29 August 1963

24th Parliament · 1st Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.

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Senator BROWN:

– Several months ago

I asked a question of the Minister for Health following a report in the Brisbane newspaper, “ Truth “, concerning experiments made by a northern farmer in the treatment of cancer in cattle. The Minister sent a report to the State Cancer Council of New South Wales. I ask him whether he has received a report from that council concerning this farmer’s experiments. If he has, will he make it available to the Senate?

Senator WADE:
Minister for Health · VICTORIA · CP

– I recall the question which Senator Brown asked me concerning’ the report in the Brisbane “ Truth “ to which he refers. I also recall giving him an undertaking thatI would forward his submission to the State Cancer Council of New South Wales. I can assure him that I have done that and have received a written acknowledgment of its receipt by that body. I have not as yet received a report on the council’s examination of the submission, nor could I reasonably expect, as yet, to receive such a report because, as the honorable senator will realize, research of this kind involves’ not days or weeks but often years. The State Cancer Council of New South Wales has a very vigorous research programme and I am sure that the submission made by the honorable senator will be considered along with others received from people who endeavour to make contributions towards ridding the world of the terrible disease of cancer. I suggest that the honorable senator be patient. I cannot indicate when a report is likely to be made available, but I assure him that the council has received his submission.

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– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether his attention has been directed to a report that wheat sales to mainland China last year represented about 40 per cent. of our last wheat harvest of 307,200,000 bushels. Is it a fact that only about 45,500,000 bushels sold to mainland China since 1960 was sold for cash, the remainder being sold on terms? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government is taking action to reduce Australia’s growing dependence upon mainland China as a market for wheat?

Senator WADE:

– The honorable senator has, in general terms, correctly summarized Australian wheat sales to red China. She will know, of course, that the Australian Wheat Board is a statutory authority which sells wheat on behalf of the growers without interference from or intervention by the Government. I think it is true to say that the board has at least served the growers well in reducing Australia’s wheat surplus to the absolute minimum. It is also true to say that red China has met all its commitments on or before the due date. Further, I believe that the Australian Wheat Board, as a responsible authority with a magnificent record in the commercial world, is well aware of the dangers inherent in selling too great a proportion of its product to one customer. That is a most undesirable commercial risk, and one that no responsible body would like to take. The Government realizes that a situation of that kind poses a problem, especially when the major customer is a Communist country.

The Commonwealth Government has no jurisdiction over sales of wheat, but it has a very lively interest in protecting our traditional wheat markets and in securing new markets. I am sure that when the details of the trade agreement recently negotiated by the Minister for Trade are revealed, it will be seen that he has done a magnificent job for Australia by greatly increasing our sales of wheat to Japan. Perhaps I might add for the benefit of Senator Hendrickson, who is interjecting, that I hope the Opposition will not oppose the ratification of the new agreement so violently as it did the ratification of the previous agreement.


– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen the official figures released about a week ago which demonstrated the degree to which both Australia and Canada have become dependent on wheat trade with mainland China? Is it correct that last year Australia sold to China 40 per cent., or 125,000,000 bushels, of its wheat harvest of 307,000,000 bushels and that Canada sold to China 20 per cent, of its harvest, or about 51,000,000 bushels? Is it true that Canada already has stored away a surplus of 500,000,000 bushels of wheat, anticipates a record harvest of 700,000,0000 bushels, and therefore may be faced with a surplus of 1,000,000,000 bushels? Is it likely that’ this disturbing situation for Canada will have any effect on Canadian wheat sales either to mainland China or to some of Australia’s traditional customers? Will the Australian Wheat Board provide the Parliament with a considered statement on this problem?

Senator WADE:

– I must confess that I am not familiar with the wheat surplus in Canada, or with the terms on which Canada sells wheat to other countries. Wheat sales are made by the exporting countries on terms that meet their own needs. I make no comment on the problem of Canada’s surplus wheat. However, as I said in answer to a previous question, the Australian Wheat Board and also the Australian Government with its overall watching brief, are determined to maintain and extend our traditional markets. I have referred previously to the new trade agreement with Japan which will provide for additional sales of wheat to that country by the Australian Wheat Board. The Government and the board are alive to the danger of having only one major customer for wheat. The people of Australia know that the Department of Trade is doing a grand job and is spreading its activities into as many fields as possible in order to capture new markets for Australian products.

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Senator BRANSON:

– I direct the following questions to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General -

  1. Is the Minister aware that the Overseas Telecommunications Commission has an establishment in Western Australia, located at Applecross in the Melville Shire Council area?
  2. Is it a fact that the commission over the last three years has been transferring its activities and equipment to a new site at Bassendeen in Western Australia because the present site is no longer satisfactory?
  3. Has the commission at any time offered any of its extensive land-holding at Applecross to the Melville Shire Council?
  4. If so, have these offers been withdrawn recently because of Project Mercury?
  5. If the area is being used for Project Mercury, can the Minister say for how long it will be used for this purpose?
  6. Will this area still be needed for Project Mercury after the new station at Carnarvon is completed?
Senator WADE:

Senator Branson was good enough to advise me that he would be seeking this information. I am now in a position to supply the following answers: -

  1. Yes, the site of a major transmitter station for the international and shipping service communications.
  2. No. Bassendeen is a receiving station and is complementary to Applecross.
  3. The site comprises some 90 acres. Of that, thirteen acres has been offered to the Melville Shire Council.
  4. No. The offer of thirteen acres on Canning Highway is still open.
  5. Major international and coastal radio facilities will be required in the Perth area indefinitely. The Carnarvon station has no relevance to the existence of transmitting services from Perth.

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– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen a report that Macleay River fishermen on the north coast of New South Wales claim that Japanese tuna boat crews have caused lobster pot damage and losses of £2,000 in the last two days and, further, that some Australians are threatening to take guns with them to fire on the Japanese if their boats come inside the three-mile territorial limit? Will the Minister immediately investigate the allegations of the Australian fishermen and, if he finds them proved, will he ask the Minister for External Affairs to lodge a protest with the Japanese Government and claim compensation on behalf of the Australian fishermen?

Senator WADE:

– I have not seen the report, but if it is as serious as the honorable senator implies I suggest that he either put the question on notice or, if he would prefer what I might describe as speedier action, accept my undertaking that I will bring his submissions before the responsible Minister and give him a written reply without delay.

Senator McClelland:

– Will you take the second course?

Senator WADE:

– Yes.

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In reply to the first part of the question I can inform the honorable senator that uranium oxide can be stored and may be kept for lengthy periods. But I point but that to give the Mary Kathleen mine sufficient orders to keep it going and to store the oxide would be a very large operation running into expenditure by the Commonwealth of millions of pounds. Demand for uranium oxide is not expected to revive until, say, 1969 or 1970. In the meantime we are covering prospective or possible national requirements by re-investing the profits that we earn at Rum Jungle. We are stockpiling the output of Rum Jungle for that period. After giving much thought to the position of Mary Kathleen, we felt that we were not justified, as a Government, in stockpiling the output of that enormous mining operation. .

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Senator BENN:

– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Will he ask his colleague to review the operations of the television stations in Queensland which commenced to operate comparatively recently, for the purpose of deciding whether the granting of a third commercial licence in Brisbane should be postponed for a period of five or ten years in order to enable the two existing commercial stations to improve their programmes?

Senator WADE:

– The honorable senator’s question involves a matter of policy. I should have some reservation about trying to answer it in great detail. Suffice it to say that the Government examined the position in the several capitals very carefully before it decided whether a third television licence should be granted. Having done that., the Government came to the conclusion that there was a need for a third licence in certain capitals. The honorable senator has suggested that the issue of a third licence in Brisbane should be deferred for five or ten years so that the existing stations might improve their programmes. I suggest to him that the issue of a third licence might well have the effect of providing greater competition and, consequently, better programmes.

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Senator LAUGHT:

– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the announcement by the Minister for Primary Industry regarding expansion of Australia’s plans to send dairy produce to Malaya and Singapore with the object of earning an additional £1,000,000 annually for the Australian dairy industry. The plans envisage the establishment in Singapore, by the Australian dairy industry, of two new re-combined milk plants. Can the Minister name the countries in which the Australian Dairy Produce Board has already established plants? What locally based business concerns have an interest in such plants? Will the Minister ascertain for me which States of Australia are sending raw products to these Asian plants and the quantities being exported from each State each quarter?

Senator WADE:

– The honorable senator’s question highlights the fact that the Australian Government is adopting a very vigorous policy of expanding our markets, not only for the products of our secondary industries but also for those of our primary industries. The programme announced by the Minister for Primary Industry to expand the export of our milk products to Malaya and Singapore is breaking new ground in this field and is most creditable. I shall ask the Minister for the specific details for which the honorable senator has asked, and let him have them.

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– Can the leader of the Government in the Senate say whether a congratulatory telegram has been forwarded to the Australian rugby union team, which is at present playing in South Africa, on its magnificent performance in winning the second and third test against that country, the greatest result ever achieved there by an Australian rugby union team? Knowing the Prime Minister’s knowledge of rugby football to be limited, I feel it is appropriate that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who is a senior Minister in the Cabinet and comes trom New South Wales, should take a lead in this matter. Will he see that the Prime Minister is made aware of the fact that the Australian rugby league team known as the Kangaroos is to be chosen on Saturday next for its tour of England and France? I suggest that congratulatory messages should be forwarded also to that team when it meets with success. Finally, I ask whether the Minister will endeavour to arrange that the Australian Government, on behalf of all Australians, will send congratulatory messages when outstanding success in sport is achieved by Australians at home or abroad, particularly abroad.


– I agree with Senator Fitzgerald about the importance of rugby union football. I noticed the sighs of disappointment, while the honorable senator was asking his question, from those who follow inferior codes. I do not know the procedure to be adopted in acknowledging the success of sporting teams overseas, but I. shall .make .some inquiries and ascertain whether it is possible to do as the honorable senator has suggested.

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– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the information provided by the PostmasterGeneral regarding the final determination of sites for the national television stations to serve the central agricultural and southern agricultural areas of Western Australia, can the Minister indicate when the provision of television facilities for the northern and goldfield areas of that State may be expected? If the Minister cannot do this, will he ask the Postmaster-General to have his departmental officers speed up their investigations into the provision of this essential amenity, with a view to the making of an early announcement in relation to these areas?

Senator WADE:

– As a preface, let me say that I have nothing but admiration for the zeal with which my Western Australian colleagues present a case for the extension of television into the rural areas of Western Australia. The honorable senator is undoubtedly aWare of the fact that the Postmaster-General personally has been making a very vigorous approach to the solution of this problem. The honorable senator will recall that quite recently the Director of Technical Services was in Western Australia, investigating this problem. As a result of his work in that field, a decision has been taken to locate the station to serve the central agricultural area at York, and to locate the station to serve the southern agricultural area at Mount Barker. That in itself indicates that progress is being made. Having said that, I confess immediately that the provision of services in the goldfields area and some northern areas remains a problem. I cannot indicate when decisions will be taken in relation to these areas but I assure the honorable senator that the Postmaster-General, having already solved the problems relating to the southern and central areas, will try to solve the remaining problems without undue delay.

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– In view of the importance to Australia of the United Kingdom-Australia trade agreement, will the Minister for Customs and Excise reject the request of Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. for the waiving of the £862,000 duty on the four Boeing 727 jet aircraft ordered by the airlines from the United States of America for use on domestic air routes?

Senator HENTY:
Minister for Customs and Excise · TASMANIA · LP

– When I get a request, I shall be pleased to deal with it.

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– I direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation a question which I preface by saying that in the last few days a new terminal costing £50,000 has been opened for users of business and executive aircraft at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) airport. It is located in the northeastern corner of the airport adjacent to General Holmes Drive and will be for users of other than scheduled air services. I ask the Minister whether this new terminal has been built to conform to the . future development at the airport. Would the Minister care to comment on the time-table for (he proposed re-siting of new domestic and overseas terminals at the airport which, I understand, will be located on its northwestern side, with access to the proposed southern expressway?

Minister for Civil Aviation · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The new building referred to does in fact conform to the plan for ultimate development of the airport. As the honorable senator said, the moving of the passenger terminal complex from its present position to the northwestern corner is planned. The international terminal will be moved first, followed by the domestic airlines terminals. I do not have the details of the time-table for these works in my mind at the moment, but they have been stated many times. There has been no alteration.

The building of the hangar and the terminal for the servicing of private and executive types of aircraft was done by a company known as Flight Facilities Limited. These new facilities at the Kingsford-Smith airport will cater for the line maintenance of executive aircraft. It is not proposed to permit extensive overhauls to be done there. They will be done at Bankstown, where a light aircraft airport has been established. The new hangar, will cater for. .line maintenance and the terminal facilities will be used by the clients of this company from time to time. I repeat that the construction of these buildings conforms to a long-term plan of development, and it is hoped that they will be a very useful addition to the facilities at Kingsford-Smith airport.

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Senator CANT:

– Has the Minister for National Development seen reports that members of the Liberal Party’s food and agricultural committee have said that the 270-mile beef road from Normanton to Julia Creek is not being used? Does this suggest that there was an element of political stunting in the Government’s proposal to build beef roads in certain areas, or, at the very least, gross incompetence in not making proper investigations to ensure that the expenditure of huge amounts of public moneys in some areas could be justified? Did Mr. Fox, a Victorian member of the committee, say that he wondered where the demands for beef roads had come, from and that the Government should not be spending money just to stop a political clamour? Does the Government believe that Mr. Fox’s remarks were justified? If not, why not?


– I have heard this story, but I have not been able to track it down to its source. I know that the members of the food and agricultural committee do not take that view of these roads. They saw this area and were very impressed by the roads that had been constructed, by the way in which large tracts of country were being opened up, by the good that the roads were doing for that part of Queensland and by the extent to which they were affording opportunities to improve and expand the beef cattle industry.

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Senator SCOTT:

– I preface a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation by stating that prior to the amalgamation agreement reached between MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited and Ansett-A.N.A. in respect of the run from Perth to Darwin, it was stated that the new administration would very shortly be providing turbo-jet aircraft for this run. Will the Minister advise whether turbo-jet aircraft have . been put on the Perth to Darwin run, and also whether there has been any improvement in the services in the north of Western Australia generally?


– The position in regard to the provision of a second Fokker Friendship for MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited was that arrangements had been made, and the necessary permits had been granted, for the acquisition before the purchase of the controlling interest in the company by Ansett Transport Industries Limited. I speak from memory - I think it is fairly good - when I say that it was intended that the original company would introduce this Fokker into service towards the end of next year. I understand that, the merger having occurred, it is now intended that the additional Fokker shall be introduced into service on the northwest run in the first half of next year rather than in November of next year. I understand that it will be introduced in about April or May next.

Senator LAUGHT:

– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen the statement in the Adelaide “ News “ of Tuesday of this week that Trans-Australia Airlines may order six, more jet aircraft? The statement explains that T.A.A. hopes to order six additional jet airliners for delivery in 1966. Mr. McKenzie, the airline’s commercial director, said that two aircraft were being considered - the B.A.C. One-Eleven twinjet, which made its first flight last week, and the Douglas DC9 twin-jet, which is still in the building stage. Does this announcement suggest that T.A.A. has veered off purchasing additional Boeing 727 aircraft even before the first Boeing has been put into service? Does not the possibility of one operator having three different kinds of jet aircraft in a fleet of eight present economic problems in running an airline?


– It is true that both the major domestic airlines are now considering the acquisition of short-haul jets. I should explain to the honorable senator that the Boeing 727 aircraft will be the front-line, long-haul jets in the fleets of both domestic operators, but a replacement is required for the Viscount 700 and Viscount 800 elements of the present fleets. It is thought that these replacements will be either the British B.A.C. One-Eleven or the Douglas DC9. Both airlines are now considering which aircraft should be replaced, and if replacements are to be effected what the replacement aircraft will be. It would be premature to assume that at this moment the airlines are on the point of lodging orders. Indeed, there is quite a long way to go before they get to that point. However, it is true to say that they are looking at the possibility of replacement.

The honorable senator raises the interesting matter of the economics of having more than one type of aircraft within a particular fleet. This is a very important question, and one which the airline companies must take into consideration. In air transport it is necessary to get the most appropriate aircraft to do the particular job in hand. In other words, it is a question of the horse for the course. Our Australian airline operators, having both long-haul and shorthaul needs, are faced by the fact that it is economic to have specific types of aircraft to do specific jobs. For this reason, there will be long-haul Boeing 727’s and, when the Viscounts are replaced, a second line of short-haul jets such as those to which the honorable senator has referred.

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Senator COHEN:

– Has the Minister for Health, who is leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate, seen a letter written by the Minister for the Interior, Mr. Gordon Freeth, to the “ Farmers’ Weekly” of 1st August, 1963, relating to an article suggesting that the Leader of the Australian Country Party, Mr. McEwen, was seeking advantages for rural industries that’ would be opposed by the Liberals? I ask him whether, in the course of this letter, Mr. Freeth said -

If Mr. McEwen disagrees wilh what Cabinet decides, or has decided, and wants to express disagreement, there is only one course open to him, as he accepted in the case of Mr. Bury; namely resign. If he, or any other Minister, discusses outside Cabinet the details of proposals before Cabinet, then this is in flagrant breach of all principles of Cabinet responsibility and, again, he has only one course - to resign.

IF he, or any one else, tells or publicly speculates about individual ministerial opinions expressed around the Cabinet table, again, he is talking so much out of turn that he should resign.

Does the Minister, as leader of the Australian Country Party in this chamber, agree with the views put forward by Mr. Freeth?

Senator WADE:

– The question posed by Senator Cohen demonstrates the paucity of constructive thinking among members of the Opposition in this chamber. I have not seen the article referred to, but, bluntly, I will risk my reputation by telling the honorable senator that he has quoted out of context sections of a letter that he thinks may suit his own party political purposes. I challenge the honorable senator to quote the whole of the letter; and I will take a punt that Mr. Freeth, in fairness to Mr. McEwen, at least somewhere in the letter admitted that Mr. McEwen would not be a party to such tactics.

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– I ask the Minister for National Development whether it is a fact that Australia has become selfsufficient in the production of aluminium. Has Australia an export market for this product? If so, what is the value of our exports? What country or countries are purchasing Australian aluminium?

Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.Yes, Australia is self-sufficient in the production of aluminium. Our present consumption in Australia is between 50,000 and 60,000 tons a year, and it is increasing. Our present installed capacity is 72,000 tons a year and that also is increasing. We have already got more capacity than demand. Several hundreds of tons of metal have been exported already to the United Kingdom. As the industry is so young, statistical records are not available, but the nominal world parity price is £225 a ton, which gives some idea of the order of the transactions that have taken place to date. That is the nominal parity price, but the market throughout the world is fiercely competitive. We have already made sales to the United Kingdom, and we know that the Australian industry is already establishing a selling organization in Asia for both alumina and aluminium.

I conclude by saying that this is really the commencement of the development of our great bauxite deposits. The capital investment already made and in process of being made - at Weipa, Bell Bay, Gladstone and Perth and in Victoria - runs into many millions of pounds. In my opinion, this will be one of the further really dramatic developments in Australian mining and manufacturing industries over the coming years.

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– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has seen an advertisement published in the Brisbane “Telegraph” of 27th August, 1963, which reads -



We, the undersigned, candidates in the current Election of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union (Queensland Branch) disassociate ourselves from all “ How to Vote “ and: other pamphlets being circulated among members, with the exception of the “ How to vote “ authorised by R. W. Gall, Waterview Avenue, Wynnum.

We further state that we have not consented to our names appearing on any election material other than the “How to vote” authorised by R. W. Gall. Signed:- E. J. Foat, R. H. Johnson, A. G. Mansfield, A. McArthur, F. V. Farrelly, J. C. Smith. W. E. Martin, P. Ryan, J. W. Gill, R. L. Barnett, L. A. Gray, M. G. Cooper, N. Levitt, H. C. Gunderson, H. J. Townsend, E. C. Grayndler, R. Hutton, R. R. Kenny, S. J. MacPherson, G. A. Burke, R. G. Lette, J. N. Glase, E. J. Hassall.

Does not the implication in that announcement refute Senator Cole’s claim that unity tickets are being used in this election?

Senator GORTON:
Minister for the Navy · VICTORIA · LP

– I am slightly surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should ask such a question at this time since, when precisely the same matter was raised by Senator Cole, Senator Kennelly objected to the time of the Senate being wasted in this way. Personally, I do not believe it is a waste of the time of the Senate to discuss a matter of such importance and of such effect on Australia as the ability of the Communists to obtain positions in trade unions by the use of unity tickets envisages. I have not seen the particular advertisement to which the honorable senator refers. I do not know what the “ How to vote “ card issued by Mr. Gall says, and I do not know whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows, either. Apparently what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is seeking to convey is that a unity ticket has been issued but that it may have been issued unofficially and that some members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union have signed a statement saying they did not want their names to appear on a unity ticket which apparently has been issued.

This practice has been followed in previous union elections. It has been followed in Victoria, the State from which Senator Kennelly comes; and I think that on some occasions it has been found that names of candidates have been placed on unity tickets without their concurrence. I think also that it has been found on other occasions that names of candidates have been placed on unity tickets with their concurrence even though they claimed that this was not the case. Whether, in the particular union election to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition refers, the names of Labour candidates have been placed on unity tickets with those of Communists, with or without their concurrence, I would not know; and the evidence which the honorable senator has produced in this chamber at this stage does not give any indication on that point.

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Senator ORMONDE:

– Is the Minister for Health satisfied that the so-called ethical drug houses of Australia are not shamelessly exploiting the pharmaceutical benefits scheme? If he is concerned about the present high cost of drugs, what plans has the Government to counteract this evil?

Senator WADE:

– The Department of Health is always examining the system under which we purchase drugs from drug houses in Australia and overseas, and it has had remarkable success in the past twelve months in having prices reduced. I frankly admit that we hope to have further success, but ] am not prepared to state in the Senate our plans to achieve this most desirable objective.

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Senator BENN:

– On 22nd August, I asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question concerning the issue of an administrative arrangements order, termed by members of Parliament an “ administrative order “. Has the Minister any information to give in reply to my question?

Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER Senator Benn:

asked me a question regarding an “ administrative order “. At the time he asked the question I replied to the effect that I was unaware of any such docu ment. It seems that Senator Benn may have had in mind the Administrative Arrangements Order. If this is so, the answers to his questions are, first, that the Administrative Arrangements Order was last issued on 16th February, 1962; and, secondly, that I am informed that the Prime Minister’s Department is now engaged in collating the necessary material to enable a new Administrative Arrangements Order to be made by the GovernorGeneral in Council. It should be available in a few weeks.

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asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -

In view of the difficulty experienced by senators in studying Commonwealth acts which, since 1950, have been published in annual volumes, involving numerous amendments to some acts, will the Government give immediate consideration to the publication of another consolidation of all Commonwealth Acts?

Senator GORTON:

– I have the following reply to the honorable senator’s question: -

I appreciate that there is difficulty in referring to amendments to some Commonwealth acts since 1950. In a reply to Senator Murphy on Thursday, 23rd May, 1963 (“Hansard”, page 793), I explained how this difficulty was overcome as far as possible by the issue of pamphlet reprints of acts and by including in the annual volumes, as an appendix, the reprints in greatest demand. In this regard,I should add that, since 1950, some 116 acts have been reprinted in pamphlet form, some more than once; also (that, for 1962, instead of an annual volume with an Appendix there will be two volumes, one containing the acts passed in 1962 and a separate volume containing reprints of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1936-1962, Social Services Act 1947-1962, National Health Act 1953-1962 and Repatriation Act 1920-1962. Apart from this, I am afraid that 1 cannot at the moment add to the answer which I gave to Senator Cavanagh on 6th December, 1962 (“ Hansard “, page 1777) and the answer that I gave to Senator Murphy on 23rd May, 1963, to which I have already referred.

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Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -

That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this day.

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Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 1 0th September, at 3 p.m.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 88), on motion by Senator Paltridge -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

.- This is a bill to provide £20,000,000 during the year 1963-64 to the States by way of additional financial assistance. The grants are interest free and are non-repayable. This is one more step in the very complicated field of Commonwealth-State financial relations. That field has been dominated by the Commonwealth ever since uniform income taxation came into effect in Australia on 1st July, 1942. Since then, all steps have failed that have been taken to try to bring the Commonwealth and the States together to allow to each a determination of the income tax revenue it wishes to collect. Even the States themselves have not been able to agree upon putting any plans to the Commonwealth which would enable them to determine the amounts they would like to raise through the medium of income tax. lt may be remembered that in this place, down many years, I have argued that the question of Commonwealth-State financial relations is so complex and is surrounded by so many difficulties that no formula for income tax reimbursements could be adequate for any length of time. I have argued that one must be prepared to make ad hoc approaches to the situation from time to time.

That was true of the income tax reimbursement grants that operated in the period immediately after the Second World War. They were begun with a base amount of £40,000,000, in 1946-47, but that amount lasted only a year. The amount had to be lifted in the following year to £45,000,000. That basis lasted until 1959. The extraordinary feature was the flexibility of the formula. The grants ranged from £45,000,000 in the base year, 1947-48, to £174,500,000 in 1958-59, the last year under the formula. But, of course, what I said a moment ago applied. The formula proved inadequate for the States, and supplementary grants were made . ranging from £8,000,000 to £33,500,000 per annum.

Despite the flexibility of the original formula and the hopes that were entertained for it, it failed to meet the constantly changing situations of the States. The truth is that circumstances do not stand still, and a fresh approach has to be made to the subject continually. If anybody is interested in the relation between the grants under that formula and the supplementary grants to which I have referred, I remind him that the details appear at page 13 of the document which was circulated with the Budget Paper, entitled “ Commonwealth Payments to or for the States for 1963-64 “.

In 1 958-59, we came to new base - a base set by this Government. We began with a basic amount of £244,500,000 and provided that the base should be open to review after 30th June, 1965. In other words, the expectation was that it would run for a six-year period without interruption. Provision was made also that if there was a substantial change in the relations between the Commonwealth and the States, affecting the financial position of State budgets, the States could seek a review before 30th June, 1965. But, in truth, that was only two years’ help under even the new formula at the vastly increased figure of £244,500,000. In the last two financial years we saw, first, an additional assistance grant of £10,000,000 and, last year, an additional assistance grant of £17,500,000. Last year’s grant was made in two separate instalments, one of £12,500,000 and then another of £5,000,000.

