24th Parliament · 1st Session
Hie PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a few questions. They are simple, but I believe they are of world-shattering importance, especially to the ladies. Does the Minister remember that some eighteen months ago the matter of ladies’ laddering nylon stockings- was the basis of questions asked by me in the Senate? Was the Minister interested? Tn this later period of his life cycle, is he still interested in ladies’ stockings? Does he know that for hundreds of years man has tried to invent a means of stopping the laddering and snagging of knitted cloths? Is he aware that a brilliant textile scientist, Henry Dohan, of Sydney, has solved that problem and that his success has been proved by wearers of nylon stockings, including my wife? Does this not mean that a lingering load will be lifted from millions of lovely ladies’ lives? Also, does it not mean the lifting of a financial load from many males who in the past have been bled to pay for the wasteful laddering of ladies’ stockings? Is the Minister aware that Mr. Dohan has applied for a patent in Australia and also in 34 other countries? Does he not think that Australia will be proud of one of its citizens who, by his invention, will bring a large measure of peace to millions of women throughout the world because of relief from mental aggravation, disturbance and anger caused by the constant laddering of ordinary nylon stockings? Finally, will the Minister consider the claims of Mr. Henry Dohan in this regard?
– With a soft, still voice I say, “Yes, I am still interested.” I listened to the rest of Senator Brown’s question with interest. It provided information of which I was not aware. I am a little doubtful about the appropriate action that I should take, having regard to the fact that this man has- his patent rights and, therefore, we must be careful not to do anything that is against his interests. I believe the appropriate action to take is to send the question to the Department of Trade and let that department consider whether it can give help if the invention is as good as Senator Brown obviously thinks it is.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform the Senate whether he has any further news of the new oil find at Moonie in Queensland? Will he tell us how important it could be, not only to the nation generally, but also to industrial development and employment in Queensland?
– It did not require a great deal of foresight on my part to realize that I would get a question on this subject, so I prepared some notes. Having regard to the importance of the subject, I wanted to check the notes with the department before I came into the chamber, in case I had made an error. Unfortunately, I was not able to do that, but a check is being made now by my secretary. If, when I get later information, I find there is an error in the notes to which I am referring now, I shall ask for leave of the Senate to make the necessary correction.
As is well known, I have always refrained from commenting upon the progress of oil search, because of the possible effects on the share market, but this morning’s press has reported the situation at Moonie in such detail that I feel I can put on record in the Senate some of the relevant facts. The strike has been made on the Moonie dome in the Surat basin. The Moonie dome is circular in shape and covers an area of perhaps 5 to 8 square miles. The first well was drilled at Cabawin. It resulted in an initial flow of 250 to 260 barrels a day, which settled down to a flow of about 60 barrels a day.
A second well was drilled at Cabawin East, about 4 miles from Cabawin No. 1. The company failed to locate a deposit in that area, so it shifted to Moonie No. 1. We know the results of that well. It yielded about 2,200 barrels a day at a depth of 5,800 to 5,900 feet. During the drilling of Moonie No. 1 a likely-looking sandstone was encountered at a level about 300 feet higher than the level at which the oil strike was made. There were some slight oilshowings in that sandstone, and tests were made. The results of the tests were not conclusive, and the company decided it would move on to the second site.
– Is this another strike?
– We are npt as good as that. We cannot do it on a postentry basis. I have just received the notes for which I have been waiting.
– An oil millionaire!
– I have not one share in any oil company, nor has any member of my family, directly or indirectly.
– My reference was to another honorable senator altogether.
– I am sorry. There is no need to make an alteration of what I have said so far. At Moonie No. 2 it was expected that the strike would be made at a depth of from 5,800 to 5,900 feet, thus repeating the experience at the Moonie No. 1 well. The significant point is that this strike has been made at 5,651 feet, or about 200 feet above the level at which oil was found in the No. 1 well. The question is whether this is the same deposit as was found in the No. 1 well, at a higher level, or a second deposit? Using the vernacular, that is the 64-dollar question. This will not be resolved for a week or so, until the drilling team gets down to the 5,800 feet level. The company is obviously hoping that it has two deposits at two different levels. All that the experts can say at this stage is that all the indications are that this strike at the higher level at Moonie No. 2 is not in the same type of sandstone as was located in the No. 1 well. So that all is going very well indeed. However, I want to strike a note of caution. It is not only a case of finding oil; we have to find how large is the area in which the oil is located before an estimate can be made of the size of the deposit. The company estimates that it will be necessary to drill about six holes over the rest of the area before an estimate can be made of the size of the deposit.
Let us assume that all this is successful. Let us be optimistic and assume that the six wells show a deposit spread over a big area. We must then go to the next stage, which is a series of engineering projects, again to estimate the size of the deposit and to determine the methods by which the oil can be obtained economically, without leaving a substantial proportion’ of the deposit in the ground, that is, not recovered. That may take a little time. I am anxious to reach finality about the strike, just as every one else is, but it is as well to say that the company asks me not to press it too harshly to go ahead too quickly. The drilling of each hole involves a major technical decision, based on the estimations of the geological and geophysical information that is available. If an error is made in interpreting that technical, scientific information, the hole can be drilled in the wrong place, it becomes a dry hole and frustration is caused. It might well be a matter of more haste less speed.
As I understand the position from talks with my own officers and the companies* officers, it is no easy task to interpret the geophysical and geological results and correlate them with the drilling results that have been obtained from the holes already drilled. I think it is good to say what I have said previously: We are fortunate that this operation is in good hands. The companies are big organizations; they have a lot of experience and big technical resources behind them. I am sure that Mr. Doyle Graves, their American representative out here is as keen to be successful as is any one in the chamber. We are fortunate that the Australian company has at its head a person of the undoubted commercial standing of Sir Kenneth Coles who, in my opinion, is dedicated to the task of finding oil in Australia. I think it is also well to say that we must remember that this is a primary responsibility of the Queensland Government. It is that government which has the mining tenements, which lays down the conditions under which operations are to be carried out and which will have to work out the methods to be carried through. All those things come under the State law.
It is a matter for great satisfaction that we are working in very friendly cooperation with the Queensland Government and that I am working in a spirit of friendly co-operation with my opposite number in the matter, Mr. Evans. But of course, the Commonwealth has a vital interest in this discovery. We have spent a lot of money on the search for oil. We have appropriated to the task a very substantial proportion of our technical resources in the Bureau of Mineral Resources. One of the very pleasing features of the search for oil is the full acknowledgment, not only by the Queensland Government but also by the companies concerned, of the value of the financial contribution of the Commonwealth and the technical contribution of its officers. To use rather a dramatic phrase which I heard and which I shall repeat, this is a moment of history. It is also a moment of suspense. We have to possess ourselves in patience for a week or so until we find out what happens at the 5,800 feet level and until we know whether there are two deposits of oil or only one. We have to remember also that this discovery has been made in the Moonie dome. There are other structures in the Surat basin, and the company’s programme is not only to assess the deposit in the Moonie dome by the drilling of the six holes that I have already mentioned, but also to test other structures in the Surat basin to see whether they yield - let us have a little masterly understatement - interesting results.
– While expressing to the Minister for National Development the joy of the Opposition at the prospect that he has unfolded in relation to the discovery of oil in Australia, I would like to ask some questions about the future activity of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The Minister stated that there were other areas in the vicinity of the latest discovery which needed further investigation. Quite recently, be made a public statement in which he indicated that the major problem facing oil exploration companies was still the establishment, in precise and reliable terms, of the regional geology of the various sedimentary basins. He forecast two stages, the first being the establishment of a sedimentary basin study group in the department, and the second, the establishment of a core and cuttings laboratory. I ask the Minister: Does this indicate an extension of activity in the field by the Bureau of Mineral Resources? If so, to what extent will that occur? Will priority be given to the areas adjacent to that in which the very promising strikes have been made, not only in the Surat basin but in the immediately surrounding ones? Having regard to the value of the information which has become available as a result of these drillings, particularly to people in other sedimentary basins, will the Minister consider releasing it at an earlier date than is at present allowed?
– These are big matters, and one hesitates to be too dogmatic in replying. To take the second part of the question first, my recollection is that a company which is subsidized is entitled to ask that the information which is obtained as a result of its operations bc not released for six months. The period was twelve months, but I believe it was altered to six months in the new legislation. I do not know what the company will do in the present circumstances. 1 take a good deal of satisfaction from the fact that, when I went to Cabawin when the strike was made there, this company said: “ We have the right to withhold this information from the public for twelve months, but release it whenever you like. If it will help our neighbours in adjoining areas, we will be glad to release it.” In other words, the company said: “ Release it. Do not worry about the- waiting time.” I cannot say what it will do on this occasion. We must remember that this Moonie No. 2 well is not subsidized. The subsidy scheme operates until such time as oil is found, but it is expected that a company will undertake any assessment of the size of the deposit, and generally it is very willing to do so. So I cannot give a definite answer on that matter. I just- remind the Leader of the Opposition of what this same company did on a previous occasion.
As to the future activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, we must remember that we are now coming into a new era. I should not like to say, without consulting them, what my professional officers would think is the appropriate thing to do in the light of these developments. I said we would establish a sedimentary basins study group. The Prime Minister has written to all the Premiers about the matter and every reply I have seen has welcomed the idea. I am not certain whether all the Premiers have replied yet. It is again a case of the need for Commonwealth-State co-operation, because the State mines departments have wide powers. I have no doubt that the sedimentary basins study group will be established and that the core and cuttings laboratory is on the way. It has been approved by the Government and the proposal has been passed to the department to implement.
I refuse to answer Senator McKenna’s question about whether we would give priority in adjoining areas. It is a fascinating question. It is a very interesting question. I remind the honorable senator that prior to this strike all professional advice was to the effect that New Guinea should be given the first priority and Western Australia second priority. This area was classified as having a comparatively low priority. The advice we had at one stage was that it was better not to become involved in big expenditure there. The Department of National Development challenged that advice. It said: “We will not accept that advice. We think you ought to go on in this area.” I finally accepted the advice. The department did basic survey work. The results of that work were placed before the companies. These companies acknowledged that they became interested in the area because of the results shown by the basic survey work carried out by my department.
– My question also concerns oil, but in another context. It is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I regret that the information on which it is based reached me only a little while ago. Otherwise, I should have extended to the Minister the courtesy of informing him that I proposed to ask the question, in order to give him an opportunity to obtain some information on the matter. The Department of External Affairs has stated that two helicopters had some trouble when landing on pack ice just near Mount Gorton, in the Antarctic. Apparently, one had run out of oil and the oil breather in the other had frozen. Does this happen frequently, or are these isolated cases? If they are not isolated cases, can the Minister say what measures are being taken to prevent similar occurrences?
– I am aware of, but not well informed about, the incident to which the honorable senator referred. I shall have a report on it shortly, but I am unable to be of much assistance at the moment. I assure him that, when helicopters are operating in normal circumstances, such occurrences are rare to the point of being unique. I do not know precisely what caused the defects in the various systems involved. As a layman, I should say that the trouble probably arose, in part anyway, from the extreme conditions of temperature under which the helicopters were operating. As soon as I have any information that will be of use, I shall let the honorable senator have it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration: Is it a fact that the statistical bulletin issued by the Department of Immigration gives figures in relation to permanent arrivals, but no figures in relation to permanent departures? If that is so, are the latter figures omitted because they are not available or because the department does not wish them to be known to the public? Is it a fact that the net number of permanent arrivals of migrants is far below the planned intake? Further, is it a fact that, whereas the bulletin cites a figure of almost 27,000 in relation to permanent arrivals from July to September last year, the net figure is lower than 10,000? Will the Minister ensure that figures showing permanent departures will be given in future issues of the bulletin, and that attempts will be made to give estimates of the number of Aus.ralians returning home after being abroad for twelve months, who are included in the number of permanent arrivals? If not, will the Minister order that this misleading and useless document be not produced in future, leaving the publication of migration statistics to the Commonwealth Statistician, who is concerned only with the objective presentation of facts and not with defence and concealment of the Government’s policies?
– I should like to answer first the comment made in the honorable senator’s last question. I am sure that the Minister for Immigration and the Department of Immigration do not use statistics in an endeavour to hide anything. I do not know whether it was the practice of the department in the past to include in this bulletin statistics relating to departures. If this was the practice, I should certainly want to know why it has been discontinued in relation to this one bulletin. However, I should not think that that was the position. I should think that no record of departures was included in any bulletin. I do not have in my mind the answers to the other questions. If the honorable senator will put them on the notice-paper, I shall obtain complete answers for him from the Minister for Immigration.
– I address a question -to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I have received complaints that people wishing to obtain postage stamps have been inconvenienced because stamp vending machines have been either empty or out of order. The report of the Postmaster-General’s Department, tabled yesterday, seems to indicate that shopkeepers, particularly those in small centres not served by a post office, are being encouraged, by the removal of much red tape, to apply for a stamp seller’s licence. Will the Minister say what new moves are afoot? Can anything be done to licence a stamp vendor in proximity to every major pillar box?
– The PostmasterGeneral is continually seeking to provide better facilities for the general public. The formalities associated with a shopkeeper obtaining a stamp seller’s licence have been reduced to a minimum. This has enabled shopkeepers in ever-increasing numbers to avail themselves of the facility - I might even describe it as a trading advantage - of supplying stamps to the public. As a matter of fact, I am informed that in some areas to-day almost every suburban newsagent has availed himself of this facility. It is true that no inducements are held out to shopkeepers to avail themselves of this facility, but they know that it brings trade to their businesses. They know also that people appreciate the service offered and are taking advantage of it in ever-increasing numbers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware of a move to establish in this country a primary products futures organization for dealing in our major crops and our wool clip? In view of the undesirable features of this system of marketing in other parts of the world, where the fate of primary producers is in the hands of market manipulators, and in view of the challenge that the man on the land in this country will face from the European Common Market, will the Minister consult with his colleagues in the Cabinet with a view to holding a referendum to seek constitutional power to establish an organized marketing scheme in Australia for primary products? Although the Government has been opposed to this suggestion in the past, it has indicated recently its capacity eventually to accept Labour’s views on important matters.
– Senator O’Byrne’s question raised two matters - the establishment of a futures organization and orderly marketing. I remind him and the Senate that it has always been the policy of this Government to facilitate orderly marketing under the control of the growers themselves. So I suggest quite bluntly to Senator O’Byrne that there is no need for me to take that aspect of his question further. How successful the various selling boards have been is now history. I have some reservations on the subject of the establishment of a futures organization. Accordingly I think it would be appropriate to ask my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to state in writing the views that he holds in respect of the matter of futures raised by Senator O’Byrne.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army a question. Has the Army investigated claims made last year by the United States Bell laboratories relating to jet propulsion of human beings, in particular, of infantrymen? According to published reports, infantrymen fitted with twin jets were able to leap 400 feet. They were able to leap over motor vehicles and other vehicles. Can the Minister say whether the device referred to is completely practical? If so, is it regarded as of defence significance? If it is, have any tests been made of the equipment by Australian defence authorities?
– I have no information on this subject. I think tha question is one for the Minister for the Army to answer. I can only say that if jet propulsion could be applied to individuals it would reduce the worries of the Whips in another place when divisions are called, because of the state of that House.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the very extensive flight of Victorian capital to New South Wales that has taken place in recent months? Is he aware that the Myer Emporium Limited has plans for an £8,500,000 project in that State? I do not want to introduce politics into this question, but I should like to know whether this flight of Victorian capital to New South Wales is in the interests of the Australian ecenomy generally?
– Despite the disclaimer, I cannot dismiss from my mind altogether the thought that the honorable senator may be trying to introduce some politics into this matter by asking his question. I think one of the most significant reactions to his question was the look of complete surprise on the faces of Labour senators from Victoria when he suggested that there was a flight of capital from Victoria to New South Wales. What he described as a flight of capital is not in fact a flight of capital, but an extension of Victorian financial influence into the affairs of New South Wales. I am wondering whether the good fortune enjoyed by the people of Victoria in recent years as a result of good government has now reached the point where Victoria might be beginning to make a takeover, bid for New South Wales.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. What further progress has been made in the extension of television to country areas of South Australia? Has any decision been made on the most suitable transmitter sites required to cover the northern and southern areas of the State?
– About four months ago the Postmaster-General announced plans for the extension of television in Australia under phase 4. Those plans included the establishment . of both national and commercial television stations at Spencer’s Gulf north and in the south-eastern area of South Australia which includes the city of Mount
Gambier. I understand that applications have been called for licences for both of those areas. The Spencer’s Gulf applications close in May, I think, and the south-eastern area applications in July, 1962. Senator Hannaford will be interested to know that when those television stations are operating a service will be provided for about 90 per cent, of the population of South Australia. The Postmaster-General made it quite clear, however, that even then the last word has not been spoken on the extension of television services and that ways and means will be examined to extend the services until all possible areas are covered.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it correct to say that the Australian Wheat Board has completed the sale on credit of another 600,000 tons of wheat to mainland China? Also, is it correct to say that Australia’s credit sales of wheat to China now total 2,600,000 tons? Is it correct to say, too, that during the past year mainland China took 36.4 per cent, of Australia’s wheat exports and 7.6 per cent, of our flour exports? Did Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, say that mainland China would meet in full its financial commitments in respect of all its purchases of wheat and flour? Has mainland China met those financial commitments in full and with great punctuality? If all these statements are correct, are the Government, the Australian Wheat Board and the primary producers highly delighted and have they expressed the greatest gratification in regard to these transactions?
– I do not exactly follow the purport of Senator Hendrickson^ question. I am not willing to confirm the various figures that he cited, although I have not the slightest doubt that they are accurate. One does not carry all these figures in one’s mind.
– Speak up! Don’t be afraid!
– That will be the day! I do not follow the purport of the question, but I will give this answer: Yes, very big transactions have taken place. They are carried out by the Australian Wheat Board, which is the marketing organization for the wheat grown in Australia. They have been very good transactions. They have helped the wheat farmers and the Australian economy. I cannot say any more than that.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, is prompted by the excellent and heartening news that the Postal Department made a profit in the last financial year. In view of the fact that profits are now flowing from the Post Office, will the PostmasterGeneral consider reinstalling the humble pillar boxes in the city of Perth for the convenience of its citizens? I remind him that when that city was much smaller than it is now such pillar boxes were placed at strategic points in the city, but nearly all of them have now been removed. That has caused great inconvenience to people who wish to post letters. The people now have to go to a post office to do that. So, in view of the profits made by the Post Office, will the Postmaster-General consider the reintroduction of the humble pillar box in this city?
– I am surprised and somewhat dismayed to hear that the humble pillar box has disappeared from the fair city of Perth. Contrary to what is happening in other cities, where new and improved types of pillar boxes are replacing the old types, it appears that for reasons not known to me Perth is languishing. I will bring the matter that the honorable senator has raised to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and ask him to comment on the matter.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by saying that I have obtained the information on which I base the question from the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Is it a fact that the A.B.C. joined Intertel, an international organization having for its purpose the making of documentary films on preselected subjects of international significance? Also, is it a fact that difficulties arose between the Government and the commission on the subject chosen for the organization’s first production? What was that subject? Is it a fact that, as the result of the Government’s action, the A.B.C. has been forced to withdraw from Intertel? As the commisison believes that membership of that organization is of considerable advantage, will the Government give the commission freedom of action in this matter and in its programmes?
– I am sorry that I cannot answer the questions that have been asked by Senator Kennelly. As I realize that he is an honorable senator who will not be satisfied by anything less than a specific answer, I suggest that he put his question on the notice-paper, and then I will get a specific answer for him.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and the Postmaster-General noticed the rapid development of primary industries in Western Australia which this year, for the first time, has supplanted New South Wales as the major wheat-producing State in Australia according to acreage planted last season? Has he noticed also that large areas of land, amounting on an average to about 1,000,000 acres a year, have been thrown open for settlement in the last few years by the Western Australian Government? Can he inform me whether there is any liaison between the PostmasterGeneral and the State Government so that when land is thrown open for settlement telephone facilities can be provided for the new settlers in outlying districts?
– I have noticed the rapid development of primary industry in Western Australia. The Western Australians have been blessed with a series of good seasons and with a State Government that has accepted the challenge to develop the State. The honorable senator asks whether there is any liaison between the Postmaster-General’s Department and the departments of the State Government so that telephone facilities can be provided for new settlers. I remind him that down through the years all the facilities that we have come to accept as part and parcel of our way of life have followed the pioneers who have gone into the outback and developed it. I think he would be. the first to agree that it would not be sound policy for the Postmaster-General’s Department, or any other department, to establish facilities in a certain area in the expectation that that area would be developed. However, I can assure the honorable senator that the Postmaster-
General is particularly interested in providing the facilities that must follow development. He is doing that as rapidly as possible.
– I refer the Minister for Customs and Excise to Customs Tariff Proposals No. 5. The proposals are -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals and that on and after the twenty-third day of February, One thousand nine hundred and sixtytwo, Duties of Customs be collected accordingly.
Can the Minister give the Senate the reason for the imposition of these temporary high tariff duties on road wheels of the disc type? Are Australian-made wheels obtainable?
– I would say, speaking off the cuff, that these duties were imposed in consequence of recommendations made by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board in an emergency report. However, I shall find out what in fact happened*. All temporary tariff duties are brought before the Parliament ultimately, and the Parliament has an opportunity to consider them. There are so many of these things that I am not aware of the details of Customs Tariff Proposals No. 5 . If I find that what I have said is incorrect, I shall supply the correct information to the honorable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government. Did the chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau recently visit mainland China to ascertain whether China’s demand for imports of Australian wool will increase, in view of reports that China has suffered1 some decrease in her domestic production of wool? If so, has this action received the benediction of the Government?
– I do not know that actions of this kind require the benediction of the Government. Ours is a private-enterprise economy. The Australian Wool Bureau has a responsibility to the wool-growers, and the Australian Wheat Board has a responsibility to the wheatgrowers. When these boards sell wool and wheat to China, Japan, England or America they are out to get the best possible prices for their products. To that extent, the Government is anxious for them to succeed. The area that has been mentioned has no special significance to the Government. The Government’s policy is to try to sell to mainland China all goods except those with a strategic content.
– Is wool in that category?
– Wool is not in that category. That is the Government’s policy. Within the limits of that policy, what is done by those who have goods to sell is their concern only. The Government, of course, is very much concerned to see that Australia’s exports, particularly of primary products, increase as much as possible.
asked the Minister for Health upon notice -
– The departmental answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
My own additional comment on this is that those figures indicate a mild epidemic, but as the cases that have been reported have been scattered over a very wide area, it is not to be regarded as an epidemic in the usually accepted sense of the word.
The Government will be guided by the Epidemiology Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council in evaluating the efficacy of these vaccines.
As soon as expert evaluation of inactivated and live vaccines has been made in Australia, I shall take an early opportunity lo make a further statement concerning policy.
– by leave - Honorable senators are aware that a want-of-confidence motion has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in another place. It has been contended that in these circumstances the Senate should adjourn until the motion has been resolved in the House of Representatives. Mr. President, I did a fair amount of work in preparing my thoughts on this matter and, having done so, I thought there might be merit in recording the result in “ Hansard “ for the convenience of others. I had intended to make this statement yesterday, but I could not have it prepared in time. Though the heat has gone out of the matter since yesterday, I thought that the work that has been done, by the Clerk of the Senate to a great extent, should be put on the record of the Senate.
The first thing to consider is the practice adopted in the past in the Senate when censure or want-of-confidence motions have been moved in the House of Representatives. During the past 30 years 25 motions have been moved in the House of Representatives expressing want of confidence in governments. On ten of those occasions the Senate was not in session and it was not called upon to make a decision. On ten of the remaining fifteen occasions the Senate continued with its business, and on the remaining five occasions the Senate either adjourned or dealt with formal business only. The last occasion on which the Senate adjourned when a want-of-confidence motion was moved against the Government in the House of Representatives was in 1944.
It is well-established parliamentary procedure in a bi-cameral form of government that each of the two houses of parliament is responsible for the conduct of its own affairs. The information that I have quoted illustrates that it has been normal practice for the Australian Senate, at least for the past eighteen years, to continue its sittings when the Government has been under censure in the House of Representatives. The Senate yesterday had two bills before it. First, there was the Social Services Bill 1962, which had been passed by the House of Representatives and had reached the second-reading stage in the Senate. The Opposition had intimated that it proposed to move an amendment to the formal second-reading motion, calling upon the Government to withdraw the bill and re-draft it to include provision for certain increases in benefits. The bill provided for an increase in certain social service benefits to become operative from to-day. Unless the bill had been passed yesterday, these increased benefits could not have been paid from to-day.
The second bill which was before the Senate yesterday was the War Service Homes Bill 1962, which has been introduced into the Senate and taken to the second-reading stage. It provides that the maximum loan for war service homes shall be increased by £750. Unless the legislation is passed the increased loans cannot be made available to ex-servicemen.
In the circumstances, we propose to adopt the following procedure: - (1) That the sittings of the Senate shall be continued. (2) That formal Senate business shall continue as usual, the business paper to include question time, tabling of papers, and so on. (3) That the bills before the Senate shall be dealt with and carried through their final stages, and that assuming the Senate passes the War Service Homes Bill 1962, it will be forwarded to the House of Representatives for concurrence in the usual way. (4) That the Senate shall continue with the debate on the Address-in-RepIy.
Finally, the Government does not contemplate, at this stage at least, introducing any new legislation into the Senate until the censure motion in the House of Representatives is determined. Mr. President, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Want of Confidence Motions in the House of Representatives - Practice of the Senate Statement, dated 1st March, 1962- and move -
That the paper be printed.
– I am indebted to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) for the trouble he has taken to bring this very interesting and important matter before the Senate. The Opposition is indebted to him also for the research that has produced the figures in relation to the practice in this Parliament. I was not aware of them, and they rather surprise me. I still think that they do not justify the Minister’s comment that it has been normal practice for the Senate not to adjourn when a motion of want of confidence in a government has been proposed in the House of Representatives. It has certainly been usual when, on ten out of fifteen occasions, it did not adjourn.
– And not for eighteen years. There have been seventeen occasions since 1944, on all of which the Senate has not adjourned.
– I should imagine, not having the exact details before me at this stage, that most of those occasions were during the regime of the present Government, and it is significant to me that the last occasion upon which an adjournment took place was during the regime of a Labour government.
– I do not think that is correct. This seems to have happened pretty equally as between the governments of the two political parties. Still, we shall check that.
