24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question without notice. Is it a fact, as reported in the press, that he will be acting Prime Minister in September during the absence-
– I rise to order, Mr. President. I submit that the honorable senator is not in order in basing a question on a newspaper report.
– I do not wish to cast any aspersion on your rulings in the past, Sir, but if the point of order taken by the Minister is valid I do not think that many questions asked in this chamber would be in order.
– Order! I would not rule the question out of order specifically because it is based upon a newspaper report, but I rule it out of order on other grounds.
– Perhaps I could ask my question in this manner: Is it true, as rumour has it, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate will be appointed Acting Prime Minister of Australia during the absence of Mr. Menzies abroad? If so, would this be only the second occasion since Federation on which a senator has been appointed Acting Prime Minister, the first occasion being in 1916 when, during the absence in England of Mr. Hughes, Senator Sir George Pearce was appointed Acting Prime Minister? Will Senator Spooner accept the congratulations of my colleagues and myself and, I feel certain, of all honorable senators, having regard to the distinction that his appointment as Acting Prime Minister will bring to himself and to the Senate?
– I feel that I should start by thanking Senator Kennelly for his nice thought; but I have to follow that by saying that these matters are dealt with by the Prime Minister in announcements, and no such announcement has been made by the Prime Minister.
– I did see the report referred to by the honorable senator. It appeared in various newspapers. I am not able to say whether the report is entirely accurate or how many Dutch will be remaining, but as the article indicated, clearly quite a number will be leaving. Under the terms of the agreement on West New Guinea, the top eighteen administrative positions in that country are to be filled by non-Dutch persons appointed by the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations. It will be entirely within his capacity to make appointments. The lower administrative positions to which Senator Cooper has referred will be filled under the agreement in this order of priority: First, by Dutch at present occupying the positions; secondly, by Papuans, if any, who are capable of doing the work; and thirdly, by Indonesians. This administration will last only until the interim period of the agreement expires, which will be about May, 1963. After that it will be a question for the Indonesian Government in conjunction with the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations to determine how the posts shall be filled. I am sure that if Australia were requested for the same sort of technical assistance that it gives to Indonesia and other countries now, this would be considered on all fours with similar requests from other places.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Health a question without notice. Has the Minister examined the information which has been publicized at various times by several authorities concerning the relationship between the habit of cigarette smoking and lung cancer? Did he conclude from the information that nonsmokers have a lower incidence of lung cancer than smokers?
– Research reveals clearly that the incidence of lung cancer is lower among non-smokers than smokers. Senator Benn asks whether cigarette smoking is a main cause of lung cancer. Research again reveals that cigarette smoking is a contributing factor. There are other factors. It has been made clear that heavy smokers who live in industrial areas where the atmosphere is contaminated by fumes have a higher incidence of lung cancer than those living in rural areas who smoke the same number of cigarettes a day. In all the statistics I think one thing is abundantly clear - that people of tender years should be advised before they become heavy smokers of what this habit may lead to. I think we have an obligation to make it clear to the young people of this country that they would be wise to refrain from smoking until they are of more mature years and can make up their minds to what extent they will indulge in the pleasant habit.
– Will you tell us how to stop?
– I have told you before - will-power.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he will obtain from the Department of Primary Industry details of the amounts paid in subsidies to primary producers and also the amounts paid indirectly through such schemes as the butter stabilization and wheat stabilization schemes? Will he give the annual amounts expended through such organizations as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization on beef cattle research, &c? In short, will he say what amounts were paid on a Commonwealth basis, whether by the Government or the consumers, for the benefit of primary industry in Australia for the year ended June 30th, 1962?
– The question asked by Senator Lillico needs a good deal of research. I did not hear him nominate the period for which he sought information.
– The last financial year.
– That will be a simple matter. I will ask the Minister for Primary Industry to supply the information to the honorable senator.
– I direct aquestion to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Did the Prime Minister state when opening a new research station yesterday for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that in a world which was starving there would always be war, and that the great hope for peace was that men of distinction should give their talents to the task of increasing the productive capacity of the earth? Does the Minister agree that to achieve peace and prosperity for all mankind the leaders of the nations will have to engage in the task not only of increasing productivity but also of immediately effecting a more equitable distribution of existing production? Will the Australian Government set an example to the rest of the world in this regard by seeing that the underprivileged sections of the Australian community - I refer particularly to the unemployed, age and invalid pensioners and people of aboriginal descent - receive a greater share of Australia’s production?
- Senator McClelland sounded as though he was giving his policy speech in the form of a question. I have not seen the Prime Minister’s statement to which he has referred. I have heard of it but, not having read it, I prefer to refrain from expressing opinions upon it. As to the policy aspects of the questions, I may say there are some very good answers. One facet, which Senator McClelland leaves out of the question, is that, unfortunately, the facts of life are that one of the conditions precedent to maintaining world peace is defence preparedness on the part of the democratic world. That is a consideration that people are apt to overlook. It is no pleasant task to divert the national resources to defence, but it is one of the stern facts of life that it is necessary to do so.
As to distribution of resources, I may say that I am far more optimistic than Senator McClelland. I think the Australian nation has a great deal to be proud of in the extent of the resources that it has diverted to social services. I forget the exact figures, but I know that very striking figures were given in the Budget Speech. Speaking from memory, something of the order of more than three-quarters of total income tax receipts are being applied to social services. Very few countries are doing as well as that or have as good a record in the level of full employment as Australia has consistently maintained over a long period of years. If honorable senators cast their minds back to the postwar period I doubt very much whether they could justifiably challenge the way in which Australian governments have maintained a policy of full employment. That is not to say that we do not desire a higher level of employment than exists at present, or that we do not expect that, based on a sound economy rather than on an insecure economy, we will attain that higher level of employment. We hope to achieve that result as the months go by.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that under the proposed agreement to ratify the hand-over of Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia arrangements are to be made for a vote to be taken in 1969 to decide whether the people of that Territory shall have selfdetermination. Is it also a fact that the agreement provides that those who will be eligible to vote will be residents of the Territory at the time of the take-over plus those who are resident there at the time when the vote is taken? Does the Minister agree that this could mean that Indonesia could completely stack the vote by sending in sufficient technologists, educationists or administrators to out-vote the indigenous people of West New Guinea? Would it be possible at the forthcoming session of the United Nations to modify or amend this agreement in any way? If so, will the Minister ask the Minister for External Affairs to endeavour to ensure that only native-born Papuans and other residents of the Territory at the time of the take-over shall be eligible to vote?
– The agreement, which was annexed to the speech delivered by the Minister for External Affairs in another place and that delivered by me in this chamber sets out - I cannot recall the particular article at the moment - those who shall be eligible to vote when this question of self-determination arises. From memory, it provides that those who shall be eligible to vote shall be native-born Papuans, Indonesians who have been living in the country for a particular length of time and Indonesians who were in the Territory but left it since 1945. That would clearly be taken to include any Indonesians who, at the time of the general fighting between the Dutch and the Indonesians in the whole of that area, fought in West New Guinea, or left West New Guinea because it was not transferred to Indonesia. I think that this agreement will be studied by the United Nations Organization, and if the honorable senator wishes the Minister for External Affairs to take any particular action I think she should bring her request to his notice personally.
– Although the questions which I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration deal with a particular sport, the problem to which they refer affects the migration to this country of many fine, physically fit men. I may say that the head of the world’s soccer organization, which governs 100 or so national organizations, Sir Stanley Rous, is now in Australia and may contact the Department of Immigration. I ask the Minister whether he is aware that many excellent and physically fit would-be migrants are reluctant to come to Australia because, being professional soccer players, they are barred from playing in Australia unless exorbitant transfer fees are paid to their clubs, some of which have demanded a fee of as much as £40,000? Is the Minister aware that many other soccer players for whom no transfer fee is asked have made all arrangements to come to Australia but have been held up for many months, in some cases for more than six months? Will the Minister ascertain the reason for this unwarranted hold-up and apportion the blame?
– I can only assume that the reason why the soccer players to whom the honorable senator refers are being retained by their own countries is that those countries, misguidedly, think that soccer is a better game than Australian rules football. However, this is a matter for the countries concerned. Apparently, these prospective migrants have contracts with soccer clubs in their own countries, and if those clubs are not prepared to release them, it is difficult to see just what the Minister can do. However, 1 am quite prepared to place the matter before him and ask him whether he will give me a reply.
Senator MARRIOTT__ Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen a statement in yesterday’s Hobart “ Mercury “ that it has been announced in London that the new passenger ferry to be constructed for the Australian National Line and used on the Sydney-Tasmania service, is to be named “ Empress of Tasmania “? Is the statement correct? Can the Minister say why the information was released in London?
– It is a characteristic of the birth of a ship in which there is great public interest, for a good deal of speculation to occur about its name. In this instance, the honorable senator has read a statement that is in fact pure speculation. Having seen the report to which he has referred, I was sufficiently interested to get iri touch with my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He assures me that no name has yet been selected. He informs me that he has received a number of suggestions, of which “ Empress of Tasmania “ is one. Another suggested name, at the other end of the register, is “ Duchess of Woolloomooloo “.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the number of eggs produced in Australia exceeds the number which the egg marketing boards can market under the terms and conditions on which they operate? Also, is it a fact that consideration has been given to the possibility of destroying surplus eggs in order to maintain current market prices and to avoid the embarrassment of a glut? If the answer to those two questions is in the affirmative, will the Minister give an assurance that every endeavour will be made to avoid the destruction of eggs and to explore the possibility of directing the surplus eggs into avenues where food is urgently required?
– The honorable senator has asked whether it is a fact that the surplus of eggs is so great that it has become a burden on the Australian economy. Surpluses of eggs occur from time to time, due mainly to seasonal conditions, and they do present a problem to the egg boards in the various States, but I think it is true to say that, in the main, the boards are able eventually to cope with the situation. I have not heard it suggested that the destruction of surplus stocks was contemplated.- I could not imagine that such a suggestion would be seriously considered. Australia is well equipped with refrigeration facilities for the storage of surplus eggs. I have no doubt that the various egg boards are in a position adequately to handle their own affairs.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I am sure he has discerned that the idea that it is a practical and economic proposition for the Australian National Line to establish and operate an overseas shipping service is being rather persistently presented to the public. I have noticed in replies to questions by the Minister for Trade and his colleagues, statements to the effect that the establishment of such a service would involve capital and operating costs of a disastrous nature and would therefore increase the load on our exporting industries. I share that view. Because of the importance of this matter at the present time, when emphasis is being placed on the need to increase our exports, will the Minister have bis department prepare a responsible assessment of the proposal, on both a capital-cost and revenue basis, and submit it to the Senate for debate? Alternatively, does he favour the appointment of a select committee of the Senate to examine the matter and make a responsible report on it?
– Senator Wright has asked a question which raises matters of policy. This is a subject that is constantly under consideration by every responsible Minister. We find such problems in the development of Australia’s resources to the best national advantage, when we run into the situation that freight is a large proportion of total cost and that it is cheaper to send goods overseas than it is to ship them around the Australian coast. In those circumstances, one must be despondent about developing an Australian shipping industry to cater for international trade. Senator Wright asked whether we would make an assessment of the position or agree to the appointment of a select committee. As a first preliminary, I should prefer to see a big matter like this the subject of an objective debate in the Senate. I should like to see the pros and cons thrashed out in debate in the Senate.
– You are of opinion that we should never have an overseas shipping line, irrespective of our growth?
– Wait a minute. I said that I should like to see an objective debate about it in the Senate. I think that the Senate can serve a very useful purpose in debating such matters and informing public opinion upon them. If I may now reply to the interjection, an objective debate rather presupposes that people will come into it without preconceived ideas. How to do that in a world of practical politics is another matter. I should be glad to see the matter debated. There are plenty of ways in which it can be done in accordance wim the forms of the Senate. If we give a little thought and care to it I think we could make a useful contribution. Of course, I should come into it quite objectively. I always think that those who are advocating this proposition do not realize the practical difficulties in the competitive world in which we live.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. President, as the controller of the practices and procedures in this chamber. I refer to “Journals of the Senate”, No. 38, of 22nd August, 1962. Under “Attendance” are listed, among senators absent without leave, Senators Hannan, Hendrickson and myself, whereas in fact we were officially engaged at the funeral of ex-Senator Cameron, representing the Government, the Leader of the Opposition and yourself. I think you may remember that I raised this general question two or three years ago. If leave of absence must be given by vote of this chamber, could not some arrangement be arrived at whereby, when senators are absent on official business such is this, the fact could be noted in the “ Journals of the Senate “. As the records appear now, yesterday week the three of us were absent without leave, whereas in fact we were officially representing the Government, the Leader of the Opposition and the President of the Senate.
– And by agreement between the parties.
– Yes. We are shown as having been absent without leave when in fact we were not; we were absent with leave.
– I shall look into this matter, Senator Sandford, and let you know what the position is.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for the Navy, by pointing out that the presence of H.M.A.S. “Gascoyne” and other ships in South Australian waters is much appreciated at Port Adelaide and out-ports. Can the Minister tell me when the contemplated naval hydrographic survey of the Cape Catastrophe and West Point area near Port Lincoln in South Australia is due to commence and when it is likely to be completed? Will the Minister consider this as a matter of great urgency as I understand that strong claims for a light on West Point are being deferred pending this naval survey?
– I thank Senator Laught for his tribute to the ships that have already done their work in South Australian waters this year. Part of that work involved the surveying and sounding of the sea within five miles of West Point, of which Senator Laught spoke. It is planned that the survey of the inshore section will be completed next year; but I do not know the precise period of next year in which that work will be done. A considerable amount of surveying has been done in South Australian waters during last year. The surveys of Investigator Strait and the approaches to Spencer’s Gulf have been completed. The survey of the shipping lane up the middle of Spencer’s Gulf will be completed next week. It is expected that the survey of the whole of the Spencer’s Gulf area will be completed next year. Seven naval ships are engaged on this type of work around the Australian coast. A great deal of the work is highly important. I would not deem ft proper to promise that I would seek to take a ship engaged in surveying Tasmanian shipping lanes or the port of Weipa off that work, in order ..to do the work of which Senator Laught spoke, sooner than is planned. However, that work will be completed next year.
– I preface my question, which I direct to the Minister for National Development, by pointing out that over the last year or so there have been very active developments in the search for oil and natural gas around the Maitland district on the northern coalfields of New South Wales. Is the Minister yet able to report to the Senate on the progress of that work?
– Knowing Senator Arnold’s interest in this technical matter, I obtained the following information from the Department of National Development: The Hunter River district is part of the Sydney Basin and has been geologically mapped by the geological survey of New South Wales. Several anticlines are known, the more important of which lie to the west of Maitland. Test wells were drilled into two of the structures, the Loder Dome and the Belford Dome, as early as 1926-27. No evidence of oil and no significant evidence of gas was obtained in these two wells. In 1936 the Farley or Maskell well, the deepest test to date, reached 5,364 feet. It was drilled near Maitland on the flank of the large Lochinvar dam and produced small flows of gas, most of which was dry.
In 1959 another hole was drilled on the flank of the same structure near Ravensfield. The prospective rocks in the area are thick permian sedimentary sequence. They contain marine sediments which are a possible source rock, porous strata suitable for the accumulation of oil and gas, and a number of impermeable strata suitable for cap rocks. Although the limited amount of testing to date has not provided any significant results, the area is considered by my department’s technical officers as being not unfavourable for the accumulation of gas and possibly oil. The Planet Oil Company, after making seismic surveys, has selected this site for a test well to the south-east of Maitland.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. As to-day will be the last sitting day of this chamber until some time in October, can he indicate whether the Senate will rise for the period of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Perth during the last week of November? If the Senate is to rise for these events can the Minister inform the Senate on what dates the Senate will rise and resume its sittings? I ask these questions in order that honorable senators may be enabled to arrange for tickets and accommodation as it is possible that neither will be available if the Government’s programme is not announced until the October sittings.
– I can say only that I have no official information that I can give Senator Branson. I simply live in the hope, which I think most of us share, that we may be able to complete our Budget business in time to enable the Parliament to rise prior to the games in Western Australia. Whether that is a case of hope springing eternally in the human breast, I do not know. No official decision has been made, and I do not think that any can be made until we know the course of legislation in the Parliament.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government. Recently I have asked questions relating to the expenditure of about £100,000 annually in the purchase and maintenance of motor cars by Australian missions abroad. The answers I have received have indicated that only in isolated instances have Australianmade motor cars been purchased, one excuse given for this limitation being the difficulties experienced in servicing such vehicles. Before the end of 1962, General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited will build its one-millionth Australian Holden, the first Holden having made its appearance on 29th November, 1948. As this is a significant milestone in Australian industrial achievement, will the Government issue a direction that in future Australian missions abroad shall use only motor cars of Australian manufacture?
– If my memory serves me correctly I gave Senator Hendrickson detailed information about this matter in reply to a previous question. I think he very much underestimates the difficulties in a number of localities of maintaining and servicing cars of only one make. In the circumstances, although it is our desire and objective to use as many Australian cars overseas as is possible in order to demonstrate the prowess of Australian manufacturing industry, I would hesitate very much before I subscribed to the view that we should issue a general directive that only cars made in Australia be used at our missions abroad.
– I ask the Leader of the Government: Is the Government aware of the widespread public feeling that there is a crisis in the need for, and the provision of, education facilities at all levels? Does the Government concede that such a crisis exists? Will the Government agree to the appointment of a special committee of inquiry, along the lines of the Murray committee which inquired into the universities, to assess the needs of primary, secondary and technical education, and to recommend a long-term basis of federal financial assis tance to meet those needs? Will the Government also consider an emergency grant to the States to help them in their crisis in school accommodation?
– Senator Cohen raises a question of very wide Government policy. There is another side to this question. 1 wish 1 had readily in my mind the facts of the tremendous advance in educational facilities provided in Australia over recent years - the tremendous increase in the proportion of funds that have been provided for education by the States, and the substantial addition to those funds that has been made by the Commonwealth for university education and in other directions. The situation at present is that we have an organization which assesses university requirements, teaching-hospital requirements and some other educational aspects; and we hesitate, as a government, to establish further committees of inquiry because education is essentially a matter for the State governments. I think every one would hesitate to ask the Commonwealth to take responsibility for the provision, direction and administration of school facilities.
I do not think I can give a better answer than that. I do not see any justification for a special committee of inquiry. Each State knows its position and makes its own arrangements; and each State every year makes its representations to the Australian Loan Council. The cake for the year is cut up. A discussion takes place as to the total financial resources available and each State gets its share and then decides the proportion of that share it will allocate to education. There is always a request that further sums be made available for other purposes, but we have to look at the position as it is to-day. We must recognize the good things we have under the present system and as far as is practicable, leave the responsibility for the allocation of resources to the State governments.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration relates to one aspect of naturalization ceremonies, namely, the renunciation of former allegiance made by migrants about to be naturalized. Is it a fact that the act of renunciation of allegiance to a former country does not in some instances unconditionally release the applicant from obligations to his former country? If that is so, have negotiations been entered into with the governments of the countries concerned with the object of having this unsatisfactory position rectified?
– I have always been of the opinion that the renunciation of allegiance made at naturalization ceremonies bound the candidate in respect of both Australia and his former country. I recall, however, that at the recent Australian Citizenship Convention some discussion took place on this particular matter. I have not the details in mind. I still feel, however, that the renunciation binds the candidate in all instances. In view of the importance of the question I suggest that the honorable senator put it on the notice-paper, and I shall obtain a reply from the Minister.
– Can the Leader of the Government inform the Senate when Order of the Day No. 6, under General Business - West New Guinea - Ministerial Statement - Paper - will be called on for discussion?
– I am willing to facilitate debate, so long as Senator Kennelly does not want the matter debated to-day. These matters are on the noticepaper as general business. I take it from Senator Kennelly’s remarks that honorable senators on his side want to debate this particular matter. I shall make arrangements for that to be done as soon as possible after the recess.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer and concerns the situation confronting banana-growers in the Carnarvon district. The Carnarvon Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has expressed concern at the lack of water for bananagrowing and has said that at the moment water is being rationed to growers, whose situation is somewhat critical. I understand that the State Government has investigated this question and that a report has been made - known as the Furphy report - which indicates the way in which these growers could be assisted. I ask the Minister: Has the State Government made an approach to the Commonwealth Government for assistance in this matter? If the State Government has made such an approach, can the Minister indicate the nature of the approach and the extent of the financial assistance that is being sought? Can the Minister say what the attitude of the Commonwealth Government towards this request is likely to be?
– I do not think that it would be quite right to say that an approach has been made by the Western Australian Government to the Commonwealth Government on this matter. At least no approach has been made in the formal sense. I am aware of this particular project. The construction of a storage on the Gascoyne River has been the subject of discussion on one occasion between the responsible Minister in the Western Australian Government and Commonwealth Government officers, and on another occasion between State officers and Commonwealth officers. The discussions took place in the general context of northern development and the question was whether this was a project that should be included in the general programme of northern development above the 26th parallel. My geography might be a little rusty but I do not think the Gascoyne is above the 26th Parallel. As I understand the project, it provides for the construction of a storage about 50 miles upstream. This has been discussed in the manner that I have indicated. To the best of my knowledge no formal approach has been made. I think the matter has reached the stage where some technical advice is required, both as to the practicability of the scheme - a problem of shifting sand being one of the technical difficulties - and the siting of the dam.
– My question is addressed to Senator Spooner as the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister noted the more than keen competition that has developed among various sources of fuel and power in Australia? Does the Minister not think that dangers likely to arise from such competition could be largely overcome or avoided if the Government were to set up a national fuel board much the same as those in Great Britain and the United States of America? Will the Government give consideration to this proposal?
– There is a good deal to commend the proposal that there should be some national fuel authority, but one runs into the problem of whether the Commonwealth would have constitutional power to set up such a board. There are also other aspects. Senator Ormonde talks of the dangers of competition, but there are also many virtues in competition for a country that is aiming to develop its resources and keep its costs low. If honorable senators are as optimistic as I am, and believe that in respect of fuel we are on the eve of a new era, they will agree that whatever virtues there may be in Senator Ormonde’s proposal, consideration of it might be better deferred until conflicting opinions have been resolved and a more stable outlook has developed.
– My question without notice is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General and refers to television reception in certain areas of Canberra. Is it a fact that comparatively poor reception of television in Canberra is being experienced in highdensity population areas where there are buildings containing a large number of Government flats? Does this indicate the need to provide electricity sub-stations of a greater capacity in those areas in order to ensure that viewers will enjoy better reception? Will he ask the PostmasterGeneral to have inquiries made into this matter? Have similar difficulties been encountered in other capital cities and, if so, what remedial action has been taken?
– It is true that for a variety of reasons television reception is sometimes adversely affected in particular areas. As far as I know, no complaints have been brought to the notice of the Postmaster-General’s Department in Canberra. However, I am quite confident that should any deficiencies be brought to its notice an investigation will be carried out.
asked the Minister in Charge Commonwealth Industrial and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
Does the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization conduct examinations and tests of certain patents; if so, is any charge made and are any reports of these examinations and tests made available to Parliament and to private citizens?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization does not normally attempt the technical assessment of inventions submitted by members of the public. There are many reasons for this, the principal one being that, once started, this could rapidly become an activity which could well take up a large part of the time of the officers of C.S.I.R.O., and this, of course, could only be done at the expense of the existing research programme. On the other hand, in a very small number of cases, chiefly in wool technology, an invention made outside C.S.I.R.O. has been so closely related to the organization’s research programme that some appropriate arrangement has been entered into for collaboration with the inventor in further development of the invention concerned. No charge has been made by C.S.I.R.O. in these cases. Some information on the inventions has been disclosed in confidence to C.S.I.R.O. and therefore no reports are issued.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
With reference to the report issued by the Department of Health that the number of cases of hepatitis which came under notice during the year ended 30th June, 1961, was about double the number in the previous year, can the Minister give the Senate any facts on the trend in the year ended 30th June, 1962?
– I supply the following information: -
The number of cases of infectious hepatitis notified during the year ended 30th June, 1962, was 11,519. This represents a 10 per cent. decrease in the number of cases notified in the previous year.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 2nd October next, unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
Debate resumed from 29th August (vide page 542), on motion by Senator Paltridge-
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, News 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;
National Income and Expenditure 1961-62; and
Commonwealth payments to or for the Statesbe 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 “.
And upon which Senator Toohey had moved by way of amendment to the amendment -
At the end of Senator McKenna’s amendment add the following words: - “ and - but that the Government be requested to make provision therein for adequate funds to enable the standardization of the railway line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie to be carried out in conjunction with the State of South Australia”.
– When the Senate adjourned last night I was speaking of the discovery of huge deposits of iron ore in Western Australia, and I emphasized what this would mean to the nation’s economy. I congratulate the Government on its courage in lifting the embargo on the export of iron ore, which was a material factor in this discovery. In the Hammersley Ranges in the north of Western Australia there are reputed to be large quantities of high-grade iron ore amounting to hundreds of millions of tons. Honorable senators will recall that a fortnight or so ago, when speaking in the adjournment debate, I said that I believed the Government should not impose any restrictions on the export of iron ore. I believed at that time that the Government had restricted exports of iron ore to 1,000,000 tons a year, but I was informed by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) that in certain circumstances the Government would allow exports in excess of 1,000,000 tons. When I resumed my seat on that occasion Senator Cant who is from Western Australia, said he believed the Government should be wary of permitting the export of raw iron ore, and that as far as possible it should endeavour to encourage companies to export the finished product rather than the raw material.
I want to say now that the best way, and indeed the only way, to encourage companies to set up, for instance, a second steel mill in Australia, would be to permit export of large quantities of raw iron ore. We know that many other countries with deposits in excess of twenty billion tons are endeavouring to arrange markets for their high-grade iron ore. One of these countries, Brazil, is reputed to have proved that it has twenty billion tons of high-grade iron ore. We know also that South Africa and India have largest deposits of highgrade iron ore. Therefore, I believe we should act as quickly as possible in an endeavour to get companies to arrange sales with overseas companies so that our export of iron ore will begin as early as possible.
The other point I wish to raise before concluding concerns the attacks made by various members of the Opposition on the Government’s immigration policy. Many of them said that our intake had declined greatly. Let me stress here that the Government’s target is approximately 150,000 immigrants a year. That figure was exceeded by over 16,000 a year or so ago, and even last year the intake was only between 6,000 and 8,000 short of our target. I have before me a very interesting document which discloses that 94 of every 100 of immigrants who have been in Australia for five years have remained here. In other words, only 6 per cent. of migrants who have been in Australia for five years have returned to their home countries. To me, that indicates quite clearly that migrants are quite happy with conditions as they find them in Australia.