It is rather significant that right at the beginning of the financial year in which we are now engaged the Commonwealth made a supplementary grant of £20,000,000, the legislation for which we are now considering. So the same pattern is emerging. I feel that we can take it that additional assistance grants are now to be a permanent feature of CommonwealthState relations. What I have said previously has proved true, namely that the formula just does not hold up to the constantly changing circumstances which, with all the goodwill in the world, nobody can envisage.

One other, element to which I draw attention is that these grants, which are noninterest bearing and non-repayable, are quite obviously in the same category as the income tax reimbursement grants because they, too, are interest free and not repayable. Very huge amounts are involved in the two elements. At this stage 1 draw attention to the fact that the legislation in 1961-62 and 1962-63 making these grants imposed no conditions whatever upon them. The grants were expressed to be for the purpose of financial assistance to the States - just for their general financial help. They were straight-out grants. That will be important in the light of a theme that 1 shall be developing a little later.

The bill that we have before us is exactly the same. Clause 36, which is the effective clause, simply provides that there shall be payable to each State during the year commencing on 1st July, 1963, for the purpose of financial assistance, the amounts set out in the schedule. I emphasize those words because I intend to base a very strong argument against the Government on them. According to the bill, we are giving this amount of £20,000,000 for the purpose of financial assistance. I repeat that that was the base of the grants in the earlier two years to which I have just referred.

I say at this stage that the bill is completely clear and it is honest. I cannot say the same of the second-reading speech of the Treasurer, which was repeated in this place. In my view that was neither clear nor honest. 1 know that that is a very strong statement, but I accept the obligation to justify it. I propose to show the circumstances in which this grant was made. It originated at the Premiers’ Conference held in Canberra on 17th and 18th June of this year - right at the end of the last financial year. I propose to take some little time to indicate to the Senate what the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said and the cases that were put by the various Premiers. Mr. McEwen opened the conference by saying -

We have adjourned the meeting of the Australian Loan Council and transformed ourselves into the Premiers’ Conference so that we may get a total conspectus of the financial problem of all the States.

I underline those words. Mr. McEwen continued -

We wish to hear, in full, their problems and their propositions. Having heard them, we can revert back to the Loan Council and proceed to reach a conclusion, with a full knowledge of all the circumstances. Will you, Mr. Renshaw, be good enough to present your point of view?

Mr. Renshaw accepted the invitation and proceeded to outline the budgetary difficulties of his government. His first sentence referred to the grave budgetary problems of the State of New South Wales. He drew attention to the grants in previous years, and I particularly invite the Senate to remember this passage in which he said -

I understand that three States used the special grants to assist their budgets and to maintain employment on State services at a level higher than otherwise would have been practicable.

He said that the three States had used the earlier grants to assist their budgets. Another extract from his speech is as follows: -

The simple fact, moreover, is that without some financial assistance additional to that at present in sight we could, despite the carryforward effect of this year’s revenue measures, again be faced with the need to curtail services below what we would consider a desirable level.

Then he referred to .the need to support tertiary services in the State. Continuing, he dealt with the. needs of education and public health and then said - . . it is clearly the responsibility of Commonwealth and State governments to plan for a greater rate of increase in State expenditure on current services.

He said also -

Expansion is called for now and there is a strong case for the Commonwealth to undertake to provide in each of the next two financial years some special assistance in the form of grants which can be taken into State “budgets and used to improve services and to provide permanent employment opportunities.

So, the Acting Premier of New South Wales laid all his budgetary problems on the table at the Premiers’ Conference.

Mr. Bolte of Victoria supported Mr. Renshaw’s view. Mr. Bolte was one Premier who said quite frankly that he had used the amount granted last year to prop up his budget. He said, in talking of the difficulties he had experienced - . . we received £2,400,000 as a nonrepayable grant, which I stated earlier went into the Budget.

He spoke about a struggle to balance, or nearly balance, last year’s budget, even with that assistance. He referred to the difficulties of his State caused by the increased margins which could cost in excess of £3,700,000 this year. He pointed out that he wanted an additional £2,500,000 to employ student teachers who had been trained. So, education featured very largely. Mr. Bolte said also -

  1. . I absolutely refuse to increase taxation further in Victoria.

He said that he had gone to the limit, and added -

Unless the Commonwealth sees fit to bridge some of this gap - an appreciable part of it - 1 have no alternative but to budget for a big deficit.

A little later he said -

I am telling you precisely what I would be forced to do, that is, to budget for a big deficit.

Senator McClelland:

– He said also that in the aggregate he would need about £10,000,000.

Senator McKENNA:

– That is so. The point I am putting to the Senate at the moment is that the Premiers were invited to talk about their budgetary problems, and I am showing that they did so. I am approaching the matter in this way to lead up to the Treasurer’s second-reading speech, which I have already stigmatized as not clear and not honest, and I want to lay the foundations to justify that statement.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– You would not suggest that the Premiers were not making their best case for more money, would you?

Senator McKENNA:

– They would make the best case they could and it was a case that was accepted by the Government.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– In part.

Senator McKENNA:

– It was accepted by the Government, and I am prepared to go one step further and say that the Premiers, iri my view, were entitled to even more than they received. I shall come back to the adequacy of the grant before I conclude. I want to refer to what was said by each Premier. Mr. Nicklin, from Queensland, said -

I support New South Wales and Victoria in their request to the Commonwealth to consider giving some special form of assistance to the States in order to help us to overcome the’ various problems that, we have.

Mr. Nicklin then spent a great deal of time in speaking about the deficiencies of the formula for the income tax reimbursement grant, and how the Commonwealth Statistician was in error in continually understating Queensland’s population, which is one of the elements of the formula. He was speaking really of the broad financial position of his State. He dealt with education and went on to say -

I support my colleagues from New South Wales and Victoria in submitting that there is a strong case for consideration by the Commonwealth of some special assistance to the ‘States in order that they may overcome the respective difficulties with which they are faced in financing their operations at the present time.

Again, budgetary problems. Sir Thomas Playford, of South Australia commenced his remarks by speaking of his budgetary difficulties. He mentioned his financial problems in relation to education and the police force. He spoke of the grave difficulty which South Australia has encountered because of the high increase in interest payments on loans.

I propose to come back to South Australia’s position before I conclude. At this stage, I merely mention the items to which Sir Thomas Playford referred. He stated that arbitration awards had increased costs. He complained that the new provision for holidays and margins would cost the State much more money. He said -

In those circumstances it is obvious that without special assistance it is almost impossible to give a reasonable service to the community.

Then Mr. Nalder, from Western Australia, also supported the views that had been expressed in general terms by the other speakers. He spoke particularly of Western Australia’s difficulties because of wage increases, and he referred to schools and hospitals. He directed particular attention to the fact that Western Australia had heavier costs in the provision of services by reason of the widely scattered population and the great distances that have to be coped with. Again, he was speaking of budgetary problems.

I come to the final Premier, Mr. Reece, of Tasmania. He went instantly to the question of his budgetary problems with the following statement: -

The budgetary position of Tasmania for the next year seems to me to be worse than it has ever been in the six years that I have had to prepare budgets . . . There is no alternative to Tasmania budgeting for a very heavy deficitthe highest ever budgeted for.

He dealt with problems of education, the cost of health services, the amount of interest he had to find on borrowed money, and the money to be found for marginal increases. He pointed out that he had nowhere else to go, to borrow his term, in the matter of increasing State taxes. He said he had gone to the limit and that in actual fact taxation had been pushed so high that his revenue was diminishing. He said that State taxation was imposed at such a high level that it was killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Mr. Reece’s statement was supported by Mr. Bolte, by way of interjection.

I have reviewed very briefly the kind of case put up by all six Premiers. Mr. McEwen, the Deputy Prime Minister, concluded the conference on that day. Before 1 read the important paragraph in what he had to say, let me direct attention to the fact that he, too, was speaking about the budgetary problems of the States only. I invite the Senate to note that not one word about unemployment was said by the Deputy Prime Minister, either when he opened the conference or when he closed it. That is the point to which I am leading ultimately. Mr. McEwen said -

Our aim is to reconcile the financial responsibilities of the States and the Commonwealth. We must have regard to what will be paid under the formula and what will be decided in respect of the works and housing loan programme. We must then look at your needs -

The States’ needs - and our capacity to do what may need to be done to bridge the gap - it is no surprise to us that you say there is a gap - between your needs and what will come from those two major sources. The Commonwealth devised the method of nonrepayable grants to bridge this gap in recent years. We have registered very fully all that has been said during the day as to the need of the States to have something additional to that which would reasonably come out of the works and housing loan programme and the formula for financial assistance to the States.

That is a plain acknowledgement that the Commonwealth was considering the budgetary problems of the States. The conference was adjourned at that point.

The conference re-assembled on the following day, and for the first time the words “ assistance for unemployment “ were heard from the Commonwealth. The proceedings took a few minutes only. On this occasion, the press were admitted. Mr. McEwen said -

Following the discussions we have had, I now formally offer on behalf of the Commonwealth a non-repayable grant of £20,000,000 for employmentgiving expenditure by the States in 1963-64 . . Providing the overriding purpose of the grant is kept in mind, the Commonwealth would have no objection if the States passed portion of these moneys through their Consolidated Revenue Funds. It is not intended that the manner in which a particular State handles its grant should affect, adversely or favourably, its position in other respects.

The Commonwealth’s offer was accepted. The terms of the offer have been repeated in the second-reading speech that is before us to-day. I have said that the position in this respect is neither clear nor honest. It is not clear in a number of ways. Mr. McEwen had been told and knew perfectly well that three States had used the prior grants to help their budgets. He discussed the whole question of this grant on the basis of help to the various budgets. He indicated that it was to be for employment-giving expenditure. Where is there one word about that in the report of the proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference, or in the bill? The only places in which it appears are in the final statement made at the conference, which I have read, and in the secondreading speech, where it is repeated verbatim in the passage to which I have referred.

It is clear that this is a piece of blatant, cynical, political propaganda. The States got their £20,000,000 and the Commonwealth, obviously as an afterthought, said, “ We will claim that this is for employmentgiving expenditure”. How farcical and hypocritical that was, when the Government knew that most of the States had been using grants, expressed in similar terms in similar second-reading speeches during the last two years, for the general purpose of helping their budgets. In those circumstances, it was not clear and it was not honest to say that there would be no objection if the States passed portion of the moneys through their Consolidated Revenue Funds, provided that they kept the general purpose in mind. How utterly imprecise it is for anybody, let alone a national government, to say that the

States might pass portion of the money through their Consolidated Revenue Funds. What portion? Would it be in order to pass through 1 per cent., 99i per cent., or any percentage in between those two? That is one reason why I say that the statement made by the Acting Prime Minister was not honest. I do not say that dishonesty was in his mind when he made it. No doubt it was written for him in the Treasury, as was the second-reading speech which the Government now tries to foist on us. How absurd it is. What businessman would operate on an advance which had attached to it the stipulation that he could use portion of it for a particular purpose, without that portion being specified? That is one of the reasons why I say that this second-reading speech is completely dishonest.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– I could not imagine a businessman getting money under more advantageous circumstances.

Senator Paltridge:

– It is an interest-free, non-repayable grant.

Senator McKENNA:

– This is a small sum compared to the interest-free, nonrepayable grants made under the formula. The States receive almost £300,000,000 in that respect.

This is no new principle which has been adopted. The grant is a mere drop in the ocean in an attempt to rectify the inadequacies of the grants determined under the formula. The point I am making is that it is wrong, deceptive and cynically dishonest for a government to pretend that an amount which it knows will be used to help State budgets generally, is being given for the purpose of relieving unemployment. In the second-reading speech this is particularized even more. Not a word about this appears in the record of the Premiers’ Conference. Not a word was said about it at that conference by the Commonwealth. The Treasurer stated, in his second-reading speech -

In offering again a grant of this type to the States, the Commonwealth Government had in mind . . .

The Government did not tell anybody about it. The Government had it in mind - . . that it would enable the States to provide jobs id areas where employment opportunities were not as readily available as elsewhere or where more general measures to sustain and improve employment conditions might not be fully effective.

Where, in the record of the Premiers* Conference or in this bill, is there any direction that the States are to use these moneys in that way? There is nothing whatever about it. I claim that it is dishonest for the Commonwealth to purport to state what it had in mind. This is a gesture in words only for the relief of unemployment. The true position is that this grant is a general subvention to help the budgets of the States, and the Government is being politically dishonest and deceptive in pretending that these grants are to be directed towards particular pockets or areas of unemployment around the Commonwealth. Where in the bill is there a safeguard to ensure that the money will be used by the States in that way? There is nothing. I have already indicated that the grant is for the purpose of general financial assistance. Let me come to another point. The Treasurer stated -

The State Premiers accepted the Commonwealth’s offer and agreed to consult with the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service as to particular directions in which this money should be expended.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– Would they not agree to do that?

Senator McKENNA:

– The first point is that that statement appears in the secondreading speech of the Treasurer. I challenge the Minister or anybody else on the Government side to show me where there is one word about that in the record of the Premiers’ Conference. I have read every word of it, and that was not mentioned.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– But you do not get a record of Loan Council proceedings.

Senator McKENNA:

– Loan Council proceedings are secret and no Minister could afford to talk about what went on there. Therefore, this could not have happened in proceedings of the Loan Council.

Senator Paltridge:

– It did not.

Senator McKENNA:

– It could not have happened then. Those proceedings are supposed to be secret. It should have happened at the Premiers’ Conference, but it just did not. I invite the Minister to tell me where it appears in the record of proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference, and I invite him to tell me where it is laid down in the bill that the States should confer with the Department of Labour and National Service. We were told this about the last two grants.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– Do you not think that it is actually happening?

Senator McKENNA:

– I want to know whether it is happening. Has it happened? If it has happened, in which particular direction is the money applied? The grant last year was £17,500,000 and the grant in the previous year was £10,000,000. How far did Mr. Bolte consult with the Department of Labour and National Service to ensure that the £2,400,000 that his State was given last year was directed to relieving particular pockets of unemployment? He paid every penny of it straight into the revenue. Was there any consultation on that? Look at the pretence! It is all window dressing - mere pretence that something effective and specific is being done about unemployment. It is a farce and it is not true, as I have indicated.

We of the Opposition resent very strongly the fact that the bill is presented to us with a speech of that type. We do not oppose the bill to grant £20,000,000 to the States. We think that the States need it and we think that they might well have got more. We absolutely repudiate the attempt of the Government to pull wool over the eyes of the Opposition, and the public in particular, by pretending that £20,000,000 is being diverted with great precision to the curing of unemployment. Presently I shall deal with unemployment and the figures relating to it. I propose to show the Senate how these special grants, which were supposed to cure unemployment, were made at a time when unemployment was getting further and further out of hand. I am speaking of the last three calendar years.

Let me look first at the attitude of the Government. I refer first to the Treasurer’s speech, in which he reviewed the economy. How much attention did he devote in the course of that speech to the problem of unemployment? One-third of a sentence! In about the third paragraph, after speaking of the rate of growth of the gross national product, he said -

Some say (he rate should have been even faster; yet, clearly, it was sufficient both to absorb the increase in the work force and to make possible a significant reduction in unemployment.

That is as much thought as the Treasurer of the Commonwealth gave to this vast problem, involving at this minute some 77,000 people and their dependants. It is wiped with one-third of a sentence. We see the mind of the Government and its supporters emerging in one place after another. I refer to a speech by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) in the House of Representatives on 15th August, 1963, during the debate on the Appropriation Bill, which is reported at page 211 of “ Hansard “ as follows: -

I have heard people ask why it is necessary to stimulate employment at this time. The answer is that is is the Government’s policy to ensure the highest possible level of employment. At the present time we have a level of employment of which we can be justly proud.

At the time he spoke there were just on 80,000 people unemployed in the community. Honorable senators will notice how the talk that hitherto flowed from the Government about its policy of full employment is displaced now by the new formula, “The highest possible level of employment “. It is said that we can be proud of the level that we have to-day. To carry the matter higher, I go to the speech made in the Senate on 21st August by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner).

Senator Paltridge:

– A good speech, too!

Senator McKENNA:

– Yes. At page 1 08 he is reported to have said -

The re-arrangements in housing finance proposed in the Budget will be the basis for greater human happiness for the people of Australia. Superimposed on this provision is the Government’s successful policy of maintaining full employment in Australia. It has done so in practical terms. I doubt very much whether the Australian Labour Party could improve on the . present level of registrations for employment if the sad day ever arises when Labour gains office.

Senator Kennelly:

– Why did he put in the last bit?

Senator McKENNA:

– Why did he put in any of it? There, at the level of a Minister of the stature and standing of the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for National Development, is the claim that the Government has a successful policy of maintaining full employment in Australia We had 88,000 unemployed people at the beginning of this year, and we have 78,000 now. The number is expected to drop a little, I understand. That, the Minister claims, is full employment.

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– How man’y registrations in your view constitute full employment?

Senator McKENNA:

– I do not think that can be determined with precision, but I am not going to be as imprecise as the Minister was. The number certainly should fall far short of what we have had under this Government during the past three years.

Let me now quote the Reserve Bank of Australia. The report of the board of that bank, although signed by Dr. Coombs, is not his report. It states -

This report on the operations of the Bank during the year ended 30lh June, 1963, and the financial statements in the prescribed forms have been prepared by the Reserve Bank Board.

Every member of the board is behind this report. The very brief extract I propose to quote would be significant if it came from a man of the stature of Dr. Coombs, but this report, although under his signature, is backed by all the members of the Reserve Bank board. Nobody on the Government side would argue that that board is not an objective, highly qualified and responsible body. In the course of the bank’s review of the economic activity for the financial year just passed this statement appears, “ Unemployment is still too high “. Which will we choose - a statement by a responsible minister or a statement by the Reserve Bank board?

Senator Sir William Spooner:

– Did the bank give any indication of how much unemployment is too high?

Senator McKENNA:

– If the Minister will keep quiet, I will tell him what I would regard as reasonably acceptable. Let me refer to a result that this Government achieved in 1955, when the average number of unemployed for the whole year was no more than 18,000. That was the Government’s own achievement in 1955. A high percentage of those 18,000 people might have been relatively unemployable.

Let us look at the Government’s record and see what it achieved. Before I con-

  1. elude, I hope to demonstrate that the high level of unemployment in this country to-day is the Government’s own fault. What frightens me is the statement that emanated from the Minister, claiming that the Government has been successful in maintaining full employment. 1 do not doubt that the Minister believes that to be true, but it is the fact that he believes it and affirms it so positively that frightens me. The statement is an indication of the incompetence that this Government has displayed in recent years in guiding all phases of the Australian economy. Let us look at the figures. I commence with the figure for January of 1953 - the trough of the 1952-53 recession. The number of registered unemployed then was 79.886. Two years later, in January of 1955. the number had fallen to 23,811, and that was the peak for the calendar year 1955. Recovery was on the way. The average for that year was 18,538. Had the Minister said that that represented full employment at the time. I might not have differed from him. I will answer the question that he asked me a short time. ago. If the Government could get back to something like the 1955 figure, then, perhaps, it might be able to claim it was doing very well in the ma’ter of employment. I am not giving a figure taken from my own mind. I am giving a result actually achieved by the Government.

Let us follow the position through from 1955 and see what the average annual unemployment figures were. In 1956 the figure for 1955 nearly doubled, reaching 33.196. I shall give the reason, before I conclude, why the figure doubled in that year. In 1957 the figure jumped to 50.722. I am giving the average unemployment for these years. In 1958 the average was 64,736. It was still on the way up. In 1959 it was 63,665. There was a dramatic drop in 1960, the average falling to 48.561. Recovery was on the way again. Then there was a dramatic uplift, with an average unemployment figure in 1961 of 97,955. In 1962 the average for the year was 94,556, and for the seven months up to the end of July of this year we have had an average of 88,542. The Minister claims that this is maintenance of full employment, although he has as an example an average of 18,000 unemployed in 1955.

To complete the picture, I shall briefly mention the peak unemployment figures in each of those years. They are as follows: -

Those are figures on which the Minister chooses to make the claim that the Government has successfully maintained full employment.

Why did dramatic changes take place? First of all, we had the horror budget of 1951-52, which led to a recession and to the high unemployment of January, 1953, to which I have referred. I shall remind honorable senators of some of the features of that horror budget because probably they have forgotten what it did. It plunged the country into a shocking recession. There was. a reduction of subsidies, a cut in Commonwealth capital works, a reduction by 10,000 of Commonwealth staffs, and a 10 per cent, increase in taxes on individuals. We had the wool sales deduction, an increase in company tax, new sales taxes yielding £52,000,000 a year, an increase in land tax, and customs and excise duty increases to the tune of £32,000,000 a year. There was also an increase in broadcast listeners’ fees. In short, the extra taxation imposed in that year was of the order of £205,000,000. It is no wonder that that budget provoked a recession and a high degree of unemployment.

I come now to the famous year 1955, when we were recovering. The average number of unemployed during that year was only 18,000, but the number nearly doubled in 1956. Why was that? In 1956 we had the little horror budget. I remind the Senate that the Government then stepped up the sales tax on motor vehicles very considerably. Heavy additional taxes were imposed on liquor, tobacco, petrol and spare parts for cars, and there was a further increase in company taxation. That action, of course, produced the stagnation reflected by the figures that flowed thereafter.’ In 1957, the average’ number of unemployed reached 50,000; in 1958, 64,000; and in 1959, 63,000. We were just getting back on to our feet when the brainstorm that affects the Government every three or four years struck again. In 1960 we had got down to an unemployment level of 48,561. But then we experienced the economic measures of November, 1960. May I remind the Senate of the credit squeeze - the curtailment of imports, the reduction of hire purchase activity, increased bank charges, the compulsion imposed upon insurance companies and superannuation funds to subscribe to loans, the pegging of interest on borrowed money which might be deductible for income tax purposes, and a terrific blow at the motor industry which emptied people out onto the streets in their tens of thousands by raising the sales tax from 30 per cent, to the punitive rate of 40 per cent.

That is the main cause of the trouble that we are in to-day. I repeat that we had got down to an unemployment level of approximately 48,000 in 1960. That level jumped to 97,900 by 1962. It then dropped to 95,500, and now we are in the process of making a slow recovery. One of the factors which is preventing activity in this community is a fear on the part of business people that the next brainstorm is about to arrive. They are timid about moving. Businesses are not using their full capacity, as every prominent banker who has spoken in recent times and every knowledgeable person in industry has acknowledged. Every now and again the Government seems to have a brainstorm and does drastic things to the economy. A few years later when recovery is on the way, it has another brainstorm. One has only to look at the fluctuation of unemployment figures to see very plainly the result of the Government’s actions. One supporter of the Government has claimed that we should be proud of our employment record. We on this side of the chamber say that it is a disgrace that the figures should have run in the way they have been running during the past three years. When the Government asks me what I believe to be a fair thing, I say that we should be able to get back to what was achieved in 1955.

I want to deal with only one other aspect of the economy. I indicated, when I was dealing with the Premiers’ Conference, that 1 wanted to say something about the complaint of the Premiers in relation to high interest . charges. 1 have dealt with this subject repeatedly in the Senate, and I want to advert to it again briefly now. It is interesting to note at page 20 of the document “ Government Securities on Issue at 30th June, 1963 “, which has just been circulated to us, what has happened to the public debt as between the Commonwealth and the States. Between 1949 and 30th June, 1963, the Commonwealth public debt fell by £282,100,000 while that of the States rose by £2,056,000,000, a variation of £2,338,000,000. The difference between the interest bills of the Commonwealth and the States is set out at page 22. Between 1949 and June, 1963, the Commonwealth’s interest bill rose by only £3,400,000 while that of the States rose by £103,200,000. The point I make and which the Premiers stress, is that a good deal of the increase is clue to the fact that when the Commonwealth came to the rescue of a defective loan market and made moneys available to the States out of Commonwealth revenues it charged the States interest on those moneys and put them under the obligation of repayment.

From 1950-51 to June, 1963, the Commonwealth financed its own capital works out of revenue, and not from loan moneys, to the extent of £1,543,000,000. At the same time the Commonwealth helped the States with their capital works by lending them from its revenues a sum of £800,000,000. That has meant an addition £40,000,000 a year in interest charges. That is twice the amount of the total grant that is to be made by way of additional assistance under this bill. State budgets could have been eased if that money had been passed over, as this grant is to be passed over-, for their capital works without interest and without the obligation to repay. Time and time again I have railed against the practice of the Commonwealth in passing over revenue moneys to the States and treating them as loans. That is one of the reasons why the States are in difficulty with their budgets and why this Government has to tax the people further to gel £20,000,000 to help the States to pay a charge which is of the Commonwealth’s own creation..

I conclude with the comment that we do not oppose the bill. We applaud the measure and support the giving of £20,000,000 to the States for their general budgetary purposes. We resent the claim of the Government that this grant will be used specifically to relieve unemployment. It will do nothing of the kind. That is quite a false claim, and we resent it. We also resent the fact that the Government has adopted a cold, callous outlook on unemployment. We hope that what we have said to-day will make some impact upon the Government and will stir it to do something really effective in that field.

Senator LILLICO:

.- I agree with the statement of Senator McKenna that financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth are extremely complicated. I agree also with the statement that the formula which has been devised to allocate tax revenues to the States should be reviewed frequently. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the formula that is now in operation. When it was submitted to the States in 1959, it was accepted by them unanimously, and one may deduce from the record of the conference at which it was propounded that the States regard it as being the most generous treatment that had been accorded to them up to that time. As time has gone by the States have expressed some dissatisfaction with their reimbursements from the Commonwealth; but we must bear in mind that the uniform taxation system under which we operate, and pursuant to which the six State governments are very largely dependent upon another taxing authority for their revenues, lends itself to a lot of irresponsibility in the expendi.ture of the money that is obtained. I was amazed to hear it contended that the Commonwealth is being hypocritical in making this grant for the purpose of relieving unemployment. Senator McKenna claimed that it is merely to assist the States to overcome their budgetary problems.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

Senator LILLICO:

– I was amazed prior to the suspension of the sitting to hear the Leader of the Opposition in this place (Senator McKenna) claim that whereas the grants proposed in this measure were being made to help .the budgetary positions of the States, this Government was proclaiming that they were being made for the relief of unemployment in the various States. He quoted extensively from the report of the proceedings at the Premiers Conference held in June last. One would naturally expect that the Premiers gathered at such a conference would make the most of their opportunities to advance the claims of their States, to direct attention to their budgetary difficulties and to get as good a deal as possible. But it is wrong to say that no mention was made of unemployment at the conference; it is wrong to say that the discussions were concentrated upon the budgerary problems of each of the States.