– We both need to check the figures, but from my understanding of what the Minister has said, the last occasion on which the Senate adjourned because of a censure motion in the House of Representatives was in 1944. That would have been while a Labour government was in office. Do I understand him correctly when he says that since that time there have been censure motions on seventeen occasions, on none of which has the Senate adjourned?
– Some of them occurring between 1944 and 1949.
– Then it seems to me that the proposition I put was right, that the practice of the Senate continuing to sit has developed under the present Government far more than it did in any other period in federal history. If the last occasion on which the Senate adjourned was in 1944, and if there have been seventeen occasions since then on which the Senate has not adjourned, it would seem that the practice has grown and developed under the present Government. At least, we can look at the figures.
– I content myself by saying that that may not necessarily be correct. We would want to look at the figures.
– Yes. I think we really ought to have an opportunity, Mr. President, to look at the figures. I have risen at this stage mainly to say, on this particular point, that the traditionalist side of me deplores the departure from wellestablished practice. When one studies the matter one generally finds that there is a very real base and justification for it.
– What do you say you deplore?
– I deplore the departure from tradition. One generally finds that there is a proper base, reason and justification for a practice that has prevailed in legislatures older than our own. I should like an opportunity to look at the practice in other legislatures before I depart from this subject.
The other side of me, being radical and realist, recognizes that you do face practical problems in government from time to time. The Minister on this occasion has posed two problems. He has adverted to them in detail, and I want to say a word or two about them. I do not think there was great urgency in either case. The. facts are that when the Social Services Bill came to the Senate on Tuesday evening, first, the Opposition indicated that it would proceed immediately with the debate, without the adjournment to which it is normally entitled, and secondly, the Government was assured that the Opposition would not prevent the bill from passing on the next day. I place those facts on the record. The bill provided that entitlement to the benefit would date as from a week prior to 1st March, so that on its face it carried retrospective entitlement. Nobody would have been disturbed in the matter of entitlement. There might have been a delay of up to a week in payment, pursuant to the entitlement, and with a large number of unemployed I appreciate that that presented a practical and real problem of significance to quite a lot of people. No doubt that was a matter that influenced the Government in its decision.
As to the other bill, the War Service Homes Bill, which provides for a reduction in the amount of the minimum deposit and an increase in the maximum amount of loan available under the War Service Homes Act, I should think that a delay of a brief period would not really have caused any grave inconvenience. Current applications would not be determined until the fate of the bill was assured. It is well known that the Opposition is not opposing the measure. We have moved in the very terms that it embodies. Therefore, I cannot see that there was any great urgency in relation to either of the matters referred to.
I think that this censure motion, when the difference in numbers between the Government parties and the Opposition is so slight, might have caused the Government to suspend the Senate.
I notice that although the Minister has set out four points on the procedure of the Senate, the whole thing relates to just the normal operations of the Senate, without any change except for an indication that at this stage, at least, the Government does not contemplate introducing new legislation. That is the one very slight bow that the Minister makes to the tradition that when there is a no-confidence motion which could affect the fate of a government, the Senate shall adjourn its business until that motion has been determined.
– The thinking on that point is that the Senate should function to deal with all its formal business and to deal with bills while the censure motion is being debated, but not, as a general rule, actually to pass a bill or to finalize the procedure. That is in respect of new business. That is why I differentiated between bills before the Senate and bills that could conceivably come in subsequently.
– The Minister has said that bills before the Senate should be dealt with and carried through the final stages, so that the only obeisance this is made to the tradition is that, if it suits the Government, it will not introduce new legislation. That is a very slight acknowledgement of any tradition that may exist.
– It is not a case of it not suiting the Government. The interpretation is that the Government could introduce new legislation, but while this censure motion is before the other House it really should not go to the extent of putting new legislation right through until the fate of the Government has been determined; but it could deal with the business it had on its plate.
– Yes. I agree with that version of the Minister’s statement. The final comment I want to make is that the suspense, as it turns out, is not to be for a long period. I understand it has been determined that the vote on the motion of no confidence will take place on Tuesday evening next. Of course, that was not known at the time the Minister made his comments. I think it was (hen contemplated that the debate on the noconfidence motion might run for two weeks, but in the events that are about to happen it would appear that, if the tradition had been acknowledged and the Senate had adjourned, no real practical difficulty would in fact have been suffered, except, possibly, by the postponement of payment of unemployment benefit at the increased rate, maybe for a week.
In the circumstances, Mr. President, I would like a further opportunity to consider this very interesting and important matter. I therefore ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th February (vide page 167), 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.
– When the debate was adjourned on Tuesday last, 1 was discussing the subject of migration. I had stated that last year, in the company of other members of my party, I had gone to the Bonegilla migrant camp after there had been a riot by migrants who had not been given employment for nine or twelve months. I also said that the officer in charge of the Department of Labour and ‘ National Service and the officer in charge of the migrant camp had done everything they possibly could to see that the migrants were treated as they should be treated, but because of the failure of the Government to plan ahead, migrants who had been promised work were neglected, and some of them had been obliged to stay at the camp, without work, for between nine and twelve months.
The Government had promised the migrants that immediately they arrived in Australia they all would be given employment. Some of them had financial commitments in the countries from which they came. Because they were unemployed, they were not able to honour those commitments. I can imagine how 1 would feel if I was a migrant and was not able to send home a remittance that had been promised to a relative or friend. I advised the migrants not to use violence. I told them that violence would be met by violence because this Government would not hesitate to use any forces at its command to ensure that the people who were suffering at Bonegilla were kept under surveillance. I told them, though, to demonstrate as much as they could to bring their conditions to the notice of the public of Australia. But the Government continues to pursue the same immigration policy and we still have thousands of migrants unemployed.
Just prior to the last general election I and other members of the Labour Party received a deputation representing 10,000 unemployed Greeks and Italians, not in the State of Victoria, but in the city of Melbourne. Whatever views members of the Parliament or people outside may have about migrants, we must realize that these people have been brought to Australia irrespective of their nationality, that many have become Australian citizens, and that those who have not will eventually take that step. We should ensure that economic and social security is given to these people.
This country has been built by migrants. If there had been no migrants there would have been no Australia. But we are living in times which are different from those that obtained in the early days of settlement. When the pioneers of this country came here they had the natural resources of the land at their command. They were able to select sites, to build homes and to undertake agricultural and other pursuits. The people who come here now from overseas and who are unemployed have not the opportunity to go into the bush, cut down a tree or two and build a shack as did people in the early days. Nowadays migrants are forced into an economy which is inflated because of the bad administration of this Government over the past twelve or thirteen years. The Labour Party was very proud of the migration policy that was pursued up to 1949. It was a Labour government which commenced the largescale movement of assisted migrants to this country after the termination of World War II.
That brings me to the reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to unemployment, and to the subject of the unemployment benefit which we discussed in this chamber yesterday. Opposition senators have always been accused of being pessimistic when they have tried to warn the Government or to reason with it about the growth of unemployment. We are not pessimists; we do not want to see unemployment in this country. On 26th September last the Leader of the Government in this place (Senator Spooner), when questioned about unemployment, said, as reported at page 597 of “ Hansard “ -
The facts belie the allegation that the Government is paying only lip service to the policy of full employment because in truth there has been full employment -
There was under a Labour government. He added - there still is full employment -
This was in September when the members of the Government were arrogant and disregarded the questions that were asked, but they are not so arrogant to-day. The Minister continued - and there still is economic progress.
If honorable senators opposite tell me that there is economic progress when so many people are unemployed, I have yet to learn something. Senator Spooner said further -
The Government is not paying merely lip service; it is actually delivering the goods.
Further on, he said -
The employment figures are improving each month, and it would suit the Government better if they were to be released before election day instead of after it.
I venture to say that that was a misstatement. The Government would not release the unemployment figures before 9th December.
Another alarming statement made by Senator Spooner related to the suggestion that the Government should budget for a deficit of £100,000,000. He said-
If my memory serves me correctly, that is a suggestion more along the lines of the unsound policy advocated by the Australian Labour Party.
But that is the policy which the Government accepts to-day. That is the policy which it is placing before both Houses of the Parliament in order, as it says, to relieve unemployment. Yet, when we brought that proposal to the notice of the Leader of the Government he said it was a very unsound policy. We say that it was quite a sound policy and that if we had been elected to the treasury bench we would have commenced immediately to put it into operation. The Prime Minister has since stated that the Government will budget for a deficit. According to him, the level of unemployment, instead of falling, has risen to 130,000. In September the Leader of the Government in this place told us that the unemployment figures were falling. As I said earlier, when we asked questions about unemployment, he said that we were pessimists.
It is easy for Senator Spooner or for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) to say that unemployment is decreasing. Neither of those gentlemen is one of the unemployed. Only those who are unemployed really know what unemployment means in this year 1962. Unemployment now is quite different from what it was 30 years ago, because then living was much cheaper than it is to-day under the inflationary policy of this Government. The Prime Minister admits that 131,000 people are out of work. We say the number is greater than that. Many men and women are in part-time employment.
Australia needs additional water conservation schemes. We must conserve water and have irrigation schemes if we are to develop this country. In the Melbourne metropolitan area, which is developing very quickly, restrictions have been placed on the use of water. Just imagine that state of affairs obtaining in 1962! We could use credit provided by the Commonwealth Bank to undertake water conservation schemes. Projects that would be reproductive and would pay could easily be financed through the- Commonwealth Bank. Why could we not finance such projects through the instrumentality instead of, as this Government has done, borrowing money overseas at huge rates of interest? I remind honorable senators that most of the Victorian railway system was built more than 100 years ago, but to-day we are still paying to people overseas who have never seen Victoria interest on the money borrowed for that project. We are still working to keep those people instead of having done what was done in relation to the trans-continental railway, which was built by a Labour government and financed by the Commonwealth Bank. To-day that is the only railway line in the Commonwealth which is paying a dividend and which is not saddling the people of Australia with a huge debt.
Let us consider the need for housing. In Victoria 18,000 people are on the Housing Commission’s waiting list. Many exservicemen are waiting for homes. At the same time, the construction of roads and sewerage facilities is awaiting attention. In spite of that, we find that this Government is not prepared to make funds, available to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works or the Housing Commission to make provision for homes and to give employment. No person in Australia should be unemployed to-day. There is work for everybody. If this Government were to use the resources at its disposal, unemployment could be abolished.
We have before us a measure which is designed to facilitate the provision of housing for ex-servicemen. Incidentally, I remind honorable senators that ex-servicemen who served in the First World War are not able to obtain free medical treatment unless they are in receipt of an age or invalid pension.
The Government boasts to-day that it proposes to increase the maximum amount of the loan that an ex-serviceman can get from the War Service Homes Division to enable him to purchase a home, but it docs not tell the people that it has not increased the size of the vote for war service homes purposes, which stands to-day at the figure at which it stood ten years ago. We must remember that the Menzies £1 will buy only half of what it bought ten years ago. The maximum amount of the loan for a war service home is to be increased from £2,750 to £3,500. This means that ex-servicemen, who previously had to wait for between eighteen months and two years for the granting of a loan, will probably now have to wait for more than two years. This move is only political propaganda. The Government is not concerned with the welfare of ex-servicemen who are waiting for homes. The provision of homes for these men is an obligation of this Government, not of the States, but thousands of ex-servicemen are on the waiting list of the Victorian State Housing Commission. If the Government were sincere, it would increase the vote for war service homes as well as the amount that an ex-serviceman can borrow. The vote should be increased by some millions of pounds in order to expedite the granting of loans, to avoid forcing ex-servicemen to borrow on an inflated market.
In the Governor-General’s Speech, great credit is taken for the development of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. When the first sod was turned on this project, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the present Australian High Commissioner in the Uni Ird Kingdom, Sir
Eric Harrison, who were then in opposition, boycotted the opening ceremony, saying that the project was not sound. Yet to-day the Government is claiming credit for the development of the scheme. The scheme will not be a success if this Government is allowed to remain in office much longer. The last contract to be let - my figures may be wrong - was for work costing about £50,000,000. This Government has borrowed money from overseas in order to proceed with another stage of the development of the scheme.
– That was not one contract. That is the cost of the next stage.
– For the next stage of development the Government has borrowed £50,000,000. I used the word “ contract “, but I meant the next stage of development. What would be wrong with financing the scheme through the Commonwealth Bank, which has the backing of the nation? Money could be obtained from the Commonwealth Bank for such projects at 3 per cent, interest, instead of the high interest rate that is paid on money borrowed overseas. Can any Government supporter say that that would be wrong? It is more economical to borrow from our own bank than to borrow from the Jews or other moneylenders overseas. The sooner this Government is defeated, the quicker the project will proceed. It will then be financed through the Commonwealth Bank, which belongs to the people. The Commonwealth Bank has any amount of backing, because of the industry that exists in Australia. The development resulting from the scheme will be of great benefit to both primary and secondary industries. The Government is acting wrongly in borrowing overseas money to continue, with the project.
– Would a Labour government finance the Snowy scheme through the Commonwealth Bank?
– I may want to quote you on that in a few years’ time.
– Can the Minister tell me what was wrong with financing construction of the east-west railway through the Commonwealth Bank?
– You did not finance it in that way.
– I am asking the Minister to inform me what was wrong with financing that railway through the Commonwealth Bank.
– The financing of the east-west railway was an isolated matter, and it was properly done by that method. I am interested to know whether a Labour government, if there ever is one, would finance the Snowy scheme by Commonwealth Bank overdraft funds. You say that it would. I am interested to know that.
– The Minister has interjected to make a speech.
– You invited me to do so.
– Yes, I do not object to it. In my opinion, a Labour government would finance the Snowy scheme through the Commonwealth Bank, but I am not the Labour Party. That matter would be discussed by all the people who make up the Labour Party. It is not a one-man party. It belongs to all of those people who are members of it. They will decide what the policy will be. I would use my influence in caucus and in party conferences to have money made available through the Commonwealth Bank to finance the Snowy Mountains project.
– I do not think that even your own party would adopt that policy.
– The test Will come very shortly. According to Ministers of this Government and many of its supporters, our policy is always wrong. We were told by responsible, or irresponsible, Ministers that the policy enunciated by Mr. Calwell, in November of last year, was a policy of tragedy and that it could not be implemented. We were told that we would send the economy into an inflationary gallop if we budgeted for a deficit of £100,000,000 to meet a situation that had been created by this Government. Yet today, because of the intelligence of the electors, who sat up and took notice, the Government is forced to do exactly what it said was wrong. The Leader of the . Government in the Senate should be ashamed to come into this chamber and state the policy that he is now propounding on behalf of the Government. The people will not be fooled. The Government can fool some of the people some of the time but it cannot fool the majority of the people all the time. It has never won. an election on a policy put before the people. It has never had a policy. It has always used subterfuges - red herrings drawn across the political trail to delude the people. The Prime Minister said that the Government would stand on its record. What did the electors say? Had it not been for Communist preferences, the Government would not be in office to-day. Communist preferences received by the Government candidate in the Moreton electorate enabled him to win the seat by a few votes. Government supporters are always accusing us of being associated with Communists, but it is Government supporters who get the Communist preferences. As I said on Tuesday last, Senator McCallum was elected to this Parliament as a result of receiving 85 per cent, of the preference votes of those who supported the late Jim Healy when he was a Communist Party candidate for the Senate. In Victoria, in the recent election, the third successful Government candidate was elected on the preferences of the Communist Party, to defeat Senator McManus.
– If they had gone to you, would you have taken them?
– They have never come to us.
– We would be ashamed, not like you people.
– Labour received four times the number of Communist preferences that we received.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! Senator Hendrickson does not need help from Senator Dittmer, Senator Kendall, or anybody else. He should be allowed to make his own speech.
– We are always accused of associating with the Communist Party, but Government supporters cannot point to one election wherein Communist preferences have given a seat to Labour. They have always assisted the anti-Labour parties. When Stalin went to England he was asked why he did not visit the leader of the Labour Party there. Stalin replied that if he lived in England he would be a Conservative. Of course he would. The people who finance the Communist Party in Australia also finance the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is financed by big institutions in this country, who also finance the Communist Party and use it as a means to achieve an end. Never in its history has the Australian Labour Party had anything to do with people who support communism or fascism. This party has no truck with such ideologies. Our platform, which was formulated by the pioneers of the Labour Party, is based on true Christian principles. Since the turn of the century our party has been known jas the Australian Labour Party. In 1962 it is the Australian Labour Party just as it was in 1902. It is not necessary to change your name if you have not done something wrong. But what is the record of the party whose membe’rs sit opposite? It has been known as the WintheWar Party, the Nationalist Party, the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the United Australia Party. It has had every name under the sun. I wager that at the present moment the top men in the Liberal Party are thinking of another name for their party in order to remove some of the stigma that now attaches to it.
– Why does an individual change his name?
– Sometimes a person commits an offence against the law and serves a term of imprisonment. When he comes out of gaol he wants to start a new life. Accordingly, he changes his name. My name was Hendrickson when I was born in 1898. It is still Hendrickson. The Labour Party has not changed its name but honorable senators who sit opposite have had varied careers and have changed their name on numerous occasions with a view to influencing the electors.
– What roti My name has always been Hannaford.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Hendrickson is once again receiving too much assistance. He should be allowed to make his speech without help from other honorable senators.
– I am sorry if I have hurt Senator Hanna ford’s feelings. I have a high regard for him. He was my colleague when I visited the United States. 1 do not accuse him of indulging in namechanging. However, I do point out to him that he is associating in his party with undesirables. Honorable senators opposite claim to be members of the Liberal-Country Party, yet we have in this chamber a man known as the Leader of the Country Party in the Senate. I assert that there are only two parties in this country - the Labour Party and the party opposed to the Labour Party.
I was very sorry for His Excellency the Governor-General at the opening of the Parliament. He did not know what the speech prepared for him contained. I wish him good health. I hope that he stays with us, because within the next twelve months he will be delivering at the opening df the Parliament a speech prepared for him by a government that believes in social and economic security - a Labour government.
– I join with other speakers who have expressed their loyalty to the Crown. I join also with other speakers who have tendered expressions of goodwill to our new Governor-General. Senator Hendrickson’s statement that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time but that you can fool some of the people some of the time is very applicable to what he has been trying to do to-day. He said that when the Labour Party went out of office in 1949 the economy was second to none. Nothing could be further from the truth. In that statement he was trying to fool some of the people. I am quite sure that we will hear many similar statements henceforth from honorable senators opposite. The Labour Party hopes to paint a glorious picture of conditions in 1949. Honorable senators will be aware that the young men and women who first voted in 1949 are now 34 years of age. I think it may be safely said that anybody in Australia under 34 years of age is not aware of conditions prevailing under Labour in the years immediately prior to 1949. Since 1949 many people have come to Australia from overseas. They are completely ignorant of the conditions under which we lived when Labour was in power prior to 1949. Let us recall what conditions were like in this Garden of Eden back in 1949 under a Labour government. We had controls of every kind. Permits were required to buy many things needed in our daily lives. Very often certain essential goods were available only on the black market at an exorbitant price.
– How do you get on to-day?
– I will come to that later. In 1949, and prior thereto, the rural industries were hampered by controls and lack of finance. In 1949 we had the big coal strike and the Labour Government had to bring in the Army to move the coal. The Labour Party often claims credit for a pharmaceutical benefits scheme that it tried to introduce. I remind the Senate that the Labour Government was at war with the British Medical Association at that time because of the proposed scheme. In those days people were tramping the streets looking for homes. Under Labour we had the greatest housing shortage in our history. The Labour Party did not do anything about the housing shortage because it did not approve of little bureaucrats owning their own homes. To-day, 75 per cent, of people in Australia either own or are buying the homes in which they live. That is the difference between living under a Labour government and under this Government. I do not want any one who is under 34 years of age or who has arrived in this country since 1949 to believe that things were rosy here under Labour. They were far from rosy.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, Mr. Acting Deputy President, I was referring to a statement by Senator Hendrickson that the economy of this country was second to none when the Australian Labour Party left office in 1949. I pointed out that such a claim by the honorable senator and the Labour Party was an attempt to fool some of the people regarding the conditions prevailing in that year. I said that I believed it was an endeavour by the Labour Party to convince people under the age of 34 years that economic conditions would be far better under a Labour government than under this Government, and also an endeavour to get people who have come to Australia since 1949 and have never experienced life under a Labour government to fall in behind the Labour Party.
I went on to say that Senator Hendrickson’s statement was ridiculous as the Labour Party had not left office, but had been forced out of office because at that time the Australian people were heartily sick of the controls that were being imposed upon them continually. I pointed out some of the conditions that existed at that time. I referred to the black markets, the shortages of all types of goods, particularly in the rural industries, and the big coal strike when the Labour Government had to call out the Army in order to solve that problem. I referred to the pharmaceutical benefits that the Labour Party claimed it introduced. I said that that was a fiasco because at that time the British Medical Association and its members were at war with the govern* ment of the day. I referred to the housing shortage and the fact that the Labour Party would not do anything about housing because it did not believe that the people of this country should own their own homes, as they would become little capitalists.
I want to go further in stating the position in 1949 by referring to the rural industries. In the 1949 election the country people threw out every Labour member who represented a dairying district or a wheat-growing area. They did so because they were heartily sick of the policies employed by the Labour Party prior to that time. The dairy farmers were up in arms over the price they were receiving for butter fat. Just before the Labour Government went out of office it refused to pay the farmers the extra threepence per lb. that had been suggested by the committee that it set up in 1946.
– Do not forget the New Zealand wheat deal.
– I believe that that sale of wheat to New Zealand will stick in the minds of the wheat-growers as long as they live. The Labour Government made a deal under the lap with the New Zealand Labour Government. It sold wheat at 6s. 9d. a bushel when the Australian wheat-grower was receiving an average price of about 15s. a bushel on the overseas markets. Those were the conditions that existed in Australia when Labour left office in 1949. They show the type of government that this country could expect if the Labour Party was returned to office again.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I rise to order. Is it the usual practice for speakers to put forward other than the facts about past events?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Those are the events that occurred.
– But they are not the facts.
– I turn now to another statement made by the Opposition, namely, that at present Australia is bankrupt. I do not believe that anything could be further from the truth. The record of this Government is a most impressive one. It speaks volumes for the Government. The population of Australia has increased from 7,900,000 in mid-1949 to 10,600,000 to-day. A tremendous increase of more than 42 per cent, has occurred in the volume of Australian factory production. A great increase from 14,800,000 tons in 1949 to 23,000,000 tons in 1961 has occurred in the production of black coal. The production of steel has trebled in that period. It has risen from 1,200,000 tons to 3,700,000 tons.
Before I leave this subject, I should like to cite some figures relative to the rural scene with which I am very familiar. The volume of rural production increased by 44 per cent, between 1949 and 1961. That increase includes an increase of about 54 per cent, in the quantity of wool produced, an increase of 43 per cent, in the production of wheat and an increase of 47 per cent, in the production of sugar. The rural exports also present a very good picture because of this Government’s policies. Between 1949 and 1961 the volume of rural exports increased by 28 per cent. Since the pre-war days the volume of rural exports has increased by 61 per cent.
– Is that in quantum or in value?
– That is in quantum. I believe that the figures I have cited to the Senate present a very striking record of achievement and are due in no small measure to the assistance and encouragement given by this Government. The assistance and encouragement have been offered in many ways. In rural pro duction they have been in the form of special depreciation allowances which were introduced in 1951-52. They have made a tremendous- difference to the equipment on farms and have enabled farmers to carry out a great deal of development that I do not believe would have been undertaken otherwise.
I could go on citing figures, but I want to turn to another statement made by Opposition speakers, namely, that this Government has taken the Labour Party’s election policies from it. Senator Kennelly said that this Government would do anything to stay on the right hand side of the Speaker. That could not be true. I say to Senator Kennelly that his own party is not blameless in this regard. In its election policy speech Labour said that it would not nationalize any industry for three years, if it was returned to office. To my way of thinking, that is a lot of rot.
– He knows it cannot be done without a referendum of the people.
The target has not to be parliamentary scats at any price, but parliamentary seats to be occupied by members of this party who will go fearlessly into the electorates and expound the cause of democratic socialism. The socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange has been the main objective of the A.L.P. since 1921.
Down the years, however, successive Labour party regimes have played down socialism. In most policy speeches in recent years care has been taken not to refer to the matter at all, party leaders believing that socialization was unacceptable to the majority of electors.
The attitude of Federal and State Labour supporters has been almost one of apology for the socialization objective.
– Who said that?
– Your federal president.
– I do not think you are right.
– A party which has had that objective written into its platform since 1921 surely cannot say, at an election, that it will not carry out its policy for three years, if elected. I suggest that if the Labour party were elected to office, the federal body would soon be down on it to see that it implemented that section of the Labour platform.
– That is not the only objective of the Labour party. It may be the main one.
– It is the one I am interested in at present. I turn now to the Governor-General’s Speech. A great deal has been said about matters arising out of that Speech, but I wish to mention a few items that have not been dealt with so far.
I am pleased that the capital of the Development Bank is to be increased by a further £5,000,000.
– The Opposition wanted that when the legislation was first brought down.
– The members of the Opposition were not the only people who wanted that. This will mean that the capital of the Development Bank will have been increased by £10,000,000 in seven months. I think the whole of the rural community will admit that the Government has done a very good job in this matter. However, because of the circumstances that exist in Western Australia, the Government should keep a close watch on this bank. Up to date the bank has functioned very well, but I believe it will be called upon to function much more in the future than it has in the past. It will be necessary to keep a close watch on the capital of the bank and to add to it as occasion demands.
As I travel around Western Australia, I see a great deal of development going on. When I have inquired where the money has come from to enable this development to be carried out, the answer invariably has been, “ From the Development Bank “. I believe the bank will have to play an even greater part in the future than it has done so far, in view of the circumstances that exist in Western Australia at present, where apart from the projects to set up a steel works and to construct a standard-gauge railway line, land development has brought more capital to Western Australia in the last ten years than any industry. It is estimated that £80,000,000 has been attracted to Western Australia as the result of the lure of cheap land, and cheap developmental costs.
In a question to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) this morning, Senator Scott said that the Western Australian Government had played its part by throwing open to selectors land at the rate of 1,000,000 acres a year. That has been done over the last three years.
– The Government did not give the Western Australian farmer a fair go.
