24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Mr. President, it is with regret that I advise the Senate of the death yesterday, 20th August, of former Senator the Honorable Donald Cameron. He was elected to the Senate as a senator for Victoria at the general election in 1937. He took his place in the following year.
Senator Cameron was Minister for Aircraft Production during the war years, from October, 1941 to February, 1945. He was also Minister assisting the Minister for Munitions from October, 1941 to February, 1942; a member of the Production Executive of the Cabinet from November, 1941 to February, 1945; and Postmaster-General from February, 1945 to December, 1949. In addition to holding those posts, he was Acting Minister for the Navy, for Munitions and for Aircraft Production during the absence of the Honorable N. J. O. Makin between March and April, 1945. From June, 1946 to December, 1949, Senator Cameron was the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. He served in the South African War with the 5th (Victorian) Mounted Rifles.
We on this side of the Senate pay our tribute to a man who might fairly have been described as one of the stalwarts of the Australian Labour Party, a man who held his principles very firmly indeed and who had a great knowledge of the theory as well as the practical application of those principles. We on this side remember him as a man with a very friendly and kindly personality. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Donald Cameron, former Commonwealth Minister and Senator for the State of Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– Mr. President, on behalf of all members of the Opposition, I second the motion proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner). I think it is fitting that the Senate should note the passing of one who was with us so recently and who served with such distinction and for so long in the Senate - for 24 years, in fact.
Senator the Honorable Donald Cameron lived his life on a thoughtful, intellectual plane. For many decades he had been wellknown as a thinker, speaker and writer on matters industrial, social, economic and political. He was a student and an avid reader to the end, and had gathered a most comprehensive library.
The late senator was a gentleman, both by nature and by unchangeable habit. Courtesy to, and consideration for, others marked the whole course of his life. It was typical that the last speech he made in the Senate, on 1st March of this year, opened with some gracious sentences of thanks and appreciation of the grant to him by the Senate of leave of absence on account of illness in the preceding session. It was typical also that that speech, made on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, dealt with matters of great importance - the threat of war, unemployment, inflation, monopolies, national and international, the European Economic Community and the Australian economy.
The late senator had strong views on most subjects, but sought only to persuade and not to force others to his viewpoints. He was always tolerant of, and prepared to listen to, another and opposing view. He had a most happy disposition and a keen sense of humour. Devotion to duty marked the late senator’s career. He was punctilious in his attendance at his office, -in the Parliament and in the Senate chamber during debates. He was ever ready to enter a debate. The Australian Labour Party has had no more loyal or competent member. We were all distressed at the deterioration in his health during recent months and by the knowledge that he was in constant pain - pain which, characteristically, he bore with outstanding fortitude and gentleness.
The Opposition will be represented at his funeral in Melbourne to-morrow afternoon. His body will be laid to rest after a wholesome life of activity and achievement for his country and his party. His epitaph might well be: Well done, thou good and faithful servant. After an association of eighteen years with the former Senator Cameron in the Senate, including some four years with him in the Chifley Cabinet, I have a deep sense of loss at his passing. On behalf of the Opposition, I express to his sorrowing widow and members of his family our deepest sympathy. It may console them to know that every one of us would like to leave the Senate as he did - with the unqualified respect and sincere affection of all his colleagues.
– Mr. President, the Australian Country Party joins in the tributes that have been paid to the late Senator Donald Cameron, who graced this Senate for so many years. Senator Cameron was for ever faithful to the ideals and objectives in which he believed. Indeed, his whole life was devoted to advancing those causes and movements which he felt best contributed to the welfare of Australia. He fought through thick and thin for the things in which he believed, and challenged friend and foe alike when he felt the cause warranted it. It is for this great and unwavering singleness of purpose that we honour him most of all to-day.
He was a great patriot, too, having volunteered for service in the Boer War and in World War I. He fought for the right of his fellow Australians to decide for themselves the part that each would play in the new struggle for freedom. During the whole of a long life he served his country as and how he felt it should be served, and nothing short of service to the limit of his capacity was enough to satisfy him. We look back to-day and say that he worked and lived to his capacity, always guided and influenced only by his conscience. This is an ideal to which we may all strive. We extend our sympathy to his wife and sorrowing family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth and States Hospital Agreement expired yesterday, does the Government intend to negotiate with the States a hospital agreement that is in accordance with the economic factors which have caused bed costs to rise to nearly ?6 a day in all States? Also, is it a fact that under the formula adopted by the Chifley Labour Government, the Commonwealth paid one-third of the maintenance costs of all patients and that under this Government the payment is only one-fifth in the case of insured patients and one-tenth in the case of uninsured patients who include the majority of age pensioners? Will the Minister arrange with the Government to initiate a new agreement to increase immediately Commonwealth hospital assistance to the States?
– It is true that the agreement between the Commonwealth and State governments on hospital benefits officially ended yesterday, but it is also true that I have, in my capacity as Minister for Health, met the State Ministers for Health and arranged that the same scale of benefits shall be maintained until a new agreement is reached between the Commonwealth and the States. The date of the meeting to consider the new agreement ha9 not been finally decided as yet, but it will be in the near future.
Senator Fitzgerald has asked, whether the Chifley Government introduced a scheme of payments whereby the benefit was equivalent to one-third of the maintenance costs of patients. He suggested that to-day the Commonwealth benefit is equivalent to only one-tenth of those costs. Those figures cannot be reconciled with to-day’s scales in any regard, because for a few pence a week - actually 3s. - an individual may insure himself and his family to cover a hospital charge of 56s. a day, which is the charge in all States except New South Wales, where it is 44s. a day. I do not think honorable senators would ask me to indicate the thinking of the Government in this matter. I believe we have an obligation to the States in this respect, and the Senate will understand me when I say that the States are the bodies with which we should first discuss any relevant proposal.
– Can the Minister for Health say whether it is a fact that Dr. Kelly, the Director of the Institute of Rheumatology, has made a second statement on cortisone in which he says that he believes that cortisone damages the whole mechanism of the body? In view of the differing opinions regarding this drug, can the Minister inform the Senate whether there is any clinical evidence to support this second statement by Dr. Kelly?
– The second statement attributed to Dr. Kelly is much more sweeping than the first statement in which he was reported to have said that cortisone is a drug with very severe side effects. His second statement goes much further and implies that cortisone in any form will produce harmful side effects and that, in fact, those side effects may well outweigh any advantages to be gained from its use.
I want to make the point very clearly that clinical evidence supports the proposition that cortisone, when prescribed with caution, can well be a life-saving drug. Indeed, many eminent medical men can testify to its efficacy. I emphasize that no one can be dogmatic about cortisone. I remind the Senate that the pharmaceutical benefits advisory committee, in its collective wisdom - and I suggest that its opinion is almost unchallengeable - has seen fit to recommend the addition of cortisone, on a restricted basis, to the schedule of pharmaceutical benefits. I believe that completely scotches the idea that no benefit is to be derived from its use. I have enough faith in the medical profession to believe that it is aware of and wellinformed on the side effects of cortisone. Recently I produced a prescriber^ journal which sets out in detail the losses and gains resulting from the use of cortisone. I am sure the medical profession is adequately equipped to prescribe cortisone for the benefit of the community.
– I ask the Minister for National Development: Has his attention been drawn to a report in yesterday’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of a statement by Mr. R. C. Sprigg, chairman of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, to the effect that sell-outs are certain to follow the cut in the Federal Government’s oil search subsidy and that this will result in overseas interests increasing their grip on oil search in Australia? Is it a fact that Australian companies hold only 20 per cent, of oil search interests in Australia? Does he agree that the subsidy cut will have a most serious effect on the small independent companies which have done so much to assist in the search for oil? Finally, will any companies operating in South Australia be affected by the Government’s decision to reduce the subsidy?
– I am sorry that I did not see a report of Mr. Sprigg’s latest statement. I have had discussions on this matter with Mr. Sprigg, as I have with others in the industry, and I have made it quite plain to him that I do not share the views that he has expressed. I talked with him, but I found nothing in the arguments that he advanced which convinces me that he was right and I was wrong.
I am unable to say whether Australian companies have only a 20 per cent, interest in oil search activities in Australia. This matter has to be judged by various standards. We have to consider the proportion of the moneys being expended which is contributed by Australian companies, and also their interests in the oil tenements which are held throughout Australia. Without having all the figures in my mind, it is perhaps a little imprudent to express an opinion, but I think that, judged by either standard, the Australian companies at present have a greater interest than 20 per cent, in the oil search activities that are going on in Australia.
I do not think this cut will have a serious effect on small companies. The trend in the search for oil in Australia has been for Australian companies increasingly to make arrangements, either financial or technical, with overseas companies. That was occurring when the subsidy was at a higher level than that which now operates, and I think there is a good deal of justification for the view that it occurred quite apart and distinct from any influence of the subsidy. In other words, the overseas companies have so much to offer in terms of technical knowledge and experience, and the task in Australia is so intricate and difficult, that I would think that, whatever the level of the subsidy might be, an increasing number of Australian companies would be making arrangements - there is a great variety of arrangements - under which they would obtain the benefit of the knowledge and experience possessed by the overseas companies. I think this trend has been accentuated by the Moonie discovery, because one thing that the Moonie discovery shows is that this is not only a question of finding oil. Substantial engineering and technical problems are involved in obtaining the greatest possible extraction, in getting to the surface the greatest possible proportion of the oil that is underground. That is a particular branch of petroleum engineering of which we have no knowledge in Australia. There is also a very big capital investment in the development of the oilfield itself and in the delivery of oil by pipe line. Very big questions indeed are involved in the refining and marketing of oil. So with respect to overseas interests, the level of subsidy is probably not the most important influence. There are other big considerations as well, having an association with capital and technical knowledge.
The last question asked by Senator Toohey is, of course, on the broad national ground of what is happening, in particular, in South Australia. I do not think that the position in South Australia would be different from that in any other State.
– I direct a question on the same subject to the Minister for National Development. Is the allocation of oil subsidy to each company the subject of a written contract with that company? If so, has it been customary to provide in the contract for a term of notice of any alteration of the rate of subsidy?
– Each subsidy arrangement is the subject of a separate document. Each is a transaction on its own. The terms of the contract include the period that it will run. No question has arisen of any alteration in the rate of subsidy within the terms of the document. I do not know whether I make myself clear.
– The rate remains unvaried throughout the period of the contract?
– Yes, of course. If there is an agreement, it is carried through to completion.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Last week I asked a question relating to the publicity given to the use of drugs. I did not intend that a simple statement such as I suggested would cover the 900 drugs mentioned by the Minister. That would defeat the object of my question, which related to those drugs which are now household words, such as phenacetin, cortisone, Enovid and similar well-known commodities, about which the Australian medical authorities are thoroughly alert to the problem of possible side effects. I pay tribute to the alertness of those authorities. I ask again whether a simple statement could be prepared in relation to the best known drugs, the benefits of which are so closely linked with health, particularly in the light of the knowledge that the manufacture of drugs is one of the world’s big businesses.
– If the honorable senator will be good enough to supply me with a list of the drugs he cares to nominate, I shall be very happy to supply him with a statement on each of them.
I am sure that an operating formula acceptable to the Government and export interests could be worked out in relation to space rental charges and maintenance costs.
Is it a fact that a number of ships have been used in the past to display Australian goods for export? Also, is it a fact that these export drives by ship have been very successful? If so, will the Government consider purchasing and outfitting a permanent trade ship in order to assist greatly our export drive?
– I did not see the statement to which Senator Sir Walter Cooper refers. Mr. Ellis deals with one side of the question; there is another side. These trade ship missions have been very successful indeed, but I think it is fair to say that a proportion of the success has been due to their having been made in ships owned by shipping lines already trading to the area in which business is sought. These shipping lines have a number of contacts and I think that factor has contributed to the success of the missions. I know that that does not apply to South America but Senator Sir Walter Cooper has raised the general question of whether we should have a permanent trade ship.
I should think that my colleague the Minister for Trade would be hesitant to embark upon such a venture because in the past arrangements have been made entirely between chambers of commerce, groups of exporters and shipping companies, with the Department of Trade giving a helping hand. In my opinion, the same atmosphere would not prevail if a ship was doing the work permanently because the whole purpose is to have missions to the ports or countries where the various shipping companies operate.
– My question is directed to the Minister who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Attorney-General. I preface my question with these remarks. Alexandria Spinning Mills, a longestablished factory in Sydney, has just been bought out by a subsidiary of an overseas monopoly. The result is that the mill is being closed down and hundreds of employees from the top to the bottom have received dismissal notices. Competition is reduced, the monopolies get more control of Australian industry and the workers suffer. I ask the Minister: When is the Government going to introduce legislation to curb restrictive trade practices and the trend towards monopoly?
– I have no way of knowing whether the matters alleged in relation to the Alexandria Spinning Mills are true or not. The question about legislation to curb monopoly relates to Government policy, and it is not usual to answer such questions at question time.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Can the Minister say whether Australia is included in the survey instituted by the United Nations into the possibility of the economic utilization of de-mineralized sea and brackish waters? According to press reports this survey involves 36 countries and is being carried out under the direction of an Israeli hydrologist, Mr. Salkind. Is the Minister aware that this man says that it can be confidently assumed that the cost of demineralized water will continue to fall as a result of advances in the technology of processing and the availability of less corrosive and more heat-resisting materials? Will the Government keep itself conversant with these investigations with a view to the practical application of the results to Australia?
– I do not know whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or the Government or Australia is involved in the United Nations symposium to which the honorable senator has referred, but I do know that the C.S.I.R.O. and the Government are fully aware of the importance to Australia of any process that can cheaply extract minerals, particularly salt, from water, whether it be sea water or brackish water from inland. The C.S.I.R.O. has done a great amount of work in this direction and possesses a great deal of information about overseas work in this field. From time to time it has been claimed that the process of purifying water by removing minerals from it will become cheaper. A great deal depends on whether power can be supplied cheaply enough to make the process profitable. So that I may inform the honorable senator of the exact situation in relation to this process and the way it is sought to be applied in Australia, I invite him to place his question on the notice-paper. If he does that I will give him a detailed and factual answer.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation. I remind the Minister of representations that I have made on behalf of a Balranald resident who is seeking a licence to operate a crop-dusting aircraft. The Minister will recall that the applicant in question was for four years during the last war a member of the German Air Force. For two of those years he was a bomber pilot. He was shot down over Belgium and taken prisoner by the British. He was taken to England and after a short period there he joined the Royal Air Force. He served in the Royal Air Force during the last war as a pilot and later, in peace-time, as an instructor. By this time he had become a naturalized British subject. He fought on the side of the United Nations in Korea as a bomber pilot. Eventually he migrated to Australia. He applied for permission to operate a crop-dusting aircraft in the Riverina. The Department of Civil Aviation told him that he must pass certain examinations before he could be licensed to operate a crop-dusting aircraft. The department’s attitude sounds foolish to me, but probably its reasons are good. The man to whom I refer wants to work, not as an airline pilot, with TransAustralia Airlines or Ansett-A.N.A., but as the pilot of a crop-dusting aircraft. He has now agreed to sit for an examination but he does not speak English very well and cannot write English. In those circumstances will the Minister allow him to take the written examination in German so that he may have some chance of success?
– I recall that Senator Ormonde has written to me about this matter once or twice in the last few weeks or months. Before being certified to operate crop-dusting aircraft an applicant must have held a current pilot’s licence for a period of time. If I remember correctly, and I think I do, the licence that this gentleman held had lapsed and had not been renewed for some considerable time. When he applied for a licence to operate crop-dusting aircraft he was told that he would have to take the requisite examination. I think honorable senators will agree that this procedure is necessary if desirable standards are to be maintained in this country. I am pleased to know that this gentleman has now agreed to sit for the examination. I will look at Senator Ormonde’s request, but I doubt whether this1 man will be permitted to take the examination in German. One obvious reason is that as a pilot it will be necessary for him to be able not only to speak English but also to write it. For example, he must be able to read technical manuals and, if necessary, write about them. I will consider Senator Ormonde’s application, but I am not hopeful of its succeeding.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a press statement by the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Reece, which emphasizes the valuable uplift to the Tasmanian economy that will result from the expansion of production at the Bell Bay aluminium works from 12,000 tons to 48,000 tons per annum when the current expansion programme is completed? Does the Minister recall the bitter opposition by the federal Labour Party to this Government’s plans to sell the Commonwealth’s share in the industry to private enterprise to enable this expansion to take place? Do not the facts and the Tasmanian Premier’s statement show that the Department of National Development and the Government made a very wise decision, in respect of the industry’s future and the Tasmanian economy, in deciding to let private enterprise take over this important industry?
– I understand from Senator Marriott that this is very much of a non-political question. I remember well the circumstances of the sale of the Commonwealth’s interest in the Bell Bay aluminium works. I negotiated the sal: while I was in London. I never departed from the view that this transaction would be of very great benefit to Tasmania. We started on the basis that at that time the Bell Bay works had a production of about 12,000 tons a year. Under the contract, the company undertook an obligation to increase production to 28,000 tons a year, with a possible further increase to 40,000 tons a year. The project has gone from success to success. At present the output is exceeding that which was contemplated originally.
This sale was an extraordinarily good transaction in the interests of Tasmania. To me, one of the most extraordinary things about it was the lack of foresight, the lack of wisdom and the parochial approach to the transaction of the Australian Labour Party. Members of that party had no idea of the benefit to Tasmania that would flow from the sale. They were not concerned about looking after the interests of Tasmania. All they were concerned about was trying to criticize the Government. Had the Labour Party been successful in its endeavour to prevent this transaction being approved, it would have done the greatest disservice to Tasmania that it was possible to do in this generation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Under the pensioner medical service, is it the practice to issue to an elderly pensioner couple one entitlement card for both of them? Is the Minister aware that the issue of only one card for both people often causes delay and inconvenience never contemplated under the legislation providing for this benefit? Will the Minister direct that separate cards be issued upon request by a pensioner couple or either of them?
– Senator Laught refers to pensioner medical entitlement cards. He suggests that one card is issued to a married couple. That is so. However, when a request for a second card is made to the Department of Health it is made available without any delay. That has been the system for some time now. If any pensioner couple desire a second card, they merely have to make application and provide a reason for the sake of the record and a second card will be made available to them.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation, I point out that the only airstrip on Flinders Island in Bass Strait is out of commission periodically because of water-logging. Last week it was unserviceable for four days. In view of the vital importance of air freight, mail and passenger services to and from Flinders Island - air transport has been built up into one of the main avenues of trade for the island - will the Minister have an investigation of this matter made with the object of planning and constructing an all-weather airport to serve the growing population of this isolated island?
– This matter has been brought to my attention by Senator Henty and other senators from Tasmania. Therefore, I appreciate the seriousness of the situation. I have asked the Department of Civil Aviation to have a look at the1 matter immediately. Year by year we have been doing continual maintenance on the airstrip on Flinders Island. No doubt Senator O’Byrne is aware that in the past four or five years it has been re-laid with gravel. I understand that its being out of order on this occasion followed a period of unusually heavy rain. Nonetheless, I appreciate the seriousness of the situation and am having it investigated.
I do not know about the possibility of providing an all-weather airstrip at present. Sealing the ends may help. An all-weather airstrip is a tall order. This airstrip necessarily would have to take its place in a properly worked out order of priorities. I assure the honorable senator that I will consider the matter as sympathetically as I can.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask it because any strike action must have an effect on the national economy. Is it a fact that the New South Wales Government has failed to collect fines totalling £5,275 imposed on unions for strikes in 1960-61 at the Newcastle steel works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? Also, is it a fact that the conference of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour Party in June last year directed the State Government either to remit or not to collect the fines? If the money is not to be collected, is this not a flagrant insult to the laws of this country?
– I understand that a number of fines, which were imposed under State law by the New South Wales Industrial Commission, have not been collected by the New South Wales Government. I have read - this is all I know - that the Australian Labour Party conference instructed the State Government not to collect the fines. As this h entirely a matter of State law and its administration, it does not fall directly or even indirectly within the purview of this Parliament; but it must be a matter of regret to see properly-made laws being flouted.
