24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has his attention been directed to statements, which appeared in the Adelaide *’ Chronicle “ newspaper of 5th September, by members of the Australian Meat Board, the Australian Meat Exporters Council, and other organizations, expressing grave concern at the announcement by overseas shipping companies of increased freight charges on Australian meat being shipped to the United States of America? Will the the Government confer with the appropriate interests in the Australian meat industry with a view to taking action to alleviate the effect of increased freight charges which will not only embarrass the industry in the competitive markets abroad but also increase the costs of producing meat?
Yes, Mr. President, like others, I have noticed that there is to be an increase in freight rates, which is a matter of great concern and importance. There is within the Department of Trade an appropriate organization which is charged with responsibility for conducting negotiations with the shipping conference. I am not aware of the details of negotiations which may have occurred or of what has happened in regard to this matter. I therefore ask Senator Drury to place the question on the noticepaper and I shall get Mr. McEwen to give him full advice.
British research workers have reported a breakthrough in the long struggle to master the common cold.
Viruses have been discovered at the common cold research unit at Harvard Hospital, Salisbury (Wiltshire).
It has been confirmed they are mainly responsible for colds, especially in adults.
Research has begun to produce a vaccine against these viruses and a drug which would halt the’ir growth without damaging the body.
The Harvard Hospital medical superintendent (Dr. M. L. Bynoe) said in “ Practitioner “ that the organisms had been named rhinoviruses
Whether a vaccine could be produced would depend on the number of different rhinoviruses there were.
Will the Minister advise me whether any research of this type is being carried out in Australia? If so, what are the results of such work?
– The honorable senator, knowing that the question he proposed to ask would require some research, was good enough to give me advance notice of it. I am now in a position to say to him that the work at Salisbury on viruses causing the common cold has been in progress for about fifteen years. There are still many problems to be overcome before an effective vaccine against the common cold can be produced. Virus laboratories in Australia have been able to identify and type fifteen different groups of viruses and are working on four others, but at present, no laboratories here are working on rhinoviruses. Virus reference work in Australia is being kept under review, however, by a special subcommittee of the National Health and Medical Research Council.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Is Trans-Australia Airlines obliged to pay to the Government an annual dividend on its capital at a rate determined in advance by the Minister after consultation with the Treasurer? Did the Minister fix a rate of 6 per cent, for the last financial year? Is T.A.A. in fact paying 7 per cent., or an additional £75,000, to the Government in respect of that year? Does the Minister’s annual report state that this higher figure was recommended by T.A.A.? Is T.A.A. borrowing money, on which it is paying interest, to finance the purchase of its new jet aircraft? How much is being borrowed and at what rate of interest? Does the Minister seriously ask honorable senators and the people of Australia to believe that T.A.A., at a time when it is borrowing money on which it is paying interest, voluntarily recommended that it should pay approximately £75,000 more to the Government this year by way of dividend than it was obliged to pay? What pressure, direct or indirect, was brought to bear on T.A.A. by the Minister or his department to bring about this extraordinary result?
– The method by which the dividend paid by T.A.A. shall be arrived at is set out in some detail in an act of this Parliament passed by the Senate late in 1961. All the various factors which must be taken into account by the Minister, by the Treasurer, and by T.A.A., are there recorded in some detail. It is true that the procedure provides that before the close of any financial year a target for the ensuing financial year shall be set. I speak from memory when I say that I think my obligation is to declare that target for the ensuing financial year a month before the close of the current financial year.
As indicated by the honorable senator, 6 per cent, was originally set as a target for the year just closed. Results were better than had been anticipated, and it is true that T.A.A. recommended that for that year it should pay 7 per cent, as a dividend. The matter was then considered by me as Minister and next by the Treasurer. We conferred and, in the light of all the circumstances and the result achieved by T.A.A. as a commercial entity, we agreed that 7 per cent, was a realistic rate to be paid by T.A.A. lor that year.
The honorable senator asks whether it is the intention of the Australian National Airlines Commission to borrow funds for the purchase of equipment for T.A.A. in the year 1964-65. The method by which these acquisitions will be financed at that time will depend, of course, on the state of the commission’s finances and the prospects of the airline industry in Australia. The same commercial factors will then be taken into consideration as will need to be taken into consideration by the private enterprise entity in the airline industry.
The honorable senator returns to something like an old theme when he implies that pressure was brought to bear on T.A.A. to pay a dividend of 7 per cent. Let me assure him at once that no pressure was brought to bear; no pressure was necessary. Indeed, the commission and, I believe, a preponderantly large number of the staff employed by T.A.A. take considerable pleasure from the fact that, year by year, under sound management and sound governmental policy direction, they are. able to produce something of a commercial result rather than the poor, shabby effort that was always returned by T.A.A. under a Labour government. Then, that organization, instead of paying a reasonable dividend on the amount of money invested in it, frequently cost the Australian taxpayer money.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise read the report in the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ of 30th August that he told the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Kennelly, that he would refuse any request to waive £862.000 duty on the four Boeing 727 jet aeroplanes ordered from the United States of America for Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. because of the importance of British-Australian trade? What are the facts?
– My attention has been directed to a. report in the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ of 30th August stating that I told Senator Kennelly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, that I would refuse any request to waive the duty of £862,000 because of the importance of British-Australian trade. I take this opportunity to correct that report. I told the honorable senator that when I received a request I would consider it. I have received no request. No by-law application has been made. When a by-law application is made on behalf of the two organizations concerned it will be given the same consideration as we give to every by-law application. The facts will be considered, and the relevant factors will be taken into account. I know full well the reason why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would like me to reject such an application. He is aware that if I did so £400,000 of the amount of duty involved would have to be provided out of the Government’s coffers for one airline whilst the other airline would be obliged to find the balance of the amount of duty.
I understand his motives quite well. However, any by-law application which comes to my department on this matter will be examined - on the facts and in the light of the representations made - in the same way as every by-law application is examined.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs noted the report of a statement attributed to the Reverend Alan Walker, prior to leaving Sydney yesterday for Johannesburg? The statement to which I refer reads -
I am going from my country which has a White Australia policy and entirely excludes all coloured people.
Will the responsible Minister be asked to repudiate officially this statement as a misrepresentation of the policy of the Australian Government? Can the Australian people expect a clear and considered announcement of government policy to re-assure our Asian neighbours and world opinion that total exclusion of all coloured people from Australia will not be sanctioned by the Australian people nor by the Government which represents them?
– I have not noticed the reported statement of the Reverend Alan Walker but if he did, indeed, make such a statement, I think it should be brought to the notice of the Minister for Immigration because it is completely at variance with the facts, which ought to be known to the Reverend Alan Walker. Not only does this country not exclude people from Asia or other countries, but, indeed, there are thousands of such people here, either as students or working in their avenues of employment, and, of these and others, a considerable number become Australian citizens every year. This should have been known to the Reverend Alan Walker.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior been directed to an article that appeared in “ People “ on 14th August, 1963, and which stated that the new Parliament House in Canberra, situated on the shores of the lake, was under construction?
The following words appear under the first picture which accompanied the article: -
The prominent white building in the top centre will be the new Parliament House, now under construction . . .
Another picture carries these words -
Parliament House, Canberra, as it is to-day, is only on a temporary location. The permanent structure (under construction) will soon be mirrored in the new lake.
If the new Parliament House is under construction, can the Minister tell me when construction started? Has he any idea when it will be completed? If there is no truth in this report, will the Minister ask the editor of “ People “ to publish a correction, as this is a widely read publication and the report could have misled many people?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. I should think that the author of it must have been the odd man out amongst the 11,000,000 people who know quite well that a new Parliament House in Canberra is not under construction. Of course, there is no truth in the report. As no decision has been made about the kind of building that will be required to meet the needs of the future, and as no design has been undertaken and no starting time has been set down, one cannot have any idea about when it will be completed.
As far as I know, the only firm announcement which has been made on this issue was made recently by the Prime Minister in another place. He informed members of the House of Representatives that the Government was contemplating the appointment of a committee of competent people to submit recommendations on the requirements of a new Parliament House.
– I desire to address a few questions to Senator Henty. Let me say that I tried to short-circuit my approach to the matter by referring it to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. After making half a dozen attempts here in Canberra, I was referred to Sydney and eventually to Melbourne. After two attempts there I got in touch with the right man, but then the phone was switched off. Here are my questions: Is it not a fact that many men arc extremely careless about their clothes? Is it not a fact that this causes much unhappiness in family life, especially amongst females? Did not the C.S.I.R.O. invent a method of putting a permanent crease in men’s trousers? Why has this invention not been a commercial success? Has Si-Ro-Set, which is the trade name of the invention, been boycotted, by certain vested interests? If not, why has a permanent crease in men’s trousers not been adopted?
– I do not know whether the honorable senator in the course of his interstate travels to Melbourne and Sydney slept in his trousers and lost the crease. I fail to understand why the question should be directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– I thought you were in charge of the C.S.I.R.O.
– No, I am not. The Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. sits in this House.
– I am sorry. Let him answer then.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, by pointing out that some time ago an arrangement was being negotiated to exploit some of the considerable salt resources of South Australia near Port Augusta. The negotiations were between the Leslie Salt Company of the United States of America and Australian interests. The South Australian Government was vitally interested. As the matter is one of important national development, can the Minister state whether the negotiations have been completed successfully? If so, when is it expected that the production of salt in the area will be commenced?
– This matter has been the subject of discussion within my department. Some months ago there were discussions on a proposal that the resources to which the honorable senator has referred should be developed. It was a major project involving the investment of some millions of pounds on work extending over four or five years with very good prospects of earning export income.
But the purpose of the discussion with the department was merely to seek advice on some of the technical problems involved. The proposal is one for the South Australian Government and the company concerned. I notice that the company made a statement only a few days ago to the effect that negotiations were approaching finality and that it proposed to make further information public within the next few days. We can only await that information. The Department of National Development would not be primarily concerned. It would be very anxious to help and happy to do so if it could, but it is for the company itself, the South Australian Government and the overseas company to come to terms and make an announcement.
– I rise to order, Mr. President. I understood that when an honorable senator directed a question by mistake to the wrong Minister it was the rule in the Senate for the appropriate Minister to reply. I directed a series of questions to the Minister for Customs and Excise instead of to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Would you rule, Mr. President, that Senator Gorton should answer those questions?