I remind the Senate, too, that at the moment many Australians are leaving this country for periods in excess of twelve months. The Department of Immigration regards them as permanent departures. However, we recall the conditions that existed under a Labour government, when very few Australians could afford to go overseas for periods in excess of twelve months. For instance, whereas in 1949-50 the number of Australians leaving this country for periods in excess of twelve months was virtually nil, by 1960 over 25,000 Australians could afford to do so. Last year, 33,337 Australians visited overseas countries for periods in excess of twelve months.
– But they are counted again when they come back.
– Of course. And they are counted when they leave the country. All I am doing is answering the criticism that under this Government conditions are so bad in Australia that no one has the money to go abroad. That is the type of rot honorable senators opposite put forward, and I am enlightening them as to the true position. I am saying that whereas in 1949- 50 virtually no one had sufficient money to go overseas for a period of twelve months or longer, under this Government 25,000 could afford to do so in 1960 and by 1962 a total of 33,376 Australians departed from this country for destinations overseas. Before leaving Australia, people have to state in writing whether they propose residing in another country for a period of twelve months. All this indicates that we have a condition of great prosperity in Australia at the moment. Indeed, so great is our prosperity that, whereas prior to the imposition of the credit squeeze 82,162 Australian residents departed for overseas countries, after the imposition of the credit squeeze the number of “poor” Australians who could afford a trip overseas increased to 94,000. So, conditions under this Government are much better than those under a Labour government. As there has been so much talk of departures during this debate, I thought the Senate would find the figures I have cited very interesting.
I take this opportunity to congratulate on their attitude the South Australian senators on the Government side who, despite the fact that they have been attacked by not only Sir Thomas Playford but also the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, Mr. Walshe, have stood firmly behind this Government. As a team of
Government senators they have done as much for their State as has any other team representing any other State, and they are to be commended in that respect. In conclusion, I congratulate the new members on both sides of the Senate. I have listened to many maiden speeches in this chamber, and I believe that those delivered on this occasion have been as good as, if not better than, those delivered by new members of this chamber on previous occasions.
– The one part of Senator Scott’s speech with which I can agree wholeheartedly is that in which he congratulated the new members of this chamber on the way they came through the ordeal of delivering their maiden speeches. Unfortunately, through illness, I was unable to be present last week; but I want to tell our new members that I listened to their speeches, particularly that of my new colleague from Victoria, and I join with other honorable senators in congratulating them.
Before proceeding to discuss the Budget I should like to answer some of Senator Spooner’s comments on Senator McKenna’s speech. During the course of his remarks, Senator Spooner said -
When we look at the progress and development that has taken place in Australia in the last twelve months, we find that nothing occurred in which every Australian is not justified in taking great pride and satisfaction.
Senator Spooner then cited certain statistics, some covering a month and others covering a quarter, in an attempt to justify his general statement that we should all be happy with the economy and that those unfortunate people who are out of work really have no problems. Senator Spooner occupies a very responsible position in this chamber, and it is to be regretted that he did not live up to that responsibility when answering Senator McKenna. It is to be regretted, too, that he did not take the trouble to peruse carefully the White Paper on National Income which, in my opinion, is one of the most valuable of the documents presented periodically to the Parliament. When speaking of wages, Senator Spooner said - .
There has been a very appreciable increase in the total number of people in employment and . . in the average weekly earnings . . ,
When we turn to the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, we see that it states, at page 6 -
Wages, salaries and supplements thereto increased by £73,000,000, or 2 per cent., which was the smallest annual increase both absolutely and relatively since 1946-47, and followed rises of 7 per cent, in 1960-61 and 10 per cent, in 1959-60.
Is that an achievement in which Senator Spooner can take great pride?
The honorable senator went on to deal with housing. I ask the Senate to bear in mind his statement that everything is as it ought to be and that, in fact, we should not worry at all. I have already referred to the exact words he used in that respect. The honorable senator took the month of March or June - at any rate, one of the later months in the financial year - and pointed to the increase in the number of buildings constructed, compared with the similar month in the previous year. He implied, of course, that everything was all right, that no one needed a house, and that every one was satisfied. Let us look at the White Paper again. If we do so, we shall see that Senator Spooner’s statements do not agree with those made in the document. At page 5, the following statement appears: -
Private expenditure on dwelling construction was 10 per cent, lower in 1961-62, after an increase of 7 per cent, in 1960-61. Public housing authority dwelling construction for rental purposes increased in value from £22,000,000 in 1960-61 to £28,000,000 in 1961-62. The total number of new dwellings commenced1 - private and government - decreased by about 7 per cent, in 1961-62, compared with a decrease of 3 per cent, in 1960-61. The total number of new dwellings completed fell by about 9 per cent, in 1961-62, after an increase of 5 per cent, in 1960-61.
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is that a part of a picture that should give us great pride and satisfaction? How can the Minister support his contention that there has been a reasonable increase in building construction, when the facts show that there was a decrease compared with the previous year? In order to complete the picture so far as building construction is concerned, the White Paper goes on to point out that other new building and construction showed a decrease of 4 per cent, after an increase of 12 per cent, in 1960-61.
Senator Spooner also stated that there had been great increases in the production of wool, meat, milk, butter and cheese. I turn again to the White Paper. At page 7, I see the following statement: -
The total gross value of farm production fell by 1 per cent. . . .
Farm income is estimated to have fallen . . . by about 3 per cent.
– That is a much more significant figure than the figure of £72,000,000 which you gave as the increase in salaries.
– That may be so. Nevertheless, the statement in the White Paper does not agree with that of the Minister when he was replying to the case submitted by Senator McKenna.
– It is a very significant figure.
– It is most significant. Senator Scott referred to immigration. He has a happy knack of looking back to 1949, when a coal strike had affected employment. The honorable senator cited figures showing the number of people who left Australia in those days compared with the number who leave to-day.
In order to put the matter in its proper perspective, one has to remember that in those days it was not the fashion for young people to travel abroad. To-day, I suppose that half of those who go abroad have seen very little of the State in which they live. It amazes me to think that people who want to take a holiday should prefer to go abroad rather than go to the north of Queensland at the appropriate time of the year. However, it is the fashion for young people to go abroad. I admit they are courageous and that they display spirit in doing so. I suppose many of them leave Australia with only sufficient money to pay their fares. When they arrive at their destination, they battle to get a job. I give them great credit for doing that, but personally, I should prefer them to become acquainted with their own country first. They would then be better ambassadors for Australia when they went overseas. These days, it is possible to leave Australia on a Sunday and arrive in London the following Monday. That was not possible only a few years ago. We then lived in a different era. We were recovering from a war. It should not be assumed that people did not travel in those days for the reasons which Senator Scott attempted to imply.
The immigration target is still 125,000 a year. The Government hopes to increase the population by 2½ per cent. a year. Any one who looks at the figures will see that the intake for last year was 70,000 new settlers. According to the statistics, last year there was a net immigration advantage to Australia of not more than 50,000. I appreciate that we must have migrants, and I want to see them come here as much as any one else does. We must have people to build, for instance. Last night, we listened to Senator Murphy make what I thought was one of the most enjoyable speeches that I had heard for quite a number of years but how are we to do what he suggested should be done unless we can get the people to do the work? I cannot see the sense in having a target of 125,000 migrants, thereby suggesting that we might obtain that number, when the figures show that last year the increase was just 50,000.
– The net increase.
– Yes, the net increase. I look at the future of immigration with not as much pleasure as I should like to have. We all are concerned about events that are occurring in Europe at the present time. If Great Britain joins the European Economic Community, that must help the European countries concerned and also Britain herself to keep their people. The fact that there will be a compact body of something like 290,000,000 people must have the effect of boosting trade all round. We in Australia may have difficulty in attracting anything like the number of migrants that we want to attract. Like every one else, I believe that the country needs immigrants. We welcome them, but whoever has the job of getting them will not find it easy. It is a long time since we obtained that number and I regret to think that it will be a much longer time before we again obtain as many.
– Have you the average over the past three or five years?
– No, I have not. Having discussed those questions that I thought should be mentioned I want to say something about the Budget. The first question that we are entitled to ask our selves is: What are the particular economic needs at the moment and what is this Budget likely to achieve? I think it is fair to say that the economy at present is stagnating. None of us could be happy in saying that it was in a flourishing condition. One has only to spend the time I spent in going through this paper to feel great concern. On this theme, I base my arguments only on the White Paper. It is true that national income is increasing, but it is increasing at a slower rate than was the case in years gone by. In 1959-60, national income was £5,592,000,000, an increase of £545,000,000 over the previous year; in 1960- 61, it was £5,864,000,000, an increase of £272,000,000 over the previous year; in 1961- 62, it was £5,932,000,000, only £68,000,000 more than in the previous year. Senator Spooner said that we could look at our progress and development with great pride and satisfaction, but we find that the increase in national income in 1961-62 was only a quarter of the increase in the previous year and only one-ninth of the increase in
Personal consumption expenditure is more or less in the same ratio. Market expenditure in 1960-61 was £8,608,000,000, which was £329,000,000 more than expenditure in the previous year. In 1961-62 it fell to £8,478,000,000, which was £130,000,000 less than the expenditure in 1960- 61. I do not think that the Leader of the Government or anyone else can look at that position with satisfaction. It is true, as I have said, that there was an increase of 2 per cent. in wages, salaries and supplements thereto, but this increase was 5 per cent. and 8 per cent. respectively lower than the increases in the two preceding years. Wages and salaries increased by £21,000,000 in 1961-62. In relation to that, we must remember that many people . who came to this country needed to find a job, as also did the great number of children - who left schools all over the nation. An increase of £21,000,000 in annual wage and salary payments does not add up to the great progress that we desire. I am tremendously concerned with the drop in company income. Some honorable senators may think that that sounds funny, coming from me.
– You know that it is our bread and butter.
– That is all right. The facts are that unless there are prosperous companies - they are the only ones that can employ people in the numbers we want employed - the number of unemployed will be immeasurably greater than 90,000. Company income is shown on page 14 of the White Paper. Last week, when I was recovering from influenza, I read this document with great interest - greater interest, I suppose, than I had ever previously displayed in this document. It provides a fount of knowledge. In 1959-60, company income totalled £761,000,000, an increase of £126,000,000, over 1958-59. In 1960-61, it had dropped by £31,000,000 to £730,000,000. Last year, it dropped further, by £25,000,000, to £705,000,000. I suppose that this provides the explanation of the number of unemployed we are unfortunate enough to have in this country to-day. I do not think that any one would be foolish enough to think that people put money into industry without expecting a return from it. If markets can be found and investors get a return, we can employ more of our own people.
I now come to the subject of farm income, which is very dear to Senator Wright’s heart. In 1959-60, farm income was £465,000,000, £10,000,000 more than the income in the previous year. In 1960-61, it had risen by £20,000,000 to £485,000,000, but in 1961-62 it dropped by £13,000,000 to £472,000,000. Every one knows the tremendous importance of primary industry, particularly in relation to our overseas balance. If this kind of picture is to be painted each year, one just wonders.
– How does it compare with the figure for 1953-54? Is it just about the same?
– Unfortunately, I did not go back any further than 1959-60. These matters must give us great food for thought. I say to Senator Spooner with the greatest of respect that I do not know how he could say that there was an increase in farm production. Surely he would not mean that an extra bale of wool, an extra bushel of wheat or an extra frozen lamb was sent overseas. The only thing that matters is the effect on the people who produce those commodities.
One of the major problems to-day is the number of people unemployed. It is true that in recent months the number has fallen from 130,000 to 90,000. But within a short time we will be confronted with the problem of children leaving school and about 50,000 immigrants looking for jobs. The task ahead of us - not only ahead of the Government but also ahead of all Australians - is to find out how soon those people can be placed in employment. I look at unemployment from the standpoint of one who unfortunately had his share of it in early life. It is tremendously degrading to a person. I often try to imagine the thoughts of a decent man who has to keep a wife and a couple of children when he receives a week’s notice of the termination of his employment. I am not saying that supporters of the Government do not feel upset about unemployment. It is human to feel that way. But the responsibility is on the Government to find ways and means of rectifying the present position.
From a national viewpoint, the huge army of 90,000 unemployed means a great amount of unused potential and a great loss of production. That more than anything else wrecks the Government’s immigration programme. If immigration officers overseas are doing their duty - I believe they are and I have no reason to state otherwise - when they are asked what the position is in Australia they must say that jobs are not as easy to get as they were some years ago. Unemployment reduces the community’s purchasing power. That reduction in turn means less production. I want company incomes to rise in order to provide employment. But we cannot expect company incomes to rise and companies to provide more employment or even keep employment at the present level unless they can sell the goods that they manufacture.
There has been some discussion about the absence from the speech made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), in presenting the Estimates and Budget Papers, of any reference to full employment. It is true that the words appeared in the “ Hansard “ report of Mr. Harold Holt’s speech in the House of Representatives. I am not imputing improper motives; but the best one can say is that the use of the words “ full employment “ by the
Treasurer was an after-thought. Looking closely at this Budget, I cannot see how the Government can claim to believe in full employment. The Budget will not and cannot give full employment. Do not think that we can expect spending in the private sector of the economy to increase to such an extent that all the people who are unemployed will get work. The figures show that expenditure in the private sector in the last financial year was much less than in the previous year. On the other hand, expenditure in the public sector increased but not sufficiently to take up the lag in employment.
Last week-end I went to the trouble of having a chat to a man who I consider is a very competent economist. I asked him to prepare an estimate of the expansion that would be required to reduce the number of unemployed by 50,000 within twelve months. He gave the matter some thought and then told me that an increase in output of 7 per cent, would be needed. He also told me that, allowing for an expected growth of 85,000 in the work force, an additional 135,000 people, or 4 per cent, of the work force, would need jobs. The figure of 85,000 is made up of young people leaving school and immigrants. The economist said that the expansion required would be even greater than this because a substantial reduction in unemployment would be likely to bring into the work force people who at present are not seekng work. He was alluding to married women and young people. Allowing for that and the fact that productivity rises at an abnormally high rate during a period of economic recovery, the growth of output needed would be at least 7 per cent.
He went on to say that governments could contribute to the achievement of this end by increasing their demand for goods and services and encouraging growth in the private sector. Let us look at what the Government has done. The figures show that it has increased its contribution to demand. That contribution is made up of net purchases of goods and services, grants to the States and net expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I had stated that in order to place 50,000 to 90,000 of the registered unemployed in work, after taking into consideration the normal increase in the work force of 85,000 consisting of schoolleavers and new arrivals in this country, we would have to increase production by 7 per cent, overall. I stated also that the Government could contribute to that increase by increasing its own demands for goods and services, and by encouraging growth in the private sector. Let us consider what the Government has done in this respect. The Government’s contribution is made up of net purchases of goods and services, grants to State Governments and expenditure in both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, plus the loan funds made available to the States.
The figures are’ interesting. In the year 1961-62, the net purchase of goods and services by the Commonwealth amounted te £470,000,000 as against £507,000,000 for the year 1962-63. Grants to the States in 1961-62 amounted to £401,000,000 and rose to £427,000,000 in the year we are now considering. Net expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory amounted to £25,000,000 in 1961-62 and rose this year to £27,000,000. Loans to the States rose from £247,500,000 in 1961-62 to £250,000,000 in 1962-63. Expenditure on these items totalled £1,143,500,000 in 1961-62 as against £1,211,000,000 in 1962- 63. That represents an increase of 5.9 per cent., which is less, of course, than the amount required to achieve the goal of putting 50,000 people back into work. Another interesting factor comes to mind. When you take account of the fact that as a result of the February supplementary measures, the 1961-62 expenditure was running at a rate at least £30,000,000 a year higher than the yearly average, the present Budget increases expenditure for goods and services by only about 3.2 per cent. It is obvious that if a total expansion of 7 per cent, in production is required to reduce the number of unemployed by 50,000, then this Government, with a 3.2 per cent, increase in its demand for goods and services cannot claim to be helping in the manner that is desired. I do not say that the Government does not wish to have full employment, but one can judge the Government only by its actions. On the figures I have cited, the amount that the Government is expending will bring about an increase of only 3.2 per cent, in expenditure instead of the required 7 per cent. Surely the Government does not expect that the private sector will be able to expand sufficiently to make up for the shortfall in Government spending. Judging from last year’s figures the private sector is spending less at the present time. Although the Government may be spending more, the private sector is spending less; so it will be impossible to put all these people back to work.
The Government seems to suggest that the measures announced by the Prime Minister last February and the present Budget should be judged together. It suggests that taken together the two sets of economic measures should provide a substantial stimulus to the economy. Unfortunately, that is not so. I do not think that anyone would say there has been a substantial increase in the strength of the economy. There has certainly been some increase. Things cannot always remain at rock bottom. This Government has strengthened the economy a little. It is remarkable, however, that the present Budget seems to retreat from the measures that were brought down in the second month of the year. At that time the Prime Minister indicated that a special grant of £10,000,000 would be made to the States to finance employment-giving activities. Quite a feature was made at the time of that grant, which applied to only onethird of the financial year. In order to maintain the stimulus over a full year a grant of £30,000,000 would have been needed under this Budget, but only £12,500,000 is to be made available.
In the last four months of 1961-62 the Government made available an additional £7,500,000 to the States for housing. Under the present Budget the grant to the States is smaller by £14,500,000 when contrasted with the rate of expenditure since the February measures. Then let us consider the income tax concession that was made in February. It amounted to approximately £30,000,000 over a period of four months.
No doubt that concession did give a stimulus to the economy; but if the Government wanted to continue that stimulus the concession to be provided under the present Budget for that purpose should amount to £90,000,000 instead of the rebate of £30,000,000 which is to be allowed this year. In these three aspects the Government has retreated to the extent of £92,000,000 in relation to the stimulus it set out to give the economy last February - £17,500,000 less in special assistance to the States, £14,500,000 less in housing finance and £60,000,000 less in income tax concessions. Surely the state of the economy does not warrant a policy of this kind. Instead of giving, as I say, a certain amount for a small portion of the year - and we are justified in saying that even that stimulus did not give the rate of growth to be expected - the Government should have continued that stimulus at a similar rate. If we are to get a response from the public sector we are entitled in times like these to expect the Government to give taxation concessions for not a portion of the year, but for the whole year.
The Government is budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. This can be done usually because in a normal year the Government gains about £100,000,000 extra in taxation revenue, but because of the slowing down of the economy under the present administration the growth in tax revenue this year will be only £23,000,000, or little over onefifth of the normal increase.
– The growth is still going on the expenditure side.
– If Senator Wright or I were to find that by pumping £1,000 into an industry in one quarter-
– Talk in my terms; make it £100.
– The honorable senator should not be so modest. If we were satisfied in our own minds that the industry would come good, we would certainly agree that if the £100 was not sufficient to do the job we should continue to invest money in the same proportion until the industry did come good. We would always have the thought - and surely we must have the thought from the nation’s point of view - that things would come right eventually. But far from increasing or even sustaining the impetus given to the economy, in the February measures, the Budget provision is in fact £92,000,000 on the wrong side. As we all know, the February measures have not met with the response that was expected. Indeed the response has been surprisingly poor. Therefore is it not logical to say that in a year such as this greater impetus should have been given by the Government to the economy?
The Leader of the Government in the Senate, when replying to Senator McKenna, stated that this was a Budget of stability. We on this side do not believe that. We say that if this were so the Budget would provide for a combination of steady growth, a balance between current supply and demand and a guarantee of stable costs and prices. The only one of those three that the Government has achieved is stable costs and prices - but at what sacrifice? Can we have stable costs and prices only if 90,000 people cannot get a job? Are we to have stable costs and prices in exchange for a lower standard of living for the mass of Australians? I think it was the Leader of the Government in the Senate who said, “ Look at the huge savings bank deposits “. Why are they there? They are there, unfortunately in my view, because the people are fearful of the future. That is why we find only in the last quarter a slight growth in the hire-purchase debt. If we could inculcate into the minds of the people - it is the Government’s job to do this - the belief that although perhaps Australia is not going ahead as fast as it should be, the ultimate goals of rapid development and full employment will be reached eventually, we would not have this tremendous growth in savings bank deposits. These deposits to my mind, mean only that the people are not spending. If they are not spending then there is not the demand for the goods that the ordinary person usually buys.
The Government points to the increase in the number of registrations of motor cars, as evidence of prosperity. I should be the last to champion that cause. The position may be reached very soon where the Government will be as concerned as it was only recently when it put a brake upon the motor industry by increasing sales tax on motor vehicles from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. If it was right to apply the brake then because high motor car registrations were regarded as being prejudicial to the economy, will it not be right to apply the brake again if the economy reaches the same position?
– That idea is not going to occur again, is it?
– I do not know but we both have vivid recollections of what happened. May I say with respect, Mr. Acting President, that what greatly concerns me is the continued stop-go. I do not want to over-emphasize planning, but we listened last night to a speech which was full of meat. We had heard it before. What is wrong with planning? We plan our own home; we plan our own lives. If we do not do so, we end up in a mess. I remember arguing some years ago on this very matter. I said then, as I say now, that planning is vital. My thoughts then were prompted by the remarks of a senior government official in Victoria, Mr. East, who is chairman of the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. He said that when the planning of the Snowy Mountains project was nearing completion, the best brains in that big organization should be devoted to considering the development of Australia as a whole.
Let us look at what has to be done. At the very least, let us put it on paper. It is for the Commonwealth Government, after paying due respect to the wishes of State governments, to determine what is to be done. What has this Government done? Immediately it got into electoral trouble in Queensland, a State whose people for many years had been kind to it at the federal polls, it started to rush millions of pounds into Queensland. I do not say that millions of pounds ought not to be rushed into Queensland, but I believe that the Commonwealth Government should prepare a master plan for the whole Commonwealth. We all heard last night, of the nations that have planned for the future. Many of them are our friends. I have read of a five-year plan in Russia and a ten-year plan in China. I have had the idea that the Government is against planning because it thinks that a plan fo. Australia might bring us a bit too close to the doctrines of those countries. That would not be so. Let us plan for Australia’s future.
To the north of Australia international events are moving so fast that we do not know what will happen in the future. I trust that we shall remain friends with the countries close to us in the north, but the people of some countries might have different ideas about this. I hope they have not. I give them credit for not having such ideas, but I firmly believe that Australia should be prepared for any eventuality. For the life of me I cannot see why the Government, if it does not like the word “ plan “, should not, even at this late hour, find another word and get on with the job of developing this country. Merely because the Queensland voters turned against it at the last election the Government has rushed £13,000,000 to Queensland. On the eve of the election it provided money for a few beef roads in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
– How will the increase in social service payments this year affect development?
– We must expect a proportionate increase in social service payments each year. The economy induced by this Government is one of “ earn twice as much and owe twice as much “. In these circumstances, instead of a growing number of people not needing social services when they retire, the number of people receiving them will increase beyond all reason. Can this be wondered at? Land prices in the metropolitan area of Melbourne are fantastic. Young people seeking homes are in a desperate plight, yet I read a statement by the Leader of the Government in the Senate that land in metropolitan areas can be obtained at reasonable prices. Young home-seekers are obliged to pay £2,500 or £2,750 for a block of land 8 or 9 miles out of Melbourne, and they must raise another £5,000 to build an ordinary home. What hope have they of even dreaming that they will own their own home? At the end of a life of work and worry there will be only one thing for them - social services.
– Does not the increased cost of social services constitute a real threat to national development?
– I believe that sooner or later the Commonwealth Government, irrespective of its political colour, will have to face the problem squarely and introduce a national insurance scheme. I know this would cost money and that we would be taxed a great deal more.
I am concerned that the Government is continuing its stop-go methods. Looking back, and thinking of the methods adopted by the Government, I cannot but conclude that honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in another place must take responsibilty for those restrictive policies. It is futile for them to blame the public servants who formulate the stop-go methods. If the Government and its supporters faced the situation squarely, they would get rid of such people if they were not giving correct advice. Since the Government does not do so, we must assume it accepts full responsibility. When I made notes on the Government’s financial policies over the years, it seemed as though I were reading “ Alice in Wonderland “. In 1960 the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced that the economic position was so disturbing that the Government would oppose an increase in the basic wage. This was the first time that any government had taken this action. In years gone by every other government had given advice and tendered all the statistics that were needed, but this was the first time that a government had actually been represented before the court to oppose a rise in the basic wage.
This Government also announced that it wanted to avoid budgeting for a deficit. The next step was its lifting of import controls. In 1960 the Treasurer said, in a famous utterance, that things were never better. In November, less than four months later, the situation was so disturbing that further drastic measures had to be taken. The Government then brought in the famous “ credit squeeze “. The notorious increase to 40 per cent, in the sales tax on new motor cars was put into effect. The Government announced that it would compel the life insurance companies to invest a minimum of 30 per cent, of their funds in government bonds. It said also that it would disallow for the purposes of income tax deduction interest charges on capital raisings by companies, other than share capital. As a crowning glory, it altered the bank rates of interest. By February, 1961, the time had arrived for another somersault. The Government repealed the increased sales tax that had been imposed on new motor cars. It also decided to abandon the proposal to disallow interest charges on capital raisings by companies as a taxation deduction. In August we had the “ stay-put “ Budget.
During the last election campaign the Prime Minister and many honorable senators opposite said that if Labour attained office and budgeted for a deficit of £100,000,000, Australia would be ruined. Of course, we all remember the Prime Minister’s famous statement on unemployment, that in a few short months the people would all be wondering what they had been worried about. In February, 1962, after the general elections, the Government boosted expenditure at the rate of about £92,000,000 for a full year. I suppose the Government looks upon this monumental somersaulting as flexibility. (Extension of time granted.) I thank honorable senators for their indulgence and will conclude my remarks in a few moments. I suggest that the Government must get out of its head the fetish that it should not say just how far the country should go. Why not tell the motor car manufacturers, for instance, just what number of cars the Government feels it would be safe to produce? These people are entitled to know these things, and the workers engaged in these industries certainly have a right to such information. I have no great ambition to see General MotorsHolden’s Proprietary Limited continuing to make £12,000,000 profit a year. I am certain that if that organization was told that it could make sufficient motor cars to return it a profit of £8,000,000 a year, it would be happy to plan for that.
– Should they not know that themselves?