In point of fact, Mr. Bolte and Mr. Renshaw had quite a lot to say about unemployment in their States. For instance, Mr. Renshaw said -

It will be recalled that the February grant funds were provided for the express purpose of stimulating employment over the remaining months of 1962-63 and short-term works were selected on this account. I am now beginning to receive letters from local authorities in my State intimating that works specially undertaken out of grant funds are nearing completion and that the men who were engaged for these works will again become unemployed unless further grants can be provided.

There is a clear indication of the purpose of this grant. Mr. Renshaw went on to say -

The unemployment figures released to-day show that there has been no fall in unemployment. . . To sum up the case I have presented to-day, I suggest that there is need for a repetition in 1963-64 of the type of measures adopted in relation to special Commonwealth grants in the current financial year. 1 outlined those measures earlier in the evening in the Loan Council meeting - at which I take it this unemployment grant was discussed fully - and I feel it is unnecessary to repeat what I have said.

In my State, there has never been any attempt by either the Government or the Opposition to disguise the fact that this grant and the one made eighteen months ago were made solely for the purpose of relieving unemployment. If, as has been indicated by Senator McKenna, they were made merely to help the States with their budgerary positions, then the Premier of Tasmania must be a very dumb person indeed because he has proclaimed and has never sought to disguise the fact that the grants were made for the purpose of relieving unemployment in his State. Referring to this grant, he said - in July as jobs became available throughout the State following the distribution of £1,400,000 made available as a special Commonwealth grant-

He was referring to the particular grant mentioned in this bill - for the relief of unemployment.

Mr. Reece was a participant at that conference. If the Tasmanian Government is acting in a hypocritical fashion in proclaiming that this is not a grant for the relief of unemployment, what is the position of Mr. Reece, who, after attending the conference in June, said in July last that his State was to receive £1,400,000 as a special grant for the relief of unemployment? I think it will be conceded by any reasonable person that that was the purpose for which this grant was made available to the State governments.

Before concluding, I should like to say a word or two about unemployment. My mind goes back to 1945. At that time Dr. Evatt came to Tasmania and addressed an assembly of members of Parliament at Parliament House in Hobart in an attempt to induce one of the Houses of the State Parliament to agree to a bill referring certain powers to the Commonwealth for a limited period. I remember well that in his attempt to induce one of the Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament to agree to the proposed legislation, Dr. Evatt said, “ We will not have this unemployment “. He went on to say something to this effect. It is necessary for us to have this power after the war in order to direct men to employment, wherever it might be. However, because the people concerned believed in the freedom of the individual, that the individual should have the right to choose his employment and where he should go to obtain it, and, that no body of government officials should have the power of direction, they refused to agree to the proposed reference of power to the Commonwealth. As a result, we have since lived in a free economy.

It is not easy to provide at all times just the right employment in just the right locality for all persons, although this Government has certainly done a good job during the last 10 or 12 years it has been in office. In point of fact, I would say that the unemployment figures in the Commonwealth might well be the envy of most parts of the free world. In these days when it is necessary for people to have some technical skill, and it is necessary for them to have something more to offer than just their two hands, it will be more and more difficult to provide employment. There seems to me to be something significant in the comment made by Mr. McMahon when publishing the figures relating to unemployment as at the end of July. In his commentary on that occasion, he said that new vacancies were being notified to the Commonwealth Employment Service at a weekly rate of 10,156 during July and that placements were then being made at the rate of only 7,497 a week. Does that not indicate that the vacancies are there but that people with the necessary qualifications to fill the vacant positions simply are not available? Both the new vacancy and placement rates were at a record July level.

I believe much harm has been done by continuous repetition of the statement that we have 100,000 unemployed. That is a nice round figure and 1 suppose that, with constant repetition, many people will believe it to be the true figure. In this connexion I shall quote the Premier of Tasmania again. I quoted him last week and he is worth quoting again, because he is one of the Premiers who will be affected by the allocation of the funds provided for in this bill. Mr. Reece said that Mr. McMahon’s figures were misleading, and he is reported to have added- -

Quoting and comparing “ registered for employment “ figures could be misleading.

Invariably, the totals included unemployed married women, and also persons who had gained employment but had not yet notified the Commonwealth Employment Service.

A better assessment was provided by the total of persons receiving unemployment benefits.

Then he went on to refer to the conditions under which the unemployment benefit could be obtained. The president of the Australian Metal Industries Association, Mr. W. G. Gerard, summed up the position better than 1 could when he said that his association was concerned with the confusion which appeared to exist in public discussion of the employment situation. Mr. Gerard is reported to have said -

In oversea countries, exaggerated reports of unemployment in Australia were checking the inflow of skilled migrants and capital investment.

In January, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) announced that 101,000 persons were registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service and it was expected that the February figure might be even higher.

This did not mean that 101,000 persons were out of work at that date, as few of the applicants notified the Commonwealth Employment Service when they took a job.

Furthermore, it did not mean that there were no jobs available.

In January’s announcement, the Minister pointed out there were 32,000 unfilled jobs with various employers. In the manufacturing industries, and particularly in the metal industries, employers were unable to obtain the types of workers they needed.

Does that not verify that more than 10,000 vacancies a week were notified in July and that only 7,000 of them were filled? Mr. Gerard also said -

Our industries are having difficulty . in filling vacancies in the skilled and in some areas in the semi-skilled and unskilled occupations.

When I was in New Zealand two or three months ago, people “said to me, “ Is it not a fact that you have a tremendous lot of unemployment in Australia? “. I said that the position had been grossly exaggerated for political purposes. No doubt the story goes round the world that we have a lot of unemployment here because we have a register that fluctuates. The most is made of it for political purposes. The fact is that registrations for employment are decreasing and there are indications that they will decrease still further. When a person holds a responsible position, as does the Premier of Tasmania, he says that the gravity of the situation has been overstated.

The Premier of Tasmania is a remarkably astute man, according to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Are we to believe that he was completely fooled at the Premier’s Conference and went back to Tasmania and spent what he thought was intended to be a grant to boost his budgetary position? Unless he was asleep at the conference, he must have known that the grant was a grant for the relief of unemployment. There has been a lot of controversy in Tasmania about the way in which the unemployment relief grant was used. Neither the Government nor the Opposition sought to disguise the way in which the money was spent. I have a list showing how the grant was used in Tasmania about eighteen months ago. I am amazed at some of the items listed, since the grant was made to relieve unemployment in Tasmania. I admit that there are difficulties in finding employment for some people and that a man without any particular skill is at a great disadvantage. But I have found that some of this money was spent on the purchase of a bookmobile for a public library, boilers for hospitals and other institutions and on work that appears to be routine. Money was spent on about 50 schools. Much of this expenditure was desirable, but money was spent, in many instances, not to provide employment, but merely to purchase equipment. This seems to me to defeat the purposes for which the grant was made.

There was much controversy over the expenditure of this grant in Tasmania. The Burnie “ Advocate “ published more than one editorial on the subject. On 20th August, commenting on the grant for the relief of unemployment - if it was not an unemployment relief grant, the newspapers have been fooled as well - the “ Advocate “ stated - lt should not be too much to hope that the next grant made to Tasmania for “ employmentgiving activities “ will be applied to relieving unemployment, rather than building an image of a benevolent State Government by providing grants for a variety of community projects which may not give prompt work to people needing it. If the Government wishes to apply the Federal grants honestly and in the best interests of the State’s unemployed, then it should find out where the unemployed are, and provide grants only on the understanding that they are used to give jobs to the jobless.

That has not been done in Tasmania. The editorial continued -

Tasmania is unlikely to get Federal assistance for bigger projects - and one of the Government’s main complaints is that it is repeatedly ignored in such matters - if it is unable to spend,, correctly and effectively, grants made fer a specific purpose.

According to that complaint, and the complaints of many people, these grants have been spent. Everybody in the State of Tasmania recognizes that they were grants for the relief of unemployment. Beyond doubt those grants have been expended to boost the electoral prospects of the Government in power in Tasmania. Only a few weeks ago Mr. Reece opened a public hall, and the following report later appeared in the press: -

Members of the Natone Hall committee ‘vere taken aback when they received a definite “ No “ from the Premier Mr. Reece in answer to pleas for a £2,000 government grant to build a new hall.

They were later surprised and delighted when Mr. Reece said instead: “Make it £4,000”.

If, -as Senator McKenna said, the grant is merely to ease the budgetary problems of the State, then Mr. Reece is using this revenue in a most improvident and ruthless fashion. If Mr. Reece continues to say to people who want a certain amount of money, “ No, I will not give you that much; I will double it “, his deficit will be the greatest in the history of Tasmania.

There has been a demonstration in Tasmania about the spending of this unemployment grant. Undoubtedly it has been used for electoral purposes. I believe that very little has been spent to relieve the unemployment problem - certainly not nearly as much as should have been spent. The main expenditure has been to enhance the electoral prospects of the government in power in that State, instead of for the relief of unemployment.

I cite another instance. I have a report about the £1,000,000 maternity hospital now under construction in the north of Tasmania. It will be a great asset to the State, and to the north of the State in particular. But we find that out of the £1,000,000 being spent, only a very small percentage will go to the general benefit of Tasmania. The architects are a mainland firm; the sub-contractors are mainland firms; furnishings, carpets and even underfelt are mainland products, despite the fact that we have a carpet factory at Devonport. When Tasmanian firms and Tasmanian workmen can produce products which are just as good, and cheaper, why is it that the State Government will not give preference to Tasmanian firms so that Tasmanians and the State generally will receive the full benefit of government spending?

In reply to a question only this week the Minister for Health stated that a mainland firm of architects had been engaged todraw plans for the Ainslie flatettes for the aged at Cosgrove Park, Launceston. So once again the benefit of the money that is being spent will not go to the State. If the story of these grants is traced right through it will be found that that situation persists.

Senator Aylett:

– I never realized that you were so jealous of Mr. Reece.

Senator LILLICO:

– I am not jealous of Mr. Reece. I find him to be a wonderful supporter of many of the things I have said in this Parliament.

Senator O’Byrne:

– They are using all. Tasmanian materials in the new hospital, and Tasmanian carpets, too.

Senator LILLICO:

– I am not going to be led astray by Senator O’Byrne.

Senator O’Byrne:

– You should tell the truth.

Senator LILLICO:

– 1 have stated the facts as they have been published in the newspapers. If Mr. Reece gained the impression that the grant is to help the budgets of the States, it is obvious that he made a turn-about when he went home and proclaimed it to be a grant for the relief of unemployment.

TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970

– What has Ainslie House to do with the Tasmanian Government?

Senator LILLICO:

– I do not know, I was merely quoting from the remarks of a member of the Tasmanian Parliament.

TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970

– I am the chairman. The project has nothing to do with the Government at all.

Senator LILLICO:

– When I can be heard-

Senator O’Byrne:

– Who is the chairman?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar).- Order!

Senator LILLICO:

– I refer now to the public debt of the States and I concede that this has grown. It has grown very largely because of our immigration policy and because of the tremendous influx of people into the Commonwealth during the past fourteen years as Senator McKenna mentioned. The public debt of the States has grown because the provision of water, sewerage and roads for the growing population- is a .State responsibility. But it must be borne in mind that a very considerable part of Tasmania’s debt has accrued’ because of expenditure on hydro-electricity. I always look upon expenditure on hydro-electricity - in this I agree with Mr. Reece - as a pretty good investment. Unlike loan funds expended on roadworks and such things, expenditure on hydro-electricity is a revenue producer. In fact, I think I am correct in saying that the Hydro-Electric Commission over the years has paid its own way, including the payment of interest, sinking fund and all the rest of it. So although the Tasmanian public debt has grown so tremendously, part of the expenditure has been on a very good revenue-producing concern.

During the last election campaign I heard Senator McKenna broadcast from a platform in Burnie. He was speaking about this same problem of State debts. As he did to-day, he then castigated the Commonwealth Government because it lent revenue money to the States under the usual conditions. I remember him saying to the people in the hall at Burnie, “ How do you like having to pay twice? “ I could never agree with that argument at all. I took it that he meant that the Commonwealth taxed the people to provide the revenue to pass onto the States, and that the States in turn, out of their taxes, paid the money back to the Commonwealth, with interest. Apparently Senator McKenna deduced from that that the taxpayers had to pay two bills,’ one to the Commonwealth and one to the State. If the central taxing authority and the State are taking money out of the common pool, and if the State, having received money from the central taxing authority, repays these loans how on earth can it be argued that the taxpayers have paid twice? Surely, if we are paying twice for public works in the States we are up against a pretty stiff proposition. The Commonwealth Government says to the States: “ We will confine you to the amount of revenue you can raise from loan funds in the usual way. We will supplement the amount from Consolidated Revenue and will charge you interest accordingly.” How on earth can honorable senators opposite come to the conclusion that, because the Commonwealth Government adopts this method which, incidentally, also was adopted by the Chifley Government, the taxpayers are paying twice for public works?

Senator Aylett:

– That is correct.

Senator LILLICO:

– If the honorable senator thinks it is correct, his reasoning must be different from mine. If I thought that the taxpayers of Tasmania, or of the Commonwealth generally, were paying twice for public works 1 would have something to say about it. But that is not the position. The situation would have been entirely different if the Commonwealth had not come to the rescue and underwritten the States’ public works from its own funds because the loan moneys were insufficient to carry out the works.

I support the bill. I have yet to be convinced that it proposes anything other than what it says it does. The Premier of Tasmania is always complaining that he can get nothing from the special grants for developmental purposes. Yet, as the “ Advocate “ leading article has pointed ont, when he is handed an amount such as that for which this bill provides, he has no coherent plan for spending it in a way that will increase the employment potential of Ta-mania or help to develop the State. I believe that the time is coming when the Commonwealth Government will have to consider extending its special grants system to include grants of this kind so that the States will have to put up to the Commonwealth worthwhile propositions. We simply cannot afford to see £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 expended as such sums have been expended in Tasmania. They have been used, in the main merely to boost the electoral prospects of a political party. I concede that there are people who have been helped. Not all of the money has gone down the drain. Certain people and deserving institutions have been helped, but my grievance is that the money has not been expended, in a country which is crying aloud for development, in a way which will assist in development or increase opportunities for employment.


– We have listened to a rather interesting speech from Senator Lillico. I thought that Tasmania was a part of Australia. It is true that it is separated from the mainland by a sheet of water. Apparently, it is regarded as wrong for Victoria, which is the leading mainland State, or any of the other States, to send certain goods to Tasmania. I understood that, as a result , of federation, there was freedom of -trade between the States. In fact, I thought that the need to provide for freedom of trade was one of the main reasons for federation. Nevertheless, some people complain if we send our goods to Tasmania. Senator Lillico should remember that the people of Victoria eat Tasmanian peas and beans and use Tasmanian textiles. The Tasmanian footballers are good, and we get a few of them, too. We use Tasmanian paper pulp. When I hear statements such as those made by Senator Lillico, I wonder whether it would not be better to erect a glass wall around Tasmania.

Senator Lillico:

– Was not this grant supposed to be used for the relief of unemployment - to put men to work - instead of for the purchase of goods?


– If you have to buy carpets from the mainland, some one has to lay them. They do not place themselves on the floor. Let us be Australians in this matter.

The money that we are discussing was not granted specifically for the relief of unemployment. In support of that statement, I point out that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) stated in his second-reading speech -

The Commonwealth made it clear that, providing the over-riding purpose of the grant was kept in mind, it would have no objection if the States passed portion of the moneys allocated through their Consolidated Revenue Funds.

So, whatever Senator Lillico may think, that is what the Minister said. I am interested in this matter because the Premier of Victoria put Victoria’s share of the previous grant, which amounted to £2,400,000, into his Budget.

Senator Paltridge:

– That is right - the lot.


– Therefore, not much unemployment relief was provided from that money.

Senator Henty:

– And there was not much unemployment in Victoria, either.


– I do not want to be hard on Senator Henty. He is a friend, but he should not make silly interjections. 1 have the Victorian unemployment figures before me for 1961, 1962 and 1963. Admittedly, they do not cover the whole of the State, but they do cover seven or eight of the main towns. 1 suggest that no one could fault the case put up by Senator McKenna to-day. He did not say that Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, or Mr. Renshaw, the Acting Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales, had made speeches about unemployment or had urged that money be provided for the relief of unemployment.

Senator McKenna referred to what Mr. McEwen had said. He read two extracts from official documents which showed that, on the first day of the Premiers’ Conference, Mr. McEwen did not mention unemployment, and that, on the second day, he mentioned it only very fleetingly. I hope that the Government will get back to the good form of 1955, which Senator McKenna mentioned.

Some honorable senators might have been lucky and not suffered unemployment. I was one who did, in my early life. The tragedy of unemployment is not so much the lack of money as the manner in which it breaks one’s spirit. Nothing is worse than that, day after day. There were at that time 8 per cent, or 9 per cent, unemployed, which was considered normal. One used some ingenuity. He could always find a pound to pay for his board, but he did not get much more. To-day, all parties state that they want full employment. By interjection, Senator Sir William Spooner tried to trap the Leader of the Opposition into saying what he meant by full employment. I interjected to tell the Minister that he would not get much change, that he would not trap the wily fellow. We say that persons who are able and eligible to work should have the opportunity to work. My friend from Tasmania complained that Dr. Evatt had said on one occasion that if the Commonwealth had powers we could direct people to go to work and tell them where to work. The official figures show that the work force numbers over 4,000,000 persons and that of these from 75,000 to 80,000 are receiving unemployment benefit. What would be wrong with asking unemployed persons, who could not obtain work right next to their doors, whether they were prepared to go elsewhere for work? Put it up to them.

I would not quarrel with the provision of £20,000,000 to the States if it were used to reduce unemployment, but the facts show that such money is not used for this purpose. I do not know how much of Victoria’s proposed share, £5,400,000, will hit the budget this year; the Victorian budget will not be delivered until early September. The Minister said that all of Victoria’s share last year went into the budget. I happen to know a little about Victoria. Like my friend at the back of the chamber, I come from that glorious State. I should like to know for how many men the State Government provided employment as a result of its share of these grants. My great quarrel is with handing out money without having any responsibility for the expenditure of it. In a majority of instances, the Government is fortunate enough to get a good press, which has stated that £20,000,000 will be directed towards the reduction of unemployment, but according to the Minister none of Victoria’s share of the last grant was used for this purpose.

I complain, as I did last year, that the Government has a responsibility to the taxpayer to know how the money that it receives from him, directly or indirectly, is expended. The procedure being followed in this instance is the most slipshod, haphazard method I have ever known. Has the Government received any reports to show how many men individual departments in the States have employed? It is not easy to put twenty or 30 men into a Country Roads Board camp, with a timekeeper, a couple of gangers and an overseer, for five or six months. The day of working with pick, shovel and barrow is long past. To-day, we have mechanization. I do not say that it is very easy for governments to spend money in this way. I do not believe that the Government wants unemployment any more than I do. Members of the Government are as human as I am and they are not politically silly. We do not get value for this money. We should require the States to tell us the number of unemployed persons in the various cities, towns, shires and boroughs. Then we should decide how much money will be allocated to State and local governments, particularly in country towns.

I have the unemployment figures for the large towns in Victoria, of which we have a few. There has been a decided drop in unemployment in Melbourne. In August, 1961, there were 15,712 persons unemployed; in August, 1962, 10,381; and in August, 1963, 5,524. Geelong, the second biggest city in Victoria, had 1,826 unemployed in 1961, 1,079 in 1962, and 1,069 in 1963. If one can believe anything political that one reads in the Victorian press - in certain instances one can, but very rarely - before the Ford organization put off 300 men, the number of unemployed in Geelong had been reduced by only ten between 1962 and 1963. How much of this money went to Geelong?

I spoke recently to some colleagues in the Victorian Parliament, where I had a limited experience as Minister for Works. I asked them to ascertain how many men had been employed in Victoria as a result of the Commonwealth’s special grant for the relief of unemployment. The Victorian Minister for Works has almost abolished day-labour work under the control of his department. If he believes that it is better to do by contract all of the little jobs, such as the asphalting of school yards, I do not complain; he is running the department, and I am not. But if he does that, he is not using this money for the purpose for which it was intended. As Senator Lillico said, every one knows that we cannot get all of the skilled labour that we need. Unfortunately every one is not skilled, but all persons have to live. To live, they have to eat. They do not eat unless they have money, and they do not get money unless they work. That is logical. But I want to know how many people will be employed. The Government has a responsibility in this matter. It is not just a matter of giving the States £20,000,000 and allowing them to divide it up in whatever way they choose. I believe that the Government is making this money available in order to provide work. But grants of this kind have been made in the past, and no extra work has been made available, at any rate in the various towns in Victoria. In ordinary parlance, the Government has been taken for a ride. That is certainly not good enough for the taxpayers, and it certainly is not good enough for the unemployed.

The Government should not give this, money straight out to a Premier, no matter what his political complexion may be. A certain amount of the grant should be given to local government bodies. What is killing the country towns of Victoria? Why does Melbourne have 67 per cent, of the population of the State? If a person becomes unemployed in Bendigo, Ballarat, Wangaratta, Hamilton or Warnambool, he immediately goes to Melbourne. If he is married, his family remains in the country until he is able to find a couple of rooms in the big city. By making the grant in this way, the Government is draining the country towns dry. The position will not be remedied until the Government puts the responsibility on the States to at least produce a plan for the spending of this money. I could spend £1,000,000 in Victoria on projects that would give employment and that would be for the welfare of the people of Victoria. I would have something to show for the expenditure of that money. During the depression days we spent £13,000,000 on relief work in Victoria, but all we have to show for it is a boulevard. I doubt whether there would be very much more than that.

This grant will not ensure that people get employment. I do not under-estimate the political sense of the Government parties. I admit that they want to create work, not only from a humane point of view, but also because it is good politics. The Government is making this money available for the relief of unemployment, and when any one challenges it about the number of people who will be employed, its reply will be, in effect, “Well, what more can we do? “ It is the responsibility of the Government to see that the money is spent in a proper way. It is the responsibility of the Treasurer to submit a report to the Parliament setting out how many people have actually obtained employment. I do not think there have been many in Victoria. I admit that in these days of mechanization it is not easy suddenly to provide extra jobs. I remember the time in Victoria when gangs of men were employed in the forests, pruning and cleaning up. I do not know whether any of this money will be made available to the Forestry Department in Victoria to provide jobs. Until the Government ensures that the money will be spent in a manner that -will provide employment, it will not be administering the spending of the grant as it should.

In his second-reading speech the Minister used the words “providing the overriding purpose of the grant is kept in mind “. The Premiers can always keep it in mind. I knew a chap who used to say, “Yes, I will put that uppermost in my mind,” but the job was never done. I said to him: “ Would you mind putting it in the lowest part of your mind? I think you always start at the bottom.” He was a foreman of an institution in which I am interested.

This matter is important but the Government is acting in too loose a fashion. I do not want to use hard words during this debate, but I think that the Government is tired. It has been in office too long; it does not care about unemployment, or it leaves too much to other people and is not checking up to see how things are being done.

Senator Mattner:

– It is too trusting.


– “ In God we trust, every one else pays cash “ is a good saying. No one on this side will oppose this bill, but I think the Opposition is entitled to say what it thinks. If the Government is prepared to say that the Premiers can spend the money in practically any way they like, it must run the risk that they will not spend it for the purpose for which it is given. I hope that the Government will mend its ways. It is true that it has not long to go; its time is running out.

Senator Mattner:

– Do not be so cheerful.


– I do not mind if you go out in a blaze of glory; that is a very nice way to go out.

Senator Hannaford:

– You do not mind as long as we go out.


– There is no doubt that you will go out, but you should pay attention to the job in the meantime.

Senator Mattner:

– Don’t be too trusting.


– Remember what I said previously, “In God we trust, every one else pays cash “. I do not want to make a joke of this. A large number of people are unemployed, and no one wants to be unemployed. I have vivid recollections of unemployment that make me shudder. You can imagine the feelings of a married man who goes out in the morning and spends the day going around the factories looking for a job. It is not quite so bad for a single man. The Government is making this grant available, and I honestly believe it wants to provide work. However, it should not think that just because it provides £20,000,000 its job is finished. As I have said, it is not easy to create employment. It is a colossal job to keep people fully employed, particularly in view of the fact that each year there are 60,000 school leavers. In addition, as a result of our immigration policy, another 60,000 are looking for jobs each year. Automation and mechanization add to the colossal task.

Let me say finally that I have a great regard for the Scots. If I pay out money, I want to get a return. I ask the Government to make sure that it gets a return from the grant that it is making.

New South Wales

.- The purpose of the bill, according to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), is to authorize an additional assistance grant of £20,000,000 to the States in 1963-64. New South Wales will receive £6,408,000; Victoria, £5,140,000; Queensland, £2,400,000; South Australia, £2,762,000; Western Australia, £1,882,000; and Tasmania, £1,408,000. In the last financial year additional grants totalling £17,500,000 were made to the States. Of that sum New South Wales received £4,646,000, Victoria £3,727,000, Queensland £4,240,000, South Australia £2,003,000, Western Australia £1,364,000, and Tasmania £1,520,000. If we compare the actual disbursements in the last financial year with the proposed grants on this occasion we find that New South Wales will now receive £1,762,000 more, Victoria £1,413,000 more, Queensland £1,840,000 less, South Australia £759,000 more, Western Australia £518,000 more, and Tasmania £112,000 less.

I hope that all the States will be able to devote the whole of the grant to the relief of unemployment. Despite what supporters of the Government say, unemployment is a real and grave problem for many Australian workers. A perusal of the Treasurer’s second-reading speech reveals, as Senator McKenna has pointed out, that the States are not bound to devote the whole of the sum of £20,000,000 to employment-giving activities. The Treasurer said when introducing the bill -

In offering again a grant of this type to the States, the Commonwealth Government had in mind that it would enable the States to provide jobs in areas where employment opportunities were not as readily available as elsewhere or where more general measures to sustain and improve employment conditions might not be fully effective. The Commonwealth made it clear that, providing the over-riding purpose of the grant was kept in mind, it would have no objection if a State passed portion of the moneys allocated through their Consolidated Revenue Funds.

Support for the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that this grant of £20,000,000 is not only for the purpose of relieving unemployment but is designed also to assist the States with their budgetary programmes is found in the report of the recent meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Canberra on 17th and 18th June last. At that conference the Premiers of Queensland and Tasmania, two of the smaller States, based their cases partly on the need to provide for employment; but the Premiers of Western Australia and South Australia did not mention the word “ employment “ or the word “ unemployment “ once. Although Mr. Nicklin, the Premier of Queensland, based his case on the need to stimulate employment in that State and complained that the State’s population had been under-estimated by the Commonwealth Statistician, Queensland is to receive £1,840,000 less this year than it received last year. Senator Lillico had something to say about Tasmania. Mr. Reece, the Premier of Tasmania, said at that conference; -

It is necessary for us to give some attention to the question of employment stimulation grants - call them what you will - in order, very largely, to endeavour to keep income at least at the level at which it was last year.