– I preface my question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by stating that on Thursday, 9th August, Senator Laught asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he was aware that the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, had told the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly the previous day that rail standardization in South Australia had been postponed indefinitely, and whether Sir Thomas was correct in making that statement. Senator Paltridge replied that he was not closely informed and had no first-hand knowledge of what had happened since the hearing of the case brought by the South Australian Government against the Commonwealth Government. I now ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he was well enough informed on the matter to have answered Senator Laught on the day that question was asked.
– I shall not enter into the pros and cons of whether I was well enough informed. I always have the uncomfortable feeling that I am not well enough informed on anything. The letter sent by the Prime Minister to the Premier of South Australia on this matter has been published in the newspapers-
– I referred to the day on which Senator Laught asked his question, the Thursday before last. The letter was not published in the newspapers until the following Friday.
– I do not know the significance of that. The substance of the matter is that the Prime Minister’s letter to the Premier of South Australia has been published in the newspapers. The letter makes it abundantly clear that the consideration of this work has been deferred. There is nothing in the letter which supports the suggestion that the Commonwealth has said that it will never do this work.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs and it relates to press reports that there is a movement of natives from West New Guinea across the border into Papua and Australian New Guinea, following the signing of an agreement between the Dutch and Indonesian Governments. I ask the Minister: Is it correct that such a movement of natives has commenced? If so, can he inform the Senate of the significance of the movement and of the Government’s policy in relation to it?
– As I explained earlier this afternoon, matters of policy are not properly the subject of parliamentary questions and no answer will be given to a question on a matter which has not yet been made clear publicly as a point of policy. As to the rest of the honorable member’s question, I ask him to put it on the notice-paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. I understand that Sir William Hudson, on his trip round the world, is inspecting major electrical undertakings. Will the Minister inform the Senate when Sir William is expected to return to Australia? Will he consider inviting Sir William to make himself available at some time suitable to the convenience of himself and the presiding officers, to give members of this Parliament the benefit of his experience in these matters?
– Sir William Hudson has returned from his trip. He has been back for about a week or a fortnight. I will talk to him about this proposal. Of course, he addresses a fair number of gatherings and meetings of societies.
– I thought he might include the national parliamentarians.
– He is a very modest man, you know.
– I thought he would appreciate the invitation.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that certain classes of fireworks, such as rockets with plastic heads, which are dangerous to children are being imported into Australia? If so, is he taking any action to prohibit the importation of these fireworks?
– The fact that such fireworks are being imported has been brought to my notice on more than one occasion. Strictly, no fireworks may be imported without the consent of the Minister for Customs and Excise, but in practice the prohibition is applied only to the type of firework which the government of a State is not prepared to admit. No action is taken to prohibit the importation of fireworks approved for entry to a State by the State government.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The very interesting pamphlet put out by the Treasurer, “ The National Economy for 1962”, as I read it, scarcely refers to one facet of the economy that some may think is of importance - that is to say, farm incomes. I ask the Minister whether he will consider requesting that this matter be dealt with, in proper perspective, in succeeding similar publications, and also whether he can tell me of any Government publications which adequately discuss the subject in relation to the 1961-62 economy.
– I will invite the attention of the Treasurer to the criticism of this document which has been made by Senator Wright. I confess that I am not familiar with the document. I have not got round to reading it yet, but I will be most interested to have a look at it. The honorable senator knows, of course, that in the various tables attached to the Budget papers there are references to farm incomes as compared with other incomes. Throughout the Budget papers there are references to farm incomes. I am not familiar with the document to which the honorable senator has referred, but I will look at it and discuss it with the Treasurer.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He will remember that during the last session a short bill was brought before this Parliament for the purpose of removing discrimination against coloured people, under the Post and Telegraph Act, in the handling of mails. Naturally, it was wholeheartedly supported by this Parliament. I ask whether it is possible for a search to be made of legislation generally to make sure that there are no provisions in legislation of any kind which discriminate against people, particularly Australian aborigines, merely on account of colour.
– I will convey the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Attorney-General, who, I think, would be the appropriate Minister, and ask whether it would be practicable to adopt the suggestion.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise explain why the tire manufactures of Australia, such as the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited and the Hardie Rubber Company Proprietary Limited, have not applied to the Tariff Board for protection for their industry? Could it be that the Australian tire firms are really the same people as those in Japan who export cheap tires to Australia? Is it possible that if they were to protest to the Tariff Board they would really be protesting against themselves?
– I do not know why an industry which finds itself in danger from imports does not apply to the bodies which have been established by this Government for the protection of industry. Various means of protection exist. I would not have a clue why an industry did not avail itself of those means.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What amounts are paid annually by the Commonwealth Government in rent to house Commonwealth Government departments in each of the six States (a) in buildings owned by private enterprise, and (b) in buildings owned by the Commonwealth Bank?
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following replies: -
– Pursuant to Standing O’rder No. 28a, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator K. M. Anderson, Senator A. M. Benn, Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman, Senator A. Hendrickson, Senator D. M. Tangney, Senator I. E. Wedgwood and Senator I. A. C. Wood to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent. The warrants nominating a panel of Temporary Chairmen of Committees dated 20th February and 15th March last are revoked.
– by leave - On behalf of the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), I shall read a statement, relating to West New Guinea, made by him this afternoon in another place. In the statement, the word “ I “ will refer to the Minister for External Affairs and not to me. It is as follows: -
On 15th March I made a statement to the Senate reviewing comprehensively the developments which had taken place to that point of time in the dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesian Governments with respect to the Territory of West New Guinea. 1 then emphasized the fundamental change in the situation which the Dutch initiative at the Sixteenth Session of the United Nations General Assembly had effected. The Netherlands then sought to transfer the Administration of West New Guinea to the United Nations. This was the first public indication that the Netherlands had decided that it should terminate its own administration of the territory and that it did not desire, or, at any rate, did not feel itself able, in the face of the rising insistence of Indonesia, to maintain that administration until such time as the indigenous people were fully capable of choosing their own future. Along with Great Britain, the United States of America and 50 other powers, we supported in the General Assembly a resolution incorporating the main features of the Dutch plan. But it failed because a sufficient number of the members of the United Nations accepted Indonesia’s claim that West New Guinea, having formed part of the Dutch East Indies, to whose territories the Government of Indonesia was intended to succeed, ought in truth to be part of the Republic of Indonesia.
The purpose of my former statement was to explain the political facts of international life as they applied to this issue - the stands taken by the parties principal to the problem, the attitudes of our friends and allies, and the situation at the United
Nations, all of which were key elements, none of which could be ignored, in the determination of what Australia itself could and should do or seek to do.
In my statement I described the situation at that time as most delicate and most complicated: And paradoxical also, in that while both parties professed willingness to negotiate and a desire not to become engaged in hostilities, there were continuing threats of force and apparent preparations for its use, and for defence by The Netherlands against its use. This description remained valid for several succeeding months. Matters remained delicate and complicated - and while negotiations were begun, suspended and resumed, armed landings continued, if anything on an increasing scale during the progress of the negotiations and up to the very moment of signature of the agreement.
The parties, with the assistance of the United Nations, acting through its Acting Secretary-General, U Thant, and his representative Mr. Ellsworth Bunker, a former United States diplomat, have now reached final agreements. They were signed on 15th August and I would ask leave of the Senate to have their terms placed in “ Hansard “ as an annex to this statement. Briefly they provide that the administration of the territory is to be transferred in the first instance to the United Nations which is to be free to hand it to the Government of Indonesia at any time after 1st May, 1963. The initial transfer is expected to take place by 1st October, when the United Nations Administrator takes over. The Indonesian flag is to fly beside that of the United Nations from 1st January, 1963. Meantime, as from 18th August there has been a cease-fire supervised by the United Nations.
The first steps towards this agreement were taken when secret exploratory discussions between representatives of the two Governments began near Washington in March. They took place in the presence of Mr. Ellsworth Bunker, who had been designated by the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, as his representative. There was an initial setback on 22nd March when these exploratory discussions were suspended, but early in April Mr. Bunker submitted to both parties the outline of a compromise plan for the settlement of the dispute. In essence this out line plan - which became known as the “ Bunker proposals “ - provided for the transfer of administration from the Netherlands to a United Nations authority over a period of one year, and for subsequent transfer to Indonesia during a further year. Provision was made in the plan for the people of West New Guinea to have an opportunity, after a further period of years, to make a free choice as to their ultimate political status. Details on this and on other aspects of the plan were to be matters for negotiation between the parties.
In the event, what has now been agreed follows closely the plan outlined by Mr. Bunker. Some of the timing arrangements have been altered and some details not previously specified have now been added: But the overall framework is the same. Indeed at a relatively early stage both governments indicated that they were prepared to accept the Bunker proposals as a basis for further negotiation - but this did not prevent further considerable delays and, as I have mentioned earlier, the continuation of some armed conflict and, perhaps what was more significant, continued increases of military capacity on both sides. It is very clear that mutual suspicions and distrust, built up over the long years for which the dispute has endured, and from the events which preceded and attended the transfer of all the other parts of the former Dutch East Indies, materially increased the difficulties of reaching a solution.
I do not think it necessary at this stage to give the Senate a detailed recital of the course of the military pressures exerted by the Indonesian Government, nor of the successive concessions and clarifications given or afforded by the Government of the Netherlands. Partisans for either side of the dispute can find in these events much material to support their diverse views. Suffice it for me to say that incursions by Indonesia commenced with sea-borne landings against islands off the west coast of the New Guinea mainland, and were followed from April onwards by a series of paratroop landings, involving some hundreds of men dropped over a widely dispersed area of West New Guinea. The Netherlands authorities took steps to resist such incursions and by reinforcement to increase their capacity so to do, while the Indonesian authorities, for their part, sought to maintain and strengthen the forces which they had introduced. These actions, although the forces directly engaged were small in number and capacity, created a highly explosive situation which not only involved the two parties principal but which also could well have escalated to the stage where outside powers would have been drawn in and large-scale and embittering warfare introduced into this area.
As I indicated in my former statement, the Government had long considered that Australia’s real and abiding interest lay in a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Australia had itself no rights or claims to the territory, but it has an interest, and the Government has always expressed that interest, in the ultimate ability of the indigenous people to choose their own future. Accordingly, the Government has maintained constant and vigorous diplomatic encouragement to the parties to settle their difficulties peacefully and in doing so to ensure that ability of the Papuan population to make that choice. There could have been no certainty that warfare would result in such a choice for the people of West New Guinea. Indeed I think that warfare would have lessened the chance of them being afforded the opportunity.
It was against this background that whilst on my recent overseas tour I decided to visit Indonesia. I will be tabling to-day a report to the Senate on my visit to countries other than Indonesia. I have now to report to the Senate on my Indonesian visit. My general purpose in undertaking this tour was to make personal contact with Asian leaders and to inform myself of the situation in the area. In visiting Djakarta, however, I had a very specific mission. That was to express at first hand the Australian point of view as to the continued use, or threat, of force, to exhort the Indonesian leaders to return to the conference table to settle the dispute peacefully, and in that settlement to recognize the right of the Papuan population to choose their future government and international affiliations.
When passing through Djakarta on 28th May at the beginning of my tour, I had the opportunity of a short exploratory talk with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr.
Subandrio, in which I emphasized the Australian Governments’ deep concern over the military actions which had just then taken place in West New Guinea and was given certain explanations of the course of conduct being pursued by Indonesia. I urged a resumption of the suspended discussions in Washington and the cessation of warlike activities. In the four weeks which passed between this brief transit visit on 28th May and my arrival back there again on 1st July, further infiltrations had occurred in West New Guinea and had culminated in the dropping of Indonesia paratroops near Merauke.
Honorable senators will recall the seriousness with which this development was regarded by the Government. In a statement issued on 26th June, the Prime Minister pointed out that such warlike action was quite inconsistent with the statements publicly and repeatedly made to us that Indonesia would not pursue its territorial claims to West New Guinea by force of arms; that the negotiations recently begun in the presence of Mr. Bunker had yet to be resumed and that he found it impossible to understand why the process of peaceful negotiation should be interrupted and impaired by military aggression. The Prime Minister reiterated that Australia desired and would respect a peaceful settlement arising from such negotiation; that active hostilities could achieve nothing but unnecessary bitterness; and that peace in this part of the world was important, not only to the nations immediately concerned but to the whole future of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. It was also important for the future authority of the United Nations that international territorial differences should be settled without either the threat or the use of armed force.
In deciding to visit Djakarta on 1st July I believed that at such a time of mounting tensions, when there was a serious danger of large-scale hostilities developing near Australia through miscalculation or misunderstanding, it was my clear duty to do what I could to bring the temperature down and to induce a return to peaceful negotiations. I was reinforced in this view by my belief that the difference between the Dutch and Indonesian positions on the Bunker proposals would not prove insurmountable - if only the parties would return quickly to the conference table. At the same time I was not unaware that there were other countries which were bent on frustrating any peaceful settlement and on providing, for their own ends, a dangerous widening of the conflict.
I think I ought not to detain the Senate to report orally the course of my calls on the Indonesian leaders from 1st to 4th July. With the consent of the Senate I will incorporate my report in that respect in “ Hansard “ as a further annex to this statement.
In summary, I put Australia’s views frankly, directly and forcefully. I urged a resumption of negotiations, a discontinuance of the use or threat of force and, in the event of a transfer of administration to Indonesia, the grant to the Papuan people of an opportunity in due time to choose their own future. These views were listened to attentively and, as I have said elsewhere, I though receptively.
The period after my return from Djakarta saw intense diplomatic activity from a number of quarters aimed at the earliest possible resumption of negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands. On 13th July - four months after the initial talks had been suspended - further exploratory discussions were resumed near Washington, once more in the presence of Mr. Bunker. Indonesia was represented by Mr. Adam Malik, the Indonesian Ambassador at Moscow, while the principal Netherlands representative was Dr. Van Roijen, the Netherlands Ambassador to the United States. After several days, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio, came to Washington to participate in the discussions.
Even at this stage the course of the discussions was not smooth; indeed a point was reached when it appeared likely that the Indonesian representatives might return to Djakarta, causing a suspension of the negotiations, if not worse. I feel I am at liberty to disclose that on behalf of the Australian Government I conveyed to the Indonesian Government its deep concern over the threatened withdrawal of the Indonesian representatives. I pointed out that very substantial progress had been made since the talks resumed and that it was hard to believe that patient discussion would not enable the parties to bridge their remaining differences. I also pointed out - not by any means for the first time - that if military attacks were to follow the termination of negotiations, this would in our view have far-reaching consequences for the peace of the area, and for the relationships of our two peoples. At the same time I also sought from the Ambassador for the Netherlands a clarification of the position which his Government has adopted in the negotiations.
I ought at this point to make it quite clear that Australia has never had any military commitment to the Netherlands in respect of West New Guinea and that agreements between the two governments did not extend beyond defining jointly agreed principles which both governments were following in administering the respective territories for which they were responsible. The Australian Government has not at any time brought any pressure of any kind to bear upon the Netherlands to adopt any particular solution. Tt has both publicly and through diplomatic channels urged both governments to a peaceful solution which should afford the indigenous inhabitants a right of self-determination We have constantly deplored the use or threat of force both as a pressure in negotiation and as a means of solution of the dispute. It is a matter of profound regret and concern that both the threat and the use of force did become a factor during the negotiations - and to this extent the representations made by Australia and by others were not fully successful.
It would have been much preferable - particularly for the reputation of the international community and its ability to restrain attempts to settle international disputes by means of force - if this dispute had been resolved without the forceful manifestations of which we have all been acutely aware. But I do believe that the efforts of the United States and others, including Australia, have prevented the outbreak of hostilities from which nobody in the area, including the Papuan inhabitants, could have profited. The presently important fact is that a solution has been found, under the auspices of the United Nations - a solution which accords with the desire of the Netherlands to relinquish the administration of the Territory, and with the desire of all concerned, including Australia, that the indigenous people should have their choice of their future.
Whilst the negotiation was primarily between the two parties to the dispute, honorable members will bear in mind that the third member present at the negotiations represented the Acting SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. The technique of negotiation followed in this case seemed sound to the Australian Government; the Acting Secretary-General seemed best able to extend good offices - and moreover it was essential that he agree, in advance, to accept and perform the responsibilities falling to him under the agreement, the extent of which will appear in the terms of settlement which the House has been kind enough to allow me to incorporate in “ Hansard “. The solution which has been reached stems to a considerable degree from the initiatives of the Acting Secretary-General and of his designated representative, Mr. Bunker; it carries with it the authority of the Secretary-General’s office, it is obviously regarded by him as a practical and reasonable proposition, and it will have his support when the agreement comes before the United Nations for approval.
At various stages suggestions have been made that the dispute over West New Guinea should have been referred outright to the United Nations, presumably to the Security Council - where any prospect of a reasonable solution would have been frustrated by the Soviet veto - and then perhaps to the General Assembly, a forum ill-equipped to find a reasonable solution to a “ colonial “ problem already bedevilled by a long and emotional history. In any case the experience of the sixteenth session indicates that no resolution looking to a settlement could command the necessary two-thirds majority for passage in the assembly unless assured of the agreement of Indonesia and her 40 supporters. The Australian Government, as I indicated in my former statement, kept the possibilities under constant review, but felt that the best prospect of a solution, as distinct from fruitless recrimination, lay in private and direct negotiation between the interested parties, with the active co-operation and assistance of the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations. The result, although the path to it has not always been smooth, appears to bear out that assessment.
The agreement between the parties contemplates that there should be a resolution of the General Assembly sponsored jointly by the Netherlands and Indonesia by which the United Nations will take note of the agreement and authorize the SecretaryGeneral to carry out the tasks the agreement would require of him.
After the passing of this resolution, which is expected on or before 1st October next, the Netherlands Government will transfer administration of the territory to an agency of the United Nations to be called the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority. This will be headed by a United Nations Administrator, acceptable to the Netherlands and Indonesia, and appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Administrator, under the direction of the Secretary-General, will administer the territory until 1st May, 1963, that is, for approximately seven months. In that period he will replace a relatively small number of specified Dutch officials with non-Dutch, non-Indonesian officials; for the rest, he will employ Dutch officials who wish to serve on a temporary basis, Papuans wherever possible, and personnel provided by Indonesia. Netherlands armed forces will be repatriated as rapidly as possible, with law and order being maintained by existing Papuan police supplemented by a United Nations security force of about battalion size. The Papuan Volunteer Corps and Indonesian armed forces already in the territory will be under the authority of, and at the disposal of, the SecretaryGeneral and the Administrator.
As from 1st May, 1963, the United Nations Administrator will have discretion to transfer all or part of the administration of the territory to Indonesia; the Administrator’s authority will cease when full administrative control has been transferred. United Nations security forces will then be replaced by Indonesian security forces, and Indonesian national laws and regulations will be applicable to the territory, consistent with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the inhabitants under the terms of the agreement.
A number of United Nations experts are expected to stay on in the territory, and in due course to advise on and assist in preparations for self-determination by the people. The agreement provides that the act of self-determination will be completed before the end of 1969. A year prior to then the Secretary-General will appoint a representative who, with his staff, will advise, assist and participate in arrangements whereby the people of the territory will make a free choice as to their future political status.
During the period up to the time of the exercise of self-determination full reports are to be made to the Secretary-General by the Administrator, and by the United Nations representative. The SecretaryGeneral himself will report to the General Assembly.
The agreement also guarantees for the inhabitants of the territory rights such as free speech, freedom of movement and assembly. Indonesia has undertaken to combat illiteracy, to advance social, cultural and economic development in the territory and to accelerate the participation of the people in local government. Provision has been made for the Netherlands and Indonesia to share the cost of the functions assumed by the United Nations in carrying out the transfer of administration.
Finally, as a related part of the agreement, the governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands have already announced the resumption of diplomatic relations, a step which is warmly welcomed by Australia.
This is the agreement arrived at by negotiation between the parties with the close co-operation and assistance of the Acting Secretary-General and his representative. It contains provision for the exercise of free choice by the inhabitants, with the continuing advice, assistance and participation of the United Nations in the arrangements preceding the act of selfdetermination and in the arrangements for the act itself. The agreement puts an end to a dispute which seemed otherwise bound to lead to large-scale war in West New Guinea, a war in which the inhabitants themselves would have borne the brunt of suffering and in which their hopes of eventual self-determination might well have been extinguished.