– How can they? With the greatest of respect, I suggest that the increase in the sales tax on motor cars did not affect to any extent the number of cars purchased. In my view, what did affect the number of vehicles purchased was the fact that prospective purchasers could not borrow money. The hire-purchase companies sat down on prospective purchasers. Those who did have money might have looked at the 10 per cent, increase and decided to put off buying a car in the hope that the tax would be reduced, but the big deterrent to the average person was the fact that the hirepurchase companies would not advance them money to buy cars.
I believe that there should be a completely new approach to our problems. I reiterate that the Government will find itself in the same mess in six or eight months’ time because then it will be confronted with the addition of 85,000 to the present great number of people who have no jobs. It would be far better for the Government to formulate some plan - call it by any name you wish. Then the people of Australia would have some target; and whatever plan be decided upon, it should be designed to improve the welfare of the people and make this nation truly great.
.- I have very much pleasure in supporting this Budget. The speeches we have heard so far have been typical of what we hear whenever a budget is presented. No budget is perfect in the eyes of all. Always, some hope that something else would be proposed or that more should be done. But it must be remembered at all times that the Cabinet, in formulating its positive programme for the year, does what it thinks is best for the country. In the Senate we are given the opportunity to discuss the Government’s proposals and to submit our views, and if we have something constructive to offer we should submit it. We backbenchers do not play a great part in the framing of the Budget, and this discussion gives us the opportunity to let the Parliament know just what we think should be done.
The Budget contains one very good feature which has been emphasized by a number of speakers. Last night, one of our new senators referred to the desirability of proceeding with national development. Some very good developmental projects are proposed, and although they might not be in accord with any specific plan, the money that will be expended on them will prove of great benefit to this country in the long run. I shall revert to that matter later. I suggest that one of the paramount aims of any budget should be to reduce costs to industry wherever possible. Another should be to increase our export earnings; and a third should be to decrease wherever possible our expenditure on goods and equipment purchased from overseas countries. As with an individual, the country which spends more than it earns eventually finds itself in trouble. On the other hand, a country that is solvent is always looked upon by not only Australians but also overseas investors as a country that is sound, one in which it is safe to invest money and a country in which the people are able to enjoy a good standard of living.
I have mentioned the need to reduce costs to industry. Some years ago I advocated that more should be done in this direction and I am pleased to see concessions being offered as incentives to industry. In common with others, I am a strong advocate of the abolition of the pay-roll tax, which, after all, is a heavy burden upon industry and business. Being interested in this question, I have gone into the figures and have ascertained that the removal of the pay-roll tax would lighten the wages burden of industry by 7s. 6d. a week for every employee. If by this means we can reduce the wages bill, we will make goods so much more cheaply. Cheaper goods in their turn will make for a greater demand, and the greater demand will make for more employment. Furthermore, cheaper costs will enable us better to compete on the world markets. Here I give credit to the Government for the valuable concessions it has offered industry as incentives to increase exports of secondary goods. I have also advocated that costs be reduced by abolishing sales tax on many things because I am convinced that sales tax discourages prospective purchasers. We want to provide employment, and it is essential that costs should be as low as possible. The greater the demand for goods, the greater the output. That brings, in turn, a fuller utilization of the industrial plant and equipment that we have at our disposal. The abolition of sales tax would result not only in greater demand but also in a reduction in the cost of goods. It would not necessarily mean that the Government would lose all the revenue which it now collects by way of the tax. Because of the greater produc tion of goods that would result and the additional profits that would be earned, taxation revenue would flow to the Treasury. It would be interesting to work out the amount of revenue that would result.
I come now to the drive to increase export earnings. Much has been spoken on the subject of tax incentives, and I think that ultimately such incentives could be of great value. The Government must be commended for its actions in this direction. It must also be commended for appointing trade commissioners and for sending trade delegations to various parts of the world. Trade delegations and live-wire trade commissioners are of great value to our export drive. They furnish information to Australian industrial organizations and encourage them to increase their efforts. If the various trade organizations which exist are properly used by secondary industry, in a spirit of co-operation, there is no reason why our overseas earnings should not be increased. I should like to see an even greater concentration by the Government on trade promotion. I know that I am not in step when I say that trade promotion officers are more important, in the main, than are our officers overseas who deal with diplomatic relations. Trade is of vital concern to us.
To my mind, many of the places in which we have diplomatic representatives are very remote. There are certain parts of the globe which concern us more than many of the places in which we spend a lot of money each year on diplomatic representation. If we compare what we spend on diplomatic representation with the amount we spend on trade promotion, I feel that the balance is the wrong way. It is more important for us to develop trade than to worry about diplomatic relations with many of> the countries in which we have diplomatic representation. We have developed rather grandiose ideas about our standing in the world. It is necessary for us to have a true appreciation of our position. Whilst we may feel important, Australia is really a very small nation from a population point of view. I do not think we cut nearly as much ice in the councils of the world as we think we do. Let us do everything we can to strengthen ourselves within this country. To me, the promotion of trade will help to make Australia a stronger country, and ultimately we will be able to take a stronger stand than we do now in the councils of the world’s great nations.
Great credit is due to the Government for the work that it is doing to develop the State of Queensland. I am very happy that this work is being done. The beef roads which are to be constructed in Queensland, Australia’s premier State, will be a great asset both to the State and to the nation. They will be of value because they will permit stock to be transported from areas which have been hit by disastrous droughts to agistment in areas where drought has not struck. That will mean a saving of stock and, in turn, a saving of national assets, because every beast that is lost through drought represents the loss of a national asset. The roads will make possible modern transportation for stock, so that there will not be the weight loss which now occurs in transporting cattle to the meat works. From the point of view of the people, the roads will serve as an amenity. We should be very grateful to the people who live in those remote areas of the Commonwealth, away from so many of the amenities which other Australians enjoy. I think that honorable senators are happy to think that these roads will make a great difference to the life of people in remote areas. More important, the roads will help to develop the beef industry which has now become a most important one. The export of meat earns overseas credits for this country.
The assistance which is being given to improve the coal-handling facilities at Gladstone also is of great importance to Queensland. As honorable senators know, coal-fields in Queensland are being exploited. Coal is being exported to Japan and is earning income for Australia. In a few years’ time, when we look back on the measures which the Government is now taking, I think we will be amazed by the great benefits which have accrued to Queensland. The Government also proposes to assist the development of brigalow country in Queensland. The idea is to commence a great land settlement scheme. I know that a fuss has been made over the provision of £1,700,000 for the development of brigalow areas in Queensland, but whether honorable senators from other States are right or wrong in their view of the matter, 1 point out that it is urgently necessary to develop export markets and to increase export earnings. The Commonwealth Government no doubt is seized of the importance of the matter and, as a consequence, has made finance available to the Queensland Government, which, in turn, will be able to settle more people on the land. Stock numbers will be increased and greater export earnings will be made. Honorable senators who know the brigalow country will appreciate what can be done with it. A great quantity of grass can be grown in a very short time. The grant to assist the development of brigalow lands will in the long run be of great value to the beef industry and, at the same time, of great importance in the earning of overseas credits.
– What is the rainfall in the brigalow area?
– I have not the figure before me at the moment, but I think it is about 25 inches a year.
The Mount Isa railway is another project which comes to’ mind when we think of Commonwealth assistance to Queensland. It should be clearly understood that the money which the Commonwealth is making available is a loan, not a gift.
– So it should be.
– That is all very well. South Australian senators are always standing up for their State. I compliment them for doing so, but I remind them that whilst the Commonwealth is lending £22,000,000 for the Mount Isa railway, South Australia received £13,000,000 or £16,000,000 as a gift for the construction of the Leigh Creek railway.
– That is a Commonwealth railway.
– It involved the development of South Australia. That was something which Mr. Playford as he then was, got from the Chifley Government. The Mount Isa railway will help to increase our overseas earnings. Honorable senators may remember that, at the time the matter was being debated in this chamber, I said that eventually the railway would help Mount Isa to be a greater export earner for this country than, possibly, the wheat industry. That is a. very big thing to say, because wheat is most important to Australia.
In my view, it is essential to concentrate on the development of industry and the earning of increased overseas credits. Overseas earnings may be the only means of getting us out of difficulties which may arise in the future because of the development of the European Common Market. Therefore, it is essential for us not only to build up our export earnings but also to bring in as much money as we can in other ways. One way in which we can increase our earnings is by the development of the tourist industry on a much more extensive scale than at present. I have spoken on this matter a number of times. I notice from the Budget Papers that less than £200,000 was expended by the Commonwealth Government as a contribution to the Australian National Travel Association last year. If I remember rightly the amount to be expended this year will be less than £250,000. This estimate is an increase upon last year’s expenditure, but it may not be reached. A quarter of a million pounds sounds a lot of money, but in the matter of publicity it is not expenditure on the basis of being a small country that really brings results. Anyone who knows anything about publicity knows that it is a matter of matching what is done by other people who are in competition with you. Although we are a country of only 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 people we have to match in publicity the efforts of countries of 60,000,000 or 70,000,000 people. We have to match them in expenditure on publicity in countries in Which they are advertising, and I think that a quarter of a million pounds is much less than the amount that we should spend. If this country were spending for this purpose, as the United Kingdom is doing, an amount of £1,000,000 a year, we should see a really great result.
We have an adverse balance in the matter of tourist industry earnings. We should be able to build up our earnings from this source and reverse that situation. If earnings only balanced outgoings our savings in money going out of the country would be many millions of pounds. If we could, increase our earnings beyond our outgoings that would be a net gain to this country. The tourist industry could be. come a great income earner. It is a very rich industry, and tourist publicity does not take long to get a reaction. We could start advertising in a very big way overseas and in less than a month have inquiries coming in. Within two or three months tourists would be on the way here. Many activities in which we engage take a long time to get started, but this is not the case with the tourist industry. To-day we are most fortunate in having excellent hotels and motels throughout the country, and better services are being provided. The tourist industry is really much keener than it was.
Queensland is a State which is rich in possibilities. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the great drawcards of the tourist industry and is the outstanding attraction of its kind in the world. I know that other States have their own particular types of appeal, and I believe that this country generally has an appeal to people from overseas because it has so much that is different. The basis of travel and the tourist industry is the desire to see something different - different people, different places and different things. This is a country with a difference, and I believe that with a concentration of publicity, and a substantial amount expended for the purpose each year, a greater flow of tourists could be achieved.
A very important feature of the publicity and advertising of the tourist industry is that the effect is felt not only by that industry. Tourists come here and spend money, but other phases of development are also affected. A little while ago I mentioned our trade promotion. If Australia’s name were featured more and more in publicity journals, magazines and newspapers, and on television and radio - being mentioned regularly, continuously and strongly - it would be established in the minds of people. That is one of the ways in which we can sell. If a firm gets its name into the minds of people generally it has gone a long way towards selling more of its goods. If the Australian nation will spend enough to achieve that - not only from a tourist point of view but also from a trade point of view - we shall gain something. When our trade promotion officers speak to people these people will know what country is being discussed. We should not get it into our minds that we are widely known. As a matter of fact it is amazing to learn from people who have gone overseas how little is known of this country. Our High Commissioner in London, Sir Eric Harrison, told us when he was here two or three years ago that he had met an English businessman who wanted to know what language we spoke. That may sound a joke, but such events are of frequent occurrence. Another businessman who returned recently said that he had been staggered at the lack of knowledge overseas in relation to Australia. Why is this? lt is because we do not have enough advertising promotion. If our country becomes well known more people will get to know about us and think about us. lt will then be easier for us to sell ourselves in every direction, not only in relation to tourist attractions but also in the matter of trade
– What about the quality of the goods you are advertising?
– I was talking about promoting the tourist industry. The very fact that we are promoting this industry will make the name of Australia known. Once our name is well known, in any other field of promotion, it will be much easier for us to sell. That is recognized as a fact in the publicity world. From the investment aspect also, it is very important for us to become known. It is of vital importance to us to get people to invest and establish new industries here to help our internal development. If we are known this will encourage not only the development of the tourist industry and of trade, but also the investment of money in this country. This is a matter of great importance.
I suggested that an amount of £1,000,000 should be devoted to this purpose. I know that there will always be people who will put obstacles in the way. I remember that when I started the Great Barrier Reef tourist industry in north Queensland businessmen said, “You will never do this and you will never do that “. Mr. President and honorable senators, if we go about these things with determination, and if we are prepared to spend money, we shall get places. It depends upon ourselves and the energy and drive that we put into it.
The sum of £1,000,000 probably sounds a great deal. A few days ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke at the opening of a new hotel in Melbourne, of which I am quite sure we shall all be justly proud; part of the money used was invested from overseas and part was invested by Australians. The Prime Minister said at that function that the idea that industry was associated with smoke coming out of a chimney had gone. What he meant was that the tourist business is an industry. It should always be described as the tourist industry and not as tourism, because industry means work, employment and business. It is of much more value to speak of it in that way than to speak of tourism. The Prime Minister himself acknowledged that.
I have mentioned the expenditure of £1,000,000 on the promotion of the tourist industry. I do not think that it is a very great amount in relation to what we spend on the Colombo Plan, the United Nations, and many other projects that do not return us very much. Expenditure of this kind could be one of the most direct and quickest forms of returning something to us. Therefore, I have no qualms about asking for a considerable expenditure in this direction, because it will lead to great increases in our overseas earnings. There are possibilities and avenues open to us. I shall mention one matter that shows what can be done if we are determined enough and have ideas that we put into practice. Not very long after I came to this Parliament the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) set out with determination to try to find oil in Australia. He was castigated by various people who said that there was not much prospect of finding oil, that something should have been done by the Government, that something should have been done by others, or that we should not have done anything at all. I believe that we have not properly availed ourselves of the opportunity to pay our respects to Senator Spooner for the wonderful job that he has done for this nation. The Government as a whole has done that job; but, knowing the spirit that Senator Spooner has put into this section of the Department of National Development, I cannot but feel that he has spear-headed the determination to try to find oil in Australia. We can look back at the things that he did in the days when many people believed that there was not muon chance of finding oil. Now we can see the situation that has developed. The finding of oil is a great memorial to Senator Spooner’s determination and the confidence he had that oil would be found in Australia. Oil has been found already in Queensland. I believe that it will not be long before the Moonie area will be declared a commercial field.
We should be more excited about what has happened than we have been up to the present. The finding of oil has been taken too casually by the Parliament and the nation. I believe that it might be the greatest buffer that we will have to soften any blow that might be caused by Great Britain joining the European Common Market. I do not mean that some industries will not be affected; but the finding of oil will be of very great benefit to our overseas balance-of-payments position. Therefore, I am very pleased to see the success that is being achieved. At present we import from £140,000,000 to £150,000,000 worth of oil annually. Many industries subsidiary to the oil industry, such as the petro-chemical industry, could be established. If Australia can be made self-sufficient in oil, £140,000,000 or £150,000,000 of overseas credit will be saved each year.
In the light of the great determination with which the Government and the Minister for National Development have pursued this matter, I was very disappointed to find that the rate of subsidy on drilling and seismographic work will be reduced from 50 per cent., to 30 per cent. We are on the verge of great success. We have encouraged people from this nation and overseas to work at a much greater tempo in order to find oil.
– But the total amount of subsidy will be increased.
– Yes, I understand that. I will deal with that aspect. The Government and the Minister have encouraged people to step up the search for oil in a magnificent way. There is no question about that. Therefore, it is a great pity that the Government has now decided to slow down the tempo of the search for oil. As my colleague from South Australia has said, the total subsidy to be paid is being increased; but that will not increase the tempo or main tain the existing tempo of oil exploration. Many Australian companies have been floated and overseas companies have joined the Australian companies in the search. The Australian companies have been floated with certain amounts of capital on the assumption that the subsidy would continue at its existing rate. This reduction in the rate will slow down the tempo of the search. The overall amount of subsidy is not the key point; it is the effect of the reduction of the rate of subsidy.
It is a shame that after having done such a marvellous job the Government should now slow down the effort to capitalize on what has been achieved up to the present. I sincerely hope that the Government will give this matter further consideration and maintain the rate of subsidy at 50 per cent. In view of the great advances that have been made, particularly by Australian oil exploration companies, it is a great pity that some indication was not given that the rate of subsidy might be changed at some time in the future. The approximate time could have been given. At present the need to find oil is vital and urgent.
Let me make some comparisons to show that the urgency of the need to find oil could not have been considered in its proper perspective. Another £3,000,000, approximately, would be needed to maintain the subsidy at the present rate. This year about £3,000,000 more than was spent last year will be spent on the development of Canberra, our national capital. I am not suggesting that Canberra should not continue to be developed, but the need to develop it is not as urgent as the need to find oil. Putting it more bluntly, the need to decrease the amount spent on imports is much more urgent than the need to spend an extra £3,000,000 on the development of Canberra. Surely the need to find oil in sufficient quantities to make Australia selfsufficient in that commodity is much more important and urgent than the need to develop Canberra. Had the amount to be spent on the development of Canberra this year remained the same as the amount spent last year, the position would not have been too bad. The amount spent on the development of Canberra is a considerable proportion of the Budget expenditure at present.
– The expenditure on Canberra would, have been excessive if it had remained at the same level as last year.
– There is no doubt that Canberra is developing at a very fast rate. 1 believe that to accelerate that development to the detriment of the search for oil is an unfortunate step. I hope the Government will consider the matter further. Whilst it is nice to have a grand vision, from the political stand-point we will not win many votes by feeding Canberra and starving other projects. I believe that it would be wise politically as well as nationally to take the opposite view to that apparently taken by the Government. 1 know something about local govern:ment and city planning. I do not believe that we will get the best capital if we rush its development. This capital city should develop and mature slowly, as required. If. that is done, when it ultimately reaches its peak of development, it will be a better capital city than it would be if its development were rushed. In my opinion the saving of overseas credit is very important. In view of the great possibilities of finding more oil in Australia, I strongly urge the Government to consider this matter again.
Employment is. a vital issue. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party stand, for full employment. Certain measures were taken by the Government and they caused trouble. But those actions are in. the past and we should not be concerned with them. A principle of all parties is full employment. The earnest desire of the Government is to get back to a state of full employment as quickly as possible. We have to decide the best way to achieve full employment quickly.. The Government has made- certain decisions. Much of its remedial action has involved governmental spending. I suggest to the Government for its consideration that instead of spending so much money in the government sector it should consider the local government bodies. In Australia we have a federal government, State governments and local governments. As one who served in the local government sphere for many years, I stress the need for more money for local government bodies- and less in the Commonwealth and State government spheres. Had the Government given more money, to local government bodies, instead of concentrating on the purely governmental sector, a quicker pick-up in employment would have been achieved: I was at one time the Australian president of the local government association and I know that years* ago there were about 1,000 local government bodies in Australia. Those local governments are spread all over Australia. If grants or loans had been made to them there would have been ‘ a much wider disbursement of the money. The trouble with major governmental spending is that very often as well as- taking up unemployment in one area it creates over-full, employment in that area. There are many places with little pockets of unemployment which would not benefit in any way by Commonwealth or even State expenditure: In these areas, however, expenditure by the local government authority could provide considerable employment; and, more important from the nation’s point of view, such, expenditure would’ help to improve local amenities.
One has only to travel through some of the sparsely-populated areas in my own State to realize the lack of amenities in such areas. No doubt the same state of affairs applies throughout Australia. Many people are putting up with lack of amenities whilst in a city, such as Canberra, the people are being spoon fed. Anybody coming from these areas cannot help but be astounded at the difference between the standard of living in those places and that in cities such as Canberra. By making money available to local government bodies the Government could give these people a lift in some small way. They could be given things, which we accept as commonplace - better roads, a water supply and other amenities. As well as helping those who are unemployed in these areas, amenities would be provided and these distant regions- would be made more attractive to people to live in. This inducement would attract people to country areas. I feel that we can never do too much to keep people living in these areas because of the important part they play in holding the country together and in earning income overseas.
The Budget gives one an opportunity to speak on various subjects. I should now like to refer to road safety. The Senate appointed a select committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Anderson, to inquire into this problem. That committee did a very good job and presented a report to the Senate. I have been appalled at the number ofroad accidents. The position is tragic. Lives are being lost every day. People are being maimed and lost to industry and business. In the main, they are people who could otherwise render many years of useful service to this country. All of us should be more concerned about these tragic happenings than we are at the present time. I recently read a report in a Brisbane newspaper - I think the information was published by the Road Safety Council - that the number of young people killed or injured between the ages of seventeen and 30 last year exceeded the population of the city of Bundaberg in Queensland. The report stated that 23,818 accidents hadoccurred, that 883 people died and 21,968 were injured or maimed - 1,019 more than the population of the city of Bundaberg in Queensland. That is a tragic loss because many of the people injured will be of no more use to industry. The following statement appeared in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “ the other day under the heading “Death Still Drives On “-
A tally of road casualties in the State since July 28, barely a month, produces shocking figures - 25 people killed and 78 injured . . . We have come near to accepting death in road accidents as due to “natural causes”.
It is pathetic that we should take these things for granted. Only last week-end we read of three young girls being killed not far from Canberra when the car in which they were driving crashed head-on into a car containing several young men who were returning from an Apex Club meeting. Two of the young men were killed instantly and a third died later in hospital. This sort of thing is occurring week after week. What is the cause of it? Mostly it is caused by the irresponsibility of a group between the ages of seventeen and 30, but in the main it is due to speeding. What are we in this Parliament doing about this problem? It is rather interesting to note that in Queensland some years ago the speed limit in built-up areas was 20 miles an hour. The present Government lifted the limit to 30 miles an hour and within ; the last year or so the speed limit was increased to 40 miles an hour in built-up areas and 60 miles an hour on the open road. What has been the result? Part of the tragic story has been told in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “, as I have indicated. Unfortunately, some responsible people tell us that speed is not the killer. Of course, it is. One can see that for oneself. The police tell us that it is; and the statisticians also tell us that speed is the cause of the majority of deaths on our roads. How stupid it is to give people the right to drive at 40 miles an hour in ; built-up areas.It is absolutely shocking.
Recently the Australian Transport Advisory Committee held a meeting in Brisbane. The State Minister for Transport made the statement that in Queensland the authorities were realistic enough to institute a 40-mile an hour speed limit in built-up areas and a 60-mile an hour speed limit on the open road. Subsequently, the Australian Transport Advisory Committee met in Darwin. In order to achieve unanimity the committee decided on a ‘limit of 35 miles an hour in built-up areas and 60 miles an hour on the open road. Although 35 miles an hour is not much less than 40 miles an hour-
– It is equivalent to 50 feet per second. That is what we should emphasize to our boys and girls.
– It is a terrific speed to travel at in a built-up area. In Brisbane there are lights at most intersections which control the traffic, but in cities and towns, like Mackay, along the coast of Queensland there are no lights. Yet cars are allowed to travel at 40 miles an hour in those built-up areas. Even 35 miles an hour is an excessive speed across an intersection. 1 am not too proud to ride a push cycle. I have had the experience of riding up to an intersection and seeing a car then five chains away reach the intersection before I could cross it and ignore me although I had the right-of-way.
– You are a menace on a push bike.
– That is the view of a woman who drives a car. Recently, at the jubilee celebration of the Mackay State High School the wife of a prominent public servant told me that as a cyclist I was a menace on the road. I immediately took her up on that. I said to her, “ Why should pushbike cyclists not be on the road?” I do not want honorable senators to think that I am opposed to motorists. I remind the Senate that I once took a stand in this chamber on behalf of motorists. No one can say that I am against motorists, but lots of them, such as this woman, seem to imagine that they pay all the taxes used to build roads. That is not so. The bulk of the roads built in any municipality are paid for by the rates and taxes of people who own homes and properties in the area. They may be cyclists like myself or pedestrians who have neither a car nor a bike. We all have a right to the road. Pedestrians, including young people, old people, and women with children have to cross roads. It is a tragedy that governments and members of the Transport Advisory Council should be talking about increasing permissible speeds.
Mr. Kearney, the Stipendiary Magistrate in Toowoomba, does a wonderful job. If he finds any one guilty of drunken driving, he puts him in gaol for a month or so. He has made a wonderful difference in the town. Any one who gets drunk and then drives a car is a potential murderer and a menace to life and limb. Drunken driving is a source of danger to innocent people. The Senate select committee that deliberated on this matter had certain information before it and doubtless agreed that speed is an extremely important factor in the road accident rate. Senator Anderson will agree with that. When you think of two cars, travelling in opposite directions at 40 miles per hour, as is permissible even in built-up areas in Queensland, and coming together, at an intersection, you can see the danger. They would meet at 80 miles per hour. Even travelling at 35 miles per hour the speed at the point of impact would be 70 miles per hour.
The Transport Advisory Council is talking about raising the speed limit in built-up areas to 35 miles per hour. I admit that in Queensland this would mean reducing the speed from 40 to 35 miles per hour, but 35 miles per hour is still too fast. I think it is wrong that cars should have the right-of-way over everybody at intersections or anywhere else. I saw an injured man in a hospital that I visited at Mackay a few months ago. His face was all black and bruised and he had seventeen stitches in his leg, A car had knocked him over. Yet the council is speaking of increasing the speed limit generally! Old people are particularly vulnerable when crossing roads. They are flustered by the speed of the traffic. It is all right when you are young but I often find in the cities that old people ask me to take them across the road. As you get older you have less definition of vision, lt is all right where there is a division in the centre of the road, but it is perplexing for old people when two streams of traffic must be crossed. It is unfortunate that many people who get into a car feel that they have a right to go forth irrespective of anybody else. I am most concerned that the Transport Advisory Council should suggest increasing the speed limit in builtup areas from 30 to 35 miles per hour and to 60 miles per hour on the open road. This is what the Commonwealth’s Automotive Review has said -
The Australian Transport Advisory Council, whose members are the Ministers in charge of Transport in each State, and which is chaired by the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr. Opperman, recently formulated recommendations in respect of a uniform traffic code applicable to all Australian States and Territories.
This is very desirable in principle. Uniformity in regulations relating to specifications and operation of motor vehicles must undoubtedly have a salutary effect on the accident rate and the orderly control of traffic.
A most undesirable part of the recommendations, however, is that for a uniform absolute speed limit of 60 m.p.h.
If speed limits are a desirable device for preventing accidents then these should vary according to road conditions. Driving at 60 m.p.h. can be extremely dangerous on narrow and tortuous roads - conditions that obtain even on some of our main trunk roads in mountainous country - while, conversely, it would be absurd to restrict speed to 60 mp.h. on smooth wide carriageways in flat country where visibility is unrestricted.