– Order! I will not give a ruling as suggested by Senator Brown. It is optional for any Minister to decide whether he will answer a question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Did the Prime Minister receive representations from the Returned Servicemen’s League about the Australian Broadcasting Commission “ Four Corners “ television programme in which reference was made to the Returned Servicemen’s League? Did he seek or obtain from the A.B.C. any transcripts, notes or information about the contents of that programme? If he did any of those things, can the right honorable gentleman reconcile his intervention with what is assumed to be Government policy to maintain the independence of the Australian
Broadcasting Commission? If it is. in fact, Government policy to maintain the independence of the A.B.C. will the Prime Minister make a statement that the Returned Servicemen’s League is free to act as it thinks fit but that he has no intention of responding to its political pressures in any way that would curtail the independence of the A.B.C. in determining the nature and content of its programmes?
– I only know what I have read in the newspapers and what I heard the Prime Minister say in reply to a question in another place this afternoon. I understand that the Returned Servicemen’s League complained to the Prime Minister and that the right honourable gentleman obtained a copy of the script. The league then told the Prime Minister it was making representations direct to the Australian Broadcasting Commission; and that is where the matter now stands.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that action is proposed by the Commonwealth Government concerning legislation claiming offshore areas which would have an important and complete bearing on oil exploration and, indeed, has already caused the withdrawal of powerful well-equipped overseas companies from oil exploration offshore in Queensland? If this is the case, would the Minister favour the Senate with a statement giving the full details?
This is a situation with which I have been in pretty close touch. First, it is not correct to say that a company has withdrawn from the offshore search. Secondly, it is not correct to say that whatever the company has done is as a result of any Commonwealth action. I think it can be fairly stated that the company has postponed a programme which it had earlier contemplated, not because of any Commonwealth action but because it doubts whether the State has the legal power to authorize it to go ahead with the search. The company has been advised that this is beyond the power of the State Government. The company’s postponement of the programme is not due to any Commonwealth action. Indeed, on the contrary, I am busily engaged with the company and the State Government in trying to mak: some practical arrangements so that the search can go on.
– I now direct to Senator Gorton the questions which I previously directed to Senator Henty relating to the process of permanent creasing known as Si-Ro-Set. I take it that the Minister does not wish me to repeat the questions.
– No. I think perhaps the trouble in this case has arisen from the unparliamentary practice of addressing a question to a Minister by name instead of by portfolio. However, the honorable senator’s questions about the careless attitude of some men to the maintenance of creases in their trousers and the effect of the lack of such creases on the female members of families could be answered by any other Minister as well as by me. The question whether the C.S.I. R.O. has evolved a method, called Si-Ro-Set, not. only for permanently creasing trousers but also for pleating skirts, is also one which I think could be answered by the vast majority of Australian people. Yes, the organization did evolve such a process which, I understand, is being employed by various manufacturers in Australia and overseas, but not by all. I have never heard any suggestion that the reason why all manufacturers are not using the process is that some vested interests have combined against it. I think it more likely that this process requires a certain amount of capital, a certain amount of new investment and a certain amount of superseding of existing machinery which some manufacturers are prepared to face but others are not.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Minister read the announcement in to-day’s press that Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited is building a new plant at Yarraville to produce the latest types of concentrated fertilizers, and that this is expected to mean lower handling and freight costs to primary producers? What amount will be paid by the Government by way of superphosphate bounty on such concentrated superphosphate?
– I read the announcement with great interest. I think all Australian primary producers welcome the announcement that this new I.C.I, plant is to he built to produce ‘concentrated superphosphate and other fertilizers. The question that the honorable senator asks is interesting, but I cannot answer it at this stage. After all, the legislation for the £3 a ton bounty on superphosphate, which was announced in the Budget, is not yet through. That bounty represents, I think, a 22 per cent, subsidy.
– Twenty per cent.
– Twenty or twentytwo per cent. This is something that we will have to look at when the legislation is being considered. If the honorable senator will put his question on the noticepaper I shall take a great deal of interest in obtaining an answer to it.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can the Minister advise whether any progress has been made with the restrictive trade practices legislation? The Minister will recall that in reply to a question by me some weeks ago he advised that the Attorney-General had made certain proposals known and that he was listening to comments for and against those proposals before formulating his final view on that matter. Are the comments and criticisms of big business interests, are supporters of this Government, influencing Cabinet to shelve the legislation? If not, will the Minister seek information and advise honorable senators when the legislation will be introduced?
The honorable senator’s question deals with very important legislation which could do a lot of good or a lot of harm to the community depending on whether it is properly formed or drafted. The Senate has already had a detailed statement of the principles showing the way the Government is approaching the matter. The AttorneyGeneral made a public announcement when making that statement, that he would seek comment and criticism and enter into discussions. Those discussions are occurring at present and I hope that in the fullness of time we will get legislation which will carry out the purposes which are sought to be achieved.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior follows on a question asked by Senator Branson earlier this afternoon in relation to the proposed new Parliament House. Is it not a fact that a site for the new Parliament House has been selected by the Government? Is it not a fact that this site is adjacent to the proposed lake? Also, is it not a fact that preliminary earthworks on this site have already been undertaken by the responsible authorities in Canberra and that new streets in association with this site have been planned and are under construction? Finally, is it the intention of the Government to consult the Parliament with respect to the siting of the new Parliament House before any further work is carried out?
– Knowing the honorable senator’s lively interest in the new Parliament House and its location I think it proper that he put his question on the ‘ notice-paper so that my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, can supply a true and factual answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will he ask the Postmaster-General whether he would beprepared to alter section 120 of the Post and Telegraph Act by substituting the words “ therapeutic substances “ for the words “ proprietary medicines “ so that the Minister for Health can take appropriate action against unscrupulous manufacturers of fluoride toothpaste who are swindling the public by implying that their product acts as a protection against dental decay? In amplification I point out that fluoride applied under certain conditions will protect the outside of the teeth while decay still occurs in the vital inside portion. I point out furthermore that fluoride offers no protection to the very young.
– I have no intention of challenging the honorable senator’s knowledge as outlined in the last part of his question in which he: in effect, described this kind of advertising as something of a gimmick, but I do question the wisdom of his suggestion that the Postmaster-General have section 1 20 of the Post and Telegraph Act amended by substituting the words “ therapeutic substances “ for the words “ proprietary medicines “. I do so for the reason that the advertising that is rampant in Australia to-day is not confined to radio or television. The great newspapers of this country play a most important part as an advertising medium for the products of various manufacturers. For my part I think it would be a hybrid proclamation that would apply restrictions to only one section of advertising media.
– It might keep it clean.
– I would far rather be wholly clean than only half-clean. While the Government has no authority over newspapers and, as a government, seeks no authority or direction over what newspapers publish or advertise, I think it would be unwise to alter the act as requested by the honorable senator. Having said that, I shall bring the matter to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the area of Australian territory leased to the United States Government at North West Cape a closed area to Australian citizens, particularly union officials? In the last two or three weeks, has the organizer of a Western Australian registered industrial union of workers been refused the right to be on the leased land for the purpose of carrying out business on behalf of his union? Was the union organizer escorted off the leased area by a convoy of Americans in motorized vehicles and told not to return without the permission of Mr. Kromis? Who is Mr. Kromis, and what is his connexion with the Australian Government or the American Government? Does the Government approve of the action taken by the Americans in this instance? Will it take whatever steps are available to it to see that union officials shall be permitted to conduct legitimate union business on Australian territory, whether leased or not?
– I know nothing of the incident to which Senator Cant refers. I should have thought that, if such important principles were involved, it would have been reported in the newspapers, but I have seen no newspaper report of it. I suggest that the honorable senator place the question on the notice-paper so that I may ascertain whether the statements are accurate.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a recent series of articles published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ dealing with the national health scheme? Did he notice that whilst the articles gave quite a lot of factual and objective information and opinion they, nevertheless, contained statements which were not ba-ed on fact but were clearly calculated to knock the existing structure of the free health insurance scheme? I refer specifically to the first paragraph of the second article, which stated, in part -
Australia at the present time has one of the least comprehensive national health schemes in the Western world. Yet, medical care costs the nation more per head of population than the full’/ nationalized British scheme.
I ask the Minister: Is not that statement inaccurate and misleading? Will he state the facts in this connexion?
– I have seen the articles referred to by the honorable senator. I was amazed that their author was so grossly ignorant of the facts as to state that medical care costs more per head of population in Australia than in the United Kingdom under a fully nationalized scheme. To describe that statement as misleading would be the understatement of the century. Indeed, it is grossly false. Let me give the figures. The total cost of the national health scheme in Australia in 1962-63 was £A.96,200,000, or £8 16s. per head of population. The total cost of the British national health scheme for the same period, also in Australian money, was no less than £1,202,000,000, an average of £22 14s. per head of population, or almost three times the cost of the Australian scheme. No doubt the knockers and cynics will say, “ Oh yes, but the British scheme includes optical and dental benefits “. I know that it does. But is any one so naive as to suggest that the addition of those two benefits would treble the cost of our scheme? The knockers do not acknowledge that our scheme is based on a set of principles which puts it far in front of compulsory schemes. The people of Australia appreciate the freedom to choose the doctor and the hospital they prefer. In addition, there are in the voluntary Australian scheme many factors which are not apparent in compulsory health schemes.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Did he notice in the daily newspapers of 7th instant, advertisements offering high salaries for vacant jobs in the Commonwealth Public Service? Did he observe that recently one such position was advertised in respect of the Department of Labour and National Service? Does the Minister agree with the principle that very important matters of an urgent nature should receive first consideration? Does he agree also that a special committee should be set up within the Department of Labour and National Service to examine the insecure nature of the employment of many workers and the dearth of jobs for juveniles, including schoolleavers? Because the population of the Commonwealth has increased from 6,600,000 in 1933 to 10,500,000 in 1961, and may reasonably be expected to increase to 15,000,000 between now and the year 2001, would it not be good administration to appoint a special committee to investigate threats to the future expansion of the work force from automation, mechanization, various changes in the use of materials, including fuels, manufacturing techniques, tariffs and international trading conditions, and a diminution in the work of national development?
– There are within the Department of Labour and National Service committees concerned with various fields of employment. In connexion with the work of these committees, employers and employees co-operate in considering and studying many of the matters raised by the honorable senator. However, so that a fuller answer may be obtained to the rather diffuse question he has asked, I suggest that he place it on the notice-paper. I shall then ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to supply him with an answer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Has the Department of Health information that any person has received injury as a result of shock treatment? If injury has been caused from the treatment, is this usual? To what extent is shock treatment used in mental institutions to-day? Is it being replaced by the new tranquillizer drugs?
