prices of copper and lead. Last year the export income was £19,000,000. If you double £19,000,000, you get £38,000,000. With a little bit of luck, as the song says, the income could well be £40,000,000. That is the tremendous amount of export wealth that one industry could bring in for the benefit of the Australian economy.
The railway is needed because the prehistoric or primitive railway which now links Mount Isa and Townsville has not been able to cope with the production of the mine. As soon as the new line is finished, then, with increased train speeds, a quicker turn-round, a better-ballasted track and heavier rails, the company will be able to double its production and double the value of its exports of lead and copper. In the meantime, the Commonwealth Government is financing the Queensland Government to the extent of £20,000,000, repayable at approximately £5,000,000 per annum, for the reconstruction of this railroad between Townsville and Mount Isa, and of the branch line to Collinsville. That is being done to assist a valuable export industry.
Over in Western Australia the same sort of thing is happening. There is no need for me to do so, but 1 like to mention things like this, because I am a good Australian and I am pleased at the successes of all our States. At Kwinana in Western Australia the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited intends to erect a steelworks at a cost of about £44,000,000 to treat iron ore from Koolyanobbing. This industry will add to Australia’s sources of export wealth when it gets into its stride. Progress there depends largely on the speed of construction of the uniform gauge railway, which is estimated to cost £41,000,000, connecting Kalgoorlie and Kwinana via Perth. For this big enterprise, the Commonwealth Government is providing finance which will be supplemented by money from the Western Australian Government. Being of standard gauge, the railway from Kalgoorlie to
Kwinana qualifies for the same grant from the Commonwealth Government as was provided for the construction of the railway from Wodonga to Melbourne, amounting to 70 per cent, of the cost. The balance is to be provided by the State Government.
I served on the Government members’ committee that investigated the matter of standard rail gauges, and in my view it is important to Australia that its capital cities should be connected by a uniform gauge line. It will not only serve as a defence project; it will also reduce transport costs and make travel easier for the people of Australia. We look forward to the time when the South Australian Government will link Broken Hill with Port Pirie by a standard gauge railway, and then it will be possible to travel from- South Brisbane, through Sydney, Broken Hill, Port Pirie, Port Augusta, Perth, and Fremantle, to Kwinana without a break of gauge.
When the committee took evidence in Perth in its standard gauge inquiry representatives of shipping companies there said that they had been told by their principals in London that if war broke out their big ships would make a milk run, so to speak, between London and Fremantle, because if they discharged their cargoes at Fremantle they would not have to run the risk of sailing all the way to eastern Australia with valuable cargoes through seas that might be full of submarines. If the worst should come to the worst - though I hope it will not in my day again - ships’ cargoes could be brought on a standard gauge line across the continent to eastern Australia. Consignment of goods to the east and from the east to the west will be facilitated. That is the vision of those of us who served on the committee, and I am sure it is the vision of the Commonwealth Government, too. Approval having been given to what seemed to be the most difficult project of all to get going, the line from Kalgoorlie to Perth and Fremantle, I am sure that within a reasonable time the Government of South Australia will enter into a similar arrangement to bridge the gap between Broken Hill and Port Pirie.
As evidence of what the Government is doing in the field of national development and to provide goods for export, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is also in charge of the development of mineral resources, made an exciting announcement of the discovery of iron ore deposits in the Pilbarra district in the north of Western Australia. He said mat the new discoveries must rank amongst the greatest mineral discoveries in Australia’s history. That is a tremendous thing to say, because there have been some wonderful mineral discoveries since the foundation of Australia, but Senator Spooner made that exciting announcement on the advice of his officers in the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
Mining authorities say that the Constance Range iron ore field that lies in the CloncurryMount Isa mineral belt of Queensland will rival Mount Isa in wealth when it is seriously worked. As X see the situation, there is no shortage in Australia of people willing to put up money to mine iron ore and ship it away to Japan or other countries, but it is not so easy to find people who will take on the important work of converting the iron ore into steel at works erected by them close to the ore deposits. Australia needs a development plan under which these big deposits of iron ore that nature has given it can be converted in treatment plants established close to the deposits by people with the necessary capital and know-how. We have that big job ahead of us. Surely the large deposits at Pilbarra and Constance Range will attract some big company, such as Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, to establish steelworks there. I hope that governments will not allow too much ore to be sent out of the country before it is treated. This is more a matter for the State governments than for the Commonwealth. We should strive to have our ore treated in our own steelworks. This would give a great lift to the States- concerned.
Foundations are being laid at Weipa for the mining and treatment of rich bauxite deposits which in due course will bring great wealth to Australia by the exportation of the finished product, aluminium. At
Weipa there are sufficient deposits to yield 1 ,000,000 tons of ore annually for the next 300 years. Development there is based on a plant to process 360,000 tons of alumina a- year, before shipment to reduction plants - elsewhere. I think that New Zealand is the place where the aluminium eventually will bc produced. By the time that project is finished, approximately £45,000,000 will have been expended on it:’ So, Sir, I say that we are really building better than we know in Australia. Once the present-day unemployment has been checked by the measures now in hand, we should move back into another era of high prosperity.
There has been a lot of talk and advocacy by influential interests in southern Australia - I mean hot South Australia, but Victoria and New South Wales - of the formation of what is called a northern Australian commission, with financial backing by the Commonwealth Government. Sir Reginald Groom, a highly esteemed citizen of Brisbane and a former Lord Mayor of that city, in a recent press article advocated the establishment of what he called a Queensland development commission. With great respect to Sir Reginald, I am definitely opposed to such moves. I cannot see that any development commission could do other than duplicate the work of the governments of Queensland and Western Australia and the Administration of the Northern Territory. Such a -commission would add to the cost of government and bring into being numberless officials who would do precisely the same work as members of the Public Service of the States and the Territory involved. Northern Australian governments do not lack knowledge of important developmental schemes that could be undertaken in their territories. They would be in a position to commence many important works if the finance were forthcoming. Money with which to set these major developmental works in motion is the prime requirement. We must be careful not to weaken the power of our democratic governments in favour of control by oligarchic commissions. The call for commission control has only become articulate since the fabulous mineral wealth of northern Australia has been revealed. The direction of policies affecting these areas of immense mineral wealth in northern Australia must remain in the hands of governments elected by the people. .
There is in central Queensland a major scheme which offers great scope for agricultural and pastoral development. Mr. Nicklin, the Premier of Queensland, has publicly stated that his Government is working on a plan to develop 54,500 square miles of the Fitzroy River basin west of Rockhampton, an area which should not be confused with the Fitzroy River district in north-western Australia. This plan is being prepared for the Commonwealth Government. The scheme involves approximately 7,000,000 acres of rich brigalow scrub, most of which is still virgin country. The Fitzroy River basin is already the greatest cattle producing region in Queensland. If this area were properly developed it could cany another 1,200,000 beef cattle, or double the present cattle population, and if the scheme were carried through it could add a new province to the State of Queensland. It would cost, of course, a large sum of money to correlate all the requisite improvements to make the Fitzroy River basin richly productive. I look forward with great confidence to the Commonwealth Government providing financial backing for this major scheme when the plans are submitted to it by the Premier of Queensland.
I shall refer to the important matters ot defence and international affairs in a later debate. I understand that a statement is to be made on the subject of international affairs by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick).
The discoveries of oil at Cabawin No. 1 and Moonie No. 1, and of gas at Glentulloch No. 1, in the Roma oil basin in Queensland, are bound to result in the most intense search for oil during the current year ever undertaken in Australia. Although Moonie No. 1 well has yielded more than 2,000 barrels of oil a day, it must be remembered that one producing well does not constitute an oil field. Numerous other wells must be drilled in the same area before the extent of the oil field can be determined. All the signs and portents of a rich oil field are showing in the Moonie River district, south of Tara, in southern Queensland. If a rich oil field is proven in this zone it is certain that vast wealth will be unlocked, to the great benefit of the Australian economy. I am sure that every honorable senator will join with me in wishing great success in the quest for commercially payable oil to those good people who have ventured their money in the Moonie area and elsewhere in Australia. The whole of Australia will await with deep interest the results of the tests -at present being conducted at Moonie No. 1 well.
I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply.
– I join with all other honorable senators in supporting the expressions of loyalty to the Throne that are contained in the motion before the Senate. I realize, and we all realize more as the days go by, the value of the Crown as the great link in the British Commonwealth, and very happy we are to have a symbol and an influence which stands for stability. It happens, Sir, that I have been almost a denizen of another country for two months, and I am not well informed on much that has happened in Australia during that time. I shall not comment on a number of matters until I have gone through the files of newspapers which are lying in my office. I shall therefore confine myself to one or two matters.
I begin by supporting the proposal, made by Senator Robertson, that it should be a special concern of the Federal Government to preserve our historic monuments, particularly when they have architectural beauty. I spent my rest cure at St. Louis, Missouri, which is situated in a bend of the Mississippi River. It was, and still is, a great inland port. During the period of purely commercial development the beauty of the riverside within the city was, 1 think, destroyed by the erection of many ugly buildings. Now, there is a great scheme for -a national memorial undertaken by the Federal Government with, of course, the support of the State government of Missouri and of the city. It is proposed to erect what is called the Jefferson Expansion Memorial, which will be a monument to President Jefferson who bought the great area of Louisiana, an area that included not only the present small State of Louisiana but also the States of Missouri, Kansas and, I think, about ten others. The old Louisiana stretched right up to the Canadian border.
The beauty of that part of the city is to be restored. The old courthouse, a magnificent, historic building of a type which is no longer in fashion, has already been restored. It has a dome and is very spacious. It has been turned into an historic museum. I took my two young grandsons to see it and they were delights J with the models, the pictures and particularly the firearms and relics of Indian warfare, but 1 found the most interesting part the court in which the two preliminary hearings of the Dred Scott case were heard. The Dred Scott case, as you know, Sir, was the case in which it was decided, after eleven years of litigation, that a negro who had been a slave had no rights at all under the Constitution. That decision was not reversed by the courts until the great Civil War had been fought. 1 mention that as an illustration of what can and should be done. I believe that a knowledge of the history of one’s country is an essential requirement of citizenship. The Americans do that kind of thing very well. I am afraid that the knowledge many of them have of their own history is rather sketchy. But there are certain men and certain events that stand out in their minds as monuments. Every American schoolboy and some little Australian schoolboys know a great deal about Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and other historical figures. We are now a nation with all the responsibilities of a nation. We have our traditions. The schools do their best to inculcate a respect for them, but a great deal more can be done. All governments have a definite responsibility to do that, too.