But Tasmania is to receive £112,000 less this year than it received last year.

As I pointed out earlier, Sir Thomas Playford did not mention employment or unemployment once at the conference. Yet we find that South Australia is to receive £759,000 more than it did last year. Mr. Nalder, the Acting Premier of Western Australia, did not mention employment or unemployment, yet Western Australia is to receive £518,000 more this year than it received last year. Nowhere in the Treasurer’s second-reading speech on this measure can we find any suggestion that the Premiers of the States should confer with officers of the Commonwealth Depart’ ment of Labour and National Service about where these large pockets of unemployment are so that the States may give particular attention to solving the unemployment problem.

Let us consider the position in New South Wales, which I have the honour to represent. The statistics prepared by the Department of Labour and National Service for this month showing the numbers of persons registered as unemployed reveal that in the north coast towns, which havebeen seriously damaged by floods in recent months, the number of unemployed is as follows: In Kempsey, 345; in Lismore, 535; in Maitland, 556; in Taree, 370; and in Murwillumbah, 173. Nowhere has it been suggested by the Commonwealth to the Premier of New South Wales that some of the money now to be made available should be devoted to flood mitigation works on the north coast of New South Wales to relieve unemployment. Finally on that point, the case submitted by the Leader of the Opposition is confirmed by the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) himself because, when speaking on the Budget on Wednesday night of last week, he said -

The re-arrangements in housing finance proposed in the Budget will be the basis for greater human happiness for the people of Australia. Superimposed on this provision is the Government’s successful policy of maintaining full employment in Australia. It has done so in practical terms.

I suggest that the Minister for National Development cannot have it both ways. Either this money is being granted to the States because there is unemployment, or it is being given to them to assist them in their budgetary provisions. My understanding of what the Minister for National Development said last week was that it is his view that we have a state of full employment. I suppose, if we accept his argument that we have a state of full employment at the present time, then, if the unemployment figures are reduced next month, as is prophesied by the Minister for

Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) we shall have a state of overfull employment. But that is not the real situation.

Let us see what some of the other members of the Ministry have had to say on this important subject from time to time. Just prior to the last Federal Election, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) went on record as saying that he would rest content only when every man who was wanting to work could work. Indeed, he went further and said, “ I want none of unemployment”. On 30th July, 1961, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said -

Unemployment resulting from the credit squeeze was greater than the Government would have wished or could have expected but it will have passed by Christmas.

The Christmas to which he was referring was Christmas 1961. If unemployment had passed by Christmas 1961, why is it that to-day the Government is introducing legislation allegedly to grant the States £20,000,000 for the purpose of stimulating employment in the States? On 8th December, 1961, the Minister of Labour and National Service said that the Federal Government expected to place the young people leaving school in employment without any unacceptable waiting period. Yet, to-day we find that of the 78,000 officially registered as unemployed, 23,000- odd are under the age of 21 years. I trust that the Premiers will utilize this money completely to improve the employment situation because, despite what Senator Sir William Spooner said on Wednesday night of last week, there are severe cases of hardship existing in the community.

Let me refer now to the statement made recently by Mr. J. Maher. When speaking on behalf of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of New South Wales he said -

In November 1960 there was practically no unemployment. At that time the number of advertised jobs was greater than the number of registered unemployed. Suddenly, with the imposition of the credit squeeze, thousands of men found themselves out of employment. Many others were placed on part time, especially those in the textile industry, where many, many thousands are working a three- or four-day week. Still others have suffered a serious cut-back in overtime. Many have suffered a complete loss of overtime. There are people who say that overtime is not necessary or that it is not desirable.

On the other hand, thousands af men and women have been dependent upon it to pay for their homes, which they have undertaken to pay off at very high rates, as much as £8 and £10 a week. Still others were deeply involved in hire-purchase payments. As a result, many of these people are now in dire need.

That is not the statement of a Labour member of Parliament or a member of the Labour movement; it is the statement of a man who represents a very worthy charitable organization in this country, the St Vincent de Paul Society.

In debating this bill, honorable senators are enabled to discuss a most important issue concerning the welfare of all Australians at the present time. The fact is that while one man is out of work the job of another is threatened, and while a man is unemployed his family lives through moments of agony, misery and disquiet. Certainly in all cases they live in a state of worry. Unemployment adds to health problems. It causes psychological family disturbance. It impedes a man’s desire to be able independently to provide the necessaries of life for himself, his wife and family. Whilst an unemployed man is searching for work, I suggest that his wife is living in a state of constant worry, that his children go to school with a bitter, cynical outlook on life. Indeed; I would say that they develop an inferiority complex, that they regard themselves as the hopeless section of society. I have already quoted what Mr. Maher, the representative of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, has had to say on this subject.

Much has been said already about this Government’s record in connexion with unemployment. It has been dealt with by my leader, Senator McKenna, and by my deputy leader in this chamber, Senator Kennelly. This is a government which, despite pronouncements from time to time that it pursues a policy of full employment - the last time was on Wednesday of last week when the Minister for National Development made his famous utterance - has a record which shows that it in fact does not practice what it preaches in this connexion. If one surveys the whole history of employment since this Government has been in office one finds that the Government never really has had clean hands in this matter. Let us look at the figures issued by the Department of Labour and

National Service over the years and trace the graph relating to persons registered for work in Australia. For convenience, let us take the figures for the months of February and July in the respective years to see what the state of employment has been since this Government attained office. In February, 1950, some two months after this Government came into office, the number of people registered for employment was 13,900. In the month of February of the next year, it was 12,300. The figures for the same month of the following years were: -

The latest figures available are those for the month of July this year. The Government’s own figures disclose that at the end of July some 78,100 people were registered for work in the Australian community. Between July, 1962, and July, 1963, the total reduction in the number of unemployed has been a mere 12,000. The Government’s own figures disclose that despite the fact that Australia is crying out for expansion and national development the number of persons registered for employment during its thirteen years of office has increased by 82,400 between February, 1950, and February. 1963. In July, the last month for which figures are available - the number registered had risen by about 68,300 since this Government took office.

The figures I have cited are significant. They show that in each cycle of four or five years there has been, as a result of this Government’s policies, a marked, sudden and disturbing increase in the number of unemployed. Unemployment has risen under the Menzies Government, as is shown by a comparison of statistics. From 1946 to 1950, when the Chifley Labour Government was in office and Labour’s economic policy was in operation, the average number of unemployed in the month of July wa)s 20,632. For July of each of the succeeding six years, when the Menzies Government was in office, the average level of unemployment was 30,088 - an increase of approximately 10,000.

But it was in the subsequent six years - 1957 to 1962 - that we saw the full effect on employment of the Government’s policies. The average level of unemployment in each July was more than double than in the first six years of the Menzies Government’s administration and more than three times the level in the first four post-war years. In July, over that period, the number reached 71,600. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) referred to the buoyant financial year 1954-55. I think it is fair to say that but for the eighteen months of buoyancy between June, 1954, and December, 1955, the unemployment figures over the eleven and a half years of this Government’s administration would have been much worse. That eleven and a half years has been a period of boom and recession or, as has been said frequently by the Opposition, a period of stop and go, start and stop. The booms drastically reduced the value of the average wage earner’s takehome pay and the recessions, one of which has not yet ended, either completely eliminated or reduced his earning capacity. The Government excuses the man-made recessions on the ground of the necessity for price stability. If the Government had really achieved success in that direction, its supporters might have used that success to justify an economy which caters for what I consider to be a large pool of unemployed, numbering 78,000 - although the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) considers that with that number of people unemployed we have a state of full employment.

However, the Government, far from being successful with its price-stability policies, has been a dismal failure. The degree of inflation that has occurred under its administration can be seen from the movement of the consumer price index as shown in the Commonwealth Year Book. The base year taken for that index is 1953, presumably because in that year the basic wage was frozen by the Arbitration Court, as it was then, at £12 3s. a week. The figures are shown at page 393 of the

Commonwealth Year Book for 1962. From June, 1953, to June, 1961, the cost of food rose by 27.7 per cent., clothing by 11.6 per cent., housing by 44 per cent., household supplies by 11.2 per cent, and miscellaneous items required by the worker and his family by 27.3 per cent. In the same period the number of people registered for employment rose from 53,443 to 111,700, an increase of about 58,000. While prices rose at an average rate of about 23 per cent, in that period, the number of unemployed doubled. Between June, 1953, and June, 1963, unemployment rose by some 80 per cent. How can the Government claim that its policies have stabilized prices or assisted to relieve unemployment?

If we study the figures published at page 1242 of the Commonwealth Year Book for 1962 - the last figures available - we find that in that year the Government paid out £12,637,000 by way of unemployment benefit. In that year, unemployment relief was the fourth largest social service commitment. That was the amount paid out by the Government to unemployed persons by way of the social service benefit which was known during the depression years as the dole. But we must also consider the lost purchasing power of the workers or the morney taken out of circulation because people were unemployed. The average number of registered unemployed in 1961-62 was 106.350. In 1962-63, the average was about 87,159. The latest figures show that some 78,000 people are registered for employment. If each of those persons, if in employment, had received the basic wage of approximately £15 a week, the loss to the community for twelve months because they were unemployed was £150,000,000, in round figures. However, the average net earnings of a male worker are not £15 a week, but would be about £20 a week. No doubt supporters of the Government will say that 23,000 of the people out of work were under the age of 21 years, and for that reason I have taken the average wage as £15 a week. As I have said, on that basis, the loss to the community in purchasing power was about £150,000,000 a year. Apart from other considerations such as national development, delinquency, and the burden on charitable organizations, the fact is that this unemployment removes from the purchasing power of the community £150,000,000 per annum, merely because of economic policies that have been and are being pursued by the Government.

Senator Lillico referred to what was said by Mr. Gerard, the president of the Australian Metal Industries Association, but he did not quote all that Mr. Gerard said. Mr. Gerard said that Australians would have to get used1 to the idea that there would always be about 70,000 to 80,000 people not at work. Apparently his views on that coincide with those of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) who, in this chamber last Wednesday night, said that the Government had pursued a policy of full employment. Admittedly, as Senator Lillico mentioned, Mr. Gerard did say that loose talk of 100,000 unemployed people was doing Australia much damage, both at home and abroad. But I am not sure that this talk is so loose because the assistant secretary of the Labour Council of New South Wales, Mr. Marsh, a very worthy representative of the trade union movement, in July, 1961, when the credit squeeze now on was at its height after being imposed in November, 1960, said at a conference -

  1. . . . challenge the figures . . . that are issued by the Department of Labour and National Service on unemployment. At a special meeting on 6th July, the Labor Council of New South Wales discussed unemployment generally. We asked our 104 affiliated unions, representing 750,000 workers, to supply details of employment in their own industry. A classic example is the reply from our council in Orange, where there are some 700 unemployed, though the departmental figure issued at the 30th June is 191 people registered for unemployment in Orange.

Even taking the Government’s figure of 78,000 unemployed, one can see from a survey taken by the trade union movement in New South Wales that the Government has failed to reveal that 100,000 people in Australia could1 well be affected by this scourge.

This statement, of course, merely underlines the Government’s failure to face up to the reality of the situation; its failure to look forward and to plan ahead for the days of mechanization and automation. The fact is that to-day, on the Government’s own figures, nearly 80,000 men and women who are willing able and no doubt anxious to work, cannot find employment. This is because of the Government’s failure on at least one or two counts. The first is the lack of foresight in its planning; the second is its deliberate attempt to maintain a pool of unemployed. The Minister for National Development said that an unemployment figure of 78,000 constitutes full employment. From that we must assume that it is because of the Government’s lack of foresight and deliberate failure to plan ahead that we now find this type of measure being introduced into ibis Parliament.

We of the Labour movement disagree with the view expressed by Mr. Gerard of the Australian Metal Industries Association that Australians have to get used to the idea of having 70,000 or 80,000 people out of work. This certainly is not the view of the Australian Labour Party or, I suggest, of the great bulk of the Australian people. Labour’s policy is one of full employment, and I believe that that policy is endorsed by the people and will be endorsed at any future general election. Australia is crying out for development. We have some 3,000,000 square miles with only 11,000,000 people. We are spending millions of pounds to bring people to this country to stimulate our development. But to-day, with teeming millions in the north, I suggest that we cannot afford to lose the assistance of one of our people. We must utilize to the full our nation’s manpower resources.

I have already quoted from the 1962 “Year Book” issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, but to show the number of people who have been affected by the Government’s economic policies I should like to refer to page 1243 of that publication. In the 1961-62 financial year, all told 278,936 people received unemployment benefits from the Government at some stage. I suggest that that is a shocking waste of man-power and that, on its own record, the Government must be indicted by the Australian people. What I am saying is not merely an expression of the opinion of the Labour movement or of the trade union movement; it is an expression of the opinion of those who are suffering the miseries and humiliations of lack of work. Indeed, it is also an expression of the opinion of a representative of the Methodist Church in Australia. In December of last year, and in February and March of this year, the Rev. Alan Walker referred to this subject. On 10th December last he was reported in the

Sydney “Daily Telegraph” as having accused the Federal Government -

  1. . of a “ deliberate attempt to keep a pool of unemployed to discipline the people “.

On 4th February, 1963, he said that unemployment was causing an alarming degree of suffering in the community. He was reported as follows: - “ An endless stream of pathetic cases of poverty is coming to the Mission and if the whole story were known the Government and the people would be stabbed awake “, he said. “ Australia needs a ‘ crash program ‘ of public works, financed by a government determined to honour its promise of maintaining full employment.”

On 11th March last the same reverend gentleman said -

Australia needs a national youth employment policy to end the scandal of youth unemployment and increase society’s trained industrial workforce.

These, I suggest, are matters of which this Government can well take heed. I believe also - this is something to which no reference was made in the recent Budget speech - that we must relieve the burden on the underprivileged section of the community by giving taxation concessions to workers who are forced to travel long distances in order to obtain satisfactory employment. What is perhaps even more important, they should have some security of tenure in their jobs. Not long ago the Canadian Senate decided that the problem of unemployment should be dealt with on a national basis, so it appointed a select committee to inquire into and report upon man-power and employment in Canada. It is interesting to note some of the observations and conclusions of the Canadian Senate select committee. At page 7 of the committee’s report, the following statement appears: -

It is essential that we keep the closest watch on changing patterns of employment, on the requirements for the various skills, on developments in foreign and domestic markets, on the effects pf technological change, on the implications of changing levels of investment and changing patterns of government expenditure, on the impact of population growth, changing rates of family formation, and changing levels of immigration. It is essential, too, that we have complete, accurate and detailed information on the characteristics of the labour force, and particularly of the unemployed. . . . The results of these studies should be given wide publicity. It is not sufficient that the government of the day be correctly informEd on these matters, although it goes without saying that this is of fundamental importance. The public must also be informed. Our teachers, educational administrators, employers, labour unions, and others must be fully acquainted with the changes that are taking place.

The committee stated, at page 9 of its report -

The studies of the committee have shown that the Canadian economy has entered a somewhat different phase in its development. There is a changed world environment. There are new trends and new circumstances in our society at. home. These require re-thinking and a willingness to re-examine our priorities, our methods, and our machinery of economic policy.

I suggest that the conclusions of the Canadian select committee are most apt to the present Australian economic situation. As Australians and as legislators we have a duty, on behalf of the Australian people, to excise from our vocabulary the terms “ unemployment “, “ depression “, “ dole “, “ retrenchment “, and “ dismissal “, The Australian people await action on this matter of unemployment. I am afraid they will have to wait until the return of a federal Labour government for something to be done. As recently as Monday last, after the Budget had been presented to this Parliament and discussion of it had taken place, Mr. D. R. Lysaght, the chairman of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited stated, according to a report which appeared in the “Canberra Times “ of Tuesday, 27th August, that further stimulus was required for the Australian economy. He went on to say -

The improvement in business conditions during 1962-63 was insufficient to employ all capital and labour available.

Inasmuch as this measure will give some stimulus to the economy and will result in the employment of a certain amount of capital and labour, the Opposition does not oppose it; but we point to the utterances at the Premiers Conference and to the statement made by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), in his secondreading speech, that the Commonwealth Government does not intend that the whole of the £20,000,000 to be provided under this bill should be devoted by the States to the relief of unemployment.

Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP

– in reply - The measure before the Senate is not opposed by the Opposition. Nevertheless, the opportunity has again been taken, not surprisingly, to raise the question of unemployment. I was rather surprised, however, to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) deal in the way he did with the proceedings of the Premiers Conference and the comments made there, because I have always had a very firm impression that the Leader of the Opposition is one man who would have a pretty thorough understanding of events that happen at these gatherings of Premiers, and of the manner in which negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States are carried out. I should have thought that the Leader of the Opposition would have been well aware that at such gatherings it is customary for the Premiers and the Commonwealth representatives to assemble as the Australian Loan Council, to adjourn the proceedings of the Loan Council and then to take their business up at the Premiers Conference, especially in cases where overlapping occurs between the business of the Loan Council and that of the Premiers Conference. According to the published report of the proceedings of the Premiers Conference, Mr. McEwen referred to such overlapping between the Loan Council proceedings and those of the Premiers Conference. In those circumstances - in the actual circumstances - it is not to be assumed that the record of the proceedings of the Premiers Conference relates to anything more than a segment of the total proceedings. It could not do otherwise.

The Leader of the Opposition knows that, for incontestable reasons, the proceedings of the Loan Council are secret. It is only the proceedings of the Premiers Conference of which a report is published in the form that has come before us. Nonetheless, the Leader of the Opposition has taken the point that this document shows that the participants in the conference said nothing about unemployment. The honorable senator appeared to assume, or to impart the impression to those listening to him, that nothing was said about that important subject. I suggest that such an assumption does not do credit to the Acting Premier of New South Wales, for example. I have no doubt that the Acting Premier, together with the Premiers of the other States and the Commonwealth representatives, discussed in Loan Council the details of the works and housing programmes, with which is wrapped up the entire question of employment and unemployment. From my knowledge of Premiers - and I should have thought that the Leader of the Opposition would have similar knowledge - the question of works and housing and the attendant question of employment would have been discussed exhaustively at the Loan Council meeting.

Having discussed fully and exhaustively, that aspect of finance, the traditional procedure would then have been adhered to. The general question of budgets would have been referred to the Premiers Conference, the proceedings of which were reported and the report of which has been circulated. The Premiers and the Commonwealth representatives, having disposed of the question of works and housing, loan programmes and employment, and having beaten up that tack to the best of their ability, would beat up the other tack of treasury problems when they met in Premiers Conference. In fact, that is precisely what they did. Are they to be criticized for doing so? Were the Premiers prevented from discussing any other matter in respect of their finances? Of course, they were not. In point of fact, as Senator Lillico has stated, the Leader of the Opposition was not entirely accurate, even in his account of what had happened at the Premiers Conference, because reference was made to unemployment at the Premiers Conference.

Senator McKenna:

– Not by the Commonwealth.


– By the Commonwealth, when Mr. McEwen, in his final rounding-off remarks, which were made in the presence of the press, referred to the grant of £20,000,000 for employmentgiving opportunities. What if no reference were made by the Commonwealth? I repeat that the matter had been dealt with exhaustively at the Loan Council meeting and this Premiers conference was the particular occasion upon which the opportunity was taken to discuss budgets. Budgets were certainly mentioned by two or three Premiers and, as might be expected, budget difficulties were referred to. The Premiers themselves raised this question of budget difficulties. Some of them said, “ We have budget difficulties. This grant of £20.000,000 can, in our administrations, be better used - and better used for employment-giving opportunities - if you permit us to use it for the purpose of overcoming our immediate budget difficulties.” 1 suggest that if the Leader of the Opposition had been one of those Premiers with budget difficulties, he would have done precisely what the Acting Premier of New South Wales did. He would have said, “ My pressing difficulty is the balancing of my budget. I should prefer to apply my portion of this grant to balancing my budget.” Why would he say that? He would not have to explain that to the Treasurer, but presumably it is necessary to explain it to the Opposition. If a Premier finished the year with an unbalanced budget, he would have to fund his deficit out of his loan allocation for the ensuing year. The Acting Premier of New South Wales, looking forward twelve months and having particular knowledge of his own employment fluctuations and seasonal requirements, would know better than any one else at the conference that his problem could best be solved by applying this grant to his budget, so that it would not be necessary to reduce, in the coming months, the amount which would be made available for loan works and housing programmes. That is the most realistic and common-sense thing that any Premier so placed could have done. I do not find it in my heart to criticize any Premier for doing that. I certainly do not find it in my heart to blame the Commonwealth for saying, “You cannot do it in that way. You must do it in this way.” It was a most realistic approach to the problem on the part both of the Premiers concerned and of the Commonwealth.

A problem which could arise - not the problem to which the Leader of the Opposition refers - from this differing treatment of the special grant is a problem for solution by the Commonwealth Grants Commission as between claimant States and standard States. The commission will have to decide how to regard the handling by the States of this special allocation, when it gets down to the task of establishing a basis of comparability as between standard States and claimant States. That is another question. I do not doubt that when the relevant legislation is before the Senate we shall hear again from Senator McKenna, and I do not doubt that his comments will be equally as interesting a« his comments on all other Commonwealth and State financial matters. I say that, even though I find myself in disagreement with him so frequently.

The other matter to which the Leader of the Opposition referred briefly was the rising interest charge paid by the States. This is a matter that we had before us previously and will no doubt have before us again. Like Senator McKenna, I do not want to go into it too deeply now, but 1 point out that it had no relevance to the year in question. It did not arise in the year just closed, and in the year before that it arose to only a very minor extent. Revenue funds were not used in those years for the purpose of financing State works. In any case, what the Leader of the Opposition may well have overlooked is that the current financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the Slates, which will end in 1965, makes provision for the servicing by the States of capital debt. When the grants were initially worked out, regard was had to that important item of expenditure by the States.

I want to refer briefly to the question of unemployment. I certainly do not want to go into it as deeply as Senator McClelland went into it. He seemed to be preoccupied for a large part of his time with wandering overseas to foreign countries in order to cite quite inappropriate authorities on employment or unemployment. He went to Canada and I could not help thinking that it was rather a compliment to this Government and this economy that in this chamber a Canadian authority on employment and cures for unemployment was quoted, when Canada has not been able to maintain anything like the record of employment maintained in this country.

Senator Branson:

– What is its percentage of unemployment - 6 per cent.?


– The latest figure, I think, was 6.9 per cent., as against 1.8 per cent, in Australia. Senator McClelland saw fit to bring this Canadian experience and authority into this Parliament to cite as an example. It is rather like teaching one’s mother to suck eggs. I was rather interested this morning when the Leader of the Government was asked by my own leader, by way of interjection, what overall unemployment figure he would find acceptable. Reluctantly - almost coyly, I thought - the Leader of the Opposition eventually acknowledged that a figure that was the average of 1955 might be accepted in this year - that is, an absolute figure, not a percentage figure. He apparently accepted 18,000 in 1955 and he would accept 18,000 now, despite the increase in the work force. I was not as interested in the variations in percentages between 1955 and now, as in the difference between what Senator McKenna would accept and what another pillar of the Labour movement would accept. I refer, of course, to Mr. Monk. With great respect to Senator McKenna, to whom I could listen for hours on end on many subjects, on this question I prefer to accept the experienced opinion of Mr. Monk rather than that of Senator McKenna. Speaking at the Australian Citizenship Convention in Canberra in 1961, Mr. Monk said -

Australia should not panic over a minor percentage of unemployment.

He went on to refer to experience in overseas countries. I shall not quote that part of his statement. I come to the last paragraph, in which I am particularly interested. He said -

But the ordinary person in Australia now gets awfully frightened if we get up to 2 per cent, unemployment, whereas in actual fact, because of our seasonal occupations in Australia, it is necessary to have about l.S per cent, floating work force to deal with seasonal and major construction works.

Senator McKenna:

– A floating work force does not mean an unemployed work force.


– A floating work force of 1.5 per cent, means that 1.5 per cent, of people are available for employment. If it does npt mean that those people are out of work at that particular moment they are required, I do not understand the English language.

Senator McKenna:

– That is where you completely misrepresent Mr. Monk. He was talking about casual workers.


– Not at all. He was referring to 1.5 per cent, of the work force being available for employment in seasonal and construction work. The important thing about this 1.5 per cent, is that when it is related to the current

Australian work force of 4,339,000, we see that the floating work force required for seasonal and major construction work is 64,500. We have in Australia to-day 78,000 people registered for employment. Of those 78,000 people, on Mr. Monk’s own statement, 64,500 are necessary to be available for seasonal and major construction work. If one deducts that figure from 78,000, the effective, real unemployment figure in Australia is somewhere between 13,000 and 15,000.

Senator Bishop:

– Why do you not take Mr. Monk’s more recent statement?


– To be quite honest, I have not seen his recent statement. The honorable senator will have an opportunity to tell us what it is; he is not denied the right to speak in this place. If he cares to put the statement before the Senate, it can be examined. The Government acknowledges the existence of unemployment registrations to the extent of 78,000 people and, regarding that as not being a desirable figure, has taken the necessary steps to assist the States to create employment-giving opportunities.

Senator Kennelly:

– That is not correct, on your own speech.


– It is correct on my own speech. If the honorable senator had been here earlier he would have known that I took time off to explain that a State Premier, in applying this grant to Consolidated Revenue, is ensuring, in the light of his knowledge and experience, that he is not prejudicing his loan funds, which can be used subsequently to provide employment. The honorable senator was not here to listen to what I said.

Senator Kennelly:

– I listened, but it will not work out.


– If the honorable senator thinks it will not, I suggest that he have a conversation with Mr. Renshaw, who represented New South Wales at the Premiers Conference. He was one of the gentlemen who was disposed to put his portion of the grant into his consolidated revenue fund.

The Government believes that this is a realistic piece of legislation which will have the effect for which it is designed. We regret that the Opposition has taken the opportunity to criticize the bill and in many respects to misrepresent its effect, if not its purpose. Notwithstanding that, I am glad that the Opposition will not go to the point of opposing the bill. It dare not.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Commencement).

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

– The grant on this occasion is being made at an earlier date than the grant that was made last year. A portion of last year’s grant was not ratified by the Parliament until after we came back early this year, when a grant of £5,000,000 was approved. I might address again to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) the argument that this type of additional assistance is now settling down into the pattern of grants made under the old formula and could become a regular feature of grants for the future. That is an argument I addressed to the Minister during the second-reading stage. He might be prepared to comment on that now.