– The honorable senator will be able to make his own speech later. As a result of the development that has taken place in rural and pastoral areas, approximately 15,000,000 acres have been brought under cultivation during the last ten years. That speaks volumes for the effort that has been made by the farmers, the Western Australian Government and the Federal Government in fostering land development, but pioneering development cannot go on for very much longer. It will be necessary to get down to the job of developing each property that has been pioneered, and that is where the Development Bank is going to be called upon to supply greater help than it has supplied up to the present. The extra 15,000,000 acres has to be developed. The Government has done an extraordinarily good job in making available to our export industries - if I may put it that way - the sum of £10,000,000 in the last seven months, but we will have to watch the position very closely, and, if the occasion arises, make more capital available to the Development Bank.
Yesterday I asked a question about telephones. I have spoken about the development that has taken place in the new areas of Western Australia. A glance at the map will show that new development has been carried out right across the south coast, stretching from east of Albany, through the Green Range country, through Hopetoun, and then up to the east of Esperance - a vast area of country. During the course of this development something like 1,000 new farms have been established, but the lack of telephones is probably one of the biggest worries that the farmers have. That is why I made a plea to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General yesterday, and I am very glad to see him sitting in his place to-day. I hope that he will make mention.’ of my remarks to the PostmasterGeneral. Included in this tract of country are the land settlement areas at Jerramungup and Gairdner River, stretching down to Bremer Bay. A tragedy occurred in this area recently when three men were washed off rocks. Some of the men were able to cling to petrol drums. They floated around in the water for some time before their plight was noticed. When their plight was noticed, because of the lack of communications nothing could be done to help them, and all three were washed away and drowned. The residents down there believed that some lives could have been saved if there had been means of communication.
– What area are you talking of?
Bremer Bay, on the south coast of Western Australia. Also, since that tragedy a big bush fire has raged in that area. For five days the residents have been on the alert and fighting the fire. Again, they believe that this fire could have been brought under control much quicker if communications had been provided in the area. What hurts the residents is that telephones are being installed in the new Commonwealth Games village. I believe that it is necessary to have them there, but these people have no telephones and in an emergency they have to travel from 30 to 70 miles to ring up. I appeal to the Postmaster-General to look into this matter and see whether some help can be given to the area. Since I have been in this chamber I have always received the utmost co-operation from the staff of the Postmaster-General’s Department in Western Australia. Whenever I have a problem concerning the department I have only to explain it to the responsible officers and they do what they can.
However, as I have said before, I believe that it is finance that is wanted. We must have more finance to try to carry out the policy of the department in Western Australia, which is to have a subscriber dial telephone in every house.
The Governor-General said in his Speech that a water resources council will be get up. I know nothing about how this council is to operate, but I believe that when it comes into being it will do nothing but good for this country. Every one realizes that by world standards Australia is a very dry country. I believe that the shortage of water has had a retarding effect upon the development of this country. In the 170 years since Australia was first settled it has acquired a population of only 10,500,000 people. True, in the last few years the . population of Australia has increased at a greater rate than the population of Japan, but taken over the whole 170 years the rate of progress has been slow. This has been due in no small measure to the lack of water here. I believe that the policies of governments have placed too much emphasis on the construction and provision of metropolitan amenities and this has had a retarding effect on the growth of this country and especially upon the development of its natural resources. If Australia’s empty spaces are to be occupied effectively, we must adopt policies that insist on the conservation and use of every ounce of available water. In saying this I am not to be taken as suggesting- that the Government has stood still in this matter over the years. When one looks at conservation and irrigation schemes that have been undertaken, including the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, the Mareeba irrigation scheme in the north of Queensland, the hydro-electric scheme in Tasmania, and our own comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia, one can be proud of the progress that has been made. One can be proud also of the men that we have in Australia trained in science.
– And women.
– Yes, women, too. This country’s scientists were the first to make rain from clouds; they led the world in research into a chemical process to counteract evaporation from reservoirs; they evolved a process involving the plastic lining of water storages to prevent loss through seepage; and they have been foremost in developing the use of trace elements, which has meant so much to the primary producers of this country. Undoubtedly, our scientists have done a very good job. However, we do not have enough data about our water resources and we must find out a lot more about them. This is why I am looking forward to seeing what the functions of the water resources council will be.
Western Australia is probably the driest part of the continent. South of Perth there are only three rivers which at present do not indicate that they will become salt. The other rivers south of Perth indicate that if they are drawn upon to any great extent and the land on their banks is cleared, they could become salt. However, north of Perth there are many large rivers, of which the Ord is one. It is being harnessed at the present time and I hope that later Western Australia will be able to get more finance for the work on the large dam there.
It has been said that of the water potential of Australia, Western Australia has 8 per cent.,. 3 per cent, of which is, 1 believe, in the southern part of the State and 5 per cent, in the north. Recently the Western Australian Minister for Works, when opening a water scheme in the wheat belt, said that unless we find out more about the de-salting of sea-water the population of Western Australia will become static towards the end of this century because of the lack of water. The only hope, other than the de-salting of sea-water, is to pipe water from the Ord River, which is farther from Perth than the Snowy Mountains are from that city. If that work were undertaken it would be a complete turnabout of the present comprehensive scheme under which water is pumped to Kalgoorlie. I also hope that when the water resources council comes into being it will have a look at the position in Western Australia and also at the plan put up by the Government of Western Australia for finance to extend the present comprehensive system. If we could extend the present scheme to the towns in the Midlands, we would be able to bring into production a huge area and so increase the total production of the State, which would have an important effect on the export income of this country.
Finally, I want to refer to the recent inquiry into the wool industry. I understand that the report of the committee is now in the hands of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). As we know, the committee was appointed some fourteen months ago, so that it took, in my opinion, a considerable time on its inquiries. However, I realize that there were many factors involved in this matter, one being the death of a member of the committee staff. I wish to express my condolences to his family. When the report of the committee is released to the Parliament and to the wool industry, I hope that a greater number of copies will be made available to the industry than was the case with the report of the dairy industry committee. You will remember, Sir, that after a certain number of copies had been released to the dairy industry it was necessary for the Minister to order further copies. There are many more people involved in the wool industry than there are in the dairy industry. For that reason, I hope that the Minister will make sure that sufficient copies of the report are available to the industry as soon as possible. I support the motion before the Senate.
– With your permission, Mr. Acting Deputy President, I wish to thank the Senate for the leave of absence that was granted to me in the final session of the last Parliament. I was suffering from a very acute inflammation of the right ear, a condition that was relieved as a result of the leave of absence given to me. I think I should express my appreciation to the’ Senate.
The Governor-General referred in his Speech to one of the most important questions with which the Senate could deal, when he said -
The Parliament meets at a time when there are still great tensions in international relations.
That is true. Judging by the approach that the representatives and spokesmen of the various governments make to international affairs, they have no suggestions to make for the relief of those tensions. Unless a more intelligent attitude is adopted, with the object of establishing and maintaining world peace, we are likely to suffer from the effects of another world war. In other words, mankind is passing through one of the most critical periods of its history, due to the economic system under which we live.
In my opinion, the present position had its origin in England in 1825 when there was a very serious- crisis. From 1825 right up to date, there have been recurring crises. So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been done to prevent those crises. Therefore, conditions are bound to proceed from bad to worse, unless a more intelligent understanding is shown and a more sympathetic approach is made to the establishment of world peace. To preach the need for world peace is quite all right in theory, but the problem is how to translate theory into action. I submit that fundamentally the causes of the conditions that have developed between 1825 and the present time are the economic system, based on private monopoly ownership, particularly in this age, of land and capital, which is extending and strengthening in every direction, and the wage system.
Periodically there is a crisis caused by what is termed over-production. Colossal over-production exists to-day, due to the fact that the wage paid to workers has not been sufficient to purchase the necessaries of life without causing trouble. All strikes and all revolutions within national boundaries, and wars outside those boundaries, have had their origins in that system. We have had, and we may continue to have, practically uncontrolled competition for trade and territories. That has been responsible for two world wars in our time and for other wars in the past. I direct your attention, Sir, to the fact that the people of the countries concerned are never consulted as to whether or not there will be wars. They are simply dragooned into accepting wars, whether they like them or not, as has been done in this country. Therefore, I do not think I exaggerate when I say that the two factors that I have mentioned have given rise to the most critical problem with which we are faced to-day. Those two fundamental factors have caused more wars than anything else. First, there is the unrestricted competition of the nations and, secondly, the crazy economic system. Nothing has been said about what must be done. I have said in this chamber previously - 1 claim that it is true - that preparations for war are an invitation and a challenge to war. It is only a question of when and where the war will begin. War comes overnight and millions of unfortunate men, women and children are literally massacred into their graves as the result of the incompetence and indifference of so-called responsible governments in this connexion.
Then there are the effects of wars. W« have over-production and an increase in crime in every country. The situation in America and European countries is tragic, and in Australia it has gone from bad to worse. Where you have young men and women who are eager to earn a livelihood suffering, as they do, year after year from the effects of sustained frustration you have the committing of crime and anti-social acts. In my judgment, society in this and other countries is responsible for crime and punishes criminals simply because of a lack of understanding. That has gone on throughout the ages. Notwithstanding the experience we have had during the last 40- odd years, and notwithstanding all the discussions and conferences that have taken place both within national boundaries and internationally, there seems to be no improvement whatever in the position. If war comes, what do we intend to do about it?
Last August when I was permitted to speak on the European Common Market I directed attention to a publication entitled “ The New Economics “. That publication has been financed and managed by a number of professional and business men in Victoria. In the May issue they directed attention to the monetary system and asked a question which has never been answered. Socialists and others have asked this question over the years but in different words. It is this:
Why are financial prices of goods dearer than ever while the physical cost of their production was never cheaper?
Why is that so? It is simply because governments are either ignorant of their own ignorance or have not the moral courage to admit the truth. That is the fundamental cause of unemployment to-day in this and other countries. Paradoxical though it may seem, in America, which is more highly mechanized than this country because of the medium of automation, production is increasing as it has never increased before, and so is unemployment. That will lead to a crisis, not only in America but in other countries, which more likely than not will result in another war. I do not want to mislead anybody about the matter, but I do not see any movement being made to improve the position.
I spoke about the monetary system acting as an accelerator in the bringing about of war and unrestricted international competition for trade and territories. Let me indicate what some of the latest writers have said on the subject. I propose to quote from a book entitled “ Inflation and Society “ written Graham Hutton and published in 1960. Hutton taught in the London School of Economics and during the Second World War he served in the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Information. In the foreword of his book he quoted the following passage from Lord Keynes’ publication “ The Economic Consequences of the Peace “ which was written as far back as 1919
There is no subtler nor surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction and it does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.
I do not think that is an exaggeration, particularly when one reads in almost every issue of the press references to inflation, re-inflation and all that without any attempt to say what really constitutes the process. When you question the writers of such articles and ask them what constitutes the process, they have no answer. At least, that is true of the majority of those to whom I have addressed myself. It is not because they lack the brains that are necessary to understand, but because in all our schools, including the universities, students are not taught very much about economics.
Lord Maynard Keynes, who died in 1946, was the leader of the British delegation to the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, and an adviser to governments for a period extending almost over two world wars, and his text-book is still being used in universities. Judged by the statements of biographers, he would have been 100 per cent, opposed to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which Professor Crocker of Melbourne described in 1951 as being predominantly American. Professor Crocker accompanied Dr. Evatt, when he went overseas for the purpose of organizing the United Nations. Graham Hutton went on to say - in my view, correctly^
The cause of inflation is political. It is a deliberate act of policy, whether it is positively willed by the monetary authorities or merely negatively permitted by them because they cannot, do not want to, or fear to stop it. Intiation penalizes like a secret increasing tax all claimants to fixed money in the future, all pensioners, holders of insurance policies without any rights to “with profits” bonuses, holders of all fixed interest securities at medium or long term (e.g. Government bonds, industrial debentures,- simple preference shares), landlords of real estates leased for medium or long terms at fixed money rents, recipients of annuities bought by lump sum down payments earlier, owners of patents or copyrights or other “ know-how “ who have granted royalties or licences at fixed money fees for medium or long terms, and beneficiaries of trusts, covenants, and other funds, the money income from which depends on fixed-interest securities of any kind. Planned, progressive inflation as a policy ends in unplanned, unwanted, but inescapable - and, above all, unforeseen - disaster.
That is the lesson of inflation throughout history. This Government and other governments have done nothing to control inflation or to establish what I would term a working economic equilibrium, whereby the workers would receive something equivalent to the great wealth that they produce. For instance, reference was made yesterday by the Minister to the over-subscription of the Commonwealth loan by £30,000,000 - in my opinion, mainly by bank and insurance companies. Nobody imagines in his wildest thoughts that that vast sum of money represents the labour of boards of directors. It represents, mainly, the accumulated results of the debauching of the currency referred to by Keynes. Moreover, it will be, as all such loans are, a debt. It is called a national debt, but actually it is an aggregation of privatelyowned debts, and the workers, the producers of all wealth, will be penalized from the cradle to the grave to repay it. If they rebel, they will be treated in the way they have always been treated.
I have cited a number of authorities that I have not cited before. In the past, inflation had a precise meaning. Frank Bower, M.A., Lecturer on Political Economy, gave a definition in 1958 which was in harmony with that given by Marx half a century earlier. He wrote -
A fall in the value of money, with a rise in the cost of living, caused by a comparatively permanent excess in the amount of money in circulation over that, which, is’ needed to perform the transactions of the community - inflation usually means the artificially High prices caused by an over-issue of inconvertible paper money.
We have politicians all over the world posing and postulating as men who have the interests of the people at heart. This ls the sort of fraudulent procedure that is adopted to rob the people from the cradle to the grave, and we wonder why the number of destitute wards of the State is increasing! I shall cite Marx, who is not generally accepted as an authority, but in my opinion very few writers have gone into the science of sociology to the extent that he did, as well as into the manner in which social relationships are established to the detriment of wage workers, as they are these days in this country and other countries. In volume I. of “ Das Kapital “, Marx wrote -
The issue of paper money must not exceed in amount the gold (or silver as the case may be) which would actually circulate if not replaced by symbols.
As one who lived in this country while gold was circulating here and in other countries, I am of opinion that Marx was correct. As labour is a diminishing factor in production, so the subsistence wage is a diminishing factor. When the workers were paid in terms of gold, it was perfectly obvious when the wage was being reduced. Now that the workers are paid in paper, which misrepresents the whole position, the reduction is not so obvious. During the First World War, England went off the gold standard and we followed suit.
The credit squeeze, to which reference has been made, was in my opinion the result of malice aforethought. Credit squeezes have been used as far back as I can remem-ber for the purpose of squeezing out smaller competitors in the interests of larger competitors. When we read, as we do every day in the week, of take-overs and mergers involving millions and millions of pounds, we read also that small primary and secondary producers and workers have been squeezed in order to increase profits as a result of the mergers. Last year, Mr. Menzies was reported as saying that on economic matters he acted on his own judgment. By implication, he would have it believed that he was the only man in the Government who really understood the position, and that what was done was done in accordance with his judgment. The following report appeared in the August issue of “ The New Economics “ -
We object to Mr. Menzies or any other theorist acting on their own judgment in these matters. The one thing that this journal is endeavouring to do is to point to the urgent necessity for this power to be taken away from any individual, even the Prime Minister. We insist that the only way to run a modern industrial economy is through the drawing up of a national balance sheet showing gross production on the credit side and gross consumption on the debit side. This balance sheet would be the absolute determinant of financial policy. The facts of production and consumption taking place in the community would determine policy and not the theoretical views of Mr. Menzies or any one else. The booms and busts that Mr. Menzies refers to are inherent in the system because Mr. Menzies and his advisers refused to challenge any of the fundamental axioms of the system.
All we get under existing arrangements is cither a turning on of the credit, tap (inflation) or ‘turning off (deflation). That is not good enough, and booms and busts will continue until the whole question of credit creation and credit withdrawal (price making) is scientifically related through a national balance sheet.
Finally, and most important, if we continue with present policies, we will finish up with a completely authoritarian State.
In other words, we will finish as a fascist state with a few men, fortified by the police and the armed forces of the state, constituting the government and keeping people like me in submission. The New Economics Association implies that all the trouble is monetary. Well, it is to the extent that the money system is used as a means of exchange for indirect buying. But actually all the trouble is economic in its origin. The ownership of land and capital is extending in every direction to the detriment of the workers, who are subordinated, exploited and impoverished to such an extent that they are reduced to the level of destitute wards of the state or forced to live on charity. That is the state of affairs that has existed in the series of crises that have occurred in England since 1825. Anybody who criticizes adversely this trend of events is regarded as a Communist or an extremist. We must bear in mind that human beings are constantly reacting to increasing poverty in all countries to-day - in some more than in others - with an increasing danger of war starting.
We speak of the Common Market. The Common Market is an attempt at integration by international monopolies that are now having difficulty in acting independently of each other. The integration that will take place will result in internecine warfare in their own ranks. The weak will be eliminated. If possible, the Common Market will be controlled by one of its members. According to American newspaper reports and other sources of information, President Kennedy has brought pressure to bear on England to join the Common Market. The First World War weakened England’s position as a leading creditor nation. The Second World War made her position worse. If President Kennedy and the monetary and commercial elite of America have their way, they will reduce Britain to the status of a satellite of the United States of America. 1 stress these points. because we must remember that we have enemies outside this country and if they had their way Australia would have been absorbed by the United States of America before now. The United States has emerged from two world wars as the strongest nation. She is now attempting to dominate other nations. The only question unanswered is whether she will succeed. The people of all countries, including Australia, are irreconcilably class-divided. There is interminable strife in every country and this leads ultimately to revolution and war. These matters should be borne in mind.
In his Speech the Governor-General said -
My advisers believe that the security of Australia depends upon reliance on three centra] principles of international policy.
The first is that we should be faithful and contributing members of the United Nations, upholding the principles of the Charter. Australia’s voice will always be raised in support of the peaceful settlement, on a just basis, of international disputes.
The United Nations, like its predecessor, the League of Nations, is just a name. The United States, under Roosevelt, stood out from the League of Nations because she could not control the organization. In all countries the people are class-divided. The result is unending class warfare. It is impossible to establish peace. There can be no peace in the world and never will be while man has the power to subordinate, exploit and impoverish his fellow-man. Preach all the sermons you like; that is the position. The Governor-General said -
The second is that we should cultivate, and maintain, friendly and helpful relations with our neighbours, seeking wherever we can to help in the peaceful removal of avoidable causes of difference; and encouraging wherever possible the development of free institutions of government in those many nations which have recently achieved political independence.
That was not done in Korea, where war was declared in the name of the United
Nations, but actually by the United States of America acting behind the scenes. His Excellency continued -
The third is that, to guard against resort to war by those who reject these principles, Australia should have powerful and friendly mutual association with those nations which are best equipped to defend a free peace.
Theoretically, that is all right; but because of the constitution of the countries, as I have indicated, they are more or less working at cross-purposes and mainly behind the scenes, until everything comes out into the open where it can be concealed no longer.
Another passage of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, in which I was interested and to which I should like to direct attention, reads as follows -
During 1962 the Royal Australian Air Force will receive twelve Neptune maritime reconnaissance aircraft and eight Bell Iroquois helicopters ordered from the United States. Arrangements are well advanced foi local production of the French Mirage III supersonic fighter. Deliveries are expected to commence in 1963. The first Bloodhound surface to air guided missile unit will be handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force by the end of this year.
I have informed the Senate previously - and this is true - that after the fall of Dunkirk in 1940 there was not a fighter plane in this country. We were told by cablegram from Sir Stafford Cripps that we would have to rely on our own resources. We then set about converting a trainer plane, the Wirraway, into a fighter plane and building the Boomerang. We also had to improvise with Beaufort bombers that were designed to operate with English-made engines. Because of the fall of Dunkirk, we could not get English-made engines and. we had to rely first on importing American engines and then on manufacturing engines. While that was going on, information came by cablegram that the United States of America was in a position to provide us with as many aeroplanes as we wanted at a much lower cost than they could be built in Australia. We were advised to close down our aircraft production factories and import these machines from the United States. I was opposed to that on the principle that in peace or war all countries should be as self-reliant and as independent, of other countries as is possible.
There was considerable discussion of the matter. I maintained the position that I took up as Minister for Aircraft Production.
I received anonymously the report of an inquiry which had been held by the American Congress and of which the ex-president of the United States of America, Mr. Truman, was chairman. That report said quite plainly, definitely and beyond any shadow of doubt that the planes that were manufactured were suicide planes. I said that if any attempt was made to close down the manufacture of aircraft in Australia I would have that report published. Well, we were allowed to continue our aircraft production.
The Governor-General also said -
It is their view-
That is, the view of members of the Government -
He went on to elaborate those four ways. The base of the Australian economy has been strengthened; but that base is hot privately owned in the ordinary way. It is owned by monopolies controlled by the leading financial and production interests in Australia.
Speaking in the debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers in 1960 I said, among other things, that that Budget had been designed with the purpose of enabling the Government to continue to give effect to its policy of private monopoly ownership and control, direct and indirect, of the material resources of the nation, mainly at the expense of the wage and small salary earners. We read of oil discoveries in Queensland, but they do not mean anything to the wage-earners apart from those men who will be employed on a subsistence wage, where necessary. If oil can be produced with a machine that will replace man-power, very few men will be employed. Monopoly ownership and control will be the dominating factor in the development of our oil resources, as it is in all other spheres.
The Governor-General also said -
My Government believes that recovery in business activity and employment has been too slow.
There has been no recovery in business activity, except the strengthening of monopolies. Unemployment has occurred since 1825 when the period between economic crises in England was about every ten years. That period is now being reduced. In the July, 1961, issue of “ International Affairs “, Mr. George Morris said–
The much awaited new economic programme promised by the Kennedy Administration brought forth a frank admission by the President and his economic advisers that “ full employment “ is out of the question . . .
He could have added in parenthesis that there is always full employment when there is a war, but when there is no war there is no full employment. The article continues - . . under the system now in force, and the “ ideal “ to drive for is a cut in joblessness to only 4 per cent, of the labour force - a mere average of from 3,000,000 to 3,500,000 unemployed. Professor Walter W. Heller, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, in testimony before a congressional committee, was not optimistic on the possibility of bringing down unemployment to 4 per cent. He said that America would be lucky to achieve that goal, even with recovery in the summer of 1961. Heller warned that a rate of 7 per cent, unemployment, or about 6,000,000, may still persist by the start of 1962. In an article in “ Life “ Heller put it this way -
The intervals between our recessions have been steadily shrinking. After the 1949 recession the economic upswing lasted 45 months. After the 1954 recession the economy expanded for 35 months. But the climb out of the 1958 trough lasted only 25 months before the country hit the recession of 1960.
Worse yet, the upturns have not regained the ground lost by the recesisons.
The same state of affairs exists here. In the best quarter of 1953, no less than 3 per cent, of the work force were unemployed. At the 1957 peak 4 per cent, were unemployed, but at the top of the cycle of 1960, unemployment averaged 5 per cent. This is a distressing trend. As I have said, as automation is adopted to a far greater extent, unemployment will grow.
Those are a few of the matters to which I wish to direct the attention of the Senate. I have been challenged about preparations for war. There was never an age in the history of man when so much money was spent for the purpose of war, and so many men trained and armed so efficiently to slaughter their fellowmen, if ordered to do so. The late William Morris Hughes, when he returned from England in 1936, before the Second World War, said -
The increasing intensity of competition for economic markets must lead to armed conflict unless an economic settlement is found. This, however, is hardly to be hoped for. Talk about peace in a world armed to the teeth is utterly futile.
So it proved to be. The position has not changed in the slightest since then. Preparations for war are still going on. If war comes, it will come overnight. If the people submit to it as tamely and as complacently as they have done in the past, we will be slaughtered in our millions again. As I said in August of last year, it has been estimated - correctly so, in my opinion - that as a result of the two world wars and of small wars and revolutions in the intervening period and shortly afterwards - there were two major revolutions, one in Russia in 1917 and one in China in 1949 -fully 100,000,000 men, women and children have been literally massacred - all in the name of civilization, in the name of retaining the free world, and in the name of democracy. The position which we face is that we are being educated in this direction. The questions which we should ask and answer for ourselves are: Are we going to be educated the hard way, after incredible damage has been done, or are we going to take time by the forelock and endeavour to be educated and informed as time goes on?
Judging from statements made by responsible spokesmen of governments in this and other countries, governments are deliberately blinding themselves to what the future has in store in that connexion. Nothing is done to prevent war. Peace demonstrations are discredited and branded as being Communistinspired. The old technique is used. There is an appeal to fear and prejudice rather than to knowledge and an understanding of the facts.
I wish to refer to one other matter. Honorable senators no doubt recall reading in the press about the riots in Notting Hill in England. Those riots had their origin in the importation of coloured workers from the West Indies to work on lower rates of wages than the white workers of England. Professor Richard M. Timuss, of the London School of Economics, when addressing a meeting of students in London in November, 1959, directed attention to a statement which had appeared in “ The Economist “ of 6th September, 1959, justifying the maintaining of a pool of unemployed in the interests of employers. Referring to coloured workers, it was argued by “The Economist” that they were definitely a net gain to the British economy; they were more mobile and more likely to provide a pool of unemployed to keep the economy functioning smoothly.
Then we have a statement by the Prime Minister of this country. He said, as reported in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 8th August -
I hate unemployment and I think the great responsibility which we have in restoring stability to Australia lies in getting rid of unemployment.
What has he or his Government done? What do they intend to do? We have had any amount of promises at different times, but nothing has been done - and, in my opinion, nothing is intended to be done - to remove the cause of unemployment. As I have said frequently in this chamber, there is one law that parliaments cannot ignore, and that is the law of cause and effect, lt applies to the individual, to the community and to the country generally. No statement has been made about ihe cause of unemployment. On one hand, we have, as they have in America, unlimited material resources. There is no scarcity of men or of materials, yet there is this hard core of unemployment, maintained for the purpose of disciplining workers who agitate for improved conditions and increased rates of pay. In those circumstances I am not impressed with what the Prime Minister has said. In the August issue of “The New Economics” this is stated, and in my opinion it is perfectly true -
The recent announcement by Dr. H. C. Coombs that the Reserve Bank of Australia would release £171 millions of the trading banks’ credits with the Bank is significant for several reasons.
Dr. Coombs called a meeting of bankers to receive his directive, and later Mr. Holt, Federal Treasurer, had informal talks with those assembled and in turn conveyed the intention to Cabinet.