The result which the agreement produces is, or soon will be a part of history with which Australia must live. In a real sense that result was beyond our control, though carrying significant consequences for Australia, lt is well that I remind the House that Australia has never been a claimant for the Territory of West New Guinea; we have never been a party to the dispute, have never been asked to serve as arbitrator, mediator or adviser, and thus Australia has not had any right or status to require either party to accept any such services or to follow any particular solution; and that, if any should have contemplated a military adventure, none of the countries of the West, and particularly of those with whom Australia has the closest association, were at any relevant time willing to maintain a Netherlands administration by military means.
I have indicated how we have used our diplomacy to counsel negotiations, to avoid war and the use or threat of force, and to emphasize the claims of the Papuan population to self-determination. I am confident that in the perspective of time the Government’s part in the solution of this problem will not only be seen as right and proper but also as most creditable and valuable to Australia and Australia’s best interests.
As a result of the agreement of the parties, we are to have for the first time a common land frontier, that between East and West New Guinea, with a people of Asia. But, although many new arrangements may need to be made, it would be wrong, in my view, to begin this closer association with Indonesia in any sense of foreboding or recrimination. We have proclaimed our friendship for the peoples of neighbouring Asia, including specifically the peoples of Indonesia. We have proclaimed our will and capacity to live and to co-operate with them. We have so far demonstrated the sincerity and reality of these assertions. I am sure that we will continue to do so and, in doing so, enrich our own and their economies and cultures and broaden and deepen the security and stability of the area in which we live. As with our other friends, whether of the old world or the new, whether of European or Asian derivation, so with Indonesia, we will express and press our point of view on all matters of concern to us. We will vigorously - but peacefully - pursue our vital interests, and we will maintain to the full the integrity of our country and of its territories, in which latter task we have pledged allies. This I am sure Indonesia realizes and respects, just as I am sure that it realizes that we are prepared to approach all problems affecting the area in a spirit of continuing co-operation and, as far as New Guinea is concerned, to do so both in the period of United Nations administration which lies ahead and in the subsequent period of administration by Indonesia.
I should tell the House that in this spirit I sent, on 17th August, messages to the Governments of the Netherlands and of Indonesia. To the Netherlands Foreign Minister I said -
I should like to express to Your Excellency the satisfaction of the Australian Government that a peaceful settlement of the West New Guinea dispute has now been reached between the Netherlands and Indonesia, with the assistance of the United Nations.
I can appreciate that your government’s decision to accept this settlement was taken only after the most anxious and searching deliberation, and after weighing carefully all the factors involved.
The Australian Government hopes that the faithful execution of the Agreement of15th August, 1962 by all those concerned will ensure peace and stability to the West New Guinea region and make adequate provision for the interests and future of the indigenous people, whose welfare you and your government have had so much at heart.
My government welcomes with particular pleasure the decision of the Netherlands and Indonesian governments, with both of whom Australia enjoys close and cordial relations, to resume the exchange of diplomatic missions.
To the Indonesian Foreign Minister I said -
I should like to express to Your Excellency the satisfaction of the Australian Government that a peaceful settlement of the West New Guinea dispute has now been reached between Indonesia and the Netherlands, with the assistance of the United Nations.
My Government welcomes with particular pleasure the decision of the Indonesian and Netherlands governments, with both of whom Australia enjoys close and cordial relations, to resume the’ exchange of diplomatic missions.
The Australian Government accepts and will respect the agreement of 15th August, 1962. It hopes that the faithful execution of that agreement by all those concerned will ensure peace and stability to the West New Guinea region and make adequate provision for the interests and future of the indigenous people.
On that basis, Australia, in its administration of the neighbouring territory will approach all mutual problems in a spirit of continuing co-operation.
May I conclude my statement by hoping that, with the resumption of diplomatic relations between the governments of the Netherlands and of Indonesia and the removal of this cause of difference, a new era of co-operation and returning goodwill will open between those two countries, an era from which both will derive both profit and satisfaction.
The Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
Having in mind the interests and welfare of the peoples of the territory of West New Guinea (West Irian) hereinafter referred to as “ the territory “,
Desirous of settling their dispute regarding the territory,
Now, therefore, agree as follows: -
Ratification of Agreement and Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations
After the present Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands has been signed and ratified by both Contracting Parties, Indonesia and the Netherlands will jointly sponsor a draft resolution in the United Nations under the terms of which the General Assembly of the United Nations takes note of the present Agreement, acknowledges the role conferred upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations therein, and authorizes him to carry out the tasks entrusted to him therein.
After the adoption of the resolution referred to in Article I, the Netherlands will transfer administration of the territory to a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) established by and under the jurisdiction of the SecretaryGeneral upon the arrival of the United Nations Administrator appointed in accordance with Article IV. The UNTEA will in turn transfer the administration to Indonesia in accordance wtih Article XII.
In order to facilitate the transfer of administration to the UNTEA after the adaption of the resolution by the General Assembly, the Netherlands will invite the Secretary-General to send a representative to consult briefly with the Netherlands Governor of the territory prior to the latter’s departure. The Netherlands Governor will depart prior to the arrival of the United Nations Administrator.
A United Nations Administrator, acceptable to Indonesia and the Netherlands, will be appointed by the Secretary-General.
The United Nations Administrator, as chief executive officer of the UNTEA, will have full authority under the direction of the SecretaryGeneral to administer the territory for the period of the UNTEA administration in accordance with the terms of the present Agreement.
The Secretary-General will provide the UNTEA with such security forces as the United Nations Administrator deems necessary; such forces will primarily supplement existing Papuan police in the task of maintaining law and order. The Papuan Volunteer Corps, which on the arrival of the United Nations Administrator will cease being part of the Netherlands armed forces, and the Indonesian armed forces in the territory will be under the authority of, and at the disposal of, the Secretary-General for the same purpose. The United Nations Administrator will, to the extent feasible, use the Papuan police as a United Nations security force to maintain law and order and, at his discretion, use Indonesian armed forces. The Netherlands armed forces will be repatriated as rapidly as possible and while still in the territory will be under the authority of the UNTEA.
The United Nations Administrator will send periodic reports to the Secretary-General on the principal aspects of the implementation of the present Agreement. The Secretary-General will submit full reports to Indonesia and the Netherlands and may submit, at his discretion, reports to the General Assembly or to all United Nations Members.
The United Nations Administrator will replace as rapidly as possible top Netherlands officials as defined in Annex A with non-Netherlands, nonIndonesian officials during the first phase of the UNTEA administration which will be completed on 1 May 1963. The United Nations Administrator will be authorized to employ on a temporary basis all Netherlands officials other than top Netherlands officials defined in Annex A, who wish to serve the UNTEA, in accordance with such terms and conditions as the SecretaryGeneral may specify. As many Papuans as possible will be brought into administrative and technical positions. To fill the remaining required posts, the UNTEA will have authority to employ personnel provided by Indonesia. Salary rates prevailing in the territory will be maintained.
Immediately after the transfer of administration to the UNTEA, the UNTEA will widely publicize and explain the terms of the present Agreement, and will inform the population concerning the transfer of Administration to Indonesia and the provisions for the act of selfdetermination as set out in the present Agreement.
To the extent that they are consistent with the letter and spirit of the present Agreement, existing laws and regulations will remain in effect. The UNTEA will have the power to promulgate new laws and regulations or amend them within the spirit and framework of the present Agreement. The representative councils will be consulted prior to the issuance of new laws and regulations or the amendment of existing laws.
The United Nations Administrator will have discretion to transfer all or part of the administration to Indonesia at any time after the first phase of the UNTEA administration. The UNTEA’s authority will cease at the moment of transfer of full administrative control to Indonesia.
United Nations security forces will be replaced by Indonesian security forces after the first phase of the UNTEA administration. All United Nations security forces will be withdrawn upon the transfer of administration to Indonesia.
After the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia, Indonesian national laws and regulations will in principle be applicable in the territory, it being understood that they be consistent with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the inhabitants under the terms of the present Agreement, New laws and regulations or amendments to the existing ones can be enacted within the spirit of the present Agreement. The representative councils will be consulted as appropriate.
After the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia, the primary task of Indonesia will be further intensification of the education of the people, of the combating of illiteracy, and of the advancement of their social, cultural and economic development. Efforts also will be made in accordance with present Indonesian practice to accelerate the participation of the people in local government through periodic elections. Any aspects relating to the act of free choice will be governed by the terms of this Agreement.
At the time of the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia a number of United Nations experts, as deemed adequate by the Secretary-General after consultation with Indonesia, will be designated to remain wherever their duties require their presence. Their duties will, prior to the arrival of the United Nations Representative, who will participate at the appropriate time in the arrangements for self-determination, be limited to advising on and assisting in preparations for carrying out the provisions for selfdetermination except in so far as Indonesia and the Secretary-General may agree upon their performing other expert functions. They will be responsible to the Secretary-General for the carrying out of their duties.
Indonesia will invite the Secretary-General to appoint a Representative who, together with a staff made up, inter alia, of experts referred to in Article XVI, will carry out the Secretary-General’s responsibilities to advise, assist and participate in arrangements which are the responsibility of Indonesia for the act of free choice. The SecretaryGeneral will, at the proper time, appoint the United Nations Representative in order that he and his staff may assume their duties in the territory one year prior to the date of self-determination. Such additional staff as the United Nations Representative might feel necessary will be determined by the Secretary-General after consultations with Indonesia. The United Nations Representative and his staff will have the same freedom of movement as provided for the personnel referred to in Article XVI.
Indonesia will make arrangements, with the assistance and participation of the United Nations Representative and his staff, to give the people of the territory the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice. Such arrangements will include:
The United Nations Representative will report to the Secretary-General on the arrangements arrived at for freedom of choice.
The act of self-determination will be completed before the end of 1969.
Rights of the Inhabitants.
Vacancies in the representative councils caused by the departure of Netherlands nationals or for other reasons, will be filled as appropriate consistent with existing legislation by elections, or by appointment by the UNTEA. The representative councils will be consulted prior to the appointment of new representatives.
The present Agreement will take precedence over any previous argeement on the territory. Previous treaties and agreements regarding the territory may therefore be terminated or adjusted as necessary to conform to the terms of the present Agreement.
Privileges and Immunities
For the purposes of the present Agreement, Indonesia and the Netherlands will apply to
United Nations property, funds, assets and officials the provisions of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. In particular, the United Nations Administrator, appointed pursuant to Article XVII, will enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in Section 19 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
Entry into Force
The authentic text of the present Agreementis drawn up in the English language. Translations in the Indonesian and Netherlands languages will be exchanged between the Contracting Parties.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized for that purpose by their respective Governments, have signed the present Agreement.
Done at the Headquarters of the United Nations, New York, on this fifteenth day of August, 1962, in three identical copies, of which one shall be deposited with the Secretary-General and one shall be furnished to the Government of each of the Contracting Parties.
Top Netherlands officials to be replaced as rapidly as possible with non-Netherlands, nonIndonesian officials.
ANNEX 2- REPORT BY THE MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS ON VISIT TO DJAKARTA.
I arrived at Djakarta on 1st July, and in the course of the next few days, I was able to have discussions of substance with President Sukarno, his First Minister (Dr. Djuanda), the First Deputy First Minister (Dr. Leimena), the Minister for Defence (General Nasution), the Minister for Information (Professor Yamin), the Minister for Basic Industries and Mining (Chairul Saleh), the Minister for Communications (Lieutenant-General Djatikusumo, and the Vice-President of the Supreme Advisory Council to the President (Mr. Sartono). These discussions were additional to two long official interviews and many informal talks with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio.
While much of these discussions, because of their nature, must remain confidential, honorable . members will naturally expect some indication of the stand I took. Let me say first that the Australian Government’s viewpoint was to the best of my ability expressed in detail, with frankness and vigour. In turn, the Indonesian leaders appeared to treat the visit with what I thought was appropriate seriousness. I was given an attentive and courteous hearing and the Indonesian position on the West New Guinea dispute was put to me with some care.
In our discussions I pointed out that Australia was a growing, vigorous nation which wished to have close and cordial relations with its neighbours in South-East Asia. In the present dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West New Guinea we were not a party principal but, in accordance with what we believe to be the principles of the United Nations Charter and our own responsibilities in the eastern part of New Guinea, we had a great interest in the welfare of the Papuan people now and in the future. As well as this, however, we had a deep and permanent interest in the maintenance of peace and security in this area. The continued use of force and threats of force, particularly after Indonesian assurances that force would not be used, had greatly stirred Australian public opinion and was causing grave concern to this Government.
I said that the respect of the Australian people was important to Indonesia and that the Australian public would judge Indonesia and Indonesians by their acts, more than by their protestations. I pointed out that a further deterioration would inevitably affect future relations between Indonesia and ourselves. I also suggested to the Indonesian leaders that military action in West New Guinea, even if it should be successful, would almost certainly bring far-reaching internal as well as external consequences. I emphasized the importance in our view of adequate provision for the eventual exercise of self-determination by the Papuan people. To give such people their opportunity to choose for themselves was not only right but it may well prove inescapable. Political consciousness was already stirring in West New Guinea, where the people had been given some taste of management of their local affairs, and to ignore this could only bring trouble. Australia for its part was firmly pledged to bring the inhabitants of East New Guinea to selfdetermination, and advances in the East must have some reaction in the West.
While I was still in Djakarta the Indonesian Government announced that an emissary would be sent to the United States to seek clarification of the Dutch statement to the Acting SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations that the Netherlands had accepted the Bunker proposals. This was a step in the right direction but it did not, in my view, go far enough. The next day I expressed disappointment that Indonesia had not gone all the way to a full scale resumption of negotiations. I was assured, however, that if the clarification which was being sought indicated that the Dutch were bona fide in entering the negotiation Indonesia would negotiate and earnestly seek a peaceful solution. I then drew together the lines of my discussions by putting certain fundamental questions concerning Indonesia’s objectives and intentions. Some of these related to the position of Indonesian forces already in West New Guinea and to the attitudes which Indonesia might adopt in the negotiations once they had been resumed. It is sufficient, I believe, to state here that the leaders of the Indonesian Government assured me that they sincerely desired a peaceful settlement by negotiation and not one achieved by military means.
There has already been some public comment on my discussion of Indonesia’s attitude to the eastern part of New Guinea. Dr. Subandrio twice volunteered the assurance that Indonesia had no territorial claims other than to West New Guinea; that the claim to West New Guinea was based on its inclusion in the former Dutch East Indies and upon the need to maintain the national unity of Indonesia, a unity that derived not from common ethnic origins or history but from the fact of the Dutch East Indies and the aggregation within it of various diverse territories. There was a categorical assurance that this applied in particular to the Australian territory of PapuaNew Guinea. Having received this assurance I put it to the Indonesian Foreign Minister that it might be desirable at some appropriate time to consider formalizing this assurance. Dr. Subandrio agreed that this would be a suitable course of action to pursue.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister himself later described my discussions with Indonesian leaders as having been “ straight from the shoulder “ and without acrimony. Certainly no effort was spared or opportunity missed to impress our views upon the Indonesian leaders. Over and beyond this, I think I may have done something to reduce areas of misunderstanding and to clarify points of difference.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
West New Guinea - Statement by Minister for External Affairs, dated 21st August, 1962.
That the paper be printed.
Mr. President, I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Poulter on the grounds of ill health.
Debate resumed from 15th August (vide page 225), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1963;
The Budget 1962-63 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1962-63;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States- be printed.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
At the end of the motion add the following words: - “but that the Senate is of opinion that their provisions do not serve the best interests of Australia in that -
they will not correct seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment and decline in migrant intake;
they make inadequate provision for the development of Australia; and
they fail to provide social service and repatriation benefits - in particular child endowment - on a just basis.
– When this debate was adjourned last Wednesday night I was discussing the impact of the Budget on social services and unemployment. I had just made a statement, which was challenged by some of my colleagues from the West, that there was unemployment among some skilled tradesmen there. I reiterate that my statement is true. Recently I was interested in the case of a migrant from Great Britain - a skilled tradesman - who was seeking employment. He had been out of work for many weeks since coming to Australia although he had applied for all jobs that had been advertised, including those with the Department of Labour and National Service. 1 went to the office of the union of which he was a member to see what was the position, and I was told that for every vacancy in this man’s trade at least ten men were waiting for the job. That is the position in a skilled occupation.
Furthermore, for the benefit of my colleagues I reiterate that the full force of the unemployment position in Western Australia can be seen at any time if they only take the trouble to visit the local office of the Department of Labour and National Service and see the queues of people waiting for work and social service payments. There are two distinct age groups whose members find it difficult to obtain work. I refer, first, to the nineteen to twenty years group comprised of those who are neither one thing nor the other. They are neither adults nor junior employees. If a young person is unfortunate enough to become unemployed at the age of nineteen he finds the greatest difficulty in obtaining suitable employment. I know this to be so from the many cases that have come to my notice in recent months. The second age group, which has always found employment a problem, is that comprised of unskilled or semi-skilled workers over the age of 40 or in their early forties, who are considered to be too old to get a job.
I do not think it is fair to bring people to this country with high hopes of immediately getting a job and a house when we know that there are difficulties in both those fields. The housing problem is not so acute in Western Australia as it is in the eastern States, but it is still bad. Again I know that this is so from my experience in trying to obtain accommodation for migrant families. Apparently if migrants have a family they are regarded as outcasts or pariahs when they want to rent premises. I made an application to the State Housing Commission on behalf of a large family - a very nice family. I elicited that the commission is still working on the 1959-60 list for rented premises and on the 1960-61 list for those who are fortunate enough to have the capital to put down as a deposit on a home.
While the Australian Labour Party is very anxious that the immigration target should not be reduced, at the same time it thinks that it is only fair to tell prospective migrants’, before they are brought here from overseas, of the conditions that exist. A clergyman who travelled on the “ Orion “, which came into port last week, wrote in a letter to one of the Sydney newspapers that many of the migrants with whom he had travelled had shown him press cuttings they had received in London about a certain migrant family who had arrived in Australia some years earlier. Within twelve months this migrant family had sufficient money to buy land in French’s Forest, within another twelve months they had erected their own home, and within a further twelve months were sailing their own boat on the harbour. What arrant nonsense! Australia has much to offer and all we want is for the facts to be known. While it is quite true that our forebears who came to this country had much greater difficulties to face in years gone by than those who come here to-day, we must ensure that people who come here as migrants are not disillusioned upon arrival. We must ensure that there is adequate work and accommodation available for them.
While on the subject of housing I should like to make another comment which really comes under the Department of Social Services. It is a fact that this Government, in a worthwhile fashion, has set aside large sums for the housing of the aged. Only last week-end the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a statement at the opening of a new series of homes for the aged about the millions of pounds that this Government had provided for the housing of this class of people. For that assistance I commend the Government. I think it is most estimable that this should be done. The housing of the aged is a definite problem. But I do not agree with the method by which these millions of pounds are being expended each year. On several occasions I have asked the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) whether he could give the Senate some details of the grants made to certain homes which charge inmates not only a set sum at the time of admission but also rent. The Minister replied to me in writing during the recess when the Senate was not sitting and stated that the Government had no knowledge or any details of this practice. He said that what was done with the grants made by the Commonwealth was the concern of the organization itself and that conditions of tenure in the homes was not the Government’s concern. I maintain that this matter has everything to do with the Government. When thousands of pounds of public money are made available to an organization for the housing of aged people, the Commonwealth Government should have some control over the way in which the money is spent. I do not think anybody will quarrel with that suggestion. This money is supposed to be applied to the housing of aged persons, but the organizations handling the money make homes available only to persons who themselves have money. If you are poor, you cannot get one of these homes. You must be able to pay an initial sum and a weekly rent. Even then, you acquire no equity in the home. This business is becoming quite a racket. I do not deny that many church organizations are doing good work in this field, but the Government should take a greater interest in how money provided for homes for the aged is spent. The Government should see that homes are provided for the people who really need them.
I have received letters from a person who paid £2,000 in order to get one of these units. The tenant of the adjoining unit also had paid £2,000. When the tenant of that adjoining unit died, th: incoming tenant was asked to pay £2,200. The home to which I refer is in the electorate of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and I think he knows all about the circumstances. Since the Government subsidizes homes for the aged on a £2 for £1 basis, if a tenant were asked to pay £2,000, the Government would have paid £4,000. Surely, to house an old couple in a unit costing £6,000 is rather extravagant. I think that money provided under the homes for the aged scheme should be spent in building homes more in keeping with the needs of elderly people and with a view to dealing equitably and fairly with the rest of the community.