Having regard to the way in which unemployment has soared during the two years in which these additional financial assistance grants have operated, how can the Minister claim that the grants have had any beneficial effect? During the currency of the grants unemployment has increased. Is the Minister in a position to give us any idea of the works that were put in hand in particular, areas where there were hard cores of unemployment? Is any information available to him from the Department of Labour and National Service as to what was determined in relation to past grants?

Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP

– I am not prepared to comment on the possibility of this type of grant, having been made over the last three years, settling down to a regular pattern. These special grants will be made when appropriate, after the Government has found out the requirements of the States. The Government has indicated that it is disposed to meet special circumstances with special grants when those grants are warranted. That is a pretty general indication that the Government will continue to do so in the future.

The honorable senator put up the argument that although the Government has made similar grants in the past two years, unemployment has increased. I do not know whether that is true. If it is, then I am sure that the particular purpose of the grant will have been served by its application to these pockets of unemployment, as to both industry and area, which are regarded by the States themselves as being best for treatment.

The Leader of the Opposition asked me whether any consultation had occurred between the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service and the various State departments and, if so, whether I am able to say with particularity what was the result of the consultation. I regret that I have not specific information on the point, but I can assure him that in 1962-63 every State consulted the Department of Labour and National Service about the regional distribution of unemployment for the purpose of expending the grant.


.- I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Why can reports not be submitted? The Minister stated in his second-reading speech that the main purpose of the grant had to be kept in mind. This is not a political matter, irrespective of whether it affects New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland or Tasmania. Why can the appropriate departmental officials not say to the States: “ You have received a certain amount of money. Where did you spend it? What number of unemployed were absorbed in this area or that? “ My big complaint is that this money will not be devoted to the purpose for which the Minister said it was to be made available. The Minister has indicated that it could pass through the normal budgetary channels. Of course, that would permit the States to use the money elsewhere. I point out that the Commonwealth is supposed to be making this money available for a particular purpose.

The Minister wants the unemployed to be got back to work, just as I do. I say with great respect that the Treasurer or his officers should investigate how much money the local authorities can spend, particularly those outside the big cities. Two million people live in Melbourne, ‘ and the statistics compiled by the Department of Labour and National Service show that in that city 5,524 persons are unemployed. I am not certain of the population of Geelong; one could say that at the most it. would be 150,000, including men, women and children. Qf course, a lot of the children would not enter into the picture for the purposes of this bill. The August statistics reveal that 1,069 persons in Geelong are unemployed. That was before the Ford company put off 300 people.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar:

Order! The honorable senator is getting away from the clause.


– The action I have suggested should be taken before the act comes into operation. It would not be of much use trying to do what I have suggested after the act came into operation and three-quarters of the money had been spent. If the Treasurer wants the legislation to come into operation on 1st September, then he must plan before that date. Perhaps the word “ plan “ will not be received too well in some quarters, but if some of my learned friends on the other side of the chamber or on this side can suggest another word that has the same meaning I will use it. I repeat that Melbourne has a population of 2,000,000 people. Perhaps I over-estimated the population of Geelong. For the purposes of this bill, I suppose it would be between 80,000 and 100,000. But there are only five times as many people unemployed in Melbourne as there are in Geelong.

I ask the Government to seek the reports I have suggested; otherwise it will leave itself open to the charge that it does not care how the money will be spent. This action ought to be taken before the act comes into operation. That is why I have offered these few comments. I do not want to address you, Mr. Chairman, in relation to this matter after the horse has bolted; I want to talk to you while you still have hold of him. The Government is entitled to spend £20,000,000 to provide 78,000 people with a job; but it should not provide the money in the way proposed, because many people will not get a job. Last year the Government did not plan before the commencement of the legislation. The Government owes it to the people of Australia to ensure that it has some knowledge of the way in which the money will be spent. The Premiers ought to be told when they can get their money, but they ought to be told also to send in a report indicating how the money will be spent. I ask the Treasurer to give some thought to implementing my suggestion, even if he has to delay the coming into operation of the act for a week or so. If he acts upon my suggestion, things will be done in the way in which they ought to be done and the people who need the money will get some benefit from it.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Financial assistance to States).

Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania

– This is the substantive clause of the bill. It makes payable to the States during the current financial year the amounts specified in the schedule. But it says -

  1. . for the purpose of financial assistance.

I point out to the Minister that that leaves it open to the States to apply the money to any purpose they think fit. I indicate that there are no safeguards or reservations upon the use that a State may make of that money so far as this bill is concerned, and that, accordingly, the bill, particularly in this clause, does not live up to its purpose as explained by the Minister in his second-reading speech. Does the Minister disagree with the argument that that leaves the States completely untrammelled?

If I am right in that, I ask why, if the Government’s primary concern is about unemployment in the States, it makes no reference whatever in its legislation to ensure that the money reaches its objective. I am prepared to concede that any accretion to a State budget will have an influence upon the level of employment because State expenditure will promote financial activity and employment. If financial activity increases, there is a greater stimulus. From a general viewpoint, any subvention .to a State budget is a stimulus to financial activity and so to employment. But having regard to the problems that the Government itself acknowledges - there were particular pockets of unemployment and particular circumstances tending to create unemployment - if it had side arrangements with

Premiers which were never made public, why are they not mentioned with some particularity in the bill?

I take the opportunity to advert to one matter only. The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has been credited with a statement to the effect that 1.5 per cent, was a reasonable figure to have unemployed. It is quite certain that Mr. Monk did not say anything of that kind at all. I took the opportunity on Tuesday morning, in Melbourne, to discuss -that with him. He completely repudiates the suggestion that he said that 1.5 per cent, was a fair thing to expect in the unemployment field. As the Minister read out the statement - I take it he quoted accurately from the record at the time - Mr. Monk was talking about the casual workforce. The words used by the Minister in quoting him were the “ floating workforce “. That is not to be confused with “ unemployed “. Mr. Monk is talking about the classes of persons who do not settle down to one vocation, who follow the sun and follow the seasons, from apple picking in the south to timber in the north, and to sugar, meat and so on. The men he is talking about as a floating workforce are men who are almost continuously employed. Mr. Monk was certainly not in any way affirming the proposition that it was reasonable to expect something like 2 per cent, of the work-force to be unemployed. That completely misrepresents both his mind and his utterances.

Along with Senator Kennelly, I would ask the Minister to give more information as to how far in the past grants of this nature, each of them made in the same broad terms, without limitation of any kind, have been followed up by the Government to ascertain whether the understanding of the Commonwealth or what the Commonwealth had in mind, as we have been told, was in fact carried out?

Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia. · LP

– I think it only necessary to refer to some of the matters on which I spoke during my reply to the secondreading debate. This bill flows from a meeting of Premiers with representatives of the Commonwealth. I do not think any one is going to assume that the purpose of the Commonwealth in making this grant is not well and. .truly- known both to the Commonwealth and each of the State Premiers. I have indicated that the usual procedure at Loan Council meetings - and it certainly occurred on this occasion - is to discuss in detail the works and housing programmes of each State together with whatever employment problems it might have, and that this grant was made as a result of those discussions which took place both in Loan Council and at the Premiers’ Conference.

The Commonwealth does not regard the States as being other than sovereign and responsible. Indeed, it would be cause for quick expression of resentment and quick support of that resentment in this place by members of the Opposition if, for example, wc were to attempt to follow the grant into New South Wales and say, “ You will not spend this at Cessnock, but you will spend it at Newcastle or Wollongong “. Surely there is every justification for accepting the view that a sovereign government will act responsibly. I have said in pursuance of this matter that last year not one State avoided consulting the Department of Labour and National Service, as was the arrangement which, although not expressed in any act, was understood between the Commonwealth and the Premiers. In all the circumstances, if one accepts the Premiers as reasonable men, this seems to be the best arrangement. For that reason, the Government believes that the arrangements made at the conference, although not carried specifically and word for word into this bill, are adequate to ensure that the money will be spent in the manner in which it should be spent.

I want to refer again, if I may, to Mr. Monk’s statement because Senator McKenna has now thrown some doubt on the general interpretation of it. I have not heard such interpretation controverted by Mr. Monk. He was reported as follows: -

Mr. Monk said Australia should not panic over a minor percentage of unemployment. “ In America to-day, there are about 5,000,000 unemployed or about 6 per cent, of the total work force “, he said.

Mr. Monk continued ;

In Canada, the present unemployment figure is 8 per cent, and will go up to about 10 per cent, by the end of March. . .

We have been very fortunate. When 1 tell people overseas that our unemployment figure is about 1.8 per cent, or less than 2 per cent., they “say, “ That is not a problem at all “. They are used to having economic problems with a ratio of unemployed to the work force of about 4 or 5 per cent.

In 1939, when the war broke out, we had about 10 per cent, unemployed in this country, and we were used to dealing with it on a 10 per cent, basis.

But the ordinary person in Australia now gets awfully frightened if we get up to 2 per cent, unemployment, whereas in actual fact, because of our seasonal occupations in Australia, it is necessary to have about 1.5 per cent, floating work force to deal with seasonal and major construction works.

If that is not a statement about unemployment, with particular reference to unemployment in Australia, I have never read one.


.- The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) raised a number of Aunt Sallies and proceeded to knock them over. He said that the States were sovereign and responsible. Nobody could object to that statement. My complaint is that the Minister himself is not acting responsibly. I agree that the States are sovereign and responsible, but, in the case of this legislation, the Minister is not accepting the responsibility he should accept.

The Minister said, in effect, “ Fancy me saying to the Premier of New South Wales that he should not spend money in Cessnock but should spend it in Wollongong or somewhere else”. We are not asking the Government to do that. The Government has given the States ?20,000,000. Does it ask the States what they have done with the money? Does it ask them for receipts, or does it not require receipts in order to save the cost of receipt stamps? We say that the Government should be responsible in this matter. We do not want to hamstring any one.

The Minister made a classic remark when he said that certain provisions were not actually contained in the bill but that an agreement was made. I do not doubt that the Premiers of the States will do what they think best. But in his second-reading speech, or during the debate on it, the Minister said that the Premier of Victoria had used all the money he received for unemployment relief to fix his budget. Not too many people were found work in Victoria at that time, whether at Ballarat, Geelong or some other country centre. Very few of the unemployed were put back to work. I fail to see how the Government can be satisfied with what is happening. The Opposition merely wants the Government to show some responsibility in this matter, as it requires the States to do, but so far there has been no proof that the Government has shown responsibility.

Reference has been made to a statement by Mr. Albert Monk. Mr. Monk is quite able to speak for himself. We are all familiar with his statement on employment. The Minister for Civil Aviation knows as well as I do that shearers, for example, have to travel from one shed to another. They might stay for a week at one shed in Victoria. We have only a small State and we have not hundreds of thousands of sheep to shear at one place.


– Order! The honorable senator is getting away from the clause before the committee.


– I am speaking of a statement made by Mr. Monk. As you allowed the Minister to refer to that statement, Mr. Chairman, you should allow me to answer him.


– I will allow you to proceed so long as you confine your remarks to the clause.


– With great respect, I say that, as you allowed the Minister to refer to that subject, I claim the right to refer to it also. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in his interpretation of Mr. Monk’s statement. My leader has had far more training in the use and meaning of words than I have, but any one will agree that when Mr. Monk said there must be a floating work force of 1.5 per cent., he did not mean a floating unemployed work force of 1.5 per cent. Let us consider the work that is performed by this floating work force. In an area where potatoes are grown, for example, a potato digger goes from one farm to another where a mechanical digger is not used.

I am concerned with seeing that the Government acts responsibly in this matter. A large sum of money - £20,000,000 - is involved, but, so far as I can judge, the

Government merely says to the State Premiers, “ Here is so much for you, and so much for you. You need not send in receipts. Follow the practice of private enterprise and do away with receipts.” The Post Office revenue goes down and up goes the cost of postage. Then the Government wipes its hands of the whole matter.

In view of the statement by the Minister that the Premier of Victoria used the whole of his grant to fix his budget, 1 think it is about time that the Minister asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) - who also happens to be a Victorian - to check not only on the Premier of Victoria but on every one else concerned, to ascertain how many workers got jobs from the expenditure of this money.

Senator BISHOP:
South Australia

– I wish to deal not only with the matters under discussion but also with the reference by the Minister to the statement made by Mr. Albert Monk.


– Order! The debate on this clause is developing into a secondreading debate. The discussion must be confined to clause 3 of the bill, which is the clause now before the committee.

Senator BISHOP:

– When I interjected while the Minister was speaking, he said that I would have a right to raise this matter in reply to him. We are discussing a grant to the States for the relief of unemployment. It is argued that we have not got substantial unemployment, and a statement by Mr. Monk is quoted in support of that argument. On the general question of what Mr. Monk said, it seems to me that as you allowed the Minister to say-


– Order! I shall not allow any further discussion on that point. Honorable senators must speak to the clause before the committee.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.



– The question now is, “That the title be agreed to”.

Senator BISHOP:
South Australia

– May I now address myself to the point I raised previously on the general question of unemployment? This is a bill to provide money for the States for the relief of unemployment. The Minister referred to a statement made by Mr. Albert Monk in an address to a Citizenship Convention in Canberra. I question the use that has been made of the contribution by Mr. Monk to that convention. His address was given in special circumstances. Mr. Monk, the leading representative of the industrial workers of Australia, was asked to speak at a convention dealing with a subject of great importance to Australia and the Australian economy. He was asked to help to establish an economic climate that would encourage people to come to this country. Obviously, as a good Australian, his contribution would be weighted according to the nature of the convention. He would also have in mind, as the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have said, that the question of mobility must be considered in relation to unemployment. By “ mobility “ I mean a situation in which labour is free to move from job to job, particularly seasonal labour. During the Budget debate I referred to some comments made by Mr. Monk on this subject, but I should like to record those remarks in this debate. At page 261 of “ Hansard “ I referred to comments by Mr. Monk made on 13th August last, the day the Budget was announced. Mr. Monk said -

The Budget speech of Mr. Holt was disappointin many fundamental characteristics. He apparently, on behalf of the Government-

Senator Paltridge:

– This is nonsense!

Senator BISHOP:

– I am giving Mr. Monk’s views, and I shall relate them to the matter under discussion.


– The honorable senator is getting away from the matter under discussion. He should confine this remarks to the title of the bill.

Senator BISHOP:

– I am asking for an opportunity to reply to remarks made by the Minister concerning Mr. Monk.


– The honorable senator cannot deal with that matter at this stage.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Third Reading

Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -

That the bill be now read a third time.

Senator BISHOP:
South Australia

Mr. President, I have always believed that an Australian is entitled to have his say. Perhaps I did not follow the forms of the chamber while we were in committee, but that does not alter the fact that some reply should be made to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) on the subject of unemployment. His remarks, to some extent, related to statements made by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk, about unemployment and Australia’s economic policies.

I believe that the words used by Mr. Monk at the immigration convention in 1961 have not been correctly interpreted by members of the Government, so I put two points in connexion with them. The first is that certain factors must be considered in relation to Mr. Monk’s statement about 1.5 per cent. of unemployment. In making that statement, Mr. Monk, an important industrialist, was concerned to establish a good climate among delegates to the convention. We are hoping to receive into this country large numbers of migrants to increase our population and help our economic growth. Obviously some weight would be given to Mr. Monk’s contribution to the discussion. I suggest that we must also allow for the fact that, when speaking on these matters, Mr. Monk would have had regard for applications then before industrial tribunals. He knows that whatever opinions he expresses will be weighed by those who have to adjudicate upon claims.

I put it to the Senate that Mr. Monk has, in fact, criticized the Government’s economic policies which have resulted in the unemployment that has been recorded and I shall now make some reference to his criticisms. In the October, 1962, issue of the “ A.C.T.U. Bulletin “, the official publication of the A.C.T.U., there is a reference to the submissions which were made to the Government by the A.C.T.U. before last year’s budget was introduced. The leader of the delegation which made the submissions was Mr. Albert Monk, the person about whom we are speaking. At page 3 of the, journal, which is available for examination by senators, is a reference to the submissions that were made to the Prime Minister. The article states -

The ACTU Executive gave consideration to a letter from the Prime Minister intimating that it was proposed to follow up the consultations with the respective representatives of the wide range of industries and interests on the state on the economy but on this occasion the Groups would not be consulted separately. The Executive considered this matter and decided to submit the Trade Union views in writing which are as follows: -

The article then refers to the Government’s economic measures and states that the policy of the Government must be one of completely eliminating the present pool of unemployed and of providing job opportunities for youths. In the May, 1962, edition of this bulletin, in an editorial by Mr. Albert Monk, there appeared the following two paragraphs which should be examined -

The Executive considerations relating to the unemployment situation drew specific attention to the lack of job opportunities for thousands of available youths with secondary educational standards.

The Federal Government is culpably negligent in regard to these youths in particular, and to the Nation generally for the paucity of job opportunities, restricted educational advancement and lack of apprenticeships in trades requiring skilled technicians.

I refer now to what I said yesterday during the Budget debate. At page 261 of “ Hansard “ I indicated what the president of the A.C.T.U. had said on 13th August when speaking about the Budget. He said -

The Budget speech of Mr. Holt was disappointing in many fundamental characteristics. He apparently, on behalf of the Government, has accepted the position that there should be a static unemployment figure of 80,000 of the work-force, and has given no indication of special measures to remove high pockets of unemployment . . .

Honorable senators can read the report for themselves. On 15th January Mr. Monk spoke about unemployment. His remarks appear at page 263 of “ Hansard “, but again I should like to have them recorded.

Senator Cormack:

– Why not ask for leave to have your speech re-recorded in “ Hansard “ in toto?

Senator BISHOP:

– It is only one short statement. Mr. Monk said -

The increase of 20,000 unemployed during the past month was not surprising, considering the registration for unemployment benefit by thousands of school leavers. The A.C.T.U. has repeatedly drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that its short term measures have had a temporary, but no fundamental effect on unemployment.

I conclude by reminding honorable senators that at page 264 of “ Hansard “ there is a reference to the statement made by the leader of the A.C.T.U. delegation to the 1962 International Labour Organization Conference. That man is now a conciliation commissioner. His remarks reflect A.C.T.U. policy and criticize the unemployment policies of the Government.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

page 340


Discharge of Motions

Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -

That the following Orders of the Day be discharged: -

Government Business -

No. 15 - The Prime Minister’s Conference and the Common Market, Statement by the Prime Minister dated 16th October, 1962 - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 16 - Australian Broadcasting Control Board - Report and Recommendations to the Postmaster-General on Applications for Commercial Television Licences in Upper Namoi, South-western Slopes and Eastern Riverina, Grafton-Kempsey, Upper Murray, Wide Bay and Spencer Gulf North areas - Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the paper be printed.

General Business -

No. 1 - Coal Industry Act - Fifteenth

Annual Report of the Joint Coal Board together with Auditor-General’s report on accounts, for year 1961-62 - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 2 - Tariff Board Act - Annual Report of the Tariff Board, for year 1961-62, together with a summary of recommendations - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 3 - Broadcasting and Television Act - Thirtieth Annual Report and Financial Statement of the Australian Broadcasting Commission together with Financial Statement for year 1961-62; Fourteenth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for year 1961-62 - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 4 - Economic Enquiry - Statement by the Prime Minister dated 17th October, 1962 - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 5 - Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea - Interim Report of Select Committee appointed to inquire into and report upon the Political Development of the Territory, together with a resolution on the Report adopted by the Legislative Council - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 6 - Defence - New Three Year Programme - Statement by the Minister for Defence, 24th October, 1962- Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the paper be printed.

No. 7 - Petroleum Search Subsidy Acts - Third Annual Statement by the Minister concerning the operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-61 and payment of subsidy, for year 1961-62.

Fifth Annual Statement by the Minister concerning the operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1957-1958 and payment of subsidy, for year 1961-62- -Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 9 - Britain’s Common Market negotiations - Statement by the Minister for Trade, dated 6th December, 1962- Resumption of debate upon the motion. That the paper be printed.

No. 12 - Welfare of the Aborigines of Gove Peninsula, Arnhem Land - Statement by the Minister for Territories, dated 9th April, 1963 - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 15 - Defence Review - Statement by the Prime Minister, dated 22nd May, 1963 - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 17 - Aboriginal Welfare - Resolutions of Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Darwin on 11th and 12th July, 1963 - Statement by the Minister for Territories, dated 14th August, 1963; and Statement of Policy - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

No. 18 - That the introduction of summer daylight saving in Australia during the calendar months of December, January, February and March of each year would have substantial national benefits - Resumption of debate upon the motion, That the paper be printed.

page 341


BUDGET 1963-64

Debate resumed from 28th August (vide page 300), on motion by Senator Paltridge-

That the following papers: -

Civil Works Programme 1963-64;

Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1963-64;

Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for year 1963-64;

Expenditure -

Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for service of year 1963-64;

Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for year 1963-64;

Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June, 1963;

Income Tax Statistics;

National Income and Expenditure 1962-63 - be printed.

Upon which Senator Kennelly had moved by way of amendment -

At the end of the motion add the following words: - “ but while approving of such benefits as are contained in the Budget, and particularly those for primary producers and social service beneficiaries, the Senate condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development. The Senate is also of opinion that the Government’s failure to provide for full employment and for increases in child endowment, which has remained stationary in respect of (he second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust “.

Senator MURPHY:
New South Wales

– The great question in relation to this Budget is whether it is the most effective way of increasing the wealth of the nation. I refer to wealth in the broadest sense. I mean, not only the assets of the nation itself, held by the Australian Government and the governments of the States and by local government authorities, but also the assets held by individuals, by Australian residents and Australian companies. I include all those things which go to make up the productive capacity of this community. If that wealth is not increased and provision is not made for it to increase in the future, every single thing which this Budget and every other budget is supposed to produce is prejudiced. There can be no effective defence and no effective social services if provision is not made to increase the productive capacity of the nation.

Last night I dealt with a number of matters which tended to reduce the wealth of the nation. One of those matters was the extent to which the assets of the nation have passed, during the regime of the Menzies Government, into the hands of people outside this country. That trend will continue if the policy expressed in this Budget is continued, because there is no hint of any step to prevent the flow of assets into foreign hands and to prevent the control of manufacturing industry or primary industry from passing into overseas hands; nor is there a hint of any step to return into Australian hands, whether private or public, those assets which have already passed out of our control. This is the most serious matter facing the nation. Yet, the Government, with the exception of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is the Deputy Prime Minister, has treated it in an incompetent and irresponsible manner.

One thing is obvious. If Australia is to avoid being put in the same position as Canada, whose high unemployment rate was mentioned here earlier this afternoon, we must obtain as much information as possible about the extent to which overseas investment is affecting Australia and its productive capacity. We must have statistics which show exactly what is happening in this field, what advantages there are and what disadvantages. We should know the effect on our economy of the double taxation agreements, what tax would have been payable but for the agreements and what tax is payable under the agreements. These things are elementary. Yet, what is the position? The statistics which are kept in other countries about these matters are not being kept in Australia, even in regard to double taxation. No information at all is available about the effects of these agreements.

On 10th April last, the Minister representing the Treasurer answered a question which I had asked about the amount of tax which United Kingdom companies had paid, or had become liable to pay, to the Australian Commissioner of Taxation on distributed profits and dividends each financial year since the commencement of the double taxation agreements with the United Kingdom. The answer given in reply to that question, and to similar questions regarding Canadian and United States companies, since the commencement of the respective double taxation agreements, was -

The statistics available do not enable the amounts of tax to be calculated.

There is no information available to Australians to enable them to ascertain with precision just what is happening to their economy while this trend continues.

What is the attitude of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) to this matter? 1 refer honorable senators to what the Minister said in reply to statements made by Senator Kennelly recently. According to “ Hansard “ of 21st August, 1963, at page 107, the Minister stated -

He cites one disadvantage, which we all acknowledge to exist - that the inflow of capital may result in the loss of Australian industries. But he makes no attempt to measure the degree of that disadvantage, or to assess whether it is real or illusory and whether it is actually operating to the detriment of Australia. If it is real -

Senator Kennelly interjected at this point and said, “ It is real “, and the Minister continued -

Then why do you not give some figures relating to it? We have had no information from the Opposition in terms of the industries that have passed into overseas control, and what that amounts to when we compare it with the great volume of money that is coming into Australia from overseas. There has been no examination of what happens when an Australian company is bought out, or of what the shareholders do wilh their funds. There has been no evidence to show whether they in turn re-invest their funds in some other Australian business.

That statement shows that on this grave matter the Minister for National Development is completely irresponsible. Here is the man who is responsible for the development of this nation. We are faced with a situation in which 40 per cent, of the manufacturing industry of Australia - that is a rough estimate, because there are no definite estimates, due to his default - has passed into the hands of overseas interests. The industries concerned are strategic to the Australian economy. We know that large sections of primary industry also have passed into overseas hands. Yet he, the man who is responsible for developing this nation and ensuring that the nation’s assets are built up, when faced with a situation in which the assets are passing into the hands of others, has done nothing to obtain information. He dares to say to a nonGovernment senator, “ Why don’t you supply this elementary information about the effect of overseas investment?” It is nothing less than disgraceful.

If we are to increase the wealth of this nation, a number of things must be done. There must be national development on a grand scale. What has been done in the


north is all right as far as it goes, but it is clearly insufficient. To spend £6,250,000 in special developmental projects over three years in Western Australia is simply not enough. We must be prepared to face up to the fact that if private persons in Australia are not able or not prepared to develop those parts of Australia which need development and those industries which need to be developed, what is not done by us as individuals must be done by us together. We must be prepared to initiate development through public authorities such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and to do this on a permanent and much broader scale than ever before. We need to do far more than has been done. We ought to be thinking not only of projects such as the Snowy Mountains scheme and the Blowering dam hut also of coastal rivers in New South Wales. There ought to be conservation of those rivers and irrigation. Far more ought to be done in northern Queensland than has been done. What has been done in the south is good. It has been of tremendous benefit, for instance, in the Murray Valley and in the Mumimbidgee irrigation area in adding to productive capacity, but we must be prepared to engage in large scale development, even where it is required more than 500 miles from Melbourne.

Other things must be done if we are to increase our productive capacity. Industrial research is lagging. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing well, so far as it goes. It ought to be expanded to a much greater extent. It ought to be engaging in a great deal more research, but it cannot possibly cope with all that needs to be done by way of industrial research. There are estimates - these must be imprecise - which shows that apart from what has been done by the C.S.I.R.O. Australia needs, for industrial research, some £45,000,000 a year, yet industry itself is spending only an estimated £4,500,000 a year on industrial research. This calls for action by the Government. Steps ought to be taken in the way of provision of attractive tax incentives to encourage industrial research. This might have the desired effect, especially if the incentives were selective and applied, say, only to research which was approved by the C.S.I.R.O. Research by universities is lagging and it ought to be increased. If we do not take action in other areas, our productive capacity must decrease to a point where we will not be able to afford the social services, development and defence that we must have.