It may be assumed that the initiation of financial policy resides with the Governor of the Reserve Bank, whilst our elected representatives, even at top level, merely acquiesce. And if this is so, and circumstances certainly suggest it, the real seat of power in Australia is not with our Parliament, but with the controllers of our monetary system.
Unless the Government controls the controllers of the monetary system, unemployment will be deliberately created for the purpose of disciplining workers and forcing them to accept conditions of employment, conditions of- living, and rates of pay which they would not accept in other circumstances. The effect of all this is that between 30,000 and 40,000 workers and their families are living in dirty, filthy, verminous houses in Melbourne alone. It ls even worse in Sydney, where they are crowded together like so many animals in a paddock. I say, as I have often said before, that when human beings are crowded together and treated like animals the tendency is to lower the moral and intellectual levels. When tribute is paid by the Governor-General to what has been done, he reads from a script that he receives, but the material is not in accordance with the facts. That being so, the effects cannot be ignored, and the effects will educate where reasoning has failed. In the meantime there is widespread suffering.
Senator Benn referred to the unemployed in Queensland. Young men and women leaving school are told, “This is a free country and full of promise “, but there is no work for them. They roam about the streets with nothing to do. Though the problem is economic in origin, it is intensely human, and unless the members of the Government and its supporters take a more humanitarian view of their fellow men and women, we cannot hope for any improvement; all we can expect and all that we will get is exactly what has been done in the past and will be continued in future as long as the majority of the people of this country tolerate it.
Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) [3.501. - I take this opportunity to reaffirm my loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and to her representative, the GovernorGeneral, who delivered the Speech to which we are now replying. The presence of His Excellency in this chamber serves to remind us, if reminded we need be, that we are a member of the family of the Commonwealth of Nations, that loosely-knit body of countries held together by invisible ties, and tied to the Crown, in the person of the Queen of England. 1 believe that we have seen in recent years the beginning of the breaking of at least one of those ties, and there is a danger that more of them could bc broken. We in this Parliament and beyond need to be very vigilant to ensure that no further ties are broken in this Commonwealth of Nations.
I take the opportunity to say just a few words about the place, the people, and some of the events which are associated with the delivering of His Excellency’s Speech in this chamber. It is very fitting that the Governor-General’s Speech should always be delivered in this atmosphere of dignity. I am pleased that those responsible have seen fit to improve this chamber by removing the windows and the drab draperies which covered them. This has made a big improvement to the chamber. In place of the windows there are now three empty panels, on one of the walls. The Government now has an opportunity to adopt a suggestion which I have made previously. It gives an opportunity to help a struggling section of the community whose members do not get very many mentions in this Parliament and, in fact, do not have a great deal of attention paid to them outside. 1 speak of the contemporary artists. Here is a wonderful opportunity for the Government to adopt the suggestion that I have made. A small portion of the appropriations that are made for government and public buildings should be devoted to the purchase of paintings so that our contemporary artists can enrich our culture and show future generations what has been happening in this era. I should like the Government to commission perhaps two artists from each State for this work, or perhaps conduct a national competition which would encourage artists to paint in this chamber some of the great events in our very short history. This is an opportunity for us to uplift our thoughts and gaze upon reproductions of historical events of this country.
In saying a few words about some of the people who are associated with the opening of Parliament, I refer first to the armed services which provide the guard of honour for the Governor-General. In past years the Army has performed this duty and it has done a magnificent job. I congratulate it upon the high standard that its guards of honour have attained. This year we were honoured by the presence of representatives of the Navy. They, likewise, did a splendid job. I hope it will not be long before we have the Air Force here with us. It is fitting to say that the Air Force has already demonstrated to us in this Parliament its ability, when its band played in the precincts of Parliament House last year. I say with great sincerity that I have never heard a better band than that of the Air Force. If its members do as well when they form the guard of honour for His Excellency we will have been well served by our armed services. I hope that they will long fly our flag in the countries in which they find themselves.
Now let me say a word or two about the people who come to the opening of the Parliament, including the diplomatic representatives of some 36 countries who live in or near to Canberra. I think it is a great compliment to this country that 36 nations have sent their representatives here and have established them in such a fitting style, mostly in this capital city of ours which is growing in strength and beauty, thanks mainly, I think, to the present Government which has realized that we must have a suitable capital city in a growing nation.
During an interesting discussion which I had recently with a visiting American on the subject of our respective capital cities, I asked how Canberra compared with Washington. He may have been paying a compliment with his tongue in his cheek, but at least he said that he preferred Canberra because he thought it was better planned, there were more trees and he saw more green acres. He was looking forward with great anticipation to the lakes which are about to be constructed in the centre of Canberra and which will give it a focal point. He said that in looking at Washington he saw very little more than cement.
We appreciate the fact that many of the countries whose diplomats are here in Canberra have built beautiful embassies. I believe it is fitting that we should, at least once a year, as the representatives of the people of Australia, thank them in a proper style. It is appropriate that that occasion should be the opening of the Parliament. I hope that we will always have a function associated with the opening of the Parliament at which we can entertain the representatives of other nations in an appropriate fashion. We have had opening ceremonies which I believe were excellent for the purpose I am describing, but I cannot say that on the recent occasion the function was as fitting as it might have been. I for one do not like to see diplomatic representatives being asked to queue up to be given their food and then having to juggle with it as best they can to reduce it to edible morsels. With the co-operation of the back-benchers in this Parliament, we could easily plan an economic, though suitable, function. It need not necessarily be a task for the Executive to attend to, because I believe it is fully engaged in guiding the destinies of the country.
– You did not have to queue up, senator. I got you your food.
– You did not. You could not. As I have said, the Executive is fully engaged in guiding our destinies and in looking after our Australian interests, both at home and abroad.
If we are to continue to take our place in world affairs and to play an ever increasing part in world councils, we must think big, talk big and act big. We have at present a government which thinks big, but it does not always get its thinking oyer to the public. There is a great deal more that could be done to establish better public relations in Australia. We have plenty to tell people of this country. I believe they want to know what is going on and what the intentions of the Government are, and they are entitled to know, but quite often it is not always possible for the Government to tell all. If it does not want to tell all, it should explain the position, but there is plenty that the Government does of which it is proud. Information about its achievements could be got over to the people of Australia in a much more effective way.
I can point to one or two instances of extremely good public relations. One such instance is the annual Australian Citizenship Convention. This convention is the subject of quite a deal of criticism, particularly from the Opposition. When we first began our immigration programme there was a great deal of opposition, particularly from the working man who perhaps feared that he was going to be displaced.
– It was the Labour Party which started the immigration programme.
– Yes, I agree. I give you all the credit for starting the scheme. I think all of us in this Parliament are agreed that it is a splendid thing to have an immigration scheme, but there were some working people who were afraid of the immigration programme because they thought they might be displaced in their jobs, lt was necessary to convince the people of Australia that the scheme had great merit and that it would be of considerable benefit to us to have a successful immigration programme. 1 believe that the Citizenship Convention did just that, in the quickest possible manner, by bringing here to Canberra representatives of various organizations from all over Australia. We share our opinions and discuss the problems of immigration. We have sold the idea to people who perhaps had not realized the great benefits that could flow from the scheme. I think that the convention has done a great deal to ensure the success of immigration. I repeat that no party in this Parliament has been in any way against immigration.
There is another example of successful public relations to which I can point. I refer to the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. That scheme also incurred a good deal of criticism, from people who were perhaps uninformed, and there were doubts as to the benefit it would be to Australia. It is to the credit of Sir William Hudson, the commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, that he has created a superb public relations section. Thousands of people have gone to the Snowy Mountains scheme and have been shown in the most admirable manner what is going on. He has not only sold to Australians- the idea that it is worth while, but he has induced better public relations in other countries because the people of those countries realize that Aus: tralia is able to carry out so successfully this extremely valuable engineering feat.
– Has he sold it to the Liberal Party members of this Parliament, because they were against it in the beginning?
– I think the honorable senator will find that everybody is in favour of the scheme. In the speeches that have been made over the many years that we have been in office - and . during which the scheme has been brought to fruition, we have shown our appreciation of the work that is being done in the Snowy Mountains area.
I hope that the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority’s public relations section can show others how to practise public relations. Maybe we have not sufficient people in this country who have studied the art of selling. You can sell anything, Mr. Acting Deputy President, if you really try. The Americans have shown us how to do that, but we have not a great many people in this country who have studied the art. I would like to see every Minister in this Parliament with a good public relations staff. I would like to see every department with its own public relations section, because 1 think that the people of Australia are entitled to know what is going on. Perhaps the News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior could establish a school at which people would’ be trained in public relations and in getting our story over.
In speaking of selling, let me move to another field in which we need to sell. I refer to our overseas trade. We have spoken at length in this debate, and also in other recent debates, of our balance of payments, our economic situation and the problems which have arisen in connexion with it. We have a tremendous challenge in front of us to sell more goods overseas. One of the biggest issues facing the free nations of the world at present is the European Common Market and the likelihood that the United Kingdom will join it. I was amazed to hear Senator Hendrickson say recently, as he has said on many occasions in the Senate, that the Government had done nothing, during the five or six years when it became quite obvious that England would be encouraged to enter the Common Market, to protect Australia’s interests.
One of our first difficulties in overseas trade is the fact that over the last few years there has been an increasing decline in the overseas prices of commodities. The Government has faced that fact. It has tried to help the primary producers to increase the productivity of their land so they may face up to declining prices, over which this Government has no control. The Government has undertaken research, it has instigated extension services, and it has increased tax concessions for the man on the land. All those incentives are designed to help him to increase his productivity. In addition, the Government has done a great deal to help him to sell his commodities overseas. Let me quickly remind Opposition senators, although there are not very many of them in the chamber at the moment, of some of the things that this Government has done to help Australia to face up to the difficulties that we obviously will have to meet if England joins the European Common Market. This Government has established the Export Development Council, which is constantly watching the situation and is suggesting steps that may be taken to increase our exports. Furthermore, the Government has set up the Exports Payments Guarantee Corporation, which I believe is now guaranteeing up to £50,000,000 worth of goods sold overseas. Tax concessions have recently been granted to encourage exporters to find new markets overseas.
Perhaps more important than the things I have mentioned are the direct steps that have been taken by the Department of Trade. The department has increased tha Trade Commissioner Service and, together with private enterprise, has participated in many trade fairs and trade promotion drives. The department is constantly negotiating bilateral trade agreements and has sponsored trade missions and the sending overseas of trade ships. I recently went aboard the most recent trade ship to go overseas. I refer to the “ Chardtara “, which is now in the Middle East. I was shocked to find that the labelling of our goods is still not coming up to the standard required if we are to sell on the- newer markets closer to Australia. This subject has been aired before. Since my return from England I have spent a good deal of time speaking in this chamber and outside it on the quality of our labelling, and particularly of our tinned goods and our dried fruits. Very little progress has been made in improving the labels on our goods.
The people who propose to sell our primary products must go overseas and study the way in which the people in our near markets want their goods sold. It is of no use our trying to sell our goods as we in Australia want them. Conditions in other countries are different. Our exporters must ask themselves, “ How are these goods going to be displayed, particularly in South-East Asia?” Admittedly, in
Singapore there is a growing tendency towards the establishment of supermarkets. They provide an easier method of displaying goods. They have the space where people can see various competing commodities.
– It is not easy to sell when you have a parrot depicted on a tin of pears.
– I was coming to that point. In Singapore the people have a higher degree of literacy, but in other parts of South-East Asia the people have not as yet a high degree of literacy and they cannot read what is written on the tins. They can recognize a picture. If only our exporters would put on a label a picture to indicate what is in the tin, they would be able to sell much more freely to the people who as yet cannot read. Moreover, if they want to promote Australian goods they must identify those goods as being Australian. I took particular notice of the labels on goods that were displayed on the “Chandtara”. On many of them the word “Australia” was written in the tiniest lettering possible. It was hardly visible to any one who looked closely, and it certainly was not visible to any one who did not necessarily look to see whether the goods were Australian. If people could not read, they would not know that the goods were Australian.
– Was the State of origin made apparent?
– No, not at all, in some cases. They were very badly identified as Australian goods. Some goods carry wrong pictures on the labels. Admittedly, when a tin carried the picture of a cow you would think that it contained milk or perhaps meat. But, as Senator Kendall indicated, some tins which contain fruit may carry the picture of a peacock. The need for correct pictures is elementary, yet the producers do not go to the trouble of seeing how they can improve their labels.
I have said before that when we are trying to sell overseas we must not have too many competing brands of the same commodity. There needs to be greater cooperation between the producers in an effort to export fewer brands. When one goes beyond the supermarkets in South-East Asia, one finds that it is very difficult to display goods. In some village markets goods are displayed on the ground and there is very little space to display a variety of goods. But more often than not in .these crowded countries goods are carried from door to door by men who carry baskets over their shoulders in the Chinese style. Obviously, those people can carry only one or perhaps two brands of the same commodity. I repeat that we need to co-ordinate the work that is being done in this field and try to export only one or two brands.
I believe there are plenty of opportunities to sell our goods in neighbouring countries, but we must try to sell. This comes back to the matter of public relations. The producers or the exporters must find out how to sell and get busy about selling. I think there will still be an opportunity to sell in Europe itself if and when England joins the Common Market. 1 do not think the position will be particularly disastrous for us if England joins the Common Market and we perhaps lose some of our Commonwealth preference, because as standards rise in Europe - undoubtedly they are rising - the people of that continent will buy more of the kind of goods that we have to sell. I do not think the Common Market countries will be able to supply all their own requirements. If we take care to sell our goods properly, I believe there will be a greater opportunity for us to sell in those markets.
If we are to be able to face up to a unified Europe, we must have a stable economy. I do not propose to enter into a discussion of the economic situation in Australia; that has been thrashed out thoroughly in the last two weeks. But I agree entirely with what the Government has done and is doing to stabilize our economy. The economy was like a bolting horse. That is a simile which has been drawn before, but I agree with it. We had to take a pull on the horse. Fortunately, though the pull was rather severe, the horse did not fall and the rider did not fall out of the saddle. The Government has now taken up the reins again and the horse is regaining its normal speed.
The subject of unemployment has been thrashed disastrously, let me say, in this chamber in the last week. The Labour Party is almost gloating over the unemployment situation, lt is a great pity that so much is being made of it. It is rather sickening to hear the subject being used politically. We all are very sorry for those people who are out of work, and this Government is demonstrating that it is doing everything possible to get them back to work as soon as possible.
I have heard some rather amazing speeches delivered in the Senate in the last couple of weeks. Perhaps not the least of them was that delivered by Senator Cameron, who has just resumed his seat. Probably this is the last occasion on which he will be speaking to a motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply to the Speech of the Governor-General. I do not suppose any one is more suited than I to offer Senator Cameron congratulations on the great service he has given to his party in this Parliament. The reason why I say that no one else is more suited than I is that I suppose no one else has listened to more of bis speeches during the last six years, if it is for no other reason than that 1 have been given the job of following him in debate. But he is a grand old man. He has done his job to the best of his ability, and I can only wish him many years of happy listening to the debates in the Parliament.
I cannot agree with his very pessimistic outlook. I have not the slightest pessimism about the inevitability, as he describes it, of war. Probably his attitude flows from the fact that he is the only remaining Boer War veteran in the Parliament. Maybe it is because he was, as he has said, a Minister for Aircraft Production and perhaps is obsessed with the thought of war. I am quite sure that there w te a Liberal government here for many, many more years. If Senator Cameron spends some of his remaining years listening to what is going on in the Parliament and looking at the results achieved under Liberal governments, he will not retain that pessimistic outlook.
I said that we have heard some amazing speeches. The second senator to whom I wish to refer is a fellow South Australian, Senator Drury. I was amazed to hear him say that he deplored the fact that this Government had made a second reduction of the sales tax on motor cars. He said* that the only effect would be that a few wealthy people could buy a few more cars. It is surprising that a South Australian should speak like this. Does he realize that South Australia, perhaps more than any other State, is dependent upon the motor car industry for a high rate of employment? Does he not realize how many industries depend, directly and indirectly, on the motor car industry? Thousands of industries supply services or component parts for it.
– Did he not deplore the fact that that was the only sales tax reduction?
– I thought not. He said that the only effect would be to enable wealthy people to buy more cars. Perhaps there are people who would agree with Senator Drury, but I say to him and to those who agree with him that we ought to stop and think of some of the industries involved in the manufacture of motor cars. Let me remind him of a few. There is the steel industry, which makes such a great part of a motor car; there is the glass industry, which makes windscreens, windows, and bulbs for headlights and other lights; there is the rubber industry, which makes tyres and floor coverings; there is the leather industry, which is, or at least was, involved in the upholstering of cars. Then there are the plastics industry, the battery industry, the electrical industry, the paint industry, including not only the people who make paint but also the artists involved in blending the colours and the people who supply equipment for applying paint. There is the spare parts and accessories industry, supplying radios and other equipment for cars. In addition, there are the die-casters who make machinery, and the people who make computers to keep records in factories. Transportation is directly related to the motor car industry, and so also is roadbuilding. Numerous industries are related to it. Last but not least is the tourist industry which, fortunately, is growing. It owes a great deal of its success to the motor car industry. Thousands of people employed in all these industries are dependent for their jobs, their livelihood, and their high standards of living on the success and continued prosperity of the motor car industry. I deplore the fact that quite often the Labour Party does not like prosperous industries. It seems to want to suppress and depress them.
– Yes, it does. It wants to impose punitive taxes on them, When industries become highly successful and efficient, the Labour Party wants to take them over and socialize them. Let us have a look at this policy of socialization. It has been said previously in this debate that the Labour Party is playing down its policy of socialization. It has been interesting to see the new look for socialization. I have heard many senators on the Opposition benches talk about government planning and national planning. I submit that national planning is only another term for socialization.
We must commend this Government upon its grave, forward-looking, national development policies. We are in a very exciting time, with the finding of oil. We have to thank this Government mainly for the finding of oil. It has done a tremendous amount to assist in prospecting for oil. To-day, Senator Spooner outlined some of the measures the Government has taken, through the Bureau of Mineral Resources and through direct subsidies paid to the companies which have been willing to invest and gamble with their capital in an effort to find oil. I dare say that the minute this gamble had proved successful, and the companies had built themselves into a prosperous industry, the Labour Party would want to socialize them, too.
I want to mention other national development projects. I think we all agree that immigration is at the basis of our national development. I am delighted that we have, this week, passed a bill which will reduce the time in which a migrant may qualify, like any other Australian, citizen, for age and sickness benefits. That is a step forward and it will be a tremendous encouragement to migrants. I hope that we shall go a stage further. We want as many migrants as possible to become Australian citizens. Many have done so, but some are still reluctant to renounce allegiance to the lands of their birth. It is very difficult to ask a person to do this. Fortunately, we Australians have not had to do it. Our country has never been in a position in which we have been forced to decide whether we would renounce allegiance to it. But we must remember that most of us - I do not mean members of Parliament, who do swear allegiance - never swear allegiance. The average Australian takes for granted his allegiance to our Queen. New Australians also have never sworn allegiance to the land of their birth. It is a thing of the heart and something with which they have grown up.
I submit that it is not necessary to ask them to renounce an allegiance which they have never sworn. I believe that it would be quite sufficient to ask them to swear allegiance to our Queen, meaning that our Queen and our country will have their first allegiance. Of course, they will retain loyalty to the land of their birth. It is significant that immigrants to England are not asked to renounce allegiance to the land of their birth. They merely swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, the reigning Queen. I think that we in Australia could adopt the same practice, which would make it a great deal easier, perhaps, for some of the finest of our migrants to overcome the difficulty of deciding whether they can renounce allegiance to the land of their birth.
I am also delighted to read in the Governor-General’s Speech that there is to be a Water Resources Council. That is, perhaps, one of the most important steps that are foreshadowed in the way of national development and it has received the least attention in this debate. Senator Drake-Brockman did speak about it and I support all that he said. Water is at the basis of our development and our prosperity. We have in Australia a good deal of water which we have not as yet harnessed. We must find whether it is possible to harness some of it. I hope that the council will take the broadest of views and will be given a wide charter to examine, as its first task, all the water resources of Australia. Already we have the River Murray Commission, which is doing a splendid job in harnessing the waters of the river Murray. I believe that those resources are almost completely harnessed. There is now a project to build a dam at Chowilla, above Renmark, to hold back about 4,500,000 acre feet of water. This will be the largest water storage in Australia. Undoubtedly it will be of national benefit. But we in South Australia are completely reliant on the water that we can get from the Murray. Unfortunately South Australia is not blessed with many rivers. We have only one major river - the Murray. We get only the water that is left after the other States have taken their fill. We used to get a good deal of water from the Darling. Now New South Wales, quite reasonably, is damming the Darling and very little water from that river will be left to flow into South Australia.
A good deal of planning remains to be done on ways to hold more water in the rivers, other than the Murray, on the eastern side of this continent. 1 hope that the proposed Water Resources Council will suggest that the River Murray Commission’s powers be extended so that the commission may concern itself with all of the rivers on the eastern side. I hope that the commission will continue its good work and will persuade the powers that be in the various States to think nationally and not parochially about water. Unfortunately, South Australia is the last State to draw upon the waters of the Murray. We must wait until the other States have taken their requirements. The time is fast approaching when we in this country must think more as Australians. If the Chowilla dam is built, South Australia in time of drought must get more water from the Murray than the proportion of threesixteenths laid down by the River Murray Commission. We cannot develop our State with the water that is now available to us in time of drought. If South Australia is to derive any additional benefit from the Chowilla dam the distribution of water from the Murray among New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in the ratio 5-5-3 must be altered and the water must be distributed in the ratio 5-5-5. That would assure South Australia of more water in the future.
– You are being a little parochial, are you not?
– No, I am not. I am being Australian. South Australia has no source of water other than the Murray. We do not resent water going to the other States but we must find some way of getting more water for ourselves. We cannot get it anywhere but from the Murray.
– You do not suggest that the other States should provide South Australia with water, do you?
– No, of course I do not. I am not thinking parochially; I am thinking as an Australian.
Let me refer now to the national benefit to be derived from the construction of beef roads. We in South Australia are delighted to know that these roads are to be built in the north of this country. Again I make a plea on behalf of South Australia. South Australia has established a market for beef. The cattle come from the north to the fattening country and the markets in the south. I urge the Government not to build roads that will lead those cattle away from South Australia and destroy our marketing organization. I repeat that we do not resent the fact that these roads are being built in the north, but we ask for some consideration to be given to South Australia and for money to be made available to keep in good order our feeder routes - the Birdsville track and the Strzelecki track - so that we can compete on a national basis in the field of stock fattening.
I want to say a few words now about Senator Hendrickson’s speech. I have waited until the conclusion of my remarks to refer to external affairs. I think honorable senators are aware that I am particularly interested in external affairs. I have gone to a good deal of trouble to try to go to as many countries as possible in order to see at first hand what we must do if we are to remain good friends with all nations. One of the first matters referred to by the Governor-General in his Speech was the Government’s belief that Australia should be a faithful and contributing member of the United Nations. I agree with that. The United Nations has done an excellent job in trying to maintain peace in the world. I am not sure that the United Nations can remain very effective. It does not have very great powers to maintain peace, but it is good to have a forum wherein representatives of member nations may let off steam because while they are talking they may not start fighting. I was amazed to hear Senator Hendrickson champion the cause of red China. He said that red China should be a member of the United Nations. Does he not know that if red China enters the United Nations, war will break out? He is championing the cause of war when he takes up the cudgels on behalf of red China. Red China has said that she will sit in the United Nations only if Nationalist China no longer has a seat there. Red China claims that Formosa or
Taiwan - call it what you will - belongs to her. She has said that she will not agree to two Chinas being represented in the United Nations. Red China has stated that she will regain Taiwan. . The 10,000,000 people living on Taiwan say that they will fight to retain their independence. The only way, therefore, for red China to regain Formosa would be to fight. So by championing the cause of red China, Senator Hendrickson is upholding war. Any war that broke out over this issue would not be confined to a conflict between red China and Formosa. The United States of America has guaranteed the peace and independence of Formosa and America would be drawn into any conflict between red China and Formosa. I hope that red China is not seated in the United Nations.
Russia and other Communist countries have used the United Nations to further their policy of what they call peaceful coexistence, which is just another name for world domination. I hope that the great democratic countries will act in concert to counter any of the dangerous things that communism intends to do.
Australia has one overriding task - to grow up. We are throwing off the yoke of adolescence but we still have a long way to go if we are to grow up. Members of this Parliament also need to grow up. I have heard in this Senate some incredible speeches - speeches that do not impress anybody either inside or outside the Parliament. I have heard honorable senators make excursions into history to tell us what various governments in the past have done. That information does net impress me and I do not think it impresses the people of Australia. We must look forward and tally about development. We can thank our lucky stars that we have a government that is ‘ developing this country in such a practical manner. We are extremely fortunate that the Government has such progressive policies. We must continue to think big, talk big and act big. Much can be done to encourage more people in Australia to think big. I hope that by convincing others to think big we will be not only worthy members of the Commonwealth of Nations but also worthy subjects of Her Majesty the Queen.
– I was particularly impressed by Senator Cameron’s speech. He is one of the fundamentalists in the Australian Labour Party who has had a good deal to do with forming Labour opinion. Of course, he appears to be a bit out of date to-day. Perhaps he has not read Professor Galbraith’s “ New Capitalist “. The class war is largely over. It is certainly over for politicians, even if it is not yet over for the unemployed.
On the lighter side I want to refer to the function that was held in Parliament House last Wednesday night. I found it hard to decide who were the wives of Labour members and who were the wives of Libera] members. I saw the wives of Labour members arrive and some of them had five or six hats. The wives of Liberal members were also well dressed. I am not offering any criticism of that; I am trying to show that the class war has veen very much blunted. I remember that twenty years ago, when I was in the press gallery here in Canberra, one could see some difference between the wives of Labour members and the social set on the other, side. I do not say that with disrespect. The social Liberals sat in one corner and the wives of Labour members sat in another. Education and better times have changed all that. The former system could not continue.
Capitalism had to change and it is changing. It is because capitalism is changing so quickly, in my view, that this Government gets into trouble. It does not understand its own system. I do not want to follow that line too far, because that would mean half an hour’s dissertation and Senator Wright is looking at me.
– It might be like Aladdin and his cave.