– What about feeding these old people?
– They must provide their meals. The scheme simply provides a roof over their heads. I would like to see an inquiry held into the way in which this subsidy is handled. I would like to see an investigation into the way in which the subsidy is used in respect of homes for which a lump sum payment is charged for admission and in respect of homes where no other services are provided. The homes that I have in mind not only charge an incoming tenant a lump sum for admission but also require him to pay a certain amount weekly as well as insurance, rates and lighting.
– And the Government provides £2 for every £1 raised-
– Yes, but the organization does not have to raise a penny. The person who receives the accommodation raises the money.
– For what purpose is the money used?
– For the capital expense of building the home. I would like to know who gets the deeds. These organizations do not provide the money from their own funds. All of the money is provided by the ingoing tenant and the Commonwealth Government.
– The scheme provides extra housing, does it not?
– Yes, but if the Government agrees with what is being done in this regard, why does it not subsidize the rents paid by civilian widows?
– Many churches and other approved societies hold the deeds to these places.
– Yes, but I want to know under what conditions the subsidy is granted. Where do the deeds rest? What happens to an outgoing tenant? Does he lose entrance money that he has paid? These are problems that concern the community at large. I do not allege that everything is not fair and above board, but in some aspects I have doubts. I would like to see a report prepared by the Department of Social Services showing the number of elderly people who are being housed under this scheme, the average weekly rent charged and the average lump sum payment that is being extracted from them before they become tenants.
In Western Australia some very fine homes are conducted by the State Government. Two that come to mind are the Mount Henry Women’s Home and the Sunset Men’s Home. Each of those homes has a waiting list of 200 or 300 persons. The Western Australian Government cannot extend those homes because of lack of funds. The £2 for £1 subsidy should be extended to the State governments and to local government authorities. Any homes built by the States under this scheme would become a community asset. Once the homes had been built the subsidy could not be applied in any other direction.
I have been approached in recent times be very worthy elderly people who want to get into a home for the aged. One of those persons was told that if she paid £600, a flat could be found for her the following day under the homes for the aged scheme. But if she had £600, her plight would not be desperate.
The Budget provides for a great deal of work to be done in Western Australia. That State fares a little better under this Budget than do some of the other States. Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland each will receive large sums for developmental purposes. That is very good, but it is not good enough. Australia needs one authority to control the development of the north. Australians arc the only people in the world who control an entire continent. Australia is the only continent the people of which are of one nationality. I do not know whether this will always be so. I pray to God that it will always be so. The newly emerging nations of the Pacific are close to our northern shores and we do not know foi how long we will be able to boast that Australians control this entire continent. Our north is a vast undeveloped region. Various governments have from time to time done something to develop the north but what we need for its vigorous development is an overall planning authority such as the Snowy Mountains Authority.
– Some years ago, when Senator Cormack was formerly in this chamber, objections were taken to the establishment of the Snowy Mountains Authority to control an undertaking affecting two or three States.
– I did not know that you were such a socialist.
– This is not a question of socialism; it is a question of developing this country. Senator Hannaford is in many respects a socialist. He drinks socialized water. He sends his mail through a socialized post office. When he travels by rail he travels on a socialized undertaking. Development of our north is far too big an undertaking for any one government. It is not sufficient for the Northern Territory Administration to be undertaking certain development and for the Queensland Government to have plans for other development, particularly if action in one aspect of development is retarded because priority is given to another aspect. We need an authority to decide on an overall plan for the development of the north. If government and private enterprise work together on this problem, using both private capital and government capital and the best brains available to each - not all of the best brains are in government and not all are in private enterprise - we may be able properly to develop the north.
– Would you superimpose this authority on the existing State governments?
– I think the State governments would be very happy to have this problem taken care of. Of course, there would be co-operation between the Federal and State governments. I am not posing as an authority on this matter. I am suggesting that the Government should be able to form an authority and iron out problems between the various States, such as those envisaged by Senator Vincent. Such an authority would bring continuity of progress and development to the vast northern part of Australia.
– Do you not think that the State is the proper authority to decide priorities?
– The State decides the priorities at present. My point is that we do not want in State business the stop-go policies that have been adopted in respect of the national economy in the past twelve months. I do not envisage an authority being set up dogmatically by the Federal Government without taking cognizance of State rights and things of that kind. After due deliberation with the States, the Commonwealth Government should be able to set up a central authority to decide on priorities.
– That would take the job out of the hands of the States.
– It would not. The States have not done very much in this field over the last 100 years. Only in the last 25 years has any concerted move been made to develop northern Australia. That has not been because the States do not want to do it. They simply cannot do it with their limited financial resources.
At present the Commonwealth Government, in effect, decides on the priorities. It holds the purse from which comes the money to enable this work to be done. We cannot get away from the fact that the Western Australian Government, with its limited powers of taxation and the State’s limited population, could not possibly make itself responsible for developing the north as it should be developed. In all these problems the over-riding factor should be, not whether somebody will be annoyed because something is taken out of his hands, but whether we will so develop our northern areas that they will become our best defence instead of the section of our defence which is very vulnerable, as they are at present.
I am not alone in thinking that such an authority should be set up. If this were only my idea, I would not be so bold as to suggest this to the Government. Quite a number of people who are authorities in this field have made plans along these lines already. Had Senator Vincent been in the Senate, as I was, when the establishment of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority was first suggested, he would have seen that proposal meet exactly the same kind of opposition as this scheme is meeting to-day. Yet the present Government is now claiming - quite rightly - a great share of the credit for the successful continuation of the Snowy Mountains scheme. I do not for one moment begrudge the Government any credit that it can get from the Snowy Mountains scheme. I give it credit for having the good sense to carry on that great Labour-inspired and initiated project, although members of the present Government parties were opposed to it at its inception.
In the work force of the Snowy Mountains Authority at present we have men from all parts of the world. They are pooling their knowledge and industry in the development of this great project. As it nears completion, we do not want that work force dispersed to the four corners of the world when so much work is waiting to be done in the far north of Australia. Our outback areas have their problems of periodic droughts, and the northern areas have their problems of periodic floods. Enough water runs to waste in the far north to ensure that, with conservation, the rest of Australia would have no water problems at all. We have men with the brains and vision to do this work. I am quite certain that if a northern authority were established the development of the north would go ahead properly, not in fits and starts, and work would not be done in parts of this State and parts of that State, but as part of a properly developed plan. That would make a great difference in that area in the next 20 to 25 years.
It is not sufficient to talk about giving people in the area a few pounds a year by means of taxation concessions. No person goes to the north merely because he will have to pay a couple of pounds a year less income tax. Once people are there, of course, they are quite happy to receive any taxation benefits that they can receive; but I do not believe that the concessions have been the primary force in getting men and their wives to assist in the development of the northern and remote regions. Anything that can be done to help the people who are engaged in this battle is well worth while and I support it. Anything that is done piece-meal, as it is being done now, although not waste, is not far-sighted. I should like a proper plan of development to be put forward and carried on each year for a certain period. We have a five-year plan for the expansion of the north-west of Western Australia. The money that is being spent in that way is a mere bagatelle compared with what should be spent if the north is to be developed within our lifetime to an orderly plan.
I am very disappointed that the Budget contains no mention of a reduction in the sales tax on food. It seems to me to be ridiculous to have all these petty differentiations in the rates of sales tax on various types of food. For instance, if a person buys a bun he pays no sales tax on it; but if, by some mistake or misadventure, there is a currant in the bun, he pays sales tax on it. Fancy having to employ people in the sales tax division to police such pettifogging regulations! Many anomalies have been raised in this chamber from time to time, so I will not waste the time of the Senate by discussing them at great length now. The Government should have removed the sales tax on food, particularly food that is consumed in the ordinary working man’s home. I am referring, not to the luxury lines but to the basic foods. Of course, the Government did not do that.
I come now to the very frightening fact that the Budget makes no provision for education, other than university education which is only the third step in our educational system. The primary, secondary and tertiary sections of education comprise a continuing whole. The Commonwealth Government is taking a great deal of interest in the university section. That leaves at least 80 per cent of the Australian educational system untouched by the Commonwealth Government.
The Government says that the States carry out their educational programmes with the money that is given to them by the Commonwealth. We must remember that nothing is given to the States by the Commonwealth. Everything that the States receive from the Commonwealth has first been raised by the Commonwealth in the States by taxation. That has been the position since the uniform taxation system came into being. I do not know why the Commonwealth Government holds up its head and talks with so much gusto about what it gives to the States. It has nothing to give the States except what has come out of the public pocket.
The Commonwealth Government redirects money from the wealthier States to the claimant States. My State, Western Australia, happens to be a claimant State. The Commonwealth Government says that the States receive sufficient money to carry out their educational programmes. The State programmes have become very much heavier since the Second World War. That increase has been due, in a great measure, to the Commonwealth immigration policy under which many thousands of children have been brought to Australia. In addition, children are staying at school longer, sometimes not because they want to, but because they cannot get employment, and sometimes because their parents, who themselves had to struggle in their youth, want to give their children the benefit of a better education than they had. However, parents are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their children at school.
When I entered this Parliament nineteen years ago to-day, there were only four State high schools in Western Australia. That number has now increased tenfold. There are now better schools, better buildings and so on. However, the more that claimant States spend on social services and educational schemes, the more heavily they are penalized by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. They are told, “You must keep your expenditure down; you cannot go ahead more than the other States “. If they do so, they are penalized in other respects by the Grants Commission. Our university in Western Australia used to be a free university, and the Commonwealth Government, as one of its baits for migrants, still advertises it as a free university in Australia House, London, but it has not been a free university for the past three years. The situation is getting worse. I could not have attended that university had it not been a free university. Many young people are not brilliant and cannot get scholarships all along the line, but this is not to say that they cannot make the best use of a university education. It is not always the most brilliant students who make the best use of a university education. Quite often it is the plodding type of student, who has to work really hard to pass examinations. He really appreciates the benefits of a good education. Many such people will now be deprived of the benefits of a university education because of the high fees being charged.
Western Australia has had to come into line with the other States in these fields; otherwise, its grant would have been reduced. The Child Welfare Department in Western Australia is a very humane department and has treated widows, deserted wives, orphaned children and State wards better than most of its counterparts in the other States have treated them. However, the State was told that if it did not cut down its expenditure in this field, so as to fall into line with other States, the Commonwealth Government would cut down its grants.
Although the Commonwealth accepts no direct responsibility for education, it has accepted some responsibility for one-third of education. Education cannot be divided into three separate compartments. As a matter of fact, there are four compartments; the fourth is pre-school education. The Commonwealth Government has taken some responsibility at both ends of the scale - the pre-school children and the university students. Those are the two groups with which it is intimately concerned, and it helps them. The in-betweens, with their vast problems - the ordinary primary and secondary schools - and those sections of tertiary education not including the universities are excluded from Commonwealth Government benefits. The result is overcrowding in the schools.
Even in Canberra, which in the field of education is the envy of people from every part of Australia, schools are overcrowded.
I read in this morning’s paper of overcrowding in the schools of this very lovely city. Educationalists from other States come here, take one look at Canberra’s schools, and sigh with envy as they think of their own bush schools and dilapidated school buildings and realize that the Government has said that it has no more money to spend on them. I am certain that money which is wasted by this Government in other directions could be spent to great advantage in assisting the State Governments with their education problems. The Commonwealth could assist all parents of school children by way of increased taxation deductions, but this would be unfair to parents in the lower income groups. Parents on higher incomes, paying a higher rate of income tax, would receive the greatest benefits. I have another suggestion, which would not cost the Government much. I think it should at least investigate the education needs of Australia, particularly at the primary and the secondary levels. The Commonwealth Government has done an excellent and speedy job for the universities. The Murray committee got to work quickly, and within a short space of time its findings were put into effect. We now spend millions of pounds on university education. However, this Government spends nothing on primary and secondary education.
All I ask the Government to do at this stage is to set up a commission of inquiry, similar to the Murray committee, to inquire into all aspects of primary, secondary and tertiary - other than university - education in Australia, with a view to recommending how best these branches of education can be assisted.
– Are you aware that some of the States would object to that suggestion?
– I doubt it. How can they object to an inquiry when they come with outstretched hands asking for more money to assist in educational programmes?
– South Australia objects.
– If so, let them object. They would not have to give information if they did not want to. If
South Australia is satisfied, it is a peculiar State. From what I have read in the newspapers about the federal conferences of teachers, the South Australian section of the Teachers’ Federation is not very satisfied. I agree with the honorable senator who has interjected to say that the South Australian Government is complacent. Any government that says it is satisfied with the present state of education in Australia has had it, as far as I am concerned. If that proposition were given publicity, I am satisfied that that government would have had it.
– I did not say that the South Australian Government was satisfied with the present state of education. I said it objected to an investigation.
– Surely it could not object to an investigation if everything were above board.
– It is not your business to say so.
– It is your business, my business and the business of everybody elected to this chamber to see that the educational standards of this country do not deteriorate, as they have been deteriorating over the past decade because of lack of finance. It is the business of all members of Parliament to see that education is properly administered, and that proper staffs and schools are available for all who need them. I suggest that at this stage the Government establish a commission of inquiry. Such a commission might find out, as some people seem to think, that everything is hunkydory with education. If that is so, we should be let into the secret. However, the vast majority of the people would not agree that everything is right in the field of education. Every day hundreds of thousands of people clamour and petition for improvements in the education system. This Government can do many things that cost far more than would a commission of inquiry into the educational needs of Australia, and I ask it to set up such a commission immediately. If it does not want to do so, that is its business, but the people themselves will decide who is right and who is wrong when it seeks their commendation in the future.
This Budget has completely ignored the needs of social services. I simply cannot understand how the members of the Government can hold up their heads when they meet people from the poorer sections of the community and tell them, “ We have not a halfpenny or a penny for you out of the public purse “, when prices are rising all the time. It is a shame to see civilian widows treated as they are. It would not cost the Government anything to extend the amount of permissible income they can earn, though I admit that this may not be a very good step. I want to see every woman left widowed with children to care for, able to stay in her own home to bring up her children decently. That is the best job she can do; she should not have to go out to work, leaving the children at home by themselves when they need her most.
The Government is so concerned - noisily, perhaps - in the councils of the world that it has forgotten the little people at home. Unfortunately, most of these people are not organized. They are not vocal, and they do not have wealth and power. The only way their voices can be heard in this National Parliament is for honorable senators to deal with their problems on the floor of this chamber. I support the amendment that has been moved by my leader, and I trust the Government will see fit to accept some of the suggestions I have put to it in all good faith.
– It is, of course, traditional for the Opposition to criticize the Budget. Last Wednesday evening, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna), again traditionally, criticized the Budget in the usual way. On reading his speech, I feel that his criticism is not as well based this year as it has been on some earlier occasions. I am afraid he was not in very good form when he attempted to criticize the current financial measures. He began his speech with the following observation: -
Mr. President, the Opposition believes that the Budget now under consideration cannot be looked at in isolation, but must be seen against its background.
Nobody will quarrel with that proposition. I agree with it completely. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition, for about an hour, proceeded to do exactly the opposite and to look at the Budget while completely ignoring its background. In his remarks he introduced some semblance of a foreground, and even of a middle distance, but he certainly did not consider the background of the Budget.
In referring to the Budget, the Leader of the Opposition said -
This is the action of a Treasurer and a Government fearful and uncertain. Why is the Government fearful in this situation?
Later, he said -
Quite plainly, the Government lacks the bold leadership so urgently required to bring this country out of its economic stagnation.
Those are the two main criticisms which the Leader of the Opposition directed against the Budget and the state of the economy. He claimed that the Government was being fearful in its budgetary proposals and that the state of the economy was stagnant. I most enthusiastically join issue with him on both criticisms.
Let us consider first his criticism that the Government is being too fearful, a criticism which pervades the whole of his speech. Here, we have a budget which plans for a deficit of £118,000,000, the largest on record. Subsequently, I shall give some details of the extent of this deficit. At the moment, I merely say that a deficit of £1 1 8,000,000 is an enormous one. Does the Leader of the Opposition suggest that in budgeting for such a deficit the Government was provoked by fear? Surely when one considers the facts of life in relation to the Budget and remembers that ultimately the deficit must be repaid, the Government’s action will be seen to have considerable merit and courage in the circumstances. As stated by Senator Tangney, this Budget plans for the largest developmental expenditure in the history of federation. Is that indicative of fear on the part of the Government? The Leader of the Opposition was decidedly off form when he made that allegation. We may criticize the Budget for other reasons, but surely not because it indicates fear on the part of the Government.
Let me say something of the criticism by the Leader of the Opposition, so frequently made by him, regarding the stagnation of the economy. Contrary to the honorable senator’s opening remark that the Budget had to be seen against its background, he proceeded to criticize the state of the economy without considering its background at all. For example, in a most uncharacteristic attack, he selected only one year, namely, the boom year, and proceeded to compare the state of the economy of Australia at present with some of the conditions appertaining in that boom year. He referred to the national income. It was not a coincidence, of course, that he should cite the national income of the boom year and argue from that premise that because the anticipated national income and the national income of last year did not reflect boom year conditions, that in fact indicated a condition of stagnation. I suggest that that is not fair criticism.
I propose to make some reference to the national income, but I do not intend to select any particular year. I shall refer to the national income for a number of years, for as far back as 1953. One could go back farther than that, and I think my thesis would still be proved. If we take a proper background view of our national income for any reasonable period, such as the nine years to which I refer, we must be forced to the conclusion that the economy of this country is by no means stagnant but, on the contrary, is developing at quite a spectacular rate. For example, in 1953-54 our national income, in round figures, was £3,870,000,000. In nine years it has risen to £5,930,000,000. That is a very large increase, Mr. President. Honorable senators will be well aware of the details of the national income for that period, but for record purposes, and with the concurrence of honorable senators, I shall incorporate in “Hansard” details of the national income between 1953 and 1962. They are as follows: -
If honorable senators refer to the Budget Papers they will see that the national income has increased to the extent I have mentioned during those years. A perusal of the figures will indicate that the increase in the national income has fluctuated somewhat from year to year.
– With the horror budgets, and so on.
– That interjection is indicative of the tendency to forget the fact that the economy of the nation does not improve or decline irregularly from year to year and from budget to budget. It also ignores the facts that people do not live from budget to budget, businesses are not planned from budget to budget, and the economies of nations are not planned from year to year. If you look at one solitary year, you will come to very foolish conclusions. You have to look at a number of years to get the true picture. As Senator McKenna has said, you have to look at the background.
If you look at the background to our national income, you will find there has been a progressive and substantial increase. In some years the increase has been larger than in others. In 1957-58, the increase in national income over that of the previous year was as low as £42,000,000, whereas in the preceding year the increase was £330,000,000. Last year, the increase over that of the previous year was a little over £68,000,000. When you look at the whole of the picture against the whole of the background, I suggest that the only conclusion you can come to is that our national income is progressively rising. I suggest that that in itself gives the lie to Senator McKenna’s allegation that our economy is stagnant.
I do not suggest that those are the only figures that should be taken into consideration when looking at the general picture of our economy. I have another set of figures to which I wish to refer. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ some figures relating to Australian trade between the years 1949-50 and 1961-62, as supplied to me by the Treasury. They are as follows: -
I put those figures before the Senate because I suggest they form a part of the background to a consideration of the health or otherwise of our economy. In 1949-50, the value of our export trade was £593,000,000. Over the years, the value of that trade increased progressively, and for last year it was estimated by the Treasury to be £1,080,000,000. Since 1949-50 the value of our export trade has doubled. One cannot but admit that that is not a history of stagnation.
– Inflation is the only reason why it has doubled.
– I shall refer to inflation when I deal later with the state of our economy in relation to costs and prices.
– Can you name any other country in the world that could not supply the same figures and the same arguments?