The matter to which I intend to give most of my attention is that of foreign relations. I approve completely the statements contained in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral. Summarizing them, I note that His Excellency said that our foreign relations should be based on these principles: First, we should be faithful and contributing members of the United Nations, upholding the principles of the Charter; secondly, we should cultivate friendly relations with our neighbours; thirdly, we should guard against resort to war by those who reject these principles; and fourthly, we should maintain steadfast membership and support of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I shall quote the fifth principle exactly as it appeared in the Speech. His Excellency said - 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.
It is a function of the Senate of the United States of America specifically to advise upon and consent to certain matters of policy, notably foreign policy. We have no such specific charge laid upon us, but I believe it is our duty to speak plainly about what we think should be the foreign policy of the country. I intend to advise - that is, to’ give such advice as I think is suitable at this stage.
The first aspect of this issue we should consider is the temper in which we approach it. I suggest that we should assume, until the contrary is proved, that there is some measure of goodwill amongst all those who are negotiating. Secondly, we should proceed on the basis of facts so far as facts can be ascertained. Thirdly, we should evaluate those facts according to their importance. The first fact - this Government has insisted upon it and I believe will do so to the end - is that the Netherlands Government is the legal authority in West New Guinea. The second fact is that Indonesia has made a claim to the territory and has done so as a matter of right and not of expediency. That claim has been rejected by Australia and I believe by most of the nations concerned. The fourth fact is that the Netherlands Government has announced that it is preparing the indigenous people of New Guinea for ultimate self-government. I have visited West New Guinea, have talked with officials and have seen what is being done in its schools and territories. All the evidence 1 have seen is that the Netherlands Government is faithfully carrying out the policy of acting as a trustee to the indigenous people.
The fifth fact I come to is very important, and the measure of weight we give to it will have a great deal to do with the settlement. I found that in the United States of America a great deal of weight was being given to this fact. I thought that certain people were giving a little too much weight to it, but I may be wrong. The fact is that the prevailing sentiment in Asian and African countries which have recently gained independence is opposed to the continuance of any European colonialism or imperialism. Those people include under that heading the trusteeship that is being conducted by nations such as the Netherlands and ourselves. It does not appear to enter the minds of leaders in these Asian and African countries that there can be such a thing as Asian or African imperialism or colonialism. Imperialism or colonialism simply means the domination of one people by another and more specifically the governing of people in what is regarded as a backward stage of development by people in a more advanced stage of development. As I said, there can be Asian or African imperialism and colonialism just as there can be European colonialism.
– And Communist imperialism.
– And, of course, there is Communist imperialism. This sentiment is one of the powerful forces with which we must reckon and with which 1 think the negotiators are reckoning. I state the next fact as a fact, irrespective of whether it is desirable or undesirable, lt is this: The United States of America is the most powerful of the nations concerned in the settlement and she will undoubtedly have the weightiest voice in deciding what is to be done. The last fact, which I state quite boldly, is that the peoples to whom the issue is most important are the Papuans and the Australians.
I went overseas for a rest cure, but I spent a good deal of time having friendly discussions with Americans on many matters. When I came to this issue I found that there was a great degree of ignorance and prejudice. I met people of all classes. I met negroes as well as people of European descent; I met senators and ex-senators and a State governor. My time was spent mainly with university people because of the fortunate accident that I happened to be visiting a visiting professor there. I found amongst some of the university people a considerable degree of prejudice and ignorance. I found also a very great degree of enlightenment, and I found among some of the leading academic people there a quality of leadership which I thought was very great indeed. I have no doubt whatever that everything I shall say has been presented cogently to the Government of the United States and to all the other governments concerned.
The terms of the Governor-General’s Speech are general and vague, but that is inevitable because until a settlement is made you do not get down to very specific terms. The matter that we as a parliament and as Australian citizens ought to understand is the foreign policy of the United States in Asia. There is much criticism of it by Americans themselves. Some of it is partisan criticism and some of it is criticism from strong supporters of the administration. A curious fact in the United States - curious to us - is that the parties are organized in a way totally different from ours. I once compared an American party with a cricket team which, when it is batting, allows, or at least cannot prevent, onethird of its members from fielding for the other side, so that it is quite likely that a batsman will be caught out, shall we say, at silly point by one of his own side. That was a rough and ready illustration which, I am afraid, many Americans did not understand. I tried to translate it into baseball terms, but, as 1 do not understand baseball very well, it probably did not go home.
I think a fundamental point of American policy with which we all agree is that it is necessary to contain communism. With that general objective, I think, there will be no quarrel in this Parliament, but the question of the means by which that is to be done leaves a good deal of room for difference of opinion. I listened to the President’s address to Congress - to what is called the Address on the State of the Union - and I heard his pronouncements on foreign affairs, but there was no clear and definite statement of policy on the Indonesian-Dutch dispute. There was a very clear statement about Viet Nam and about Laos. I agreed heartily with the statement about Viet Nam and reluctantly with the statement about Laos. I agree that the Americans are doing all that they can to contain communism there, but many Americans share the illusion, which is prevalent among the new Asian and African peoples, that imperialism can only be European. With one man I had a very long conversation, which developed into an argument, at the end of which T had the support of everybody but himself. I hope that I finally converted him. It was with regard to Dutch administration. Because the old Dutch empire, which has vanished, had certain faults in administration which everybody, including the Netherlands, now admits, it is assumed by many people that the Dutch administration of West New Guinea is simply the old imperialism continued, and that any transfer to an Asian people would be a liberation of the people in the area. 1 say flatly and bluntly - I think I have said it to at least 100 Americans and at least hinted it in a letter I wrote to the “ Post-Despatch “, one of the great newspapers of the United States - that that is simply not true. There is no ground in right for transferring West New Guinea from the Netherlands to any Asian nation, because any Asian nation which could possibly take control of it would differ - I think differ quite as much as the Dutch do - from the Papuans. I have support in saying that. The real authorities are the ethnologists and the other people who really know something about the area. Some have visited it and many others know it by careful study of the authoritative texts.
Therefore, if any one transfers West New Guinea from the Netherlands to any other country on the old terms of absolute sovereignty, it could develop into the sort of thing that is described as colonialism or imperialism. Certain conclusions will have to be drawn from that undoubted fact. Apart from any illusions that may exist, I think that the American Administration has a firm conception of policy. Its policy is to build up whatever nations’ in Asia can be made bastions against communism. That is a very difficult thing to do. The Americans may honestly try to do it, and they may fail. I have not enough knowledge of Indonesia to know whether it is sound policy to build that nation up as a bastion against communism. I am not sure of that. But if it is. I still think that it is not a sound policy to do it by any injustice to the indigenous inhabitants of the island of New Guinea.
I believe that in my absence all these things have been debated in Australia, and I may possibly be only going over ground that is old ground to all of you, but 1 am stating the problem as I saw it while living in another country, talking to the citizens of another country who have a great voice in shaping a policy which will concern our future.
Now I come to make some suggestions about the solution, and I am doing this deliberately in advance of a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), because I believe that the principles on which policy should be based should be discussed freely and openly in this chamber. I believe also that they should be discussed on a non-partisan basis, not in ari attempt to prove that such and such a government in the past did wrong and that such and such a government in the past did right. I do not believe that we have had any governments that have been entirely right on external affairs.
Our conception of foreign policy is still only slowly being developed. I think that most Australians are very ill-informed about what is foreign policy. I grew up, as I suppose most people here did, under the shadow, the umbrella, or the all-protecting wing of the British. Empire. There was no foreign policy here, really, until the Second World War, except to give full support to the foreign policies of the United Kingdom. We entered the First World War, as leaders of both parties said at the time, because we were part of the British Empire and the British Empire was threatened. The question of. our local interests hardly came into consideration. In making that decision after the First World War, of course, we were concerned with our own protection. It may be that what was regarded as necessary for our protection in those days, when the worst weapons were battleships or military artillery, is not the sort of protection we need to-day, but we do need protection. We do need some guarantee that this Commonwealth will be free and safe. Therefore, this question concerns our defence and our whole future. I am going to say what I consider is an ideal settlement of the Dutch New Guinea issue. That does not mean that I think no other settlement is possible. I believe the ideal settlement would be for the trusteeship of New Guinea to be transferred to Australia.
– The whole of it?
– Yes, the whole of New Guinea.
– How–would you persuade the Indonesians to agree to that?
– If the honorable senator will possess his soul in patience, I shall develop that theme. I have not ignored any aspect of this consideration. A slick, off-the-cuff answer is something which, at the present stage of negotiations, might do a great deal of harm, but I dp not believe that a dispassionate discussion of the subject will do harm. I think that a great many people need to have their minds completely cleared of illusions and misconceptions on this matter.
– It is a costly business, you know.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I want to make it plain that when the sitting was suspended 1 was exploring possibilities and not advocating one particular solution. I was asked was it possible that the Asian powers would accept the solution that we advocated. That is the very matter that is being negotiated and we all know that the intoxicating wine of successful nationalism may have gone to the heads of some of the leaders in Asia and Africa. I have talked to many of those leaders, as have you, Mr; President, and 1 found that many of them were reasonable men. We hope that among them are people who will look for a solution that will be lasting and will not be influenced solely by a national prejudice. The most important question is how the United States of America - that means the present American Administration and the American people - - would view such a solution. I found in the -United States that the greatest obstacles to any reasonable solution are ignorance, lack of interest and a disposition to adhere to a policy that has been decided on other grounds. I think that in all of our -approaches to the United States we must try to see ourselves as they see us because, from the point of view of most Americans, we are a far-away and not very important people; This fact was driven home to me in conversation with Americans, some of whom knew nothing whatever about Australia and others of whom knew a little or, to use a word that I found enormously popular over there, had an image that was greatly different from tl.j image that would have been presented by the facts. People asked me what I thought about Tahiti and I said that I thought it was a most agreeable and beautiful little island in the south Pacific - an admirable place to spend a holiday. I think that some of our warmest friends in the United States look upon
Australia in precisely that way. Nevertheless, many people in the United States are interested in Australia. I was pleased to find many men who had been here during the last war, who retained the fondest memories of this country and who knew a great deal about it. Some of them had travelled in every State. I met one man - he is now in a very important position in Washington - who had a very agreeable recollection of an Australian senator with whom he travelled from, I think, Brisbane to Sydney. That senator was a former President - Senator Brown. : Apart from trying to impress Americans with our importance we must endeavour to get a clear picture of our relative position. I travelled along the banks of the Mississippi and the Missouri for many miles and most of the time I had the sad reflection: If only Australia had all this water! Perhaps Australia to-day is to America as the Murray is to the Mississippi.