– That is right. Nevertheless, there have been changes. I am shocked to hear supporters of the Government complain when we say that it is taking our policy. That has been the process throughout 150 years of political history. The people on the Labour side, the socialist side, propound the ideas and the people on the conservative side eventually adopt them. The conservative side is once removed from what it used to be, of course; but it is still conservative and it is still the side to which the employers go when they are in trouble. They do not come to our side. I have seen policy after policy of the
Labour Party adopted by the opposite side of politics. So why do honorable senators opposite deny our statement?
I remember when Jack Lang decided that something had to be done for the widows. The attitude then was that if a woman’s husband died, somebody took up a collection and bought his widow a mangle. Of course, honorable senators opposite would not remember that. The pension system was first thought of in a little Waverley Labour League. That was where it first saw the light of day. I do not intend to argue about whether the Menzies Government introduced child endowment. That does not matter. The ideas for a pension scheme and the welfare state were sown in Labour leagues and unions. That is just plain history. I can never understand why supporters of the Government object to our saying so.
– You borrowed it all from the Liberal Party.
– Is that the Liberal Party as we knew it then or as we know it now? I cannot understand why you complain. Nor can I understand why supporters of the Government get annoyed when we say that they were elected on Communist second preferences.
– I beg your pardon!
– I cannot understand why you complain about it.
– The whole Senate election in Victoria was governed by Communist preferences.
– All right, but that is a fact. I cannot see very much wrong with it because even the Communists cannot control their votes. I am not saying that the Government parties had a unity ticket with the Communists, but the fact is that supporters of the Government have been elected by Communist preference votes.
– The Labour Party received four times as many as the Liberal Party received in the Moreton electorate.
– I do not care whether we did or not.
– You are just making that assertion for the purpose of repeating it in other places with a different understanding politically.
– No, 1 am not. This is the point I want to make: If that statement is untrue-
– It is.
– Then it is no more untrue than the general attack that is made on us from the Government side to the effect that we are associated with Communists or that Labour men are elected on Communist votes in union ballots. Both statements are not true.
I am very happy to-day because if I came into this Parliament for any reason at all it was to educate or try to educate - I am not being presumptuous - people on my own side, if you like me to say that, or someone opposite, how- best to beat the Communists. That is what I said and I wrote it in 1951. I was the first man in Australia to stand” out and say that the industrial groups finally would build communism in Australia and I produced arguments to prove that statement. What I am pleased about these days is that most of the fire is going out of the Communist fight. That is not a great contradiction. Unless it continues to go out, the Australian people and the Australian worker will not act normally. When the Australian worker acts normally and loyally like an Australian - he is a loyal Australian - he is completely anti-Communist and he votes anti-Communist.
What has happened in the two most recent union elections? I believe these matters are important and are connected with the subject under discussion because they are part of our society, in relation to production at any rate. I think honorable senators opposite will agree that we hardly knew that the recent Amalgamated Engineering Union election was being held. The ballot, which was a court-controlled ballot, was being conducted normally because there was no political campaign hi the union.
– The honorable senator may say “ Oh “ if he likes, but I ask him to give me a go. This is very important. The Labour Party was accused of not taking any part in that election, but the fact, that we do not take part officially in union elections is in the interests of the fight against communism. Once we introduce politics into the union, we create another issue which allows the Communist to take refuge and we secure his election.
– You are not serious.
– I am serious. During the Waterside Workers. Federation election the newspapers rushed in to say that Mr. Fitzgibbon was the Labour candidate. I had no hesitation in writing to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and saying that he was not the Labour candidate, but he was a member of the Waterside Workers Federation fighting a ballot as a Labour man and as a unionist. We, as a party, did not select him, but we supported him. Of course we did. However, he was not our candidate. Many of us worked hard in that election campaign; but if we had taken a really heavy-handed interest in that ballot and turned on the machine, as supporters of the Government wanted it turned on, Mr. Fitzgibbon might not be general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation to-day. Some people, because it suits their political purposes, would rather see the Communist Party in charge of the union than see us beat the Communists the Labour way. The same sort of thing happened recently in an Amalgamated Engineering Union ballot. It was a quiet ballot; there was no crusade or any attempt to cloud the issues. We fought it on industrial conditions and industrial issues, and we won the ballot. That union is now Labour-controlled, as honorable senators opposite like to call it. I am not being critical of them, but that is a term they use. If they keep quiet for long enough, there will not be a Communist in office in the trade union movement in Australia. Just allow us to fight this out in our own way. After all, this is our responsibility, and we have accepted it. It should not be solely our responsibility, mind you. It is just as much the responsibility of the Government parties. It would be just as logical to accuse honorable senators opposite of being associated with communism as it would be to accuse us. We have been accused of being associated with Communists, and we would have been in office long ago in this Parliament if Government supporters had not used that line to support their cause.
– Your whole argument is that Fitzgibbon is not an Australian Labour Party man.
– I did not say that. You have to learn to distinguish. I cannot give you the Latin term, but some one might be able to give it.
– I knew Senator Hannan would have it at his fingertips.
– You said that Fitzgibbon was not representing you.
– I said that lie was not a candidate of the official Labour machine. He was a member of the Labour Party for twenty years. He won the election on his merits as a unionist. If Senator Mattner cannot understand that, I cannot help him further.
– I can well understand it.
– Years ago a lot of people did not understand what I was driving at when I talked on this subject. On one occasion, however, I addressed the combined steel employers of Australia at a function and I spoke in the way I have spoken to-day. I told them of the problem of communism in the unions. They understood me. They realized that what I was suggesting was the way to industrial peace and prosperity.
Let me say this, to the credit of Senator Spooner: When you get behind Senator Spooner the politician and look at Senator Spooner the statesman, the Cabinet Minister and the able leader of a party in this House, you see a man who understands quite well the things I am talking about now, because of his association with the trade union movement. I have sat in conference after conference with Senator Spooner, he being on one side, I on another side and the Communists on yet another. I refer to the Communist leaders of the miners’ federation. There were no fights then. Senator Spooner knew that coal had to be produced and the mines kept working. I am not suggesting that he or anybody else sold out his principles. I sat with Senator Spooner at other conferences. I am not saying that he could have done anything about the situation, but I saw the number of collieries in New South Wales reduced from 135 to a much smaller number. To-day the coal industry in New South Wales is in the hands of four or five companies. Yet honorable senators opposite talk about private enterprise. Private enterprise cannot exist to-day in the sense that it existed ten or twenty years ago. Nobody knows that better than Senator Spooner, who initiated a campaign to help the major coal companies in Australia financially, in order to ensure that coal would be produced and that it could compete with oil. I say to his credit that that had to be done. I saw men and collieries go to the wall. One satisfaction the owners had was that in many instances they received compensation when they went to the wall, but I do not know of any miners having received compensation. That is how free enterprise works under the new capitalism that Professor Galbraith talks about.
I want to see the Communist Party eliminated from trade unions. I am certain that it will be eliminated if the Government parties leave us alone and do not try to score political victories because of our embarrassment with communism. I do not deny that we are embarrassed. The Communists do associate with us. Whom else do you think they would associate with? I know what happens when a man goes down a mine. Often the fellow oh the other side of the skip is a Communist, but the A.L.P. man has to work with him. He cannot cut his throat. He gets almost a sympathy for him.
I referred to conferences where Senator Spooner sat on one side and representatives of the miners’ federation on the other. The miners’ federation is a semi Communistcontrolled union. There may be some validity in that term, although I do not think there is. It is a term that can be worked to death. I am sure that Senator Scott will be pleased to know that in the J. and A. Brown combination there has not been a strike since 1949, although the industry has been under Communist control all that time. What rot it is to talk about the Communists holding up production! Senator Spooner knows that that is not true. Otherwise, he could not stand up and tell us that we produced 18,000,000 tons of coal last year, with half the number of men who were working in the industry ten years ago. I am not defending the Communist Party; I am merely stating a fact. The Communist Party is in politics, just as Government supporters are. Senator Scott is interjecting. I am not referring to him personally, because I know that he is not in politics. I am dealing with fundamental problems, and 1 hope that honorable senators will understand me. It is no good talking about items in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech unless we learn what makes the people of Australia tick.
Senator McManus said there had been a great increase in the Democratic Labour Party’s vote and that that showed that either the Government parties were on the decline or that the Labour Party was on the decline. He said that if we had given our second preferences to the D.L.P., a combination of ourselves and the D.L.P. would have been in control of the country’s affairs for the next three years. All that I say to Senator McManus publicly is that if the D.L.P. had given us its second preferences, we would have been in office and the Government parties would have been in opposition. There was an increase in the D.L.P. vote, but where did it come from? It arose from an attempt to break up what I call our two-party political system. I think that is the best system on earth. I do not hesitate to call small parties splinter parties. I think they are a danger to the community. A situation could have arisen in which the D.L.P. controlled the Senate. I do not think anybody would want to see that. I know that I would not. I want the party which controls the Senate to accept responsibility for its actions.
You cannot have minority government in this country without chaos. I am not speaking personally of Senator McManus. I have a good deal of respect for him and I think he makes good contributions in this chamber, but it is unfortunate that he is where he is. How did those in control of the Democratic Labour Party select their candidates. First and foremost, they and their followers formed a party because they have a moral attitude - they are better than us, better than you. Generally, that is what they say, is it not?
– We are not admitting it.
– You might not be admitting it, but what do they do? An organization which supports them with money and with political machinery went throughout Australia and selected candidates whose names started with A, B or C, to get the donkey vote. That is how the party got the increased number of votes. Actually the real votes, from those that ideologically support the party, were fewer, but the party got its candidates’ names at the top of the ballot-paper. That is something that the other parties do not do. However, that statement does not mean that we do not have our aids. That party’s representatives go all over Australia and select candidates, irrespective of quality, and irrespective of beliefs really, with the object of getting them on top of the ballot-paper. In the electorate of Hughes in New South Wales the Labour Party’s candidate was Mr. L. R. Johnson. The Democratic Labour Party hunted the city for a candidate whose name would just be in front of our candidate’s name on the ballot-paper. I suppose that is all right, but coming from a party that attempts to moralize and attempts to criticize Labour for its difficulties and associations, I think it is very wrong, and the result does not reflect the true vote.
I have known the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) for a long time. I think he is a good leader of his party but I cannot understand his attitude when he quotes Labour’s policy and attacks it in the way he does. He attacked nationalization and quoted Labour’s policy on it out of a book. I do not say that Senator Spooner believes in nationalization, but three-quarters of his life is taken up in developing schemes that are only one remove from nationalization. His party does not say, “A plague on all your socialist houses “. What it says is, “ We will have that section of socialism that suits us “, and goes ahead and gets it. The Liberals almost have nationalization in the coal industry, where prices are fixed and the various coal companies send their product to the one vending area and the one cleaning area. These and other socialist appurtenances are built round this capitalist industry. Why? The coal industry could not exist in conditions that previously prevailed. Senator Spooner, as a leader of the Liberal Party, has had to acquiesce in planning because he appreciates that there would be no coal industry if its affairs were not planned. Honorable senators who support the Government do not look upon that as nationalization. It is only nationalization when it is in our hands, though you people plan quite a lot. Is there any one on the other side of the Senate who will stand up and tell me that the private banks are not nationalized? Qf course they are nationalized! If being nationalized means the loss of their freedom, they are nationalized - and why should they not be? I remember that when I was a young man and the first world war broke but the first thing that the conservative Government of England did was to take over the banks of England. You cannot have a system of private banking in a period of crisis. We did the same here.
– The Bank of England was only a central bank.
– I knew you would have an excuse for it.
– I am not making an excuse.
– You cannot have a private banking system in a period of crisis. That is why the Banking Act 1945 is still on the statute-book and is being applied by this Government. That piece of socialist legislation is still in existence because it is essential. We are accused from the Government side of decrying the Government for not doing the right things in the recent crisis, but the Government’s greatest critics were the private banks which said that the Government was doing by the back door, by stealth, what Labour would have done by the front door. Those controls are still on, and I am glad that they are, because Australia would be in a mess if these at least semi-socialistic controls were not still on. Apparently socialized banking is not a menace when a Liberal-Country Party government applies it, but it is when Labour applies it.
– At least they have competition between the private banks.
– They have no competition whatsoever. Another thing for which I give the Government credit is that under it the Commonwealth Bank has been developed.
– As the central bank.
– That is right; it has been developed to an all-time record strength.
– But not merely as a central bank.
– The Commonwealth Bank was established as a socialist enterprise, and has been there ever since. Under your Government it is stronger than ever it was.
– You tried to destroy it.
– I am just stating a plain fact, and you have added something to it. The Commonwealth Development Bank is the result of planning and nationalization. The Government could not depend on the private banks. Therefore, it operates through the Common? wealth Bank. I am amazed when I go into the Commonwealth Bank and see the various kinds of customer. They would not have gone near its doors 30 years ago, but they have come to know that this great bank is really Australia’s - and socialized and all as it may be, it is the bank for them. I talk to bank managers a lot. I talk to the employees a lot. Whereas in 1951 and a little earlier bank employees battled for this Government, they do not do so to-day. I am not saying whether they should or not; they are entitled to their own views. All I am saying is that you cannot resist a planned economy. You cannot resist public banking in preference to private banking. We often hear the question, “ What did you do? “ Very often, we do things for propaganda purposes, but the public does not accept our authority to do so. That happened with the health scheme, and it has happened all down the line. We sow the idea. You people are in the fortunate position that you have the organs of public education, and that helps you to put across something that we perhaps could not put across. That is a development in public relations in modern society. It is something that the Labour Party has always had to carry.
Senator Spooner also criticized our attempts to nationalize health services. Is there anybody in this Senate who will deny that health is nationalized? Is there anybody here who knows one hospital in Australia that is not publicly owned or subsidized?
– I would not like to try to get into it. Where is it?
– St. Andrew’s Hospital, in Queensland.
– You could count them on the fingers of your hands. Senator Spooner did not mean that the Government should not own the hospitals, the diagnostic clinics or the public health services. He was saying that there is a strong line of public propaganda, which has been used on the people, in the suggestion that the doctor-patient relationship would bc disturbed. That ‘is how the present Government parties defeated our health scheme a few years ago. They did not attempt to prove that health services were not nationalized. They were nationalized, always have been and must continue to develop in that way. What the Government parties were getting at was the relationship between the doctor and the patient.
They flogged that aspect and they defeated the Labour Government on it. There- was a lot to be said for the argument. It was a problem that 1 know the architects of the scheme appreciated at the time. I know that Senator McKenna appreciated it. The problem was how to secure the co-operation of the doctors, having in mind the human aspects of the matter. The doctors said, “Do not break up the relationship between the doctor and the patient” - and we know what happened. But things have altered. Even the doctors are feeling the weight of the necessity to do something new under the new capitalism. Doctors cannot operate individually any more. It is almost impossible to maintain the bedside manner of your personal doctor. The doctors have formed themselves into companies and groups, and you get the doctor they send you. So, that argument is finished.
– That is true in Sydney.
– It is true everywhere. Doctors are now in groups of six, seven or eight. I am not criticizing them on that score.
– But that is not the fact.
– It is the fact as far as Sydney is concerned. You would not see an individual doctor practising anywhere in Sydney.
– That is nonsense.
Senator ORMONDE__ Every modern surgery that goes up contains accommodation for at least six doctors.
– I can give you an instance in the last six months when that did not happen.
– The whole approach is towards planned medicine.
– Planned health.
– Very well, planned health.
– It is an easier life for the doctors.
– That is right. Therefore, we have taken that proposition away from the Government parties. They will never be able to use it again. They will never be able to tell the doctors that the Labour Party is going to nationalize them, because the doctors are nationalizing themselves. They are organizing. You cannot live on your own in this modern world.
– That is a different thing.
– All I am saying is that you have to pay big money to-day to get the personal approach between the doctor and the patient. As a matter of fact, in England, where public health is well and truly nationalized, the doctors who operate under the public health scheme may have private practices and will provide such a relationship at a price. We would not even exclude that if we were the government. I am trying to cover all the things which the Government parties said were wrong and which time has now made right.
– Your statements are wrong.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion. I do not think they are wrong at all.
Senator Spooner also said that we were going to nationalize the sugar industry. Is there anybody here who does not think that the sugar industry is nationalized already? Of course it is. The growers are allowed to produce the sugar at a price that is fixed for them, and they have to supply certain markets. They have no freedom whatsoever. If they had, of course, we would not have a sugar industry. So, another shibboleth falls over. It is said that Labour is going to nationalize the sugar industry, an industry that has been nationalized as long as I can remember.
– What did you mean when you said in the policy speech that you would not implement socialization for three years?
– That has nothing to do with the Address-in-Reply. The honorable senator should ask that question a little later. The short answer, of course, is that we cannot nationalize anything without a referendum. We were being perfectly truthful, and it is a change in politics when people are perfectly truthful. Nevertheless, that is the fact. Honorable senators opposite may laugh about our policy and pull it to pieces. We have a printed platform. The Liberal Party is rather lucky in this respect. It has not got one.
– Yes, we have.
– I have searched everywhere for it. Have you ever seen it?
– It has been brought up to date from time to time.
– Anyhow, we have a printed policy. I say that the Labour policy is a goal to be reached, and I am very pleased when I see a government from the other side of the House adopting it.
There is nothing to be ashamed of, because it has been a reform section of the community - and we are a part of thatwhich has been pushing reforms through ever since the dawn of history, and that position has not changed. The story that I told the Senate about the woman and the mangle is true. That was the birth of our pensions system and our welfare State.
– What did she do with the mangle?
– It is not a funny matter. The lot of the widow in those days was a very sad one.
– Liberal politicians, for 50 years before that, were working for reform.
– Yes, I know, but they were not conservative reforms. They had to be forced. Do not tell me that the trade unions have not had to fight for everything they have got. ‘ We have been on the side of the struggle the whole time.
There is something I want to say about the Government’s attitude to monopoly. The Government says that it intends to control monopolies. It accuses us because we say we are going to nationalize monopolies, but it does not say that they should not be controlled. I know a lot of students who would say that control and nationalization are the same thing. The Attorney” General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has promised us anti-monopoly legislation for a long time. What amuses me about the Government . is that it refers to a nationalized enterprise as though it were private enterprise. I class a two-pronged industry as being a nationalized industry. I am talking about the airlines. Our air services are nationalized, but honorable senators opposite try to fool themselves into believing .-.hat they are operated bv private enterprise. They are not private enterprise undertakings. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) addressed employees of Trans-Australia Airlines and explained that he wanted to clear up a doubt and that he had nothing against T.A.A.
– He sent them a letter.
– That is right. He assured T.A.A. that he was interested in ensuring the continued progress of that line because he felt’ that that might not be widely understood by T.A.A. employees.
– That was a beauty.
It was a Christmas message.
– That is so.
– Don’t be silly.
– It was a Christmas letter. Senator Ormonde has it in front of him.
– That is only your reaction.
– It was signed by the Minister.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood).- Order!
– Do not let the airline business upset you.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT.-
Order! I ask honorable senators to allow Senator Ormonde to proceed.
– Is it not a fact that this Government has leaned heavily-
– Read the letter.
– The Minister said -
He added -
This is an appropriate time to recall that T.A.A. has now been operating for IS years, and from ils inception - and perhaps especially so in recent times - has set an example … 1 take very great pride personally in reviewing the success of T.A.A. in the five years for which it has been my pleasure to be the responsible Minister . . . I think you and your colleagues are aware that I am personally, as well as ministerially, interested in ensuring the continued progress of T.A.A., but I have to admit that there have been times when I have had to think that this may not be a widely held understanding even within your own organization.
You could not blame them for that, could you?
– You could not blame the employees for thinking that Senator Paltridge was a bit with AnsettA.N.A. We fought this matter out for months in this Parliament. The Minister himself said that it was the Government’s policy to run the two airlines side by side.
– That docs not add up to what you have just said.
Senator ORMONDE__ But it is not private enterprise.
– But that is not what you said about it.
– That is not private enterprise.
– You said that the Minister was a bit Ansett-A.N.A.’s way.
– If that company receives services and rights over and above those enjoyed by T.A.A., is it not getting advantages? To come back to my general point, this Government believes in a planned, or controlled, airline industry. Not only is T.A.A. controlled, and rightly so, but so also is Ansett-A.N.A. The Government has a big finger in the AnsettA.N.A. pie. The Government’s argument about Labour supporting nationalization and the Government not doing so is a good election cry, but there is no validity in it. In this modern world everybody, including a conservative government, has to believe in a planned economy. Even in the United States of America, which is the home of private enterprise, 65 per cent, of the national effort is publically owned in one way or another. So the quicker honorable senators opposite drop from their political propaganda statements about Labour’s attitude to nationalization and the sooner they admit the facts of life, the better it will be.
We remember the old slogan put out by honorable members opposite to the effect that Mr. Chifley would nationalize even the corner shop. Do honorable senators opposite remember that slogan? I bet they have used it at one time or another. The corner shop has been socialized, but not by a Labour government. The chain stores and supermarkets have moved in and we have a new class of poor in the community - the shopkeepers in suburban areas. This Government talks about planning. It can plan big business, but it does not seem to bc interested in planning the lives of the little people and in doing something to help them.
If we were to go to towns in Australia with a population of 20,000 persons, we would find nine or ten of them dead, with no jobs for the children who are leaving school. Actually members of the Australian Country Party ought to be talking about this subject. I do not know what the Government intends to do about this state of affairs. If it remains in office it simply must do something about the matter. In every part of Australia this state of affairs exists because of the monopolistic development of capitalism. This Government has promised to do something about the matter, but so far it has not done it. The big stores are being taken over by bigger stores and little men are going out of business everywhere. If socialization means the closing of corner shops, as honorable senators opposite used to suggest, then we have seen socialization. But it has been effected under the aegis of a Liberal government. It is happening all over Australia. I am not saying that it does not present a problem. But how does the Government propose to re-organize these places? How does it propose to build up the industries in these depleted towns?
– Under your system why talk about such a flimsy thing as finance?
– I think you are being facetious.
– Why not just issue the directive and let the £1 notes go accordingly?
– The Labour Party has nothing to learn from the Government about financial matters. Nobody could say that a movement of which Ben Chifley, who probably was one of the greatest financial authorities in his time, was a member would be left without some ideas about finance.
– He had the courage to try to nationalize the banks.
– That is all right. As the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has said, the Government has prepared the way for bank nationalization by stealth. Nationalization is not far removed! from what has been done, and the public will eventually accept the proposition. When all is said and done, why maintain five or six allegedly free banks? We used to hear the slogan “ Bank with the free banks “. But that slogan is not used to-day, because you can not ask people to deal with the free banks when the general manager is talking about the banks being socialized. A new form of banking has developed around the private banks, ls that not so?
– Of course it is. It has been done in an effort to get freedom from control.
– Yes, by the cash order companies, the Custom Credit Corporation and all the rest of them. The banks are losing their importance. A private banker has said that private banks are nothing more than counting houses. Everybody knows that they are moving into the hire-purchase field. That is a development in our modern way of life. My only complaint is that honorable senators opposite persist in trying to treat private enterprise as sacrosanct. Senator Wright is one of the last remaining fighters for free enterprise. I have been deeply impressed by some of his scholarly attempts to defend the rights of the individual - I pay him that compliment - but freedom within the confines of the controlled system under which we live at present is a doubtful blessing - at any rate, the type of freedom about which he talks. I shall make some reference soon to prosperity in New South Wales and to the New South Wales Government. I have made a couple of attempts this week to give it a plug.
Senator Buttfield complained about the public relations system of the Parliament. That is something the Government ought to examine. It is a matter for concern when the newspapers of Australia do not report the proceedings of the Parliament.
– They did at one time.
– I know they did. I was told that the reason they ceased to do so was that there was no public interest in the proceedings and that advertisers were not prepared to pay the rates for advertisements on the parliamentary pages, and that that interfered with income. That was the explanation that I got, and I think there was something in it. But that does not mean that it is not a newspaper’s duty to try to give a service to the minority of people who are interested in the government of their country. I think a newspaper should do that. I dare say that Senator Spooner’s statement to-day on oil will get a good run to-morrow. I am not blaming the members of the press gallery. The boys up there know that. I am a member of their union. Nearly half of the Ministers of this Government - some of them very important Ministers - are in this chamber, yet they are lucky if they get a line in the newspapers. I have seen days when the proceedings of the Senate were not mentioned at all.
– Days? I think that on 75 per cent, of sitting days the Senate is not mentioned.
– I had a little bet with one of my colleagues. He said, “ We have not been reported in the newspapers for weeks “. I said, “ I bet you £1 that I can get into the newspapers to-morrow”. He said: “All right. We will each put in £1.” Next afternoon, I asked a Minister whether he would consider the installation of telephone boxes for left-handed people. That was reported in the newspapers the next morning because it was an entertaining idea. On one occasion, when I took a story into an old editor of mine, he said: “ This is fact. I do not want facts.” I said, “That is the way I saw the story “. He said, “ When will you learn that we are here to entertain people, not to educate them?”
– Do you expect to get into the newspapers to-morrow?
– No. I do not often get into the papers. All sorts of people have this problem. We of the Labour Party have discussed it. At our conferences, members have suggested that we have an ethics committee in order to make every newspaper give enough space to reports of what was said the day before. Then, getting down to practicalities, we find that it cannot be done. The Government has a really good case for doing something when only the entertaining highlights of the Parliament are reported and solid matters that affect the nation do not get a line. That is very bad. In England, there is the “ New Statesman “, which gives much attention to the thoughtful members of the community. I know that the field for informative matter of that sort is limited. It has no popular appeal. However, the newspapers should find some way of reporting the Parliament because the British parliamentary institution is the finest thing on earth. We ought to do something to raise its prestige. Senator McKenna makes brilliant speeches. Sometimes I feel that he is making them for history - which is a very wonderful thing, of course. He is writing into “ Hansard “, as it were, his views on dual taxation and other great problems. In the libraries, the studious will find reports of his speeches, and also of the speeches of honorable senators opposite. I do not select Senator McKenna alone, but I have in mind the subjects about which he talks, such as the Constitution. The newspapers should report proceedings in the Parliament, in the interests of our way of life and of democracy.