– That is a most interesting interjection, because it happens that Australia’s trade has increased in volume and value to a greater extent than that of any other democratic nation in the last ten years. That statement can be proved. Australia is now amongst the world’s greatest trading nations. We have advanced from a position of minor importance to one of considerable importance to-day. We have become a great trading nation, as is shown by the figures to which I have referred. Those figures certainly do not indicate, as Senator McKenna suggested, that our economy is stagnant. I reiterate that in order to get a good look at our economy you must look at more than one or two years. I suggest that you examine the figures for at least a decade to see where we are going. If you do that, you will be provided with the background which Senator McKenna mentioned at the beginning of his remarks and you will disagree with his assertion that our economy is stagnant.
I should now like to make a few remarks of my own concerning the Budget. I suggest to the Senate that the economic factors that should influence a government in framing a budget come under five headings. First, the maintenance of a high rate of immigration should be regarded as one of our budgetary aims. I suggest that another should be the preservation of healthy overseas reserves. I think the third aim should be to establish full employment. Here let me emphasize that I am not submitting these aims in any order of priority. I think that the fourth aim - it is an important one - should be the preservation of stability of costs and prices. That point was raised by Senator O’Byrne a few moments ago, and I shall have something to say about it later. The fifth aim should be increased productivity and the development of our resources and industries. It is to those five aims that I wish to address myself briefly in the time at my disposal.
On the question of population, I find that I must again join issue with the Leader of the Opposition, who suggests that the economy is stagnant. It is well known - I repeat these facts because it is necessary to do so for the benefit of the Opposition - that our population has grown from about 8,000,000 to 10,500,000 over the past decade. That in itself is quite an achievement. It certainly cannot be suggested that an economy which can afford such a luxury is by any means stagnant. During the course of his remarks, Senator McKenna made reference to our immigration policy in these terms -
The Treasurer stated in his Budget Speech that the migration target is still 125,000 a year. Yet, when we consider the first six months of this year we find that net migration, acording to the Statistician - I looked at the figures to-day - is running at the rate of about 48,000 increase this calendar year.
Then, he continued along these lines -
Why talk about a target of 125,000 as though that were being achieved or even being nearly achieved?
In fairness to the Government, I must say that I think that Senator McKenna, either intentionally or unintentionally, completely misrepresented the situation with regard to immigration. What he did was to take the total of arrivals in the year in question, which was about 312,000, and subtract from that the total of departures, which was about 264,000. This gave him the figure of 48,000 to which he referred as showing the failure of our immigration policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I point out that in his departures figure Senator McKenna has included football teams, the Prime Minister, the thousands of tourists from other countries who proceeded to their home countries and, of course, the many thousands of Australians who went overseas on working holidays or for other reasons. That really clouds the issue and it is not quite fair that that be given as a picture of the way in which the immigration policy has either failed or succeeded.
– What is the figure?
– I shall state the figures now. I have taken the trouble to consult the department, and I find that the actual immigration figures are very much different. If Senator McKenna had taken the trouble to have a look at them, he would not have made such a silly statement or come to such a fallacious conclusion. Permanent and long-term arrivals in the year in question totalled 118,000, including 85,807 permanent immigrants from Europe. That is the figure that Senator McKenna should have cited when estimating whether or not our immigration programme had succeeded.
– That means that it has not succeeded.
– That number is about twice the number that Senator McKenna cited. The net figure is not very much - a few thousands - less than the figure for any of the other years. Having regard to the fact that the proper type of immigrant is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain - I emphasize that element of the matter - we cannot complain that that number is unreasonable in the circumstances. Throughout the whole operation of our immigration policy, we have never succeeded in fully attaining our target. Sometimes the number obtained has been a good deal lower than the figure I have stated, and sometimes it has been a good deal higher. We cannot select one year in isolation and endeavour to come to a conclusion about the failure of a government policy that is continuing from year to year and should be looked at against its proper background, as Senator McKenna himself postulated. By and large, last year’s performance cannot be criticized too severely. If we succeed in obtaining this year as many migrants of the calibre of those that we obtained last year, we shall not have done too badly. The second matter to which I wish to refer relates to overseas balances. The Budget must have regard to this particularly vital element in the preservation of our trade. In order to give a complete picture of our overseas balances, with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ figures showing overseas balances from 1958 to 1962. I am indebted to the Treasury for these.
Looking at the full background, we see that our first and second line reserves now total £773,000,000, the second highest amount on record. It was exceeded only during a highly critical boom period, of which honorable senators will be well aware, when during the Korean situation the price of wool rose so fantastically. It would be quite erroneous to compare the figure in that year with the normal level of our overseas reserves. Excluding the Korean war year, we find that our present overseas reserves are higher than they have ever been before. I suggest that that is not an indication of a stagnant economy. Trade balances are running favorably towards Australia at the moment. That does not happen fortuitously in any country.
I turn now to the matter of full employment, which is one of the aims of the Budget in the context in which I am speaking. Senator McKenna made some reference to Government policy in relation to this matter. He said -
The Government now talks only about reducing unemployment - not a word pf the policy of full employment. The Government has thrown that out of the window.
That was a most unfair statement by Senator McKenna. It does not happen to be true. There has not been a Budget speech since I have been a member of the Senate in which there has not been some reference to the Government’s policy of full employment. That is so of this Budget speech, which was delivered by the Treasurer in another place. The pages of “ Hansard “ will support my statement. Not only in the Budget speech has the Government repeatedly reiterated its policy in relation to this matter. On many occasions it has stated that its policy is one of full employment and that the Opposition has no monopoly of that policy. When the Chifley Labour Government’s unemployment figure was running at about twice the present level, Senator McKenna did not insist that Labour had dropped its policy of full employment. There was no suggestion by anybody then that that had happened. Why should Senator McKenna infer from the present level of unemployment that this Government has dropped its policy? There has been no suggestion by anybody speaking on behalf of the Government that this policy has been dropped.
– The Estimates provide for unemployment for all of next year.
– Whatever the Estimates provide, it cannot be denied that the present level of unemployment is a good deal lower than that pertaining in the time of the Chifley Government. I do not put that forward as an answer to the problem. I do not think that it is a good excuse to say, “ When you were in government, your level of unemployment was higher “. That is not an answer to the problem at all. It does not satisfy the bloke who happens to be looking for a job. There is a much better manner of discussion on the problem. The proper argument can be put in this way: What can the Government do in the circumstances? What is the Government doing in the circumstances? Will that have the effect of alleviating the situation? That is a much better attitude to adopt in regard to this question, and I propose to devote myself to it for a few minutes.
The Australian Labour Party in the election last December came up with what is regarded as the right answer. It proposed to inflate the currency by about £300,000,000 in one year for this purpose. If that had been done I have no doubt that it would have provided a lot of work reasonably quickly. However, if such an enormous amount of money were poured into the economy of a country, it would not only put a lot of people into work, but also put a lot of people out of work. For every man put into a job, two would come out of their jobs.
It is no coincidence that the Opposition, in criticizing this Budget, has reduced its inflation proposal by more than half in suggesting what should be done to stimulate the economy and arrest unemployment. I mention that by the way, but certainly the attitude of the Australian Labour Party has been modified considerably during the last six months. I do not think it will any longer advocate a violent inflation of the currency as a stimulus to employment.
There is a much better solution to this problem; but before I mention what I think is the answer I wish to say that there is a complementary problem associated with unemployment, namely, the very important problem of employment. When we consider the problem of finding jobs for the unemployed we must have regard for the preservation of the jobs of the men who are already working. If, by creating jobs, we throw other men out of work we have not solved the problem or done the proper thing. We must look not only at unemployment but also at the preservation of existing employment.
When you consider the problem as a whole this is what you see: At the moment for every 100 potential bread-winners about 98 are in employment. That state of affairs has been brought about by the Government, not fortuitously, but by careful planning and the adoption of a reasonably good fiscal policy. We have 98 men in every 100 in employment. That is the first thing to notice. Again, it is important to realize that during the last twelve months 81,000 men have found new employment, or, to put it another way, 81,000 new jobs have been found. The highest peak of 130,000 men seeking unemployment relief, has been reduced, as everybody knows, to 90,000. However, every Government supporter will agree that further measures to reduce unemployment are desirable. Last week we passed one of those further measures. The proposal was adopted right heartily, although not in the context in which I am now talking, because our colleagues from South Australia rather took it out of that context. It was essentially legislation for the purpose of creating employment as distinct from development.
Consideration should be given to the important deficit aspect of this Budget. As I have said, the Budget provides for the largest deficit that any federal government has ever contemplated - an amount of £118,000,000. I have details of some other budgets. It is most interesting to consider them in the light of present-day conditions. In 1956-57 the surplus was £17,000,000. In the following year, 1957-58, it was £10,000,000. In 1958-59 what was then considered to be a very large deficit of £29,500,000 was planned. In those days - it is not so very long ago - that was regarded by the economists as an enormous deficit. It was planned for certain purposes, and was to be, among other things, a stimulus to employment. The following year, 1959-60, a second deficit amounting to £28,000,000 was planned, which was again considered in those days to be a very high figure. In 1960-61 there was a credit balance of some £15,000,000. In 1961-62 the deficit was £27,000,000, and now, suddenly, the Government has brought down a budget which will involve deficit spending of some £118,000,000. Honorable senators may well ask me what this has to do with the unemployment situation. I think it has a lot to do with unemployment. The Government had two main considerations in mind when it planned this deficit. One was the creation of new jobs and the other the development of the continent.
Senator McKenna was pleased to argue that in any event the deficit of £1 18,000,000 was inevitable because of lower revenue. I shall not argue that proposition at the moment, but I do say that, irrespective of why a deficit was planned, it cannot be denied that there is to be this enormous deficit. The learned Leader of the Opposition tried to cover up the effect of the deficit by saying that it simply had to be because of lower revenue, but that does not alter the situation one iota. Even if Senator McKenna is right - I deny that he is - the effect of the deficit cannot be altered. It will remain irrespective of why it was brought about. It is planned and it is there for all to see.
Getting back to the question of unemployment, I remind honorable senators that we had about 90,000 people enrolled for unemployment benefits last month. Figures disclose an estimated increase in expenditure of approximately £100,000,000 and an estimated increase in receipts of some £8,000,000. If we deduct the estimated receipts from the estimated expenditure the result is an amount of about £91,000,000. In so far as the £91,000,000 indicates the extent to which the increase in government spending is expected to exceed the increase of revenue. I think it can be said that it will stimulate employment. Any one who is good at mathematics can work it out along these lines. The figure of £91,000,000 is the equivalent of £1,000 per unemployed person per year. When this £91,000,000 is put into the pockets of the people of Australia it will be the equivalent of £1,000 per year to every breadwinner out of work.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was about to conclude my remarks concerning the impact of deficit finance on the employment situation. It has been suggested that a better way to deal with the employment situation would have been to make available, by way of an increase in social services or by reducing taxes, an amount similar to the amount of the deficit. But I submit that deficit finance, as a method of dealing with unemployment, is appropriate to the circumstances that exist in Australia to-day.
Let us deal with the suggestion that purchasing power should have been increased by providing additional social service benefits. I admit, of course, that additional social service benefits would eventually directly promote a demand for goods and services and so create employment. But I suggest that it would not have been advisable in this case and in the context in which I speak to have used that method of finance because, after all, the present unemployment situation is a temporary one inviting a temporary remedy, whereas a substantial increase in social services or other forms of welfare payment would promote a recurring obligation on the Government. Tn the circumstances it would have been inappropriate to attempt to provide a remedy for this temporary problem by imposing a permanent obligation on the nation’s economy.
With regard to reducing taxes, a different argument presents itself. I readily admit that substantial reductions of tax would release funds which would create employment. Nobody argues against that as an economic proposition, but I submit, with respect, that even that method would not be in the best interests of the community so far as employment is concerned because it does not follow that remissions or savings of tax all find their way ultimately into the pockets of the wageearners. To a very great extent a proportion of tax savings is retained by the taxpayer and not put into circulation. That has been proved over and over again. So in the context in which I speak the safe way of encouraging employment is through the medium of deficit budgeting. My arguments should establish at least a prima facie case for this method of financing.
I sum up my thought on the unemployment situation by submitting to the Senate that deficit financing is the surest way to create employment because in the ultimate it will ensure that the maximum amount of money eventually finds its way into the pockets of the workers.
– The amount will not be sufficient, however.
– I do not argue whether the amount will be sufficient. I have already dealt with that aspect. For the honorable senator’s benefit I will repeat what I said earlier. Under this method of deficit financing an amount in excess of £90,000,000 will be released. Almost all of that amount will either directly, through the medium of the public sector or indirectly through the medium of the private sector, eventually find its way into the pockets of the workers. If Senator O’Byrne cares to make an arithmetical calculation he will see that the amount of the deficit works out at £20 a week for twelve months for each of the 90,000 persons now registered for employment. 1 conclude my remarks in this context by saying that this rather astronomical deficit - it is astronomical even in our time - cannot fail to help substantially the employment situation. In fact, I think it is reasonable to assume that this enormous deficit will eventually create a condition of full employment, which is the Government’s established policy. 1 come now to the fourth aspect of the Budget to which I referred some time ago - stability. I was reminded of this aspect by Senator O’Byrne. I remind the honorable senator and other honorable senators that we do not hear very much from the Opposition these days about inflation. For some time in earlier days the Government was solidly attacked by the Opposition with regard to inflation.
– You have hit the ceiling.
– I point out to Senator Cooke that nobody can deny that the Government has for at least a year and perhaps eighteen months past achieved a condition of stability in prices and costs that has not been experienced in Australia for many generations without the imposition of controls. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following table showing the percentage change in the consumer price index from the June quarter of 1958 to the present day: -
– If you incorporate any more detailed information you will need a second edition of “ Hansard “.
– I think it is desirable to place this information before the Senate. The table provides background information which Senator McKenna, in his consideration of the Budget, failed to give us. The table presents an interesting picture. It shows that in 1958 there was an increase of 1 per cent, in the consumer price index. In 1959 the increase was 1.7 per cent. In 1960 there was an increase of 3.7 per cent, and in 1961 the increase was a further 3.2 per cent. But since 1961 we have had a condition of stability and in the twelve months ended June, 1962, the consumer price index decreased by 0.8 per cent. I suggest that that decrease was not achieved by good luck. Rather it has been achieved by good management. Not only have prices and costs been stabilized but there has been a profound effect on the real value of the wages received by the working man. The stability in the economy becomes very significant when one pays regard to the way in which average weekly earnings have increased in the last eighteen months. For example, in March 1961, at about the time when prices and costs became stabilized, the average weekly earnings of an adult male were £21 15s. Without any increase in the cost of living - in fact, with a decrease in the cost of living - the average weekly earnings of an adult male have risen to £24. I note that honorable senators opposite are remarkably silent.
That is the position of the economy which Senator McKenna criticized and called stagnant. We are very lucky that the economy is not stagnant. Had it been stagnant there would have been no real increase in wages and purchasing power. I suggest that members of the Australian
Labour Party who have studied copies of the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Whitlam) have confused stability with stagnation. I now relate those remarks to the present Budget. The Budget for the previous financial year maintained that stability and I suggest that this Budget will do likewise. I defy any member of the Opposition to prove that I am wrong.
The final aim of the Budget is probably as important as any other aim. I have not referred to these aims in their order of importance. We should regard this final aim as of the utmost importance in these days of growth. I refer, of course, to the aim of increasing productivity and development. In this respect I agree entirely with Senator Spooner who suggested that this Budget should be named the “ National Development Budget “. Despite what the Opposition says about it being a stagnation budget or a budget produced by fear, nobody can deny that the developmental projects envisaged in it are the largest ia the history of our federation. In order to put the record straight and with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following list of major expenditures by the Commonwealth on specific projects and other activities of a developmental nature between the years 1960-61 and 1962-63 inclusive:-
I do not suggest for one moment that Senator McKenna really believed what he said when he described the motives that actuated the Government in bringing down this Budget as fearful. Senator Cooke and all other Western Australian senators will agree that this Budget sets an all-time record for the investment of Commonwealth funds in Western Australia.
Let us look at the figures. Two years ago no money was being made available for railway projects in Western Australia; this year the State will receive £4,300,000 for railway projects. Two years ago no money was made available for cattle roads; this year £700,000 will be made available for that purpose. Two years ago £1,208,000 was made available for the development of the Kimberleys; last year the figure was £1,705,000; and this year £1,432,000 will be made available. All of this money will be spent by the State Government. The Commonwealth will provide £300,000 for the replacement of the Derby jetty.
A new approach is being made to the gold-mining industry, my old favourite. For the first time in the history of this industry the Government is giving assistance in the form of a development allowance to mines not in receipt of subsidy. This allowance, which will amount to £300,000 this year, will encourage increased productivity and will be increased from year to year. Whether Senator McKenna and Senator Cooke - the only other Western Australian that I can see in the chamber at the moment - regard that as part of a budget produced by fear or a static budget I do not know. My wish and the wish of every other Western Australian is that every budget should be actuated by the same motives as actuated this Budget.
This Budget sets out to do two important things. In the first place, by way of deficit financing it sets out to create a condition of full employment. I invite honorable senators opposite to explain why this deficit budget, which will stimulate the economy to the tune of £91,000,000, will not have that effect. Secondly, this is a grand developmental Budget brought down at a time when development is very important to this nation. I suggest that this Budget will do both of those things and still preserve the stable economy that we have experienced over the past eighteen months. I believe that the Government has done all that it could possibly do. For that reason, 1 support the Budget most enthusiastically.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, I have to admit that I have one earnest hope. It is that I will never grow so melancholy that I will sit in this chamber and listen attentively to Senator Vincent for one hour. This afternoon I heard him speaking about some of the things that Senator McKenna said about the Budget. One of the words Senator Vincent used was “ stagnant “. If he used that word once, he used it at least 50 or 60 times.
– What was the word?
– “ Stagnant “. Of course, it is the adjective from “ stagnation “. There is no need for me to explain it further. Senator Kendall has been listening to Senator Vincent all afternoon and is unable to recall the word although Senator Vincent used it at least 50 or 60 times. It was poor tactics for Senator Vincent to use the words “ stagnation “ and “ stagnant “ when speaking about the Government’s Budget. I would not have associated those two words with the Budget, if I were Senator Vincent. I would have let the people make that deduction after a full examination of it.
He made a long speech about nothing and incorporated in “ Hansard “ many appendices. I do not know why we allowed them to be incorporated in his speech when we knew that they would not contain any substantial information and that nobody in the Commonwealth would bother reading even the headings on them. In dealing with a budget, one must match it against the requirements, the wishes and the desires of the average citizen. One must take this Budget, find out what it offers the people, and then ask: what is uppermost in the minds of the people to-day? I put that question to the Senate. Are the people of Australia not concerned about economic security in the same way as the peoples of the other small nations of the world? Economic security is one of the things that is uppermost in the minds of the people at present. To the wage-earning masses, economic security means nothing more than having a job and taking home a pay envelope at the end of the week. What are the feelings of the workers about economic security now? Go out and ask the wage-earning masses everywhere; go out and ask the parents of children now attending school and due to finish their schooling at the end of the year. Ask those parents their prospects of finding worthwhile employment for their children in Australian industries. That is only one simple little test. There are many others.
What are the educational opportunities offering in Australia at all levels - primary, secondary and tertiary? They are not improving. There is clamour throughout the country for something more to be done for children attending primary schools. Analysing the situation, one finds that the primary schools are really the basis of our whole educational system. Recently the Minister for Education in Queensland said that he would like to make school children keep their heads down at school until they attained the age of sixteen years. I could not agree more with him. But none of the States has the funds to meet the capital expenditure of building schools for the larger number of children that would need them if the compulsory school-leaving age were raised to sixteen years.
– What about Tasmania?
– That is one exception. I thank Senator Cole for his remark. However, I point out that Tasmania receives the benefit of grants under the States Grants Act, as a result of which, I understand, the Tasmanian Government is able to keep children at school until they attain the age of sixteen years, and to send some of them to a university as well. That is one of the benefits resulting from State grants.
One must deal with these vital matters when considering a budget. They must be matched against the budget. One must find out how the family unit will fare. What about housing? We speak of our standard of living, but it is of little use trying to improve it unless full and proper provision is made for the family unit. What prospects face the people of Australia in the field of housing? I have in mind the homeless people who are compelled to pay rents of seven guineas or eight guineas a week from their pay packets. That is common. I do not want to dwell too long on that-
– Do you mean to say that that is the State rate for rent in Queensland?