Statistics prove that most accidents take place at speeds well under 50 m.p.h. Most drivers who are involved in accidents are in the minority of the less responsible drivers who would, more likely than not, disregard an open road speed limit of 60 m.p.h. unless, of course, it were rigidly enforced - which it cannot be.
A raising of the speed limit will only mean that reckless, irresponsible drivers will travel even faster. I make these comments strongly in this Budget speech because I believe that nothing is more important than the saving of lives. We are going to the expense of bringing migrants to Australia but more and more people are being killed on the Australian roads. So while we are gaining in population by immigration we are losing by the toll of the road.
I want to conclude my speech by making some comments on the United Nations. This matter has concerned me for some time. When the United Nations Organization was first formed it was a great idea. It was formed with the object of bringing peace to the world. The hope was that by discussing problems and working them out to the satisfaction of every one, disasters such as the first and second world wars would be avoided. To me, the United Nations has not succeeded to the degree that was hoped for. I feel that it has failed in many respects. What staggers me is that although many countries do not pay their dues, these are the very ones which have the most to say and which virtually control the United Nations. In most other organizations, if you do not pay your fees, you are out. What did we find in the Congo? The Communists, because they did not approve of what the Secretary-General was doing, refused to meet their commitments. Other countries also refused to pay. On the other hand, countries such as the Western democracies which have discharged their responsibilities have not had much say in the decisions of the United Nations. If you search the records to find out when the great Western democracies last got anything worth while from the United Nations, you will be surprised to learn how long ago it was. Because of the admission of many more countries, the United Nations is controlled in the main by the Afro-Asian bloc. When the Western nations are opposed by this bloc on any matter, the Communists always join the opposition. So, the Western bloc is powerless in this great idealistic organization.
What has been taking place in some of the newer countries is surprising. All people should have the right of selfdetermination. If they want to be included in a nation they should be allowed to join; if they do not want to be included they should be able to say out. The Congo was given self-government but Katanga province broke away. It does not want to be in the Congo. But what do we find?
– Whether that is so or not, Katanga does not want to be in the Congo. Sir Raphael Cilento recently gave a very good talk on the A.B.C. about the Congo. He said that Katanga was a well organized and well developed area. The people of that province are being forced in at the point of the gun by the United Nations. They have been told they must join the Congo. What right has the United Nations to tell them that they should be in the Congo? The Acting Secretary-General, U Thant, has given them a deadline. Where is the democracy in the United Nations?
What did we find recently in West New Guinea? Over a period of years the United Nations was opposed to Indonesia having West New Guinea. Then we found the United States of America and Australia making certain statements until everything was whittled down and the Dutch were left standing alone. Indonesia promised that it would never use aggressive tactics or resort to force in respect of West New Guinea. Yet it was landing troops there while negotiations were going on and, by submarine, even after they had been concluded. The great United States walked out of it. The United Nations virtually backed up an aggressor nation. Why? No one was game to tackle the question in the United Nations. They knew that in the West New Guinea dispute the United Nations, because of the great Afro-Asian bloc, would favour Dr. Soekarno and his Indonesian Republic. What a terrible situation!
Let me now deal with the situation in East New Guinea, which was investigated by a United Nations committee. If I remember rightly, from a perusal of the Budget, Australia will spend about £17,000,000 - possibly more - in New Guinea this year. We are fast trying to develop it to a state of self-government. The committee of the United Nations has told us that we must give the people of East New Guinea self-determination in two years. But what is to be .done about the natives of West New Guinea? They will not get a vote until 1.9691 Senator Buttfield, by way of a question, intimated that West New Guinea could be packed with Indonesians by the >time the vote >on independence from Indonesia or otherwise is taken there. What indication have we that the committee’s decision, if implemented, will result in a fair and honest poll? What influences will “be at work, and what propaganda will be proceeded with in that period?
Does the United Nations really want self-determination for West New Guinea. Of course not! Yet it tells us that in East New Guinea, where we are speeding up development, we must give the natives selfdetermination in two years. If we had the courage we would tell the United Nations, “You take over and spend your own money “. The organization is stony broke, and would not do it. It is time for straight speaking. If we had done .some straight speaking and stood with the Dutch over West New Guinea, taking on the Indonesians, who are unreliable when it comes to keeping their word, we could have tested the true merits of the United States and seen whether that country would ‘have come to ‘our assistance. The backing -and filling of the United ‘States administration makes me wonder how much we “should rely upon the United States as far as our defence is concerned.
I believe the United Nations has completely fallen down on the job. That organization favours the aggressor nation which has broken its word and cannot be trusted. Indonesia not only broke its word, but was an aggressor both during and after the peace negotiations. I feel concerned about the situation. I do not trust the word of the Indonesians that they will never approach us about .East New Guinea.
To me, the United Nations was a great idea. The whole world lauded it at the time. The ideal has gone astray because of the power politics of certain blocs. People talk of anti-nationalism and anticolonialism, yet the Indonesians themselves are probably the greatest colonizers in the world to-day. We know that at least two -sections of their republic do not want to be included in it but .have been compelled by foi-ce to remain. The Indonesians are now bringing in other people to their republic against their desire. The United Nations ‘did not have the .decency to stand up for the <native population of West New Guinea. Although the United Nations was a great idea in the beginning it .has now become °a monster of great danger to the western democratic peoples, including us. The right thing to do would be for our country and other countries with our way of thinking to form our own unity and alliance, .so that .the people in the alliance could be relied .upon to stand firm in times of crisis when we need friends. I support the Budget and oppose the amendment.
– I propose to support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna and the further amendment moved by Senator Toohey. Before proceeding with my speech on the Budget I wish to congratulate those members of the Senate Who have recently broken the sound barrier in this chamber. I think it will be realized, from the material they used and the manner of its delivery, that they will be an asset to this Senate in the days to come.
Senator Wood spent quite a lot of time in talking about tourism in Australia and the need to advertise Australia overseas. He asked that £1,000,000 be spent for this purpose. I would remind him that the Western Australian Government will spend £3,000,000 on the Commonwealth Games this year, which will be of great benefit in advertising Australia throughout the world.
Last night I listened attentively to Senator Scott, who attacked the Australian Labour Party for criticizing this Government’s policy and blaming it for the present 90,000 pool of unemployed. As is usual with Senator Scott, he delved into history and tried to produce a figure that was greater than the existing figure. He went back to 1949 and said that 5 per cent, of the work force was then unemployed. Although he admitted that this was W result of a general coal strike he failed to inform the Senate that many of those registered for employment were not in fact unemployed. In that year mass applications were made to the court! for the right to stand down workers. The court granted that, right, but the workers remained on the books and. continued to- receive all the advantages of awards in respect of accumulated longservice leave and such things. In fact, they were still in the employ of the companies, on condition that they returned to the job when the plants were again opened. Conditions were entirely different at that time.
It. is interesting, if one wants, to examine the history of unemployment, to remind the Government of unemployment in the years from 1933 to 1939, when a government of the same political colour was in office. In 1933, 30 per cent, of the work force was unemployed, and even in 1939 the figure was between 8 and 10 per cent. Delving into history will do nothing to help the 90,000 people now unemployed. The thing to do is to get them back to work. Despite all the measures introduced by the Government it is not acting quickly enough, and time is not on our side. After six months of implementation of the remedies proposed by the Government in February last there are still 90,000 unemployed, and in about three months time 85,000 to 100,000 school leavers will be thrown on to the labour market. If our economy moves no faster than it has moved in the past six months we are in for a bad time around Christmas and in January and February next year. I urge the Government to do something quickly to put these people in employment. Delving into history and harping on something that happened when another government was in office will not help in getting people back to work.
This Budget has been put forward as a development budget, and great play has been made of the fact that the Government intends to allocate £27,000,000 for development this year. At the outset I should like 10’ say that assistance to the States should be listed in the Budget Papers under business undertakings. When we examine the amount of money that is to be allocated this year, we note that the Government proposes to advance £8,195,000 to Queensland for the Mount Isa railway. But this Government will not spend that money; it will only make it available by way of a grant which must be repaid with interest. This means that Queensland will have to make provision for redemption and interest over the years and the Commonwealth. Government will reap the benefit.. If we substract that repayable grant of £8,000,000 from the moneys to be made available for the development in Queensland, the figure is reduced to £3,625,000: I propose to concern myself only with the northern part of Australia because there has been a great deal of talk about the. need for developing that area.
Turning to Western Australia, we find that this Government proposes to spend £2,432,000 on development. There is, also, the £4,000,000 which is being made available for rail standardization; but this again represents only moneys which must be1 repaid with interest and from which the Government will derive, some benefit. In the; Northern-. Territory, that part of Australia for which, the Commonwealth is responsible, £1,000,000. is to be spent on beef cattle roads. This represents a total1 proposed expenditure of £7,057,000’ in that part of Australia north of the: 26th parallel. In the process of making this money available; the Commonwealth Government also> seeks to direct the framing of State Budgets in that in Western Australia, for instance, it proposes to provide £300,000 for the construction of a new jetty at Derby, knowing full well that this project is to cost £800,000. This means, of course, that the State Government immediately becomes committed to spending £500,000 on the project. If that is the type- of development envisaged by this Government the outlook for the northern part of Australia is poor indeed.
The great bulk of this money is to be spent on fostering the beef cattle industry by constructing beef cattle roads. These roads are necessary in that area, and I shall have more to say about them later. Here I content myself by asking what the Government proposes to do to control the prices charged, by road hauliers for the transportation of cattle. Where road trains are being used now, the hauliers are charging £.13 a. head to transport cattle to the- meatworks.
– Over how many miles?
– About 400 miles. We on this side of the Senate are wondering just how long this practice can continue.
We are wondering whether the Government in building these roads to assist the beef cattle industry to increase its turn-off will achieve its objective and whether it will be profitable to transport cattle to the abattoirs if the hauliers continue to charge high rates. Sooner or later, the Government must face up to the problem of controlling the prices charged for transporting cattle over the roads that are to be built.
I come now to the empty spaces of Australia and take the opportunity to impress upon the Government just how little it is doing to develop those vast areas. Here, several questions arise. For instance, how empty is Australia? Is closer settlement practicable in the empty areas? What are the problems there in respect of water supplies? What latent wealth awaits the nation in the further development of pastoral, mining and agricultural industries? What is the marine wealth in the waters adjacent to our shores? Are problems of health associated with the settlement of our tropical regions? What difficulties are associated with transport in remote areas? Finally, what effect does taxation have on the settlement of such areas? All these things will have to be considered if we are to develop that part of Australia. It is agreed that by world standards Australia is an empty continent. We know, too, that it is much easier to develop the more pleasant areas of this country than it is to populate the arid areas. It is estimated that in the foreseeable future the population of our more pleasant areas will increase by 10,000,000; but I venture the opinion that if development of the empty areas continues at the rate at which it has been proceeding under this Government, those parts of Australia will have difficulty in increasing their population by 500,000 during that period.
These sparsely populated areas embrace great pastoral lands on which are grazed hundreds of millions of sheep and many thousands of cattle. Only relatively few pigs come from those places. There is an old saying that Australia has been riding on the sheep’s back. Certainly, it has been riding on the back of our primary industries. Apart altogether from the economic reasons for developing these lands, we should develop them as a matter of national policy; because it has to be remembered that they constitute a vast open area just to the north of which countries are overcrowded. If we are not prepared to populate this region, it is not for us to deny other people the right to do so.
I emphasize that 75 per cent, of Australia’s vast area of 2,200,000 square miles is peopled by only 2 per cent, of our total population. In other words, 98 per cent, of the Australian people live in one-quarter of this country’s area. At present it is possible to draw a line to isolate 45 per cent, of the area of Australia, and in all that area only one-quarter of 1 per cent, of Australia’s people live. I think most people look upon New South Wales as being fairly closely settled, yet only 65,000 people live in 40 per cent of the area of that State. In South Australia, 1.1 per cent, of the population live in 79 per cent, of the area. In Western Australia, there is one person to every 26 square miles. Eighty-six per cent, of the area, or 841,000 square miles, contains 32,000 people. In the whole of the Northern Territory there are only 21,000 people.
When we say that 74’ per cent, of the area of Australia is populated by only 200,000 people, that does not reveal the whole picture, because scattered throughout that area are comparatively large towns. For instance, there are the coastal towns of northern Queensland, and there are Darwin, Alice Springs, Broome, Derby, Wittenoom, Mount Isa, Kalgoorlie and Boulder. If we exclude the population of those towns, we reduce very greatly the total number of people in this large area of Australia. Our population density is 3.4 persons to the square mile, taking the total area of Australia as 3,000,000 square miles. In Europe, the density is 100 persons per square mile.
Because Australia is of approximately the same size as the United States of America, which has a population of some 150,000,000, it is said by certain people that we should in time have a population of a similar size. However, when we examine the terrain of Australia, we find that that is an impossibility, because while there are large areas of Australia which could be peopled, there are also large empty areas which will never be peopled.
We have a duty to recognize that fact and! to tell the people of the world about it, particularly the 1,200,000,000 people to our north who are so anxious to enter this country. It must be borne in mind that Australia is the driest continent in the world and has the largest area of arid land. The problem lands, if I may so term them, vary from absolute desert, with a scanty and irregular rainfall and which are incapable of being used by pastoralists or any one else, to areas where the rainfall is from 50 inches to 100 inches per annum.
I think there is a future in at least some of the sparsely populated areas, particularly those where mineral production is possible. Development will be required, of course, but if minerals exist there, development will be forthcoming. Much of the land will remain empty because of lack of rainfall. There are no prospects of irrigation and1 there is no natural fodder to support an animal population. This brings me to a consideration of the relationship between water supply and population. Water is the greatest limiting factor to population growth in any land. There are few parts of Australia, even those which enjoy the heaviest and most reliable rainfalls, where the provision of water is sufficient to meet the increasing needs of the people and of industry. Water supply presents a problem, even to our cities, as industries expand. As honorable senators know, most of our cities are located in good rainfall areas.
The Government could very easily see its way clear to make a complete examination of the water resources of Australia, particularly those of our empty areas. In those areas there are rivers with very short watersheds. Most of the water goes out to sea. The rivers run through country that is not suitable for the storage of water, and, as a result, the water is not being used. Nevertheless, many of these rivers could be used. I direct particular attention to the Ord River because of the so-called grant that this Government has made to Western Australia for the development of the Ord River area. When people say that a grant of £5,000,000 has been made, they tell only a part of the story, because Com monwealth investment in that area is limited to £1,000,000 a year. The sum of £5,000,000 is being provided, but it is to be expended over a period of five years. It will be used only to do the preliminary work. The whole of the money will be used when the main works are carried out, if that ever happens, but at this stage the grant is being spent only on preliminary works.
The population of the areas of which I have been speaking is limited by the amount of water that can be obtained. The Government should go into the scientific field and look for means to desalt sea water. It should also endeavour to find a way of desalting the water in the salt lakes in the interior and the saline ground water in the areas. That must be done if we are to establish industry or to develop the areas as pastoral or agricultural areas. This is one field in which the Government could spend a lot of money, to the advantage of Australia. A large proportion of the lands of which I am speaking have a rainfall of 10 inches or less. When we speak of average rainfalls we tend to mislead ourselves, because average rainfalls do not mean very much. At Tennant Creek, for instance, the average rainfall is 15 inches a year. At Roebourne, on the coast of Western Australia, it also is 15 inches, and so it is at Northam, which is 60 miles from Perth. Tennant Creek has a dry climate and high temperatures are experienced. At Roebourne, there are vast pastoral lands which provide good forage in the appropriate season, and the rainfall ranges from 13 points to 40 inches a year. As a result, of course, the area is not reliable for carrying stock. When we move down to Northam, we find that there is an annual rainfall of 15 inches. The rain falls in the winter time, in the wheat-growing season, and the climate is- pleasant. This is a very rich wheat and sheep area. In relation to average rainfall, we must consider also other things, such as climatic conditions and their regularity. No doubt, anyone who went along the Nullarbor Plain at present would find that it was like a flower garden, but in nine years out of ten it is a bare plain and all that one sees is limestone outcrop. To go through it after good rain or after a good season does not give any indication of the nature of the land.
There has been much comment about the arid areas, particularly in respect of cattle breeding. It is known that in other parts of the world there has been concentration upon the breeding of cattle for the development of arid areas. That is another matter that this Government should be examining on the same lines as- it is being examined in other parts of the world. We should try to develop breeds of stock that will enable us to make use of these empty spaces. The population of stock in pastoral areas is decreasing, and the build-up is taking place in what might be termed farming areas. For instance, in the north of Western Australia some years ago the sheep population was 3,000,000. It is now down to about 2,100,000, despite the fact that the sheep population of the State as a whole has increased. Some scientists are of opinion that this trend will continue unless there is a concentration of development in the norther areas.
The region of which I speak has an area of some 750,000 square miles and in it are about 6,000,000 cattle. It extends across Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north of Western Australia, and it includes the Channel country, the Barkly Tableland, the Victoria river area, and parts of the Kimberleys. Surely something can be done to increase the number of cattle in the region.
I shall have something to say later about stepping up the cattle industry in Australia. About one-third of the 750,000 square miles is good cattle country, another onethird is not quite so good- it has a light carrying capacity - and the balance is inferior. So it is not possible to use the whole of it, but the better quality land is distributed rather evenly throughout the whole area. It produces some of the best fat cattle that are turned off: in Australia. Many of them come from the 8-in. to 10-ih. rainfall belt.
It is true that there have been many failures in this part of the world. Many meatworks have been built and later abandoned. The solitary outpost at present is the Wyndham meatworks. With the development of roads probably more meatworks will spring up as time goes on. There is also a possibility of greater reliance on air beef schemes, although T noticed in the press the= other’ day a statement that air transport of beef will not continue but that with the development of beef roads trucks will be used for transport. If the cattle industry is developed along proper lines we may look for the placing of abattoirs inland rather than on the coast, with the frozen or chilled, meat being brought in rather quickly for shipment. It is interesting to remember that there is rather a large population of buffalo in the Northern Territory which could possibly be replaced by cattle, in. which event we would gain something from the forage that is there.
The pastoral industry’s requirements may be summarized quickly: The lessening of production costs, including taxation; provision of thousands of miles of fencing, hundreds of watering points and better transport facilities; better animal husbandry in scores of areas; and better veterinary research. There should’ not be a plan for development just from year to year. The Government should say, “ This is what we propose to do over the next twenty years “. This would give some stability to a plan for development of the area. If this were done, private enterprise would- be coming into the area and spending’ more. In that way there would be greater’ development. The pastoral industry alone- will not put population into the empty areas.
Many attempts have been made to develop agriculture in the north. I think that they have really been rather halfhearted attempts. It is. known, that some forms of agriculture have been developed from Derby to Cooktown, and rice, sugar, cotton, sorghum, peanuts and oil’ seed have been grown successfully hi commercial quantities. But the cost factor must be looked at. It is the’ duty of the Government to endeavour in every way to reduce costs. Rather successful crops of rice have been grown on the banks of the’ Fitzroy River in Western Australia. To date they have proved economic, but whether this would be so if larger quantities: of rice were produced is another matter: Rice-growing has not been very successful’ at Humpty Doo, although I believe1 it was under bad management. Nevertheless, rice could become one of the main crops in the- area. The crop that should not be overlooked at any stage is cotton. I do not- believe that cotton’ in itself will be an economic crop, although it: may bring secondary industries to this area. But, associated with the beef industry, cotton could become the main crop of northern Australia and particularly of north-western Australia.
It is interesting to note that the United States of America has 26,000,000 acres under cotton. That area produces 13,000,000 bales of cotton per annum. In California cotton is grown without dependence on natural rainfall. In that State alone 480,000 tons of cotton, seed is treated for stock feed each year and, as a consequence, tens of thousands of fat cattle are turned off from that concentrated feed each year. The two main industries in north-western Australia might have to be- the pastoral industry and the mining industry, with the agricultural industry following behind. I stress that in that area the cotton industry, in. association with the cattle, industry, could become very important. It could relieve Australia of the need to import quite a large amount of cotton. That would be of benefit to our balanceofpayments. position.
North-western Australia is- a difficult area. The scientists would’ have- to tell me whether’ secondary industries could be established there. I know the difficulties of storage, but if sufficient money was spent it would be possible to keep an industry going all the year round’. Anything that is stored is subject to mildew. That problem can be eliminated if the owner of store-rooms is prepared, to spend sufficient money on air-conditioning. I would’ not like to see people dissuaded from going into the cotton industry simply because it has not been a success in Queensland. Under experimental conditions in Western Australia we produce about 3,000 lb. of cotton per acre. In Queensland the production is between 450 lb. and 500 lb. per acre under ordinary conditions. That shows that people should not be guided by the. failure or near-failure of the cotton crop in Queensland.
The mineral resources of northern’ Australia are very great. Millions’ of acres have not yet been prospected. If & true that only in recent times vast quantities of iron ore have been found throughout these sparse areas as a result of the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore. At this stage I do not favour the export of iron ore. I believe that in Australia we have sufficient iron ore to support another steelworks. That steelworks should be established. We should not be sending, our raw- materials overseas.
Iron ore is only one of the minerals that have been found in the outback areas. These minerals include the silver, lead’ and zinc at Broken Hill;’ the vast deposits of copper at Mount Isa; the asbestos at Wittenoom; the bauxite deposits at Gove, on the Cape York Peninsula and in the Darling Range; the iron ore at Yampi Sound,. Mount Goldsworthy, Roper River and elsewhere; the thousands of tons of manganese in the desert, areas; the radio-active minerals in many places;, the. mica at Harts Range; the. tin, the beryl, the nickel, and the tantalite, and. the semi-precious and precious stones of the Pilbara- and Coober Pedy areas. That is only half the story because many other parts of these empty spaces have not been prospected to find out what isi in them. In fact,, there are large deposits of iron ore just outside Wyndham. There are also large deposits of red ochre outside Wyndham. Whether or not they will be used I do not know at this stage. The iron ore will certainly be used at some stage.
These minerals are found in rather harsh climates’. Water supplies will have to be provided to support population and the ore treatment processes. It will not be economically possible to work large deposits of ore’ in isolated areas unless large amounts of money are spent on the development of water supplies. At present the mining industry earns about £70,000,000 of export income for Australia each year. The ore resources of Australia are superior to those of many other’ countries in the Western world. Yet we are not developing them. We should be developing them1 and this Government should be assisting in the development of them. If the mineral resources are1 developed, the provision of harbour facilities, roads- and other social facilities will follow closely behind that development.
People must be offered greater rewards than they would receive in more pleasant areas to encourage them to invest their money in industries in this rather harsh country and to go into it. I believe that the mineral resources of these arid areas are sufficient to pay off Australia’s national debt. Yet we are not developing them.
I turn now to the search for oil which is going on in these sparse areas, too. We know that there is oil at Exmouth Gulf and Tara. I would be surprised if there is not oil in other parts of Australia, too. It would be surprising if this were the only area of about 3,000,000 square miles in the world that does not contain large deposits of oil. It is unfortunate that this Government sees fit to subsidize the oil exploration industry with public money without giving the public any interest in the oil that is discovered. People who invest in oil exploration companies do so with the prospect of receiving some gain from their investment if oil is found. However, the Government puts millions of pounds of public money into the search for oil without any provision for the Australian people to have any shareholding in the discovery of oil. I believe that the people should have such a shareholding. At least there should be provision for the subsidies plus interest to be repaid to the Government if oil is discovered.
There is vast marine wealth along the shores of Australia, yet we receive nothing from that marine wealth. At present the number of whales close to the coast is small. The scientists are unable to tell us why that is so. But thousands of whales still go up the coast further out to sea each year. There is still plenty of pearl shell along the Australian coast. It is interesting to note that we have allowed the Japanese to fish large tonnages of pearl shell within sight of our shores and that the cultured pearl industry at Kuri Bay is controlled and owned by Japanese companies. Although Kuri Bay is a security area, which the public cannot enter, it is under the control of those Japanese companies. Although Australian waters abound with fish - the supply might not be inexhaustatole, but is sufficient to attract the Japanese to our shores - we are importing thousands of tons of fish every year from about ten different countries.
– You cannot pay 7s. 6d. per lb. for schnapper and get away with it.
– Any one who pays that price for schnapper is very foolish. When we are considering populating these areas it is necessary to consider the problem of health. Much work has been done in tropical medicine by Doctors Cilento, Cook and Humphry. It is true that it has become much easier to live in these areas in recent years since the introduction of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and aerial medical services generally. Refrigeration of foodstuffs has also been a great help, and all in all a better mental outlook exists as a result of these benefits. People do not become so depressed when they have these facilities. Dr. Macpherson of the Institute of Medical Health in London, has made a survey of the tropical areas of Australia. He has stressed the need for more organized research into the problems of tropical living. The main problems with which he was concerned were inefficiency, ill health, discomfort and discontent. Discontent, of course, flows from many causes. People become discontented when they do not have the ordinary amenities of life. I do not know how a woman can be expected to go into some of these areas and rear a family when there is no power supply and she has to use candles or hurricane lamps. It is impossible for her to have a washing machine or a floor polisher. Generally speaking, women become depressed when they have to live under such conditions.
One of the main difficulties arises from insects such as sandflies and mosquitoes. Before going to areas such as these, people should be given some education in tropical living. A difficult climate is no bar to Europeans provided they are taught how to live in a tropical area. Dr. Macpherson stated that, excluding the illnesses common to all places, the pattern of disease in our tropical north is malaria, fevers, bowel disorders, skin diseases and tropical debility. Of these, he considered that skin disease and tropical debility are largely the product of the environment, and that there is a need to alter the environment somewhat. It has been proved, however, that this is an area in which white people can live and work although at times they will experience discomfort. The Australian tropics are free of such scourges as sleeping sickness, yellow fever, smallpox and malignant malaria. Although the last-named disease has occurred in the past it is unknown at the present time. Only a benign malaria exists at present in Arnhem Land and in the Roper River area. If any of these diseases were to become established it would be a big setback to the development of this country. It is true that leprosy exists in northern Australia, but it is not a problem at present, and within the next couple of decades it should be eliminated altogether.