If we want to arrive at the solution to which I have referred and which I regard as a possible solution to the New Guinea question, we must realize that it will entail on our part a good deal of effort and sacrifice. To take over as trustee - I do not think anybody contemplates any other form of take-over for Dutch New Guinea - would cost a good deal of money in administration and would necessitate a very considerable increase in our defence forces and in our defence potential. I do not know whether the people with whom we are negotiating have considered whether we are more fitted than anybody else to take over the administration of Dutch New Guinea. After all, we have a department concerned with part of New Guinea. Part of New Guinea is legally an integral part of Australia - a possession, shall we say, of the Commonwealth - and another part was held first under a mandate and is now held under a trusteeship. We have the administrative machinery. We have the trained men. Any other country proposing to take over Dutch New Guinea should be asked whether it has the administrative machinery and the trained public servants or whether it contemplates getting them.
On the subject of Australia’s importance, I wrote’ a letter, as I have already said, to the “ St. Louis Post Despatch “; I do not propose to readu al! of that letter but among other things I wrote -
Your correspondent’s picture of 10,500,000 Australians confronted by. 90,000,000 Indonesians is a caricature. Most of the Indonesians are peasants whose adaptability to military life is untested. Most of the Australians are trained mechanics or farmers, entrepreneurs or professional men. 1 was speaking, of course, only of the adult male population. My letter continued -
Our industry is modern and is rapidly developing. Our fighting capacity has been tested in two world wars. 1 have found that Americans appreciate that way of talking. The worst criticism I ever had was from a gentleman who said, “ You talk like a Texan “. If you understand the reputation of Texans in the United States you will appreciate that criticism or compliment. I think it was both. The important thing to remember is that if we are to have a decisive voice or influential voice in the making of decisions we must pull our full weight in the councils of nations. I compliment the Government on its decision to buy United Nations bonds. Support for the United Nations is a major feature of American policy to-day. In many American journals bitter criticism is .expressed because the American taxpayer has been carrying most of the -burden of financing the operations of the United Nations because of the default of other nominal members of the organization. The best way for Australia to secure American goodwill is to pull its full weight. The Americans do not expect us to do anything like what they are doing, but they expect us to contribute to the United Nations in proportion to our size and wealth. The purchase of United Nations bonds by Australia is a practical gesture which is fully appreciated by American citizens.
Whatever happens to West New Guinea, Australia must continue to carry the burden of the rest of New Guinea, and our policy in administering our responsibility in that area must be firmly based on the welfare of the indigenous people and their steady development towards self-government. It would be tragic for the indigenous people of New Guinea to obtain self-government prematurely. I hope that public opinion will realize, having in mind the disastrous lesson of the Congo, what happens when a people not fitted and not trained for self- government suddenly have the full burden of self-government thrust upon them. It is possible that the solution arrived at in respect of Dutch New Guinea will be a compromise solution. We must be firm in demanding that, certain conditions shall attach to any such compromise. For that purpose, there should be a floor, not a ceiling, below which nobody will be allowed to fall. I suggest that these are the matters that should be considered.
The Government has said that it will not yield to force or a threat of force. Unfortunately, threats of force have been made. I understand that actual force has been used, or an attempt at it has been made. That will hang like a cloud over any compromise solution. If the present legal holder of the title to West New Guinea, Her Majesty Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, decides to transfer her title, it should be done honorably. For instance, I believe - this is only my own opinion - that the Dutch should be compensated for the work that they have done in building up the new State. The new title-holder or the new trustee - it is unthinkable that any one should be allowed to take over West New Guinea except as a trustee under the United Nations - should give- definite guarantees in a treaty.
The good work that has been done in Netherlands New Guinea should be carried on. For instance, the admirable schools that the Dutch have founded there should be continued and the teaching of English in them should be continued. The liaison which exists at present between our Administration in Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea should be continued. I believe that guarantees should be written into the treaty that attempts to assimilate West New Guinea by force or indoctrination into whatever nation is allowed to be the trustee - I will not say that the Indonesian Republic is the only alternative to Australia - should be prevented. There should be guarantees of freedom. Of course, that is written into the general charter. But it should not be a mere implication; it should be written into whatever treaty is signed. For instance, the missions that are there - I believe there are missions from the Dutch Reformed Church, the Roman Catholic Church and other churches - should be continued under guarantees which are clear and unmistakable. The inspection which is conducted of all trust territories now should be continued. The Asian and African people insist that they should be represented on any committee of inspection that goes from the United Nations. Similarly, I believe that Australia and possibly other European nations should be represented on whatever committee sees that the terms of the transfer are carried out.
That brings me to the general subject of foreign policy and our relations with the other members of the United Nations, particularly the United States of America, and with all the countries of Asia. It has become an axiom in public discussion that the main endeavour of Australian policy should be to be friendly with all the newly born nations, the nations that have recently cast off colonialism and become independent. That is certainly true. I notice that the Governor-General’s Speech says that we must be on friendly terms with our neighbours. But to-day the whole world is one neighbourhood. It is not possible to divide the world into areas and say, “ This and this only concerns us “. I believe that every area concerns every other nation. We cannot have a sound policy if all the time we are considering conciliating only our near neighbours. We must have a bond of friendship with all the nations of Europe and with all the nations of the rest of the world. We must work most firmly with those with whom we agree, or with whom we find agreement easy, or with whom we have some bonds in common. The containment of bolshevism or communism is a fundamental part of the policy, but that alone is not enough. The full development of all these new nations is something that concerns the whole civilized world. At this stage it is impossible to let any part of the world revert to barbarism.
As honorable senators know, at present the problem in the Congo has almost broken the United Nations. It is still unsolved. Whatever solution is found will not be happily accepted everywhere, but a solution must be found. The only instrument through which we can work at present is the United Nations. But within that organization there are groupings; there are people who are pulling their weight and there are people who are merely using it as a forum, a place where they can express theories destructive to the United Nations and to civilization.
We must have a firm policy with definite principles from which we will not depart. I have used the example of West New Guinea as the example most likely to be understood by and to appeal to Australians because it is near and because we have always, even before federation, thought that its destiny was concerned with ours. I believe that we need what the Americans call a bipartisan policy. We want a policy, the fundamental principles of which will not be departed from whatever change of government may occur. More than 40 years ago, before the First World War, Sir Eyre Crowe, a distinguished official of the Foreign Office, was asked to draft a memorandum laying down the principles of British policy. He found that for centuries British foreign policy had not varied from certain essential aims. One was that the island should be defended by a navy, strong enough to repel any force and also to protect all the trade routes of the whole world. The great peace - it was a great peace in the latter part of the nineteenth century; in fact, for the whole of the nineteenth century because the wars did not disturb the world, but only the particular countries that engaged in themwas maintained by the British Navy.
The fundamental change in our time is that to-day, with all respect to the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), the Navy is only one of the arms that protect our shores.
– The main one.
– There are also the Air Force and the Army. There are new and terrible weapons with an unknown potential. But ultimately the peace of the world depends on the power to use decisive force, and that power must not be in the hands of any single nation or any single group. We - as a young nation, but nevertheless a nation which now must face up to all its responsibilities - must play our proportionate part in that. I suppose that to many honorable senators these are truths so apparent that they are almost platitudes; but they have not yet sunk into the consciousness of a great many of our people. We do not win and lose elections on foreign policy, and I hope we never will. We all are a little wary about discussing foreign policy with an ordinary audience, in the press, or even in this chamber. We must abandon that attitude of mind. We must get into the habit of facing problems of foreign policy just as squarely as we face problems of home policy, because it is quite possible for us to work out definite solutions for home affairs problems only to have them nullified by what happens overseas.
I hope that within the present Parliament we shall have an effective Foreign Affairs Committee on which the whole of the Parliament will be represented. I do not approach this problem with any idea of criticising the Opposition, but I think the Opposition has made a mistake in not participating in the work of this committee. Criticism of the committee and its activities by Opposition members is necessarily based on ignorance, because only people who have been on that committee know what it does, lt has been derided as a study circle. Well, it is a study circle, but it is a study circle which informs the minds of its members. It has on occasions, in definite ways, as the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) knows, and as I and every former member of the committee know, had an effect on foreign policy.
The responsibility for the solution of the New Guinea problem is being faced now by the ministry. I have the fullest confidence in the Prime Minister, the Minister for External Affairs and the other members of the Cabinet. I know the difficulties with which they are faced. I know that it is not possible for an Australian government to say, as Lord Palmerston could say 100 years ago in the House of Commons, “ This is the right solution and we will see that it is carried out “. All that the Australian Government can do is to present its solution to the United Nations and to the great powers which have the decisive voice. I believe that that is being done, but I believe also that public opinion in this country and the opinion of the two Houses of the Parliament should be known.
I think the opinion of all Australians should be that we desire a just and honorable solution. We desire a solution that will be just and honorable to the present trustees pf. New Guinea. We desire a solution that will be not only just and honorable but bene volent to the indigenous inhabitants. We cannot treat the people of this area of the world as though they were mere chattels. Although we are concerned with our vital interests, we must realize that we do not serve those interests well if we think of them only. It would be a shameful chapter in human history if the indigenous inhabitants of New Guinea were, in a phrase well understood in the United States - and particularly in a city I recently visited - “ sold down the river “. Any solution must guard effectively their interests. It is only in that way, I think, that we can have any hope of a lasting peace and of security for our own country.
– I join with other honorable senators who have spoken in supporting the expression of loyalty contained in the motion now under discussion. I agree with a statement that Senator Robertson made in her speech on 20th February. She said that she was disappointed that the Government had not done something to reduce the incidence of sales tax on foodstuffs. I take the opportunity of quoting from Senator Robertson’s speech. She said -
I must express my extreme disappointment at the Government’s retention of sales lax and payroll tax. It is beyond my understanding that sales tax on a luxury such as a motor car should be reduced by 71 per cent, while sales tax at the rate of 124 per cent, is retained on foodstuffs that are in everyday 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 war-time. Surely we have progressed to the stage to-day where we can do away with taxes that were imposed to meet the extraordinary demands of war-time but which are not necessary during peace-time. I ask the Government to consider this matter. I 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 agree with that part of Senator Robertson’s speech, because I think it is a great injustice that sales tax should be imposed upon foodstuffs when other luxury lines are free of the tax. I believe that indirect taxation should be reduced, and I go so far as to say that it should be reduced in preference to reducing direct taxation. Foodstuffs are essential to the community, particularly to married men with families. A reduction of the sales’ tax on essential commodities would give the family man a greater amount of money to spend on other essential commodities.
It would infuse money into our economy at a greater rate than would be brought about by a reduction in direct taxation.
The imposition of indirect taxation may take money from people painlessly, but I believe that an increase of direct taxation would be preferable to the retention of indirect taxation. Under the direct taxation system, a person knows what he is paying during the taxation year, but under the insidious indirect taxation system a person can be paying by way of indirect taxes up to 14s. in the £1, and not realize it. I hope that when the Government is discussing the Budget for 1962-63 it will give serious consideration to the question of indirect taxation of foodstuffs. I ask the Government to lift that taxation and thereby give the family man greater spending power, thus helping the community.