– For a flat, I said.
– I thought you said seven guineas or eight guineas a week for houses.
– I will go further and say to Senator Wright that it is almost impossible to rent a house for under six guineas or seven guineas a week. I can give examples of hardship. Men have come to me-
– What about Inala?
– You know that scheme has a waiting list. A person is lucky if he gets a house after he has waited for six months or twelve months. Recently a migrant from England, a bookbinder by occupation, came to see me. I shall not say where he was employed; suffice it to say that he was compelled to work at one end of Brisbane and to live at the other end. He occupied a portion of a house and paid £7 12s. a week rent. On top of that, he had to pay fares. That is not an isolated case; there are many others.
Now that I have been challenged on this matter, I say that the Government’s housing record is appalling. It could not be worse. When returned to office in 1949, the Menzies Government had an opportunity to do something of major importance for the people of Australia. To-day there is a depressing housing lag. Many people are homeless and numerous others are paying high rentals. The Government has never made a scientific investigation of the problem to see whether cheaper homes could be provided for the people. Instead, it has supported the great land jobbers, the people who buy vacant land adjacent to developing suburbs, sub-divide it and make profits of as much as 100 per cent, and 200 per cent, on their original outlay. This sort of practice has handicapped the people all the time.
I now move on to another important matter that must be considered when matching the Budget against the requirements of the people - the preservation of health and the curing of maladies. I come from Queensland, where we have free hospitals for the people. At those hospitals the people can obtain free medicine. Queensland is the only State in the Commonwealth with a free hospital service for all the people; no means test is in operation. I am thankful that I do not live in another State. I, in common with all the other people of Queensland, have peace of mind because I know that no matter what sickness may befall me or the members of my family, they will have the opportunity of attending public hospitals at which no charge whatever will be made.
Other matters of smaller importance can also be matched against the Budget. When this is done, one finds that there is no goodness and no gold in the Budget for the ordinary people. I admit that there may be a measure of gold and goodness in the Budget for some people, but for the typical citizen there is nothing but a bag of lead and close association with sackcloth and ashes for the next twelve months. I say that the Budget is a failure, and I propose to go through some of the tables in the Budget Papers to convince honorable senators that I am right. The business paper has this to say of the matter we are discussing -
Estimates and Budget Papers 1962-63. - Adjourned debate … on the motion by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), viz. - That the Papers be printed.
That refers to the Budget Papers. What are the Budget Papers? I take it that the document called “The Budget 1962-63” is one of them, and so is the document headed “ Budget Statement “, which is read by the Treasurer in the House of Representatives. It is also read in this chamber. The document headed “ Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure “ is another of the Budget papers. To-night, we are discussing all the papers and their contents, and the effect that they will have upon the community at large.
Those honorable senators who have examined this document called the Budget will have observed that the tables in Part IV, running from No. 8 to No. 30, both inclusive, differ somewhat from those presented to us last year. I should say that the presentation of the tables is in a clearer form. The information contained in them is more readily understandable. One may make deductions. It is possible to ascertain what they purport to convey to the members of the Parliament. I congratulate the Department of the Treasury on making the change in the tables. Any one who is prepared to make a study of the tables I have mentioned will find them very interesting indeed. He will find that they deal with the Commonwealth securities on issue, which is another term for Commonwealth loans, or for sums that the Commonwealth owes. The tables give a considerable amount of information. As a matter of fact, I should say they give all the information that it is possible to give about the various loans that have been raised in the past. They show the national debt, or the amount that is owed in respect of the Commonwealth securities on issue. The tables show that the amount of £4,540,000,000 is on issue; that is, that sum has been borrowed from the United States of America, from Canada, from
Switzerland, from The Netherlands and, I think, from Germany, because we are still paying interest to that country. It also includes the loans raised locally. The net amount of debt mentioned in those tables is £4,540,000,000. We pay the sum of £186,208,000 annually in interest on that sum. I am speaking now of the lead bag in the economy. Honorable senators will find all these particular set out in the tables I have mentioned.
The Commonwealth therefore has to find £3,600,000 a week to meet the interest bill on those securities on issue. That is a big drain on our resources. The tables show when the loans were negotiated; the amounts, with whom the debt was incurred, the amounts that have been redeemed and the amounts redeemable, and the sums that we pay annually in the form of redemption and interest in United States dollars, Canadian dollars, Netherlands guilders, German deutsche marks, Swiss francs, and United Kingdom sterling currency. They also show what we have to pay in Australian currency for interest on loans.
I listened to Senator Vincent’s speech, but I did not hear him say anything about the debt that we owe to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. One would think, from his speech, that we did not owe a penny and had no mortgage whatever to consider. We owe the International Bank more than £85,000,000.
– What a terrible sum! It would daunt any indolent loafer.
– I cannot hear what the honorable senator is saying. He has just come into the Senate. I do not know where he has been.
– I have been listening to you for too long.
– I have no doubt that the honorable senator will rise to his feet before this debate has ended and grind his teeth. I suppose he will put on a show, as he usually does. The annual interest payable in respect of the loan from the International Bank amounts to £3,800,000. Of course, Senator Wright brushes that to one side. He should wait a moment. 1 am reaching the point that I want to make in this connexion.
The tables show the war loans raised in Australia in respect of the First World War and the amount that is still owed.
– I expect you would repudiate that money.
– That is what you would do. In the last war, the sum of £798,000,000 was raised.
– You would repudiate that, would you?
– I do not stand for repudiation, nor does the Australian Labour Party. These are payments that are inescapable. They have to be met, and met from the public purse. The people have to provide the money by way of taxation to make the payments possible.
– And to pay some taxation on the payments they receive, too.
– Of course. Some of these amounts do not attract income tax at all, but others do. If honorable senators look through the tables they will be able to find out for themselves the amounts which attract income tax and those which do not.
I come now to the point I want to make, Mr. President. In 1949, the amount of Commonwealth securities on issue was £2,943,000,000. At 30th June last year, they amounted to £4,540,000,000, so that there has been a substantial increase. Here is inflation and here, I say, is the lead bag that the present Government has put around the necks of the people of the Commonwealth.
– What assets have accrued on the other side?
– I shall come to those. The honorable senator need not worry that 1 shall fail to deal with the matter, but if he wants an answer now, I refer him to the assets that have been created from loan funds and from Consolidated Revenue. For instance, I refer him to the Snowy Mountains project which, until last year, was carried out from Consolidated Revenue. Honorable senators opposite may take all the assets, examine them and then ask themselves, “ Why are we budgeting for a deficit this year? “
– You would not have a clue.
– Nor would you. It is bad government, to say the least of it, to have all the assets to match the loan funds that have been raised over the years and yet be unable to pay your way. That is what it amounts to at the present time.
Securities on issue in 1949 amounted to £372 3s. 9d. per head of population. On 30th June this year, the amount was £424 per head. There has been a substantial increase, but it does not appear in focus because since 1950 our population has increased from 8,000,000 to 10,800,000. The Government has been loan mad over the last seven or eight years. It has borrowed money wherever it could throughout the world and now the debt has become an imposition upon the economy of Australia. The total annual interest liability in 1949 was £87,000,000. By the end of last financial year, it had increased to £186,000,000. There was an increase of £99,000,000 a year in the interest bill alone. Every year we have to find the sum of £186,000,000 to meet our interest bill. Whereas, in 1949, the annual interest bill per head of the population was £11, by 30th June last it had increased to £17 7s. As I said a little while ago, these payments are inescapable. We are committed to meeting our liabilities, and we will do so even if we are compelled to do what the Government is doing now - raising loans all the time to redeem existing loans. This is a never-ending process, and it has got to be used to meet the interest bill.
When we move from the Commonwealth to the States, we find that the States also owe millions of pounds. If we have a ride on the railway system of any State our fare includes a charge for capital expenditure and interest on debts incurred years and years ago. The amount included for those items in the charge per train- mile is very substantial. Honorable senators may see corroboration of what I am saying if they care to examine the reports of the AuditorsGeneral of the six States. The local authorities also owe more money, which means that in that sphere too there is another interest bill to be met. Semigovernmental authorities, boards and the like, all have loans on issue and high interest bills to meet. In the face of those figures, can it be said that the economy is sound? It is stagnant because of the high interest bill that has to be met annually. Just imagine what could be done in the way of development throughout the Commonwealth with £186,000,000 if it were not being paid out in interest every year.
There will be a substantial increase in the total revenue for this year. It is estimated that the total revenue this year will be something like £1,665,000,000, or £23,889,000 more than last year. The receipts from revenue, public loan raisings and other sources will total £1,973,000,000. That is the sum that will be raised for governmental purposes this year. The total expenditure this year is expected to be £2,091,000,000. Thus, there will be a deficit of £118,000,000. A deficit of £118,000,000 means that, after reviewing all its taxation measures, the Government is satisfied to leave £118,000,000 in the community, hoping that that sum will be spent on consumer goods and so increase the prospects of industry generally. But that money has to be collected later. A deficit, in effect, only means leaving money uncollected from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. This £118,000,000 will have to be met by way of a treasury-bill, and that treasury-bill will have to be redeemed later by taxing the people again. Deficit budgeting can be only temporary, and this is the second time that it has occurred. This £118,000,000 will be added to the treasury-bills already owing by the Commonwealth. That might be a cheap method of financing certain projects during war time, and one could not raise any objection then, but at the present time there is something like £448,000,000 owing in treasury-bills. I am only telling honorable senators what they have read, because I know that every honorable senator in the chamber has read all the information contained in the tables I have quoted. Every honorable senator knows that we owe £448,000,000 in treasury-bills at the present time. Some will ask, “ Is the economy of Australia sound “? The answer is that it is not sound, and it cannot be sound because of the loans we have to redeem and the interest bills we have to meet.
– Do you oppose deficit budgets?
– When the economy of the country is not sound, I believe in deficit budgets.
– Do you oppose a deficit budget this year?
– Because I know that the economy is stagnant, that it is not sound, I support a deficit budget this year. When I think for a moment of the number of unemployed people in the Commonwealth, when I know that in Queensland alone over 2,000 juveniles who left our schools last year have not yet been placed in employment, despite the information to the contrary which was quoted here last week, I do support a deficit budget.
I think that the time has arrived when the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States should be reviewed and overhauled, and when the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and local authorities and between the Commonwealth and semigovernmental bodies should be reviewed. In fact, I would not object if the Government appointed a Senate select committee to investigate the whole matter. It is a long time now since we had placed before us anything at all relating to the financial relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. To the best of my recollection, the last time anything of that sort was submitted to the Senate was when we had presented to us a white paper relating to the Commonwealth becoming the sole collector of income tax.
– What about the annual statement, beginning with last year, on that very subject, which reviews the whole matter comprehensively?
– It is not a complete overhaul.
– No, because it is no longer a matter of substance.
– I am making the suggestion now because the responsibilities of the Commonwealth have changed considerably over recent years. The Government itself points to the amount that has to be paid out for social services. It is only within the last twelve months that this Government has acknowledged any responsibility with respect to the employment of the work force of Australia. Before that time, whenever I asked a question about employment in the States, the Minister answered to the effect that the Commonwealth Government was not responsible for employment, that it made funds available to the States and employment was the responsibility of the States. But the Government has changed its ground. It now admits that it has a responsibility to face up to the problem of unemployment. That is another reason why I suggest that a Senate select committee be appointed to overhaul the whole of the financial relationships at present existing between the Commonwealth and the States, between the Commonwealth and local authorities, and between the Commonwealth and semigovernmental bodies.
– Are you going to put a notice of motion on the notice-paper, like Senator Kennelly did, and have four absentees when it goes to the vote?
– I did give consideration to it, but I decided, in my wisdom, that if I did that you would use your numbers to defeat us. I am now only making the suggestion to the Government. I suggest that those appointed or elected to it from the Government side should be Senator Spooner or Senator Paltridge, who represents the Treasurer in the Senate, Senator Wright and Senator Cormack, a man of wide experience. Those appointed from the Opposition would be Senator McKenna, Senator Murphy and Senator Cole. They would have in their hands a task which would last at least two or three years. We could have from them interim reports annually until they finished their task.
– You ask caucus that question to-morrow.
– I wish you would bring it along; I could support you.
– Would you let him in?
– Oh, yes, he can go in. He can make the tea. The result of the work of such a committee would be worth while and we would have information that would last the Commonwealth Parliament for five or ten years, after which we could once more appoint a select committee to review the problems of financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. 1 make that suggestion in all sincerity. I think that such an arrangement would be worth while. I hope that Senator Paltridge takes the matter up and refers it to the Cabinet.
Going through the Estimates, I notice that last year £85,200,000 was collected in customs duties; this year the amount expected to be collected is £96,000,000. It is interesting to note what the Treasurer has to say in relation to customs. He said -
In making these estimates we have allowed for very considerable increases in . . . imports . . .
Later, he said -
On the other hand, imports are certain to increase considerably as industrial activity and demand rise here.
He said also -
In point of overseas reserves, our position is very strong. At the end of June our balances of gold and foreign exchange stood at £561,000,000 … All told, we started the year with first-line and second-line reserves totalling over £770,000,000.
I can see now that importers in the Commonwealth are going to have a golden holiday. They are really being invited to do so by the Government. The chain stores will be able to fill up during the next ten months of this financial year by buying nearly all of their requirements overseas in the very cheapest of the world’s markets. The Government’s attitude to manufacturers and operatives in the mills is: Let the devil take the hindmost. This year it will receive in customs duties £10,000,000 more than it received last year. What does this spell? It spells a high level of imports, and nothing else. The situation of secondary industries will certainly be seriously affected.
I remember when we advocated having a referendum on prices and how the proposal was dealt with by the government of the time, which had no time at all for prices. It is interesting to note the effect on some primary industries of high prices of foodstuffs and groceries. The effect on the meat industry, particularly, has been very serious. When we note the prices being paid for, say, beef steak and rump steak and other cuts from a beast, we can understand why the consumption of beef and of meat generally is falling. The annual rate of fall is remarkable. Less meat a head of population is being consumed than was being consumed formerly.
The typical Australian enjoys eating meat for breakfast and every other meal. Beef is always good eating to Australians, yet we find that last year 13 lb. less of beef a head of population was eaten than in the previous year. In 1960 the average consumption of meat a head was 97 lb. In 1961, when prices were higher, average consumption a head fell by 10 lb. The high price that has to be paid is the cause of the fall. 1 have discussed this problem with retail butchers on many occasions. They always tell me the same story, that is, that the typical family has fo much to spend each week upon meat. It may be £1, 30s. or £2, according to the size of the family, but the amount never fluctuates. Whether the price soars or falls, the family still spends the same amount as it has spent over the years. So high prices, to a great degree, prevent the consumption of meat. Twenty years ago the consumption of meat in the Commonwealth was 144 lb. a head per annum. It has now fallen by 57 lb. a head. That is a terrific fall. 1 now come back to where I started. Is the Budget stagnant or is it progressive? No matter how one views it, it is a stagnant Budget. It does not consider the typical Australian. The manufacturer feels that he is doomed. In Queensland we have 30 per cent, fewer dairy-farmers than we had formerly. What do they think of the Budget and of the prospects? The small businessman is not happy. He has no confidence in the Budget or in the prevailing economic conditions. He certainly has no incentive to expand his business. As for the wage-earning masses, with automation on the one hand and the Government’s policy on the other, they just do not know where they are going. They feel, insecure. Irrespective of what the Government does in the way of reducing taxation or budgeting for a deficit, it will find that those people will not be spending freely. They will be hanging on to their money as long as they possibly can. The Government’s deficit may be much higher because the people may not spend so much on beer as they are expected to do. The Government may not be able to collect its estimate of more than £100,000,000 in excise on beer this year. So it goes on. I think that the great majority of Australians support me when I say that the Government is certainly a stagnant one.
– Senator Benn commenced his address to this chamber by informing honorable senators that he was subject to a fit of melancholia. It would be not unfair to say of his speech that he successfully transmitted that feeling to every member of the Senate who listened to him.
He dealt at some length with the wickedness of interest charges, attempting to point out, as is so frequently the case with a Labour speaker, that the raising of developmental loan capital overseas is something that is disadvantageous to any developing economy. One of these days, if I live long enough, I shall have the opportunity to hear a Labour speaker develop this argument and tell us the alternative to raising overseas capital for use in a developing economy. If he does develop that argument he will be eventually driven to admit that, first, he would have to raise compulsory loans internally, and, secondly, when he had exhausted that avenue of fun( raising, he would have to go to the printing press. Two thousand years ago the ancient peoples found that inflation was the most wicked form of taxation, and that if you wanted to cause economic paralysis in any community the surest and quickest way to do so was to inflate or debase the currency. That position has not changed.
Senator Benn said something about the setting up of a Senate select committee to consider financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. He was reminded by interjection - and I hope he heard it - that the tax reimbursement formula was amended with the agreement of the Premiers only three years ago. Does the honorable senator wish to tell the Premiers of all the States that this agreement, to which they are all parties, is one that should now be thrown overboard, not as the result of some conference or some conversations between the Premiers themselves, but because of the deliberations of a Senate committee?
– lt was a shotgun agreement.
– If the honorable senator looks at the record he will find that it was a unanimous agreement subscribed to by each of the Premiers.
Senator Benn next referred to the loan agreement. If he likes to go back to his own State of Queensland and try to induce the Premier to accept some variation of the existing loan agreement, then I can assure him that he will have the support of at least one man in Australia - there are others, of course - and that will be the Premier of Western Australia, who for many years has tried to induce his fellow Premiers to abandon the present agreement for the distribution of loan moneys and to institute another one.
Senator Benn said something about education, and indicated that this Government had not been generous in that respect. He may not know, but during the life of this Government grants to State-controlled universities have risen from £1,000,000 in 1950 to not less than £16,000,000 last year. In 1950 the total expenditure by the States on education amounted to £40,000,000; last year it amounted to £184,000,000. The direct Commonwealth subvention on State education increased from £22,000,000 in 1950 to £85,000,000 last year. .
– What about the primary schools?
– What about the primary schools? I have just given figures
Qf education expenditure and indicated the support that the Commonwealth has given to education generally quite apart from universities.
I wish now to reply to the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Characteristically he commenced by making something of a survey of the Government’s policies over the last two or three years, and characteristically he looked backwards Why is it that Labour politicians always look backwards and never to the present or to the future? Why is it that Senator McKenna, in making this survey, did not acknowledge two important things which had occurred in the Australian economy as the result of the financial measures taken by the Government? Why did he not point out that the outflow of overseas funds had been arrested and that at the end of the last financial year Australia’s overseas fund position was .the strongest it had been for years, having recovered from a compara tively weak situation not two years before? Again, why did not Senator McKenna say something about the stabilization of prices and costs? Why did he not, when he made his survey of this Budget, recognize the background against which this Budget was framed? Why did he not say, in effect, “This Budget is framed against a background of the European Economic Community and impending trade difficulties “? Why did he not do so? If he had done so honestly, he would have had to acknowledge that the Australian Government is in a position to-day where it can go overseas and negotiate these difficult trade matters from a position of strength.
What would be the position if we had not arrested costs? What would be the situation if we had not improved our overseas funds? What would be the use of our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and our Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) going overseas negotiating with the countries of Europe for some form of trade preference while in their own country they were talking in terms of import restrictions? What sort of negotiations could they have conducted? The present sound position has been brought about by the policies pursued by this Government. In this most important year when we undertake these trade negotiations we have stability of costs at home and a strong overseas funds situation.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke glibly about setting up an export credits corporation. The very basis of an export credits corporation is a sound overseas funds position. Without that sound position our chances of setting up an effective overseas credit corporation are very much reduced. What is the basis of terms of trade for any length of time in an economy where costs are not stable? Now more than ever before we have got to be able to tell our customers that we can supply at prices that will be maintained over the next year or two.
I want to relate the importance of costs to our trading position generally. Last year, our exports of wheat and wool together brought to this country £570,000,000. Coincidentally, the requirements of our manufacturing industries - the raw materials, the semi-raw materials and the component parts- cost £570,000,000. At once the inter-dependence jr rural industry and of manufacturing becomes apparent. But what happens to our ability to buy overseas if, because of rising costs domestically, we are unable to sell our £570,000,000 worth of rural products? The Opposition speaks of unemployment. It will get unemployment plus if our export earnings are unable to support the purchase of components to sustain our manufacturing industries.