– I understand that on rare occasions injury has resulted from shock treatment, but now that relaxant drugs are being used such injuries hardly ever occur. I understand also that shock treatment is particularly useful in depressant cases. The new anti-depressant drugs are replacing shock treatment to some extent. I speak with a limited knowledge of this matter. If there is further information which the honorable senator would like to have, I shall be pleased to obtain it for him.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen recent press statements to the effect that certain State Premiers are becoming increasingly interested in the construction of nuclear power stations? I refer particularly to the interest of the Premier of South Australia. Is it a fact that British firms are now claiming that they have developed nuclear power stations which can be run more cheaply than coal-burning stations? Has the Minister any information regarding the cost per unit of producing power from nuclear energy compared with that of power produced from coal?
– I would not undertake to answer the question in detail off the cuff. In general, the cost of nuclear power is becoming increasingly competitive with that of thermal power. Only a comparatively short time ago it was thought that the production of nuclear power in certain parts of Australia might not be competitive until the early 1970’s. That point of view is being superseded and the date is being brought forward by as much as three or four years. Remembering that it takes four or five years to construct a power station, we can assume that we are now reaching a stage at which there are possibilities, at least, that construction of an atomic power station in some parts of Australia would be a commercial or economic proposition. I remind Senator Scott that this is, of course, a matter for State governments, which have the task of providing generating capacity.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General give an assurance to the Senate that there will be no change in the editorial control of the television programme “ Four Corners “ as a result of pressure upon the Australian Broadcasting Commission by the Returned Servicemen’s League?
– I certainly cannot give that assurance, because I merely represent my colleague, the Postmaster-General. The Government and the PostmasterGeneral have clearly indicated on many occasions that they are very loath to exercise censorship or a veto of any kind whatsoever in these matters. I shall bring the question to the notice of my colleague. If he has other views, I shall ask him to convey them to the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation read an article which appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of last Saturday, under the signature “ Robert Muir “, concerning the flight from Sydney to Darwin in which Mrs. Petrov was a passenger? The article states - r did not really think the guards would start trouble on the flight, but they looked tough and determined enough for anything, and I was not too happy at the thought of the loaded guns in their pockets.
Can the Minister tell the Senate whether it is lawful for passengers on aircraft to carry loaded firearms? If it is not lawful, was diplomatic immunity the reason why the Soviet guards were able to carry loaded firearms on that aircraft?
– I did not see the newspaper article referred to. I have no specific knowledge of this incident, which in fact occurred long before I became Minister for Civil Aviation. I can reassure the honorable senator to this extent: It is unlawful for passengers to carry firearms on an aircraft and action would certainly be taken to remove any firearms known to be carried by passengers. I do not wish to be harsh on the author of the article, Mr. Muir, but it does occur to me that the article may reflect a certain amount of literary licence.
– He was the aircraft steward who talked with Mrs. Petrov.
– I shall take the opportunity of ascertaining what the record says and shall let the honorable senator know.
– Has the
Minister for Health seen the report of a statement made by a visiting physician from the United States of America to the effect that that country loses 22,000,000 man-hours per year because of rheumatism and its effects? Has any survey been made of the productivity lost because of this disease in Australia? If so, what are the results of the survey7 If such a survey has not been made, will the Government undertake one? What research, if any, is conducted by the Commonwealth into the matter of effecting a cure for sufferers from rheumatic diseases?
– I have not read the statement cited by the honorable senator, and I have no knowledge of any specific research being undertaken into rheumatic diseases. The Commonwealth undertakes research only in fields that are pretty well defined. Various State instrumentalities are conducting research into maladies that have been with us for many years and they are meeting with a good deal of success. The Commonwealth, because of its unique responsibility, undertakes research that cannot properly be undertaken by State authorities or individuals, lt is true to say that our fields for research are limited, because we have not under our own jurisdiction hospitals, laboratories or universities in which to operate. Therefore, generally speaking, we make grants to various segments of the research fraternity. I shall have a look at the question and see whether I can give the honorable senator any more information as to what is being done in this specific field.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted that Senator McKenna’s birthday fell yesterday and that he has been Leader of the Opposition in the Senate for twelve years? Has the Minister offered Senator McKenna his good wishes, especially upon having been Leader of the Opposition for twelve years, and expressed the hope thai he will remain in such an honoured position for many years to come?
SenatorSir WILLIAM SPOONER.- On behalf of the Senate, I wish Senator McKenna many happy returns of the day and long occupancy of his office.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that Australia to-day exports iron and steel amounting to approximately 6,000,000 cwt. annually? Would it be correct to say that the major exporting company in Australia is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? Is it correct to say that the steel supplied by this company for the disastrous King’s Bridge did not comply with specifications, that it should have been rejected by the Victorian Government instrumentality, and that the failure of the bridge was due to negligence? Will the Commonwealth Government make certain that this disaster will not be repeated as the result of the export of similar steel and will it ensure that every step, technical and otherwise, will be taken to protect Australia’s good name in the export field? Finally, will steps be taken to prevent a repetition in Australia of the Melbourne calamity, with its resultant pay-out by the Australian taxpayers of £5,000,000, due entirely to the negligence of the incompetent Bolte Liberal Government?
– This must really take the prize for foolish questions. It relates to a matter which has been the subject of a royal commission in Victoria. That royal commission has presented its report to the Victorian Parliament. By what set of circumstances we, in this Senate, are called upon to comment upon it and to deal with the affairs of the Victorian Government I do not know. It is quite competent for Senator Hendrickson if he has the courage and capacity to do so to go on the platform in Victoria and make foolish statements of this kind; but he should spare us them in the Senate.
(Question No. 4.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 14.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The Commonwealth Weights and Measures (National Standards) Regulations make provision for the use of the metric system of measurement for each of the physical quantities mentioned. The actual commercial use of the metric system of measurement is a matter for State governments It is already legal to use the metric system in Victoria and Queensland, and discussions on the legalizing of its use in the other States are continuing. Nevertheless, so far as the general introduction of the metric system is concerned, much further investigation would be needed. A changeover to the metric system would be a far more costly and a slower process than the change to decimal currency.
(Question No. 29.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
In view of legislation passed during the last parliamentary sittings and designed to achieve a transfer from cheese production to condenseries of Australian milk production, will the Minister inform the Senate of the reason for the continued production of low-grade cheese in increasing quantities from areas of high-cost production and low-grade quality with particular reference to complex B mentioned by Senator Cormack in his speech on 15th May on the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1963?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has furnished the following reply: -
The area referred to as complex B has always presented quality problems to Commonwealth and
State grading officers despite strong efforts by them and other technical people to correct the position. The problem is mainly due to the smallness of the scattered factories in the area. The small-scale operations undertaken do not provide the necessary incentive for capital investment in modern plant without which an improvement in quality is becoming increasingly difficult. It is a fact that cheese production in this area has increased at least in the past three years but this would not appear abnormal in the light of increased cheese production generally in Australia. In fact, overall production has been at a record level in each of the last two years.
On the matter of diversion of milk from cheese manufacture to condenseries, there are no export establishments producing processed milk products in the immediate area so there is no opportunity for the transfer of milk for this purpose. However the export bounty on processed milk products introduced last year has achieved a substantial increase in milk usage by processors as evidenced by the fact that exports of processed milk products in 1962-63, in terms of butterfat, amounted to 5,627 tons compared with 3,849 tons in 1961-62 and 4,338 tons in 1960-61.
(Question No. 35.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 37.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What would have been the cost to the Government in the last financial year if pensions had been paid to those committed to mental hospitals?
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following reply: -
From such information as is available to the department, the cost would be between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000. Wives of persons admitted to mental hospitals, and who may now qualify for pensions at the appropriate widows’ rate, would cease to qualify.
(Question No. 38.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
The Department of Defence installed two computers in September, 1962, to develop and prove Electronic Data Processing (E.D.P.) systems for the services and to train staff from the service departments to use and operate these systems. Both computers went into full scale operation at that date and, since April, 1963, have been operated for two shifts per day. Up to the present, over 60 staff from the service departments have been trained to develop and prove these systems and, when development of the Navy and Army E.D.P. systems commences, about another 40 will be trained. There is still a shortage of qualified scientific andtechnical staff in this highly specialized and relatively new field, but, as the Defence Department had built up a group of such staff before the computers were installed, development of the services E.D.P. systems has not been affected. The overseas recruitment drive was made on behalf of all Commonwealth departments considering the introduction of E.D.P. systems and, in the event, resulted in the selection of twenty technical E.D.P. people to supplement the group of 47 such staff in the Defence E.D.P. branch. Progress with the development and proving of the systems for the services has been proceeding according to plan, and the first system, for the Air Force, is scheduled for introduction next year.
(Question No. 52.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers: -
Debate resumed from 29th August (vide page 367), 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;
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 the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust”.
– I support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers but oppose the amendment that has been moved by Senator Kennelly. When Senator Whiteside spoke to the motion he was making his maiden speech inthe Senate. We on this side of the chamber extend to him our congratulations and offer our good wishes.
The Budget papers set out in detail the anticipated revenue and expenditure for 1963-64. Honorable senators who have opposed the motion have offered, in the main, only one criticism. They have stated that the Government is not spending enough money in certain directions. They have advocated, amongst other things, an increase of the child endowment payments. According to the most reliable figures that we can obtain, the suggested increase of child endowment would cost an additional £60,000,000 per annum. In spite of that, these same critics blame the Government for not having balanced the Budget! They would gladly increase national expenditure by an additional £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 and so produce a greater cash deficiency.
We well remember Labour’s attitude to the payment of endowment for the first child. Every Opposition senator who spoke on the proposal opposed it with vigour. The Opposition said that it would reduce the basic wage, that it would depress the wage structure and that it would inflict hardship on the workers. The central executive of the Australian Labour Party saw the hypocrisy of such an attitude and promptly advised Labour senators to press for an endowment of 10s. for the first child. If their earlier argument were true, this increase would have inflicted twice as much hardship on the working people. To advance such an argument was nonsense.