While I am speaking about the next Budget, I should like to ask the Government to consider increasing the income tax allowable deduction for education expenses from £100 to £150. The allowance of £100 was introduced into the legislation five years ago. Every honorable senator present this evening knows that the cost of outfitting children to attend school has increased over the past five years. I feel that the Government should give earnest consideration to increasing the allowable deduction for education expenses from £100 to £150. Last year I received a letter from the committee of girls’ secondary schools in South Australia. It arrived too late for me to ask the Government to do anything about it. It was dated 9th July, 1961, and at that time the Budget had been prepared. The Government should give serious consideration . to the contents of this letter which reads as follows: -
The Girls’ Secondary Schools Committee of South Australia is composed of representatives of independent girls’ schools, and as such is well acquainted with opinions expressed by parents. The committee remembers the help given to parents in the past by means of the Income Tax Allowance for Educational Expenses. This allowance commenced at £50, and has twice been increased until it now stands at £100, which has been the allowance for the past five years.
Our schools are very conscious of the necessity of providing education at the lowest cost commensurate with maintaining an adequate standard. Nevertheless, costs have increased during the past five years to such an extent that education expenses now exceed the allowance by a considerable margin.
Parents who are prepared to spend money on the education of their children are saving governments a considerable amount of money, both on capital and operating account. This is clearly recognized by the concessions granted to parents and to schools in the past, for which they are not ungrateful.
There is a strong body of opinion in this State which fee’s that the time has come when the education expense allowance could well be increased to £130. This will do no more than restore the concession to its 1956 value as far as parents are concerned.
I hope that the Government will take that into consideration when the Budget for the forthcoming year is being drawn up. It is ironical that £400 can be allowed as a life assurance deduction yet the .education expenses deduction remains at £100. The average wage-earner cannot afford to invest £400 a year in insurance, and the only people that can receive a deduction allowance of £400 for life assurance are those who can afford to purchase that amount of insurance. The others who benefit from this deduction are the assurance companies themselves who use the income tax deduction aspect as a high pressure point for boosting the sales of their policies.
Dealing with the unemployment situation and the economy of this country I wish first to read some statements that were made in 1960 by responsible people, mostly Ministers and members of the Liberal Party. “Hansard” of 16th November, 1960, records the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as having said -
The Treasurer’s statement made last night was the product of long, elaborate and thoughtful consideration in Cabinet. No hasty conclusions were reached, nor was there - I say this not to disappoint some people - the slightest atmosphere of panic. We devoted weeks to this matter.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) was reported by the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 10th December, 1960, as having made this statement -
A very serious economic situation could have resulted next year if the new measures had not been introduced. The rising tide of imports and the unexpected decline in exports forced the Federal- Government to take these measures.
By abolishing some import licences we hope a serious position will be avoided. The Government could be guided only by the present economic situation. We believe the present impositions will help the flow of imports and help control inflation to maintain continuity of full employment. It is hoped that the people will accept the new measures by realizing the Government is attempting to prevent a repetition of the almost chronic degree of unemployment before World War II.
Even when the Minister for Immigration made that statement, members of the Government were not happy about the situation, although they supported the measures that the Government was adopting. They hoped that more measures would not have to be resorted to, creating the unemployment thai- now exists.
I recall that during the debate on the sales lax bills, Government members warned their party that serious unemployment could be brought about if the extra 10 per cent, sales tax was placed upon motor cars. The Government said that it would not have any effect on the industry, but that it would watch the situation carefully. For a long time unemployment in the motor industry has gradually been getting worse. The number of unemployed has increased every few months, yet Ministers, when questioned at various times during the last session of Parliament were almost insulting in their answers to Opposition members and maintained that they were watching the situation very closely and would not allow unemployment to increase any further. They said that they would take drastic action immediately they thought the position was getting out of hand. If it is not out of hand now, with 1 30,000 out of work, I do not know what the Government expects to happen when it is out of hand. The following press statement was issued on 28th October, I960: -
Commenting to-day on the summary of recent economic trends contained in the October issue of the Treasury Information Bulletin, the Treasurer, the Right Honorable Harold Holt, said that the economy continued to expand strongly.
The Government has mishandled the economic position very badly. I propose now to read to-day’s editorial from the Sydney “Sun” under the heading “They still don’t know”. Throughout this crisis the Government has failed to see how dangerous the situation was getting, until last December when the people of Australia cast a vote against the Government. The editorial is as follows: -
The outstanding statement by the Minister for the Navy, Senator Gorton, that the only thing seriously wrong with the Australian economy is unemployment, shows that the Senator knows little about economy.
Senator Gorton’s statement was made yesterday during a rowdy Senate debate on unemployment.
One might have expected some of the Senator’s Liberal colleagues to have dragged him hastily aside to’ explain that unemployment is a symptom, not a disease.
They should have told him, in simple words, that Australia’s 130,000 jobless are themselves a sign of serious sickness in the economy.
Senator Gorton should know that . the unemployed are desperately anxious victims of Government inefficiency,, not a kind of collective wart that has appeared mysteriously’ in the community from outer space.
However, any hope that Senator Gorton might be presented with a lesson in elementary economics was dashed by an equally astonishing statement from the Minister for National Development, Senator Spooner.
He announced that the Government had made only one mistake in 12 years - “ an error of judgment to the extent that unemployment has occurred “.
One might have dismissed Senator Gorton’s statement, hoping that he knew more about aircraft carriers than economics.
The article continues, under the heading “ Just Talk “-
But Senator Spooner’s statement is much more important because his portfolio is closely associated with employment.
Taking Senator Spooner’s argument to its absurd conclusion, one may suppose that had the Government correctly estimated that the number of unemployed would reach 130,000 (instead of its own “cheerful” forecast of 60,000) it wouldn’t have made any errors at all in its 12 years of office.
To put it bluntly, Senator Spooner was talking rubbish.
What will frighten the public generally and the unemployed in particular, is that Senator Spooner’s statement shows that the Government has still not come to grips with the human and economic facts of the present situation.
The Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna, put the matter truthfully when he said that the Government was still trying to save, itself, not serve the people.
– That is from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, is it?
– It is from the Sydney “ Sun “ of to-day’s date.
– Which is an offshoot of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– I am not concerned about that. Those are not my words.
– It is a Labour journal.
– How long has it been a Labour journal?
– For the last twelve months or so.
– It is all very, well while the newspapers, are condemning the Labour Party, but as soon as the boot is. on the other foot, honorable senators opposite sit up and object. They should be abie to take it as well as give it. It is not very often that the newspapers are on our side. They recognize that the Labour Party is trying to do the right thing by the people of Australia and does not want to create a pool of unemployed such as we heard about in 1947 or 1948. I believe.it was a man from Tasmania who said at that time that the only way to bring the working man to his knees was to create a pool of unemployed.
Let me take the Senate back to’ 1958, to show just how this Government has neglected the serious unemployment situation.
– What about starting at 1901?
– Senator Scott often speaks about events that happened in 1949. I wish that the honorable senator was in the chamber at the moment to hear what I have to say.
– What did Gladstone say in 1884?
– If I am disturbing you, senator, I shall lower my voice so that you may go back to sleep again. An article headed “ Unemployment - It should Be Eliminated “, by L. T. Wilson states -
Figures released by the Department of Labour and National Service have in recent months shown increases in the numbers of “persons registered for employment. . . While the position is not yet alarming, any significant deterioration must call for intensified remedial action by the Government.
In his article, Mr. Wilson studies the various elements of the problem. He continues -
Success or failure against communism will depend importantly on the economic strength of the free world and on the extent to which conditions of living in under-developed countries can bc improved. The raising of living standards in such countries will be affected by the amount of aid given to them by others. It is therefore necessary that the developed countries should make the best use of their resources of labour and other factors of production, not only for their own greater strength and enjoyment, but also that they may make a more substantial contribution to the less developed areas. Viewed in this setting, it is most important that Australia should preserve conditions of full employment.
Later, in, referring to government action, he states - . > When the situation demands it, special Government remedial action should be taken. In times of unemployment, taxes may be reduced and the flow of money in the community thereby increased, causing a greater demand for goodsfollowed by a higher demand- for labor to make those goods. The Government may make the extension of private enterprise activities easier by its controls over bank credit and interest rates on bank advances, and it may itself embark on an increased public works expenditure program,as the U.S. is doing, in very restrained fashion, at present.
This unemployment situation is not something new. It has been developing over the last three or four years, and members of the Opposition, from time to time pointed out to the Government just how the situation was deteriorating. They were told that there was no need to be alarmed, that the Government had everything under control and that immediately serious tendencies developed, steps to rectify the position would be taken. Yet, it is only now that some steps are being taken - I hope they will be successful - to put the unemployed people in the community back to work again. Nobody knows how really distressing unemployment is unless he himself has rubbed shoulders with it. I have done that over the years. I know what unemployment is and what is has meant to my family. I am in sympathy with those people who want to work and who have the will to work but cannot find employ-, ment. The average man in Australia does not want to be dependent on social service benefits. He does not want to be collecting unemployment benefit.
– Are you suggesting we are not in sympathy with the unemployed?
– I am pointing out that nothing concrete has been done to improve the position until just now. Conditions have been growing steadily worse. Even when the unemployment benefit has been increased to the rate proposed by the Government it will still not be sufficient to support a man and his wife and family at a decent standard of living. Unless something is done quickly, this situation will deteriorate to such a degree that we shall have, not 130,000 people out of work, but between 150,000 and 200,000.
During the years that I have been a member of the Senate I have heard Senator Scott frequently refer to the conditions that existed under the Labour Government in 1949. I have obtained some figures from the Library which indicate that the largest number of persons registered for employment in that year was 34,753, in the month of July. In the following month the number dropped to 21,946, and in September it had dropped still further to 13,459.
– What about December?
– The position had improved by December. The number for that month was 9,281.. I think, therefore, that Senator Scott has little reason to chide the Labour Party about the degree of unemployment that existed when Labour was in office after the end of the 1939-45 hostilities.
– Senator Scott said you had 5 per cent. of unemployment.
– I do not think that percentages come into the matter. Only last night an honorable senator opposite stated that we could not take account of percentages in considering the degree of unemployment because unemployment is such a serious matter. He said that it was the numbers, not the percentages, that were important. All that I am doing is giving the numbers of unemployed during the year 1949.
– But you have not done that. You have not given the figures for October and November.
– I am glad that you reminded me of them. In October the number of unemployed had dropped to 11,433 and in November it dropped by approximately 300 to 11,181. As I pointed out earlier to Senator Wedgwood, the number of unemployed in December was 9,281.
– They are not the right figures. They are not accurate.
– If there is anything else you want to know, just ask.
– I want to know the right figures.
– If those figures are not right, I do not know where you will get the right ones. I do not think for a moment that the Library would have given me incorrect figures..