This Government has pursued a policy, not only of arresting costs so that we may sell overseas, but also of endeavouring to find increasing markets in other countries for our manufactured goods. The Government has endeavoured quite recently further to encourage manufacturers by providing investment allowances. Those allowances will encourage manufacturers to install new plant and so reduce costs. I recall that when the legislation providing for investment allowances was before the Senate it was criticized by honorable members opposite, who claimed that it was merely a method of subsidizing our rich friends engaged in industry. We have given payroll tax rebates to manufacturing industries that have increased their export business. On every hand we have kept up the pressure of developing export opportunities - of finding new markets.
I do not want to catalogue at length the things we have done in recent years, but let me mention a few. The Trade Commissioner Service has been expanded remarkably in recent years. That expansion has meant a lot to our export industries. We have encouraged trade missions and trade fairs. I venture to suggest that the most dynamic decision taken by this Government in recent years in respect of the development of overseas trade was the trade agreement reached with Japan. What was the stand taken on that issue by the Opposition, which to-day talks about developing export opportunities? Throughout the country honorable senators opposite condemned the Japanese Trade Agreement. They tried to whip up the emotions of the people so that the agreement would be abandoned. The agreement has been more advantageous to Australia from a trade point of view than any single thing that has happened since the war. What is the Opposition’s attitude to-day to the Japanese Trade Agreement? Will any honorable senator opposite condemn it to-day?
We have heard a lot about development in the course of this debate. On more than one occasion I and my colleagues on this side of the chamber have said that our developmental programme is geared to the entire economy. While being a government developmental programme, it is designed to dovetail with and encourage private enterprise. Let me indicate some of the things that are being done and that we propose to da. The Mr Isa railway project is not being supported merely because we think it will be a good thing to have a new railway to Mr Isa. The railway is being constructed to help private enterprise develop the export trade in copper. The construction of cattle roads in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia will assist private enterprise to produce more cattle. The Western Australian railway project from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana is based upon a private enterprise concept of a steel works in Western Australia. I mention those things to show how Government expenditure is married to private capital expenditure - something that is almost foreign to my friends opposite. The Australian public was told by the Labour Party last December that there would be a three-year respite from socialism if Labour were elected to office. But I remember the grandiose programmes of the Labour Party when it was last in office. They included, not the encouragement of private steel milling, but the socialization of steel milling. Those programmes included socialization of the banks, the airlines and anything else that happened to come into the ken of the Labour Party. But our programme is designed deliberately to dovetail with private capital expenditure. What I have already said applies to the coal ports and to the magnificent support initiated by this Government for oil search. All of those things combine to make a programme of development and advancement that will mean grand things for this country not only in the immediate future but also over the long term.
– Tell that to the electors of Batman.
– la good time 1 probably will go to Batman and probably 1 will enjoy myself there.
I want to say something about employment, because continually the Opposition has tried to create in the public mind the impression that the Government is not concerned about employment. This Government is very closely - vitally - concerned with the employment of all Australians who want to work. The basis of employment, as seen by the Labour Party, presumably is that all employment is good of itself. We do not take that view. The real basis of continuing employment is a sound economy, not an economy that can bc upset by the slightest movement one way or the other. We have had our experience of that latter sort of economy. We have seen people thrown out of work and plants closed simply by the slightest movements in the economy. We want the Australian economy to be firmly based so that employment can be firmly based. The policy that we are now developing will create the sound and continuing economy that will provide the employment that is wanted.
I do not want to say much more tonight, because probably I will speak again to close the debate. I merely make the point on which 1 started my speech, namely, that this Budget is framed against a background of improved trade negotiations overseas, and in order to bring those negotiations to a successful conclusion our economy has to be sound, our prices have to be stable and we need to have sound overseas balances. Whatever may be said in criticism of what the Government’s policies have achieved, no one can deny that they have achieved for us those two outstanding results.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I rise to claim that I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). I wish to take a moment to set the record straight. As I came into the chamber I heard the Minister say, in effect: “ Why did not Senator McKenna refer to the stability that had been achieved in costs and prices? Why did he not refer to the improvement that has been achieved in our overseas balance-of-payments position? “ He may have asked more questions that I did not hear. Actually, I dealt with both those matters at length. I refer the Senate to my speech, as reported at page 205 of “ Hansard “, of 15th August. Commencing at the bottom of page 205 and continuing for two-thirds of the first column on page 206, I dealt only with the whole question of costs and stability. I quote the following small portion from near the end of that section of my speech -
Yes, at long last, after thirteen long weary years that have wreaked tremendous hardship on the people of Australia, we have reached a degree of stability in costs.
In the next paragraph, which spills over into the next column, I referred to the improvement in the international balanceofpayments position. I realize, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that I cannot debate the matter. I merely leave what I said to the record.
– by leave - Mr. Acting Deputy President, it is true, as Senator McKenna said, that he heard me ask those questions as he entered the chamber. Had he been in the chamber earlier and heard all that I had said, he would have had no reason to make his personal explanation. In this connexion I referred to the fact that he commenced his speech by surveying the record of the Government’s economic measures in the past year or two. At that point of his speech he made no mention at all of the two facets to which I give so much emphasis.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I am grateful to honorable senators for their encouraging “ Hear, hears “ at the beginning of this, my first speech in this chamber. I was surprised at the speech made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). j thought that it would have been a defence of the Budget, and not an attack on the Australian Labour Party. The Government of which he is a member has been in control of this country for the past twelve years. Despite the scorn and derision from members of the Government parties, on behalf of the moneyed interests, we are very proud of the achievements of the Labour Party in making the lot of the Australian people easier. With those thoughts in my mind, I make my first speech in this chamber. lt is many months since I made my last public speech; but I am fortified by the fact that any concern such as I have at the moment in making my maiden speech in this chamber has been felt in the past by 90 per cent, of my colleagues. I recall reading that even the great Disraeli confessed that he would rather have led a cavalry charge than face the House of Commons for the first time.
My return to the Parliament represents a very proud moment not only for my family and friends but also for the tens of thousands of supporters who were responsible for our great victory. It was a great victory because, as leader of the Australian Labour Party’s Senate team in New South Wales, I polled 840,5 1C first preference votes compared with the 720,845 first preference votes polled by the leader of the Liberal Party-Country Party team. The Labour Party teams in all States secured a majority of 120,000 votes over the Liberal Party-Country Party teams, so our majority of some 120,000 in New South Wales was particularly meritorious. Two of the three major positions in the Senate are held by honorable senators from New South Wales who were members of the Government team in that election. It was a great achievement for our team to poll so magnificently. For our success I pay tribute to the men and women who make up the great Labour movement. I will endeavour to do everything in my power to justify the confidence that they have shown in my colleagues and myself. At all times 1 will endeavour to uphold the democratic system of government. I recall the words of our late leader, Mr. Chifley, who advised members not to forget that in the life of a democracy it is important for the public to respect not necessarily the party, but the Parliament. Everything we do to destroy that respect deals a death blow to democracy itself. We on this side of the chamber realize that this affects not only honorable senators but also the position of the Senate itself.
Our party condemns many actions of this House of the Parliament during Labour regimes. During the dark periods of 1929 and 1930 this chamber adjourned for months instead of dealing with legislation which the Labour Party and the Labour Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Scullin, believed would have been of benefit to the many thousands of destitute people in our midst at that time. For these and many other reasons the Labour Party is pledged to the abolition of the Senate. As one, we believe in that cause.
I shall deal now with the Budget. Wc believe it is a great tragedy not only for our own people but also for this nation that Labour is not in control of the Federal Parliament. We share the view of the vast majority of Australians that this is a most disappointing budget. It has been correctly referred to as “ Mr. Holt’s recipe for stagnation “. It will sow the seeds of disaster. It is the most disappointing document ever to be placed before the National Parliament. The Government has ignored the opportunity that could have been provided by this Budget to set Australia firmly back on the road to rapid economic growth. Of course, the Treasurer is concerned - as well he should be. In his own words, 85,000 people are registered as unemployed. Recent figures show that 90,000 unemployed are registered. What is responsible for this? The credit squeeze and the restrictions imposed in past years have been responsible, and they were the creation of this Government, and this Government alone.
Let us examine how the nation has been mismanaged in the past two years. We recognize that productivity is the indispensable key to higher living standards. Had trade unionists been responsible for any decrease in productivity, this Government would have shouted it from the housetops. The Government’s mishandling of the nation’s affairs has condemned its members as the worst set of bunglers in our history. Here are the facts. The White Paper on National Income and Expenditure presented with the Budget last year showed that the gross national product, or the value of the total production of goods and services in Australia, increased in 1960-61 by £340,000,000, or 5 per cent., compared with a 10 per cent, increase in the previous year. The greater rise in gross domestic expenditure than in gross national product was reflected in the balance of payments figures. Exports of goods and services rose slightly in 1960-61, but imports of goods and services in that year were £167,000,000 greater than in 1959-60. The value of our gross national product fell short of the expected rise by £340,000,000, while imports rose by £167,000,000. Is it any wonder that our leader met the challenge in relation to the financing of Labours election policy with the fact that this Government, through mismanagement, had no difficulty in losing £340,000,000 and in destroying Australia’s economy by flooding the home market with every conceivable form of import? We all know the absurd types of imports that come to this country in great numbers - citrus fruit juices, pickles and chutney, confectionery, cigarettes, biscuits, artificial plastic flowers, pocket type cigarette lighters and other such trifles. The Australian Industries Development Association, in a paper that it produced, said that local industries could have manufactured £272,000,000 worth of the goods that had been imported in the year 1957-58, providing employment for another 100,000 people.
I say that the position has not changed much since then. Despite the Government’s near defeat in November last, and its subsequent use of a part of Labour’s policy,, which it had denounced, the position is not much better now. The White Paper presented with the Budget this year shows that in 1961-62 the gross national product, or the value of the total production of goods and services in Australia, rose by only £72,000,000, or slightly less than 1 per cent. This falls far short of the 10 per cent, expected in a healthy economy. Is it any wonder that we feel our people are not receiving the full benefits to which they are entitled? The Government’s actions have resulted in a loss of £340,000,000 in 1960-61 and almost £700,000,000 in 1961-62. Increased migration and an increased work force should have ensured at least a 10 per cent, increase in the national production of goods and services in this country. It is not difficulty to imagine the benefits that would flow from such an increase.
It is estimated that in 1961-62 alone the staggering amount of £700,000,000 - not counting the £340,000,000 in the previous year - has been lost through the Government’s negligence. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme was in the first place estimated to cost £400,000,000. This year’s White Paper shows that last financial year the spending of the community decreased by £282,000,000. No doubt this was brought about by the huge army of unemployed. In 1960-61 the gross domestic expenditure increased - not decreased - by £492,000,000, yet the Government is happy with this Budget. Perhaps the only bright spot in the Budget is the increase in exports. The White Paper on National Income and Expenditure for 1961-62, under the heading “Balance of International Payments”, had this to say -
Wool production in 1961-62 was about 5 per cent, higher than in the previous year and the quantity exported some 6 per cent, higher. Average prices increased by about 4 per cent. The value of exports of wool and sheepskins rose accordingly, reaching a level of £397,000,000, or 12 per cent. higher than in the previous year. Exports of wheat and flour were £161,000,000, or 33 per cent, higher than in 1960-61, more than half the increase being accounted for by increased exports to Mainland China. Relatively large increases also occurred in exports of coal, iron and steel and fruit, and there were smaller increases in exports of dairy produce, grains other than wheat, and lead and zinc. An increase of £17,000,000 in exports of meat was due to an increase in exports of beef and veal to the United Stales of America.
I wonder what the Democratic Labour Party supporters of the Government will have to say about this trade with Communist countries - in particular, Communist China? A great deal has been said about this in election campaigns over the past years.
Farm incomes this year amount to £472,000,000, a decrease of £13,000,000. Surely the Country Party members of this Government must be alarmed at this trend. In 1949, thirteen years ago, farm incomes were £450,000,000. The latest figure is £472,000,000. In that period prices have risen by more than 90 per cent. Thus, the effective or real farm income has fallen by nearly one-half under this Government’s administration. 1 ask again: Is it any wonder, even with the gerrymandering of seats, that members of the Country Party are concerned about their future?
The Government is crowing about the increase in the registrations of new motor vehicles in the past six months. After the great blitz against the motor industry twelve months ago, the Government is acting like the person who burnt the house down and rebuilt it. It must make Senator
Wood smile, after all the threats made against him in his fight for this industry.
Families have received no assistance from the Budget. It is most unjust that the 12i per cent, tax on foodstuffs has been retained. It is a disgrace in this fair land of ours that many advantages necessary in a home cannot be obtained unless both husband and wife go to work. Much poverty is being experienced by large families. One group which should have received assistance is that comprising widows with children. The Labour Party believes that a widow with a dependent child or children who stays at home to care for them should receive a domestic allowance of at least £3 10s. a week in addition to the basic pension, plus an adequate allowance for each child. We made that statement and promise in our policy speech in December last year. We believe also that the loss of a breadwinner should mean no reduction in the family’s standard of living. Deserted wives and children should receive similar consideration.
The “Daily Mirror” of 16th August last tells the story of “A Gift Fit for a Hero “. A young lad, Garry Staunton, was given a tricycle. He lost his leg while trying to save the lives of two dogs. This boy, seven or eight years of age, is pictured on his tricycle with his little brother, riding around trying to regain strength in his leg. The article reads -
His widowed mother, Mrs. Laurel Staunton, draws a pension of £11 a fortnight.
Numerous social welfare organizations have investigated the situation that confronts women whose husbands have died. The Sydney “ Sun “ newspaper states -
Social welfare workers are appalled by the poverty and destitution they have found among civilian widows and their children in Sydney. Even though some mothers go hungry for the sake of their children, the children are still under-fed.
After a fortnight’s investigation, I can’t measure the extent of the tragedy; nor can the social workers.
But the general picture of -pitiful distress, desperate need and terror of sickness in the homes of many hundreds - possibly thousands - of civilian widows, deserted wives and their children is confirmed by three of the most conservative social welfare organizations in New South Wales.
These are the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Smith Family and the Family Welfare Bureau.
The article proceeds to give some harrowing details concerning a widow who died of malnutrition because she could not get enough food for herself and her children. She denied herself.
In this country of ours, about which we boast so much, one would think that the Budget would make provision for people such as widows. Child endowment has remained unaltered since 1948, except for the introduction in 1950 of the payment of 5s. a week for the first child. Child endowment payments should be restored to their original value. Labour has promised to legislate for the payment of 10s. a week for the first child, 17s. 6d. a week for the second and £1 a week for each additional child. We believe that the Government should have made substantial increases in age and invalid pensions, widows’ pensions, child endowment, the maternity allowance and other social services, as Labour would if it were occupying (he treasury-bench at the present moment.
The pensioners must be very disappointed by the complete disregard of their claims.’ They have come to Canberra in their thousands. The returned servicemen’s organizations also must be disappointed. The Returned Servicemen’s League submitted a very carefully considered national pension plan to the Minister for Repatriation many months before the Cabinet was called together to discuss the Budget. With some of my parliamentary colleagues, I met members of the returned servicemen’s organizations, and I believe that the submissions made by them were just and reasonable and should not have been ignored by the Government. I hope that ex-service members of the Liberal and Country parties in this Parliament will vote with Labour when this matter comes before the Parliament.
It is expected that an additional £11,755,000 will be spent on age and invalid pensions this year. Since there has been no increase in age and invalid pensions this year, will this increased expenditure be due to the fact that every person who attains pensionable age will not be considered for a job but will be placed on the age pension? That seems to be what the Government intends. Just imagine this vast country, Mr. President, with so much to be done and with so many people out of work for such a long time. That is a standing disgrace to the Government. This Administration does not possess the confidence of the people of Australia. At the last general election, 300,000 more votes were recorded for the Australian Labour Party than for the Liberal and Australian Country parties together. The 10 per cent, swing to Labour at the Broadmeadows by-election in Victoria recently was an indication of the attitude of the people. No wonder the Liberal Party is afraid to contest the Batman by-election on Saturday, 1st September.
The Budget deals with many activities and departments about which I should like to express my views. On the question of defence, let there be no illusions. Labour stands for thoroughness and efficiency in our defence system, lt has never opposed the making available of money for the security and defence of this country. We have criticized the wasteful spending of money provided for defence. We have every reason to remember that Labour took office two weeks before Japan struck at Pearl Harbour. This country was then in grave peril. There had been conservative governments for many years previously. Is it any wonder that we are critical of the waste and inefficiency associated with the past, and also of the present defence waste? The conservative Government in this country is operating in the way that conservative governments have functioned previously. One has only to look at the questions asked by the Liberal member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), an ex-Minister of the Menzies Government and former chairman of the Liberal-Country Party Foreign Affairs Committee, to appreciate the situation that exists at present in relation to this nation’s defences.
Let is be clearly understood that Labour associates Australia’s defence, without question, with the British Commonwealth and the United Nations. On the issue of international conflict, our leader, in his 1961 policy speech, pledged our party as follows: -
If, however, war should be forced upon the free world, Australia, whether we wish it or not, will bc involved. In those circumstances we who belong to the free world will stand with the free world and will give wholehearted support to its cause. There could be no other course for those who cherish freedom and believe in democracy. We of the Labour Party have always been found on the side of liberty because we hate tyranny and abhor oppression.
It is our proud boast that we have always stood for freedom for all mankind, and have always opposed every form of totalitarianism. When Nazism plunged the world into war in 1939 it was a Labour Government that led Australia to victory. If Communism should plunge the world into war in 1962 or any later year, it will be necessary to have an Australian Labour Government in office to again save this country from invasion and defeat. An ami-Labour Government would fall to pieces in a future war as the Menzies and Fadden Governments did in 1941.
That is our declaration on the subjects of communism and the defence of this country.
Much has been said of the development of Australia. This, to me, means that we must populate our empty north, and populate it now. We must ensure that people stay in the outback by providing them with amenities that are, as nearly as possible, equal to those available in the cities. We must provide those amenities as rapidly as we can. Migrants have to be considered in this respect. I once heard the Minister for Immigration say at a naturalization ceremony, “ In World War 1., the song was How can we keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?’ To-day, it is, How can we keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Bondi?’ “. We must encourage people to go to the outback, but we are not doing nearly enough to bring about a situation that will be of benefit to our country.
Homes, roads, power and water supplies and industries are required in the outback. Water supply is a great problem. I have been informed by our parliamentary leader that Sir Mark Oliphant has said that sca water can be treated and used to benefit the soil at a small fraction of the cost which is spoken of to-day. Labour would make the closest analysis of this possibility. Other projects, such as the use of atomic power to benefit the outback, would be placed under the closest scrutiny by the best scientific brains in the Commonwealth. The question may be asked: What would you use for money? I have shown how the Government’s mismanagement has wasted almost £1,000,000,000 over the last two years. We would certainly do everything possible to stop such waste and to utilize all the available resources for the development of our north.
How are the people in the country treated to-day? We boast of being one people, with one form of taxation and with the same basic wage in each State, but we do not have to travel many miles outside the capital cities before we find that there are large increases in the prices of commodities, such as petrol, foodstuffs, and drinks, and of goods and services associated with motor transport. The country people are even penalized when it comes to postal facilities, in the cost of trunk line calls to their nearest neighbours. It should not be forgotten that the basic wage is determined on the lower city prices. If this Government wishes to assist people in country areas, why does it not provide for a uniform Commonwealth price for petrol? Certainly, in order to arrive at such a price, a thorough, independent and genuine inquiry would be necessary to ensure that excess profit did not go to the petrol companies. The Government should also assist with the freight on commodities to country areas. It is true that the assistance and co-operation of the State governments would be needed, and it would also be necessary to have an independent and genuine inquiry in order to ensure that no excess profits were made by any of the companies trading in these commodities. I suggest also that there should be telephone concessions to both industries and individuals in country areas, for almost every call made in the outback is a trunk line operation. In this way we would be showing a real desire to help the people of the outback, to bring about decentralization and to overcome the problems which exist to-day in a situation where 40 per cent, of the area of Australia, that in the north, holds only 4 per cent, of our population. This state of affairs is an indictment of the Government, and something ought to be done speedily to rectify the position.