It is interesting to note that a Labour government is the only government that has reduced social service payments. I say to honorable senators opposite that the people of Australia may have such increases if they are prepared to extort heavier taxes from income earners. The Labour Party should be honest and should tell the people that to carry out Labour’s proposals it would be necessary almost to double income tax collections. The cost of existing social service benefits this year - I mention the three main avenues of benefit- will be £531,000,000. Of that sum, £314,000,000 will be spent on ordinary social services, £97,000,000 on health benefits and £120,000,000 on repatriation benefits. In other words, one out of every four people who are earning and are paying income tax is employed solely to provide for social services. To pay social service benefits we must have national stability. Due to the sound policy of this Government, Australia is strong financially both internally and externally.
Budget concessions have been granted to the most deserving sections of the community. In direct contrast to Labour, which believes in class legislation, this Government governs in the best interests of every section of the community. The Government has removed the sales tax from all foodstuffs except confectionery. Also, it has provided for a. bounty of £3 per ton on superphosphate, a bounty of £2 per ton on sulphate of ammonia, and the duty-free admission of urea and other nitrogenous manures. All these concessions have been welcomed by the primary producer and Australians generally. The allocation of £196,000,000 for public works is excellent; it will stimulate trade.
Let us turn to the agricultural sphere for a moment. Every person within Australia should support our citrus and dried fruit industries. The State governments and the Commonwealth Government have a definite responsibility to safeguard the financial future of the dried fruit, citrus and wine industries. With the provision of irrigated areas on the Murray and Mumimbidgee Rivers many soldier settlers have been encouraged to enter the fruit-growing and grape-growing industries. In addition to the provision of private capital, the Commonwealth and State governments are involved in heavy financial outlay. After World War II. many ex-servicemen were settled in places such as Loxton and Cooltong in South Australia, and also in Victoria and New South Wales. That settlement was undertaken after consultation between growers who were then in the industry and the various governments about future market prospects. For the sake not only of those settlers but of the industry as a whole, the Government should assist in every possible way to put these industries on a sound financial footing.
The costs of production in these industries are determined by Australian prices and wages, but the products have to compete on world markets with heavily subsidized products from other countries. The important point that I wish to bring home is that these industries earn valuable foreign exchange for Australia.
The wine industry depends for its future on the excise on brandy. Supporters of the Government take pride in the fact that the excise duty placed on brandy gave stability and strength to the grape-growing industry. It is most important that this excise be kept at its present comparative level because it is the pivot of prosperity for the growers of wine grapes. It takes five gallons of wine to make one gallon of brandy.
I wish to issue a note of warning. Imported cheap brandy can become a serious menace to the Australian wine industry. This cheap brandy is blended with excellent Australian brandy. Sometimes there is 10 per cent, of imported brandy to 90 per cent. Australian or 15 per cent, imported brandy to 85 per cent. Australian. I suggest that we should impose a tariff duty on this cheap brandy to maintain a wholesale price equivalent to that of our own Australian brandy.
On cost figures, it appears that this foreign brandy can be landed in bond in Sydney or Melbourne at a price as low as about 16s. a proof gallon, without duty. The Department of Trade has implied that the price may be higher, but that is a debatable point. If brandy comes into Australia at 16s. a proof gallon it can under-sell Australian brandy in Sydney and Melbourne. Our Australian brandy is quoted at 27s. a proof gallon in bond at Sydney and 26s. 6d. a proof gallon in Melbourne, both without duty. This is for a blend of average two and one-half years old matured brandy. It includes freight from the South Australian distilleries, allowances for transport of casks to and from the distillery to the point of sale, insurance and other charges. Recent statistics on imports appear to be rather conflicting, and I found it difficult to ascertain the correct import cost figures of the grades of imported brandy; but it appears that 70,000 proof gallons entered Australia in the twelve months ended January 31st, 1963. Perhaps 20,000 proof gallons would be high-priced brandy such as cognac. We have no quarrel with this at all, but* the imports : included 50,000 proof gallons of cheap and inferior brandies that in my opinion should not have been allowed to enter Australia. In November, 1962, approximately 13,000 proof gallons of brandy entered Australia and approximately 9,000 proof gallons were of the cheaper varieties.
– Was there any duty on those brandies?
– No. I repeat that these cheap brandies should carry an import duty so that the landed price in Sydney and Melbourne would be equivalent to the Australian price. South Australia produces 90 per cent, of Australian brandy and much of this is produced from grapes grown by soldier settlers. Backyard wine-making is becoming a growing menace to the legitimate makers of wine. The practice of selling wine grapes at Victoria Market in Melbourne seems to be increasing. It is hard to form an accurate estimate of this trade, but two years ago it was estimated that at least 500,000 cases, each of 50 lb., were sold in and around Melbourne for conversion into wines by backyard makers. AH the evidence goes to show that this practice is increasing. lt is pleasing to learn from the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board that agreement has been reached between the marketing authorities of Australia, Greece and Turkey on minimum prices of dried vine fruits exported to the United Kingdom and Europe in 1963-64. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said that international commodity arrangements which would return remunerative prices to Australian exporters were an essential element in the Australian Government’s trade policy. The initiative of the Australian industry itself in concluding an arrangement in accordance with that long-standing policy of the Government is tq be commended. - The Bureau of Agricultural Economics is making inquiries to ascertain costs, of production. The last inquiry was conducted in 1950. The various organizations are also conducting an examination of production costs. I repeat that any stabilization scheme for the dried fruits industry - and 1 hope the Government is thinking ahead of the industry - should be based on the cost of production. Eighty per cent, of the products are exported, so four-fifths of our production is at the mercy of world parity.
Our citrus produce finds markets in New Zealand and South-East Asia chiefly. Australia utilizes almost all its citrus products. All our big citrus producing centres in South Australia - the Upper Murray, Mildura and the Murray irrigation areas - have established big processing factories which will help to stabilize the industry. There is a shortage overseas at present of citrus juices and concentrated orange juice, yet some time ago citrus and orange juices were being imported by Australia. Surely we can protect this industry. Florida had a devastating frost last year and about 50 per cent, of the citrus trees were lost. At present there is a world shortage of citrus juices and concentrated orange juice and this gives Australia an opportunity to sell juices in Canada, South-East Asia and South America. It appears that we can look forward to a reasonable market for our citrus products.
It is significant that the United States of America has a tariff on citrus juices equivalent to £16 a ton on Australian-grown fruit, yet the Australian fruit grower does not get £16 a ton for his fruit. The citrus industry asked for protection against imported American fruit juices which are subsidized, in effect, at the rate of £16 a ton for fruit, but our citrus industry did not get protection. Australia has even allowed the importation of citrus and concentrated orange juices to compete unfairly with our own production. The Berri co-operative fruit juice factory in South Australia has the largest capacity for this production in Australia.
Of our canned fruit, 60 to 80 per cent, is exported and that does not include the export of pineapples. This export trade is largely in apricots, peaches and pears. Again, all are good earners of overseas funds, but our products meet strong opposition from outside. Tom Piper products are making an impact upon the Nigerian and other African markets. We may be able to increase our sales in Africa. Africans are unwilling to trade with South Africa. We find everywhere we go in Africa that Unilever is a strong competitor with Australia. It is a powerful company which buys tinned fruits from Japan or anywhere else in the world where they can be bought. We find, too, that East Germany, Poland, and other countries either inside or within the shadow of the iron curtain, are powerful competitors. These countries want sterling and in Africa sterling is the currency. To get their sterling currency they subsidize their exports heavily and we have not very much chance to hold our market in Africa. The Department of Trade is giving valuable assistance to our industries by sales promotion. These industries, in my opinion, need stabilized returns.
I was pleased to note that the industries themselves are very keen to sell their products and to get markets overseas. The Robern firm has a great trade in Amsterdam. Many people such as Mr. Page in the United States of America, and Mr. Andrews of South Australia in South-East Asia, have gone away at their own or their company’s expense, to promote overseas sales and to explore new markets.
Turning to the development in the north of Australia, I want to endorse Senator Scott’s remarks. We must keep our feet on the ground and let not our fancy roam free to the wind. I am particularly interested in the north-west coast of Australia. It is a most interesting area and there has been most interesting development. We have a population there that is perhaps a little different from the general population of Australia, but it is, in my opinion, a wonderful work force. It is good to see what is happening on the north-west coast of Australia. My own idea is that mineral resources will be a great aid in the initial development of that area. Beef production is important. Suitable crops, too, may be grown, but this is not a land of milk and honey. It can and will be developed, but why the frantic rush? How will people - I take the number that the enthusiasts envisage, say, 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 people - establish themselves in this area? That is the question I pose every time I go to that country. How can these people be established there?
I have mentioned minerals. Just pause for a moment and consider the world’s water supplies. In May of this year scientists of 47 countries met in Paris to discuss the world’s water supplies. Unless people start to think constructively or creatively now about water and how it is to be used the whole world may be short of water before long. Professor E. S. Hills, an Australian geologist of the Melbourne University, presided over this meeting of scientists in Paris. The Turkish and Egyptian governments have consulted Professor Hills about their water problems. The scientists of five continents have chosen him to lead their discussion on the threat of a world water famine. The ancients thought of water as one of the elements; to-day, it has become a commodity, and the price will rise as it gets scarcer.
A family of four uses about 550 gallons of water a day, and the daily use of water for industrial agriculture and household purposes is about 1,660 gallons per head of population. About 550 gallons of water go into the production of a loaf of bread. One ton of rolled steel takes 110,000 gallons. The world’s population will probably double in the next 40 years. Countries that think they are well off for water are deceiving themselves. A shortage of water is limiting the growth of some countries, particularly the agricultural countries in arid regions, and it may soon limit the growth of other countries.
In the next ten years a study will be made on an international basis of the waters on the earth and under the earth. This could be called the hydrological decade. Not one molecule of water of the oceans or the atmosphere that existed during the first ages of the earth now survives. Each day a part of the earth’s present water supply is disappearing into space, and there is no evidence that it is being replenished. It is essential that at least we should have some idea of the extent and location of surface and underground water supplies in our northern areas.
This week in Canberra three American and two European authorities will be among the ten overseas participants in a national study of water resources, their use and management. Professor E. S. Hills, chairman of the Australian Academy of Science Standing Committee on Hydrology, has said that more than 150 Australian scientists, engineers and administrators from all States will attend. Their attention will be concentrated on examining Australia’s increasing usage of water, how this can be met, and where the supplies are, both on the surface and under the surface. I hope that this Parliament is conscious that Australia must conserve more water and that water conservation is one of our first duties. This is true particularly in our wonderful northern areas.