The Government has failed to meet the constant demands of education authorities for an inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education. I have no doubt that it will do so if it is prodded, and prodded, and prodded, but we should not have to wait for that. Here is a matter affecting the future of this country. We cannot afford to put these things off year after year until complaints come in such a torrent that the Government finds it must do something about them if it is not to lose electoral support. We cannot trifle with Australia’s future. Each one of the things we are concerned about is prejudiced by the grave failure of this Government to face up to the problems of primary, secondary and technical education. The Government is not doing enough for the universities. For instance, let us look at what is happening in relation to Commonwealth scholarships to universities. The percentage of Commonwealth scholarship holders to new entrants has fallen from 29.5 per cent, in 1956 to 21.8 per cent, in 1961. The steps that were taken then were more effective than the steps that are taken now. Each one of these matters must be looked at. When will the Government face up to these issues and do something about them?

There arc some worth-while features in the Budget. The provision for subsidy on superphosphate is a good measure. There are some other items of encouragement to primary production which are also unexceptionable. Some justice has been done in relation to social services for widows, but only after a torrent of complaint. There are some trifling benefits in relation to other matters. The encouragement of immigration is certainly to be applauded. But the Budget is silent on many important matters that reach to the substance and the heart of our economy. If the present policies continue to be pursued we shall have more and more assets passing out of Australian hands into the hands of persons overseas, bringing evil effects such as opposition to the programme of export which is favoured by Australia, and also a reduction in the available sources of revenue. Our development will depend upon what is determined by persons outside this community. That development will be hindered because the revenues available to this community are lessened - drained by what is pouring out of the country in the shape of dividends and remittances and invisible imports. Education will continue to be neglected and social services will continue to fall in the world scale, as they have fallen during this Government’s term of office. From fifth place, Australia has moved down to the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth places, and it is still going down. That is the pattern of this Budget. That is what the Government has done for the community. For a number of years the people of Australia have placed their trust in this Government, but it has betrayed that trust. The patience of the people is exhausted.

Senator GORTON:
Minister for the Navy · Victoria · LP

[5.251. - The introduction of a budget gives an opportunity to the Parliament to examine the concessions, or perhaps the relief from impositions, granted to individuals in the country. It gives a chance to examine the plans put forward for the continued expansion of the country and the continued development of areas throughout the country. It gives the Parliament an opportunity to examine - as Senator Murphy has just done - the general economic background as a result of the programme already carried out, and to assess what the future is likely to hold as a result of the general state of the economy and the trends within it. A little later I propose to discuss in more detail some of the individual benefits provided in the Budget and to endeavour to show what effect they will have on the general economy in the years to come. But first I should like to place on record an interpretation of the economic state of Australia completely different from that which has been placed on record by Senator Murphy.

During the years in which this Government has been in office Australia has passed through the greatest period of expansion in the whole of its history. Population has increased in that decade by about 2,000,000. We have seen a steadily rising development from the north to the south of Australia.

Industries have been introduced which were not known here a decade before. They are providing thousands of jobs for workers and thousands of new products for Australians to buy and use, thus improving their standard of living and providing them with a greater variety of articles from which to choose. As the year just passed should show, this process is continuing wilh increased vigour. During the past year the gross national product rose by 8 per cent., and the individual’s demand for consumer goods increased by 4 per cent. As the demand for individual consumer goods rose by 4 per cent., the prices of the goods remained fixed and stable. The 4 per cent, increase represents, therefore, a real increase in the standard of living during that period.

The people of Australia have been able to build up by some £240,000,000 their deposits in the savings banks. They have a title to those deposits but the savings banks have been able to use the money to strengthen the economy by investing in housing or in industry. Those savings and that investment are responsible for some of the vast expansion that we have seen over the year. Expenditure on new houses and flats, as distinct from business premises, increased by 10 per cent, in the year just finished, culminating - as a question asked in the Senate only a day or two ago disclosed - in an all-time record last month for the number of dwellings constructed in Australia. Company incomes - which are a measure of the form of profitable business activity which indicates progress in the future because of the individual profit motive - have risen during the same period by 1 1 per cent. We see continuing progress and expansion, not only in the private sector, but also in the public sector.

Wherever we look in Australia, the increase of activity in the public sector gives us a picture of exciting expansion. The kind of economy-building which Senator Murphy suggested he would like to see in this country can be seen by those who travel around. A great addition to the economy is being made in Western Australia, where a uniform gauge railway is being built. For the first time in the history of federation a bridge of steel will be thrown across the continent from west to east, and west and east will be closer to being one economic unit than they have ever been before.

At the western end of the standard-gauge railway, which depended on governments for its inception, there will be built - and these will depend on private enterprise for the necessary investment - steelworks, steelmills and industries which will build up the production of that part of Australia, which obviously has not sufficient industries at the present time. In South Australia the beginning of the same process of rail Standardization is to be seen. As a result of the Government’s initial expenditure, a vital link will be provided between Port Pirie and Broken Hill.

On the Ord River, in the Kimberleys, a week or two ago a dam was opened. It had been spoken about for years past, but has now been constructed. With its waterways, buildings and research facilities provided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the project will provide, in that desert, cotton and others of the commodities that Australia needs to grow. Up in Queensland, vast areas of the brigalow country - some of the most productive land in Australia - are being cleared and opened for new settlement. This is being done by the Australian Government in conjunction with the Queensland Government. I am speaking now almost entirely of those things which have been done as a result of the activities of the Australian Government, and of the vast economic expansion to which these activities are leading.

We all know about the beef roads which are opening up the interior, so that those who raise cattle can not only bring their beasts more easily to the markets, but also can ask more money for them because of their better condition. These roads will ensure a more regulated flow of cattle to the meatworks on the coast, thereby overcoming one of the difficulties that Queensland has had to face in the past. Employment of meat workers has been seasonal because of the difficulty of droving cattle and getting them to the meatworks in a regular flow. To the west of Gladstone, coal is being mined. In the Northern Territory in one year £15,000,000 has been expended on developmental projects. All these things are in the public section, but all of them together hardly match the vast expansion being undertaken, not by the Australian Government, but by the various State governments through the subventions of this Government. The States in their own spheres are able to carry out enormous expansion work, such as we in Victoria have seen throughout the La Trobe valley. This expansion is bringing together the outskirts of Melbourne and of Geelong and :s forming the two centres into one vast city. Perhaps there has been too much expansion in one place, but nevertheless it is an indication of economic growth and certainly not of stagnation.

I should like to drive home what the State governments are able to do by way of expansion as a result of the Australian Government’s underwriting of their loan programmes. I point out that in the current financial year approximately £272,000,000 of loan money will be expended. Even at the most cursory glance, is this an indication of a stagnant economy such as Senator Murphy has asked us to believe exists in Australia? Is the underwriting of so vast a sum for the States’ loan programmes and the direct provision of £90,000,000 for housing alone - I shall not go through the whole list - an indication that our progress will falter? Senator Murphy and other speakers have applauded the proposal to bring into Australia in the coming year 1 35 000 assisted migrants. It is estimated that the net population increase as a result of migration will be 100,000. Is that an indication of stagnation, of a lack of revenue, of the economy slipping back?

We have been asked where the revenue will come from for the future. Some doubt has been expressed about whether we will achieve our revenue target. Revenue is not falling off. In spite of direct concessions totalling £40,000,000 in this financial year, and in spite of the fact that concessions made in the last two years will amount to £80,000,000 in the current year, revenue will rise by approximately £154,000,000.

Senator Hannaford:

– Those who criticize ignore the increase in national income.

Senator GORTON:

– The worry- if it is a real worry- which exists in the minds of people who lack confidence arises from the fact that they do not pay proper attention to the increase in population, the growing work force, expanding production, and the increasing capacity of members of the work force to acquire the increased production. We must continually come back to the fact that while this growth has occurred prices have remained stable. The gross national product statistics show that the attitude to which I have just referred should not be entertained. I point out to those who adopt such an attitude that during the last year there has been an increase of 10 per cent, in wage margins. The fact that margins could be increased during a period of price stability must mean the existence of an ability to buy and to consume more of the products of this country.

Some concern has been expressed by Senator Murphy and others about the effect on the economy of overseas investments in Australia. Let me say at once, Sir, that a country of the size and having the population of Australia cannot hope to be able entirely from its own savings to accumulate enough capital to expand as quickly and efficiently as we wish to expand and must expand. No small country - not even the United States of America in its most expansionary period, when its people were spreading across the continent and building a new nation - has been able to accumulate from its own resources sufficient money for development. It is essential that overseas capital should be invested in this country if we are to expand as rapidly as we wish or even if we are to do one-tenth of the things which Senator Murphy has suggested should be done.

Why is it believed that this form of investment is necessarily wrong? I pause here to say that I do not believe that Senator Murphy indicated that all of it was necessarily wrong. I do not want to misquote him. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that the bulk of such investment is necessarily right and that it does no harm whatever to Australia. Let mp. advert, by way of illustration, to the need in this country for an oil industry - an industry which clearly, from the viewpoint of defence alone, must vastly increase Australia’s capacity to look after herself. The amount of capital that is required to locate an oilfield, to construct the plant that is needed to extract the oil from the ground, to construct a pipeline to take that oil to a refinery and to construct a refinery to convert the crude oil into the products that are used throughout industry, runs into hundreds of millions of pounds. Would it really matter if all that capital were provided from overseas sources? Of course, that is not happening. The physical assets - the oil wells, the pipes and the refineries - would be in Australia and under the control of the Australian Government and the Australian people.

It is said that we will be required to use our export earnings to pay charges on all the capital that has been invested to discover oil. If £1,000,000,000 were needed to service this country with oil and if all of it were to come from overseas sources, to pay a dividend of 5 per cent, we would be required to send £50,000,000 a year abroad to the people who had invested the capital. But we would be saving £130,000,000 in foreign exchange as a result of not having to bring into this country the oil which at present has to be brought here.

Senator Murphy:

– Does General MotorsHolden’s Proprietary Limited pay a dividend of 5 per cent.?

Senator GORTON:

– No. I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. The only point I want to add about oil is that I hope what I have said makes it clear, not that one wants all this capital to be provided from overseas, but that, if it were provided from that source, it would still be to the advantage of Australia because it would have provided an asset which had not been here before and would save us overseas exchange.

General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited is usually referred to by those who object to the investment in this country of overseas funds. I believe there is room for argument about whether the dividends paid by General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited are too high and whether such a company, be it a proprietary company or not, should publish a balance-sheet in Australia. But I do not believe there is any room for argument about the fact that this company has established an asset which did not exist before and that it has provided work for thousands of people within its own organization and those of its contractors. There is no room for argument about the fact that this company gave to Australia a motor car industry which has been in peace-time, and will be in time of war, of great benefit and which has saved us from having to buy abroad the tremendous number of cars that have been made in Australia.

Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.

Senator GORTON:

– Just before the sitting was suspended, I was addressing to the Senate a few arguments which appeared to me to refute the suggestion that the Australian economy either had been going downhill or was showing signs of being sluggish at the present moment. I had also endeavoured to show that the investment of foreign capital in this country is essential if we are to progress as fast as we wish and do all that we wish to do in this country. I had endeavoured also, by means of one or two illustrations, to indicate that such investment and the servicing of it did not necessarily imply by any means any net drain on our overseas resources or on the production of our export earning industries.

All I wish to say finally on that particular point h that unless overseas capital comes in merely to buy an existing industry - and for the most part it does not - there is no question that when it does come in to create an asset where no asset existed before and to create production and jobs where there were no opportunities for jobs and production before, we in this country are not in the position of the farmer who sells part of his farm each year in order to make ends meet. Rather, we are in the position of the farmer who borrows capital in order to increase his carrying capacity, to increase the mechanization of his farm and to increase the size and efficiency of his farm, knowing that by so doing he will be able not only to create a better life for himself but also to service the capital he has borrowed to do these things and have enough left over eventually to pay off his mortgage and have the increased asset for himself. This is not to say that there are no circumstances in which we should not be keeping an eye on the investment of capital in Australia; but it is to say that investment is essential if we are to create assets, and that wc must go out after it if we are to grow as much as we wish to grow.

The only point which the Opposition really has hammered throughout this Budget debate is the claim that the economy of this country is in a parlous state, that we are doing nothing about so-called unemployment - I use the term “ so-called “ in relation to unemployment-

Senator Cooke:

– Because you are not affected.

Senator GORTON:

– No. I use the term because I do not believe that the figures which are cited relate to people who are genuinely unemployed in the sense in which we have grown up to think of unemployment.

Senator Cooke:

– What about the young school leavers?

Senator GORTON:

– I suggest that you allow me to develop my argument and if you do not agree with it you can refute it at a later stage. Most of us, particularly those of us who were eighteen, nineteen or twenty years of age during the 1930’s, have grown up with an idea of unemployment related to unemployment as it was at the time when people were out of work for months and months and simply could not get a job. The figures cited and referred to constantly as the unemployment figures relate to people who are registered for employment, people who, at any given moment, are seeking to get a job in this country. More than half the people covered by those figures have not been out of work for more than three weeks. The genuine core of unemployed in this country is in the vicinity of 40,000 people. The other people to whom we refer are people who have been out of employment for a short time. if we on either side are to tackle this problem factually to see what is really involved in these figures which are put before this Parliament for discussion by it, I think it is essential to realize that there are a number - I do not know how many, nor do I believe that it is possible to say how large a number - of those people to whom Mr. Monk referred as casual employees; and we know the sort of people he had in mind. He had in mind such people as those who get a cane-cutting job in Queensland and then take a lay-off in Sydney of their own volition between jobs, those who move up and down the Murray valley picking oranges and peas, those who work in shearing sheds, those who work intermittently in meat processing works in

Queensland and so on, people who follow the sun from the north to the south of Australia or who take seasonal work because they prefer to have seasonal work and to register between jobs. I do not know whether any one would deny that a number of those people are, in fact, covered by these statistics, but I believe that in truth a great number are. 1 believe that the statistics also include another category about which I think it is going to be extremely difficult for anybody in this country to do anything. I refer to the category of young females who, living in particular areas or particular country towns, experience difficulty in finding employment in that area or town and do not wish to move to another. This is the same sort of problem to which the late Mr. Chifley was referring on a previous occasion when he said he could not see how you could give everybody work in the particular area in which they desired it. 1 think he used the phrase, “ Within sight of the town hall clock “. I do not believe it is right or proper to refer to all the people registered for employment as being unemployed in the sense in which I started off referring to it.

There will always be room for argument as to whether the figures cover people who wish to work, people who wish to travel to go to work, people who are able to work and are denied it. That there will always be a considerable number of people registered for employment at any time is borne out, 1 think, if we look back to the height of the boom in the 1960’s when nobody could claim that there were any vast employment opportunities in this country and then we found some 50,000 people listed for employment although the number of those who had been out of work for three weeks or longer was smaller than it is now. I do not say for a moment that these figures cannot and should not be bettered; but I do say that when one takes into consideration the fact that there are some 22,000 vacancies registered for fulfilment, these figures do not in themselves indicate anything grossly wrong with the economy although they do represent a human problem which we as a Parliament must minimize.

Moving on from the general, I wish to say one or two words about the particular benefits which this Budget gives to individuals throughout this country. 1 point out to the Senate that the Budget does give to the farmer in particular a great deal of assistance through the superphosphate bounty and the increased taxation concessions with relation to depreciation. But this assistance will not be limited to the farmer who receives it. Because the primary producer is one of the greatest markets for the products of secondary industry in Australia, this additional assistance granted to the farmer will create a greater demand for the products of secondary industry. So the benefit will spread throughout the whole of Australia. I believe that it will lead to a greater demand for farm machinery, to a demand for more improvements on the farm and to an increase in the efficiency of farms. In that way, the benefit will be spread in that it will create jobs, employment opportunities and growth throughout the economy.

Most of the other concessions provided for in the Budget are also designed to and will lead to an increase in present demands which will be rapidly transmitted into the market places of Australia. The Budget provides an investment allowance for private companies and increased social service benefits and repatriation payments. Retirement benefits for superannuated persons will be brought into line with modern values, and there are concessions in sales tax. All these will put more money directly into the hands of the people week by week. These provisions, allied with the expansion of the economy, will lead to an increased demand on manufacturing industries.

On the developmental side, let me refer briefly to the benefits and the expansion that we can expect. Australian Loan Council allocations will total £272,000,000, or £17,000,000 more than last year, and semigovernmental allocations will total £122,000,000. For housing, there will be a direc.t grant from the Commonwealth Government of £90,000,000. In addition, £30,000,000 will be provided through various institutions and more than £100,000,000 through savings banks. The capital of the Development Bank will be increased by £5,000,000 to £70,000,000 to enable risk expansion to take place in agricultural industries. The provision for special projects, mostly in the northern parts of Australia, totals £20,000,000. This is apart from the money that the Commonwealth Government itself will spend in the Northern Territory. There will be an increase in the demand for goods and services through the 100,000 immigrants who will be coming to Australia this year.

The Budget provides for an easing of anxiety about the payment of medical expenses and, in difficult cases, the education of children. All these things will tend to make the lot of the ordinary Australian easier. They will make it easier for the ordinary person to obtain employment and will make Australia a greater and better place in which to live.

Senator Murphy:

asked how we could go ahead with development in the way we are going now. The answer is that year by year there has been more and more development. Senator Murphy asked how we could get the revenue to do what is required of a government. The Budget shows that, in spite of the concessions I have mentioned, revenue is expected to be £154,000,000 more than last year. He asked how we could undertake the expansion that is necessary. The answer is that we can do it by following the course we have followed. But this expansion would be completely inhibited if we set out to frighten off overseas capital and if, at the same time, as the Opposition has indicated that it would do if it had its way, we imposed increased taxation on the sections of our people who are able to save and thus make capital available inside Australia for Australian expansion. I believe the way we are going has shown what can be done. The Opposition’s policy would block many of the avenues of expansion that we need to make Australia great. Senator Murphy has said that we are at the end of the road. I believe that Australia is at the beginning of the road that leads to greatness and that our steps along that road are being guided properly by this Government.

Reference was made to what will happen if and when an election is held. I cannot tell and neither can Senator Murphy. 1 gathered that he was of the opinion that there might be a change. I am sure he wishes that there will be a change, but wishing will not make it so. Being a mere mortal, I cannot command success. The Government cannot command success, be cause it is composed of mere mortals. But it is deserving of success and I believe it will get it.

Senator DRURY:
South Australia

– When one speaks in the dying stages of a debate, there is always a tendency to repeat what has gone before. If I do that, I hope that, in the congenial atmosphere after dinner, honorable senators will treat me kindly. I should like to congratulate Senator Whiteside on his maiden speech. I followed him closely because I could remember my own maiden speech in this place, and my sympathies were with him. I join with my colleagues in supporting the amendment that has been moved by Senator Kennelly. It is an amendment to the motion that the Budget papers be printed. I do not intend to repeat the whole of the amendment but there are some sections of it which bear repetition. The amendment stated - “ but while approving of such benefits as are contained in the Budget, and particularly those for primary producers and social service beneficiaries, the Senate condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development ….

The amendment also condemns the Government’s failure to provide for full employment and for increases in child endowment, which has remained stationary in respect of the second and subsequent children since 1948. I agree with Senator Toohey that some aspects of the Budget are commendable. The first of the commendable items is the provision of a bounty on superphosphate. As other honorable senators have said, it will be a great advantage to the farmers if the cost of production can be reduced, because high costs are one of the greatest problems facing the primary industries. Although productivity has risen, farm incomes have fallen below the peak level of some years ago. As Senator Ridley says, money has lost its value, despite what supporters of the Government may say. Australia depends on its primary products, and if we do not get a good income from the sale of our primary products overseas we will not enjoy prosperity and we will not be able to expand. So whatever we can do to help the man on the land to reduce his costs should be done as quickly as possible.

I turn now to our immigration policy. This Government has followed the plans for immigration that were evolved by the Leader of the Opposition in another place when he was Minister for Immigration. In respect of immigration the Government is doing a good job. Our population has increased by about 2,000,000 through the influx of immigrants and the natural increase in immigrant families. I think that the Department of Immigration has done a commendable job for our country and has achieved much in the short time since the war finished. I should like to take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to the department. I have quite a lot to do with this department, both in Adelaide and in Canberra, and I find that its officials do all they possibly can to help those who seek their assistance. Despite the condemnation voiced by some people, I feci that the department is doing a wonderful job. Many immigrants have little or no knowledge of our language upon arrival here. The officials do everything possible to help not only those who have just entered the country but those who have encountered trouble since arriving here, perhaps four or five years ago. 1 refer now to social services in regard to which the Budget contains some commendable features. However, I am of the opinion that our social service generally still falls short of our requirements. I agree with what some of my colleagues on this side of the chamber have said about the people of Australia expecting more from the Budget in this field. If this country is as good as honorable senators opposite, and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), say it is, surely something more could have been done about social services. We have been told that Australia has a buoyant economy; that we have enjoyed a golden decade of prosperity. But surely after a golden decade people in receipt of social service benefits should be receiving more than they are getting now.

Let us consider some of the proposed changes in social service benefits. I should like to read them to the Senate so that they will be seen in their proper context. I quote from page 8 of the Budget speech delivered by the Treasurer’ in another place on 13th August -

This year we propose an important innovation, which experience has demonstrated to be most desirable.

By adding 10s. per week to their pension, we are providing that a new standard rate of £5 15s. a week will be paid to single age and invalid pensioners. That standard rate will also be paid to widow pensioners with one or more children. Pensioners whose spouses do not receive a pension or allowance will count as single persons for the purpose of the increase. It is estimated by the Department of Social Services that approximately two-thirds of existing pensioners - some 516,000 out of a total of 786,000 pensioners- will be eligible for this new benefit.

I feel that the other 270,000 pensioners could have received some benefit, particularly the married age pensioner couples and invalid pensioner couples. It is creditable that single pensioners have received an increase. Regardless of what has been said, single pensioners - I meet quite a few of them - are suffering great hardships, particularly where they are living in rented rooms or rented houses. Often they are paying high rents, sometimes as much as £3 a week for a room. I believe that in some other States rents are even higher. After paying their rent they are not left with very much to live on. Although the 10s. a week supplementary pension is of some assistance, I believe that the further 10s. a week will help them quite a deal. However, I still feel that something more should have been done and that the increase should have been greater than 10s.

I believe that the Government has fallen short in its treatment of aged married couples. Although these couples may be in receipt of two pensions and may own their own home, honorable senators know that there can still be considerable expense involved to keep the home going. I can speak particularly about South Australia, but I believe that in most States, land taxes and water and sewerage rates on a home aggregate at least £1 a week, at a very conservative estimate. So, even if a pensioner couple own their own home they must still pay at least £1 a week, and in some cases probably much more. When this £1 a week, plus maintenance costs are taken from the £10 10s. pension these people are not left with much on which to’ live.’

Another item in the Budget that I believe is commendable is the increase in the allowance granted to a pensioner’s wife who is not eligible for the age pension. That is something that honorable senators on this side of the Senate have continually mentioned, and indeed it has been raised by honorable senators opposite who have asked the Government to do something about it. The Opposition feels that something should have been done long ago. When I first came into this Parliament this question was raised and the Government was asked to do something to help these people. From memory, this is the second increase that has been granted since I have been in the Senate. Prior to the two increases the allowance was very small and it was very difficult for a married couple to live on the amount received in social services, particularly when they were obliged to pay rent. Not all wives of pensioners receive this allowance. To be eligible for the allowance the husband, whether he is an age or invalid pensioner, must be totally incapacitated. I believe that the allowance should be paid to any wife who is not eligible for a pension, regardless of whether or not her pensioner husband is totally incapacitated.

Another long overdue increase is that which is now being granted to widows. Every honorable senator has frequently received from various widows’ associations throughout Australia letters asking that the matter of an increase in widows’ pensions be brought before the Government. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have spoken on this subject and have frequently asked the Government to give consideration to it. At long last the Government has done something. What has been done will be of great benefit to the widows of Australia, particularly those with children.

I do not know whether the same conditions prevail in every State, but in South Australia, where widows receive supplementary assistance from the Children’s Welfare and Public Relief Department, they suffer a reduction in that assistance immediately they receive an increase from the Federal Government. So an increase of pension does not necessarily mean that a widow will be much better off Although the increase will be of benefit to some widows and their children, they will not receive as much benefit as might appear from the Budget Papers. The pension increases are long overdue. I suppose we must be thankful for small mercies. Half a loaf is better than none.

The Government has ignored the claims of married pensioners. I remember an incident that occurred during the Grey byelection recently. I think it perhaps reflects the attitude of the Government to these matters. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was speaking at Port Lincoln, and at question-time a member of the audience rose and asked him whether he would be able to live on the pension. The answer that was given should not have come from the Prime Minister of this country. He said, “Whatever I have got in my life, I have always worked for”. I think every one thought that he was implying that the pensioners were getting something for which they had not worked. An answer of that kind makes the pensioners feel that they are receiving charity, instead of something to which they are entitled.

Senator Hannaford:

– Were you there to hear that statement? Is it correct?

Senator DRURY:

– Yes. It is correct. It was reported in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ and in the provincial press. Let us consider another section of the people of Australia who have been overlooked by this Government. I refer to the mothers of families who, I think, are the most important people in the nation and the backbone of it. The Government could at least have given them some assistance by way of an increase in child endowment.

Child endowment was first introduced as a supplement to the wages of married men. It was introduced because in Australia a single man receives the same basic wage as does a married man with children. It was considered at the time that the wages of married men with families ought to be subsidized and their income supplemented by means of child endowment. During each Budget debate since I have been in the Parliament, Opposition members have criticized the Government for its failure to increase child endowment. It was stated in this chamber last night that if child endowment were to be increased to the degree which the Australian Labour Party has promised to increase it, the cost to the country would be £63,000,000. If the Government did not want to increase child endowment by as much as that, at least it could increase the payments by an amount which would help to restore to them the value they had when child endowment was first introduced. We all know that it is a pretty tough proposition to support a family these days. It is the mother of the family who has to make the wages spin out and budget for every item she purchases. The amount of goods which can be purchased with the wages a man takes home to-day is much less than it was when child endowment was first introduced. After all, the important thing is not the amount of money that a man takes home, but the number of articles that can be purchased out of the pay envelope.