As to housing, it must be admitted that not sufficient homes are being built. We must engage in a greater home-building programme to overcome the difficult problems existing in each State. Our immediate task must be to house our own people on a reasonable basis, to encourage further migration and to overcome mass unemploy ment. That a stimulated housing programme will overcome mass unemployment must be obvious when we realize that associated with home-building are bricklayers, cement workers, and employees engaged in the timber industry, the tile-making industry, the galvanized iron industry, the stove-making industry, the linoleum industry, the carpet industry, the manufacture of refrigerators and washing machines, the plumbing industry, the electrical industry, the glazing industry, window-making, the manufacture of door locks, hinges and so on. It is difficult to adapt many of these skilled men or the materials manufactured to any other industry. Despite the need for homes, many of these tradesmen are out of work to-day.
Labour’s policy is to make larger grants to the States to ensure the availability of houses for rental by people with the greatest financial and family responsibilities, to provide finance for home purchase by people whose family and financial needs most entitle them to reduced deposits and to provide for the replacement of substandard houses to resuscitate the inner areas of State capitals. A Labour government would arrange finance for homebuilding at 3i per cent, interest. It would also increase grants to the War Service Homes Division to remove the various devices by which ex-servicemen have been denied justice in recent years. It would help bereaved or injured people to pay rent or instalments where the bread winner was no longer able to do so. A Labour government would reverse the high interest rate policy followed by the Menzies Government. In consultation with the Reserve Bank of Australia, it would initiate moves to secure a reduction of interest rates, including the increases made to overdraft rates by the Menzies Government. It is a great tragedy to-day to find young people being forced to pay £12 12s. a week for homes, the rental for which was no more than £2 a week under rent control. I am in a position to speak on this matter because members of my own family who have married have found themselves in the invidious position, because of the decontrol of rents in the suburbs of Sydney, of being forced to pay £12 12s. a week for a home, the rental for which was only £2 a week when rent control was in operation.
When speaking of migration, the Treasurer said that the target was still 125,000 a year. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures put the number at 48,000 for this year. Under these circumstances, I cannot understand why prospective immigrants who have been recommended by Greeks or Maltese have been refused. Many of these people want their relatives to come to this country, yet barriers are placed in the way of their coming here. I have made numerous requests to the Minister on behalf of Greek nationals - people who have been here for many years and done marvellous work in this country. 1 repeat that tremendous barriers have been placed in the way of Greeks and Maltese, despite the fact that we are striving all the time to attract immigrants. It is a great tragedy because, after many years, the prejudice against new arrivals is disappearing. If we drop our immigration scheme because of the circumstances I have mentioned, or will mention in a moment, it will be a great blow to this country.
If we are to attract immigrants, I feel that we must improve conditions in housing and in employment. Security of employment is essential to Australians, both old and new. To-day, in Scandinavian countries where Labour governments have been in control for many years, the keynote is security for their people - for the working classes - and their social security regulations are something of which they are very proud indeed. In addition to receiving annual holidays and so on, a worker is assured of continuity of employment in that, for each year for which he works, he must receive pro rata notice of dismissal. For example, if he worked for a firm for five years, he would have to receive approximately fifteen weeks’ notice of dismissal, thus ensuring continuity of employment. A court adjudicates where an employee is charged with a serious breach, the penalty for which is earlier dismissal. But what happens here? On the eve of eligibility for long service leave, loyal and faithful employees are sacked! This does not happen in just one or two instances. It occurs frequently in almost every industry to-day. I sincerely hope that in the very near future the Labour movement of this country will try to secure benefits of this character to ensure social security for the Australian worker.
Seventy years ago, when forming the Labour movement, its founders said -
We form the Labour Parly to secure benefits, if not to our children, then to their children.
I suggest in all sincerity that unless we do something to make this a great land, we will not hold it for our own people or their children. Australia is the only nation with exclusive occupation of an entire continent. In Australia we have 3,000,000 square miles of country, occupied by only 10,500.000 people. Our coastline measures 12,000 miles. We lie at the foot of Asia, whose teeming millions are looking at us with envious eyes. In the very near future we may have to prove that we can hold this land, and we may find ourselves alone. We will not deserve to hold it unless w : fully develop and utilize it, to the advantage of our people, and unless we assist the undeveloped and impoverished nations to the north. Let me say that I do not deplore the developmental programme for which provision is being made, but I do feel that we must look further because I know exactly what surrounds us. Knowing what surrounds us, I realize that we have to do something more to develop our country and to help the impoverished people of the north. We know of the dire poverty that exists in close proximity to this great nation of ours. During a Christmas appeal by the Australian Council of Churches in 1961, the following appeared on the notice board of St. Andrew’s Cathedral: -
Two-thirds of the world’s population - 1,500,000,000 people - are underfed, underclothed, underhoused, without medical care and illiterate.
That is the situation that confronts the world. That is the situation that must concern us at the moment. Back in 1958, Bishop Fulton Sheen, encouraging support for a United States foreign aid programme, was reported in the press as having made this statement -
One person out of every three goes to bed hungry. Asia, which has just over half the world’s population, commands only II per cent, of the income. Never before has there been so much wealth and so much poverty.
It is estimated that to raise the standards of living of the impoverished countries of the world to that of Europe would cost £5,000,000,000. The world’s military expenditure is somewhere around £40,000,000,000.
Is it not fantastic that, in the race to the moon, millions and millions of pounds have been spent, while there are still hunger and poverty all around us on this planet? Let us first make the people of the world we know happier. Feed, clothe and shelter our own people. The moon, yes - but afterwards? I believe there can be no peace in the world whilst hunger and want are found among so many millions of the people. I ask honorable senators opposite to note these words by President Kennedy of the United States of America -
If the free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few that arc rich.
I recall that last year Walter Lippmann, a world renowned political writer, pointed out the importance and desirability of a democratic world showing the people, the people of Asia in particular, that a democratic way of life had more to offer. He advised what could be done with India, a member of the British Commonwealth, our own bulwark against communism. He urged the democracies to show India by example how these improvements can be achieved. But, he correctly said, nothing will be done, for no profit can be made.
We in this country could give such a lead. Unfortunately, to-day the only place ing the world where all the nations are working together is in the Antarctic, and this is because they have not found anything there out of which a profit can be made. If we are to be practical, apart altogether from the humane side of this problem, we must be concerned with the rights and liberties of other people in order to maintain and improve our own standards.
Members of the Labour movement want to see a better world and want Australia to play its part in making all these things possible. It may not be practicable to solve all the world’s problems, but with this vast land properly developed we could solve the problems of want and hunger amongst the under-privileged people to our north and thus become their very close friends. I had intended to quote a passage from an American publication on the peaceful use of atomic power in the cause of humanity, but time will not permit me to do so. We all ought to read the publication and make some effort to further the use of this power for the benefit of humanity. I hope to see in Canberra a Labour government which will attempt to secure the co-operation through the United Nations, of all countries in using atomic power for the benefit of humanity and not for its destruction.
For these reasons and for many others, I am pleased to support the amendment so ably moved by the leader of our party.
– In rising to speak in this debate at the beginning of the Budget sessional period in the first part of our new Senate year, I do want to say how pleased I am to see amongst us so many new, enthusiastic faces. I look forward to many years of work with the new senators and to hearing more speeches from them in future. I congratulate Senator Fitzgerald on having made his maiden speech in this chamber and on the great deal of work that he has put into the preparation of it. I must say to him, not in any spirit of criticism, but as a friendly suggestion, that perhaps he does not realize that the acoustics are not very good and from the back bench on which he sits it is very difficult for some Goverment supporters to hear what he says. In future, if he would like us to answer some of his points in debate, he should speak a little louder and more clearly. I shall read the report of his speech with great interest.
Speaking to the Budget, I say, in a nutshell, that 1 approve of it in principle but not altogether in detail. But as principles are the most important thing, I intend to support it. However, I intend also to criticize some of the items which are conspicuous either by their absence or by their inadequacy, in the hope that in the near future the Government will see fit to remedy what I consider are some deficiencies in the Budget. We all have an overwhelming desire for peace and security and that is what this Budget has set out to assure for us in Australia. The way to get peace with security is to maintain the high standards of living that we have and, to help other nations to achieve higher standards of living. To do this, we must back our own economy and make it a stable one, so that we may hope to pass on some of the benefits of our stability to others.
If we can get stability and peace throughout the world, budgets will be more impressive, because less will have to be spent on defence, the nuclear arms race will slow down - I hope it will completely stop - and more international goodwill will be established. Such conditions will allow us to spend more on the things we would like to have but cannot always have when we want them. I believe that Australia must continue to set its sights high. We cannot continue with a policy of narrow or selfcentred isolationism. That will not achieve anything for us. 1 was amazed to hear Senator Tangney say that we would not be able to meet the poor people of Australia and tell them that we had something for them. That is a quite incredible thing to say. Let us see just how much is being spent on social services alone. About £400,000,000, over £1,000,000 a day, is being provided by a small population of 10,000,000 people. We arc able to say that at least that amount is being made available to poor, unfortunate or disabled people. That is an achievement of which I for one am proud. I shall certainly be able to face these people and say that the Government is doing a splendid job for them. lt is time people in Australia realized that budgets are not just like lucky dips, that you cannot just put your hand in every year and find a prize for eveybody. lt is not reasonable to expect that we can always find prizes in every budget. It is necessary to ensure that we maintain stability and are not always handing out in every way. lt is necessary for us to have an outward look and to see that those who live around us share in our good fortune. It is obvious that Australians have a high standard of living. We must be willing to share that with some of those who live near us.
This system of sharing with others is being followed in a magnificent way by the United States of America but we have left her far too big a share of the responsibility for raising the standard of living in other parts of the world. Because of the great load she is carrying, she is having to fragment her strength and spread it much too far. If we are to help in this great work of helping others, we shall have to tighten our own belts in some respects and do without some of the things which we should like to have and which we expect far too often from budgets.
This is one of the reasons why I should like to see the United Kingdom go into the European Common Market. At present, the United States of America has forces spread throughout the western part of Europe, in an endeavour to hold the peace there. If the United Kingdom joins the Common Market, there will be greater unity and prosperity in Europe. The countries of western Europe will be more able to look after their own affairs, allowing America to withdraw her forces from that part of the world and, possibly, to put them into parts nearer to Australia. It will ‘be an advantage to us if she can concentrate in areas other than Europe where assistance is necessary.
I am quite sure that if the United Kingdom does go into the Common Market Australia can meet the challenge of the changes that will be inevitable. I do not think that it is beyond us to go out and find new markets and to sell in those markets goods in the way in which the people in those parts want them. Some change in our own psychology will be needed. We have a tendency to produce for ourselves and simply sell what we do not want in a way which perhaps is not always the way that the people of the buying countries want the goods. I think we have to change our thinking. We need to go out into these markets and find out how these people want their goods and sell to them in the way they want and not in the r/ay we want to sell. We will also have to sell to them at prices they can afford to pay. Perhaps the sellers will need to reduce their margins of profit, but they will still derive great advantages from supplying those markets.
The Government has done a tremendous amount, as Senator Paltridge has said, to help private enterprise find trade opportunities and exploit them, but I think there is still a great deal of room for private individuals to do more. I am sure they can and will do this. The Western free world has a great deal to gain from the strengthening and unity of the European nations. As a result of this strengthening we will obtain the things we need more than anything else - the ability to mass produce our goods, keep our costs down and increase our efficiency. I am sure we can and will do these things. In arriving at a massproduction basis, in getting our costs down and in raising our efficiency we will have to look in the end to immigration which can help us a great deal to achieve all these things. Immigration will bring us more local consumers and provide the labour which we badly need if our industries are to develop. If we do these things I am sure we will be able to stand on our own feet and grow up in the way shown by other nations which have not always had a benevolent parent to depend upon.
We have been put more on our mettle in recent weeks and have come to a greater understanding of the need to stand on our own feet more than we have done in the past. Events in our very near north are bringing to us a realization that we have to look after ourselves if we want to keep this country. Unfortunately, we have been introduced to some new international morals - international gangsterism and the realization that in some respects might is right. It is unfortunate that these new international principles have been evolved so close to us, but I still believe in selfdetermination and independence for smaller nations.
If we believe in these things we must set about seeing what we can do to assist the smaller nations that are near to us. I believe that the United States of America was unable to help us achieve our aims. As I said before, she has spread her influence in the world to such an extent that she was unable to do any more than she has done, but I think that she shares our view that there should be independence for smaller nations. We will have to make our own position stronger and strive to look after ourselves more effectively so that we can help these other people.
We must realize the situation in the United Nations. Many young emerging countries have joined that body in recent times. At present they tend to sway the votes of that organization. Some of these nations are not yet very mature in their political thinking and they vote sometimes in a prejudiced or an emotional way. They are very susceptible to the improper propaganda that the Communists spread in the United Nations. If we do not like what is going on in that body, what can we do to improve the position? We can either get out of the organization or stay in and try to make it more effective. I do not think there is any better set-up that could bring about peace in the world.
Let us try to do our part in the United Nations to influence those emerging nations to think in a more mature manner and more effectively. They have to realize that repeated lies, such as those that the Communists are constantly telling, are not always right. They must be a little suspicious of the things that they are told over and over again, and not believe them because they are repeatedly stated. I think that the lies which are so often told lead to the kind of international immorality which has just become evident in our north and which is certainly contrary to all the principles of the United Nations charter.
Because of the present situation, particularly of our neighbours, I am pleased to see in this Budget a slight increase in the amount we are spending on overseas aid. It is proposed to spend £32,000,000 a year on aid to countries less fortunate than ourselves. In particular, we should help as much as we can the countries very near to us. I am concerned about the people of the islands of Indonesia, the Melanesian races of New Guinea and the islands near to Australia and those in the Polynesian islands further to our east. All those islands form an umbrella, as it were, over Australia. We must assist the people who live in them even more than we have. They expect us to do so. Maybe it is not a good thing, but nevertheless they do look to Australia for help, and I think we should give them that help. I would rather see our aid going to the people near us whilewe leave it to countries nearer to Africa to support the people of that continent. Take the island of Fiji. At present theBritish Government is assisting the Fijians, but I think probably that Australia should do more for Fiji and leave Britain to help the peoples of Africa. It would be better for us to do this than to spread our aid in the way that America has done.
I should like to say something more about the situation in our near north. I. accept completely the statement that was read to-day in this chamber on the position regarding West New Guinea. Although we may -not like the way the present situation has come about, we must now try to help, the 200,000 people in Indonesian New
Guinea to gain their objective of selfdetermination, and we must continue also to help the 2,000,000 people on our own side of New Guinea to achieve selfdetermination eventually. I think that we need to press on perhaps even faster towards giving a greater degree of selfdetermination to the people on the Australian side of Papua and New Guinea. We should increase the size of the parliament as suggested in the United Nations report adopted by the United Nations Trusteeship Council. Not only should we do this but we should introduce individual electorates and a common roll. Although this would probably cause an upset and bring about chaotic conditions in the immediate future, it would bc in accordance with the opinion of the United Nations. A nation like ourselves, which is endeavouring to help backward nations, should assist this Territory to achieve greater self-determination, but 1 stress that this does not necessarily mean independence at this stage. There is a vast difference between self-determination and independence.
While we are putting so much money into New Guinea and must continue to do so for many years - in this Budget I notice that the amount to be spent this year is £20,000,000- we shall still be able to exercise a sort of veto power over the wishes of the parliament of New Guinea in relation to the spending of this money. Once the Territory became independent we would not have the same influence over it. It would be far better for Australia to accept world opinion, and grant a greater degree of self-determination, but at the same time retain a certain amount of influence in the country. 1 want to say something about housing. This Government has done a magnificent job in trying to provide housing for as many people as possible. Over the last seven years something like £500,000,000 has been spent on housing. I would like to make one or two suggestions, which, if adopted, would in my opinion improve the situation. As far as war service homes are concerned, there is very little room for criticism. Recently the maximum amount of the loan for a war service home was increased. There is now no waiting time in respect of loans for new houses, and money is available for extensions to houses. Pressure is building up for the granting of second assistance to people who are forced to sell their homes and move to other areas, but before anything is done in this regard I suggest that ex-servicewomen who served outside Australia should be made eligible for war service homes. I am referring to women who served under conditions similar to those experienced by men who are now eligible for war service homes. Some of these women are anxious to secure homes and feel that they are being deprived of their rights.
The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is not operating at maximum efficiency. The gap between the amount of money available and the cost of a house is too wide. Insufficient houses are being built for rental purposes. The Government could do more to encourage private enterprise to build houses for rent if it did something along the lines of the scheme operated by the United States federal housing authority. It is a great mistake to rely too heavily on State housing. Private enterprise can build more cheaply and possibly better for the person who can afford a deposit. State housing should be reserved for people «n low incomes who cannot find the deposit necessary to build their own homes. State housing also should provide houses for rental. Rental houses must always be available for people whose jobs take them from place to place or who, because of low incomes, cannot afford to buy houses. I do not approve of the system being introduced in South Australia under which houses will be made available to anybody on a deposit of £50. I still think that anybody who can afford an adequate deposit should be forced to pay it. Housing on low deposit should be available only for persons on low incomes.
Adequate housing should be available for migrants. Australia needs more migrants and their biggest problem is the acquisition of a house soon after they arrive here. In America wage-earners pay only 14 per cent, of their annual income towards mortgage payments. In Australia the figure is 25 per cent. That is a high rate and we should concentrate on reducing it.
– Where do you get the figure of 25 per cent.?
– From statistics. Other statistics show that 75 per cent, of Australians own their own homes, but they pay up to 20 per cent, interest on the money that they have borrowed. Of the total number of home-owners in Australia, 75 per cent, pay only 5i per cent, interest on money borrowed. That is a good rate of interest, but 66 per cent, of the remaining home-owners pay more than 6 per cent, and 47 per cent, of them pay between 7 per cent, and 20 per cent. There is room for improvement there. Some people need houses urgently and they will borrow the necessary money wherever they can get it.
I think a greater amount of money would be available to private builders if lending authorities, such as banks and insurance companies, were given a government guarantee that they would not lose on their investments. I would like to see a scheme along those lines instituted shortly because it would lead to a reduction in the high rates of interest charged on second mortgage money needed by prospective home-owners. It is those interest rates that are forcing up the prices of houses so drastically. Such a scheme also would enable migrants to buy houses and, consequently, would stimulate the flow of migrants to this country.
I place migrants in three categories. In one category is what I call the nest-egg migrant - the migrant who comes to this country with up to £500, which can be a deposit on a home if mortage money is made available to him. The second category of migrant is the low-income earner. He will need State housing. In the third category are migrants with large families. They are an excellent asset to Australia about at present they are forced to live in hostels for unduly long periods of time - some for many years. Large families have great difficulty in obtaining a home unless there are more than two wage-earners in the family. At present hundreds of such families are housed in hostels. If State housing authorities were relieved of the necessity of providing housing for migrants with sufficient money to pay a deposit on their own homes, they would be better able to provide houses for migrants in receipt of low incomes or with large families. The migrants with nest-eggs represent about half the total number of migrants coming to this country and if they were able to obtain satisfactory housing finance a tremendous burden would be removed from the housing authorities.
Private enterprise can and will do more if it is given more encouragement. I know of one private housing estate in South Australia that was able to sell houses when the credit squeeze was at its height. At that time other institutions could not sell houses. The private concern to which I refer built a most attractive settlement. It provided amenities better than those provided by the State housing authorities. It provided playgrounds for the children, sports grounds and swimming pools. I am disturbed to know that that organization is not getting a great deal of assistance from the State authorities or from the immigration authorities in the way of publicity. I think that people who are willing to build housing settlements should be provided with the names of migrants. Those organizations may be able to sell houses to migrants who can afford to pay for them. The housing organization to which I have referred is about to open an office in London. I hope that the Department of Immigration will allow that organization to place its pamphlets in the department’s offices in London. If people overseas can be made aware of the facilities for obtaining houses in this country they will be more eager to migrate here. These are the people that we want here. They are available and we must do a great deal more to help them.
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.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620821_senate_24_s22/>.