I believe that the development of our north can be assisted by beef production. I do not wish to touch on the brigalow or wallum country of Queensland in which legumes must play a big part - in fact, brigalow is a legume - but more attention must be given to the right type of beef produced. We import British breeds for our studs. We get judges from Britain to judge these animals at our royal and other agricultural shows. We have created a wrong conception of the value of the breeds because beef research in Australia is showing that under Australian conditions they do not produce the type of beef the customers want to-day.
In Great Britain the Friesian is having an influence on beef production. In European and other valuable meat markets - those countries of the world where people can pay for beef - we find that the Yugoslav bull beef fourteen months old dominates the demand and commands the highest price to-day. It matures late but grows quickly. In British beef the fat content is too high. The Brahmin hybrid such as Santa Gertrudis is a respectable animal. One breeder in Queensland has sold 1,100 Brahmin hybrid bulls in nineteen years. This research into beef, and the quality and kind of beef that we should produce, is most interesting and valuable.
In Africa huge fortunes have been invested in British breeds, but again there we find that the people are now turning either to native game for beef or are developing a beef type. In the Northern Territory we have buffalo supplies awaiting use. The increasing use for buffalo meat in Australia and in the export field to the Near East should be an incentive to the National Parliament to clear some of the difficulties that at present hinder the working of this profitable source of export earnings.
I was interested in the views on unemployment expressed by Opposition senators. They wish to exploit this subject; it is their stock in trade. What is their answer to this question of supposed unemployment in Australia? The Labour Party says that if elected to office it will bring about full employment in Australia. What did the recent Australian Labour Party conference in Perth say? I suppose every honorable senator opposite agrees with what the A.L.P. conference decided and will endeavour to carry out the decisions. The conference said that you can only have full employment with inflation, or in other words that full employment creates inflation. I suppose the Opposition will agree with that because it was decided at the conference. The conference went further and said that to retard inflation you must have more systematic planning of the economy by co-ordinating private and public development. In fact, it offers a sugar-coated pill of direction of labour. Stripped of all specious trimmings, Labour’s belief is in something like the divine right of kings; that is, it believes in the direction of labour. The Stuarts still flourish in its ranks.
Now to restrictive trade practices. Never forget that Labour always wants import restrictions, and if anything leads to restrictive trade practices it is import restrictions. I repeat what was said at the A.L.P. conference in Perth namely that full employment creates inflation. It is in the report for all to read.
– Who was the man who said that?
– It was said at the Labour conference. You can read it.
– Who said it?
– It was given out by the secretary, Mr. Chamberlain; you know the gentleman. Let us turn for a few moments to the unemployment figures about which we hear so much. There were 78.000 persons registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service in July, 1963. The figures cover all persons - adults and juniors who were recorded as being unplaced. They include some registrants who had been referred to employers but whose placement had not been confirmed at the date of the compiling of the statistics, and some who may have obtained employment by their own efforts but who did not advise the service. In this total of 78,000 there are slightly more than 47,000 males and about 31,000 females. Without discounting the contribution which married women make to industry, many of the females registered are married and may or may not be looking for regular and continuing employment.
In isolation the figure of 78,000 means very little. It is more meaningful if it is related to the estimated work force. At the end of July, 1963, the figure represented 1.8 per cent, of the work force compared with 2.1 per cent, at the end of July, 1962. Incidentally, the percentage is considerably lower than that experienced recently in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada. The total number of persons registered is, of course, not the same from month to month. As could be expected in a dynamic economy, at any one time people move from one job to another and may be temporarily unemployed and, accordingly, registered with the
Commonwealth Employment Service. Thus, during the month of July the employment service placed people in employment at the rate of 7,497 a week.
There is also the question of what might be termed structural unemployment which is being accentuated by the increase of the proportion of young people in the population. Slightly more than 14,000 of young persons under 21 registered for employment at the end of July were young women, the big proportion of whom were in the country.
– A substantial proportion - more than half. For many of these young women employment opportunities are limited unless they move to other areas. This problem cannot be solved simply by stimulating the economy generally.
Another way to consider the unemployment problem is to take into account the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit. The figures cover those who have been registered for employment for at least seven days and are able to satisfy the means test as to income. At the end of July there were 37,174 unemployment benefit recipients of whom 23,699 were males and 13,475 were females. The total number receiving unemployment benefit at the end of July represented 0.8 per cent, of the estimated work force of slightly over 4,300,000 workers. Included among the 23.000 males - and the same observation can be applied to females - are those with physical or mental disabilities. This does not mean that these people would not be suitable for some form of work. The number includes also those who for various reasons are unable to move to places where employment might be available, those with unstable employment records, those with very limited occupational skills and others who at best can be regarded as of only marginal employment potential.
In a developing economy there is likely to be some unemployment. While employment may be expanding in one area it may be contracting in another. Although there may be unfilled vacancies the workers registered for employment may lack the qualifications or experience required. As well, seasonal influences in a country as large as Australia lead to fluctuations in employment in particular industries and areas. It would be wrong to suggest that there is no genuine unemployment, but the problem should be viewed in its correct perspective.
I repeat that Labour’s policy to bring about full employment involves the direction of labour, accompanied by inflation. Australians have initiative and energy. They prefer a free enterprise government to a Labour government tied to the Communist Party. If Labour is not hogtied to the Communist Party it is at least hamstrung by it.
I turn now to education. I am sorry that Senator Cohen is not in the chamber. He had much to say on education and particularly on what he believes the Commonwealth Government should do in this field. He based some of his remarks on the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at Canberra on 15th June, 1961. At that conference Mr. Heffron - who is on the same side of politics as Senator Cohen - introduced the discussion on some aspects of Australian education. The statement discussed at the conference was prepared under the direction of the Australian Education Council comprised of the Ministers of Education of the six States. As Senator Cohen said, the basis of discussion centred on three points - the shortage of school buildings, the insufficient number of trained teachers and the limitation in the provision of equipment and supplies.
There were several important points of agreement. One was that the responsibility for education rested with the States. That was the first thing agreed upon. We in this chamber represent the States and the States say that education is their responsibility. Because of the size of the task, and because the efficiency of education has so many implications in the life of the Australian nation, it was felt that education could well become a national problem. Praise was given to the Commonwealth for its assistance in the field of university education. Whilst Senator Cohen vehemently decried the standard of Australian education generally, for which purpose he used the conference discussions as a basis, all the State representatives were equally emphatic that their achievements in the secondary schools were far better than it was generally expected they would be, and so too in the primary field.
No matter how enthusiastic we may be about education, I believe that the greatest blow to its advancement is being given by the enthusiast who soundly condemns our present system and who, whether he be a senator or some one outside this chamber, berates the achievements of the States in the field of education and quotes the report of the 1961 conference in making an unjustified attack on Australian education. Such people do little to enhance the value of the efforts made by all States to give Australians the best possible education system. Surely Senator Cohen, who comes from Victoria, and also any one who reads the report of the conference, will see how jealous the State Premiers are of their right to provide good education. Senator Cohen must be aware that Victoria is doing and will continue to do an excellent job in the field of education. Victoria is not behind in meeting the educational requirements either of the present day or of the future.
Technical education is receiving all possible assistance. Teachers cannot be plucked from the air. I remember that when I spoke on the States Grants (Universities) Bill earlier in the year I said that we could train young men to take science degrees and that all would be absorbed immediately into our educational system and our trade and other organizations. I repeat that without the help which the Commonwealth Government has given to university education alone the standard of education would not be as high as it is to-day. It would be fatal if primary education were to be placed under centralized control. Those words were used in the report which Senator Cohen quoted. The report also stated that the States must retain their autonomy and authority in the field of education. We on this side of the chamber point out that in respect of both capital expenditure and revenue the arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to education has been most helpful to the States. When such a statement was made ai the conference to which I have referred, Mr. Heffron said, “ Quite true “. Furthermore, the tax reimbursement grants, which are growing quite rapidly under the new formula, are calculated on a basis which takes education into account. When that was stated at the conference, again Mr. Heffron said, “ Quite true “. Senator Cohen did not refer to those parts of the report. Perhaps he and Mr. Heffron belong to different political parties.
The Commonwealth underwrites the loan works programme to an extent well beyond what the loan market will yield. Under the tax reimbursement arrangements, considerable attention is given to the needs of the junior members of the population chiefly in relation to the demands of the States for funds for education purposes. It is because of the needs of the younger members of the population that the States receive such large sums by way of tax reimbursement grants. The moneys are devoted by the States largely to education purposes. In 1945, tax reimbursement grants amounted to £34,800,000. To-day, they amount to £318,000,000. This year, the States will spend £200,000,000 on education. In 1950- 51, expenditure on education amounted to £46,000,000. During the last thirteen years the Commonwealth has provided £801,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money for State loan works. I have crossed swords with Senator McKenna on this matter on several occasions. The point is that the present Government does provide these amounts, and the public should know that it does.
Let me revert for a few moments to technical education. I visualize that eventually a Minister for Defence or some one who is interested in defence will evolve an educational system for our Navy, Army and Air Force, and that either schools for apprentices or technical schools within our defence programme will be developed. At present we have an apprentices school for the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the training received by the apprentices is the equal of similar training anywhere else in the world. This example could be and should be multiplied in every State. The efforts that the Commonwealth is making in the field of university education are excellent. We hope that the universities will give us trained and skilled graduates from the various faculties and that they will enter business organizations, the various Departments of Education and the services. The Royal Military College at Duntroon could play a vital role, too, in the field of national service. I do not intend to enlarge on this subject. I should like to bs able to answer in some detail the points made by Senator Turnbull, but no doubt an opportunity to do so will occur at a later stage.
The honorable senator spoke of national service. I visualize a system of national service in which trainees would receive technical and secondary education to lit them to fulfil their duties in one or other of the services. I visualize an educational service conducted by well-educated and proficient graduates, assisted by technicians skilled in both arts and crafts. The defence services could be charged with this task. Scholarship grants could be made available. Prospective future officers could be enrolled and given the opportunity to attend university or like courses and provided with suitable education in both the arts and the technical side of service training. What do we see to-day?
Many boys of sixteen or seventeen years of age are leaving school without a suitable job to engage their talents. Surely some defence chief or Minister for Defence with vision and drive could make entry into the forces so attractive and rewarding that lads would willingly join and continue their studies. We have had enough of “ right turn-left turn “, and so forth. To-day, the services require skilled and trained personnel. If we are to have national service, let us make it a form of post-secondary school training.