In my view, statements which Senator Branson made in the Senate last night supported what we of the Labour Party have been saying for many years, although he did not intend them to do so. The honorable senator selected the years 1950 and 1961 for purposes of comparison. He said that, in 1950, in order to buy a refrigerator a man would have had to work 600 hours at 4s. 6d. an hour. I have calculated that the sum of his earnings would be £135. I do not think that even in 1950 a refrigerator could be purchased for £135. I think the price was much higher, because at that time the demand was greater and production had not caught up with demand. The honorable senator said that in 1961 adult male employees received an average wage of 10s. an hour, compared with 4s. 6d. in 1950. He stated that the average adult male employee in 1961 could buy a refrigerator with the earnings of 220 hours of work. According to my calcualtion, 220 hours at 10s. an hour amounts to £110, so that there is a difference of £25 in the cost of the refrigerators. I do not know how the honorable senator arrived at those figures. Anybody can take figures and twist them around. If the honorable senator had taken the hourly rate in 1940, no doubt he could have shown that it would have been necessary to work 1,800 hours to buy a refrigerator. If he had taken the hourly rate in the 1930’s, he could have shown that a man would have had to work practically all his life before he had enough money to buy a refrigerator.

Senator Branson said that eleven years ago a man would have had to work 3,770 hours at 4s. 6d. an hour to buy a Holden motor car. According to my calculation, 3,770 hours at 4s. 6d. an hour equals £848. The honorable senator said that in 1961 a man would have had to work for 2,210 hours at 10s. an hour to buy a Holden car. That works out at £1,105. The point I am making is that if the Holden motor car cost £848 in 1950 and £1,105 in 1961, its price increased by almost £300 in eleven years. How, therefore, can the honorable senator support his claim that the purchasing power is greater now than it was in 1950?

I turn to the price of food. Senator Branson said that in 1950 a man had to work for three hours at 4s. 6d. an hour to buy the quantity of food which could be bought for two and a half hours’ work in 1960. Three hours work at 4s. 6d. an hour amounts to 13s. 6d., and two and a half hour’s work at 10s. an hour amounts to 25s., which proves that the cost of food has almost doubled since 1950. According to the honorable senator, in 1950 a man had to work 50 hours to buy a suit of clothes. In 1960, he would have had to work for 40 hours. I do not think it was possible to purchase a decent suit for £20 in 1960, unless you picked up a bargain. To-day, it might be possible to buy a bargain suit for £20, but a good suit costs between £25 and £45.

Senator Branson said that in 1950 a man would have had to work for ten hours at 4s. 6d. an hour to buy a pair of shoes. Ten hours at 4s. 6d. an hour amounts to £2 5s. He said that in 1961, a man would have had to work eight hours at 10s. an hour to buy a pair of shoes. Eight hours at 10s. an hour amounts to £4. Perhaps the honorable senator’s statements sounded well over the air last night, but surely he does not really expect us to believe that the purchasing power of the £1 to-day is equal to or better than that of the £1 in 1950.

Many newspaper criticisms of this Budget have been mentioned during the debate. I wish to refer to only one. It was made in the Sydney “Sun” of 16th August. In an editorial headed “ Mr. Holt’s Patchwork “, the newspaper stated -

The three main troubles with the Budget are that it is modelled on the past, does little for the present, and offers no promise for the future. It is not a big man’s budget or a little man’s budget, or in any worthy or acceptable sense a national budget. The only sectional interests which have had any cause for gratification are those of the country, and one can hear the voice of the powerful Country Party loud in the discussion out of which the Budget was framed.

We have criticized this Budget, and I think rightly so.

Senator Cohen referred to education and the lack of adequate assistance from the Government. Not one Government supporter has replied to the question asked by Senator Cohen. The debate is now in its dying hours, and still the question has not been answered. A Government supporter suggests that I cheer up. Perhaps in 1964 -honorable senators opposite will need more than cheering up; they can see the writing on the wall. As reported at page 126 of “ Hansard “, Senator Cohen said-

You people have taken a great deal of our policy, and you do not even acknowledge it. What is the attitude of the Government on this question to-day? Does it stand for what the Prime Minister said in 1945, or does it not? There is a deafening silence.

He referred to what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had said in July, 1945, as Leader of the Opposition, when moving the following amendment: -

  1. That in the opinion of this House -

    1. A revised and extended educational system is of prime importance in post-war reconstruction;
    2. In particular, attention needs to be directed to increased facilities for secondary, rural, technical and university training, special adult education, and the problem of the qualifications, status and remuneration of teachers;
    3. Effective reform may involve substantial Commonwealth financial aid and if this should prove necessary such aid should be granted;
    4. In order to provide a basis for such reform the Commonwealth should set up in co-operation with the States a qualified commission, including some expert or experts from overseas, to report upon the existing educational facilities in Australia, to make recommendations for their extension and/or amendment, and to recommend how, to what extent, on what terms, and for what purposes, Commonwealth aid should be given.

After Senator Cohen had read the amendment proposed by the present Prime Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Vincent interjected -

Did the Government knock him back?

Senator Cohen:

asked what the Government believed now and whether it stood for the action that the present Prime Minister took in 1945. He asked whether the Government had just let this go into the limbo of forgotten things.

Senator Sir Walter Cooper:

– The Prime Minister himself answered that very well on Tuesday night.

Senator DRURY:

Senator Cohen did not ask the Prime Minister; he asked honorable senators opposite, and the question has not been answered yet. These are the dying hours of the debate and the question should be answered.

Senator Drake-Brockman:

– Did Senator Vincent answer Senator Cohen’s question?

Senator DRURY:

– All Senator Vincent said was: “ Did the Government knock him back? “

Senator Drake-Brockman:

– Did it?

Senator DRURY:

– This Government has not done anything about it since 1949.

Senator Cormack:

– That is not true. A universities commission has been appointed.

Senator DRURY:

– What has been done is not sufficient. Education is the greatest investment that any country can make. We talk about national expansion and the finding of oil. These things are good for the country but unless something is done about education everything will go by the board. As a member of a parliamentary delegation, I visited South-East Asia. In every country that we visited a primary objective was the building up of an education system. We had a talk with Dr. Soekarno about this.

Senator Cormack:

– He would be a good witness, that bloke!

Senator Dittmer:

– Give him a go!

Senator DRURY:

– Honorable senators who were also members of the delegation will bear out what I say. All of these countries appreciated that unless they developed education they could not improve their standard of living. As Senator O’Byrne said during this debate, President Soekarno told us that prior to the war only six per cent. of the people of Indonesia were literate, whereas now the proportion is 82 per cent. Honorable senators opposite may believe it or not. All I have to go on is this man’s word, which I do not question at this stage. Indonesia has had many troubles during the past twenty years. It was overrun by the Japanese. There was a revolution after the war. Since then it has attained self-determination. Since attaining self-determination the literate population has increased from 6 per cent, to 82 per cent. The President also told us that before the war primary and secondary schools had only 75,000 pupils, from a population of almost 100,000,000 people. In the secondary schools there were only 5,000 students. At present the respective totals are 12,500,000 and 800,000. Wherever we went, we saw schools that had been established within the past few years. The emphasis was on education. Dr. Soekarno stated also that prior to the war Indonesian university students numbered fewer than 20. He had been fortunate enough to be amongst them.

Senator O’Byrne:

– And all the rest were Dutch.

Senator DRURY:

– That is right. I accepted what he told us as being true. He went on to say that about 15,000 students were enrolled in Indonesian universities now. Vast progress has been made in education in some of those countries, although their standard of living is very low by comparison with Australia’s, despite our Liberal Government. Education must be dealt with on a Commonwealth level. Special grants should be made to the States, in the same way as grants are made for the relief of unemployment. Every one of us receives letter after letter from associations of parents and friends and other organizations, urging us to impress upon the Government the need for more aid for education. I have a letter, written from a country town in South Australia to Mr. T. M. Casey, State member for Frome, who handed it to me because it related to a Commonwealth matter. It reads -

Subject: Federal Aid for Education.

A lot of publicity has been given for the need of federal aid for education. We all know that the Federal Government are giving a lot of financial help to State universities, but the aid now being asked for is for primary, secondary and technical education. The State Government has a limited budget. The only way that it can be increased substantially is by grants from the

Federal Government, so why not a special grant to the State Government to help their educational budget?

Senator Hannaford:

– Did you answer the letter?

Senator DRURY:

– Yes.

Senator Cormack:

– How do you overcome the democratic problem that a country town in Frome poses?

Senator DRURY:

– It is still part of the educational system, whether it be in country towns such as Oodnadatta, Marree, Alice Springs and Katherine, or even in a city. It is still part of the educational system. You must remember that 25 per cent, of education in Australia is not costing State or Federal governments very much money at all.

Senator Hannaford:

– You would provide aid for independent schools?

Senator DRURY:

– I do not suggest aid for independent schools. I have my opinion on that matter. You have to look at education in the broad. You must not look at it from only one angle - the angle of aid for denominational schools.

Senator Hannaford:

– I referred to independent schools. I did not use the word “ denominational “.

Senator DRURY:

– An independent school is a denominational school.

Senator Hannaford:

– Not necessarily.

Senator DRURY:

– Then the name has been changed in the last three years. An independent school was always known as a denominational school. I was one of those who attended denominational schools, and my boy attended a denominational school. I will come to that point later.

The Budget proposes an increase to £150 of the allowable deduction in respect of education expenses. When my boy was at school I was paying more than £100 a year for him. That was the allowable deduction at that time, but it was costing me £125 a year to keep my boy at a Christian Brothers college. I was in receipt of only £17 5s. a week.

Senator Mattner:

– You made that decision yourself.

Senator DRURY:

– I know I did, and I had the right to make it because this is supposed to be a democratic country. I believe that this Government must do something about education, whether it be education in denominational schools or not. We have to be broadminded and look at this matter from the point of view of what education means to Australia, and not from the point of view of whether we should help one section of the community or the other. I say we should help every young person who attends a school in Australia. I will admit that in the Australian Capital Territory the Government is assisting all schools.

Senator Mattner:

– It meets their interest charges.

Senator DRURY:

– In my view, that is commendable. If that can be done in the Australian Capital Territory, why cannot it be done in the States? Let us look at the allowable deduction for education expenses. Take the case of a man on £1,090 a year. The tax on that income is £125 15s., but if the taxable income is reduced by £50 he will pay only £114 18s. He will get the benefit of a reduction of about £11. Then let us look at the man on £4,000 a year. On that income he is liable for £1,196 in tax. This new concession would bring his taxable income below £4,000, and he would then pay only £1,011 5s. An income of between £2,400 and £2,799 would attract £517 18s. 4d. in tax, but at £2,000 the tax is £376. If you have an allowable deduction of an extra £50 in the high ranges of income, you do not receive only £.1 1 benefit. Your saving runs into many pounds more than that.

I think it was a good move to increase the allowable deduction to £150, but that still does not solve the problem of education. We must look at education from the broad angle, and the sooner the Government does so the better it will be for this country. After all, if we do not educate our young people to the extent that other countries are educating theirs, we will slip back and will no longer enjoy the standard of living we enjoy now. The other countries which are spending more than we are on education will leave us standing.

I should like to touch on a number of other items but my time is almost finished. I want to say a few words about overseas investment. The accusataion has been levelled at the Australian Labour Party that it does not want overseas investment in Australia. If anybody would dare to read a speech that was delivered by Mr. Whitlam, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, at the Contact Club in Sydney on 11th July, 1963, he will find that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, voicing the opinion of the Australian Labour Party as a whole, said that Australia needs overseas investment.

Senator Henty:

– Do the 36 men agree with him?

Senator DRURY:

– We have heard a lot about the 36 men, but there is nothing secret about them, despite the cynicism or sarcasm of people who do not understand the ramifications of the Labour Party. There are no 36 faceless men in the Australian Labour Party. These 36 men are democratically elected from the rank and file of the party. Their names are printed in the newspapers. The six delegates from South Australia are elected at a special conference held over the June holiday week-end. As soon as the result of the ballot is declared, their names are published in the newspapers; there is no secrecy about it. The same applies to those elected in the other States. It is entirely wrong to say that there are only 36 men running the Australian Labour Party. These men represent the rank and file of the party. We have 77,000 members in South Australia and they are represented by six delegates. New South Wales and Victoria have a much larger membership, but those States still have the same number of delegates to represent them. Any matter that comes before the federal conference is first discussed by a sub-branch of the party and then by the State executive. From the State executive of the party the matter goes to the federal conference, where it is debated. It is because of this that the Australian Labour Party can always come out with a decent election policy, in contradistinction to the Liberal-Country parties which do not have one. Those parties do not have a policy of their own. When they talk about dictatorship, I am reminded of the saying that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

Mr. Deputy President, I think I will get back to the question of overseas investments. Mr. Whitlam’s subject was “Why We Need Overseas Investment”, and he said -

At present capital inflow is a vital prop in our balance of payments and if taken away would have very serious consequences.

The Labour Party is not opposed to the investment of overseas capital in Australia. We believe that overseas capital should come into this country but that it should be controlled. We believe that if overseas capital is invested in our industries they should still partly remain the property of the Australian people. We have no right to allow the complete take-overs that we witness in Australia from time to time. Our biggest industries, including the chemical industry and the motor car industry, are being taken over by overseas investors and the profits are not being kept in Australia. Members of the Liberal Party are quite wrong in saying that Labour opposes the investment of overseas capital in Australia. I repeat that we do not oppose this form of investment but that we do oppose the complete take-over of Australian industries.

Some of the Budget proposals are commendable, but there are many respects in which the Budget is found wanting. If the Government goes to the electors before the end of 1963 it will see just how much they appreciate this Budget. I believe that even if the Government does not seek an election until about December, 1964, the people of Australia will still show their resentment and will elect to the treasurybench the party that has always helped them out in a crisis - the Australian Labour Party.

Western Australia

– I should like to join with Senator Drury in congratulating Senator Whiteside upon his maiden speech. I was pleased to hear Senator Drury pay a tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the officers of his department. Officers of the Department of Immigration have displayed kindness and humanitarianism in performing their sometimes difficult tasks.

All of us look forward to the introduction of the Budget each year. The Budget proposals are of prime importance to the community generally. Although some Opposition senators have derided this year’s Budget, I believe that it is a very good one. The benefits that flow from it will be varied and widespread. They include additional social service benefits, taxation concessions, the removal of sales tax from some commodities, and additional money for housing.

All these concessions will be of direct benefit to the family man and the community as a whole.

I should like to pay a tribute to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). In this period of rapid development the man who for the time being administers the Treasury portfolio has a very difficult task. The present Treasurer has acquitted himself very properly during the period in which he has administered that portfolio. To my mind, one of the most important aspects of the Budget - we must not disregard it - is that none of the proposals seem likely to threaten the hard-won stability of the internal price-cost structure. If that stability were to disappear, the value of any one of the Budget concessions would be destroyed I remind honorable senators that stability was the crux of the recommendations that were made by representatives of the primary industries when they interviewed members of the Cabinet during the pre-Budget talks. It will be rememberd that back in 1958 the Australian Country Party directed attention to the alarming position in which the primary producers found themselves in regard to the price-cost structure. It will be remembered further that this Government, after receiving representations from the primary and export industries, adopted measures which the Australian Labour Party described as stop-and-go measures. Those measures were responsible for bringing about the stability which we now enjoy.

There is no doubt that before this Budget was presented many sections of the community expected to receive a lot of benefit from it. A night or two ago Senator Toohey quoted extracts from press statements which appeared a few days after the Budget was presented and which indicated the reaction on the stock market. Last night Senator Murphy rejected any suggestion that economically the country was in a healthy state. I believe that to-night Senator Gorton answered both criticisms effectively.

Senator Toohey:

– He tried to do so.


– BROCKMAN. - Perhaps if I tried to answer those criticisms now, Senator Toohey would object as he has done just now. I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to quote the comments of a leading businessman in Australia who is outside the Parliament, who is vitally concerned with the economy, and who perhaps is a lot nearer to some elements of it than are honorable senators opposite. I quote from the report of the annual general meeting of Sherbourne Investments Limited which was held on 26th August, 1963. At that meeting the chairman of directors, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, said this -

Although the Budget Speech delivered by the Treasurer, Mr. Holt, on 13th August failed to bear out the forecasts of optimists who professed to expect material tax reductions, its provisions may be regarded as establishing a sound basis on which to continue the extraordinary economic progress made by Australia since the end of World War II.

Sober-minded observers will doubtless agree that sweeping tax cuts were neither justified nor feasible under present conditions when the major need is accelerated national development to meet both the economic and defence future of this country.

After all, despite some unemployment which, however, is proportionally less than that existing in most other countries’ in the world, the Australian community is in a highly prosperous condition, well-housed, well-fed, well-clothed, and able to afford what would be regarded as luxuries in many other lands. Why, even to-day, when Australia’s total population is only 11 million, motor car purchases are running at a rate in excess of 1,000 per day! Moreover, few homes lack television and radio sets, washing machines, refrigerators and other modern amenities.

Let me now quote from another part of the report in answer to the criticism that was offered by Senator Murphy. Mr. Ricketson said -

The major criticism levelled at the Budget has been that “ it has provided no direct assistance to secondary industry “.

That is the criticism that has been levelled at the Government. The report continues -

If the critics are concerned merely with tax deductions, their arguments may be regarded as sound.

However, what the Government has done has been to adopt a series of measures which must perforce bring material benefits to trade and industry and the community as a whole.

Moreover it has done this in such a way as to lay the basis for a continuance of the stable conditions which have played so great a part in Australia’s economic recovery during the last two years. Even more important, the official policy now being pursued does not imply danger of a renewal of soaring inflation or of the “go and stop “ methods which contributed so materially to the destruction of public confidence.

I quote that as the opinion of a man who is closely associated with business .for I feel that it is a complete answer to the various quotations that honorable senators opposite have placed before us from time to time during this- debate. -

It is very gratifying to me to see that the Government has shown in a tangible way that it recognizes the special problems of the man on the land. Earlier I mentioned the problems that the men engaged in those primary industries which export their products have had to face in recent years in connexion with the cost-price index. I suggest to the Senate that if our primary industries were to-day receiving the overseas prices that they received in 1953-54 neither the primary producers of this country nor the Government of this country would have any problem in financing our various development projects. The primary producers would have no need to seek Government aid in the various directions in which they have sought it, and there woud be no need to worry about whether we could afford increased social service benefits.

This country is dependent upon the primary industries for 80 per cent, of its export earnings, and I point out that 80 per cent, of the total export income of this country is used to buy materials and parts to keep the manufacturing industries of Australia going. The only way by which we can hope to continue to bring people to this country and find employment for our school leavers is to have more jobs available to them, and we all know that in this country the majority of the jobs are provided by manufacturing industries. Therefore, it is essential that we do everything in our power to keep our primary industries prosperous, but, above all, to give them an incentive to produce more and earn more export income for the country. For these reasons, the benefits that are being given to primary producers under this Budget are not to be considered as benefits which will be enjoyed exclusively by our primary industries. Those benefits will be felt throughout the whole of the community for the reasons that I have just explained.

For instance, much has been said already in this debate about the subsidy on superphosphate. This is of tremendous importance to a State like Western Australia which for the past three years has been opening up new country at the rate or something like 1,000,000 acres a year. In that State, where the soil requires heavy applications of superphosphate and where the lands are situated a long way from the points at which the superphosphate is manufactured, it is essential that the primary producers be given some help in overcoming their cost problems. But it does not end there. I understand that last year Western Australia produced the record quantity of something like 750,000 tons of superphosphate. Because of the granting of this subsidy, we are entitled to expect an increase in the production of superphosphate. In fact, it is hoped that production will reach 1,000,000 tons a year within the next few years. This increased production must mean an expansion of our manufacturing industries, which in turn will mean the employment of more men in the production, transport and application of superphosphate. Therefore, it must be admitted that the benefit will be felt throughout the whole of the community.

The same may be said of the 20 per cent, investment allowance which is to be allowed those primary producers who purchase farm equipment. This extra concession will enable them to re-equip their properties. This in turn will mean that businessmen in the country towns will be given further stability and be encouraged to develop their businesses; and the development of their businesses must mean greater stability to the men and women who work for the firms who supply machinery. So, the benefits that are being granted to the primary producers must not be looked upon as benefits which will accrue exclusively to the primary producers. Once again I am pleased to be able to stand here and express pleasure at the fact that further assistance is to be given to the Commonwealth Development Bank. This is the third occasion on which the Government has increased the capital ot that bank by £5,000,000. I recall that on the first occasion upon which the Development Bank’s capital was increased I stood up here and said that I was glad at the action which the Government was taking but I thought the amount should be £10,000,000 or £15,000,000. Now, only a few years later, lt is increased to £15,000,000. I noticed that my friend, Senator Toohey, who. took me up on that occasion on this matter was very silent about it when he spoke the other night.

I turn now to the removal of the limit on the tax deduction that may be claimed for medical expenses. I recall that when one honorable senator opposite was speaking the other night he said that this proposal would not confer any great benefit because the average man and woman in this country spent only ten or twelve days in hospital, that in those cases their hospital benefit schemes would cover their expenses and that therefore the proposed concession was really of no benefit to the ordinary man or woman. I point out to the honorable senator that there must be many on either side of the average bracket. There must be some who spend only one day in hospital and there must be some who spend a very long time in hospital. This concession will certainly be appreciated by those unfortunate people who have to spend long periods in hospital and are faced with heavy medical expenses.

I should like to congratulate the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) on the part he has played in having this concession included in the Budget, but I would suggest to him that I would have liked to. see the benefit extend a little further. I arn thinking now of people who live in the outback areas and who have to travel long distances to a hospital or to see a doctor. I believe that they have good grounds for asking that they be allowed to include such travelling expenses as part of their medical expenses. I sincerely hope that the Government will look at this matter. I know that representations have been made in connexion with it, and I hope that next year the request of these people will be granted.

I turn now to the proposed tax deductions for education. I remind the Senate that some twelve months ago the headmasters of the private schools in Perth approached Government members with a plea that representations be made to the Commonwealth to have the amount of £100 increased. This Budget proposes to lift it to £150. This concession is of great benefit, not only to the people to whom Senator Drury referred, but also to people in the outback, who, because they have only small schools in their areas, have to send their children to city or to country high schools and have to pay board. That

Imposes a heavy burden on them. The Government has now seen fit to help these people, and I congratulate it.

Members of the Opposition have said a great deal about education. I agree with them that education is very important, so that young people can be fitted for their future life. The criticism of the Australian Labour Party in this connexion has been well answered by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). After the right honorable gentleman’s speech, the secretary of the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association, Mr. Conway, made a statement on the subject and was reported in this way -

The Federal Government would give to the States more than £200,000,000 this year for education.

In addition, Victoria and three other States had specifically requested that their finance for education this year should come through general revenue grants and not through direct Federal aid.

His association believed that there was a good case for increased federal aid but also recognized that education was and must remain a State responsibility.

I remind members of the Opposition that in 1958, at a Premiers’ Conference, Mr. Hawke, who was then Premier of Western Australia and is a Labour man, moved that there should be some federal assistance for education. Although the Premier of Tasmania and the Premier of New South Wales both attended the conference, he did not get a seconder.

Senator Marriott:

– Were they Labour Premiers?


– Yes. An education conference was held in Hobart in January of 1960 and was attended by Directors of Education from all States. They drew up a programme of what should be done concerning education. It was then presented to the Labour Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, with the request that he should present it at the next Premiers’ Conference. But the case that had been put by the Directors of Education was not presented at that Premiers’ Conference. I do not know why it was not presented then, but it was not put to the Premiers until some time later.

Members of the Opposition have been out of office for so long that no one knows what they would do if they were in office now. It is all very well for them to talk about what they would do. I judge people on the little things they do, because they are the things that count. As the Labour Party has not been in office in Canberra for many years, we can only judge it on the actions of the State Labour governments. I recall that during a Labour government’s term of office in Western Australia the matter of assistance to education was raised. Because the State government said it could not afford to meet the bill for education each year, it was decided that something would have to be cut down. It decided to abandon the spur routes of all the school buses. Children who had to travel long distances to schools were left without any hope of travelling by a school bus. When the present Premier of Western Australia assumed office, a Country Party Minister for Education immediately appointed an officer to inquire into school buses. As a result of this investigation, every school spur route was re-introduced, and buses were provided for children who were experiencing hardship in getting to school. I believe that if the members of the Opposition were in power they would do what that State Labour government did in the past.

I turn now to the depreciation’ allowance on private telephone lines. This provision marks a big step forward for the people who live in remote areas. Because they live long distances from telephone exchanges, they are forced to build their own telephone lines at great costs. Until recently, these people had not been able to get back any of the costs they had incurred. They had to build the lines to specifications set down by the Postmaster-General’s Department, and in many cases these lines went outside their properties. The Government is to be commended for granting this benefit to people living in outback areas.

I hope the Government has considered reducing telephone charges in remote areas. In many parts of Western Australia, telephone lines extend for miles from exchanges through areas where there is not a living soul. In many cases, what are really local calls pass through two zones specified by the Postmaster-General’s department and the calls therefore become trunk-line calls. I hope the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) will review this position.

I wish to comment now on the provision of _ television in Western Australia. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade), who represents the Postmaster-General in the Senate, said to-day that Western Australians are persistent about the extension of television to country areas in the State. This matter is vital to Western Australians. Television is an amenity greatly enjoyed by the people. During the parliamentary recess, when I moved about the country, I was told that people in rural areas and shire council associations often had difficulty in getting people to work for them. The first question asked was, “ Have you got television? “ If a shire clerk said television was not available, the prospective employee said he could get a job where there was television.

When the fourth phase of television is completed, 91 per cent, of the population will be able to see television programmes. This is a great achievement by the Government because it was not until 1954 that it announced that it was going ahead with television. I think all of us will admit that in this country we have a very high standard in this medium. But when we look at the Western Australian figures we find that by the end of 1966, when the fourth phase is completed, television coverage will be only 77 per cent. When we remember that the total coverage for the Commonwealth by then will be 91 per cent, it becomes evident that there must be many areas in this country that will have 100 per cent, coverage. Now the sites have been determined in the central agricultural and southern agricultural areas I urge the Government to consider speeding up the introduction of television in the northern and goldfield areas of Western Australia or at least to make an announcement of what it intends to do. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion and in opposing the amendment.

Senator POKE:

.- Befor setting out on a stock-taking mission I should like to make some reference to the remarks of Senator Drury and Senator Drake-Brockman. Both referred to education. I think all honorable senators agree that education is a most important aspect of our life in Australia, and is most necessary for the advancement and betterment of the Australian people in general. I think that Senator Drury did a particularly good job to-night and I congratulate him on the speech he made.