That brings me to the international situation. I do not pose as an expert on what is happening in Indonesia. I have a general knowledge of what goes on and of what is best for Australia. I am pleased to note that sanity is being restored in this field. I shall tell a story to the Senate. In many ways I have had an interesting life. In 1945 I was the editor of a Labour newspaper in Sydney. It did not have the circulation of the Sydney “ Sun “, of course, but it was all right. Lord Louis Mountbatten flew down to Sydney with Lady Mountbatten, his very fine wifewho has, of course, now gone. Over the years I had had mixed thoughts about the British aristocracy, but he was the most aristocratic person I had ever seen, and for a short period, while he was in Sydney, I believed in the British aristocracy. Sydney’s newspaper editors, including myself, were present. I mention this matter because the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), referred to it yesterday in another place. Lord Louis Mountbatten was in Sydney to see what he could do to secure the release of ships that were tied up in Sydney Harbour and in other Australian ports. What he said to the newspaper editors was in confidence, but in the newspaper game such remarks do not usually remain secret for more than 24 hours. Lord Mountbatten said that he had a problem. He said that Britain had 1,500,000 soldiers in the East and that she wanted to get them home. He said that the East was the one sticky spot in the world. He said, “The ships are held up in Australia and I want to get them moving.” I was not asked for my opinion, because I was merely the editor of a Labour newspaper, but the other editors told Lord Mountbatten that the trouble was being caused by Communists here and abroad. Lord Mountbatten said: “ Gentlemen, did I come all the way from the East to hear that? I could have been told that 3,000 miles away. I did not come here to discuss those things.” At that stage Mr. Warren Denning, a well-known Canberra journalist, said that I might be able to give some information. Lord Louis agreed to hear me. I said, “The wharf labourers are not delaying these ships.” I could easily have said that the Communists were responsible. I said: “ The wharf labourers have no desire to stop the British soldiers from getting home. They sincerely believe that the ships destined for the East are carrying fire-arms to help the Dutch. If you will give the wharf labourers’ union your word that the ships are carrying only Red Cross material, they will sail.” There was no propaganda value in that story. Those were the facts. Lord Louis said - this is where my story connects with the present situation - “ Unfortunately, what you have told me is similar to other things I have heard. My Aunt, Queen Wilhelmina, thinks that the old order still exists, but it is gone. Freedom has to come to the islands north of Australia.”.
I met Lord Mountbatten in the afternoon and was able to arrange a meeting between him and the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation, who included Communists among their numbers. Two days later the ships sailed out of Australian ports. The point I am making is this: I know that the Communist Party exists but it does not pull everybody by the nose and, of course, it does not pull the wharf labourers by their noses. With humility I can claim to have played a major part in organizing the release of those ships.
I think that sometimes we in Australia are not quite as democratic as our British forebears.
– Do you think the wharf labourers would have a say whether ships should sail if anything happened now over the West New Guinea issue?
– I was coming to that point.
– We will be interested to hear your remarks.
– I am sure that honorable senators opposite are always interested in what I have to say. I understood Lord Mountbatten’s views to be that the British had brought freedom to the islands north of Australia and that he was absolutely opposed to the Dutch attitude of resisting the expansion of freedom in that area. That is my understanding of what he said.
– Would the same principle apply in the case of West Iran?
– Personally I think that it is absolutely wrong for Holland at this stage to want to hold an isolated spot in the islands when the other islands in the area have their freedom. The move to give them their freedom was initiated by Britain. I do not think that Holland ever would have, moved had it not been for British influence.
– If Mr. Calwell declares war on Indonesia, do you think that the waterside workers should determine whether ships will sail?
– Senator Ormonde cannot answer hypothetical questions.
– Thank you, senator. I think that there has been a general improvement in the attitude of people towards the problems that I have been discussing. If a new election is necessary in the next few months, as it probably will be, because of the situation in which, capitalism finds itself, it will be a shame if honorable senators opposite resort to the propaganda that they usually resort to in attacking Labour. The Australian Labour Party is as sincerely Australian in character as are the parties supported by honorable senators opposite. The people of Australia are awaiting an opportunity to decide Australia’s political issues on their merits.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
. -Mr. President, I rise to support the motion before the Senate this evening, expressing loyalty to Her Majesty, the Queen, and appreciation to His Excellency, the Governor-General. Some excellent speeches have been made in support of this motion. I trust that it will be carried, as similar motions have been carried ever since I have been in the Senate. I also trust that no amendment will be moved to spoil the effect of the motion.
I should like to express my regret that this is possibly the last major debate in which a number of members of the Senate will take part. Of course, legislation consequential upon the matters envisaged in the Governor-General’s Speech will be debated. I think we all regret that senators of the calibre of Senator Sheehan, Senator Armstrong who hos been in the Senate for more than twenty years, our own Senator Robertson who has been here for well over ten years, and Senator Davidson who has been here only a few months, will leave the Senate at the end of June, in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act. My friend, Senator McKellar, has reminded me that our distinguished Chairman of Committees, Senator Reid - will be among them. Unfortunately, he is not well at present.
Consequently, he will not be taking part in this debate and he may not take an active part in subsequent debates. We wish him well in his recovery. May I also mention the former Leader of the Government in this place, Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan. I may have omitted other honorable senators, but I wish them to be included in these remarks. I leave the thought that the Senate will be the poorer because of the departure of these people. Other people, who no doubt will continue the work that has been done, will come into the Senate in their places.
A very wide variety of topics is covered in the Governor-General’s Speech. It would be quite impossible for one to refer to more than just a small percentage of them. As a matter of fact, world events are moving so fast at present that since the delivery of the Speech just a little more than a week ago a number of important happenings, which could well have been included in such a distinguished utterance, have occurred.
– Such as striking oil again.
– I intended to say, as Senator Aylett has reminded me, that surely reference would have been made to the magnificent oil strike, as reported, at the Moonie No. 2 well. That could have tremendous economic consequences for Queensland in particular and Australia in general.
There is also the treble orbiting of the world by Colonel Glenn. That was a remarkable achievement which has received great acclaim from the free nations of the world. I could also mention that recently there has been an all-time record success for a Commonwealth loan. All this has happened within the last week or so. That shows how important it is that these things be noted. This age and generation in which we live could well be the most exciting period in the development of Australia, when one considers those three important occurrences’ in the last ten days or so.
I believe that the Government can take great credit for the happenings since it came into power in 1949. I do not wish to go back into the past because I believe that we all should endeavour to make satisfactory speeches on the present and the future. Australia is a nation populated by about 10,500,000 people predominantly of European origin. It is the tenth trading nation in the world. Those two significant mileposts have been passed during the regime of the present Government.
I wish to deal for a short while with some matters that have received the attention of the Government and are referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech. The Government has been very active in connexion with the employment problem in this nation. I believe that the Government rightly has followed the principle that, in order to give a lift to employment and to decrease unemployment, attention should be paid more to the industrial sector of the economy than to the primary production sector. In the last ten years or so the primary producers have done a magnificent job. They have increased the volume of primary exports by more than 52 per cent. They have done that largely by good management, good husbandry and the wise use of equipment. They have been encouraged very much by the Government’s imaginative depreciation allowances for taxation purposes. I venture to suggest that less labour is employed on the farms and rural properties than was employed ten or twelve years ago. So the question of the re-employment of unemployed people is answered by giving immediate attention to secondary industries rather than primary industries.
I believe that one can highlight the imaginative steps that the Government has taken by referring to the fact that in this place yesterday we passed a bill that will increase the rates of benefit paid to people who unfortunately are unemployed. The bill made provision for all dependants, whereas previously only one dependant was provided for. Actually, that is only a palliative. The aim of the Government is to get as many people as possible back to gainful employment.
Being a South Australian, I have con. sidered the unemployment figures from the South Australian viewpoint. The rate of unemployment in that State at present is possibly the lowest or the next to lowest in the Commonwealth. It is about 2.5 per cent, of the work force. That means that during the period of greater unemployment over the last twelve months, 40 South Australians have been at work while one has been out of work; whereas in Queensland only twenty people have been at work while one has been out of work, and in other States about 30 people have been at work while one has been out of work. The people at work have been receiving either the basic wage or the basic wage plus a margin for skill. The basic wage is at its highest level in the history of Australia, and margins for skill are higher at present than they have been hitherto. As 1 have said, the position in South Australia is that for every 40 people who are at work, one person is not. 1 regard that one as being one too many, but let us face the facts as we find them.
Prices have been stable during this period. Because of legislation which I will mention, a challenge will be issued to the persons who are in work. As from to-day, these people will have more money in their pay envelopes because of smaller income tax deductions. Overall, £7,000,000 more will go into the pay envelopes of the people who are in work during the next three months. I think that this presents a great challenge to the people concerned. They should spend the extra money wisely and thus help in the restoration of confidence. I believe that our experience of the past has shown us the dangers of speculative spending. I ask that this extra £7,000,000, which will be put into circulation as one of the Government’s remedies, be spent wisely or saved.
Then there is to be an increase in the amount of money available for public works. As a result of decisions taken at the recent Premiers’ Conference, during the next three months grants for this purpose will be made to State governments and semigovernmental authorities, and extra money will be spent by the Federal Government. More money will be made available for housing: Ex-servicemen in need of assistance to purchase homes will be able to get larger loans from the War Service Homes Division. The limit of the loan will be increased from £2,750 to £3,500. More work will be created in factories, because factory owners who put in new machinery and equipment will be able to claim what is known as an investment allowance. They will be able to claim that over and above the ordinary depreciation allowance. The sales tax on motor vehicles has been reduced. It is interesting to note that in January, which is normally a month of low registrations of new vehicles, registrations were far in excess of those in the previous January, and in excess of those in December, 1961. December is normally a month of high registrations.
Because of the extra spending power made available by the recently announced measures of the Government, the 30 or 40 persons in jobs, to whom I have referred; will be able, by wise spending, to provide an opportunity of employment for the one who is not in a job. The extra money to be made available, if wisely handled by the community, could do a great deal to restore the momentum of the economy. I ask members of this Parliament not to continually knock Australia during the process of this steady re-orientation. One listens to many speeches in this chamber which give the impression that the Opposition relishes a downturn here or a problem that has emerged for the Government there. 1 believe that the economy could very quickly be brought back to normal by the activity that this additional spending power will create. So much for the short-term measures.
In the Governor-General’s Speech there were some very sensible statements about the long-term view of Australia’s affairs. 1 believe that the foreign policy set out in the speech is a satisfactory one, although, by and large, it does not appear to have received much notice in the speeches of members of the Opposition in the Senate. I think it is quite a sensible stand in relation to West New Guinea to say that we should endeavour to be friendly and helpful to Indonesia in its problem there. I think that the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell) did his colleagues and Australia a disservice by likening the principal person in Indonesia to the ex-Nazi Hitler. Fiery words, almost amounting to rattling the sabre, do no good at this time. I am pleased to hear that the Indonesian ambassador to Australia has returned to Sydney this evening and has made a statement about resolving the position between the Dutch and the Indonesians that gives some encouragement. I believe that, by and large, in this difficult period the Government is moving cautiously on international affairs.
Senator Ormonde made a very interesting speech, but I think we must make sure that we do not accept without question what he said. He gave a humorous and pleasant discourse, lasting about an hour, on many subjects. I took exception to the rather racy story he told us about his meeting with Lord Mountbatten. Senator Ormonde almost, as it were, strutted across the stage this afternoon as a newspaper baron. He said that he represented one of the newspapers of Sydney as an editor when Lord Mountbatten arrived. The essence of his story was, of course, that Lord Mountbatten came here to negotiate with the wharf workers in Sydney who had gone on strike and were holding up ships required to repatriate British soldiers to their homeland.
– And also ships carrying Red Cross supplies.
– As my friend, Senator Mattner, reminds me, some of the ships were carrying Red Cross supplies. Senator Ormonde seemed to accept the action of the wharf workers with some sort of acclaim. I think it was wrong that the foreign policy of Australia, then governed by a Labour government, was affected by the irresponsible action of men working on the wharfs. Labour should not allow the foreign policy of this nation to be governed by any group, whether it consists of entrepreneurs or trade unionists. The foreign policy of Australia is and should be controlled by Parliament alone. Senator Ormonde proudly acclaimed the fact that he was very keen on the British system of government, yet a little later he cited for honorable senators’ approval the action of the wharf labourers in Sydney at a critical time when many of the people who had been taking part in the war wished to be repatriated.
– What year was that?
– The senator did not mention the year, but I imagine it was about 1945. I am glad that the Federal Government is taking wise action at last to .develop trade with the countries in South America. For too long has this Government and preceding governments neglected the great trade opportunities that I see available in those countries. I went there as one of the delegates from this Parliament to a convention in 1958. At that time Australia was almost unknown in all of the countries of South America. Members of the delegation from Australia were confused with Austrians; we were regarded as colonial people living in a far-flung colony of England1. I was appalled by their lack of knowledge of us, and I was equally appalled by Australians’ lack of knowledge of these important countries. So, in the past few years I have taken a particular interest in what the Government has been doing to develop trade with them, and it is of great concern to me that the largest trade mission ever to leave Australia will leave for South America towards the end of April and, more important, the Government has already commenced, by subsidy, a regular shipping service to South America. A ship has already left, another will leave about 25th April, and will arrive there about the same time as the Australian delegation will arrive by air.
Trade with South America is one of the outstanding trade opportunities left to this nation. It is a vast country, in latitudes similar to our own. One country alone, Brazil, is larger than Australia, lt has a population of 65,000,000 people. Two of its cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, each has a population larger than that of Sydney. They are considered to be among the most modern cities in the world. Brazil has a vast population of very poor people, descendants of former African slaves which the Portuguese had over the years, until it became a republic about 150 years ago. It is an amazing country. I was astounded to find that its export trade amounted to £600,000,000 a year and* its import trade reached the same figure, though its trade with Australia ranged from 3,000 one year to £198,000 the next year and £10,000 the following year, all within the past few years. Further south is the Argentine. Its exports are worth £400,000,000 a year and its imports, £550,000,000, but its trade with Australia varied from £17,000 to £405,000 within the past few years. Chile has an export trade worth between £173,000,000 and £243,000,000 a year, and its import trade varies from £159,000,000 to £198,000,000 a year, whereas its trade with Australia, which is its nearest neighbour on that side of the world ranged between £20,000 and £66,000 in the same period. Peru, also, is a near neighbour of Australia when one considers the speed of jet flight. Its export trade was valued between £126,000,000 and £138,000,000 a year, and its import trade between £150,000,000 and £179,000,000, whereas its trade with Australia ranged between £50,000 and £164,000.
I went to all those countries and found excellent opportunities for further trade with them. 1 am glad that the Government has raised the standard of its representative in South America from minister to ambassador, and that it is establishing a new trade post in Lima and is about to establish another in Caracas, Venezuela. lt has taken the Government some years to implement these improvements, but the big break-through is occurring this year with the sending of the large mission and the establishment of a direct shipping line, which will be operating when the mission arrives. The Government has acted too slowly in my opinion, because I considered two or three years ago that the opportunities were being missed. However, it is to be congratulated on taking this imaginative action now.
It might be argued that revolutions and upsets are occurring all the time in the South American countries. That may have been so some years ago. Country fought country until the turn of the century, and there were insurrections within each country until about ten years ago, but there has been remarkable stability since then. The West Germans and the Japanese have entered into trade with South American countries in a big way. Extensive credit is provided by the United States of America and West Germany, but I contend that there are still many, many opportunities for trade with Australian manufacturers. I know, from reading a copy of the overseas trading publication of the Department of Trade, that there is a great opportunity to sell mining equipment to Peru for its copper mines. Tenders are being called for many thousands of balls for ball mills which are used in connexion with mining. I understand orders would be favorably received in Australia. There is also scope for the sale of irrigation equipment. These are dry countries near to the Andes, but because of the opportunities that exist to use water from the Andes snow-fields,, great use could be made of Australian irrigation and spraying equipment, pumps, and so on.
A great new era could open for trade with that part of the world. What interests me about the countries of South America is that their citizens really warm towards people of European origin. One appreciates that there are certain problems in trading with Asian and African countries because of the Afro-Asian axis which appears rather prominently biased against us, but in South America I detected considerable warmth of feeling towards Australia. We should do far more to publicize Australia in those countries and to encourage that warmth of feeling. I visited the countries of South America with former Senator Harris, Mr. Minogue, Mr. Crean, Mr. Daniel Mackinnon and Mr. Hamilton, a former member of the Parliament. We all came away with the feeling that Australians were very popular because of the excellent services we had rendered during the staging of the Olympic Games in Melbourne. Australia has earned a wonderful reputation in those countries. There should be further opportunities for contacts in the field of sport and athletics. We should invite responsible people from South American nations to come to Australia to study some of the things that we have to show them. Banking, governmental procedures, and land titles registration are among the matters in which Australia is fairly well advanced. Our methods of administration in those matters could with profit be investigated by people from South America. When it is possible to establish both sea communication for the transport of goods and air communication for passenger travel, I have no doubt that there will be much more contact.
It must be remembered, also, that the South American countries and Australia are linked by a common interest in Antarctica. I am sure that Senator Gorton, who is an authority on this matter,. will correct me if I am wrong in saying that Chile and Argentina have sent representatives to a conference here in Canberra dealing with the problems of Antarctica. That is one link that we have with those countries. Another link is their interest in our sheep. There could be a community of interest in that respect. The people of South America are a sport-loving people. As we know, they have produced tennis players who have reached Davis Cup standard.
In addition to more and more contacts between the people of this country and those of South America, I would like to see an invitation extended to South Americans to come to Australia to observe some of the better things that we have to offer. Incidentally, in the realm of sport, I mention that we make the totalisators that are used on some of the famous South American race tracks. Apparently we are able to make totalisators better and more cheaply than any other country of the world. I compliment the Government on what it has already done to promote trade with South America. I hope its efforts will continue and that there will be a two-way traffic between Australia and the countries of South America in the contracting world in which we live.
I wish now to say a word or two about two matters of interest to South Australia. One of them is mentioned in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, and the other relates to a decision of the High Court of Australia announced yesterday. Let me deal first with the High Court decision. It involved the rejection of a claim by South Australia that a special time-table should be set for rail standardization works. If there is an appeal to the Privy Council against the decision, everything will have to wait until the appeal has been determined, but assuming there is no appeal, I hope that the Commonwealth and South Australia will again engage in negotiations at an early date, because I believe that the standardization of the rail gauge between Port Pirie and Broken Hill is of major urgency.
– That had nothing to do with the case, though, did it?
– The case involved an endeavour to force the Commonwealth to do something within 3 particular time, did it not?
– Yes. Assuming that that case has been finally disposed of,
I hope that the parties will get together without any delay because of the urgent national considerations that are involved in the matter.
As I see it, the Commonwealth has done a splendid thing for South Australia in making available money for the purchase of diesel locomotives. Honorable senators will remember that we passed the bill on this subject last year. I understand that the Government of South Australia, according to the terms of the arrangement, has gone ahead and ordered the locomotives. I should think that economies from their use will begin to flow very soon. I acknowledge that to be so, but the major question is the standardization to 4 ft. 8 in. of the gauge between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. There are many other things to be considered. I ask the Commonwealth to consider that if it proceeds, as I think it will, with standardization of the gauges in Western Australia between Kwinana and Kalgoorlie, it will be unwise not to proceed at the same time with standardization of the line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill; otherwise, there would be a gap, and that is not the ultimate aim of either South Australia or the Commonwealth. There are other problems for the South Australian Government to consider, such as, for instance, how the line would lead into the City of Adelaide from either the Port Pirie end or the Peterborough end. I have no doubt that rather than alter the existing line, it will be -decided to construct an additional line which will run parallel to it. Much thought is required in the planning that should be got under way as soon as possible.
There is also the question about what is to be done with the 3-ft. 6-in. lines in the Peterborough Division, as it is called. It may be that some of those would have to be closed. I submit that all these questions should be considered with the greatest expedition, because without a doubt Australia is going from strength to strength, being encouraged, as we are, by the great mineral and oil developments and such like that are going on and for which it is so important that a standard gauge railway be constructed.
I now direct attention to another matter referred to in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General and which is very close to the hearts of many of us who come from South Australia. His Excellency said -
The River Murray Commission has prepared a report on technical aspects of constructing a dam on the River Murray at Chowilla, which would store 4,750,000 acre feet. Preliminary examination with the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia is already occurring. If construction is accepted as a River Murray Commission work, my Government will contribute one-quarter of its capital cost. lt is well known that elections will be held on Saturday next in both New South Wales and South Australia, but very early negotiations should take place on this matter. It has become quite urgent because of1 the expansion of rural and river industry, particularly in New South Wales. The damming of the Murray River, preferably at this point, is of great importance. The South Australian Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, when speaking at Berri, which is on the Murray River in South Australia, on 20th February is reported to have said that the eastern States might be carrying out .developments and diversions along the river and its tributaries at a rate that would make it impossible for the river to meet commitments in future dry years. Without blaming anybody far up in the middle of New South Wales, he said that the diversions and developments that are occurring along the river, particularly in the Darling area, are of great importance to the future of Australia.
There is no getting away from the proposition that, if the water fails to come down, the Murray projects which are strategic to the welfare of the Commonwealth will be affected. May I remind the Senate that the very life-line to Woomera is the water pipe from the Murray River. There would not be ten people living there if it were not for the water which has been vouchsafed by Murray River agreements. The Commonwealth railway works at Port Augusta would just be a fraction of their size and usefulness if it were not for the pipeline. The Whyalla shipyard, which is at present building ships with a capacity of 30,000 tons, would just be a shambles with’ out this pipeline. If it were not for this water the whole of the development of South Australia, where I believe 95 per cent, of the people have piped water and are fed, in dry years at any rate, mainly from the Murray, would be brought almost to a standstill. It will be seen that the words uttered by Sir Thomas Playford with regard to these diversions away up in New South Wales, and no doubt also in Victoria, will have some relevance to the position of South Australia within the lifetime of most of us in the Senate. Therefore, I commend to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) the proposition that negotiation on these matters as soon as the result of the election is known after the week-end is a matter of top priority for Australia, South Australia, and in particular the Commonwealth installations at Woomera and those at Whyalla and Port Augusta.
I support the expression of loyalty contained in the Address-in-Reply. I hope that the imaginative programme that has been put forward by the Government will not be thwarted by any untoward happenings within Australia or externally.
.-‘ I join with other honorable senators in supporting the expression of loyalty contained’ in the Address-in-Reply. At that point, Mr. President, I dissociate myself from Government senators. In the whole political history of this country one would’ not find a more spineless or jelly-fish-like government than the present Commonwealth Government. Prior to 9th December the Government was completely arrogant and carefree. Since that date the Government has stated it proposes to implement some of the measures that were enuniciated by Mr. Calwell, the Leader of the Australian Labour Party, measures which were ridiculed and criticized by supporters of the Government as being impracticable during the election campaign. That was indicative of the spinelessness that has been displayed by this Government in regard to national problems ever since it assumed office in 1949.
Let us deal very briefly with some of the remarks that have been made by honorable senators opposite during this debate, lt is noteworthy that they have endeavoured to dodge the main issues which confront the people. They have kept clear of the economic problems with which this country is faced and have gone off into other realms of debate. Senator Laught, who has just resumed his seat, spent , most of his time dealing with South America. Senator
Anderson said that it was of no use speaking about what might have been, and he appealed to people not to look at the position in retrospect. Honorable senators opposite want to forget all about the election of 9th December. Apparently the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) wants to forget about the result of the election. In his pathetic reply to the comments of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), he said -
Now, Sir, we come to rather a different plane. 1 have taken notes of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I have listed the various points that he has made.
He continued, and this is the point I wish to stress -
I do not think there is much profit in canvassing what happened at the last election.
I repeat that Government senators want to forget all about the last election. Let me say that prior to 9th December this Government was intolerably intolerable. Its majority of 32 in another place has been whittled down to two by the action of the Australian electors. Prior to the election, every question asked from this side of the chamber was treated with arrogance and almost with contempt by supposedly responsible Ministers. When a question was asked in relation to the unemployment position, we were invariably accused of being calamity howlers and of using unemployment for political purposes. It is strange that the Government is now professing to be very concerned about the unemployment position. Just prior to the election, the number of unemployed reached the colossal total of 113,000, although Senator Spooner and Senator Gorton had said on various occasions, in reply to questions, that the situation was normal and that no steps to rectify the position would be taken by the Government.
Now, having received such a severe rebuke from the people, Ministers and their supporters are very much subdued. They are now professing to be very concerned about the total number of unemployed - which, incidentally, has risen to 131,000. That number represents only the registered unemployed, but everybody knows that many thousands of people are working part time, and that many thousands more are unemployed but, for various reasons, do not register or are ineligible for unemployment relief. Taking into account the dependants of those persons, the aggregate number of people suffering the effects of unemployment is well over half a million, yet nothing is proposed by the Government to rectify the position on a permanent basis. The Government, having had its majority in the other place sharply reduced from 32 to two, is now bringing in certain measures that were proposed by the Australian Labour Party. It is doing so in an endeavour to hoodwink the people, to curry favour and to regain some of its lost prestige, in case there should be an early election.
I remind the Senate that the Liberal Party has never had a majority in this Parliament in its own right. It has never had enough members to enable it to govern in its own right. It has always had to depend upon its satellites, the parasite parties- the Country Party and the Democratic Labour Party. The latest satellite’ to be put into orbit by the Liberal Party is the Communist Party. Without the ‘support of that party, ‘the Government would not be in office to-day. I shall cite figures to justify the claim I am making. On 9th December last, the Liberal Party and the Country Party - the cuckoo party that will perch in any nest - polled 2,217,476 votes; the Australian Labour Party polled 2,534,608 votes; and the splinter parties combined polled 456,962 votes. The Australian Labour Party polled 317,204 more votes than did the Liberal Party and the Country Party combined. So the Government does not hold office in its own right. It has had to depend throughout upon the support of its satellites.
When the Prime Minister was reminded of this fact, he gave a reply that was similar to replies made by other Government supporters. On 16th November, 1960, following the infamous credit squeeze and the imposition of an extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars, Mr. Menzies said -
I am coming to the point, and it is a point that I hope you will remember. If we are to be told now by this Opposition that our policies in the last eleven years have been a failure, if we are to be told that as a result of these policies great damage has been done to the Australian people, then I take leave to remind the Opposition that on four occasions in the last eleven years - in 1951, 1954, 1955 and 1958- the people, having been given their chance to say what they thought about this, have returned this Government with overwhelming majorities.
What a political untruth that was! Let us examine the elections referred to by the Prime Minister. In 1949 the people of Australia were obviously and naturally fed up with war-time controls. This was not very long after the Prime Minister, as honorable senators will remember, had, in the middle of World War II., deserted the ship in the face of the enemy. In 1949 this Government came into power in Canberra after making a host of spurious promises that could not be kept, that it never intended to keep, and that in fact were not kept.