We have in every State camps which could easily be modified to provide the necessary living quarters for trainees. In fact, I visualize our camps as institutions in which the work of our present secondary schools could be continued. Once we had secured the skilled personnel, it would be an easy matter to put an overall national service training scheme into effect. Such a scheme would be really worth while as a morale and character builder. At the same time, it would fit young men for defence. The instructors would be men of vision and character. The young men who graduated from the camps would be proud of their achievement and would be . full of love of country. They would be Australia’s most valuable work force. They would have a personal pride in the Army, the Navy or the Air Force which would be their alma mater, as it were. I support the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers and oppose the amendment.
– It was quite refreshing to listen to the remarks of Senator Mattner. Although the honorable senator supported the Budget and complimented the Government on it, he pointed to some very serious matters which call for the attention of the Government, and he said that he had been trying to impress them on the Government for a considerable time. The Opposition is prepared to support him in that respect. He stated that costs of production are becoming so high in Australia that they are imperilling our overseas markets for primary products, particularly dried fruits and citrus juices. He stated that those markets operate on world parity, a fact which the Opposition has been pointing out for some time, in truth, the honorable senator damned the Budget with faint praise.
I support the amendment which has been proposed by the Opposition in the following terms: -
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 the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust “.
Considered against the factual background, that amendment is thoroughly justified and should receive the majority vote of the Senate. When we in the chamber discussed the 1962 Budget, the Government went to quite a lot of trouble to prove that none of the circumstances to which the Opposition had directed attention could be improved. The Government’s argument was that the economy could not possibly bear the (expenditure that would be involved. The Government said that the economy needed some infusion, but not through those channels. With a very doleful face, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) put before the Parliament the Budget which he said was necessary for the economy. He said that it was not possible for the Government to do anything in those fields in which we considered action was urgently necessary.
The 1962-63 financial year has now finished and we are able to analyse last year’s Budget. Any fair-minded and reasonable person can come only to the conclusion that the Budget was the result of rank incompetence or sheer dishonesty; I am inclined to say that it was the result of both. The Government announced that it was budgeting for a deficit of £118,300,000, yet in June, 1963, there was a surplus of £16,100,000. Therefore, last year’s Budget was so badly drawn, so dishonestly drawn, and with arguments so dishonestly wrapped round it by the Government, as to be in error to the extent of £134,400,000. From the Budget which the Government told the people was necessary, there was a surplus of £16,100,000 instead of a deficit of £118,300,000. It was thoroughly dishonest and incompetent budgeting on the part of the Government, which, in an attempt to justify its proposals, sought to convince the public that the economy could not possibly stand the expenditures that the Opposition proposed.
This Budget could be just as incompetently and inefficiently drawn. Tax collections in 1962-63 amounted to £1,430,800,000, which was £12,000,000 above the amount estimated. That was dishonest or incompetent. Customs duty was estimated to yield £105,070,000, but actually it brought £9,070,000 over the amount estimated. Income tax was estimated to bring in £807,000,000; in fact, it brought in £3,591,000 more than that figure. Defence expenditure was £4,100,000 more than the amount budgeted for. Expenditure on unemployment and sickness benefits exceeded the Budget estimate by £1,657,000. Yet throughout that period the Government contended that there was nothing wrong with the employment situation, and that the numbers of unemployed were not more than could reasonably be expected! The Government has accepted the existence of a pool of unemployed within the community and it is not prepared to tackle this problem. Later, I shall go further into that position. An amount of £14,657,000 was expended on unemployment benefit last year. This payment produced nothing. It could have been much better spent on productive activity.
Now we come to the other side of the picture. The Government is trying as hard as it possibly can to explain its expenditure on defence. In this field, too, its estimating proved miserably inaccurate. The National Welfare Fund covers payments for age and invalid pensions, pharmaceutical benefits, hospital benefits and other payments which affect family men and wage-earners - the forgotten legion under this Government. Payments to the fund were £8,280,000 less than the Budget estimate. Expenditure was pared to an absolute minimum. The payments that the Government makes in pensions and other benefits show that the revenue obtained from the people by way of income tax is not distributed back to them in a fair and equitable manner.
The Government estimated that in 1962-63 it would obtain £211,000,000 in loans. In fact, it obtained £317,500,000 of which £251,900,000 came from the Australian market and £65,600,000 from overseas markets. The loans that would ordinarily have been raised by the Commonwealth in April and May were not proceeded with. It was the same old story - boom and bust. The Government has proceeded in an airyfairy way, with no figures to back it up. It has over-borrowed and over-taxed, and its distribution of its revenues amongst the Australian community has been wrong and inequitable. Senator Scott is making a lot of noise, but saying nothing. The figures are unpalatable to the Government and misunderstood by Senator Scott.
The Government says that progress in trade has been considerable and our exports have been high. The workers and the primary producers have done their share, but as a result of borrowing and heavy invisible charges the net result to the nation is deplorable. The Treasurer said that in 1962-63 there was a trade deficit of £7,600,000, compared with a surplus of £185,400,000 in the previous year. That deficit of £7,600,000 does not include the invisible charges relating to freight and insurance. In respect of those invisible charges, Australia was up for £65,000,000 in the six months ended December, 1962, and approximately £144,000,000 in the year ended June, 1963. If one compares the national business with a private business, that shows a very poor result indeed.
There is no doubt that exports have been expanded and inflation has continued. The net result - on the actual figures, not on the theoretical, estimated figures - is not commendable. So much for the dishonest budgeting of last year. This year the result will not be very much better for the vast majority of the Australian people - the wage-earners whom this Government has thoroughly neglected. This Budget has enthused no one. It has disappointed many. It has given to the rich and the more affluent the means by which they can acquire additional wealth, whilst the vast majority of salary and wage-earners, particularly those with families, have been denied a fair and equitable proportion of the moneys distributed by the Government. That section of the community which is most in need of direct economic and monetary help- the unemployed, the married pensioners, and the great army of workers who exist on the basic wage and a small margin above it, many of whom have dependants - has been totally neglected.
– Are you quoting?
– No. I am making a statement. The Budget has given no hope or encouragement to the big majority of breadwinners with families who have to spend their total income in order to procure the wherewithal to live. The man in the lower income bracket will receive no benefit at all from the tax reductions given in this Budget but the mar. in the higher income bracket will receive considerable relief from the 5 per cent, taxation rebate.
Let us consider the case of the man with a family who is receiving the Western Australian basic wage of £750 a year. Under the 5 per cent, taxation rebate proposal of the Government, he will benefit to the extent of about 4s. 6d. a year. The family man in receipt of a net taxable income of £1.500 a year will benefit to the extent of about £1 1 6s. a year; and the family man in receipt of £10,000 a year will benefit to the extent of £232 a year.
– You are talking about last year’s Budget.
– No. I am talking about the 5 per cent, rebate on assessed tax which is proposed in the present Budget. It is true that this rebate has been operating for two years; but the principle is just as bad and just as inequitable as it was before. The trend of this Government’s policy is to extend greater benefits to the more affluent section of the community while it continues to reduce the amount of tax relief given to the man who needs all the money that he earns in order to live and support his family.
– If you are not paying much in tax you cannot get much tax relief.
– That is the position. But why not make the position more equitable by giving the people on lower incomes increased child endowment and increased sickness and unemployment benefits? After all, they have contributed to the fund from which those benefits are provided. The National Welfare Fund has been wrongly applied by this Government since it has been in office.
Let us consider the position in relation to the incidence of direct and indirect taxation. The figures that I shall use have been taken from the Commonwealth Statistician’s financial bulletins. In 1950, direct taxation amounted to £297,300,000 and indirect taxation amounted to £291.200,000- a total of £588,500,000. This represented £73 3s. 2d. per head of population. According to the last available figures which were issued in 1962, direct taxation has reached the astronomical figure of £885,600,000 whilst indirect taxation has reached a total of £709,000,000 - a combined total of £1,594,600,000. This represents a tax of £150 6s. lid. on each citizen. Under the present Administration, tax per head of population has risen from £73 3s. 2d. when Labour left office to £150 6s. Hd. During this period, the Government has done nothing to increase child endowment. Does it contend that that is just? In this period, indirect taxation has increased from £291,200,000 to £709,000.000. That tax is paid by every section of the community including the pensioner and the unemployed person. Whatever these people buy, they are caught up by indirect taxation. The main incidence of taxation has been moved from direct taxation, which is taxation in accordance with ability to pay, to indirect taxation which has to be paid without consideration of ability to pay. In my opinion, this is wrong and dishonest. This Budget is just as dishonest as last year’s Budget which had a result very little different from that which this one will have.
If we consider total taxation the picture is just as bad. In 1950, direct taxation represented 36 per cent, of Commonwealth tax collections. The percentage rose progressively under this Government until, in 1962, indirect taxation represented 60 per cent. of Commonwealth tax collections. In 1963, the proportion dropped a little to 58 per cent. Yet the Government has tried to convince the people that it is treating the family man and the working man in a fair, just and equitable manner. I have two schedules related to taxation collections which I do not want to read in detail, and with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate them in “ Hansard “. They are as follows: -
[ now wish to deal with the subject of unemployment which the Government has represented as not being a serious matter. It has indicated that it is necessary for the present amount of unemployment to continue. Government supporters have said that the present position is quite satisfactory. According to them, it could not be better. Let us see what one of the Government’s advisers says about the matter. There are men behind the scenes who do not appear in Parliament but who exercise a great influence on the policy of the Government. In fact, these men say whether the Government will stay in or out of office. I wish to refer to a statement made by Mr. Robert William Charles Anderson. O.B.E., federal director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. I notice, among other particulars, that he is an adviser to the International Labour Office conferences, an adviser to the Minister for Labour and National Service and an adviser to the Commonwealth Government on immigration matters. I notice also that he attends every good golf club in Australia. What is his opinion as an acknowledged adviser to the Government?
– Did it take his advice?
– The Government sought it and paid very dearly for it. The Government gave a substantial concession in order to obtain the advice. If it does not take his advice, then it should scrap him. I should be very pleased if the Government scrapped him. The article from which I propose to quote is headed “ 110,000 May Be Jobless, Says Expert”. Mr. Anderson is the Government’s expert, not ours. The report reads -
Australians must be prepared to see unemployment figures rise as high as 110,000 between October and January, the director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, Mr. R. W. C. Anderson, said to-day.