Senator Drake-Brockman touched a little on education. I may not be quoting him quite accurately, but he said something to the effect that he wondered what would happen to education if the present Opposition became the Government in the federal sphere. He said he could only judge what would happen from what had happened under State Labour governments throughout Australia. Then he went on to relate what had happened in Western Australia. 1 do not know what yardstick Senator Drake-Brockman wants to use, but if he wishes to measure what has been done for education by State governments I would point out to him, and to the Senate in general, that in Tasmania we have had a Labour government for 29 years.

Senator Marriott:

– Unfortunately!

Senator POKE:

– Unfortunately for you, senator, because you could not get into the State Parliament and your brother had to get out of it. That does not matter, anyway. If we want to use any State as a yardstick by which to measure a standard of education, we would do well to look at Tasmania. I think it is safe to say that Tasmania has the most advanced education system of any State. It is the only State that has a minimum school leaving age of sixteen. No child can leave school until he or she has reached the age of sixteen, unless special circumstances are involved. I should be quite happy if every child in Australia were compelled to attend school until he or she reached the age of sixteen or had obtained the Leaving Certificate or some such qualification. If the honorable senator wants to use one State as a yardstick on education, let him choose Tasmania, which has a Labour government.

Senator Drake-Brockman referred to what had been done by the Government for farmers. I am quite happy about what has been done. I think the primary industries of Australia have long needed a lift. Whilst I agree that the subsidy on superphosphate is a good thing, I remind honorable senators opposite that it was this Government that removed the superphosphate subsidy shortly after it came into office. Do not let us forget that. It is all very well for the Government to say, “ We have put a £3 a ton subsidy on superphosphate”, but it should not be forgotten that in about 1951, this Government took off the subsidy then in operation.

J find it particularly difficult at this late stage of the debate to introduce a new theme. I think all I can do is to look briefly at what was happening a few weeks before the Budget was presented to Parliament and to remind the Senate of some of the speculations by press writers and others who thought that there would be something good in the Budget. These forecasts gave the impression that the Budget would contain everything but the kitchen sink. [Quorum formed.] Many people expected a big budget deficit. Some predicted relief from personal or company tax, and more equitable and widespread social services payments. I do not know where all these ideas came from, but some of the prophets must have been gazing into a crystal ball. Perhaps some ideas came from hints dropped by Government supporters who hoped that their own particular interests would be served by the Budget. But however these forecasts came about, the people were misled and kept in a state of agitation and suspense.

Let me indicate at this stage in no uncertain terms that I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) last Wednesday week. I support the amendment for two reasons, my first being that it registers a protest at the Budget. I think that is very necessary. I concede that there are good features in the Budget, but I think a protest should be made, not because of what the Budget contains but because of what the Budget has not done for so many people and what it has not done about defence, of whichI shall speak later.

My second reason for supporting the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that this is one way in which Opposition senators can register dissatisfaction with a budget which, in our opinion, does not give the people we represent favorable treatment. We represent a big percentage of the people of Australia, and on behalf of those people we have no hesitation in registering our disapproval of the Budget. Previous speakers during the debate have elaborated on many points in the Budget, and there are points on which I shall touch at a later stage in my remarks. I think it is true to say that most speakers on the Government side of the chamber have endeavoured to justify the Budget. 1 have listened to the debate from my seat in this chamber and from the Whip’s room and have heard honorable senators opposite praising the Budget very highly. I do not know why they have done so. In fact, I am confident that in many instances they did so with tongue in cheek. In supporting the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to such an extent, they may be trying to bolster his ego and also that of other Ministers.

I think it is fair to say that the Budget lacks foresight and imagination. As I have said, it is not very favorable to certain sections of the community, a contention that is borne out by various comments which have appeared in the press. Since it seems to be fashionable to quote authorities, let me refer to an editorial which appeared in the “ Daily Mirror “ newspaper of Wednesday, 14th August, 1963, the clay following the introduction of the Budget. Referring to the Budget, the editorial stated -

There Is nothing much in it. It gives no lead to the economy, none of the excitement of bold planning for the future of a young country bursting with vitality.

That comment would not be very complimentary of any government. The editorial also stated -

As a blueprint for the future it is just another big blank. It is the typical product of an uninspiring Federal Treasurer kept on the straight and narrow path of orthodoxy by his stubborn adviser, Sir Roland Wilson.

No bold development plans! No vision! No leadership! The same old story . . .

I think that most of us would agree with those comments in the “ Daily Mirror “ editorial.

Mr. Pardoe, the president of the Metal Trades Employers Association, said of the Budget -

The association would have liked to see more stimulus for consumer spending. Tax reductions would have provided this and would have had a great psychological impact as well.

Mrs. E. M. Robinson, the president of the Australian Housewives Association, said -

There should have been greater relief for the lower-income group. Pension increases and tax concessions are completely inadequate.

Mr McKellar:

-White, the secretary of the New South Wales Taxpayers Association, said -

The Treasurer has done nothing about payroll tax and little or nothing about the general level of income tax. However, there has been welcome relief offered certain sections of the community, particularly the family man.

I shall have some comment to make later in my remarks about what has been done for the family man. Mr. J. S. Ridley, the vice-president of the Sydney University Students Representative Council, said of the Budget -

We were pleased to see an increase in the education allowance. The raising of the minimum income will help students who work during vacations to meet their university fees.

I come now to a statement made by Mr. Dougherty, the general secretary of the Australian Workers Union, which numerically is the strongest trade union in the Commonwealth. When a man of his stature comments on the Budget, it is worth while to note what he says. Mr. Dougherty stated -

There is absolutely nothing in the Budget for the ordinary working man. But graziers and big businessmen will do well out of it.

Mr. H. N. Herford, the president of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales, stated -

The Budget takes some steps in the right direction, as in stepping up immigration. But this contrasts sharply with the failure to lessen the tax burdens on secondary industry, the main employe, of labour.

I have given a cross section of the comment of the community on this Budget and what it will do for Australia and Australian taxpayers.

I turn now to an article headed “ An Inadequate Budget”, published in the “ Taxpayers Bulletin “ of 24th August, 1963, in which the following comment is made: -

It is a completely inadequate document to present to a young nation like Australia currently facing not only the problem of under-production in many important sectors of the economy, but the need for rapid development if it is to survive and maintain itself in a strongly competitive world. It is, in short, a cautious, old man’s budget that ignores a young, ambitious man’s needs.

I think that, there again, we can agree wilh the comment. The article continued -

There is no theme in the Budget to inspire the private sector of the economy, to shake off the lethargy of the post-November, 1960, period and resume its proper expansionary role. Far from encouraging the return of a vigorous spirit of national confidence and enterprise, it, in effect, “rejects this as if it were of no account in the present national circumstances.

The comments I have read are supported to a large extent by the Treasurer himself. I wish to refer to a television interview, in which the Treasurer took part, since the presentation of the Budget. The views expressed by him at the interview fortify the opinions of the persons whose comments I have quoted. The Treasurer admitted during the interview that the Budget had been drawn up more on the side of the big taxpayer than on the side of the small taxpayer. When we have from the man who was responsible for introducing the Budget a statement such as that, it is clear that the Government has not brought forward a budget which is in the interests of the Australian taxpayers and of Australians generally.

Let us examine the Budget to see what it proposes to do for the family man. There is scarcely anything, except the small benefit to be had from the removal of sales tax on foodstuffs. I shall say something in this respect later. There has been no increase in child endowment. It is true that the Menzies Government introduced child endowment for the first child in 1 950, but since then the payments have not been increased. The previous Labour government, during the war and immediately after it, increased child endowment by 5s. There were two increases of 2s. 6d. on each occasion, which brought the payment to 10s. for the second and subsequent children, and that is where the payment remains to-day.

I am deeply disappointed that the Government has not made any attempt whatsoever to ease the means test for pensioners. From this very chamber I have suggested that the means test be removed from persons over the age of 75 years and, wherever I might be, I shall continue to advocate that principle. However, the Government has seen fit to pay no regard to my request. The Budget does not ease the means test, although, admittedly, it is a little easier than it was ten years ago. Has the Government any idea of the number of persons who would benefit from removal of the means test from persons over the age of 75 years and of the cost that would be involved? I should not think that many persons would be affected. If the Government provided that relief it would be a sign of good faith.

I am somewhat pleased that the Government has increased by 10s. the rate payable to single pensioners. That increase is acceptable and is appreciated, but whether it is sufficient to meet the needs of pensioners is debatable. Whether one receives £6, £2 or £30 a week, the important matter is what can be bought with the money. We well know that over the past few years pensioners have had scarcely enough money to keep themselves reasonably well clothed and fed. 1 know quite a. few pensioners in Hobart who have to buy cast-off clothing at second-hand shops in order to make ends meet.

The Budget discriminates between various categories of pensioners. There are invalid pensioners, single age pensioners, married age pensioners and widow pensioners. Social service benefits also include the maternity allowance and child endowment. The Government has passed completely over most of these categories of social services. In particular, it has never increased the funeral benefit, which was introduced by Labour in 1943. The Government’s record in this regard is not verygood.

Consider the case of married age pensioners who are living apart, perhaps legally separated by order of a court? They may have lived together for many years and reared a family. If they now live apart, they may qualify for increased pensions. The Government is imposing a penalty upon married pensioner couples who want to spend their last few years together. It would have been more equitable to increase by 5s. the pensions of a married couple and this would have provided some relief.

The Government has stated that pensioners are pleased with the increases that have been granted. Let me read some extracts from the “Daily Mirror” of 28th August. Mrs. Doyle, secretary of the Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association in Sydney, is reported to have said -

All pensioners, single or married, should be paid the same rate.

The Reverend Alan Walker, superintendent of the Central Methodist Mission, is reported to have said -

I regret that there will not be an all-round increase. Married pensioners often have to pay nearly all of one pension for one room.

The superintendent of the Leichhardt Methodist Mission, Dr. Harold Hawkins, is reported to have said -

Married pensioners should share in the increase, even if they get only 5s. per week.

I have frequently referred to the gap between pensions and the basic wage. I direct the Senate’s attention again to this ever-widening gap. In 1945, when the basic wage was £4 16s., the age and invalid pension rate was £1 12s. 6d., leaving a gap of £3 3s. 6d. In 1955, when the basic wage was £.10 16s. and the pension £4, the gap was £6 16s. In 1961, when the basic wage was £14 8s. and (he pension £5 5s., the gap was £9 3s. This year, even after the Budget takes effect, with the pension of a married pensioner remaining at £5 5s., and the basic wage at £14 14s., the gap will be £9 9s., an increase of 6s. Those figures speak for themselves. They show just how little the Government is prepared to do for persons who are so unfortunately placed that they must depend on a pension.

I spoke a few moments ago about a penalty being imposed on married pensioners. Senator Henty said last night -

Many of those who are now married will, unfortunately, lose their partners, and they too will get this benefit.

Let us consider those words for a few minutes. I can think of only one interpretation, and that is that the Government is providing a death penalty for a pensioner to qualify for an increased pension. I cannot put any other construction on the Ministers words. As I said a few minutes ago, married pensioners can live apart and each of them can get the increase that is to be granted to single pensioners. I cannot follow the reasoning of the Government or understand the basis on which this decision has been made. There does not seem to be any logic in the way in which the social services section of the Budget has been drawn up.

Unfortunately, prior to the introduction of the Budget in to the Parliament, a number of landlords gave pensioners notice of increases in their rents, the increases to become operative from the week in which the Budget was introduced. It is possible that some landlords will not increase the rents payable by married pensioners, but I venture the opinion that all single pensioners who were given such notice will have their rents increased at the whim of. their landlords. I am happy to say that the Labour Government of Tasmania has said clearly that it will not increase the rents payable to its housing authority by any pensioners, whether they be single or married. That is one bright spot on the horizon for pensioners in Tasmania.

Another matter which has caused me considerable concern for a long time relates to pensioners in mental hospitals. Neither Labour nor Liberal governments have so far tackled a problem which faces the community and these people - the payment of pensions. I suggest that it should be given favorable consideration by this Government in the very near future. In some instances these unfortunate people are confined to institutions for considerable periods. In other instances, they are confined for only a short time. I understand that the recovery rate of mental patients throughout Australia is 80 per cent. I fail to see why those suffering from mental illness should be treated differently from those suffering from physical illness. If a person is unable to work because he is mentally deranged - in some cases only temporarily - he should receive some pension while be is in an institution. When these people are discharged, unless they have friends or relatives to whom they can go, they have absolutely no resources. They have to wait for seven days before they can qualify for the unemployment benefit, and then they have to wait for a further seven days before they can get the benefit for which they have qualified. The result is that in some instances these people are picked up by the police on vagrancy charges and probably have to spend ten or twelve days in gaol. A humane approach should be made to this problem and something should be done in the near future to have pensions paid to persons confined in mental institutions.

Another matter that has concerned me and my parliamentary colleagues from Tasmania is a zone allowance for people living on King and Flinders islands. Over a long period I have repeatedly raised the matter in this chamber. With other honorable senators, I have approached the Government about ways to deal with this problem but so far we have not been able to make a break through. I point out once again that the people living on these two islands suffer great disabilities because of high freight charges. Their cost of living is considerably higher than that of people living on the mainland or in Tasmania. If ever there were people entitled to a zone allowance for income tax purposes, it is the people on these islands. I bring the matter again to the notice of the Government and I sincerely hope it will do something to give relief to these people in the very near future.

I wish now to look at the sales tax. Both Senator Henty and Senator McKellar touched on this subject. They claimed that the reduction in the sales tax on food would be passed on to the consumer. In some instances the reduction may be passed on, but I would say that those instances will be very few and far between in Tasmania. I know that recently there was a reduction of - if I remember correctly - ls. 5d. a bushel in the price of wheat coming- into the State. Mr. Edwards, the secretary of the bread manufacturers association of Tasmania, said that, despite the decrease of ls. 5d. a bushel in the price of wheat, there would be no reduction in the price of bread. I suggest that that is a yardstick to use in assessing whether this reduction in the sales tax on foodstuffs will be handed on to the consumer public. I have in mind that very shortly after the sales tax reductions were announced by the Government in the Budget, the “ Mercury “, a leading newspaper in Tasmania, said it was very doubtful whether any of the sales tax reductions on foodstuffs would be passed on to the consumer public in Tasmania because of increased freight charges, an increase in marginal rates, an increase in annual leave payments and a probable increase in long service leave conditions. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people in the community in various walks of life. Unscrupulous people in the retail business will not pass this reduction on to the consuming public.

Last night Senator Henty made particular reference to the timber industry. I was very pleased to hear him do so, because I have been conversant with that industry for more years than I care to remember. I first became associated with it in the early 1920’s, so I feel that I am on rather safe ground when I refer to it. Senator Henty took great pride in the fact that this Government had regarded the extraction of timber as primary production and proposed to allow tax concessions in relation to the product from the time it was taken from the bush until it arrived at the sawmill.

By way of interjection, J said that this concession was first advocated by Sir Robert Cosgrove. For the benefit of those who may not know it, Sir Robert Cosgrove was a Labour Premier of Tasmania - and a very good one. I can well recall that in 1950, when I became secretary of the Timber Workers Union in Tasmania, Mr Cosgrove, as he then was, got together the various timber interests, including representatives of the employers and employees, and submitted a proposal for tax concessions for the timber industry. Approaches were then made to the Commonwealth Government to have those concessions granted. If my memory serves me correctly, at that time Senator Henty was not even a member of the Federal Parliament. So I do not see why he should take all the credit for this Government in relation to the proposed tax concession. To my knowledge, representations for such a concession have been made for the past twelve or thirteen years. Senator Henty mentioned a period of eleven years. On this particular matter the honorable senator is well and truly off the beam.

I now want to pass to the subject of unemployment. I am particularly concerned about the unemployment situation, as are many other honorable senators. Government supporters claim that the position is not too bad; that the figure of 78,000 is not a high level of unemployment. 1 have said in this chamber before that I do not consider the unemployment situation in terms of plain, cold statistics. I look at it from the viewpoint of the person who is unemployed. I had personal experience of unemployment in the 1930’s. I was then unable to obtain work. The party then in office called itself, I think, the Nationalist Party. I cannot be quite certain about that because the present Liberal Party has had so many names. It has had three different names since I became a voter. First, it was known as the Nationalist Party and then as the United Australia Party. Ultimately it took its present name. On the law of averages, there should soon be another change of name.

As I said a moment ago, I look at the unemployment situation from the viewpoint of the person who is unemployed. Senator Lillico said that approximately 20,000 married persons were unemployed. I do not intend to argue that point; that may be the correct figure.

Senator Hannaford:

– He was quoting what Mr. Reece said.

Senator POKE:

– I am quoting what Senator Lillico said. If you doubt what I say, I direct your attention to the “ Hansard “ report of Senator Lillico’s speech, at page 119. Let me quote it. I shall not read the whole paragraph but only sufficient to let you know that the words that I am using are those which Senator Lillico used.

Senator Hannaford:

– He was quoting what Mr Reece said.

Senator POKE:

Senator Lillico said -

It is stated, in the first place, that the number of married men among the 2 per cent, of unemployed is comparatively small - probably about 20,000. Juniors number 27,000. These are girls as well as boys who have recently left school and who are in the process of seeking a suitable occupation.

Senator Lillico:

– I was quoting the opinion of another man.

Senator POKE:

– Those were the figures quoted by Senator Lillico, irrespective of what he may now say or what any other Government senator may say by way of interjection. Those figures appear in the records of the Parliament and they will remain there.

Senator Lillico:

– As a quotation from somebody else. They were not my figures.

Senator POKE:

– You quoted them.

Senator Lillico:

– I quoted them from somebody else.

Senator POKE:

– You quoted them. Let us be a little bit fair about it. I am prepared to say that they are your figures. Let us have a look at the position.

Senator Lillico:

– I was quoting somebody else.

Senator POKE:

– Give me a go. When you have finished your speech I will carry on with my interjections. Let us get the record straight. If we work on the basis that 20,000 of the unemployed are married men and if we regard the average family unit as consisting of three persons, we find that in that category 60,000 persons are directly affected by unemployment. I am not saying that they all are unemployed, but that if we take a family unit as consisting of a father, mother and one child, 60,000 persons are directly affected by the unemployment of married men. That is too great a number. As I said a moment or two ago, I know what it means to be unemployed. I know what it means not to have enough money in one’s pocket to buy a meal and what it means to have to carry a swag. I feel for these people in the same way that I felt for myself when I had an empty belly. That is the only way in which anybody should look at the unemployment situation.

I said earlier that Senator Lillico had stated that there were 27,000 juniors seeking suitable employment. A few schoolleavers come on to the labour market during the year, but the bulk of them do so during the Christmas-New Year period. It is reasonable to assume that, if 27,000 juniors are looking for work to-day, the 29th day of August, they have been doing so for at least eight or nine months. That is far too long for any child to be looking for work.

I am particularly concerned about the failure of this Government to do more to develop this country. We in Tasmania have never received any money for the development of the State. Admittedly we have received non-repayable loans and that kind of thing, but not one penny piece has been spent by this government on national development projects.

Senator Lillico:

– Do you know why?

Senator POKE:

– Yes. There is no need for you to tell me. I have been in Tasmania as long as you have; perhaps a little longer. One matter that should be given very early and very earnest consideration is what is going to happen when we have a fresh crop of school leavers coming on to the labour market at the end of this year.

Senator Mattner:

– lt happens every year.

Senator POKE:

– Admittedly. I am pleased with that interjection. What is going to happen to them? Are they to be left on the labour market again for periods of eight or nine months, as a big percentage of them are sure to be? Judging on the Government’s past record, they certainly will be doing just that. I think a reliable estimate of the number of school leavers who will be coming on to the labour market at the end of the year would be between 80,000 and 85,000. They certainly will swell the number of people who will be available for jobs and unable to find them. Therefore, this Government has a responsibility to cast around for some means of alleviating the position. It must do something to expand our industries, and it must do more for the development of the country if we are to be able to absorb in employment the number of school leavers who will be coming on to the labour market.

I want to refer now to some contradictory statements made by two honorable senators opposite. It relates to statements made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Sir William Spooner, and Senator Lillico. As authorities for their statements, both Senator Sir William Spooner and Senator Lillico quoted Mr. Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Senator Sir William Spooner quoted Mr. Monk as saying that 1.5 per cent, of the work force was about the irreducible level of people seeking employment. That may be so. I am not saying that Mr. Monk did, or did not, say that, nor do I assert that Mr. Monk did not use those words. Then Senator Lillico said that Mr. Monk said it was a necessary level.

Senator Lillico:

– ‘And he did.

Senator POKE:

– All right, but who is correct - Senator Sir William Spooner or Senator Lillico? There is a great difference between the words “ irreducible level “ and “ necessary level “. For some reason, the Government side just cannot agree on this question of unemployment. I think Senator Lillico is a member of the Liberal Party. At first I though that we had another demonstration of the rift between the Liberal Party and the Country Party but on this occasion it is a case of a rift between two Liberals. What I have quoted serves to demonstrate clearly that Government supporters are prepare to distort what any person says in an effort to justify their own shortcomings.

Senator Hannaford:

– What about giving us your version of it?

Senator POKE:

– I am not advancing any version; I am not advancing anything at all. I am simply pointing out the contradictory statements made by two supporters of the Government. I do not mind them contradicting one another, because while they are contradicting one another at least they are leaving us alone.

Let me go a little further on this question of unemployment. I feel that the Government has accepted a number between 70,000 and 80,000 as an acceptable level of unemployed in Australia. Senator Sir William Spooner accused the Opposition of becoming rather emotional on this issue. I cannot see on what grounds he can so accuse us. The Opposition’s approach to this issue of unemployment has been most realistic and Opposition members are deserving of every credit for bringing to the notice of the Parliament and the people of Australia the actual position with relation to unemployment. We say that so long as there is one man ready, willing and able to take work he should be able to get a job. Let me quote another authority in connexion with unemployment. I refer to the following statement in the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia: -

The increase in economic activity in 1962-63 had encouraging features, with further progress towards achieving full and effective use of the work force and physical resources while preserving stability of costs and prices. However- and this is the important point - unemployment is still too high. It is necessary to follow through with policies to encourage the growth of economic activity and to realize the potential for expansion of the economy presented by the high level of new entrants to the work force in years to come.

It is quite evident that once again the Government can write “ failure “ across its Budget proposals for the year.

As my time is running out, let me conclude by saying that it is fair comment that the Budget bristles with discriminations, injustices and anomalies. For that reason, I cannot support the Government’s proposals. I have great pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly).

Senator MATTNER:
South Australia

– I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

page 367


Reports on Items.

Senator HENTY:
Minister for Customs and Excise · Tasmania · LP

– I lay on the table of the Senate reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects:

Bisphenol A and Epoxy Resins.

Gauges for Liquid Levels.

Portable Electric Hand Tools.

Toluene, Nitration Grade.

page 367


Senator BREEN:

– I present the seventh report of the Printing Committee.

Report - by leave - adopted.

page 367


Public Service

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Western Australia

– Through you, Mr. President, I wish to request the assistance of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner). He may recall that during the last sessional period I referred to him a problem a constituent had raised with me concerning the interpretation of section 48 of the Public Service Act. I had difficulty in reaching either the departmental head concerned or the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who is the political head of the department. The honorable senator was able to overcome that difficulty for me, and I thank him.

I now have to ask him again to take up a matter with the Prime Minister, the political head of the department administering the Public Service Act. Briefly, the problem is this: Under section 48 of the Public Service Act, anybody who has continuous service in the armed forces and with the Public Service is deemed to have had continuous service for the purpose of furlough, seniority and so on. In the case which I ask the Leader of the Government to handle for me, the person concerned has, but for two periods, spent his entire working life in the service of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. He joined the Postal Department in Geraldton as a young boy and he is still employed as a lineman. The two breaks in his service with the department were in the Second World War and the Korean War. During the Korean War, it was necessary for him to resign from the department. He was discharged from the Korean force on 16th July, 1956, and he reported for duty with the department the next day, 17th July. According to the interpretation of the act, his was not continuous service, although he finished his Army work at 5 p.m. one day and reported for duty with the department at 9 a.m. the next day.

It is true that his appointment as a permanent officer did not come about until nine months later. It appears to me that it is on that basis that the ruling was given that his service was not continuous service. It may well be that this is the position on a narrow interpretation of the act. That is the decision we have had from the Public Service Board, and the political head of the department concerned upholds that decision.

There is nothing else in the man’s record contrary to his interests. His difficulty is merely that nine months elapsed before he was appointed a permanent officer. It is said that that period constituted a break in his service. It must be obvious to any one who thinks about this matter that it is impossible to get a permanency in no time. A branch of the Postal Department has no power to make an officer permanent, and I doubt whether a public service inspector in a State has the power to do so. I am not quite sure about that because certain delegated powers are given which are varied from time to time. Unless you have the latest order, you cannot be sure of the position in that respect. It would seem that only the department had the power to make the man a permanent officer. Therefore, a period of time had to elapse before the matter was settled finally.

Through you, Mr. President, I request the Leader of the Government in the Senate to ask the head of the department administering the Public Service Board to examine the position with a view to seeing whether this was aconsistent ruling. Very few people have been able to take advantage of this section, and I suggest respectfully that there is a chance to amend it. I had thought of raising this matter by way of a question and in other ways, but I came to the conclusion that it could best be investigated if I explained it fully to the Leader of the Government in this way and, if necessary, supplied further information. I do not think it will be necessary to supply further information because the department and the Prime Minister have the facts before them.

I repeat that the ruling that has been given is that this man’s service is not continuous service, although he left the Army on one day and returned to work with the Postal Department the next morning. It is said that some of his service was not service as a permanent officer. It may be that this section of the Public Service Act slipped through the Parliament without those who were considering it having full knowledge of the way in which it would operate, and thinking they were acting for the best. Probably they thought they were passing something which would enable justice to be done to people who spent their adult lives in the service of the Commonwealth of Australia, either in a Commonwealth department or in the armed forces. Not one day of this man’s industrial life has been spent other than in the Postal Department or in the armed forces in two wars.

I feel that the section has been misinterpreted. However, it may be that, having regard to the way in which the section is drawn, the Public Service Board and the Prime Minister cannot, act otherwise than they have done. That seems to be the claim. I am sure that the Leader of the Government and I, between us, could get somewhere in this case. I ask him whether he will have a look at this case with a view to proposing, if necessary, an amendment to section 48.

Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development · New South Wales · LP

[10.38]. - I shall make the inquiry requested by Senator Willesee.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 10.38 p.m., till Tuesday, 10th September, at 3 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 August 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.