– What I mean by “ the right figures” are the figures which included all the people who were out of work because of the strike, that you would not stop.
– You axe exaggerating the situation. Undoubtedly there was a strike. I was quoting figures showing the number of persons who were registered as unemployed.
– But they were not the number who were unemployed.
– There are none so blind as those who will not see. The unemployment situation is so serious that I hope the measures which have been adopted by the Government will reach fruition very quickly. Unless the unemployed are placed back in- work their self-respect will deteriorate. Moreover, it is in conditions of unemployment and frustration that the seeds of communism are usually sown. Such conditions provide fertile ground for the growth of communism. In spite of that, you people opposite continue to throw up the issue of communism at the Australian Labour Party.
I should like to read a passage from a speech delivered by Mr. J. B. Chifley in the House of Representatives in 1948. The article in which the passage is quoted reads -
Speaking in the House of Representatives on April 7, 1948, Mr. Chifley, as Prime Minister, replied to a censure motion of the Opposition to the effect that “ the Government has failed to take adequate steps to attack Communist activities in Australia, or to prevent the employment of Communists by the Commonwealth “.
In his reply, he spoke as follows: - “Twenty-five years ago the Communists were supposed to be confined to common people, manual labourers and people of that character, but to-day communism has become something in the nature of a religion and has drawn into its ranks many intellectuals. They are classed as Communists, fellow-travellers, and cryptoCommunists by those who see in the movement, as I do, the grave menace’ to democracy that communism presents. Butthe evil will not be cured, nor the blight on the world removed by the sort of loose talk that goes on in Australia and other countries. . . . “The Australian Labour Party is entirely opposed to the principles of communism, including its economic theories for the management of a country, and its attitude towards religion. I speak for the Government as well as for myself when I say that we completely abhor the principles of communism for the attainment of the Party’s objectives. , , .”
That statement gives the lie to the accusations that continually flow from honorable senators opposite and supporters of the Government in another place to the effect that members of the Australian Labour Party are Communists or Communist sympathizers. 1 believe that those repeated accusations had an important effect on the minds of the people of Australia when they cast their votes on 9th December last. The people were sick and tired of the smear campaign that was continually waged against members of the Labour Party.
I conclude by saying that the Government has failed to note the seriousness of the economic situation and to heed the warnings of those people who told it repeatedly that such a situation could arise. lt is only now that the Government has seen fit to do something to alleviate unemployment. I hope that the Government’s measures, when put into full operation, will quickly have the effect of placing back in work men who desire to work and not to accept the paltry dole that is now handed out to them each week.
– I should like to join with those speakers who have preceded me in their expressions of loyalty to our gracious Queen and in their expressions of goodwill to His Excellency the Governor-General. The Vice-Regal Speech marks the commencement of the first period of the first session of the Twenty-fourth Parliament. The election has been fought and won, and I do not think there is any merit in recapitulating what the situation might have been if certain things had happened. I am reminded of the saying, “We would have won but for the other fellow “. Nothing stems from Senator McKenna’s references to percentages, preferences and the like in the speech he delivered yesterday. The plain fact is that the Government parties are sitting on the right of the Chair just as they were before the election and before the people recorded their decision. It behoves every one of us to apply his mind not to matters in retrospect but to the tasks that lie ahead.
We have a very great heritage and a very great privilege in having a free, demo cratic vote. What I am about to say has particular reference to the Senate. Our right to cast a democratic vote is a precious privilege which we cannot afford to allow to fall into disrepute. But there is a grave danger of that happening if we permit a continuance of the extraordinarily high number of informal votes cast in Senate elections. It seems rather odd for me to criticize informal voting when we were able to read in the press a report - I have no doubt it was accurate - to the effect that at a meeting’ of the Labour Caucus as late as this week there were eleven informal votes out of 93 votes that were cast in a ballot involving 27 candidates. In other words, the number of informal votes represented 11.8 per cent, of the total number cast. In those circumstances, there may be some reluctance on the part of the Labour Party to face up to the matter of informal votes cast at Senate elections. If people come to regard voting for Senate elections as not being important because 10 per cent, of the votes cast are informal, our democratic processes are likely to suffer.
I should like to place on record some figures showing the degree of informality in voting at Senate elections and to compare it with the number of informal votes cast for the House of Representatives. At the last election 2.42 per cent, of the votes cast in the election for the House of Representatives and 12.75 per cent, of those cast in the Senate election were informal. Although New South Wales had the highest percentage of informal votes, in other States the percentage was extremely high. Only 5.64 per cent, of South Australian voters cast informal votes, so they did much better than the Labour Caucus. The results showed that South Australians, except as to 5.64 per cent., of them, were capable of casting formal votes. I do not know how many Senate candidates there were in South Australia. I suppose that there were up to twenty.
– No, there were twelve.
– -Then I take back what I said. The lower percentage of informal votes reflects the smaller number of candidates. The informal Senate vote in New South Wales was 12.75 per cent., in Victoria 10.72 per cent., in
Queensland 8.53 per cent., in South Australia 5.64 per cent., in Western Australia 9.99 per cent, and in Tasmania 9.98 per cent.
– What conclusions do you draw about New South Wales?
– I think the explanation probably lies in the fact that we had more candidates for the Senate. That would have a bearing.
– How many did you have?
– From memory, I think there were 21 or 24. Viewing the whole broad picture, we must bear in mind the comparison with informality in. voting for the House of Representatives, the percentages being 2.28 in Victoria and 2.4 in New South Wales, which was a fair average. This shows that the method of voting for the Senate must of necessity be looked at as a matter of urgency. I suggest that we should alter the system while maintaining the principle of proportional representation. We could do that by voting for, say, one more than the number of candidates to be elected. That would not only reduce the number of informal votes but would also reduce what we choose to call the donkey vote.
– lt would alter the result.
– It would not alter the result significantly, if all votes after the sixth were counted as being for the next number. Even if it did alter the result, no result now obtained justifies an informal vote of 11 per cent., which will lead ultimately to a build-up in the minds of the community of disrespect for the second chamber and will bring it into disrepute. If voters had to vote for only a limited number of candidates the donkey vote would also be materially affected. When a vote has to be cast for every candidate some electors are inclined to start at the left-hand corner and follow through. If voters had to vote only for six candidates, whose names could appear .an)’where on the ballot-paper, there would .not be the same psychological inclination to start at the left-hand side, and so the donkey vote would be affected. The overriding consideration is concern for this chamber, and I say quite seriously that if we as senators allow that situation to continue, with its encouragement of informal voting to the order of 11 per cent., we shall prejudice the future of this place. The facts of life are that we know that there are people in another place who have not the same regard for the Senate as we have. They have not the same confidence in its functions, and it is up to senators to take the initiative in trying to solve a situation which affects our democratic way of voting and which in the ultimate could prejudice it.
– When there was voting only for the Senate, was the percentage of informality appreciably lower?
– Yes. One can imagine the confusion when an elector is given a Senate ballot-paper of tremendous length, very late in the afternoon immediately after he has been approached by many people outside the polling booth. In addition, in New South Wales the hotels were open on election day; I do not know whether that would have any bearing on this matter.. I am bound to say that at the booth where I voted everything was most orderly and there were no incidents, and the people there were a fair cross-section of the community. This is a serious matter and not one that we should treat lightly. If we have at heart our heritage of free voting, we should not allow the position to continue as it is.
I should like now to turn briefly - I intend to speak only briefly - to the economic position. As foreshadowed in thi Governor-General’s Speech, the Government has proposed certain measures calculated to stimulate employment and restore confidence. I want to refer to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He said -
What this nation needs if it is to have confidence is a 4-year or a 5-year plan, wilh the economic objectives plainly indicated so that the nation and its business people can know that they can function in a clearly defined climate for a definite period.
That, to my mind, touches the 64-dollar question and the fundamentals of our problem. Senator McKenna is a parliamentarian of long standing who has held portfolios in a Labour government. No one would know better than he that it is completely unreal to suggest in our continent such a constancy as he indicated. The suggestion disregards the very geography of Australia, its immenseness, and its climate. We may have drought in the west while there are magnificent rains in the east. It disregards also the fact that our whole economy is built upon our export industries which are subject to the effects of the climate and the fluctuations in the prices that we can obtain for primary products on world markets. The suggestion disregards the fact that tomorrow morning the price of wool may vary by ls. per lb. from the price prevailing today, which will have a marked effect on the economy. It made me shudder to hear a leader of a responsible party talk about a four-year or a five-year plan, because we have heard about five-year plans in other contexts in relation to another country.
This constant criticism of variations in our economic policy is quite irrational, because this Government has had outstanding success over a period of twelve years in taking the “ highs “ and the “ lows “ out of the economic situation. To suggest that we should have constancy in economic policy is to be altogether out of touch with reality. In relation to this criticism of stopping, starting and changing course, I have previously made a comparison which should appeal to Senator Kendall. Let us consider the skipper of “ Arcadia “ taking the ship through Sydney Heads on a set course: If he receives a signal to the effect that a gale lies in front of him, he is not so silly as to maintain his course unaltered and move into the gale. If he is a prudent skipper, he takes heed of the message he receives and alters his course. Most of us fly between here and our homes. I suppose that on every trip we take the pilot makes a slight variation in course because of receiving a message that there is cloud over either Sydney or Canberra. He alters course to avoid it. That is a simple illustration of what happens when the economy is subjected to so many influences. Decisions and variations must be made from day to day.
– Is this a slight variation?
– No, the present situation has developed as a result of certain influencing factors. Senator Drury did not indicate clearly whether the Opposition will support the measures that have been announced, ‘but nobody can deny that the measures referred to in the Governor- General’s Speech are necessary to meet the present situation’ in the light of circumstances that have arisen.
– You denied that during, the election campaign.
– The position to-day differs from the position referred to by Senator Drury. What the Government proposes to do has already received considerable publicity. We know that a special grant of £10,000,000 is to be made to the States to foster employment. The present unemployment situation must not be- allowed to continue, and although the Labour Party has not indicated its attitude towards this grant of £10,000,000, I hope that it will support the proposal. An additional £5,000,000 is to be made available to the States for housing. As a director of a co-operative building society I am in a position to tell the Senate that already there is increased building activity through the building society movement. We know that the building industry is very sensitive and’ that it employs large numbers of people. Any stimulus to the building industry will have a very quick effect on unemployment.
– The Government’s record in housing is wonderful.
– It is indeed wonderful. Special arrangements are being made to enable local government authorities to borrow an additional £7,500,000. Councils whose borrowing limits are less than £100,000 will be able to borrow without reference to the Australian Loan Council. Local government authorities are capable of very rapidly taking up the slack in employment, particularly of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.