Honorable senators opposite try to disown him in this place. The report continues -
This rise in unemployment should not cause loss of confidence. “ We must be mindful of the sobering fact that even in January, 1960, at a time when no one would deny that we were in a state of full employment, the comparable figure then was as high as 69,000,” he said.
School-leaver registrations would be at least as great as at the end of last year.
Though the problem of unemployment was serious, it must be kept in its proper perspective.
A level of 100,000 to 110,000 next January would therefore be no cause for discouragement or loss of confidence, but simply a predictable rhythm of the labour market.
Between June and October there was a tendency for people registered to fall fairly markedly, under the influence of seasonal work in Queensland and increased production for the Christmas market.
Last year numbers registered fell by more than 20,000 between the end of June and the end of October.
This movement reflected the recovery of the economy, as well as seasonal influences, but both parts of the influence should again be at work this year.
Further on the article states -
Between October, 1962, and January, 1963, numbers registered rose from 72,648 to 111,807.
That this rise was only seasonal, and in no way a reason to lose confidence in the present recovery, was shown by the fact that- by January, 1963, the number was nearly 12,000 lower than in June, 1962.
He says that the difference of 11,000 or 12,000 in the level of unemployment was seasonal ‘ and rhythmic and should not disturb confidence.
I have been trying to impress upon the Government ever since 1961 the desperate position of the school leavers. In that year I discussed the problem at length during the debate on the Estimates, and the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service dishonestly stated that the Department of Labour and National Service was attending to the matter. I again raised the subject in November, 1962, following the issue of a pastoral letter by the leading churches in which attention was directed to the parlous state of the employment market for children who were leaving school. The Minister said that the information was out of date and that everything was in order. One-third of the unemployed in Western Australia are children and teenagers who have left school and who have never been able to get a job. Over the whole of Australia these young people account for almost 30 per cent, of the people who are unemployed. That is a disgraceful state of affairs.
Honorable senators opposite rise in their places and talk about delinquency! What are we doing with these children? Our primary duty to children who are leaving school and to teenagers is to provide them with employment which is compatible with their educational qualifications. I have directed attention in this place to the plight of these young children of sixteen and seventeen years of age who have become caught up with the police, who have been connected with crimes or who have been hanging around milk bars. Government supporters do not like to have the unemployment level stated in terms of the number of persons unemployed, but prefer to have it stated on a percentage basis. But they cannot present the plight of these young people in terms of percentages and say that the Government is adopting a proper attitude towards their welfare.
In 1961 I asked the Department of Labour and National Service to furnish classified statistics showing the unemployment situation. I asked whether something could be done for these juveniles who had left school and who were awaiting employment. The Minister did not give an assurance that something would be done but he said that he expected that the department would take some steps in the matter. Even at this stage we have not proper classified figures which set out the unemployment situation. The Government should be ashamed of itself. It argues in terms of an unemployment level of 1 per cent, or 2 per cent, and makes it appear that this big army of 110,000 Australians who are seeking employment are unemployables or seasonal workers. I repeat that the only statistics which are available to us - they have been forced out of the Government - show that at least 30 per cent, of the unemployed are children who have left school and who have never had an opportunity to work. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. I hope the Government will do something about it.
If the Minister for Labour and National Service or the department is interested in looking at earlier references to this subject, I point out that my first submission was made on 16th October, 1961, and is reported in “Hansard” at pages 1148 to 1158. My second submission, which was treated in a cavalier manner by the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, was made on 29th November, 1962, and is reported at page 1394 of “Hansard”. Those submissions have not received any attention from the Government. It has not taken my submissions seriously or, if it has, it has been just as incompetent in dealing with them as it was in preparing last year’s Budget.
Now let me deal with the marketing of wool, which has been discussed by the Senate on numerous occasions. Australian Country Party senators are thoroughly dissatisfied with the situation. The marketing of wool has been very much neglected by the Government. For very many years the Government fought a delaying action by having inquiries into the industry conducted. Eventually it decided to establish the Australian Wool Board and to promote the sale of wool. It is proposed now that an extortionate levy be made on the producer, but not a word has been said about the man who makes the intermediate profit between the sale of wool by the grower and its purchase by the manufacturer. That man is not in the picture at all; he does not come to the party. No doubt he is at the back of the Government. What is the position as seen by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council?
– You voted for the wool levy.
– More than 50 per cent, of the Australian people voted for the Labour Party at the last general election. You should listen to the opinion of the majority of Australian people and, as a representative of the minority, should not make inane remarks. This is a report of what the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council has said -
The Committee of Economic Enquiry was told that the grazing industry, particularly the wool industry, was faced with a situation where, although capable of a yearly expansion of four per cent., profits were so low and inadequate reinvestment was impossible and over the last five or six years the rate of growth had been reduced to two per cent.
And even more serious was the fact that the downward trend was continuing.
The council says that the cost of production of wool has remained high and that the world parity price will not allow the growers to sell at the margin they once enjoyed. It has been stated that the position of the wool-grower is such that stagnation of the industry could result. It is not a matter of the wool-grower not handling a lot of money; he is doing so. It is not a matter of his not having good production. He is playing his part. But the margin between the cost of production and the world parity price, and the manner of marketing, are not being properly considered This Government has bundled the problems of the wool industry from one inquiry to another, and this important product is still under consideration by the Australian Wool Board, but the only solution produced by the board is a proposal to impose a higher levy on the growers. The amount of the levy is to be raised considerably. The Australian Wool Board has said, in effect, “ Give us more money and we will go out and sell your wool for you “. Actually, the wool is being sold without any trouble but it is being sold at world parity which does not provide for higher cost of production, and actual net profit on wool is progressively receding. Costs have been forced up because of the policies of this Government, which have led to inflation, and so the cost of production is out of hand.
It is useless for the Government to argue that the growers’ costs have not been pushed up. For example, I can cite the higher taxation that has been imposed by this Government. Taxes have risen from £73 3s. 2d. a head in 1950 to £150 6s. lid. a head in 1962. Taxation revenue has risen from £558,500,000 in 1950 to £1,594,600,000. The Government has raised taxes to meet its Budget commitments but the primary producer is still in the same old business and prices have not kept pace with costs. The Government claims that it has made an equitable move for the wool industry, but nobody except the Government is deceived. Statements have been made on behalf of the wool-growers by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the wool-growers have shown their resentment at the deception in this Government’s policy by pelting Sir William Gunn, the chairman of the Australian Wool Board, with eggs and flour. Yet the Government claims that all is well. It knows that all is not well but is not prepared to admit it. The Budget has many deficiencies, but the Government closes its eyes to them despite the frank criticism of the Budget by the people and the press of Australia.
Reference has been made to the develop ment of north-western Australia, and undoubtedly money has been spent there. A lot of money has been allocated for harbours, but the projects have not been started. Beef roads have been built, and no doubt they provide facilities for some persons who have made fortunes in northwestern Australia. Those people are pleased because they have engaged in lucrative ventures, but there is no true development of the area. One does not see families settling there happily and the Government has done nothing to encourage a permanent population in the north-west. Its developmental schemes do not cover that aspect. The labour force is transitional except for a few who get caught and become economic prisoners. There is no real family life and no proper settlement in the north-west except at Cockatoo Island and Koolan Island in Yampi Sound, where the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has provided reasonable amenities so that men can live there with their wives and families. There is no trouble in obtaining labour for the iron ore industry there, and there will not be any trouble while that company continues to operate in the area.
But it is different at other places, such as Onslow where the hospital was blown to , pieces by a cyclone and has never been repaired and houses are of poor standard. Prices there are so exorbitant that even the wages paid, which are slightly better than metropolitan rates, are inadequate, and many persons there also are economic prisoners. Men cannot afford to have their families there because of the poor amenities, and the cost of sending children to the metropolitan areas for education is terrific. The average worker - the man who would make production possible in the north-west - cannot achieve a decent standard of living there, and the north-west will not be developed adequately until there are amenities, education facilities, housing and tax concessions to enable men and women to live like human beings.
Some people say it is not a white man’s country. If that is so it is only because the amenities white men expect are not provided. Some say the area should be developed by Asians and by coloured labour, but they want it developed with the wages and conditions paid to coloured labour. The B.H.P. company does not need coolies at Cockatoo Island. It has white men waiting on the doorstep for jobs. The Government claims to be proud of its achievements in the north-west, but it needs a different attitude. Amenities and the standard of living should be good enough to enable families to live in the north-west. A tax concession is available to those living above the 36th parallel, but as a general rule many persons who go to that area do not get the benefit of the concession because they do not stay for a full tax year. They might stay nearly eighteen months and then leave. This applies particularly to public servants and school teachers who are sent there for a period of two years or so as a condition of their service. School teachers go there at the beginning of the school year and they leave at the end of six months. Then they do not get a tax concession because they have to go back to the metropolitan area. This anomaly should be removed. The tax concessions as well as the amenities should be such that living in the area would become attractive.
It has been said that it is useless to provide money for the development of the north-west because a labour force is not available. I have given some of the reasons why that is so. Families have not been encouraged to live there because housing is not available and there are not the adequate schools, hospitals and other amenities that are needed before the north-west will be populated on a permanent basis.
Defence has received some prominence in Western Australia. Honorable senators, including some from the Government side, who have spoken outside the House have referred to the deplorable defence of Western Australia. This Government’s attitude on defence is obvious. So far as the Government is concerned, defence ends at the borders of the eastern States. Western Australia is not equipped in any way for defence. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Defence, has said that our defences are so mobile that if an enemy struck at Western Australia, we could get forces there immediately. This did not satisfy the Young Liberals and the president of the Young Liberals took the Government to task for the way in which the defence of Western Australia had been totally disregarded. Supporters of the Government are critical of restrictions within the Australian Labour Party, but this young Liberal was immediately charged by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) and other Government supporters with being disloyal. They meant disloyal to the Government; never mind about Australia. According to the press, the Liberal members consider this young Liberal should have been expelled from the Liberal Party. I do not suggest that the criticism was any more valid just because it was made by a young Liberal supporter who was able to see through the haze that has been created about this question, but his statement was so profound and correct that it brought the big guns to Perth to knock him over. He was expelled for being disloyal to his party.