In 19S1 there was a double dissolution on the banking issue. I was engaged in the campaign, yet I did not hear, and I do not know of anybody else who heard, banking mentioned throughout that campaign. The main subject was the old red rabbit - communism.
– What was the year in which you lost your seat?
– If you were hanged for being intelligent, you would die as innocent as a new-born babe. Just before the election in 1954, not having any policy to put before the people, the Government stage-managed the infamous Petrov commission beautifully, and whipped up fear among the people to such an extent that, with its satellite, it was returned to office. The Petrov commission was stage-managed for political purposes. Nothing of any importance emerged from the commission, which cost the taxpayers well over £40,000. The only person who derived any benefit from it was Petrov himself, who obtained £5,000 and a chicken run. A witness in a fairly recent law case in London said that Petrov was still in receipt of £2,000 a year from this Government. Of course, one cannot obtain any information about that matter which, according to the Government, is in the category of security.
Now we come to the 1955 election. On that occasion the Government parties gathered into their orbit another satellite - the Australian Democratic Labour Party. That satellite has kept this Government in power ever since. The Government does not govern in its own right; it is a secondpreference government.
– You must be a member of a third preference Opposition.
– The Minister cannot take it. He and his colleagues have been so safe until now that they have become arrogant and carefree. Senator McKellar had the effrontery to refer to what a member of the Labour Party said in 1936 about defence. I can bring the honorable senator more up to date than 1936. I remind him of the inglorious displays of his leader, the Prime Minister, much more recently than 1936. Honorable senators will recall that it has been said of Mr. Menzies that he cannot lead and will not follow. In 1938, he walked out of the Lyons Government because he could not get his own way. He has always adopted a dictatorial attitude. In 1938, after having visited Germany, he said that Australia could do with a little Nazi-ism here. In 1941, after two years of war and with a majority in both Houses of the Parliament, he failed the country dismally. He deserted in the face of the enemy. After the Curtin Government assumed office, Mr. Menzies was made a member of the Australian Advisory War Council. He was a member of that council for only a short time when he walked out of it. What an inglorious failure he has been ever since that time! Not long ago a Government supporter in this chamber had the temerity to rank him among the world’s finest statesmen. If honorable senators opposite are honest with themselves they will agree that when he held the portfolio of Minister for External Affairs in addition to that of Prime Minister, on every occasion that he went overseas he caused Australia’s stocks to fall because, unfortunately, all of his actions and remarks while overseas were made on behalf of Australia. I am not attacking the man personally. I think he is quite a decent fellow. But, as a leader, he has been, and still is, hopeless.
Let us remember Mr. Menzies’s pathetic efforts during the Suez crisis. He was discredited by Egypt’s Nasser and had to beat a hasty retreat without having achieved anything. Remember the somersaults that he turned in respect of South Africa’s apartheid policy. He was the only leader in the British Commonwealth who supported Dr. Verwoerd andhisapartheid policy. I mention these matters to illustrate Mr. Menzies’s complete arrogance and dictatorial tendencies. At a dinner at the Savoy Hotel, after the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, he is reported to have told somebody who disagreed with him to jump into the Serpentine. In Queensland, shortly before the last election, somebody asked the Prime Minister about the amount that was being spent on the Canberra lakes scheme. Mr. Menzies is reported to have replied that he could not care less what the people thought about the cost of making the lakes in Canberra.
Mr. Menzies gave another inglorious display at the United Nations.
– You have a pretty good dossier on him, have you not?
– I am giving the facts. . I want to show how thoroughly dictatorial and arrogant is this man who is in control of the Government.
– He lost a good deal of his arrogance to-night. I heard him in the other place. He was very subdued.
– Yes, he was. The Treasurer, Mr. Harold Holt, has never been as pathetic as when he followed Mr. Calwell in the debate in the other place. Similarly, in this Senate, Senator Spooner was absolutely pathetic when he attempted to reply to Senator McKenna.
I have raised this matter only because Senator McKellar criticized statements alleged to have been made by a Labour member in 1936. What temerity for any Government supporter to criticize Labour on its defence efforts! It would have been a case of God help Australia if the Australian Labour Party had not taken over in 1941.
Senator Laught had the temerity to criticize the waterside workers because of something that he claims happened in Sydney in 1945. Anybody who knows anything about Australia’s war effort must pay an earnest tribute to every worker and trade union in the country for the marvellous job that they did. I will concede that Mr. Menzies may lay claim to one title at least - Australia’s king-size failure. That is the only title that he can honestly claim or that the little Sir Echoes who follow him can claim for’ him.
I was anxious to reply briefly to Senator McKellar’s statement about remarks alleged to have been made in 1936 by a Labour supporter. I have reminded the Senate of what happened in 1938 and in 1941. I have recalled to their notice how Mr. Menzies left the Lyons Government and how he walked out of the Australian Advisory War Council. I have adverted to the false pretences of which he has been guilty in order to retain office since 1949. Australia has been almost completely sold to foreign interests by the Menzies Government. What has happened to the assets of the people? Since 1949 those assets have been dissipated.
In 1956 the Government appointed a committee to inquire into and report on alterations considered necessary to the Constitution. In doing that the Government must have been aware that the Constitution was in need of amendment. That committee consisted of six Government supporters and six Opposition supporters. It presented a very comprehensive interim report in 1958 and a final report in 1959. But as late as yesterday Senator Spooner admitted that the Government has not yet examined the report. The report is most important because constitutional restrictions prevent the Government from doing many things. It is important that the National Parliament should have as much power as is possible.
The people should be asked at a referendum to clothe this Parliament with the powers necessary to deal with matters over which it now has no control, including the growth of monopolies and the incidence of take-overs. As Senator Ormonde said to-day, honorable senators opposite decry socialism. Actually, the Government is adopting socialism in reverse. All these monopolies that are being created are concentrating the wealth of this country in fewer and fewer hands, in the hands of private companies which are not answerable to the people and which are ruthless in their exploitation of the people. Of course, the Government shelters behind the constitutional restrictions when it is urged to take certain action. Recently we have heard Ministers admit that that report has not yet been examined.
I understand that the report was very comprehensive. Quite a number of recommendations for constitutional reform were made. Almost all of them were unanimous and, according to the information that I have, there was only one dissentient from the recommendations that were not unanimous. That report was put before the Government in 1959. It refers to matters such as uniform company law, the growth of monopolies, the control of hire-purchase interest rates and a host of other things over which at present the Government has no power because of constitutional restrictions. We know that it is difficult to carry a referendum; but when the recommendations come from members on both sides of the Parliament and they are unanimous in almost all cases, it is perfectly obvious that if all parties are behind any endeavour by the Government to secure the necessary consent of the people by referendum, the proposal is almost certain to be carried. That makes one think that the Government does not want the constitutional reform that is absolutely necessary if these matters which are of such grave and vital national concern are to be dealt with successfully.
Of course, one could refer to many other matters. Ever since this Government has been in power attacks have been made on the arbitration system. Recent amendments to the arbitration legislation have made it purely and simply an instrument of coercion. Look at the penal clauses that have been inserted in that legislation. Look at the infamous and vicious amendments made to the Crimes Act by this Government recently. They were totally unnecessary, but they indicate the dictatorial tendencies of the Prime Minister and the people who support him. In addition, a couple of years ago, in spite of opposition from our side of this chamber and another place, the telephone-tapping legislation was placed on the statute-book of this country.
The difficulties with which we are confronted at present are purely and simply difficulties of the Government’s own making. In February, 1960, after ten or eleven years of undisputed power in the Parliament, the Government suddenly found out that there was a boom. Without any warning or consultation with the people likely to be gravely affected, the Government removed import controls. The obvious result was that Australia was and still is being flooded with goods from cheap-labour countries. It is perfectly obvious that if import controls are lifted completely the gates are opened to a flood of goods from cheap-labour countries. Very soon after the Prime Minister announced that import controls had been lifted, we heard an inane appeal by him to big business to show restraint in prices, profits and imports. What was the reaction to that appeal? Immediately the lifting of import controls was announced, every aircraft leaving Australia was booked out by representatives of big business going overseas to place orders for goods produced by cheap labour.
That action was followed, in November of that year, by the infamous increase of the sales tax on motor cars. Most of us remember that, again without any consultation, the Government decided, although the rate of sales tax on motor cars was 30 per cent., to increase it to 40 per cent. Honorable senators will remember that two government senators opposed the Government’s proposal to increase the sales tax by 10 per cent. To his credit, one of those senators - Senator Wood from Queensland - stuck to his guns. The other one, the conquering hero from Tasmania, voted against the Government; but within 24 hours, because of pressure from his bosses, he crawled out of this chamber and did not vote.
– Mr. President, I raise a point of order. I regard as offensive the imputation that I abstained from voting because of pressure. I also regard as offensive the statement that I crawled. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw both expressions.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! Senator Sandford, you will withdraw those two remarks.
– Very well; I will withdraw those remarks in deference to your ruling, Mr. President, and I will say that he voted against the Government and within 24 hours, for some reason best known to himself, instead of voting he walked out of the chamber. To me it looked like a crawl, but he walked out.
The imposition of the extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars created chaos and havoc throughout the motor car industry and allied industries in Australia. The Government received protests even from the Chamber of Manufactures, which normally is a pro-Liberal or pro-Government organization. Huge advertisements criticizing the Government were published, and open letters were sent in from quarters which were previously unheard of as antiGovernment organizations, protesting against the chaos and confusion that had been caused by the imposition of the extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars. Every day, when we picked up the newspapers, we read that thousands of men were being put off by various industries throughout Australia. We also know that used motor cars were coming into Australia and competing with the products- of the Australian motor car industry, because of the lifting of import controls.
During that period a pernicious system was introduced to Australia. General Motors-Holden’s Limited bought all the Australian-owned shares in the company, and then was not compelled to publish its balance-sheet. That company introduced to Australia the pernicious system of standing men down. About 8,400 men were stood down for periods of up to three weeks. If that system were allowed to develop, the period could be three months. The tragic feature of it is that the men who were stood down were not eligible to register for unemployment benefit because technically they were not regarded as being unemployed. That is the sort of thing that this Government is allowing to take place in Australia in spite of the fact that it set up a joint committee to recommend ways and means of getting the constitutional power to deal with such matters.
Then, round about November, 1960, on top of everything, we had the infamous credit squeeze, which had such tragic results throughout Australia. The home-building industry was completely ruined, and there was chaos and confusion throughout the country. Sawmills were closed down throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Even members who had supported the credit squeeze legislation in another place - the then honorable member for Wide Bay and the right honorable Sir Earle Page - complained in the Parliament that many sawmills in their electorates had closed down, creating further unemployment in those areas.
Now, because of its near defeat - because of the photo finish in the last election - the
Government is introducing certain measures to try to curry favour with the electors, thinking, perhaps, that there could be an early election. The Government is now offering the people certain things, but not as much as it should be offering them. In any case, the measures the Government is proposing were all included in the Labour Party’s policy at the last election; but were ridiculed and described as impossible and impracticable by Government supporters.
– Financially impossible.
– Yes, financially impossible. Now, because of the fright the Government got at the last election, because it can see the writing on the wall, it finds it to be practicable, convenient and politically expedient to introduce some of those measures.
What are they? One of them concerns something that the Labour Party has been advocating for years - an increase of the maximum loan for a war service home from £2,750 to £3,500. We advocated that for years, but we were told it could not be done because the Government did not have enough money. Now, because of the political fright that the Government got, it has increased the loan. I should like to know whether the annual appropriation for war service homes is to be increased. If it is to remain at £35,000,000, obviously fewer war service loans will be made. Another thing the Government has ignored - even if it thought of it - is that if the ceiling limit of the loan is raised from £2,750 to £3,500, immediately the higher figure becomes the minimum building cost. Is there any provision to control that side of it? The Government is just adding to the inflation for which it has been responsible.
The Government should be tackling these problems on a proper basis. It should be seeking constitutional power, if that is lacking, to bring in the legislation necessary to control the economy of this country for the benefit of every section of the community, but it is still refusing to do so. Senator Spooner is in the chamber now. I mentioned earlier that he said yesterday that the report of the Constitutional Review Committee had not been considered by the Government.
We find that the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, has been calling conferences with various business and manufacturing interest throughout the country. He has called conferences of people with conflicting interest - manufacturers, members of Chambers of Commerce and members of other organizations - to advise the Government on what it should do. The Government has not the intention or the courage to stand up to its responsibilities. It makes stupid, insane appeals to people to use restraint, and it convenes useless conferences of people with conflicting interests in order to overcome its own shortcomings.
The latest figures available show that at present no fewer than 131,000 people are unemployed in Australia. That is the greatest number of unemployed that we have had since the terrible days of the 1930 depression period. The Government must take notice of the figures. It cannot be arrogant and carefree, as it was prior to the last election. It knows, as a result of that election, that there is still truth in the saying that you cannot fool all the people all the time. The Government is now occupying the treasury bench only because of a handful of Communist preference votes in the Queensland electorate of Moreton. Honorable senators opposite are well aware of that fact.
However, something has to be done from the humane point of view. I think it was Senator Scott who said that we must regard an unemployment level of 50,000 as normal, because of seasonal work. Are we content to allow 50,000 people to be out of work? It is all right if it is the fellow down the road who is unemployed. Provided that unemployment does not affect you ‘personally, you are inclined to forget all about it. During the last Parliament, in answer to every question we asked on this vital matter, Ministers quoted percentages, because it sounds much better to say there is 2.6 per cent, of unemployment than to say that 130,000 people are out of work. The position should be viewed from a humane point of view. We must realize that unemployment is not only degrading to the people involved, but also is economically unsound. One honorable senator opposite, during his speech in the Address-in-Reply debate - Senator Kendall, I think it was - spoke of the loss of man hours due to strikes. What about the colossal loss of man hours due to unemployment? The present level of unemployment represents a terrific loss of man hours and a terrific economic loss to the country. In addition, well over £1,000,000 a week is being spent on unemployment relief.
The Government cannot say that work could not be found for these people. All sorts of national works need to be done urgently. If we view the situation from the defence angle, it is vital that we continue with road-building and with the gradual standardization of all the railway gauges in Australia. There is also a need for water conservation works, and for aerodromes, schools, hospitals and homes. Although the Government invariably says that some of those matters are State responsibilities, it must be realized that the States are dependent upon Commonwealth finance for such undertakings. It is not a bit of good for the Government to try to evade its responsibility by saying these are State matters. These things are obviously and naturally a national responsibility. They are essentially and inherently national matters and the responsibility for them must be taken by the National Parliament. If the work of putting them into effect is the responsibility of the States, the Commonwealth must accept its responsibility and make the necessary finance available to the States. It is no good saying. “We have not the money “. If a war started to-morrow there would be ample money for everything required. These matters are vitally important because the strength of a nation is governed by the welfare, security and well-being of its people.
Senator Maher, when speaking of the measures that the Government proposes to introduce, mentioned that the sales tax on motor cars was to be reduced by 7i per cent., from 30 per cent, to 22$ per cent. He said this reduction was not enough, yet a comparatively short time ago he supported the Government’s imposition of an extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars, increasing it to 40 per cent. He admitted that unemployment is an economic loss and inhuman, as I have been saying, but apparently the Government is quite impervious to any attacks upon it on those grounds. With the hit-and-run policies adopted by the Government, we cannot hope for any permanent solution to this country’s difficulties. Honorable senators will recall that when the credit squeeze was in operation and a large number of people were unemployed, the Prime Minister, among his inane pronouncements, appealed to the people to spend normally. Fancy 113,000 unemployed people reading an appeal by the Prime Minister, to whom they are entitled to look for guidance, asking them to spend normally!
The Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) referred to the great progress that has been made in the past twelve years, but he had only one peg to hang his hat on - the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Admittedly it is a marvellous scheme. I understand that it is the greatest of its kind in the southern, hemisphere and probably the greatest in the world. But who started it? 1 appreciate that the Government has continued it, and that is to its credit. But who boycotted the opening of it? It was started by the Chifley Labour Government, and Liberal members boycotted its opening. Now the Government is carrying it out and proudly showing it off as its bonny, bouncing child. I am not taking any credit from the Government for its having continued the work, but one must be reasonable in these matters.
Senator Maher said that if the present policy of the Government had been put to the people before the election, the Government would have swept the poll. At a press conference when the registered unemployed stood at 113,000, when the credit squeeze was in operation, import controls had been lifted, and a savage attack had been made on the motor car industry thereby displacing thousands of men, Mr. Menzies said -
At the moment we are fractionally short of full employment.
I continually hear Government senators bemoaning the ills of over-full employment. In his arrogant, carefree style, Mr. Menzies said -
Nobody can get rid of an inflationary boom without treading on somebody’s corns. You can’t do it without hurting somebody. It is the duty of the practical statesman to select the corns and not to be afraid of treading on them.
I suggest that the people of Australia trod on Bob’s corns on 9th December last.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I rise to a point of order. This chamber is entitled to expect a standard of debate in keeping with its prestige. I submit that honorable senators should not be allowed by the Chair to refer to the Prime Minister as Bob.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! Senator Wright anticipated my calling the honorable senator to order. Standing Order No. 418 is quite clear. Honorable senators must refer to members of the Senate and of another place in proper language. If Senator Sandford wishes to refer to an honorable member of another place he must do so in accordance with the standing order.
– That is quite right. I made a slip. I mentioned earlier that I have no personal feelings against the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies, or anyone else in the Government. I am only speaking politically. I admittedly used his Christian name in mistake and I unhesitatingly withdraw. However, it is tragic that when there were no fewer than 113,000 people registered as unemployed they should read in the press that Mr. Menzies said -
Nobody can get rid of an inflationary boom without treading on somebody’s corns. You cannot do it without hurting somebody. It is the duty of the practical statesman to select the corns and not to be afraid of treading on them. To achieve this I must be content to annoy thousands.
That is the attitude of the Government to this most tragic situation. If the Government is sincere it will go much further than it proposes. It proposes to reduce income tax by a flat rate of 5 per cent. One does not have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to know that a man who receives £5,000 or £10,000 a year will save a sizeable sum of money as a result of this reduction, but a man on or near the basic wage will save only 2s. or 3s. a week - he will be able to buy another packet of Kelloggs corn flakes. This type of reduction is not fair from any point of view, and the Government cannot claim that it is a proper concession to all the people. It is a concession to those who are not in need of it. The higher-paid people who will benefit from the 5 per cent, reduction to the tune of many pounds a week will not spend any more than they are spending now. If the people on or near the basic wage were to get a substantial reduction in their taxation, they would immediately spend it. Every one knows that the working man on or near the basic wage has to spend his money on the necessaries of life, and that the people who will benefit most by this measure will not spend any more than they are spending. Due to inflation and the high cost of living, they are perhaps not saving as much as they once did, but in any event they will not be able to spend much more because of the 5 per cent, reduction in income tax. If the benefit had been given to the people who needed it, the money would have been spent and the effect would have been that of a shot in the arm for the whole economy.
I have spoken of the arrogance of the Government and its carefree attitude in past years. I have mentioned the irreparable harm that has been done to Australia by the actions and statements of the Prime Minister at the various conferences that he has attended overseas. It is well known that his views, which are taken to be those of the people of Australia, have alienated Asian peoples who previously were friendly towards us. It is tragic that that should happen in a world which is so fraught with danger. I do not know whether there ls any truth in the rumour which I heard, that the Prime Minister has been such an inglorious failure on earth that he is going to join the astronauts. He thinks he might do better if he had a talk with the man in the moon. Of course, that would be to the advantage of the people of Australia and a distinct loss to the man in the moon.
Earlier in the debate, Senator Anderson gave some figures in relation to informal voting in New South Wales. I suppose that the percentage of informal votes would be similar in other States. I support Senator Anderson’s comments regarding the tragedy of informal voting in Australia, particularly at Senate elections. If I remember correctly, more than 160,000 informal votes were cast in Victoria at the last Senate election. According to Senator Anderson in New South Wales, 2.4. per cent, of the votes in the House of Representatives election were informal, and in the Senate election, no less than 12i per cent, were informal. There are rumours of an early election, but whether they have any foundation or not, I suggest to the Government that it should be possible to adopt a simplified voting method, at least for the Senate. In Victoria, at the recent general election, there were nineteen candidates seeking election to the Senate. It is obvious that unless a person is fairly politically minded or well tutored beforehand, he will be confused, to put it conservatively, when he goes along to vote for the House of Representatives candidates and then is obliged to put a number in every one of nineteen squares on the Senate ballot-paper. It is not only confusing; it is also unnecessary.
If an elector makes his choice perfectly clear on the ballot-paper, his vote should be regarded as a formal one. I do not presume to suggest specific methods that might be adopted, but there should be some method whereby a ballot-paper which clearly expresses the intention of the elector shall be regarded as formal, even though, for instance, he may have placed numbers in each square from one to twelve, missed the thirteenth square, and then proceeded from the fourteenth square onwards. If the method were to be simplified, the number of informal votes could be reduced considerably.
As we know, Mr. Acting Deputy President, at the present time the House of Representatives is discussing what might be regarded as a censure motion. Even at this late hour, I appeal to the Government to realize that something tangible must be done to improve the economy. I suggest that if <the Government is in earnest in its endeavours to stabilize the economy and to create and maintain full employment, its first obligation is to seek the necessary constitutional power to do that. It is of no use for the Government to neglect the things it should be doing and then to shelter behind constitutional restrictions. I think there have been 27 questions submitted for determination by referendum since federation, but only three or four of them have been carried. The most important one, of course, was that of 1946, when power was obtained to insert certain social service provisions in the Constitution. With a few minor exceptions, the Constitution is basically the same to-day as it was in 1900. Honorable senators may remember that Mr. Scullin, as far back as the late 1930’s claimed that we were like political mummies in a constitutional tomb. With the advance of science, the application of science to industry and the annihilation of distance, it has become essential for the Constitution to be revised and brought up to date. This National Parliament should be clothed with power to make it a national body in fact as well as in name.
The Government apparently intends to go ahead with its proposals to afford a little economic relief, at least. We welcome the slight relief that may be granted by means of the measures that have been announced, embodying proposals that have been purloined from the Australian Labour Party policy and only introduced by the Government, of course, because of the very severe rebuke that it has received at the hands of the electors. I appeal to the Government to tackle the problems before us on a humane basis, to remember the unnecessary suffering and degradation caused by the unemployment that is rampant throughout the country, and to keep in mind all the time that there are many important public works that could be commenced to provide employment and to build a greater and better Australia. Those things must be regarded as national responsibilities.
Although the actual carrying out of the works may be a State function, they are a part of the national responsibility, both from the economic and the defence viewpoints. Instead of the Government proposing to spend £40,000,000 in the United States of America for the purchase of two destroyers, it should be having those ships constructed in Australia, in our own shipyards. Let us hope we are never again involved in a war, but if war were to break out we could not expect to obtain all our supplies from overseas. We must endeavour to meet our requirements from the resources of our own country. By that means we shall keep our people employed, well fed, contented and happy, and that is the basis and the foundation of a healthy and strong nation.
– I should like to have my name associated with the expression of loyalty to the Queen and our country. I should like also to congratulate the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Senator Sir Neil O’Sullivan and Senator Robertson deserve great credit for the thought they gave to the preparation of their speeches. It was a treat to listen to both of them. It was a far greater treat, let me say, than listening to the speech to which we have just been forced to listen. I sat here for an hour and five minutes listening to the speech of Senator Sandford. Of all the speeches I have heard in this place, his was the most critical.
The honorable senator levelled a lot of charges against various people on our side of politics, particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The present Prime Minister has held that office for twelve years and has broken all records for leadership. No other Prime Minister of Australia has been in office so long. Any honorable senator who condemns the Prime Minister and makes untruthful statements about his past conduct ought to be ashamed of himself. I hope I will never stoop to discredit any Labour Prime Minister. Any Prime Minister of Australia deserves respect from all members of the Parliament.
I should now like to reply specifically to some of the remarks or accusations made by Senator Sandford. I refer in particular to the statement he made at the beginning of his speech to the effect that in 1941 the Prime Minister deserted the ship and walked out at a time when the Government had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament. Let me correct the honorable senator. At that time the balance of power in the House of Representatives was held by two independent members who withdrew their support from the Government and later gave it to the Labour Party. There was no walk-out by the Prime Minister; he did not desert the ship at any time.
Then Senator Sandford referred to what he described as the dreadful way in which the government of that day had conducted Australia’s war effort up to 1941. I refute that statement by directing the attention of the Senate to what Mr. Curtin said on 28th May, 1941, as reported at page 25 of volume 1 67 of the “ Hansard “ reports. Speaking during the debate on the motion for the adjournment, Mr. Curtin said -
Notwithstanding that there are political parties in this country, I claim that the war has been prosecuted to the maximum of Australia’s capacity, and I doubt if any great improvements could have been made upon what has been done by the Government working in collaboration with the Opposition. 1 recall distinctly that, because of the closeness of the numbers in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister offered to the then Opposition the opportunity to share in a national government, but the offer was rejected. In England, our Mother Country, the whole of the war effort was conducted by a national government. Senator Sandford’s remarks about our leader, the Prime Minister, were tragic. They did not befit a person occupying his position.
When honorable senators opposite are tempted to criticize certain people because of certain action they took during the war, they should look at some of the statements that have been made by leading members of the Labour Party. At page 1215 of volume 157 of “Hansard”, Mr. E. J. Holloway is reported as having said, on 3rd November, 1938 -
The Government is expending much too rapidly on defence.
This was less than twelve months before the war started. He added -
It is making plans for more than the adequate defence of Australia.
On 12th November, 1938, Mr. Pollard said in the House of Representatives -
I would not spend threepence on armament works or on defence works of any kind in Australia.
Let me take the matter a step further. On 12th October, 1941, the Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, said at the Sydney Town Hall -
I have to pay tribute to the Government which preceded my own for the constructive work they have done in defence and the foundations that they have laid.
He said further -
When I came into office the Navy was at its highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploits of its ships overseas. The Home Defence Army was well trained and its equipment had been greatly improved. The strength of the Air Force had been largely increased, both in respect of home defence squadrons and the training resources of the Empire Air Scheme. The equipment of the Air Force had also been much improved. Finally, munitions production and the development of production capacity over a wide range of classes, including aircraft, was growing weekly.
I claim that the war effort has been prosecuted to the maximum of Australia’s capacity.