High transport costs in every phase of living and industry are not conducive to the development of northern Australia, and something needs to be done to reduce these costs. It is noteworthy that on the northwest coast the Western Australian Government runs a shipping line which loses approximately £2,000,000 annually because the freight charges are uneconomical. However, there is need to reduce freight rates still further. Perhaps the greatest need in this area is for more generous taxation concessions. The Government has been fiddling with zone allowances which are completely inadequate. They give some relief to workers on wages, but that is as far as they go. They do not provide relief for any one who wants to invest money. In this area the same pay-roll tax and sales tax provisions apply as in the capital cities, with the exception that sales tax on fittings for trucks carting cattle has been reduced. That concession does not confer any great benefit as the trucks have to be employed in the industry for a fairly lengthy period and it is not profitable tq handle the cattle over such a period. The same petrol tax is imposed in this area as in Adelaide and Sydney. The Government should at least reduce taxation on fuel used for air and road transport and primary production. It is in the income tax field that proper regard could be had for an incentive to industry. Remission of income tax would be a big incentive to industry to go to the north. A body known as the Northern Development Commission has made recommendations to the Government on the lines that tax remissions should be offered to industry. The commission suggests that 60 per cent, of earnings should be completely tax free and that the remaining 40 per cent, should be tax free if re-invested in the industry. The commission has been working for quite a number of years but up to date has not been able to convince the Government that this sort of incentive should be offered. The cost of such a scheme would not be any financial embarrassment to the Government; the cost at this stage would be approximately £2,000,000 a year. 1 have tried to direct the attention of the Senate to some of the disabilities associated with this area and to the lack of any concerted plan by this Government for its development. If the Government would set aside each year 2i per cent, of the national budget for this purpose, £25,000,000 or £30,000,000 would become available immediately, and over a period of, say, twenty years, then we could look forward to the rapid development of our north. As the Government is going along at present it does not appear that the area will ever be developed, but if we do not develop it some one else will.
– I support the motion to print the papers and I oppose both amendments. I should like to congratulate the new honorable senators on the speeches they have made in this debate. I listened to them with great interest. I believe that these honorable senators will add to the quality in this Senate, and though I disagreed with some of their statements I found the speeches stimulating and creditable.
Senator Cant’s speech was interesting to me as something in the nature of a travel talk. He dealt with a number of aspects of outback Western Australia and I gathered that he wanted some long-range plan for the development of that area. I of course, agree with him that if nothing is done by us to develop our north, other people alien to Australia may seek to occupy it. One of the great problems in the north-west of Western Australia is to make development profitable. As I see it, markets for the tropical type of product that could be grown in those areas have not been developed. A long-range plan without the surety of markets could rebound politically against the Government which put the plan into operation.
Without the surety of markets, great distress could be caused among people who went up there and worked hard in an inhospitable climate.
I commend to Senator Cant the report that has been brought up recently by a small committee of which Mr. Forster was the chairman and Mr. Kelly, the honorable member for Wakefield, a member. The committee’s plan for developing agriculture in the Northern Territory was a cautious one. It envisaged the establishment of pilot farms. I believe that development in tropical Australia, particularly in inhospitable parts, should be undertaken with great caution. We do not want to wreck the- lives of people by impractical schemes of mass development. Senator Cant, raised a number of points in his movement through the area. He had obviously been there. I understand that he worked for his union, in the outback; he certainly went, about with, his eyes open He has raised a number of problems in his speech.
I support the- Budget and in doing so I propose to have a word or two on the question of rail standardization in. South Australia. My support of the- Budget is that, it is not just one isolated document or am isolated set of ideas. When one attempts to evaluate the Budget one must consider it in the context of the Govern*merit’s broad economic programme. As the Senate will remember, the Government was returned with- a small majority at the general elections in December last. Soon afterwards Cabinet had discussions with! leaders in industry and in February a series of measures was announced’, by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). As soon as Parliament, met, these measures were made law. You, Sir, will remember that personal income tax was reduced in order to provide an incentive. You will remember, too, that £10,000,000 was made available by way of a non-repayable grant to the States for the specific purpose of helping to provide employment for those out of employment.
A further £5,000,000 was made available to the. States for housing, and for the unemployed the unemployment benefit was extended to include members of the family who had not previously been included. Sales- tax on cars and station wagons was reduced, and the limit for those who wanted to: purchase; war service homes was increased to £3,500. One of the most imaginative measures taken, in. February, after consultation with industry, was. the 20 per cent., investment allowance for new plant, andi equipment used in. manufacturing. As. the improvements in legislation have been put into effect one by one, so has the stability of the economy increased. The important thing, is that this increase in stability is. continuing, and one- must consider the current Budget in that context. I will do nothing that will, in any way adversely affect the implementation of. the proposals contained in the- Budget, because I believe they will continue the progress that has been so evident since February last, when the. Ministry applied itself to the urgent problems besetting the Commonwealth.
I shall elaborate upon, some of the matters contained in the Budget. With: regard to taxation proposals, the- 5 per cent, reduction in personal income’ tax will be continued, and the 20 per cent, investment allowance for new plant and equipment used in- manufacturing production will be maintained. As Senator Wood pointed out this afternoon, the Budget contemplates increased expenditure on oil exploration, the total allocation being almost £3,000,000. Increased payments will be made to the States. As a consequence of these reductions in taxation and’ increases in payments generally there will be a deficit of £118,000,000, which, together- with the deficit of £27,000,000 from the previous year, will have the practical effect of infusing £1 45,000,000 into the economy. In the present circumstances there is not the normal danger of pumping so much additional money into the economy. We are informed that the price level in the community has remained stable for at least four quarters, and at the moment there is no indication of any alteration in. that stability. Consequently, I think the cumulative effects of the February measures and of the current Budget which we are now considering will benefit all sectors of the community. Holding those beliefs, and despite the representations from certain quarters in South Australia, I am not prepared to reject the Budget or to agree to any amendment that has been, proposed’.
However, I am not unmindful of a problem ‘upon which a good deal of attention has been focused in South Australia, and with .which I have been associated for a very long time - the standardization of the railway ‘between Port Pirie in South Australia and Broken Hill in New South Wales. A number Of views -have ‘.been expressed in South Australia which I believe to be incorrect and unsound, both from the economic point of view and from the political point of -view. I shall first refer to a leading article that appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ last Monday. It refers to a motion that was submitted and passed in the South Australian House ot Assembly, and develops the idea that the motion was really a message. Honorable senators should give some consideration to this article, because I believe that its writer has missed the whole point. For instance, I would not describe the motion as a message to the ten senators from South Australia. I have nothing to disagree with in the moderate terms of the resolution, as such, of that chamber of the South Australian Parliament. I have very little to disagree with in a number of the speeches made in the debate. As a matter of fact, some of them were most informative. I refer particularly to the speeches of Mr. Loveday, the member for Whyalla, and the member for Frome, through whose electorate most of this railway will run. In my opinion the writer of the article has gone wrong in saying -
The motion in the Assembly was discussed in a non-party spirit.
I consider that although the motion may have been discussed among the South Australian members in a non-party spirit, its purpose - framed in the manner it was - was for inclusion as an amendment to the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers, and as such it is certainly not a non-party matter. It is absolutely dripping with politics. Senator Toohey would not deny the political motives underlying the amendment which he quickly moved in this chamber within an hour or so of this alleged message coming from the House of Assembly in South Australia.
– It was subscribed to by your party in South Australia.
– It may well have been subscribed to by anybody, .but they desired it to ‘be used in a political way. Consequently, I .believe the leader writer of the “ Advertiser “ has completely missed the point by saying that it would be inconsistent with that move if one section of the Senate were ‘now to use the South Australian request as a means of embarrassing the Government merely for party political purposes. ‘Senator Toohey has actually moved ‘the amendment as an addendum to the amendment moved by his leader, Senator McKenna, who is not here to do things in a non-party way.
– -Tour party requested leave, too.
– That resolution of the South Australian House was presented to the Senate .by .the South Australian House of Assembly -in ‘the manner that Senator Toohey wanted it presented. It must be .admitted, in the light of the way in which ‘they -requested him to do it, that his amendment is dripping with politics. That is how I view it in this place. 1 will vote to reject .Senator Toohey’s amendment because if I did not, and the amendment were .agreed to, the Government and this Budget, which has been thoroughly debated, would face a grave threat. It would be unthinkable if, -in the dying hours of this Budget debate, the motion, “That the papers be printed “, were carried with the smear of the amendments moved by Senator McKenna and Senator Toohey, as a ‘consequence <of which the Government would have >to -consider its position in the light of the Constitution. The leader writer of the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ seems to have missed the point. Even though this question may have been discussed in a non-party atmosphere in the South Australian Parliament, it was raised in the Senate in a highly party-political way. As I have said, it -was dripping with politics. There is a strong feeling in South Australia that the rail standardization project should be proceeded with. As a matter of fact, there is a strong feeling among Government senators from South Australia that this work should be carried out; and, after reading the Prime Minister’s letter which was read to the Senate last night, I am satisfied that the Government has every intention of ensuring that the standardization of the Port
Pirie to Broken Hill line shall be carried out. As a matter of fact, the provision of money for the purchase of diesel locomotives and wagons is clear evidence of the Government’s intention, because although these locomotives and wagons will be constructed to 3-ft. 6-in. gauge specifications when purchased, it will be possible to convert them quickly to the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge. As Senator Spooner pointed out, the Government is not adverse to rail standardization. Indeed, he reminded us that the Prime Minister in his letter said -
But we do not see our way to commit funds at present for this project.
Senator Spooner went to some pains to explain how much South Australia will be getting this financial year. I have in my hand a document showing Commonwealth payments to all the States, and I remind the Senate that South Australia is to receive a much higher percentage than Sir Thomas Playford mentioned in the limited classification he put before the House of Assembly.
If we are to make a fair assessment as to whether South Australia is to get a fair percentage, we must look at the whole picture and not merely part of the picture that Sir Thomas Playford presented to the South Australian House of Assembly. By and large, South Australia’s share of the money to be made available should be from 8 per cent, to 10 per cent. In round figures, South Australia is to receive £33,250,000 this year by way of financial assistance grants under the heading “General Revenue Grants”. The total to be distributed among all the States under that heading is £292,000,000. Again, under “ Old Debts “, South Australia is to recover £704,000 of its interest debt whilst the total recovery for all the States is £7,500,000. From the Sinking Fund for State debts, South Australia is to receive £900,000 whilst the total for all the States is £6.700,000. For current purposes, the Adelaide University is to receive £977,000 whilst the total for all State universities is £8,100.000. For Commonwealth aid roads, South Australia will receive £5,700,000 of a total of £50,000,000 for the whole of Australia.
It will be seen from those figures that South Australia’s percentage is not very wide of what it should be for specific items. The total payments to that State will be £43,000,000 of a total of £409,000,000 for all the States so that the proportion of one to ten does not vary a great deal. South Australia’s population is now nearing the 1,000,000 mark whilst the population of the Commonwealth is approximately 10,500,000. It will be seen, therefore, that this Budget does provide approximately the overall total that one might expect for South Australia. It is only natural, that there should be great disappointment at the failure of the Government to include the £800,000 requested by Sir Thomas Playford. I personally regret that fact very much, but I do not propose to discard the whole Budget merely on that score. We all regret that the Budget does not provide for everything that we think it should, and I will continue to urge the Government in the way in which I have been urging it in the past to recognize South, Australia’s claim with respect to rail standardization.
– At the right time.
– At the appropriate time. I believe that the work of South Australian senators on the Government side has produced good results for South Australia in a number of ways over the years. Indeed, last night, Senator Spooner paid tribute to those senators from South Australia for their work.
– Was that dripping with party politics, too?
– Not at all. The requests that we made were made only after thorough investigation and a good deal of hard work on our part, moving up and down the State to get to understand the problems of the people of South Australia.
I should like to deal now with a suggestion I wish to put to the Government in relation to the problem of major developmental works. I know it will not meet with the approval of the Labour Party because, for the whole of the time I have been in this Parliament, the Labour Party has strenuously opposed any proposal for the ratification of an application to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a loan. Because the Labour Party opposes these proposals on every occasion, I address my remarks to Senator Paltridge, the Minister representing the Treasurer in this chamber. I believe that the Government should give serious consideration to asking the Treasurer, while he is overseas, to investigate the possibility of raising a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to cover many important projects including two of great value to South Australia - that relating to the dam which the Minister for National Development mentioned last night and that relating to the speedy widening of the gauge of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway.
As a result of research work I have carried out, I know that projects such as those have received vary favorable consideration by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. To support that view, I mention something that is being done in Norway, a country which could not by any stretch of the imagination be classed as depressed or notoriously under-developed. According to the sixteenth annual report of the bank - the report for 1960-61 - a loan of 25,000,000 dollars, for 25 years, at 5i per cent, interest, was made on 2nd December, I960 to Norway. The purpose of the loan was to help to finance the second and third stages of the Tokke scheme, the country’s largest hydro-electric project. There was a previous loan of 25,000,000 dollars for the project in 1956. The bank approved the making of those loans, and apparently it had no trouble in inducing individuals and organizations to participate as lenders.
By way of interest, I mention a loan that was made by the bank for a railway project in Japan. It was for 80,000,000 dollars, for twenty years, at 5f per cent, interest, and was made on 2nd May, 1961. The project was the Japanese National Railways. The loan was to assist in financing the new 548,000,000 dollar Tokaido line, a 311-mile express railway serving the cities of Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, and planned to provide the fastest train service in the world. The report of the bank gives a description of the railway. The point I wish to make is that Japan cannot be regarded as a notoriously under-developed country. In other words, the bank appreciated that the railway would serve a congested area which contains 40 per cent, of the population of Japan, 70 per cent, of its industry and 25 per cent, of its agriculture. The electrified system, with standard gauge double tracks, will run parallel to the present narrow gauge railway which is greatly overloaded. I mention this matter to the Senate in order to show the interest of the bank in such projects.
– What was the bank’s reaction to a loan for the Mount Isa railway?
– I have never been able to get quite straight the reasons why the Mount Isa loan was rejected, but I understand that one factor was the interest in the line of Mount Isa Mines Limited. However, I do not really understand why the application was rejected.
Since the Government has a problem in financing from its own resources many of the projects that are being carried out throughout Australia at the present time, it would do well to study the report of the International Bank. I am encouraged to say that because I remember that, earlier this year, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who represents the Treasurer in this chamber, stated that an International Bank loan was being sought in connexion with the Snowy Mountains scheme. The Minister may recall that he said on that occasion that although the scheme had been financed from Consolidated Revenue over the years, it was desirable to approach the International Bank for a loan for the Murray 1 power station project. I should think that, at this stage in the development of Australia, greater recourse could be had to the bank.
It must be remembered that the rate of interest of 5i per cent, includes 1 per cent, for commission, which is added by the bank to its capital reserves. Australia is a partowner of this bank. I consider that it is prudent and wise for the Government to go to the bank for loans for the two projects I have mentioned, and possibly for others that are marking time at present. I can see nothing wrong in doing so. We would not be approaching the bank for loans to tide us over a spending spree. We would be going to it for finance that would be of great economic benefit to Australia. It is surely not .necessary to remind the Minister for Civil Aviation, who is a former Minister for Shipping and Transport, of the great benefits that accrue from rail standardization. The 1956-57 report of the then Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, Mr. Hannaberry, left us in no doubt about the economic losses that were being occasioned by the absence of rail standardization and the great savings that could be made if standardization were put into effect.
The standardization of the Broken HillPort Pirie railway is a matter that the International Bank should be invited to investigate, because, as honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have stated, the future economic operation of the ‘line is at stake. Doubt as to the future -position is causing great concern in Broken Hill and Port Pirie, particularly in relation to the transport of ore from the Broken Hill mines to the seaboard. Naturally, representations have been made to me by the Port Pirie Chamber -of Commerce. The chamber suggested, in a very polite and dignified way, that I should urge the Government to .consider the importance of this matter. As I have said, I commend to the Minister the statement -made in Mr. Hannaberry’s report. wish to say a word or two about Commonwealth railway ‘matters because I believe that the Commonwealth should take an abiding interest in railways from the standpoint of the economics of railway operations. It is not of much use merely to provide money for a railway and then to forget all about it. I believe the carriage by rail of certain cargoes is still an economic proposition. The Governments of Victoria and New South Wales are not gaining the greatest advantage from the broadening of the gauge between Albury and Melbourne, a work for which this Government has made pretty substantial budgetary provisions in the past. I suggest to the Commonwealth that it could assist as a customer in a far more practical way than it is at the moment. I have travelled on the train from Canberra to Melbourne. It is a modern train and one of the best in Australia. However, one finds that when the train trickles out of Canberra there is only about one carriage with people in it. If we go to the airport at Canberra, we find the place crowded with service personnel and many others who are travelling .on Commonwealth warrants. The Government could very well direct government personnel, service and otherwise, to use this excellent train and thereby -increase the patronage that the train was really meant to enjoy. The Government could give very practical help in this direction if the departments used this standardgauge line between Canberra and Melbourne and did not allow trains to run half empty, or with just a carriage or two.
The Government should also show interest in the freight capabilities of the east-west line so far as they affect Woomera traffic. I have raised this matter in the Senate on several occasions, and I am not the only one who has raised it. The report of the ‘Commonwealth Railways Commissioner ‘for the year 1959-60, at page 12, stated -
Much .of the traffic to and from the Woomera range .is .carried by road despite repeated representations to the authorities concerned that the railway ‘has every facility available for the efficient handling .of the traffic.
This is a very serious matter in South Australia. Letters have appeared in newspapers from correspondents at Port Augusta who “have counted so many vehicles of the Department of Supply, the . Department of Works, and other Commonwealth Departments, passing over the bridge at Port Augusta, obviously from the direction of the Woomera range. That gives point to the comment of the commissioner. I believe that this matter will assume greater magnitude as the years go by, because tremendous developmental work is proceeding in the Woomera area. It is a matter of serious consequence for the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), the Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth), and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) to get together and get a bit of sense into the people who are using departmental road transport when it is claimed by a responsible public servant that the railway has every facility available for the efficient handling of the .traffic.
– Is there any comparison of costs?
– No, but I believe, from the knowledge that I have, that road transport would not be cheaper than rail transport between Woomera and Salisbury.
If departmental officers, after conferring, can clearly show that I am wrong, I shall accept that.
– It will be an unusual case if road costs are lower than rail costs.
– Do not forget that there is a break of gauge.
– There is a break of gauge at Port Pirie. I thank Senator Wright for his interjection that it would be most unusual if the road haulage costs were lower. I rely on those statements, and statements have been made previously along the same lines. I have been told that the security nature of Woomera traffic is such that it would not be proper to consign by rail, and that there are also special technical reasons why road transport should be used. It was rather strange, when the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee was moving through the area, to see trucks coming along the road towards Adelaide. I understand that those trucks carried many of the commodities required by the people who live in the area, including beer, other cool drinks and that sort of thing. This matter could be and should be looked at to ensure that where the Commonwealth is paying so much money into a railway every effort is made to use it. It is not of much use just to spend money to build a good and efficient railway and then leave it to fend for itself, with road competition, whether promoted privately or by the Government, providing what I consider to be an unnecessary adjunct of transport alongside the railway.
– Are these competing trucks owned by Commonwealth departments or private hauliers?
– I understand that in the main they are owned by Commonwealth departments. That was the complaint in an earlier report made by Mr. Hannaberry; I have just brought forward the 1959-60 complaint. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who is at the table, has ready access to the figures. I ask him, in the light of the need to use these railways, into which the Commonwealth puts so much of its money, to ensure that some consideration be given to the points that I have raised.
I want to conclude my remarks by referring to the feeder roads in South Australia, which would be good business for the railways. I refer to the need for beef roads to feed the existing Commonwealth railway system. The north-south railway moves through a comparatively arid area of South Australia, which has suffered drought over the past few years. There has been a request that the Commonwealth provide £450,000 for four main beef roads, three of which lead to the railway. It will be remembered that one comes into Marree; another runs from the Everard Ranges to Oodnadatta; another from the Strzelecki track along Strzelecki Creek to the railway at Marree; and one from Lake Frome down to Yunta, on the track between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. In the light of the earnest consideration that the Commonwealth has given to beef roads in isolated parts of Queensland and Western Australia it would be very wise for it to lead roads to its own railway so that there would be a greater freight potential in the carriage of livestock. Speaking as a South Australian, beef is important to the Adelaide market and a ready flow of cattle from the north, for fattening in better areas and then for sale, would have a great effect on the price of beef to consumers.
I should like to refer to a letter that appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 29th August, from Mr. R. J. McCaulay former president of the Stockowners Association of South Australia, but writing on this occasion as a member of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Executive Committee. In it he states two aspects of the importance of the provision of money for those roads. One might say that this was a State matter, but the Commonwealth has shown an interest in the provision of beef roads in other parts, and I present this to the Minister as a proposal to provide feeder roads to an important Commonwealth railway line. I put it to the Senate strongly that this proposal has that merit in addition to the merit that it has as a proposal for additional beef roads.
– But the Strzelecki track, for example, now terminates at Marree, does it not?
– Yes. One terminates at Oodnadatta, which is on the Commonwealth line, too,, and the ether one terminates at Marree. Another track terminates at Yunta, which is not on the Commonwealth line. The first three I mentioned terminate on the Commonwealth line.
Those are my comments on the Budget. I believe that the amendments moved by members of the Australian Labour Party should be rejected. The February measures should be allowed to continue to have their effect without hindrance. The figures that are coming forward from the statisticians show clearly that the economy has been rejuvenated and that results favorable to Australia will flow from those measures.
– Mr. Deputy President, before I deal with the Budget I want to mention one or two matters that have arisen in this debate, because either to-night or in the early hours of to-morrow morning the Senate will adjourn for one month. First, I have been intrigued by some of the standards that the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) has laid down in the last few days. When dealing with another matter the other day he castigated two of my colleagues on this side of the chamber when they interjected. He said that their behaviour amounted to larrikinism and that they were trying to shout him down. He said that that should never happen. Of course, we know that nobody can ever be shouted down in this place because of the protection that the Chair gives to the honorable senator who has the call and is on his feet. Usually interjections are not as bad as the Standing Orders would suggest.
I was intrigued by Senator Spooner’s comments because only a day or two previously Senator Paltridge had made one of the most amazing and most exaggerated speeches that I have heard during the many years that we have been together in this place. He dodged the issues of the Budget very astutely and dealt with matters that it suited him to deal with. We were showing Senator Paltridge the respect that we have for him and listening quietly to his speech, when Senator Spooner, in that sergeant-major’s voice of his, said to us: “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Nobody is interjecting.” If this gentleman is to be the Acting Prime Minister of Australia as I sincerely hope he will be, I ask him, with all the friendliness that I can put forward, to settle on one attitude or the other.
The other day he used the word “ dignified “ in finishing a speech. I have not seen very much dignity in the past. I hope that his use of that word is a forecast of dignity in the future. If we are to be honoured by having a member of the Upper House as Acting Prime Minister, I hope that he will be dignified and will remember that other people are also trying to be dignified.
Senator Fitzgerald, in his maiden speech in this chamber, was moved to say that as a young man in the Australian Labour Party under the late J. B. Chifley, he was counselled always to show in his behaviour his respect for the institution of Parliament. I believe that it is incumbent on every one of us to do that. Senator Spooner, because of the great honour that he has had of being the Leader of the Government in this place for so long, has a greater responsibility than anybody else in the conduct of debates. On one occasion I said that he yelled across the chamber. He took exception to that. I say now that on occasions he raises his voice above the normal level. I hope that comment is acceptable to him. I merely mention those matters in passing.
Senator Henty started his speech on the Budget by saying that he reads “ Hansard “. He should have said that he reads some of “ Hansard “. He reads only those sections of “ Hansard “ that suit his argument and omits the other sections. He referred to the fact that Senator McKenna had said that the words “ full employment “ had slipped out of the vocabulary of the Government and had not been mentioned in either the speech read in this chamber by Senator Paltridge or the speech made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt).
– That is what he said.
– That is correct. We agree on this matter so far. Senator Henty went on to say, as Mr. Harold Holt had already said, that the words appeared in “ Hansard “. Senator McKenna had already asked for leave to make a statement. Mr. Harold Holt had invited him to do so. Senator McKenna pointed out that in the official document, copies of which are handed to every member of the Parliament and go to universities and libraries throughout the world, the words “ full employment “ did not appear. I always thought that the same speech was read simultaneously in the two Houses of the Parliament; but the document that was read by Senator Paltridge in the Upper House was roneoed, not printed. That document did not contain the words “ full employment “ either.
The charge made by Senator Henty is completely wrong. If the words were put into the final draft of Mr. Harold Holt’s speech, that makes the matter even worse. The document which he issues to the world, and which purports to be the one that he read in the House of Representatives, ought to be accurate. If, as Senator McKenna pointed out, Mr. Harold Holt thought of these words while he was on his feet and used them, he should have been honest enough to say that when he challenged Senator McKenna. To use Senator McKenna’s words to emphasize the point that he made, the very last thought that came to the Treasurer’s mind was that of full employment.
Mr. Deputy President, I am sorry that the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is not in the chamber. I was interested in a matter raised by Senator Turnbull recently. He said the effects of thalidomide had been known to the medical profession for four months. Senator Wade interjected and said, in effect, “ Break it down “. Since then I have noticed in publications - not medical ones because I do not read them - that the effects of thalidomide have been known and this whole question has been a matter of concern not only over a period of four months but over a period of from eighteen months to two years. I am sorry that I have not the reference with me. I tore it out of a publication, but I have lost it.
A doctor in the United States of America had previously brought praise upon herself because she resisted very strongly the use of thalidomide although at that time it was being advertised in Germany as the wonder sleeping tablet of this age. Even when the manufacturers put strong pressure on her, she still resisted its use for reasons which are readily under standable by a layman. This drug was not working on animals. Although that proved nothing in her scientific mind, it warned her that things were not going the way they should go. She was following up this matter many months before this terrible revelation burst on the world. An English journal wrote up this matter. It said that people who were taking thalidomide were starting to get an itching of the extremities of the body, which indicated a toxic condition in the blood. That rang a bell, as it were, in the mind of this woman doctor.
The reason why I raise this matter, Mr. Deputy President, is that I have a disquieting feeling that our Department of Health is not sufficiently aware of what is happening.
– May I say this to you without any malice at all? It seems to me that you are making a very unscientific approach to this matter. The woman in the United States of America did not resist the use of the drug because of the knowledge she acquired in her scientific discipline. To her this was an emotional matter.