We have been told that personal income tax is to be reduced by 5 per cent, over the full financial year, but that a full twelve months’ rebate will be spread over the last four months of this year, from 1st March to 30th June. The effect of that tax reduction will be to provide an additional £30,000,000 to the community for the purchase of consumer goods. The purchase of additional consumer goods will stimulate industry, particularly the retail industry. I want to give some figures to indicate the effect of the 5 per cent, reduction in income tax on certain salaries. After 1st March next a man earning £20 a week and having no dependants - the average earnings of the community are about £24 a week - will receive an extra 6s. 9d. a week in his pay envelope. A man without dependants and in receipt of £30 a week will get an extra 13s. 9d. a week in his pay packet. A man in receipt of £30 a week and with a dependent wife and two dependent children will receive an extra 9s. 3d. a week. Merely to say that the reduction is 5 per cent, dees not mean much to the ordinary person unless the reduction is translated into terms of money.
A bill has been introduced into the Senate designed to increase the maximum loan for a war service home from £2,750 to £3,500. The remarks that I propose to make are not related to the bill or to the Minister’s second-reading speech upon it, and accordingly I think it is appropriate for me to make them during this debate. As the Minister has said, there is no waiting list for a loan from the War Service Homes Division for the erection of a new home but there is a waiting list of twenty months for persons desiring to obtain loans to purchase existing houses. I strongly hold the view that the provision of suitable finance to :enable ex-servicemen to obtain a home is a repatriation responsibility. Ex-servicemen have a right to acquire a war service loan under certain conditions. I do not think any distinction should be drawn between an exserviceman who wishes to build a new home and an ex-serviceman who wishes to buy an existing home, provided always that the existing home conforms to the specifications laid down by the division. I understand that 60 per cent, of applicants obtain loans for the erection of new homes. I do not think that the remaining 40 per cent, who -wish to acquire existing homes should be placed at a disadvantage.
I think that ex-servicemen who acquire a war service loan should be entitled to transfer responsibility for the loan if they so desire. In the building society movement mortgages may be transferred subject to normal conditions applying. I bought my home with a building society loan that was japable of being transferred to another perim. There is no difficulty about that. I Relieve the same position should apply to ^-servicemen. If an ex-serviceman sells his tome and another ex-serviceman wants to (tuy it, provided there is no variation in the amount of the loan and the normal requirements are met, I believe they should be permitted to transfer that loan.
Equally, I believe that when an exservice man or woman desires to have a second application approved, provided it will not cost the Government any more than the sum already committed, that exservice man or woman should be allowed to do that. I do not suppose there is an honorable senator who has not had put to him a case in which, for some very good reason, an ex-serviceman desired to dispose of his home and be eligible to transfer the amount of his ‘ loan to another property; but he is not allowed to do that. I believe that there are cogent reasons why he should be allowed to do that, with certain protections.
I do not want to say much more. I believe that I have said as much as I should say in a debate of this nature. I conclude by making the point that the elections are over and the people have given the Government the responsibility of governing. It has brought down a series of proposals that are in the best interests of the Australian community. I have every confidence that the Government’s proposals will restore full employment in Australia. I know that as we go through this session, whatever happens, people will always be able to say that the Government parties are acting, in what they consider are the very best interests of this Commonwealth and in order to bring prosperity and happiness to its people.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, this Address-in-Reply expresses loyalty to Her Majesty, of course. It appears to be traditional to do that; but sometimes I wonder whether it comes only as a matter of expression and not for the purpose of keeping Her Majesty’s subjects in a proper condition in which, they have plenty of food and clothing and adequate shelter. That would be the best way to show loyalty to Her Majesty, but that does not happen in this country. Sometimes one is led to believe that the expressions of loyalty are only expressions and do not mean anything else. Anyway, the members of the -Opposition; particularly because of the traditional practice, express loyalty, too.
But we also try to overcome the difficulties of the people because of the state of the economy. It is necessary to do something to bring about that happiness with plenty of food and clothing and adequate shelter, which I have mentioned.
I understand that the mover and seconder of this motion will retire on the 30th June next. Apparently the Government was gracious enough to allow them to sing their swan songs in this debate. I, too, have been shedding official responsibilities, and on 30th June I will retire. So this might be my swan song, too; but, of course, I will not guarantee that these will be the last words I will say in this chamber. I am talcing this opportunity to speak because the mover and seconder, and also another speaker from the Government side, are to retire at the end of June. I thought it would not hurt to add a speech from a senator on this side of the chamber who also will retire at that time.
When we examine the Speech that was read by the Governor-General, we find that there is not much in it that has not been said before by some other representative of the Queen in Australia on behalf of the Government. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech generally deals with the defence of Australia first. In this year’s Speech that practice is observed. All of these Speeches promise something. They tell you that the Government is doing something, but it is exactly the same thing year after year. This year, the Speech gives us something about the Navy. It says - . . action has been taken to acquire new guided missile destroyers, mine-sweepers and helicopters.
Then, of course, there is a paragraph or two about that matter, but it does not mean anything. Actually, it does not mean that the Commonwealth is acquiring certain new guided missile destroyers. It just says, “We are taking action”. The Government has been taking action for twelve years and it still has not an efficient Navy. During the last session, just prior to the election, I took the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to task because the Navy was not efficient, it could not defend this country and it could not carry troops anywhere. I know that we cannot take much notice of the Minister for the Navy. I’ think he admitted that yesterday. In answering a question as the representative of another Minister in this chamber, he did not know much about the matter; and in regard to the department that he controls, he still did not know anything about a question that was asked about protection for the tankers that were buzzed by the Indonesians. I will admit that he does not know much about that. However, he stood up in this chamber and castigated me. He said that I did not know much about the Navy.
– He was not far out, either.
– That may have been the absolute truth. During the last session he also said that it was not the job of the Navy to have ships for transporting troops. He became a little excited and abused me a bit because I had said that the Navy was not able to do the things that it is supposed to do. As a matter of fact, it still is not efficient. It is not a force that could protect Australia, even if the attacking force was 100 miles offshore. In this Speech the GovernorGeneral has told us that provision is now being made to create a transport vessel out of one of the ships that was an aircraft carrier. The Minister for the Navy probably knows nothing about the Navy that he controls, although, of course, recently he acquired some gold braid and became a sort of pseudo-admiral.
I should like to know why, just prior to the general election, we were told that the Navy was not a force that could be used for transporting anybody. 1 suggested to the Minister that it was, and he told me that I did not know anything about the matter. He said that there was no provision for the Navy to do that, and that it was not the Navy’s job. Now we find that the Government intends to convert an aircraft carrier to a troopship. We have been putting up with this sort of thing for moe than twelve years. Statements are made, telling us that we are an irresponsible lot of scamps for suggesting something, lt i9 said that we do not know anything about the matter, and then, shortly afterwards, another statement is made, telling us that the Government intends to examine the very subject we were talking about when we were told that we were irresponsible. The result- of all this is that the Government has earned the name of a stop-and-start government. It is all the time stopping to consider something, and then making a start on the wrong foot. Every time the Government makes a start it gets off on the wrong foot and, as a result, brings disaster to the economy of Australia.
What I have been saying does not apply to the Navy alone. I could go through the three Defence forces and point out similar things. During the years gone by, statements have been made about what the Government was going to do with the Regular Army. We are told now that the Government thinks the Regular Army will reach a certain strength by 30th June this year. A figure is mentioned. We have been told the same thing in the last three statements made by a Governor-General on behalf of the Government, but the Regular Army has not been brought up to establishment yet. Something is wrong with a government that keeps on promising something and telling the Opposition that it might occur if we only have enough patience.
Other things are mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. His Excellency said -
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.
I should like some member of the Government to tell me exactly what is the position of our overseas balances. First of all, it will be necessary to subtract the moneys that have been borrowed overseas, added to our credits, and called reserves. The Government can borrow money from overseas only by agreeing to pay exorbitant rates of interest. It is only by borrowing from overseas that the Government has been able to meet our commitments. It does not know how to build up reserves on a proper basis. The Government should be exporting the manufactured goods of this country for the purpose of building up reserves overseas, but it has no idea hog to do that. We have been told that provision has been made for trade ships to go here, there and everywhere, but all the Government is doing is to give somebody a lovely jaunt overseas. That is not the way to bring about the sale in overseas markets of commodities manufactured in this country, so providing funds to pay for our imports.
What the Government has done has probably helped a little in publicizing some of our manufactured products, but that is all. The Government has no policy in these matters. The Opposition suggested trade with China and other Eastern countries, but the Government said, “ Oh, no; they are Commos”, or something of that. kind. Nevertheless, the Government is quite prepared to trade with those countries in a backhanded fashion. We are selling wheat to China, but the Government still will not recognize that country as a nation. The Government has no policy for expanding our overseas trade at all.
In another paragraph of His Excellency’s Speech, we were told about what the Government intends to do in the war service homes field. It intends to increase the amount of a war service homes loan by £750. Prior to the election, the Opposition suggested exactly what the Government is doing now, and was told by Senator Spooner, the Minister in charge of war service homes, that that was impracticable. We were told that we did not know what we were asking for. We were told that we were irresponsible, and that if our suggestion were adopted it would mean that fewer war service homes would be built, because no provision would be made for a larger amount of money to be made available for the building of these homes. Can somebody on the other side tell me where, in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech or in any statement that has been made by the Minister in charge of war service homes, there is any mention of a greater appropriation for war service homes?
Three or four months ago, the Minister said that the Opposition was entirely wrong and that it was irresponsible in making the suggestion that it did. Now the Government intends to raise the amount that an applicant for a war service homes loan can borrow, but it is making no provision to increase the total allocation for war service homes. The effect will be exactly what the Minister said we were asking for at that time; there will be more applicants but fewer homes will be built with the money that has been voted for war service homes. I doubt the Ministry when it puts into the Governor-General’s Speech a statement like that, which does not fully cover the position. As the Minister for National Development said previously it is useless to make provision for a greater advance unless more money is appropriated to provide for the larger number of applicants for war service homes. Therefore, this item in His Excellency’s Speech does not mean a thing to the man who wants to build a home under the War Service Homes Act.
The next paragraph of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is as follows: -
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.
The Minister for National Development is reported in “ Hansard “, page 1637, of 17th November, 1960, as saying -
I reject completely any suggestion that the Government should re-introduce import controls.
That was not the only time when he said that the Government would not re-introduce import controls. Even as late as last AugustSeptember the Opposition suggested that controls should be placed on certain imports. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) both ridiculed the idea. Again we were told that we were irresponsible people, that it was a foolish suggestion. Many other epithets were uttered against us. The Government not only gave the impression that there would be no more import controls, it was absolutely opposed to them. What do we find to-day? The Governor-General has announced on behalf of the Government that some quantitative control will be introduced. Also, in special circumstances where the Tariff Board after a full inquiry finds that the tariff would not give the necessary measure of protection it will be empowered to recommend quantitative restrictions to the Government. The Governor-General did not say that the Government proposes to adopt these recommendations; he merely said that the Government will ask somebody to have a look at the position.