They were the words of Mr. Curtin, of Western Australia, the then Prime Minister.
He also said, on 18th November, 1941, as reported at page 722 in volume 169 of “ Hansard “-
The policy that has been applied in Australia has brought about an increasing war effort, and Australia was never before so well prepared for war as it is now.
So Senator Sandford’s accusation that the present Prime Minister of Australia deserted the ship and did not ensure the provision of adequate defences during the war is contradicted by one of the members of the Labour Party.
He went on to talk about the Snowy Mountains scheme. As he said’, it was started by Labour. I do not think that any one on this side of the chamber has ever questioned that. The scheme was initiated by Mr. Nelson Lemmon, Minister for Works in the Chifley Labour Government, and, in its initial stages, was undertaken by day labour. When we came into office, some of the programmes were so far behind and were proving so expensive that the system of construction had to be changed from day labour to contract. The New South Wales Government had a contract for the erection of a wall on the dam site at Jindabyne, which was to be completed by a certain date, and’ the work was two years behind schedule. Our Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) had to contact the Premier of New South Wales on several occasions, stressing the importance of getting the first phase of the scheme into operation. Because of the use of day labour, the work was two years behind schedule. The Premier was asked to cancel the day labour arrangement and let the work be completed under contract. That was eventually agreed to by the Premier.
Under the contract system devised, encouraged and” developed by this Government, the scheme is being completed ahead of schedule. Some contracts have been finished six or nine months before the due date. I do not believe that Senator Sandford can criticize the Government’s handling of the Snowy Mountains scheme. I do not think that any person on this side of the chamber has suggested that the scheme was started other than by a Labour government. All of us endeavour to give credit where credit is due. I congratulate the Labour Government upon having started this scheme.
Senator Sandford’s next accusation was that the proposed 5 per cent, reduction in income tax will not affect the employment situation. 1 have never heard anything so ridiculous. He said that a person receiving £10,000 a year will benefit far more than a person on the basic wage. Of course, that is right, but under our tax system, with its sliding scale, a person on a low income does not pay tax at as high a rate as a person on a ‘high income. The rates rise from 3d. in the £1 to 13s. 4d. in the £1. Of course, a person paying tax at the higher rate will receive a larger rebate, but there will be injected into the economy between now and 30th June a sum of about £25,000,000. Under the pay-as-you-earn system, tax deductions will be lower and every one will receive rebates, which will enable them to spend more money. This will create more employment, because the people will be buying more goods, which we hope will be manufactured in Australia.
Senator Sandford said that this was a callous government, with no thought for the worker, and that even if the number of unemployed persons fell to 60,000 - a number that I cited on a previous occasion - that’ still would not be good enough. He said that immediate steps should be taken to reduce unemployment. He was hurt to think that this Government had allowed the unemployment figure to rise to 131,000 at 31st January. All of us are conscious of the unemployment position. It should not be thought that the Government desires to have .131,000 people unemployed, but I have never yet heard a member of the Opposition say that we should not have over-full employment. When we reach the stage of over-full employment, Opposition senators criticize the Government severely in regard to inflation. When we look at the Opposition’s election policy speeches, we find that on numerous occasions when there has been fairly full employment, the Government has been criticized because of the inflationary spiral. The position is that we cannot have it both ways. If there is over-full employment, there must necessarily be inflation. If there is too much unemployment, we have a depression. Those are the facts of life and everybody who does any thinking at all understands them, but I have never heard an Opposition senator mention the possibility of having over-full employment. When there is full employment, from day to day we are asked what we are doing to stop inflation.
– Do you think that if every one is employed inflation is inevitable?
– -If there is over-full employment.
– What is over-full employment?
– That condition exists when eight jobs are vacant and only one person is available to fill them.
– Since this Government has been in office, it has never experienced that condition, but inflation has continued unchecked.
– I can contradict the honorable senator in that regard. It was stated in this chamber that in Victoria in November, 1960, for every six vacancies in the building industry only one person was unemployed.
– Workers were leaving Australia and going to New Zealand because conditions were not ‘good enough here.
– I do not believe that at that time workers were leaving Australia to go to New Zealand. The Department of Labour and National Service has stated officially that in Victoria at that time eight positions were vacant in the building industry for every person seeking employment in it. The result was that building contractors were competing for labour and paying higher wages. In November, 1 960, the cost structure was increasing at the rate of 5 per cent, or 8 per cent, per annum.
– When was this?
– In November, 1960. Honorable senators opposite cannot refute that claim because I am in a position to supply details. A responsible government must take corrective steps when there is a little too much inflation. Some of our economists have come to the conclusion that you are not doing too badly if you can contain the inflationary spiral at not more than 3 per cent, per annum. In many countries the cost structure is rising more quickly than that, but if we in Australia can contain it at not more than 3 per cent, we will be doing a good job. 1 am dealing at length with unemployment because the Labour Party hammered unemployment during the last election. I do not think that Labour supporters were concerned so very much with the unfortunate persons who were unemployed. What the Labour Party had in mind was occupation of the treasury bench. It wanted the treasury bench and could not care less about the boy who was unemployed. That attitude has been evident in every speech made in this chamber by honorable senators opposite, As long as they occupied the treasury bench they were not concerned about the poor man who was out of work. Surely honorable senators know that if there is some unemployment in the country and if by their speeches they undermine the confidence of the people, unemployment will increase.
The unemployment situation is governed by confidence. In the last three or four months the people lost confidence in the economy. No matter what the Government may have done in October or November last year, it could not have led to an increase in employment. That situation was brought about partly by the Labour Party, with an election pending, doing its utmost to undermine confidence and thereby increase unemployment, knowing full well that if the unemployment figure reached 150,000 or 160,000. it would win the election.
– You are misquoting history.
– I am giving you the truth. Unemployment worries me as much as it worries anybody here. But the statements I have made are true.
– All that you are worried about is saving your political hide. You are not concerned about unemployment.
– The Government has been worried about unemployment for some considerable time. I do not think 1 will pay attention to any more interjections. The State with the biggest unemployment problem at the time of the election was Queensland. There the Government lost more seats than it lost in any other State. I think it lost eight seats in Queensland. The State with the next biggest unemployment problem was New South Wales, where the Government lost five or six seats. Queensland and New South Wales are the States in which the Government suffered most and they were the States with the biggest unemployment problems.
– What about Western Australia, where the unemployment position was better than elsewhere?
– If Senator Cant wants to know the story about Western Australia I will tell it to him. I did not want to become personal, but I will tell the truth about Western Australia. The Kalgoorlie seat had never been held by a non-Labour member until Mr. Peter Browne won it in 1958. Kalgoorlie is a recognized Labour seat. But because the Labour Party was in such a disgraceful plight and because its stocks were at such a low ebb, it lost the seat in 1958. Kalgoorlie is a seat that under normal circumstances should be one of the last seats to be lost by Labour. The second last seat in Western Australia that Labour should lose at an election is Stirling. The Liberal Party had two excellent candidates standing for Kalgoorlie and Stirling in 1958. Those candidates did a marvellous job. Even in the dire circumstances surrounding the election last year those candidates almost held the seats. Last year the Labour Party won the safe Labour seat of Kalgoorlie by fewer than 400 votes. It won the next strongest Labour seat of Stirling by no more than 240 votes. What a record for the Labour Party! In normal circumstances it should have won those seats by thousands of votes. As I have said, the Liberal Party candidates were excellent men. In saying that I do not decry Labour’s candidates. All I say is that the Labour Party should be thoroughly ashamed for ever having lost those seats.
– You do not know much about them.
– I know all about them. I have made a study of them. Kalgoorlie and Stirling are two of the safest Labour seats in the federal Parliament. In normal circumstances they should be won by Labour with large majorities. Kalgoorlie was held for the Labour Party by Mr. Vic. Johnson when the party was the old Labour Party that we used to know.
– You tried to capitalize of those seats. You advertised about them.
-I would not be bothered advertising about anything connected with the honorable senator who is interjecting. I wanted to discuss the unemployment problem thoroughly because I think it is important that on future occasions Labour supporters should not take advantage of the unemployment situation in order to gain the treasury bench. I know that the Government has had to bring down unpleasant measures. We are not running away from the situation. What did the Government do in February, 1960? It said that it would lift import restrictions. It asked the banks to control finances and to restrict overdrafts of people wishing to import goods.
– That was bank nationalization.
– That is all you can talk about. The only other matter that honorable senators opposite talk about is the matter raised by Senator Ormonde, who accused the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) of telling employees of Trans-Australia Airlines that they had got into their heads the idea that the Government was assisting AnsettA.N.A. and was not looking after the interests of T.A.A. I think he said that the Government had nationalized the airlines. In fact, the Government has not nationalized the airlines and has no intention of doing so. That is a part of the platform of the Australian Labour Party. I believe that party endeavoured to nationalize the airlines in 1947 or 1948, but failed. The policy of this Government is to have two airlines in Australia, but not nationalized airlines. One belongs to the Government. We want them both to operate competitively, as the Minister for Civil Aviation has said in this chamber on more than one occasion. The Government gives them both the same treatment. The result is that they both are doing an excellent job for the Australian people. They both carry about the same number of passengers and they both receive the same service from the Government.
– And they are both profitable.
– Yes, they are both profitable. That could not be said of the Government-owned airline when it was being run by the Labour Government. It showed losses then. I can remember other losses during Labour’s regime. In one year, 1949, there was a loss of the order of £6,000,000 on the great nationalized shipping line. I do not want to continue in that vein.
Before Senator Cant interjected, I was talking about the financial policy of this Government and the marvellous recordit has in employment. I was talking about the financial measures it introduced in February,1960, which were followed by further measures introduced in November, 1960, when the Government increased the sales tax on motor vehicles from 30 to 40 per cent. In the Budget for that year, 1 think the Government increased taxes and charges on several other items of revenue in order to restrain the economy. The Government believed that that was absolutely essential. It issued a firm instruction to the trading banks, through the Reserve Bank of Australia, that overdraft limits had to be decreased by about £60,000,000 or £70,000,000 - I forget the exact figure - before 31st March, 1961. That decrease was achieved.
Honorable senators opposite have to remember that there was a reason for those actions. Had they been in office, they probably would not have thought of it and would not have noticed the dire state of the economy. The fact is that Australia’s balance of payments position was becoming very acute in October and November. 1960. Our overseas balances had fallen to a dangerous level. I believe they were down to less than £300,000,000. After the Government tightened up in November, 1960, Australia had a year of stability in 1961. I believe that in that year costs rose very little. In fact, they rose by only . 1 or 2 per cent. The rise was so small that I understand no application was made for an increase in the basic wage.
We have a stable economy in Australia to-day. The economy has recovered completely. But, unfortunately, the measures taken to bring about the economic recovery in Australia had ill effects on certain people. At the moment, 131,000 people are unemployed. So what does the Government do?
It knows now and believed prior to the election in December that its actions were right. I study the situation in Australia from month to month. I told various members of our party that I believed the financial measures that were taken in 1960 would have the desired result and the employment position would be normal in about August or September, 1961; but 1 was wrong. I think some other supporters of the Government were also wrong. I do not believe that anybody in Australia can assess what will happen when a measure, particularly a financial measure, is introduced to restrain the economy or to inject money into the economy. Nobody can assess the exact effects such a measure will have. You could not even get two economists to agree on them. The Government has to act responsibly. This Government has done so and over a period of twelve years it has had a certain amount of success. In the field of employment it has been much more successful than any other government has been. I believe that this Government has got closer to full employment than any previous government has.
Now, after the election, we find that the unemployment position is becoming worse. What does the Government do? It says, “ We are aware of the situation and we are dealing with it at the moment “. This is how the Government is dealing with it. First, it is giving an income tax rebate of £25,000,000. That money will go into the Australian economy between now and 30th June. The revenue from sales tax will be reduced by £4,500,000, thus encouraging people to buy goods including motor cars. That will create work and get the work force working again. The Government has also given cash grants of £10,000,000 to the States, lt has increased the capital of the Development Bank by roughly £5,000,000. That money will go to the farming community and will encourage farmers to employ more labour. All those measures are designed to give people jobs. Because we know there are 131,000 people unemployed, it is essential to take this action. But in November. 1961, we did not know that in January, 1962, as many as 131,000 people would be unemployed.
– There were 113,000 unemployed at the end of July, just before the
Government brought down its Budget. What did the Government do about those people then?
– In November of last year 113,000 people were unemployed. I am citing only the official figures. Honorable senators opposite may contradict me if they think I am wrong, but I am making this speech. There were 113,000 people unemployed in November, 1961.
– No, there were not. The number was 96,000.
– All right. In December the figure went up to 113,000. When the Prime Minister delivered his policy speech in November, we did not believe that the number of unemployed would increase.
– There were 113,000 unemployed when the Budget was brought down.
– I believe that there were 113,000 unemployed in December; that there were about 90,000 in November; and in January this year the figure increased.
– In July there were 113,000.
– I cannot remember that, so it is no good talking to me about it. I can tell only my side of the story. I believe that it is correct. I say that a government that is responsible has to be in a position to manoeuvre from month to month when it is endeavouring to restrain the economy and keep the employment position under control. I believe that no other Australian government has as good a record as this Government has. I also believe that no other government in the world, including the governments of Great Britain, the United States of America and Canada, have as good an employment record as this Government has over the last twelve years.
Representations by Senators - Departmental Procedures.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– You will realize, Mr. President, that I would not rise to my feet unless I wished to raise an extremely serious and important matter, as I did last week. I did so then because the matter related to a report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ concerning my party and myself. Subsequently, I received word from the editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ that he would publish my letter, leaving out, as he termed them, the irrelevancies. Apparently he could not distinguish between irrelevancies and relevancies. Mir. Col Bingham - not to be confused with Mr. Hugh Bingham, the editor of “ Truth “ in Brisbane - could not distinguish between inaccuracies, as recorded in the article, and accuracies.
But that is not why I have risen to-night. The matter I am about to raise is vitally important to all honorable senators, irrespective of what political party is in control of the treasury bench. Senators are being subjected to an indignity that is not justified. I have experienced it only during the last three months. Subsequent to 9th December, 1961, I made a submission to the Director of Social Services. I want to make it quite clear, Mr. President, that I am not blaming the staff of the department for what has occurred. They act under instructions from the Minister for Social Services. My complaint is that confidential information submitted to me by a person in Queensland was conveyed to a Mr. Wight. I understand that he was the former member for Lilley and that he is no longer in the Parliament. I think that, irrespective of party politics, honorable senators should view this matter seriously and give it the measure of importance to which it is entitled.
I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). With the sloth that is so characteristic of him, and with the arrogance that has always been associated with him, he replied to me in December and said he would look into the matter. I have received no subsquent communication from him.
I had occasion last night to deal with the Minister for Social Services. I assessed him in terms with which many members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate will agree. What has happened in my case suggests, not merely a measure of political irresponsibility, but a measure of political indecency. When an elector comes to a senator - not to his member in the House of Representatives - and conveys to him certain information - in my humility, I do not take this as applying to myself - it is to be assumed that the elector does so because he has confidence in that senator. If a person in my State went to a member of the House of Representatives and asked him to make representations to a government department, I would think that he or she preferred the assistance of that member, and I would not think that I was entitled, by any manner of means, to have the department’s reply sent to me, especially if confidential information were involved. Apparently the Minister for Social Services, however, thinks that replies to a senator’s representations should go to a member of the House of Representatives. Incidentally, so does the Postmaster-General. If members of the House of Representatives do not know what the people need, and I, by my representations, am responsible for a telephone being installed, I do not mind members of the House of Representatives knowing that a telephone has been installed, but I do not think they are entitled to have that information submitted to them. I make my submission to-night because more and more there is an encroachment on the rights of the Senate.
I have referred to a case in which a reply to representations that I had made was sent to Mr. Wight who, I understand, is the former member for Lilley. Let me refer now to another case. I believe that the Prime Minister is politically irresponsible and slothful, is neglecting his real responsibility as the leader of this Government, and is here by accident. However, he is the Prime Minister, and I think he has a responsibility to see that when a senator makes representations to the Minister for Social Services they are dealt with properly. Words fail me when I try to express my opinion of the Minister for Social Services. In the case to which I am referring now there is a basic principle involved, apart from the rights of senators. I do not intend to mention the name of the person who approached me, and I do not think that any member of the Senate would expect me to do so. I wrote to the Director of Social Services as follows: -
He has seen me-
I am substituting “ he “ for the man’s name - concerning the valuation of his flats and he has submitted to me the accounts in detail of the money to build the flats, together with his present indebtedness.
He submitted them also to the representative of the Minister. The letter continued -
The total price involved in the flats was £4,573 13s. on which he still owes £1,996 to the bank, leaving a difference of £2,577 13s. This would appear to be the present value of his equity in the flats, less the loan from his children.
He claims that he is in receipt of a pension of £1 6s. per week.
You will notice that I did not impeach or charge anyone. I merely said that the man claimed to be in receipt of this pension. It was subsequently shown that this was true. I continued -
I was wondering why his part pension is so low and I should appreciate it if you would advise me as to the exact position and if there is any possibility of raising the amount of his part pension.
To that I received the following reply: -
I refer to your personal representations on behalf of Mr.- about the rate of his pension.
The portion of his property which is let has been officially valued at £4,510. Deducted from this amount was a proportion of the mortgage secured over the property. The balance of £4,084 was included in the pension assessment and caused the reduction to the existing rate of £2 2s. per fortnight.
The bank indebtedness is £1,996, yet the department allows only £426. We cannot blame the public servants; they are merely there to administer the act in the way determined by the Minister. The letter from the department continues -
He owes a total amount of approximately £1,000 to his daughter and son. However, as this debt is not secured by a mortgage over the property, the amount cannot be allowed as a deduction from the value of the property.
In all the circumstances, he is at present receiving his correct entitlement.
Now we come to the indecent and political irresponsibility. The letter continues -
I have communicated the decision in this case to Mr. E. Nigel Drury, M.P., within whose constituency he resides.
This man does not know Mr. Drury, or he was not prepared to go to Mr. Drury, irrespective of how nice or how extraordinarily decent he is. Yet Mr. Drury is now acquainted with the financial circumstances of this man. Mr. Drury has no right to be acquainted with those circumstances, irrespective of who controls the treasury bench.
How inhuman can a government be! The Department of Social Services expects children to take a mortgage over their own parent’s assets to secure a loan that they advance, and to make certain that their parents are not deprived of their rights under the social services legislation - something about which this Government has boasted so frequently, so vehemently and so excitedly on occasions. I suggested that to provide protection for the department it would be quite sufficient for the children to produce evidence, by way of an affidavit or the submission of accounts, that they had loaned a particular sum to their parents. I have not received a reply from the representative of the Minister.
I say that what happened is, in one respect, politically irresponsible and indecent, and in another respect, inhuman. I have risen to my feet to-night to mention this matter because I have heard that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) is very anxious to protect the prestige of this House. Incidentally, he went very close to the top of his party, being defeated for the position of Deputy Leader not so long ago by only two votes. If he had been successful it would have meant a much more prominent position for him in the political sun. He has not told me so personally, because we do not exchange confidences, but I believe he is very jealous of the prestige of the Senate. I have heard it said that he will endeavour by all justifiable means to protect its prestige. If he is going to protect the prestige of the Senate, he must protect the prestige of the senators who constitute the Senate. How can he do this if he permits this practice by the Minister for Social Services, the greatest humbug, as I said not so long ago, that ever came out of Scotland. I say that without any offence to the Scots or Scotland. Communications are sent to members of the House of Representatives, who would not even know the people who make the submissions. Possibly - unjustifiably, I should say - they are distrusted by the constituents. I do not care whether Ministers write to Labour members of the House of Representatives, as they have, or to Liberal or Country Party members of the House of Representatives. A principle is at stake. I would not expect to get a communication from a Minister in relation to a submission made by a member of the other place.
I feel seriously about this matter. The decent members of the Liberal Party - many of them are decent, and I would say that all the members of the Country Party are decent - have expressed the opinion to me that they are not entitled to receive the communications from the Ministers concerned. I know of two Ministers who indulged in this practice. I have subsequently found out that the former Minister for Health, now deceased politically, the former member for Oxley in Queensland, had a habit of sending out communications to members of the House of Representatives when senators made submissions, and he sent the communications to the members of the House of Representatives earlier than he replied to the senators who made the representations.
In my sense of outraged dignity I submit to you, Mr. President, and to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who is so jealous of the prestige of the Senate and of senators, that you should see the Prime Minister about this matter. I have had no real effect on him. I have had one reply which in decency he sent me, saying that he would look into the matter. But I suppose he was so disappointed with the results on 9th December - though I made the submissions some time after that date - that I have had no reply. He did not look into the matter, just as he has not looked into the interests of Australia.
– I, too, wish to speak upon this matter. I intended to raise it to-day with you, Mr. President, because I felt that it was definitely an infringement of the rights of honorable senators. We are elected to this chamber to represent the people of the States, and we have the same right to make representations to Ministers on behalf of constituents as have members of the House of Representatives. The administrations of some Ministers do not touch so deeply upon the private lives of people as do, particularly, those of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) and the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). Many people come to me with social service and repatriation problems because they want to unburden themselves in confidence. I am sure that all senators have the same experience. These people often disclose personal details which they do not want to be disclosed to a third person. There should be the same inviolable secrecy in these matters as there is between patient and doctor, or, perhaps, between penitent and priest in the confessional. Confidential information should not be communicated to other people who are not concerned with it.
In the past six months I have seen many letters from the Department of Social Services that have violated this principle. The people concerned have been most upset by the receipt of letters which say that the member for the district has been informed of the details and the results of the case. One woman said to me, “ If I had wanted to go to the honorable member for Swan, Mr. Cleaver, I would have done so”. Another said: “ If I had wanted to go to the Minister for Territories, Mr. Hasluck, who is the representative of Curtin, I would have done so. But I do not want him to know my business.” That is a perfectly logical attitude in these procedures. Therefore, Sir, I felt very indignant about what has occurred. I telephoned the Deputy Director of Social Services in Perth. He said that his department did not want to do this; it was done by ministerial direction. He said that his department did not give away much information, but it had to inform the appropriate member of the House of Representatives when an approach had been made to a senator by a person in that member’s electorate. This is not right. It is an infringement upon the rights of senators. Also, it is a definite breach of confidence which electors place in us, particularly in personal matters.
Perhaps it does not matter when questions of trade, import licences, new telephone exchanges or new roads are concerned. However, in personal matters such as those that occur in social service and repatriation problems, confidences, no matter how small, should be protected. I should like to know from you, Mr. President, and also from the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner), whether you consider that this is definitely a slur on senators and a breach of the privileges and responsibilities of senators, who are sent here by the people of their respective States to do a job. This is one of our functions. Sometimes members of the House of Representatives have received letters before I have received my replies. In one very sad case of a child who was mentally ill, the decision was sent to the parents through the member for the district before 1 received a letter. When I telephoned the parents to say that I should like to come and talk it over with them because it was rather a complicated case, they said: “ We had a letter from Mr. Cleaver. How did he come into it? “ They had nothing personal against Mr. Cleaver, but they had given me the details of the case, and they asked me, “ How did he come into it? “ I said, “ The letter came through the department”. I invite your attention to this, Sir, as President of the Senate, and ask you whether you consider that it is an encroachment upon the priviledges of honorable senators.
– Senator Dittmer judged me correctly when he said that I would like to make some contribution, no matter how small it may be, to enhancing the prestige of the Senate. I only wish that I could say the same thing of Senator Dittmer.
– Now, now! You are not going to get away with that.
– I say with confidence that Senator Dittmer’s remarks on the adjournment of the Senate demean both himself and the Senate. They were both offensive and rude to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). They were so crude, and they were so rude, that they should not have been made, and they would not have been made by any other senator.
– I am not going to take that. He will not get away with it.
- Mr. President, there must be a limit to all things. One does not expect to hear a senator speak of the sloth and arrogance of the Prime Minister. I do not know the precise words that he used. It is quite inaccurate; it is quite offensive; it is quite rude, lt is a disgrace to all of us.
– You will hear more about this from me.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, you will cease interjecting.
– I want to make it clear, Mr. President, that so far as I am concerned, a man is judged by the company he keeps. I do not keep company with Senator Dittmer when he carries on like that. I hope that on this occasion I speak for both sides of the Senate.
– Sit down, or answer the case.
– I think it was a disgraceful episode in the Senate, and I put that on record as my view.
– Are you going to answer the case?
– The same comment applies to his personal, offensive remarks about the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). There is no justification for using language such as he used.
– That is your opinion.
– You are a welleducated man. You have a university degree. Some one in your career must have told you, before I have told you tonight, how rude and offensive you are.
Having said that, Mr. President, let me deal with the two matters that have been raised.
– That is the most important thing.
– It is not the most important thing. So far as I am concerned, I will do what I can to prevent the Senate from descending to the larrikin level to which you took it in your remarks to-night.
– You are offensive. 1 think you should withdraw that remark, but I will not bother with your remarks.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, I warn you for the last time.
– One of the matters that has been raised concerns a social service case, and on that I am sorry that I cannot express an opinion offhand. If there is such a provision, and if a letter was in fact written about it, I am sure it is within the terms of the legislation. I cannot imagine that the Minister or the department would write a letter which did not come within the four corners of the act. I have not previously heard of this provision in the act. The Social Services Act has been before the Senate on many occasions. I have not heard Senator Dittmer, in any debate, take the point that he made to-night, or draw attention to something that he considers to be wrong. In normal circumstances, a subject such as that having been raised during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, it is a matter of courtesy and of correct procedure for me to say that I will pass on to the Minister for Social Services, for his comment, the views that the honorable senator has expressed. On this occasion, as Senator Dittmer has been so rude to my colleague, if he wants any further action to be taken he will have to take it himself. I will not delve in muddy waters like that.
– What about Senator Tangney’s comments?
– The other matter that has been raised relates to the question of representations being made by senators, and the Minister concerned-
– Two Ministers.
– The two Ministers concerned sending a reply to the House of Representatives. Senator Arnold raised this matter in the Senate, according to my recollection, some months ago, and some senators on the Government side also have raised it.
– I raised it, too.
– Yes. It has been raised on both sides of the Senate. I told the Government party in the Senate, either to-day or yesterday when the matter was raised, that I would make representations to the Minister for Social Services and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). When I make those representations on behalf of Government senators I will add that the same point of view has been expressed by honorable senators from the Opposition side of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620301_senate_24_s21/>.