– I do not want to enter into a debate on that aspect because I do not think I know enough about it. She was a doctor. She was in the position of having to test drugs and decide whether or not to allow them to be used by the public. Irrespective of whether or not her approach was scientific - it seems scientific to me - the fact that the drug did not react on animals conveyed something to her, although she was unable to put her finger on what it conveyed. The second warning came when the toxic condition became fairly obvious in England. Although that condition was not directly attributable to thalidomide, it was appearing in patients who were taking that drug, and again she raised a warning voice. Irrespective of whether or not Senator Cormack’s interjection is correct, the United States of America is the one country in the world that has never had a wholesale campaign advertising thalidomide thrown upon its people.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– As I said before the suspension of the sitting, before dealing with rail standardization I want to deal with one or two matters affecting other departments. I was speaking of the Department of Health and had mentioned a matter that had been brought up by Senator Turnbull the other night in relation to the drug thalidomide. I have one or two requests to make to the Minister regarding this matter, t was pointing out that, as Senator Turnbull said, evidently the effects of this drug were known in medical circles throughout the world some four months ago. I have since read some articles published in America which disclose that some people were worried about this thing some eighteen months to two years ago. I regret I have not the articles with me.
I do not raise this matter in order to criticize the department but simply because of the terrible effects that this drug has had in Germany where it had been sold unrestrictedly for a long time. I am wondering whether the Minister might make a complete statement from the Australian viewpoint on thalidomide and the final banning of it. Further, can he indicate whether in matters of this kind, the department can keep closer in touch with what goes on throughout the world?
– The Minister tells me now that he knew all about it all the time.
– He did not indicate that in his interjection the other night, did he?
– He did not.
– I would like a complete statement on this subject because I think everybody is concerned about what has happened. If this had been a life-saving drug which a doctor prescribed, although he knew there were some dangers attached to it, that would have been understandable. After all, this was only another sleeping pill. Presumably there are enough such pills on the market already, although the makers of this drug claimed it was the sleeping pill of the century. I feel that an explanation is due to the Parliament and if the raising of this matter, first by Senator Turnbull and now by me, results in a tightening up in the department - I am not reflecting on what has been done already - I believe our action will have been well worth while.
I turn now to the Budget itself. There was a time, many years ago, when the Budget was regarded as being merely a means to advise the public of the expenditure and collections that the Government hoped to make during the ensuing twelve months. As we have become more highly developed in an economic sense and as outside industry has been welded into the finances of government, and the Government has taken over, of necessity, more and more phases of the general economy, the Budget has become not merely a statement of estimates of revenue and expenditure, but an instrument by which the whole economy of Australia is attuned for the following twelve months, and probably longer. Is there magic in basing plans and financial arrangements on twelve-monthly periods? I have never been wedded to the1 idea that everything must be balanced as at the 30th June each year. However, that is what we do. In defending this Budget, many Government supporters and some Ministers have adopted rather an immature outlook in saying that everything in the garden is rosy. They have contended that everything that has brought good to the Australian people has been due to the efforts of this Government and that every Budget - the horror budget, the expansionary budget, or the standstill budget such as the present one - is the very thing that the doctor ordered.
I think that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) when he introduced this Budget, instead of making some statements and then anticipating the arguments that were going to be used against them, and instead of rushing into print to defend them, should have analysed the economic background against which the Government has brought down this rather peculiar document. We have a lot to learn from the Americans. Whenever a recession occurs or economic problems arise in the United States of America, the people are informed of the facts through the tremendous publicity which the press gives to proceedings of committees which are appointed to examine such problems. The American people can then decide for themselves whether the Government has faced up to the facts.
I believe there is strength in our economy, as the Government claims. First, the fact that motor car sales are now rising supports that claim; and that must be put down on the credit side. However, the rather harsh measures that were taken from time to time against the motor industry caused a backlog and to that degree the Government’s claim is weakened. The other thing that worries us is that from time to time the Government was tremendously worried when motor car sales started to rise. On two occasions the Government hit the industry pretty viciously - with apologies, but nonetheless viciously - because it said that the increased sales were causing a dangerous trend in the economy that had to be dampened down. I mention those two things to try to be completely fair to the Government when I am examining this problem. Nevertheless in spite of those two points, I think the Government is entitled to write its claim on the credit side of the economy.
Bank balances have been mentioned. It is true that there is tremendous liquidity in the community to-day; and the Government is entitled to place that fact also on the credit side of the economy. Nevertheless, such liquidity is a threat and could cause an inflationary trend. Obviously, if people stopped putting money into the savings banks and started to spend it we could get a demand in the community that would be difficult to handle. We are getting this increase in bank balances while, at the same time, there is a tremendous shaking down on the stock exchange. I think the phrase “ shaking down “ is a mild description because it has gone on for so long that many people have been injured in the process. There would be more confidence if, instead of putting money into banking accounts, people were to invest it in their own country - in companies, exploratory shows, or something of that sort. I have never seen an analysis showing the level to which bank balances are liable to rise. Does such a tendency occur when incomes are low or when they are high? Do the increases come from those engaged in pastoral pursuits or those engaged in industry? I suppose it would be a difficult analysis to make, but nevertheless it would show the state of the economy at any particular time.
I was forced to have a look at some of the statements made by the Minister in another place. As I said at the outset, with due respect to my friends on the opposite front bench in this chamber, their contributions have been, to say the least, disappointing. They have either lectured us on the one hand, or, on the other hand, they have neatly side-stepped the main issues. No analysis has been made of the bases of this Budget. I desire to quote a passage from the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) which seems to get a little closer to what I am complaining about. I quote from his speech -
Our next great objective is to see that there is a steady and strong growth of manufacturing in Australia, because manufacturing is one of the essential conditions of full employment in a growing population. Every honorable member knows that. There is a limit to the extent to which an increased population may find gainful employment in rural affairs. Everybody knows that. We must find employment in secondary industry and in tertiary industry for the fastincreasing population that is coming to this “ stagnant “ country.
Might I add that everybody certainly knows it. It was the Prime Minister and his Cabinet who struck the greatest blow in our history at the secondary and tertiary industries and so damaged their power to sop up this unemployment. If I might again use the Prime Minister’s expression, everybody knows that, too. I find it impossible to examine this Budget without looking at the background of stress in the economy over the past few years. It all goes back to the savage decision made when the Government completely abandoned the system of import control. Most honorable senators will recall that before then they were required to go to the Minister and ask for special import licences to keep somebody in business, and enable him to meet his commitments to tried and trusted clients. Even though the licence sought covered only a couple of hundreds of pounds worth of goods, we were always told that little amounts added up to a big amount and that therefore the request could not be granted. The logic of such refusals was obvious but then the whole system was abandoned overnight.
The Government abandoned the entire system under which many secondary and tertiary industries had been built up. These industries had a right to believe, in accordance with custom and useage, that things would go on as they were but the decision threw them into a flat spin. I could never understand why pressure was not put on the banks not to lend money to importers in Australia. Immediately the Government opened the flood gates the importers crowded the banks to borrow money to import goods from other countries. When the Government finally started to apply restraint the importers were firmly established in the field and no law could be passed to prevent them from getting financial accommodation from the exporters with whom they were trading in other countries whether Germany, Italy or elsewhere. Those people were beyond the Government’s reach.
One need only look at some of the factories around the capital cities to see the effect. I know of one factory in Melbourne which had 400 employees and has now come down to 100. That production capacity is now lying idle and the Government is faced with the problem of trying to get these factories working again so that unemployment can be reduced. If that can be done Australia will be in a better position to face up to the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market should that eventually take place. Because of the failure by the Government to face up to its error, panic measures had to be introduced. The Government is worried. It has built up liquidity and is frightened to take the action which many on this side of the chamber and many persons outside believe it should be taking to maintain the stability of Australia.
The Prime Minister mentioned unemployment and said that something should be done about it. When the Government dropped the ban on imports, it opened the way for all sorts of goods. If exporters were to say: “We will not take advantage of the other fellow’s markets; we will not create unemployment in his country by exporting our goods to it; he is playing the game “, then the day of heaven on earth would have arrived. But immediately the Government dropped import controls, the exporting countries of the world rushed into the gap. As we all know many countries subsidize their export industries. Australia will be facing that problem in the next year or two. Instead of solving our unemployment problem the Government, by relinquishing import controls, imported unemployment. The Prime Minister said that this problem is worrying him. And so it should. The Government has a completely wrong attitude to unemployment.
Senator Spooner, dealing with this subject, spoke about increased benefits that the Government has given to people who are unemployed and compared them with the benefits given by the Labour Government in 1949. This sort of argument has no place in honest discussion in the Senate or in any other place of debate. It is no good saying, “ You spent 25s. a week in 1949, we are spending £3 15s. a week now, therefore we are spending three times as much as you did “. Wastage and haemorrhage in the value of the £1 is ignored. I would far rather that Senator Spooner had said that in spite of inflation, and in spite of the wasting in money values, he claimed credit for his Government for having increased the payment. I would have conceded that immediately, but there is not much point in talking in figures without relating them to what can be purchased with the money. After all, when people are unemployed, they are not thinking of investing money; they are thinking of buying essential commodities.
It is no good the Government trying to sidestep this question of unemployment. The facts are that the Liberal Government came into office in 1949 when 700 people were in receipt of unemployment benefit; in July last the figure was 45,400. In the meantime the number of unemployed has been as high as 132,000 - I am not referring now to the number on unemployment benefit. To-day the number of unemployed is round about the 100,000 mark. In the short-term, that reduction may be important; nevertheless in the long-term Australia is facing the worst unemployment situation since the end of the war. This is one of the weaknesses in the economy that the Government must eliminate. Honorable senators opposite are always referring to the strength of the economy, but in anybody’s language, unemployment is a weakness. It is a loss of purchasing power, people’s effort and all the rest of it. / All sorts of people have been setting “ target dates. The Labour Party said at the last election that if it were returned there would be no unemployment twelve months later. The Prime Minister fixed the same date and said that in twelve months time we would all be wondering what we had been worried about. Quite apart from the statistical and economic aspect, we have the attitude of the Government. The Leader of the Government in the Senate in answering a question by Senator Ormonde said, “ I ask Senator Ormonde what he is worrying about “. This type of attitude is completely wrong. 1 happened to find an old newspaper cutting lying around the office. It shows a very dishevelled Prime Minister getting off an aircraft at, I presume, Sydney. He is reported to have said when asked about criticisms of the Government’s actions, “ What criticism? “ Then he went on to say, “ My big worry to-day is that I’ll miss the West Indian cricketers “. The whole attitude is completely wrong. In this debate on unemployment all that we have been doing is to look at statistics, to mark down the effects of unemployment on the economic situation, and to say that it is true that there is a weakness in the economy and that we will do something about it in good time. The tragedy of the matter is that the Government completely overlooks the fact that a person ceases to exist in the material sense when he loses his employment. There is no more progress for him. Unemployment stands like a colossus in his way. Until the Government deals with the unemployment problem people who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed can do nothing for their families. They will look to the early termination of education for their children. There is no question of their moving into homes and getting all the little things in life that we regard as normal. Fairly substantial unemployment goes back to 1955-56 - about five years ago - when about 16,000 people were unemployed. The danger of this Government’s attitude, coupled with that fact, is that we are starting to learn to live with unemployment.
The Prime Minister said, further, that unemployment had a bearing on migration. That is very true. I suppose one of the main problems of our economy in the past ten or twelve years has been the ever-expanding force of migrants. The moment a family arrives at the first port of call, whether it be Fremantle or some other port, the members of that family demand services. They want a meal, clothes and somewhere to sleep, and people have to be employed to produce the goods and1 services they need. Over all these years there has been a steady flow of migrants. One could say that it has been a steady expansionary force. Now, when Britain’s entry into the Common Market will make it so difficult for us to get the better type of migrant, we find ourselves aggravating that situation because of our own internal problems. There was a time when the Italian Government was desperate about unemployment in Italy. I discussed unemployment with the Minister for Industries in Italy when I was passing through that country, and he told me that he would be happy if he could report at budget time that unemployment was down to something over 2,000,000. More often than not, the figure was 3,000,000, or even more than 4,000,000. The last time I saw the Italian unemployment figures the number of unemployed1 was well under 1,000,000, because the Italian unemployed can find work in other Common Market countries. We will be faced more and more with the problem of getting good types of migrants, and at the same time we will double up at our own end. We will not be able to absorb migrants if the unemployment situation is not alleviated and if confidence is not restored to the people spoken of by the Prime Minister - the employers in secondary and tertiary industries.
I feel that the Budget does not face up to the very problems about which the Prime Minister has spoken. I still feel that the background of the Budget goes back to the fateful decision of the Government that exposed all Australian industries to fierce overseas competition. There is nothing wrong in protecting Australian industries. Just as we say we have the right to select the right type of migrant from here or there, or from some other part of the world, we also have every right to say that we will protect the Australian people by any means that we think fit, when we live in a community which demands such things as a basic wage. We fix hours of work. State governments fix the hours that businesses may work. We demand good housing and roads, and that sort of thing. Whilst we demand certain things of our Australian people we have the right and the responsibility to protect them and to see that they are not undermined by people in other countries with lower standards of living. We must strive for conditions of employment that will build up living standards in Australia. But at a time when the Government could be doing all this, when the Common Market has expanded more rapidly than any other economic unit in the past few years by adopting the very system that this Government has rejected, the Government is doing nothing to develop Australia and to protect Australians. The Six have achieved success by blocking out goods that they cannot produce or grow themselves - without any apologies either. The whole problem of Britain’s entry is that the countries already within the market demand that Britain comply with certain standards. They have said that their aim is to protect the members of their own community. Is it not time that we in Australia started to protect our own people?
Unemployment can be approached from another angle also. How often in the 28 years since the depression ended have we heard people say what a great pity it was that during the depression, when unemployment was rife and industrial troubles non-existent, we did not build up great industries and engage in essential public works. In the depression days goods were cheap. There was a surfeit of labour and goods that you could lay your hands on. 1 suggest that the Government, rather than shrink from the problems confronting it, should say: “ Here is the opportunity to go into business expansion and to do a really worthwhile job. We have unemployed people in the community. We are able to use them on these projects and on all these things we need.” The Government instead of shying away from the problem, ought to see a great opportunity to do the things that we have been prevented from doing since the war because of the shortage of labour. There is no shortage of materials to-day. This presents a grand opportunity to the Government.
In this debate Senator Scott and Senator Cant have spoken of the development of the northern part of Australia. I suppose that no other area in the world has been talked about so much and has had so little done in the way of development. I was shocked and surprised to hear Senator Scott condemn the suggestion that a body ought to be set up to plan the development of this vast area north of the 26th parallel.
– I said “ carrying it out “ -not “ plan “.
– Very well.
– There is a big difference.
– I should have thought that anybody with a normal mind would have thought that when you examine plans and put them before a Government, it would be with the idea of carrying them out. I thought that would be completely elementary. To me, one is the forerunner of the other. I was amazed to hear Senator Scott, who has some knowledge of the area and knows its problems, because of his business interests there, say that he was opposed to it.
– I am amazed at you.
– That makes two of us. This Government is willing to talk about it, but it is a vastly different matter when it comes to doing something about it. Surely to goodness it will at long last be developed. The history of the northern part of Australia shows that people have gone broke and left the area. This is the time, when we have a surfeit of labour on our hands, to look at the problem. The area is a tough one and a lot of money is needed if a person is to succeed there. A settler or businessman cannot move to that area on a shoe-string budget. In addition to wealth, he will need the know-how and the courage to succeed. Senator Scott, who has investments in that area, has those things. He has the tremendous wealth that is needed in that area. I pay him the compliment of saying that he is the type of person who is wanted in that part of the land. A person with the money can survive a knock, rally and stay in business there. I have seen business after business go broke in the Kimberleys and the northwest of Western Australia. Finally, a person will come along with enough money to take over and do the job properly, and establish an industry there.
The Government must not think that people will go begging for the tremendous deposits of iron ore that have been found in that district. The Government has shabbily treated people interested in this venture; it has completely ignored them, offering no Government assistance whatever. I certainly would not blame them if they started to look at other countries as places in which to invest their money. I am amazed that Senator Scott will not concede that there should be some plan and some action in this area. We are all very proud of the Ord River scheme; in fact, it has become the glamour show of that part of the north. But it was not put under way without planning. Before that work was begun, a great deal of investigation and research work was carried out by the experimental stations in the area. This Government, with the co-operation of the State government, wisely did a great deal of planning and experimentation before going ahead with the scheme.
In looking at the question of the development of the north-west of Western Australia, I take a different view from that taken by the Government. I do not think in terms of millions of people whom we might make happy, goodness knows when; I think of the people who are there now eking out an existence. I think of the people whose fathers were there before them and who are satisfied to stay there making some sort of a do of their properties. If we were to do something for those people it would be a far better approach to the problem. I do not know why, when carrying out water projects, we must move from the Snowy River to the Ord River. That might be the proper approach, but I do not think it is. Nor do 1 think anybody else agrees with it. I think more of the settlements round Carnarvon on the Gascoyne River where approximately 200 families are wresting a living from the lands along the river banks where there are no dams. Because nature has been kind and provided bountiful rainfall, these people have been able to make a living graving bananas there. I should have thought that the first duty of the Government would be to say, “ We will see that the industries already established there have an assured future. We will see to it that the 200 families who are already there are placed in a solid position so that their sons and daughters will be content to stay on the plantations.” I merely mention that area to illustrate just how little the Government knows about our north. There could be a dozen areas in which action such as that could be taken.
Both Senator Scott and Senator Paltridge have sought from time to time to raise guffaws at the expense of the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell) by referring to a television interview in Western Australia when Mr. Calwell was asked what lay behind his thinking when he stated that a Labour government would set aside a certain sum for the development of that part of Western Australia north of the twenty-sixth parallel. He was proposing to set aside a certain sum for that purpose just as the Government makes provision for social services, oil search and so on. We were seeking to impress on the Australian people the need to develop this area, and we said that if necessary a Labour government would spend £60,000,000 in that area. When Mr. Calwell was asked by the interviewer what he proposed to do up there, Mr. Calwell said, “ There are many rivers up there which I think ought to be dammed “. Both Senator Scott and Senator Paltridge sought to ridicule that suggestion, and they derived some amusement from alleging that when Mr. Calwell was asked what rivers he would dam he replied, “ All the rivers “. Is it not the duty of all parliamentarians to give attention to these things, and in doing so to be guided by experts? Senator Scott would have the people of Australia believe that the Labour Party proposed damming every stream from Carnarvon to Wyndham. . Senator Scott, knows perfectly well that we had no intention of doing any such thing, and he merely twists the situation to suit his own party-political purposes. For instance, Senator Scott completely ignored the fact that Mr. Calwell went on to say that there might be only £1,000,000, £2,000,000 or £5,000,000 spent there.
There is no need for me to carry spears and lances for my colleagues in the Australian Labour Party. I have found, frequently to my sorrow, that they are quite capable of looking after themselves, but I do say emphatically that if I had to choose between Mr. Calwell’s policy and that of Senator Scott and Senator Paltridge, my decision would be made very easily. Senator Scott, who has been successful in that area, ought to know from his own experience that the answer to this problem lies in big projects that only governments can undertake with all the know-how at their disposal. But this Government does not take that view. For instance, the State governments have decided unanimously that special taxation rebates should be granted to the people in these areas - we have heard something about unanimous decisions of State governments within the last day or so - but Senator Spooner does not see it that way. He does not favour the Government going in to develop the north. AH he says is that if an industry starts in that area and looks like being successful and being able to do something for the area, the Government will look at it and then decide in its wisdom whether it will support it. When I first heard that statement of policy, I accepted it because 1 thought that it represented still another approach to the problem. I do not blame the Government for giving very careful consideration to the question before declaring an area exempt from income tax for, say. twenty years; but the fact is that the industries which would like to become established in the north are getting no help at all from the Government. Indeed, this Government is inclined to be a bit cocky because there is some outside capital flowing into Australia, and it is inclined to leave these people in the north for dead.
It would not be necessary to set up a huge, costly department to consider plans for the development of the north. All that would be necessary would be to make use of the brains that are latent in Australia to-day. One line of investigation could be into the potential wealth to be derived from the sea along the coast there. One of the greatest tragedies in this connexion was the fact that the money obtained from the sale of the whaling station in the west - I think it was £150,000 - was taken out of the area and wasted. The seafoods industry of Australia has never been properly developed. People are crying out to-day for the better type seafoods, such as prawns, scallops, crayfish and so on. If the money obtained from the sale of the whaling station had been put into conducting surveys and research to discover, for instance, why fish and other sea life disappear from certain areas overnight as it were, we would have been in a position to-day to move into the seafoods industry.
The whaling stations all round Australia are experiencing great difficulties because of varying factors, some of which are unknown. We do not want them to go out of existence. If those stations could be propped up or bolstered by being able to engage also in fishing, much would be done for Australia. It is only by carrying out research and conducting surveys that we can ascertain how best to save these languishing industries; and this Government would be well advised to spend money in that direction. If we ignore these things, all of which can do much to aid development, we will lose splendid opportunities. Everybody who has lived in the north - and I happen to be one of them - is clamouring for the Government to do everything possible to protect the industries already established there. I should like to see the Prime Minister instruct the Cabinet to give special attention to the problems confronting the people already in that part of Australia north of the 26th Parallel.
I should like to see that instruction given also to all Government departments. For instance, the Postmaster-General’s Department could be instructed that the laws which apply to Sydney and Melbourne should not be enforced rigidly at places like Cooktown, Wyndham, Derby and so on. I will admit that some Ministers are reasonable. For example, the Minister for Immigration, Mr. Downer, has bent over backwards, as it were, to assist worthy cases that I have brought to his attention from time to time. I pay him that tribute. I wish that some procedure were laid down in this respect so that the people who control the departments and the finance might follow the methods I have mentioned. 1 have been led to speak at greater length than 1 originally intended. The Government does not like the state of the economy to be referred to as stagnant. Surely, our economic position permits us to move into those areas and do something of advantage for them. There are people out of work, and for that reason there is now a better opportunity to establish industries and developmental projects than there was in previous years. If the Government had made an honest approach to the Budget, instead of shilly-shallying, I do not think that Mr. Menzies would be able to call it an adventurous Budget. I concede that the Government fears inflation. I admit that the government of any country in which inflation existed would frame its budget with inflation in mind. If the Government had called the present Budget a stable budget, I would have given it credit for honesty, at least, but to call it an adventurous Budget, as the Prime Minister did, reminds me of those Hollywood motion pictures which are described as “ stupendous “. When you go along to see them you find they do not measure up to the publicity.
I agree that it is desirable to do away with inflation, but I do not think the Government will succeed in doing so. All through our lifetime we have been living under an inflationary system. I suggest that if we were to draw a graph of economic conditions from 1900 to the present day, there would be a sharply rising line. The only years when the line was more or less horizontal would be during the depression periods. The fact is that the value of money has been deteriorating for more than a century. The deterioration has been accelerated from time to time by the policies of governments, and things of that kind. No matter what a government does, it has to face up to inflation. That does not mean that governments should not try to damp down inflation, but when we reach a problem such as we have to-day, and it is necessary to choose between an increase of inflation or an increase of the sufferings of the people who are unemployed, the clear choice is to come down on the side of a little more inflation in order to help those people out of their difficulty.
This has been a privileged Government, Mr. President. It has been privileged to have been in office during a time of bountiful seasons and to be governing a land which has resources that have not yet been tapped, which has no extreme poverty, where there is a good basic educational system, and where the people are conscious of the need for stable government. We have accused the Government of being a stopandgo Government. I notice that the Prime Minister, in using a road traffic metaphor, said that he was going to observe the rules of the road and was not going to crash through the red light. The colour red seems to attract Mr. Menzie’s eye. It is not a red light that we are seeing to-day, but a green one. I say to him, “ Do not become colour blind to the signals. Do not develop myopic vision. For goodness sake, take your foot off the brake and put it on the accelerator.” He has the opportunity to do that and to help the Australian nation. Goodness knows what may happen as a result of the European Common Market arrangements. While we still have time, and while we have no international troubles on our borders, let us observe the green light, open up the throttle, to continue the Prime Minister’s metaphor, and take Australia ahead to full nationhood. Do not let us fiddle about and allow the economy to stagnate.
– I wish to congratulate all those honorable senators who have made their maiden speeches during this debate. I think that the whole Senate has enjoyed their contributions. Personally, I found them most refreshing. In our system of government, we have not only the Government parties but also Her Majesty’s Opposition. It is a very healthy sign that the new senators on the opposite side of the chamber should have brought a freshness and an enthusiasm to an Opposition which, in the past, had rather tended to lean back in the traces. I offer my sincere congratulations to them.
This Budget has been called a number of names, both by way of congratulation and criticism. I do not propose to enter the competition, but I think it is fair to say that this is a unique Budget. First, it is unique because it provides for a deficit of £118,300,000. Neither the commercial world nor the political world has offered criticism of it on that ground. A deficit is necessary to enable the Government to push on with its expansionary programme. I do not think there has been any challenge! to the necessity for that. In fact, it is on record that all the political parties in this Parliament have advocated deficit budgeting in this year of grace.
The Budget also is unique in that it provides for national development sums of money the like of which have never before been provided. Of course, in the technique of party political cut and thrust, the Opposition has attacked the Government’s national development policy by saying that it does not provide for national development at all. As I shall show during my remarks, never before in our history have we provided such vast sums for national development. The Budget is unique, too, because of the huge sums which are being made available to the States under the system of uniform taxation and the Loan Council arrangements. The Budget shows that the Government has been able to maintain a stable economy. Statistics prove that to be so. In fact, the various formulas which are employed show that, if anything, there has been a slight reduction of costs, at a time when, in western Europe and Japan particularly, costs have been rising at rather a rapid rate.
Although the Government has budgeted for such a huge deficit and is contributing on such a large scale to the States, because of the stabilization of the economy it has not been necessary to increase payments from the National Welfare Fund. To the motion that the Estimates and Budget Papers be printed the Opposition has moved an amendment, and to that amendment Senator Toohey has moved an amendment. So we have a rather unusual development in the Senate, with the proposal of an amendment to an amendment. I think it is fair criticism to say that the amendment to the amendment is just a political device. It reeks of politics. We have had a long debate on the circumstances of a resolution of the South Australian House of Assembly. If any test of the political implications is required, it may be found in the fact that the Opposition has tacked it onto an amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Consequently, it does not stand on its own at all. It stands or falls by an amendment which is virtually a motion of censure of the Go vernment. It will fail, because it is an act of blatant political opportunism. It cannot hope to succeed in the circumstances.