Three years ago the Governor-General’s Speech contained a statement that the Government would look after the economy of this country, particularly that of the manufacturing industries, because it believed in protection. Nothing was done. No further protection was given, except to one or two small industries. The Government sometimes even rejected the Tariff Board’s recommendations and, in the few cases where it took action, substituted decisions of its own. Despite that undertaking three years ago we are now told that there will be quantitative restrictions - but not just yet. The Government proposes to make arrangements for some one to inquire into the matter. It could be the Tariff Board, but the Government proposes to go further than that and to appoint a special advisory authority. He will be able to do nothing but advise, and the Government has already chosen him. He will be given powers similar to those of the Tariff Board, merely to recommend temporary quantitative restrictions upon particular commodities where temporary protection is under consideration.
This leads me to a point made by the Minister for Customs and Excise the other night. He was a very subdued Minister. I have to hand it to him - he sees the writing on the wall and knows that something is wrong. Honorable senators can see in “ Hansard “ that he said that all these measures which are now being discussed and are mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech are of a temporary character and will be withdrawn some time later. Already the Government has stopped the economy by halting almost every expanding industry. Now it proposes to make another start, with temporary measures. I suppose that as soon as the Government thinks that the economy is all right it will withdraw these measures. Are we to understand that not only the restrictions on imports that might be recommended by the Tariff Board or the special advisory authority in, say, three years’ time, but also the proposed reductions in income tax and sales tax and the extra relief that will be given to unemployed, are only temporary and will be withdrawn as soon as the Government, or this dictatorship, says that it is time to withdraw them? Is this only a gesture to try to appease the angry voters? The Government claims that it is starting to do something. I warn it now that in a short time it will create another crisis because it is not getting down to the basic causes of the trouble. It is only snipping at them. No Minister has yet tried to explain how the Government is remedying the situation.
Earlier this evening Senator Drury read the editorial from to-day’s Sydney “ Sun “, and I hope I will be pardoned if I refer to it briefly again. It takes the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to task for admitting that he did not know about some subject or other, but the newspaper forgives him on the ground that he may know more about other matters. However, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner), who said that the Government had made one mistake and that because of that one mistake it was being condemned, did not get off so lightly. The editorial stated -
To put it bluntly, Senator Spooner was talking rubbish.
That is a terrible indictment of the Minister who controls the Senate on behalf of the Government. It continued -
What will frighten the public generally and the unemployed in particular, is that Senator Spooner’s statement shows that the Government has still not come to grips with the human and economic facts of the present situation.
That is just what I have been saying. The newspaper article has expressed my views in a very concise form. It goes on -
The Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna, put the matter truthfully-
Note that the Sydney “ Sun “ states that the Leader of the Labour Party in the Senate has put something truthfully - when he said the Government was still trying to save itself, not serve the people.
Senator Spooner admits that the measures that the Government proposes are merely of a temporary nature. He twitted us with having a policy that was of a permanent character, a policy that gets right down to basic factors. That is the usual approach adopted by the Government supporters, of course. They call us irresponsible people. What does the Government propose to do to improve the economic position? As Senator McKenna stated recently, it proposes a snippet here and a snippet there. Action of that kind will not overcome the difficulties that we face. It will certainly alleviate some of the ills of the economy, but it will not overcome the economic factors which brought about the trouble in the first place.
Does the Government now agree that the supporters of the Labour Party were right when they contended that the unemployment benefit should be increased? If it does, I remind the Government that we said that that was one of the actions which should be taken in conjunction with other action to right the economy which the Government itself had smashed. But the Government does not propose to deal with any of the other matters to which we referred. It merely intends to deal with those things which it thinks play upon the emotions of the people. It is trying to make provision so that it will be able to retrieve, at a snap election, the electoral support that it has lost. Of course, it will not be able to retrieve that support. I warned the Government previously that it was on the way out, but honorable senators opposite would not believe me.
Let us consider the proposal to increase the unemployment benefit. There is nothing wrong with that. We of the Labour Party suggested that that be done a long time ago. The Government now agrees that an additional allowance should be paid to the dependants of unemployed persons. In recent times, since this Government has been in office, there has been a gradual tightening up, as it has been called, of the conditions applicable to the payment of unemployment relief, so that to-day there are thousands of people who cannot obtain such relief although they have been registered as unemployed with the labour exchanges. When one inquires into the matter, it appears that there are certain conditions laid down by the Minister, for and on behalf of the Government, which preclude a man who is out of work from obtaining unemployment relief. One of those conditions is that an unemployed person must show that he has attempted to find work. Unless he can do so, he will receive a note from the department saying that relief is refused because he has not attempted to find work, or has failed to show that he has done so. How can a man, who has no transport at his disposal, be expected to look for work, unless he walks?
If there is trouble at a factory and the employer says, “ Well, I am shutting my factory until the trouble has ended “, the men concerned cannot obtain unemployment benefit, although they may be out of work for as long as six months. The department says - and it has told me so - that such men are not out of work; that they have jobs to go to when they are ready to do so. The department becomes, in effect, a strike-breaking instrument. Similar conditions apply in other instances in which there is a dislocation of industry, not necessarily in the nature of a strike at all. These aspects of the administration of the Department of Social Services are iniquitous and inhuman. I could call them many other things, too.
When we of the Labour Party suggested that child endowment should be increased and that other economic measures should be adopted, the. supporters of the Government said that we were wrong and that we did not know what we were talking about. Now, they are accepting our ideas. 1 warn the unemployed and the people of Australia generally that there will be certain conditions laid . down by the Government before one penny piece of the proposed increases is paid. What the Government gives will be a gesture, as will be a lot of the other benefits that it has proposed, lt seems extraordinary that the .Government should be able to use the Governor-General to make empty gestures with the object of influencing the people so they will swing in behind it.
– What about the policy speech of the Labour Party?
– That is. .all right. The Government is just playing politics.
– What about the policy speech of the Labour Party?
– As I said to one of your colleagues earlier, get your trumpet, because I cannot hear you. Yes- terday, the Leader of the Government in this place made a number of statements about what he claimed to be facts. He told us about the progress that had been made .oyer the last ten years. But he could have given some one other than the Government credit for having done something. He mentioned all the grand things for which he said this Government had been responsible. He referred to the Snowy Mountains scheme, but he did not give the Labour Party threepen’orth of credit for having commenced that scheme. He did not give us credit for the Rum Jungle undertaking. Let the Government have the credit for all the expansion in this country and all the prosperity which he says exists.
In an effort to prove his statement that prosperity had increased and that the country’, had made advances, Senator Spooner said that over a period of nine years the population had risen by 21 per cent. Let me remind honorable senators what has happened to the north-west of Australia. In India, over the same period of nine years, the population has increased by almost 23 per cent. If we accept Senator Spooner’s proposition that such an expansion of population proves that a country is prosperous, India should be a grand, prosperous country. In China, in ten and one-half years, the population has increased by almost 27 per cent. But we have been told by .honorable senators that conditions in China are deplorable. To their minds that is a dreadful state of affairs, because China is a Communist country. If an increase of 21 per cent, in the population of Australia indicates a great degree of expansion and prosperity in this country, then the people of India and China ought to be much happier than the people in Australia and the economic expansion of those countries should be much greater than here. But honorable senators opposite know that is not so. The Minister’s premises were wrong. I suppose he realized that after he made the statement, because he said, “Excuse me for getting hot under the collar”.
I shall give him credit for all the projects for which he has claimed credit, but I do suggest that Labour formulated a 25-year plan for the completion of the Snowy Mountains scheme. The opening ceremony for that scheme was held during the term of office of a Labour Minister. Senator Spooner cannot tell me that this Government set the Rum Jungle undertaking in motion. This Government had nothing to do with the commencement of that project. However, we do admit that it has been a success. But it would have been a success under a Chinese government or any other government.
After giving the Government credit for all the expansion: and development that has occurred, what do we find? We find that there are 131,000 people out of work. W« know they are out of work because they are applying for work. But let us not forget that there are some centres, particularly in rural areas, where fellows cannot go to a registry to apply for work. They are not registered for employment, so we cannot count them. If we add to the 131,000 people who are registered for employment those who are dependent upon them, we find that approximately 300,000 persons are affected. In spite of all the development, the prosperity and the economic advancement for which the Minister for National Development has claimed credit on behalf of the Government, 300,000 persons in this country are in trouble. Some are almost starving, some are living in hovels and some have no chance at all of getting decent clothes. That is why charitable organizations all over Australia are distributing food and clothing and are providing shelter and so forth. Yet, because our population has increased by 21 per cent, the Minister says that this is a grand, prosperous country. If we take into account the figures that have been prepared by the Department of Trade and the Commonwealth Statistician, we find that in addition to those who are registered for employment approximately another 70,000 people are out of work. The Department of Trade gives an entirely different set of figures, which are more accurate. I think I said before the last election that the true unemployment figure was 7 per cent. It is higher now, being Si per cent. That represents an enormous number. The Minister for National Development tries to defend his actions. Three or four months ago he told us that we were not accurate. Senator Gorton and Senator Scott also followed the Minister’s lead. They said that we in Australia were prosperous. Senator Scott still returns to some period in 1948 when there was a strike, saying that there was then 5 per cent, of unemployment.
This Government allowed a flood of imports, which resulted in manufacturing industries, including the textile industry, being smashed. The timber industry, in parts of Australia, was just about obliterated. Several months ago, the Government told us that it had set out to achieve the results that have now eventuated. We were right in saying that it set out to smash some industries and to create a pool of unemployed. Senator Spooner later on said that nobody wanted a great number of unemployed. In 1960, only a little over twelve months ago, the Minister “ said that instead of full employment, conditions of dangerously over-full employment existed. At that time,, 35,622 people were registered with the Commonwealth Employment -Office as seeking work. Senator Scott said, on 17th November, 1960-
We have achieved full employment in Australia but at this moment in New South Wales and Victoria we have achieved a situation of over-full employment.
He was following the lead given by Senator Spooner.
– Not necessarily.
– The registered unemployed in New South Wales numbered 12,154 at that time.
– Can you not hear me?
– In Victoria, registered unemployed numbered 8,320, and the total for Australia was 35,623. Between September and December the number rose to 53,563. Yet Government supporters said that their policy was proving effective.
– Do not be a humbug.
– They were so complacent that they annoyed everybody. We continually directed attention to the fact that more and more were becoming unemployed. We continually said that the Government’s policies were wrong and were creating disruption. The Government said that we were an irresponsible lot of people and were calamity howlers. Some honorable senators opposite had the infernal cheek to suggest that we were pleased to have people unemployed so that we could talk about them. Now what is the position? There are 131,000 unemployed and nearly 70,000 more out of work and not registered, according to departmental statistics. In addition, some thousands are in part-time employment. I cannot give the exact numbers, because nobody has recorded them.
– I cannot hear you, so I cannot answer.
– You can hear, old chap. In addition, a number of women who were working have withdrawn from employment and are now not adding to the family income. This is happening under the Government’s policies, which are achieving what the Government wanted.
– What happened in 1949?
– That is all right. I know that you do not like it. I am stating what Senator Spooner said were facts. Every one associated with the Senate knows that there has been an acceleration of closures of small businesses throughout Australia. The Government’s policies have created more bankruptcies than ever occurred before, yet honorable senators opposite have the cheek to tell us that this is a prosperous country. They have the cheek to tell us that they are not pinching little snippets of our policy. These measures are being applied only temporarily and will be withdrawn as soon as the people are lulled into believing that the Government is trying to do something. Almost everything in the Governor-General’s Speech is a repetition of something that was put in two or three years ago. I think that in 1950 the Government promised to protect Australian industries against unfair competition. Up to date no such protection has been forthcoming. The Government has allowed large quantities of cheap textiles to enter the country, forcing Australian textile factories to close. The Government has done that deliberately, because prior to the election of 1949 it held the view that it was right and proper to have a pool of unemployed. The Government still holds that view. Every policy adopted by this Government has been for the purpose of obtaining a pool of unemployed in order to discipline the worker and reduce his wages. The Government calls that a reduction of costs. But it never contemplates reducing the incomes of big business.
The Government is always prepared to help big business but is never prepared to do anything for the worker. The workers - the people who produce the goods - have been deliberately injured by this Government. All of its policies have been unjust to the working people.
The Government proposes to appoint a committee to inquire whether certain industries need temporary tariff protection. Nothing in the Governor-General’s Speech or in Senator Spooner’s remarks during this debate indicate that anything definite will be done to stabilize the economy. The proposal to reduce income tax by 5 per cent. has already been referred to by speakers on this side of the chamber. A flat rate reduction such as that means that the larger a man’s income the more he will save. The workers will receive very little benefit from the reduction. The man without dependants will save more than the man with dependants. The proposal will do little to provide taxation justice for the worker. During its twelve years in office this Government has continually legislated to take more and more in taxation from the great mass of people on low incomes. The few people in the high income bracket have been helped by this Government. There can be no question about that.
The Governor-General’s Speech does not contain any sound proposals to deal with the plight of the economy resulting from this Government’s policies in the twelve years it has been in office.
– Mr. President, may I first associate myself with the sentiments expressed by Senator Sir Neil O’Sullivan in the motion that he so eloquently moved? The motion was seconded in most spirited fashion by Senator Robertson. I wish to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty and thanks to His Excellency, the Governor-General. I was most impressed also by Senator McCallum’s speech’. Senator O’Flaherty made a very spirited attack on the Government. I was a little sorry that his ammunition was damp. It is unfortunate to be on target only to find that your ammunition is inadequate. However, his attack was most spirited.
I would like to say something about the eventful occurrences of the last 24 hours. I congratulate the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Colonel Glenn on their epic achievement. Colonel Glenn has my complete admiration. I am sure that Senator O’Byrne, who is an ex-serviceman, will agree with me that Colonel Glenn is a very brave and courageous man. Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the Senate reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board on the question of whether temporary duties should be imposed on the following items: -
Penicillins and streptomycin.
Road wheels other than of the well base or drop-centre rim type,
Styrene polymers and copolymers, and
I also lay on the table of the Senate the reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Bench or table-type knitting machines,
Ceramic tiles and tile blanks,
Musical instruments of the lute class,
Onions in their natural state,
Plain safety pins,
Portland cement from Japan (Dumping and Subsidies),
Rubber bathing caps and hats,
Synthetic resins of the styrene and acrylic types,
Tyre cord and cord tyre fabrics, and
Vacuum cleaners and floor polishers.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I propose to speak briefly on an important matter. Honorable senators may be somewhat surprised to hear me say that I will be brief. My remarks concern an article that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” yesterday under the heading: “Canberra Commentary. How Labour Chose Its ‘ Front Rank ‘ For the Coming Battle.” I do not propose to traverse the responsibilities of the press in general as regards accuracy and recognition of truth, or its responsibilities to be careful to avoid being offensive, but I owe a responsibility to myself to deal with that article. I am. certain that it was not intended to be offensive to me, but it would be interpreted as such. As to its accuracy, I know that it is inaccurate. I have reason to justify the assumption that a letter which I asked to be published was placed in the hands of the editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ yesterday. I believe that I was entitled to assume that in reasonable decency that letter would be published to-day, as close as possible in time to the publication of the article that I mentioned. I propose to read the letter that I communicated to the “ Sydney
Morning Herald “ just in case it is not published. From experience, not only as regards myself but also as regards others, I know that the press is extremely loath to publish a denial of anything that it records.
Let me recall, Mr. President, that some years ago there was a gentleman by the name of Sir Thomas Gordon, who is now dead. He was the Director of Shipping during the Second World War. He, in his humane approach to his responsibilities, permitted a number of war brides to travel to America on a cargo ship that was termed the “ hell bride ship “ in big headlines in the Australian press. I knew Sir Thomas Gordon very well. I was a close personal friend of his. He was a powerful figure in Sydney. Indeed, I. doubt whether there was a more powerful figure in Sydney at that time, He had large business interests.It took him a considerable time to get a denial published of the totally inaccurate description of this ship and its implications. Although the description had been headlined on front pages, the subsequent denial was published on the fifth page and, from memory, I think it covered little more than an inch of space. So no one knew that there was not a “ hell bride ship “, as had been headlined in the Australian press.
Recalling that incident and not seeing my letter in this morning’s “ Sydney MorningHerald”, I decided that before next week arrived I would make certain that my assessment of the story published under the heading “Canberra Commentary” was at least recorded somewhere. I do not intend or desire to be offensive, whoever may have been the correspondent who wrote the article. This is what I communicated to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “-
The Editor, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney.
I should appreciate it if you would publish the following and give it a prominence equal to that given to your political correspondent’s Canberra Commentary.
Dear Sir, In your issue of the 21st you publish Canberra Commentary. What your political correspondent writes of others in relation to the ballot recently held for the election ofthe Federal Parliamentary Labor Party Executive is largely a matter for themselves to deal with. As regards myself your correspondent’s statements could be interpreted as offensive and are inaccurate. He claims that following the second last ballot two candidates were eliminated.
Where he got his information 1 would not know. My letter continues -
Your correspondent suggests that before the last ballot it was decided to “ throw Senator Dittmer to the wolves.” By whom?
– We are not very interested up to date. Will you step it up a bit?
– I am not particularly concerned about whether you are interested or not, senator; I am interested The letter then reads -
The inference, from remarks previously made, is that it was to have been supporters of Dr. Cairns. If this was the case as regards the last two candidates eliminated I was not in a position to be thrown, to the wolves as my vote did not fluctuate as between the second and the last ballot, If by being thrown to the wolves was meant that I could be defeated by the votes of the two eliminated candidates going to Messrs. Luchetti and Riordan and against myself in the last ballot and Messrs. Luchetti and Riordan being elected, then this could be true as is recorded by your correspondent.
Your correspondent suggested that if there had been a further ballot then 1 would have been left trailing in a field of three. This is completely untrue because it would have been impossible on the figures at that stage to have left me trailing. An analysis of the figures would confirm my statement. Perhaps your correspondent might correct this inaccuracy. As regards trailing I was never trailing in any ballot in relation to the number of candidates to be elected. The figures as regards myself in all ballots if they could be made public might prove extremely interesting and enlightening to your correspondent.
Your correspondent says that there were two Queenslanders in the final ballot - Senator Dittmer and Mr. Riordan, a right wing candidate. If by inference was meant that I was a left wing candidate then it might be just as well to put the position straight. I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and as such radically progressive.
– Are you a member of the right wing or the left wing?
– I am a member pf the Australian Labour Party which permits differences of opinion.
– And you can go whichever way you like - right or left - can you?
– If . you are trying to bc offensive, senator, I will deal with you subsequently in this session”. My letter continues -
My allegiance is to my party. If there are light and left wings apart from the Labor Party, as they are termed, then membership is the responsibility for the individual members of the wings themselves. I propose to do in the future as I have done in the past - that is, vehemently support that which I think, is right for the people and my party.
Unfortunately, we did not obtain control of the treasury bench at the last election, which would have been in the interests of the people. My .letter goes on -
No one has ever suggested that I have been afraid to do this irrespective of so-called wings, cliques of any sort, or, above all, numbers. I have never been a fence-sitter.
Your correspondent further says that Senator Dittmer, vastly more experienced in political manoeuvre than the honorable and bluff Mr. Riordan, was sacrificed to no purpose. If by political manoeuvre was meant intrigue, then the phrase is offensive and untrue. The fact was that I let it be known only at a comparatively late stage, and then only to my personal friends, that I was to be a candidate.
If by the words “ political manoeuvre “ experience was meant, then this could be inaccurate because though formerly I was Deputy Leader of the Queensland State Parliamentary Labor Party-
– Are you allowed to read your speech?
– I am not reading my speech.
– Then what are you doing?
– I am quoting from a document, and if you want it you can take possession of it as soon as you like. My letter continues - . . I have been a Member of Parliament for only ten years, whereas Mr. Riordan has been a Member for over 25 years and has been Minister for the Navy. - In the comments Mr. Riordan is referred to as honorable and bluff. Intentionally or unintentionally, the adjective is omitted from my name. It is true that Mr. Riordan is honorable. It is ako true that Senator Dr. Felix Dittmer is honorable.
From past experience we know the machinations of the press. We must also realize that, apart from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the collection and dissemination of knowledge in Australia is largely in the hands of three groups - the Melbourne “ Sun “ and ‘ Herald “, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and the Packer press and their associated television interests. On one occasion, namely during the last federal election campaign, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ recognized the truth and supported the Australian Labour’ Party, but it is not supporting the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour Party. Irrespective of that, the press has a setup that is completely divorced from justification and justice to the people. Those facts establish in no small measure a case for the setting up of a national press, at least in each capital city; not necessarily controlled by the Government but responsible to Parliament, and not dissimilar from the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
I have read my letter to-night, in case the “Sydney Morning Herald” does not publish it. It did not appear in this morning’s issue although, as I said, the editor was in possession of the document yesterday and it could easily have appeared in this morning’s issue. I believe that in fairness and ordinary newspaper decency the letter should have appeared. That is why I have made this speech to-night. I appreciate the tolerance and forbearance of honorable senators in hearing me without interruption.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 February 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620222_senate_24_s21/>.