Let us look at the amendment proposed by Senator McKenna. The whole of the Opposition’s case may be found in it. It criticizes the Government in relation to payments to pensioners from the National Welfare Fund. It makes a frontal attack upon national development policy and it deals with unemployment. I have said that the stabilized economy has had a very significant effect upon movements in the National Welfare Fund, but we need to put some background facts on the record and make perfectly clear that the amount provided for the National Welfare Fund in this Budget is £387,500,000, an increase of £23,200,000 over the amount provided last year. Within that framework, normal increases in numbers during tha. financial year will cause payments to age, invalid and widow pensioners to rise by £13,000,000. Payments for pharmaceutical benefits will rise by £5,000,000 this year.
In 1949-50 payments from the National Welfare Fund were equal to 49.7 per cent, of personal income tax receipts. In 1961-62, the proportion had risen to 68 per cent, and this year it is estimated to be 72 per cent. Whatever else may be said and whatever loose arguments may be presented by the Opposition in regard to pensioners and the National Welfare Fund, the fact is there for all to see that during the life of this Government the relationship that payments from the fund bear to personal income tax collections has risen from 49.7 per cent, to an estimated 72 per cent. The Opposition has failed to appreciate a most important feature. The percentages I have mentioned present a picture of a government raising pensions and other social service benefits to meet rising costs. That is unassailable. This year the Government has been able to show, as everybody knows, a stabilized economy, which after all is of the greatest benefit to recipients of social service benefits and to superannuitants. They have the knowledge that the purchasing power of money received remains steady and constant. This has been made possible only by the actions of a government which has had regard to the fundamentals of a sound economy.
I desire to deal with a number of matters indirectly associated with the Budget, but before doing so I should like to pursue a little further the subject of national development. I have said and I believe that what has been done is unique in the history of this great Commonwealth. This year, for example, in Queensland we are providing, on a repayable basis, two-thirds of the finance for the great Mount Isa railway project, amounting to not less than £18,100,000. The Commonwealth undertakes to provide for cattle roads in Queensland £5,000,000 over a five-year period. It is estimated that the amount provided this year will be £1,400,000. An amount of £1,700,000 is to be provided to assist the Queensland Government to develop to full productive capacity a vast area of brigalow land in the Fitzroy basin of central Queensland.
This year the Commonwealth is to contribute £4,300,000 to the huge project of constructing a standard-gauge railway line from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana in Western Australia. We have heard a lot from Senator Willesee in the last hour about the development of north-western Australia. For that purpose an amount of £1,400,000 is to be provided from this year’s Budget. An amount of £700,000 is to be provided for cattle roads in northwestern Australia and £300,000 is to be devoted to the construction of a new jetty at Derby.
So the story goes on. Let me give other figures briefly and quickly. In the Northern Territory we are allocating £1,000,000 for cattle roads in 1962-63. An amount of £1,300,000 is being provided for the purchase of twelve d’iesel electric locomotives - about which we have heard so much in the last two or three days - and 100 wagons for use on the Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway. It is estimated that Commonwealth expenditure on oil exploration this year will be £6,600,000- £3,000,000 more than was expended last year. Who would deny that the great contribution made by this Commonwealth Government over the last few years towards oil search has directly resulted in the finding of oil in a series of wells in Queensland?
– How much for the Snowy Mountains undertaking? Is it about £24,000,0007
– Yes, over a period.
– An amount of £24,000,000 will be provided this year.
– Yes. Nobody can deny the obvious direct effect upon employment of this vast programme. That point must be clearly made. Stemming from this vast national development programme is a great impact upon employment. I listened this afternoon to Senator Wood’s contribution on the subject of employment. I concurred in much of what he said and I propose to present a similar argument in relation to certain aspects of employment. One cannot deny that the special grants by the Commonwealth to the States under section 96 of the Constitution, the tax reimbursement payments to the States under the uniform taxation system, and the moneys made available to the States through the Loan Council have all made a great contribution towards alleviating unemployment.
I do not believe in burying my head in the sand, as it were, on the question of unemployment. Despite the fact that payments to the States this year are expected to amount to £422,500,000, which is £26,000,000 more than the payments made last year, there is an unemployment problem with which we have to deal. That problem exists despite all the figures that I have given and despite the fact that this year the Commonwealth will provide, directly and indirectly, more than £91,000,000 for housing. That sum is made up of advances by the Commonwealth to the States, the provision of £35,000,000 for war service homes, the provision of £6,000,000 for housing in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and the provision of about £3,000,000 for homes for the aged. Despite all those things, about 90,000 people are unemployed.
I wish to mention some facts about this group of unfortunate people in our community. This problem should not be a political football. It is a real problem that affects intimately the lives of good, whole- some Australian citizens. The figures issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) for July show that the number of unskilled workers unemployed was 18,498 in the estimated total of 90,091. In other words, about 20 per cent, of the unemployed are unskilled. That is an important fact that must be considered. Another large group of the unemployed are semi-skilled. I will not bring them into this discussion because I do not want to have any confusion on the point that I want to make.
By looking at the localities in which the recipients of unemployment benefit live, it is possible to deduce that approximately half of the unemployed are in the metropolitan areas of the capital cities. In Victoria there are 13,931 recipients of unemployment benefit and 10,381 of them live in the metropolitan area. In New South Wales there are 17,293 recipients of unemployment benefit, of whom 9,358 live in Sydney or Newcastle. I trust that the Senate will take my word for the fact that the picture is similar in all the States. I am trying to show that approximately 50 per cent, of the total number of people unemployed live in the big cities and that 20 per cent, of the total number are unskilled. Therefore, a real assault on the unemployment figures could be made quickly by a programme of public works with a high unskilled labour content being carried out in the built-up areas in the major capital cities. I direct the attention of the Government to that factor. 1 have made my position perfectly clear in regard to the magnificent achievements of the Government in the field of national development and the large sums of money that are being made available to the States. I am very conscious that under the February proposals about £10,000,000 was made available to the States and that recently about £12,500,000 was made available to them in straight-out grants. Whilst I am conscious of all of that, 1 believe that there is still an opportunity to carry out a concentrated programme of works in the capital cities where there is a substantial percentage of unskilled workers who could easily be employed.
I agree with Senator Wood that local government is the ideal avenue for carrying out such a programme. It is true that local government authorities may borrow up to £100,000 without reference to the Australian Loan Council; but to the big municipalities £100,000 is not an economic amount. I know from my own knowledge that if that amount was raised to about £200,000 or £250,000 many local government authorities would be prepared to borrow money. They do not look for money by way of grants. They would be prepared to borrow money. They are not borrowing at present because they have to obtain the approval of the Loan Council and the money has to be borrowed through the appropriate State government. If the Government increased the amount from £100,000 to £250,000, local government authorities in the big cities would be able to borrow money and use it in doing the type of work which is very well suited to local government authorities and which carries a high unskilled labour content.
– That decision would have to be made by the Loan Council itself, would it not?
– Yes. The States are well and truly represented on the Loan Council. I have no hesitation in putting that point of view before the Government.
– It could be put to the States, too, could it not?
– Yes. The problem of the local government authorities is that if they want to borrow more than £100,000, the loan has to be included in the total of the State borrowings authorized by the Loan Council.
Lest 1 be misunderstood - I do not want to be - let me state what I think of the Budget. It is a magnificent Budget in the sense that it provides a tremendous amount of money for national development. Such an amount has never been provided before in the history of this Commonwealth. It is calculated to provide employment in the broad sense; it is calculated to make Australia a better place in which to live; and it is calculated to enable both primary and secondary industries to have a higher incomecaning capacity. As I said at the outset, it is a Budget unique in Australia’s history.
I wish to turn now to a subject on which I have spoken previously in this chamber. I feel a little like a man who always plays the same tune on his violin. People get to know the tune fairly well. I want to talk about road safety. Although a select committee of the Senate brought down a considered report on this subject which was recognized on all sides as having some merit, as yet the Government has not seized the nettle in the real sense. In my opinion the most important recommendation made by the committee was that the Commonwealth should set up a research organization on road safety. I do not need to labour this point now. I think we all are agreed and are as one that in this problem, which is stacked full of tragedy, research is fundamental and the Commonwealth, which has the necessary resources, is the logical authority to seize that nettle.
I am pleased that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is in the chamber because he probably knows the background of this matter better than does any one else here. The Commonwealth Government may not be prepared to establish its own separate and isolated research organization. I direct the attention of the Government to the fact that the Australian Road Research Board is in existence. In 1960-61 the Commonwealth Government made a grant of £5,000 to that body; in 1962-63 the grant is to be £11,500. That is an increase of more than 100 per cent. The important point is that if the Government is not prepared to establish its own research organization, it would be very easy for it to say to this board: “We are satisfied that research is necessary. We invite you to carry out certain types of research for us. We will subsidize you to the extent that it is necessary.” In other words, the Government has a ready-made organization waiting to do work in this particular field. At the moment the board is carrying out only road research work in the pure sense; but I am certain that if the Commonwealth Government asked this organization to extend its charter and carry out this extra research work, it would be prepared to do so. I have not spoken to anybody about this, but it seems to me to be elementary that that would be the position.
There is, of course, another side to research. We have a National Health and Medical Research Council. The Commonwealth has provided £298,500 for that particular organization. That is a considerable sum; I do not know the break-up of it. I do know that in regard to road safety the medical aspect is tremendously important. In fact the journal of the Commonwealth Department of Health has published an article by a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council. He has made an important contribution to this magazine. Here again I suggest that the Commonwealth could, if it so desired, enter into an arrangement with this council to carry out certain research in relation to road safety. The Government has to seize the nettle, as it were, and institute some research into this problem of road safety. We must be concerned about the tragedy of the roads and the loss it is causing in terms of man-hours and human suffering. If the Commonwealth does not want to set up a research organization of its own it could farm out such work to the two organizations I have mentioned. They are semi-governmental in character, and at the present time the Government is making considerable contributions to their funds. By doing that the Government could strike a blow at this problem which daily confronts us with stark tragedy.
There are only two other matters to which I wish to refer. One is the National Capital Development Commission. In its 26th general report the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works pointed out that in 1960-61 in a civil works programme of £27,387,000, an amount of £16,887,000 came under the control of the Department of Works and an amount of £10,500,000 came under the control of the National Capital Development Commission. The commission’s share of the vote amounted to 38 per cent, of the cash provision for civil works. The Public Works Committee directed attention to the fact that there was no oversight of the spending of money by the commission. Although all works of a value of more than £250,000 have to be referred to the Public Works Committee, there is no provision for any works under the control of the National Capital Development Commission to be referred to the committee. This position involves constitutional problems which 1 do not wish to go into to-night. No doubt those problems can be overcome. In its report, the committee said -
This could be achieved by an amendment to the National Capita! Development Commission Act to incorporate the provision of the “ Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1924 “, which, in relation to the Federal Capital Commission, stated that - “ The provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921 shall apply in relation to works and buildings proposed to be constructed by the Commission in like manner as they apply in relation to public works proposed to be constructed by the Commonwealth.”
– How much money does the commission propose to spend?
– £ 1 2, 1 00,000. Last year the commission spent £11,100,000 plus £883,000, which came through other organizations. It proposes to spend more this year than it spent last year. I do not think that any one of us would deny that the money is being spent to make Canberra a magnificent capital. As the years go by we will have a seat of government which will be one of the outstanding places in the world. No one can gainsay that; but as a parliamentarian I direct attention to the fact that whilst as the Parliament, we insist on having the oversight of the spending of any amount over £250.000 - except where the project has a defence content and the Cabinet makes a direction accordingly - the National Capital Development Commission is to spend £12,000,000 this year without reference to the Parliament. The commission, of course, has a statutory obligation to compile a report every year. This year’s report was tabled in the Senate yesterday.
Finally, I wish to refer to the subject of hospitals on which some discussion has taken place during the last few days. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) has been quizzed in relation to the hospital benefits agreement between the State and the Commonwealth. I am aware that a new agreement is now being negotiated. Although I had a fairly intimate knowledge of these matters, I refrained from making any comment. I believed that a proper agreement would be worked out between the Commonwealth and the States. However, as some questions have been raised in this chamber during the last few days I am unable to remain silent any longer on this issue. When the Commonwealth negotiates a new agreement - the Minister for Health says it will do so - I believe there is a case for an increase in the Commonwealth’s contribution, particularly in certain fields. Under the present agreement the Commonwealth pays to the States ordinary hospital benefit of 8s. a day for all hospital patients, increasing the amount to 12s. a day for all pensioner patients possessing medical entitlement cards, when such pensioners are not members of a contribution fund. These two rates are commonly referred to as the base rates.
In addition to the foregoing, the Commonwealth Government, under the terms of the National Health Act, and apart from the agreement, pays to all approved contribution funds an additional benefit of 12s. a day, making a total benefit of £1 for patient members who are contributing for a fund benefit of not less than 16s. a day. This was initially 4s. a day during the term of the Chifley Government, but was increased to 12s. a day as from 1st January, 1958. I do not want to develop my remarks at length. The time is not appropriate but I do want to make the point in regard to pensioners. On Tuesday, the Minister for Health, in a reply to a question, commented that the State of New South Wales had the lowest hospital fees of any State, apart from Queensland, where public ward patients are admitted free. It is proper to say also that New South Wales has the lowest adjusted daily bed cost average in the Commonwealth. If you look at one figure you must look at the other to get the proper picture. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate the following table in “ Hansard “: -
It will be seen that costs in New South Wales are lower than in any other State, except Queensland. Taking the two major States - if I may use that term for the purpose of the exercise - the New South Wales figure is £5 12s. 6d. compared with Victoria’s £6 5s. 7d., a difference of 13s. Id.
An allowance of 12s. a day is made for pensioners and pensioners not in a fund get free hospital treatment. All hospital administrators are conscious pf the fact that pensioners admitted to hospital have a tendency to stay longer than any other patients. At a time when hospitals are reducing the number of days that patients stay in hospital the pensioner, by virtue of his age or because of such accidents as broken hips, generally stays longer than any other patient. That has created a problem. It is for this reason and the fact that the payment of 12s. a day, or only £4 4s. a week, does not go far when bed costs are £35 a week, that hospital administration is so difficult.
I hope that when the Minister negotiates his new agreement with the States, as no doubt he will, he will make adjustments to the existing arrangements and pay special regard to the amount allowed to the States for pensioners. That is where the hospitals face a tremendous loss.
I want to refer in conclusion to one other matter. The Commonwealth makes a contribution for certain outpatients in relation to specific ailments. At last mental health is being viewed in its right perspective and consideration should be given in the new agreement to making some contribution to the States where outpatients are attending mental health clinics or psychiatric wards. The present system contains an injustice that should be remedied.
Perhaps I have spoken for too long and perhaps I have not dealt with some matters that are dear to my heart. In different circumstances I should have liked to have a good go at them but I shall get the chance during the debate on the Estimates. I have spoken to-night because the matter is rather urgent. I understand that the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the State Ministers for Health will be negotiating a new agreement, perhaps while we are in recess, and I wanted to make the point that there is a case for larger payments to the States, especially in relation to pensioners. I have every confidence in the judgment and sense of proportion of the Common wealth Minister and I know that if and when a new agreement is negotiated, it will be a fair and equitable one.
I support the Government in the presentation of the Budget and I propose to vote against the amendment and the amendment of the amendment.
– At this stage of the debate, when one has had the opportunity of hearing the thoughts of most honorable senators from both sides of the chamber, I feel that I am in the situation of being able to crystalize to some extent what has emerged from the debate. One is naturally saddened in the new session of the Parliament when so many of our colleagues have gone. One looks forward to the maiden speeches of new senators so that one may judge the calibre of the thought that they will bring to this chamber. I, for one, am highly pleased at the type of thinking of honorable senators who have made their maiden speeches in this debate. They have been a credit to themselves and to their parties in their major ordeal of making their maiden speeches.
Leaving aside the froth and bubble that came from many divergent points of view, one can sum up in a few short words the important things that have emerged from this debate. The principal thought was advanced by two new senators, Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen, who pointed out that the great difficulty in Australia, as shown by this Budget and by the state of the economy, is that we have no planned development. Both honorable senators pointed out that though their view may be suspect as socialist thought, the fact is that all the major countries must plan their economies to ensure that they do not drop behind in the race for survival.
We in Australia have no development plan. Whatever has been done - 1 think Senator Cohen made the point - has been done not in the interests of true development but in trying to appease certain people and please others in order that the Government might win votes. In Queensland, where the Government suffered great electoral losses, it has advanced some developmental plans, not as part of a Commonwealth-wide development programme, but in an attempt to win back electoral support. Therefore I say that the great contribution made to the debate was made principally by these new senators who gave careful analytical thought to Australia’s position and expressed in this chamber forcefully and courageously the thinking that the people of Australia must adopt if they hope ever to have real development.
The new senators also pointed out that we were living in the Asian area. No longer are we close to England. It does not need the debate on the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market to let us know that Europe is not the geographical area with which we will be concerned in the future. Our concern is with the near north and the development of near northern countries including China and Japan. The development of some Asian countries has been so tremendous in recent years that it is alarming and frightening for any one who thinks for a moment about the future. I had the opportunity four or five years ago of going to mainland China at the invitation of the Chinese Government. I was able to get some knowledge of what was being done in that country. We visitors had the chance to talk about the preparation of the Chinese five-year plans. There, one found great groups of people, including economists, all kinds of technicians and others with specialized knowledge of the country’s problems, sitting down trying to determine what they wanted to do, what kind of development was needed, how much money should be devoted to defence and so on. The plans were carefully worked out so that in the end they could use the whole of their manpower and resources. The effect, of course, has been tremendous development in the nation of China.
What do we find in our own country? Here we have what should be a highly developed country in the technical sense. We have had nearly twenty years of peace and, as my colleague said, bountiful seasons. We have the scope to develop our natural resources and there is a possibility of oil being found in paying quantities. We have had an influx of hundreds of thousands of people from other parts of the world. Yet in this great developmental period 100,000 people are idle.
Could anything be more absurd than to have in a developing country, with all its resources idle, a government incapable of using 100,000 men? This Government said some years ago that it believed we ought to get rid of all controls because they were hampering us and hindering development. There were building controls, import licensing and capital issues, so the Government proclaimed that it would get rid of all of them. Having got rid of most of them, what did it do? It imposed the harshest form of control that this country has ever known - control over the country’s credit - so that people trying to develop Australia and to expand industry found that instead of being helped by the Government they were unable to get the finance needed to continue their plans. So, we now have 100,000 people out of work.
It has been said that this is a good budget. I do not think it is a budget at all. A budget should set out a plan of what we intend to do in our nation. A budget for an industry or business sets out how that concern will best use its capital, how it proposes to use its reserves, and what it expects to achieve in a certain period. What does this Budget contain? All it contains is platitudes to the effect that the Government hopes that things will get better. It contains no real plan for the development of Australia. There is no real encouragement to industry to plan for expansion. In fact, it is a budget that will merely perpetuate the type of thinking that has given us 100,000 unemployed persons. Despite this, the Government is persisting in this type of economy throughout Australia. When a government can find only ways in which it can dampen down development rather than lead it into channels from which the nation can derive the best advantage, when it is so bankrupt in its thinking that it is unable to give proper leadership to the people of Australia, and when it is so incapable as to be unable to say to the people, “This is our objective, this is our aim, this is the way in which we shall develop our country, these are the aids we shall give you, and these are the best ways of using our resources”, I suggest, Sir, that in the interests of the people it is most unfortunate that it did not lose a couple more members at the last general election.
I do not propose to make a lengthy speech on all these problems to-night. I know that some of my friends on the other side would like me to refrain from putting this type of thinking to the Senate, because they try to gloss over the ineptitude of this Government and its blundering and attempt to rehabilitate it in the eyes of the people by telling half-truths and by refusing to face problems. But as Senator Cohen and Senator Murphy have made plain - I congratulate both of them upon their clear thinking and their expressions to the Senate - while this Government is not prepared to give leadership and to plan properly for the development of Australia, we can expect to have 100,000 persons unemployed year after year.
Let me now say a few words about education. Many people who were here yesterday brought a very urgent problem to the attention of this Parliament. Australia is one of the poorest countries in the world so far as education is concerned. We try to kid ourselves that we are doing a good job in education, but we find that England spends about 6 per cent, of its national income on education, and Russia about 7 per cent. When I was in China I visited a university and was told that it had no financial problems. That university could get all the money it could spend because the leaders of China appreciate that the one thing their country needs is education. So they were developing education, particularly technical education, to a tremendously high standard. Here in Australia, close to Asia, we have 10,500,000 people against 1,000,000,000 Asians, and we are spending only about 2i per cent, of our national income on education. Schools are overcrowded and there are not enough teachers. Our technical education standards are not high enough, and year after year the problem is getting worse. Some honorable senators say in this chamber that education is not our responsibility, that it is a State responsibility. It is easy to shelve these problems and to say that the States receive money to look after education but while the Commonwealth refuses to give education a higher priority and is not prepared to allocate much more finance for that purpose, it is falling down on the job. I put it to the Government that it will have to measure up to the needs of education.
I shall now speak in a lighter strain, and I am glad that the Minister for Health is in the chamber. In the past year or so I have had quite a lot to do with his department, and I offer him and the DirectorGeneral of Health my most sincere congratulations on the way in which the department appears to have been revitalized. Both the Minister and the Director-General have done everything possible to help any member of the party who goes to them with a problem. The department has done splendid work in the past year. I have had some experience with deaf children recently, and I say without hesitation that one section of the Minister’s department, the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, is rendering a wonderful service to the deaf children of Australia. The department supplies deaf children with hearing aids free of charge. It meticulously examines such children and follows their progress. Perhaps, the public does not know very much about the work of the department. In my opinion it is doing a marvellous job, and I offer my congratulations both to the Minister and to his departmental officers. I should like to take this opportunity, also to congratulate the Director-General for what he has done to revitalize the national fitness campaign throughout Australia. Mr. Justice Curlewis of New South Wales was greatly fortified by the help he received from both the Minister and the Director-General. There can be no gainsaying the fact that because of the ready co-operation and assistance of the Minister, the DirectorGeneral, and the department, national fitness throughout Australia has been given a tremendous fillip, and they all are to be commended for that.
I could discuss many other subjects, but at this stage we ought to be discussing not minor matters but what has emerged from the debate. All thoughtful senators must agree that the one great thing that stands out at this stage is the Government’s lack of planning. Until we know what we want, until we know what must be done to make the best use of our raw materials and other resources, until we have decided whether development shall be done by the Government or private enterprise, we shall make no progress whatever. If we are to progress, it is essential that this Government lay down and carry out a definite plan. If it adopts that course, then I am confident that, for the first time in the history of a government of .the kind now in office, the unemployed will get jobs and Australia will really advance.
– I support the amendment proposed by Senator Toohey and make the point that in my opinion there has been a great deal of shuffling on the part of South Australian senators on the Government side. Other senators on the Government side have been at pains to emphasize that they do not support the move made by the South Australian legislature in connexion with rail standardization. As I see it, the completion of rail standardization in South Australia is not only an urgent State work but a project of great national importance. Let me introduce my argument by suggesting that the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister in his recent letter to the Premier of South Australia is quite different from that adopted by him in connexion with Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. When referring to the possible effect on the Australian economy of Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, Senator Spooner is reported on page 112 of “ Hansard “ of 9th August as having said -
Much of Australia’s productive development has been related to the long established pattern of Commonwealth trade, and designed to satisfy markets which form part of that pattern. In many cases, entire communities have grown up around export industries of this kind.
Later, when referring to exports of metallic lead, he said -
Behind this export, we have developed in Australia great smelters, notably at Port Pirie, whose efficiency is of world standard.
He ended on this note -
It would be difficult to persuade communities like Broken Hill and Port Pirie that the problems thus presented for their industries, their regions, and their people, are minor ones.
Yet to-day this Government is seeking to establish that a move which is supported by a South Australian organization that does not know where it is going - the Liberal
Party - and by the Australian Labour Party, as well, as the independent members in the State legislature, is a purely political one. In fact, this Government has gone so far as to attack the Premier of South Australia for having put the interests of that State’s economy before all other considerations. When we consider the geographic position of South Australia, it is difficult to imagine the Premier of that State taking any other stand. Why should South Australia not maintain consistently that the rail standardization proposal which was put forward as far back as 1949 should take an important place in the pattern of Australia’s development? South Australia has always been handicapped in connexion with markets, raw materials, supplies and transport facilities. It is obvious that any State Premier, irrespective of political affiliations, would be a fool to accept a sort of parttime proposal in lieu of the whole programme. The Premier of South Australia has made it quite clear that he strongly supports the comprehensive rail standardization programme which was advocated by a former Minister. We say that this rail standardization project is urgent to South Australia, and the Liberal Party of that State agrees with us. There is no question of politics being involved in this matter. I emphasize, too, that in making this move we are not supporting the Playford Government of South Australia; we are supporting something which is of extreme importance to the economy of South Australia and to the welfare of Australia as a whole.
Senator Laught has suggested that the proposal submitted by Senator Toohey is dripping with politics. Let me remind him that Senator Toohey made it very clear that his amendment was proposed following a request by not only the Liberal Party of South Australia, but also the Opposition in the South Australian House of Assembly. Having mentioned the South Australian House of Assembly, let me quote these words from the speech delivered by Sir Thomas Playford when speaking to the proposal submitted by the Labour Party in that House. He said -
The motion is not directed along party lines, but to all senators. I would have objected if the motion had been directed to the senators of only one party.
Let me emphasize here that the copy which I have of the transcript of Sir Thomas Playford’s speech was sent to us not by the Leader of the Labour Party in South Australia but by the Clerk of the House of Assembly. Further on in his speech, Sir Thomas Playford said - 1 believe that under those circumstances we have every right to ask our senators to see that the rights of South Australia are not ignored.
One of his supporters, Mr. Shannon, spoke in a somewhat similar strain. He criticized the South Australian senators on the Government side for not having treated this question as one of urgency. Senator Spooner sought to protect his South Australian colleagues by saying that the Premier of South Australia had been caught in his own trap, and he asked whether South Australia was entitled to consideration at this point of time. We say that South Australia is entitled to the utmost consideration. It is not good enough to say to that State, “ We have already given you sufficient money to make South Australia a hopper wagon, and that should get you out of the hole you say you are in “. The fact is that these economies, whatever they might be, cannot be achieved unless the necessary conversion work is done on the permanent way. In the circumstances, no doubt the State Government will carry out certain modification work on the permanent way. It will have to do some work on culverts and bridges.
Is it not ridiculous to suggest that South Australia should be given sufficient money for a vast traction equipment programme without, at the same time, being provided with some amount for the progressive modification of the permanent way? I point out that the sum of £5,000,000 was advanced to the State Government to carry out railway work in the south-eastern section of the State. To say that the Prime Minister has not completely rejected . the obligation of the Commonwealth Government to carry out standardization work is simply to bring in a red herring. In fact, there is no project in mind at this stage. If the standardization work does come to fruition it will be due not to the so-called pressure of left-wing trade unionists - I think that was the expression used by Senator Maher-
– He said Playford was an extremist.
– As Senator Toohey suggests, that inference can be drawn from Senator Maher’s remarks.
– I rise to order, Mr. President. I heard a comment, I think from Senator Toohey, to the effect that I had said that Sir Thomas Playford was a left-winger. I made no such statement. Yesterday, by way of interjection, Senator Toohey stated that 1 had said that Sir Thomas Playford was a Communist. I ask for a withdrawal of the remark.
– Order! This is a matter of misrepresentation. The honorable senator will have an opportunity to make a personal explanation later.
– I think it is fair to say that the conclusion which Senator Toohey drew from the observation can in fact be sustained. Senator Maher referred to pressure. He said that the activities we were indulging in resembled the pressure exerted by left-wing trade unionists. The point I make is that the pressure to which he was referring was exerted by supporters of the party which he represents in this chamber - Government supporters in the1 South Australian Parliament - and also by the Labour Opposition in that Parliament and honorable senators on this side of the Senate who are promoting the advancement of funds to South Australia for standardization work on the Port Pirie-Broken Hill railway line. We are all in disrepute. Not only the supporters of the Labour Party, but all the Government members of the South Australian Parliament, have been taken to task.
I put it to the Senate that there has been an attempt to divert attention from the conclusions which the people of South Australia are drawing on this matter, by suggesting a number of alternatives and by saying that the Prime Minister’s letter does not conclude the matter. Perhaps we should read the letter again. Senator Spooner had it incorporated in “ Hansard ‘*, at page 521. The honorable senator stated that he stressed the words “ accept the desirability of a standard-gauge line”, and continued to read the letter as follows: -
We have had to measure the financial commitment involved against our general budgetary position present and prospective, and against our other commitments in respect of major works projects in the States, particularly in the field of rail transport. Here we have felt we had to pay special attention, in present circumstances, to improvements in rail facilities which will permit a significant increase in export earnings or a major development of natural resources.
The Prime Minister and Senator Spooner have spoken of the importance of the Broken Hill Associated Smelters Limited to Australia and of the effect that the depletion of the company’s output would have on the surrounding community and industry generally. We heard the suggestion that the Government had to think about other important export-earning industries. The conclusion to be drawn from those statements is either that, at the stage that the letter was written, the Prime Minister was not aware of the reasons that he gave when he discussed the European Common Market arrangements, or he was influenced by somebody else. The letter continued -
But we do not see our way to commit funds at present for this project. We are faced with a very large deficit in the current year and must take account of this and of other inescapable demands on our taxation and other revenue in this and the coming two or three years.
I put it to the Senate that nobody could infer, from the Prime Minister’s letter, that there was, in fact, a project on the way. It seems to me that South Australia will be successful in its request only because of the kind of contributions that we on this side of the chamber are making and the publicity that they receive.
I do not propose to attack personally the Liberal Party senators from South Australia. It is true that they are in a situation in which it is difficult for them to say, “ I support the Liberal Party federally”, or “I support the Liberal Party in a State sense “. However, I should have thought that South Australian senators opposite would have staked their all on the desires of the State legislature, particularly in view of the fact that a unanimous view has been expressed to the effect that action should be taken in this regard. I do not want to repeat statements that have been made by Senators Ridley, Toohey and
Drury, but each of those honorable senators stated that Liberal Party senators had given different versions of what would happen if Senator Toohey’s amendment were agreed to. It is fair to say that before they decide to vote against this amendment they should propose substitute action.
I think it was yesterday that Senator Buttfield addressed a “Dorothy Dix” question to Senator Paltridge, asking whether the South Australian Government had not the right to pay subsidies, as though that were something entirely new in railway operations. A liberal interpretation of her question is, “ Why could not the South Australian Government offer to B.H.A.S. a special rate on ore going to New South Wales? Why could it not say it would give a special rate on the ore because of the circumstances that exist?” The question was asked as though the suggestion made in it would solve a problem that is going to face Australia. As is known by every one who has had anything to do with railways, subsidies are common in railway systems in Australia, and have been for years. The honorable senator should know that the South Australian Government has been subsidizing the State railways to the extent of approximately £4,000,000 a year over the years because of the freight rates they have to charge in view of competition from road transport and increased costs. The reports of the South Australian railways commissioners for three years might be of interest to the Senate. In 1958-59, the South Australian Government provided for the State railways, in order to meet increased working costs, £3,850,000. In 1959-60, the amount was £3,400,000, and in 1960-61, it was £3,500,000, debt charges in each year being £800,000.
Senator Laught, in referring to the report of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, logically spoke of the effect of competition from road transport. Everybody knows the position in that respect The Government Members Rail Standardization Committee, and also the Federal Labour Party’s committee, were aware of that competition. The fact is that every railway system faces a challenge from road transport. I am happy to say that I have noticed similar statements in reports made by both committees. The way to meet the challenge is to establish a better and more efficient railway system. How can South Australia, in its situation in relation to the rest of Australia and the world, do this unless the South Australian Government demands and gets reasonable consideration for its railway system. That is all that that Government has done and the response should be further aid from the Commonwealth Government. Honorable senators opposite, including Senators Hannaford, Laught and Maher, have all said that they support the request of the South Australian Government, but there is no move on their part to do anything about it, except in one instance to which I shall refer later.
Let me make one point which was not made by Senator Maher in relation to the report of the committee of government members. The committee developed a proposal for a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge track through Broken Hill. As Senator Maher said, the committee attempted to sell this proposal to the Premier of South Australia, but he wanted the full deal, and so would I if I had been Premier. I read from page 18 of the report of the committee of government members. As far as I know, the report was unanimous. Under the heading “ The Broken Hill-Port Pirie Section”, the report stated -
The existing line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie was never built to first-class alignment and some 70 miles of SO lb. rails remains; its grades are such that economic working is impossible. At present some 800,000 tons of concentrates a year moves down this line from Broken Hill - a figure which is likely to increase rather than decrease - in spite of the proposal to route some part of the zinc concentrate eastwards from Broken Hill for treatment at Cockle Creek near Newcastle.
We are advised by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, that, in his opinion, the rebuilding of this line as a first-class 4-ft. 8i-in. railway would save £860,000 a year on the cost of cartage of concentrates alone (see Appendix 6), and it seems reasonable to deduce that the savings on all freight would exceed £1,000,000 per year.
Appendix 6 relates to estimates by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner on the savings that would be made if this work were done. The members of the government committee were in favour of this project when they put their names to the report. They stated that this amount of money would be saved. Now the Labour Party asks for some tangible move to provide assistance to South Australia. This has not been thought up as a political device. We have been asked unanimously by the South Australian House of Assembly to put the pro* posal in a concrete form. Somebody says that this is a diversion, but it is not. In trying to get out of the situation, Senator Buttfield suggested that some negotiations were going on. No doubt the people of South Australia would be very concerned about this. If there are negotiations in relation to amounts of money to be provided on a progressive scale as required by the State government and the State railway system, why is not the State Government made aware of it? Why are honorable senators opposite parties to the negotiations? Why do these have to be behind-the-scenes negotiations, not even on an executive level, by people who are interested, perhaps, only in getting themselves out of a hole?
In the light of this situation, there is absolutely no argument in favour of the point of view that we are following a political line. I say conclusively that this is not a matter of politics. The arguments in favour of the proposal are sound. This Government ought to do something for the South Australian Government and its railway system in order to permit them to make the best use of the equipment that has been supplied to them. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated in the letter that he wrote to the Premier that he was pleased that the amount of £1,350,000 had been accepted. Would Tom Playford have been sensible if he had rejected this amount? Obviously, he would take the amount and see what could be done to cope with the sort of earthworks which would make the best use of this equipment. Senator Hannaford said that Mr. Casey knew nothing about the proposed roads, rails and culverts.
– I said nothing of the kind. I referred to Mr. Casey’s statement on the saving in cost. He said that it would not have been saved.
– The honorable senator ought to know something about this. He has been on the committee.
– He does know, and you ought to listen to him.
– I did listen to him. He said that Casey was wrong because Casey said there would not be great savings.
– Casey was a member of the Liberal Party, do not forget.
– I am not interested in what he was. Maybe the sort of thing that happened to Casey might befall Liberal senators from South Australia. In the new ballots in South Australia they might all get the sack; they had better be quiet. In relation to the savings on the Peterborough section, Senators Hannaford and Laught and other senators will know that a lot of money has been spent in the Peterborough division. I know this because I was working in the railway system for 25 years. I know that a lot of money has been spent on the tracks. I know that to get some benefit out of the new equipment the Railways Department has to spend other money, or the new equipment will be wasted. Why can we not do what we did with the southeast line. Why can we not say to the State Government, “We shall give you progressive payments to enable you to do the work. If necessary, you can use the allocation to put in a third rail at the appropriate time, or even now, but let us get something positive in relation to the matter”?
I wind up by saying that in my opinion there is no escape from this situation. At this stage I can see nothing but that the South Australian Liberal senators should support Labour senators in this action. Even if some benefit results from the contributions we have made, it will be belated. Personalities should be left out. It appears to me that some of the rumors that are current are probably right. Certain people cannot negotiate on these great national issues when they ought to be able to negotiate. I trust that as a result of our support of this amendment, there will be ready reconsideration of the project that we put forward. This is not simply a State project. It should have been undertaken years ago, as we all know, and we should make it an urgent task in this land of ours at this stage.
, - I propose to speak on the amendment.
– I raise a point of order. I submit that it is the practice of this Senate, flowing from a ruling by Mr. President Baker, that a senator who rises to speak after an amendment has been moved is in fact speaking to that amendment. I direct your attention, Mr. President, to the fact that after Senator Toohey’s amendment was moved Senator
Dittmer rose and addressed the chamber. He is therefore attempting to address the chamber twice on one amendment.
– Order! The point of order is upheld.
– May I, with deference, Sir, ask you under what Standing Order I am debarred from speaking? I should like you to look at Standing Order No. 407.
– Order! If you do not agree with my ruling, Senator Dittmer, you are quite at liberty to move a motion of dissent from it.
– No; out of respect, I will not.
– Mr. President, I desire to speak about the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. I am very interested in the attitude taken by the older senators, if I may so describe them, from South Australia - Senators Toohey, Ridley and Drury. They have been in this chamber as representatives of South Australia for a number of years but have never previously shown such interest in rail standardization or any other work that might be carried out in South Australia. Their display of enthusiasm now is completely foreign to their attitude to rail standardization in South Australia on other occasions.
I was astonished, Mr. President, as, no doubt, you were, to find out that one of the pillars of South Australia who rose to address himself to this important subject was not even aware that the Townsville to Mount Isa line in Queensland, on which important railway work is being carried out, is a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line. He thought that it was a standard gauge line. Yet the men I have mentioned pose as senators who have a knowledge of this rail standardization work and a really sincere belief in it.
I say nothing about the right of the South Australian Parliament to do what it did. 1 do not challenge that right. It is a constitutional right. But I challenge the sincerity of the Premier of South Australia and the sincerity of the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian House of Assembly who seek to create the impression that the resolution that was sent to the South Australian members of this Senate was the result of some mutual spontaneity of interest. How did this interest arise? Whatever the desire of the South Australian Premier to grandstand to the South Australian public might have been, grandstanding does not influence people like us who are somewhat used to the practices and procedures of a parliament.
I will read from the pulls of the South Austraiian “ Hansard “ in order to show how this interest arose. The South Australian House of Assembly met with due ceremony and dignity at 2 p.m. on Thursday last and the Speaker read prayers. Immediately, the Leader of the Opposition rose and sought the approval of the House to move a motion. We are all aware of the terms of that motion. After the motion was seconded, the Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, rising to support the motion, said -
The Leader’s motion required the suspension of Standing Orders, but after the short time he gave me to look at it I agreed that it was a matter of great urgency and of great importance to South Australia.
Picture the scene for yourselves, Mr. President and honorable senators. Picture the House of Assembly meeting, prayers being said, the Leader of the Opposition rising with a motion already written out, and the Premier making the most unctuous speech that has ever been delivered in any parliament of this Commonwealth, supporting the Leader of the Opposition by arrangement, and then by special arrangement seeing that this piffle was sent to South Australian senators by 4 o’clock that afternoon.
I feel rather strongly about this matter because inevitably, in the outcome of it, the Government senators from South Australia come into the zone of fire as a result of the action of the South Australian Premier. As a result of his action, Senators Mattner, Hannaford, Laught and Buttfield, who in the discharge of their duties in this chamber have been assiduous in the pursuit of the best interests of South Australia, will now be criticized in their State if the Premier has his way. 1 believe that one or two things that have not been said about this matter should be said. I was very interested in the speech made by Senator Maher about the activities of the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee. He pointed out that before that committee made its recommendations it went to South Australia for the specific purpose of trying to induce the Premier to see the merit of the standardization of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line. At that time the Premier was not interested in the project. I will have a little to say about that later. Is it not enchanting that a South Australian senator, Senator Hannaford, who was then a member of that committee, went to South Australia and tried to induce his Premier to accept this proposal? The Premier declined. Now that same Premier tries to criticize the action of Senator Hannaford in connexion with this matter! Senator Hannaford’s stand has been consistent throughout. He has never hidden or altered his views on this matter.
I wish to take the Senate through some of the things that have been done by this Government in connexion with railway works in South Australia. The first work that was undertaken under the agreement, which was signed in 1948 and enacted by the Parliaments in 1949, at the request of the Premier of South Australia, was in the south-east of the State. At that time be did not have any great desire to standardize the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line. The work in the south-east was his first concern. Oddly enough, that was not a standardization project, but something that was flattered by the name “ interim standardization “ The Commonwealth co-operated. That work cost the Commonwealth £5,000,000.
As the work went on the Commonwealth, acting on its own initiative, undertook more works in connexion with its own railway in South Australia. The Commonwealth extended its line, first, to Leigh Creek in the north. That work made better, more efficient and remarkably cheap coal haulage available in South Australia. Even that work, which was of great benefit to South Australia, came under criticism and was challenged by the Premier. He wanted the line taken northward taken east of the Flinders Range rather than west of that range, as planned. To resolve the difficulty this Government appointed a royal commission.
– It cost £25,000.
– It was appointed at a cost to the taxpayers of Australia, caused delay in the construction of the line and affected the efficiency of the Commonwealth railways. The commission returned a finding throwing out pellmell this screwball idea advanced by the Premier of South Australia. Subsequently, of course, it became a matter of public notoriety that this action had been taken by the Government of South Australia, not because its purpose was regarded by that Government as good railway practice but because there was a political motive behind it - the appeasement of the people of Quorn. The fact that it was not good railway practice mattered little, presumably, to the Premier of South Australia. He was prepared to play party politics then, just as he is playing party politics at the present time.
The Commonwealth extended the railway to Marree. That work was completed in 1956. I well remember the occasion because I was Minister for Shipping and Transport at the time; and after the opening of the railway we had a function at the Port Augusta Hotel.
– Was the beer good?
– With Playford.
- Sir Thomas Playford was there. It was a big dinner, and, in answer to the other interjection, I do not enjoy South Australian beer myself. The important thing about this matter at that time was that the Premier was still not in favour of the standardization of the line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. In 1951, and up until 1957, Sir Thomas Playford wanted this line changed to a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge to match his own railway system in the south of the State. At the function in Port Augusta, when there was much talk of standardization and the Premier was encouraged to speak about the prospects of standardization, the best contribution he could make was to stand in his place and say, “ If the Commonwealth is interested in standardization the best job for it to undertake is the line from Mel bourne to Adelaide”. I well remember his statement, Mr. President, because at that time the commercial community of South Australia was, and had been for a long time, pressing Premier Playford to push on with the standardization of the Broken Hill line. After the speech, a prominent member of the South Australian commercial community said to me, with obvious regret and disappointment, “The Premier has missed the train “. That was a comment widely bandied about on that occasion.
In complete fairness, I do not think the comment was right, because the Commonwealth had not acquainted its agreement at that time to the standardization of this line. It had not been approached by Sir Thomas Playford. Nonetheless what I have said serves to indicate the thinking of Sir Thomas Playford right up until the opening of the Marree line, and indeed, until 1957. In 1958, the Premier changed his ground. He saw developments going on elsewhere and realized that the Broken Hill line was going to be important. He asked the Commonwealth for a grant of £50,000 to carry out a survey. My friends from South Australia will be interested and delighted to hear that within four months of his official request the Commonwealth said “ Yes, you can have £50,000 “.
– Do you think we did not know that?
– If you did, here is something that you did not know: The £50,000 which he wanted so badly was spent in the following way: In 1960-61, he spent £8,500; in 1961-62, £4,800; and in 1962-63, £2,000. Of the £50,000 which he wanted so badly for this survey, since 1958 he has spent only £15,441.
Notwithstanding that fact, it should be pointed out that the Commonwealth did not lose interest in South Australia’s railway undertakings. Only some months ago the Commonwealth made available £1,300,000 for the purchase of locos and rolling-stock. This amount was made available to Sir Thomas Playford, as related to the Senate last night by my leader, after that gentleman had made the flat statement that he preferred that the Chowilla dam should be given priority over any railway works to be carried out by the Commonwealth in South Australia.
Having done all this, and having in the meantime embarked upon vast expenditure for other railway projects - which I might say in the interim had achieved a priority which outstripped the projects in South Australia - the Prime Minister then wrote a letter to Sir Thomas Playford. I repeat that having provided £1,300,000 for locos, and having indicated its willingness to undertake work on the Chowilla dam in partnership with the State, the Prime Minister then wrote Sir Thomas a letter. This famous letter should be distributed to every home in South Australia. In that letter, which is on record and which has been read in this chamber half a dozen times, the Prime Minister made it indelibly plain that his reply war not a definite rejection of the proposal made by Sir Thomas Playford. I put it to you, Mr. President and honorable senators, that in the light of all these factors - the criticism now made by Sir Thomas Playford and the manner in which he has played this political game - Sir Thomas has acted in a way which does not bring any credit to himself and may well contribute very largely to his political destruction. As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, it has at all times and at all points been as co-operative as any reasonable man could expect. Maybe Sir Thomas Playford is not a reasonable man.
The only other comment I wish to make in speaking to this amendment relates to something which Senator Bishop said. He referred to the accounts of the Government of South Australia and said that that government subsidizes its railway operations. I advise the honorable senator to look more closely at the South Australian accounts and then to look just as closely at the accounts of other State railway systems.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - 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 negative.
– If Senator Bishop looks at these accounts he will find that every State, with one possible exception, subsidizes its railway system.
– That is what I said.
– What the honorable senator does not understand, quite obviously, is the difference between a subsidy that goes to financing capital charges, which are not paid by the railways, and an operating subsidy which could be paid by the Government of South Australia in respect of this railway to Port Pirie if the Premier of South Australia had the desire to do so.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Toobey’s amendment to the amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuliin.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the papers be printed.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the Senate reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Paper cones, bobbins, tubes, &c.
Microphones and stands.
Also, I lay on the table of the Senate a report by the Special Advisory Authority on -
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– At question time to-day Senator Sandford asked me a question concerning the record in the Journals of the attendance of senators on 22nd August. He pointed out that on that day, he, Senator Hannan and Senator Hendrickson were in Melbourne representing the Senate, its parties and officers at the funeral of a former senator. He asked whether, in such cases, the Journals could indicate the circumstances in which senators absent themselves. I point out that under the Standing Orders the Journals of the Senate can do no more than note the proceedings and record the names of senators who fail to attend at some time during a sitting.
Recognition by Commonwealth Government.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
Employment Service has shown that effective results are more likely to be achieved by demonstrating to employers that the physically handicapped are able to hold their own if placed in work appropriate to their abilities.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable senator’s questions, I now supply the following information: -
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: -
– On 21st August, Senator Willesee asked, in a question without notice, whether a search could be made of legislation to make sure that there) are no provisions which discriminate against people, particularly Australian aborigines, merely on account of colour. At the time, I said that I would convey the honorable senator’s suggestion to the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General has informed me that Commonwealth legislation is at present being examined by an inter-departmental committee to see whether there are any provisions that discriminate against Australian aborigines, or other persons, on racial grounds.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Submissions have been made to me in annexion with the CollinsvilleTownsvilleMount Isa railway. This is a narrow gauge railway and the people of north Queensland are requesting standardization work be done not dissimilar to that which honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been requesting in connexion with the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line in South Australia. The only difference is that the line from
Collinsville to Mount Isa is much longer than that from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. The Broken Hill to Port Pirie line is only 280 miles long. At one end of it, in Broken Hill, there are approximately 40,000 people and at the other end, at Port Pirie, there are from 12,000 to 14,000 people, most of whom are unemployed.
The people of north Queensland are asking whether the Government has made any provision for assistance in connexion with the Collinsville-Mount Isa project apart from this allegedly generous gesture of making £20,000,000 available at high interest rates and repayable over a comparatively short period. Sir Thomas Playford has excited both my imagination and admiration because of his attack on South Australian senators on the Government side.
– Order! The honorable senator cannot pursue that line.
– I am trying to draw a parallel.
– Order! The honorable senator may not canvass the Budget debate.
– I am trying to draw a parallel between the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line and the CollinsvilleTownsvilleMount Isa line. Both projects involve standardization.
– Why not draw the matter to a close?
– I leave that to the President.
– I am asking you to be pleasant enough to draw it to a close.
– I have always been pleasant, as every honorable senator knows. With due deference to you, Mr. President, I submit the South Australian project is a parallel. I have travelled over the country through which the CollinsvilleTownsvilleMount Isa line passes, and I know it well. The total length of that line is 700 miles compared with only 280 miles of line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. The industries served by both lines are similar except that the Mount Isa project is still in its infancy. The Mount Isa mine has produced over one billion pounds worth of metal, and the people to be served by this line are seeking a place in the sun. Australia is the greatest producer of lead in the world.
– Lead is pretty heavy, and so are you.
– I did not hear that interjection. Rude interjections do not deter me. If you speak plainly and distinctly, and if you use the Queen’s English, I shall be happy to answer you. Australia is the world’s greatest producer of lead. As you know, Mr. President, the United States of America has placed an embargo on the importation of lead. Even the lowest grade ores in America are protected. Every one knows that as a general rule, I am not parochial, but in this instance I am seeking to protect the interests of my State, just as in the course of time, as the need arises, I shall seek to protect the interests of New South Wales, South Australia and other States. The ore from Mount Isa goes to the refineries at Townsville whilst that from Broken Hill goes to Port Pirie. Listening to the debate on the South Australian project to-night, I thought it was a bit one-sided. When I was in the north last week, the people up there said to me, “Doctor, has the Government no sense of responsibility in connexion with developmental projects in the north of Australia? “ I said, “ It does not even look after the south “. To-night, when listening to the debate in connexion with the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line, I realized just how divorced this Government is from developmental realities. As you know, Mr. President, I very rarely speak on the motion for the adjournment.
– Why speak now?
– Despite that rude interjection, I propose to persist.
– We do not interject when you are not persistent.
– At least I appreciate your interjections because you are intelligent and courteous, which is more than I can say about your party associates.
– Flattery will get you nowhere.
– Mr. President, if honorable senators opposite want to make the speech, they can make it; I am quite prepared to wait while they interject.
To-night, the Government denied South Australia an urgently needed developmental project, and together with the four South Australian senators on the Government side it is answerable for its failure to face up to its responsibilities. I am answerable to the State of Queensland, and I say that the Government has no sense of responsibility whatever in connexion with the development of north Queensland. Almost £30,000,000 will be expended on the Collinsville-Townsville-Mount Isa line. The cost has been kept down somewhat because, due to climatic circumstances, the letting of contracts has been comparatively easy.
– Good government is responsible for that.
– Would you permit me to make my speech? I happen to know the circumstances. I happen to know also the country and my subject, which is something you cannot always claim. I repeat that this Government has refused to accept its responsibility in connexion with the Collinsville-Townsville-Mount Isa line just as it has refused to accept responsibility to-night in connexion with the standardization project in South Australia. All that the people of north Queensland ask me to do is to emphasize to honorable senators the great burden upon Queensland of the onerous interest charges being levied by this Government for the finance which it is providing for the reconditioning of that line. They want to know why a proportion of the sum of £20,000,000 is not being made available as a grant. I sympathize with South Australia on this occasion. I admit that that State has been spoon fed on many occasions but, for some particular reason - probably old age - this Government has changed its attitude towards South Australia and now denies justice to that State. Western Australia has been reasonably well treated. Of the £42,200,000 which it is estimated the Kwinana to Kalgoorlie railway will cost, £14,400,000 is to be made available by grant, and, although the balance is allegedly to be made available as a loan, I venture the opinion that much of it will take the form of special grants. Knowing all this, the people of north Queensland have asked me to submit to the Senate a request that further consideration be given to the rights of Queensland. I repeat that this national Parliament must accept some responsibility for the development of north Queensland. A sum of £1,750,000 is infinitesimal in relation to the total cost of this work. Why, that sum represents an expenditure of only one dollar to the acre. How can the area be developed to any extent on that basis, especially when we take into consideration the living standards of our Australian people?
– Order! The honorable senator is getting back to the Budget debate.
– I have finished with that subject, Mr. President. I respectfully submit for your consideration - andI realize you will deal with the matter - Standing Order No. 407. Would you kindly have a look at it and see whether it confers privilege or a right or. honorable senators?
A ruling that was given many years ago has been referred to earlier to-night. I point out that Standing Order No. 407 states -
Unless otherwise provided, every Senator may speak once on -
Any Question before the Senate;
Any Amendment thereon;
In reply, if he is entitled to Reply. In Committee, Senators may speak more than once.
I suggest, Sir, that you consider (a) and (b) with a view to deciding whether they are inclusive or exclusive. If one confers a privilege or a right and the other also confers a privilege or a right, then I say that I was unjustifiably prevented from speaking to-night.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m., till Tuesday, 2nd October, at 3 p.m., unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620830_senate_24_s22/>.