The defence of Western Australia has been totally neglected. No facilities at all have been provided. If there is an attack, perhaps by the grace of God a little quick action here will enable a mobile force to be sent to the west, but we will have to take the first brunt of the attack. I notice that Senator Branson is suggesting quite loudly that I am making a wrong statement, but I think in his own mind he must agree with me. Our defence expenditure has been so allocated that 85 per cent, of it has been concentrated in the small developed areas and the remainder has been spent overseas. Only a scintilla has been spent in Western Australia. Does the Government think that we in the west have not the same right as the other States to be defended? It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to speak of Western Australia as a claimant State, but that is purely a matter between the State and the Commonwealth Government. The State Government is quite happy to get its share of Commonwealth grants and to talk about what it will do with the money, but in the field of national development Western Australia has been cheated of millions of pounds of defence expenditure.
– Are you talking about defence or economics?
– I am talking about the economics of defence. Do you understand that? Australia’s defence expenditure has been concentrated in the eastern States and at the main centres. The Minister for Civil
Aviation said that our defence forces must be centralized because we are more likely to be involved in brush wars in which the attacker will come in, make a small strike and run away. So our defence is centralized in Melbourne and Sydney. There is no denying that Western Australia has been sadly neglected in this respect. This neglect is not the result of lack of adequate representation by Western Australian members of this Parliament, because this subject has been raised by me time and time again. Yet the Government has made it quite clear that it is not prepared to do anything for Western Australia in this regard.
I think I am justified in pointing out how I feel about the Government’s attitude in differentiating between married and single pensioners. In doing so I should like to make it quite clear that I do not suggest that the single pensioner is paid too much. Perhaps it was shame that encouraged the Government to do something for the single pensioner. However, I do not think it is right that a person should be given a premium for not being married, nor do I think a person should be penalized merely because he is married. Under the Government’s present proposal married couples in receipt of the age pension - people who have served the community, saved a little and are perhaps paying for their homes - are to suffer because of this differentiation. I do not think it is right that a married couple should receive less than two single age pensioners living together. It is not unusual for a man to live for many years with a de facto wife. A couple may have found each other quite compatible and, although unmarried, may have lived as husband and wife until reaching pensionable age or invalidity. Under this year’s Budget proposal such couples are treated as single pensioners and receive a higher pension.
– Do you think that people’s religious principles are worth only £1 a week?
– If you wish to put a £1 value on principles you may do so, but [ am not prepared to do that. I do not think principles can be bought. The Government should not force an age pensioner to say to his wife, “ Look, my dear, it is costing me 10s. a week to be with you and to keep my principles “. The real ques tion of principle here lies with the Government, which should see that a pensioner who has lived as a married person throughout his life is not penalized merely because he is married. It is the Government that should be considering its principles in dealing with the age pensioners. What the devil is Senator Branson coming to when he starts talking about principles in these terms? What a terrible mind he must have to invent that!
– Don’t get het up!
Senator COOKE__ I am not getting het up; I am trying to make you see this clearly.
– Think of your blood pressure!
– I am not worrying about my blood pressure, but it makes me vomit when honorable senators opposite support a proposal which means, in effect, that a pensioner has to regard his wife as a liability which costs him 10s. a week. This matter was the subject of a cartoon recently in a newspaper in the eastern States, but surely it is not a humorous situation. Let the Government draw on consolidated revenue to give to all the pensioners of Australia the fair deal to which they are entitled, without differentiating between those who are legally married and those who live in a de facto relationship. The Government should sort this out for itself; it should not be necessary for me to point it out. When the last Budget was brought in the Government said it could spend no more on age or invalid pensioners or on child endowment, yet its revenue was £134,000,000 more than the Budget estimate. Was that the result of incompetency or dishonesty? I invite honorable senators to work it out for themselves. If members of the Australian public really understood the position I know what they would call it.
The Government has not increased child endowment one iota since 1948. In that time taxation has trebled. I have cited figures to prove that. Expenditure has gone up in every other way. It cannot be denied that the failure to increase child endowment has been another hit at the family man, the breadwinner. It is pointless to suggest that the working man does not contribute to social services. The social services contribution was originally fixed at ls. 6d. in the £1 and it has not been changed. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation said that to be honest the name of the social services contribution should be changed; it has been retained yet the Government still does not pay sufficient to meet the needs of the family man with children. The Government is cheating the people; it is being dishonest with them and should do something to correct the situation. Every vote except one in the last terribly incompetent Budget was overspent. The only vote which was underspent was that for social services. On that the under expenditure was about £8,300,000. Yet honorable senators opposite come into this chamber and talk about honesty, and selling principles!
– You said that it paid a couple to live de facto.
– You pay them to live de facto, or at least the Government does. On this subject the Government must take stock of its values and not perpetuate a system in which people who live in a de facto relationship receive an additional 10s. a week each as well as perhaps a rent allowance. Honorable senators opposite can talk for a week but they cannot evade their responsibility.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I have only a few minutes left and I wish to round off my remarks. The amendment that has been moved by the Opposition is thoroughly justified, and if the Government has the best interests of the nation at heart it should assist the Opposition in carrying it. The Government’s housing record is unsatisfactory, and the same applies to health. As 1 said previously, in every field where straight-out government expenditure is involved the Government has over-expended its Budget appropriation, but in the fields of social services, national welfare, age and invalid pensions and hospitals the Government has spent £8,300,000 less than it budgeted for.
I think 1 have dealt with national development fairly fully. The Government is spending money in the north. It is assisting industry and providing beef roads; but if the1 north is to be populated by Australian people who have the interests of this nation at heart, and are prepared to live in the north, amenities for the family man much superior to those at present in existence must be provided. Amenities will have to be provided comparable with those supplied at Cockatoo Island and Koolan Island in Yampi Sound. The kind of development going on at those places is necessary if northern Australia is to be populated.
I pass now to the subject of education as it affects the family man. The Government has given the family man a very raw deal. It has not adjusted child endowment since 1948 although there is a moral responsibility on the Government to do something about such things. In moving its amendment the Opposition is registering a protest which I think is thoroughly justified. Before the suspension of the sitting Senator Mattner attempted to vindicate the Government’s policy on education in Australia, but what he said was quite wrong, as can be proved by statistics. Let us consider the proportion of national income that is spent on education by other countries. The figures are as follows -
Australia has the inglorious record of being last on the list with 2.2 per cent.
– How many private schools do they have in these other countries?
– I do not know, but the private schools in this country are providing 25 per cent, of the expenditure on education.
– You would be in favour of aid to private schools?
– I am in favour of the children in Australia being educated to the best possible standard.
– Are you in favour of aid to private schools?
– I am in favour of any educational system that will give the nation and its citizens the assistance they need. I am talking about education generally, not about private or public schools. I am discussing the needs of the Australian citizen who, I believe, is entitled to the best possible education that he can get. The Government must be remiss in this matter, otherwise honorable senators opposite would not be raising their hackles as they are now. The Government should be ashamed of its record in this field. The honorable senator who is now interjecting asked his question and I answered him. If he does not understand what I said I cannot give him the intelligence to enable him to do so. The Opposition believes that it is the birthright of every Australian child to be properly educated to at least the standard of the children in those nations to which I have referred. The Government is not spending on education the same proportion of national income as is spent by other countries It is remiss because it is neglectin ti the needs of the vast majority of children, who should be getting a better deal.
The family man on the basic wage, or even on £1,500 a year, spends all he earns in maintaining his family and attempting to give them the standard of living to which they are entitled. His whole income goes into circulation and is used to assist the economic build-up of this community. That is the man to whom this Government is giving very little. It has cheated him out of any increase in child endowment. Grants for education are low. It is true that the Government has removed sales tax from foodstuffs, but what has been the reaction in the community? Many manufacturers say that they will not pass this tax reduction on, and the Government is not prepared to see that they do so. It continues its policy of laisser-faire. It says in effect to the people at large, “ We will give you this tax reduction, but whether it is passed on to you is no concern of ours “. The Government is prepared to subsidize anything run by a vested interest, but it will not subsidize the Australian child if it can possibly get out of doing so. It will not subsidize the Australian working man, as it has proved in the past. It has been prepared to neglect him cruelly. The amendment moved by the Opposition should be carried, because the Government should have given attention to these things.
Both the Labour Opposition and the Government espouse a policy of easing the means test with a view to eventually eliminating it - but the Government will not carry out this policy. It has given increases to pensioners, but superannuated persons do not get anything. If a man earns a few shillings his superannuation is cut. If a person has £2,020 in property his pension is not affected, but if a man who during his life has had only his labour to sell, and is now struggling on an inadequate pension, earns more than £3 10s. a week apart from his pension, his pension is reduced. The Government has increased by 10s. the pension of a single person, but penalizes the married man, who has responsibilities. The married pensioner is left out in the cold although the Government has full knowledge of his position. If it were to eliminate the means test it would greatly benefit all pensioners.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– To say that I have listened with a great deal of interest to Senator Cooke might be exaggerating, but I can say at least that I have listened to him carefully. I frequently have to follow him and I have always to wait for a considerable time in my seat for him to sit down. Usually, as on this occasion, Sir, you have to sit him down. I have followed his speech very carefully all the way through.
– Tell us your views on aid to private schools. You asked Senator Cooke. Now tell us your views.
– I shall do as I please, I do not need your advice. I have no equivocation in saying where I stand in regard to aid to private schools. Senator Cooke waxed eloquent on the shortcomings or deficiencies of the present Government. He referred to the various subjects mentioned in the amendment which has been moved on behalf of the Opposition. He spoke of the deficiencies of the Australian defence system. He spoke at length, but very unconvincingly, of education. He omitted to touch on housing and health. He spoke at considerable length on social services, employment and northern development. He used terms such as “ dishonest “, “ inequitable “, “ untrue “, and “ neglecting the working man cruely “, but from beginning to end of his speech he did not substantiate any of them. He put forward a point of view, certainly, but it was not really a consistent one and 1 am sure that if the ordinary man in the community had an opportunity to listen to it he would not support it. I propose to touch on a few of the matters with which Senator Cooke dealt.
I am pleased to be able to speak during this Budget debate. This is the fourteenth Budget which I have had the opportunity to support, and I hope I shall have a similar opportunity to support further Budgets brought “down by the Government under the leadership of the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and under control of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. There have been times when I have wondered what it would be like to be in Opposition. I have been in the Parliament since 1950, and my poor friends opposite have been sitting in opposition all that time. Some of them, of course, have had ministerial ambitions. I appreciate how disappointed those of them with political ambitions must be. I do not intend to single out any one of them -
– They have not picked you to be a minister in the last thirteen years.
– I have not had any ministerial ambitions. I can say that quite honestly. I have been proud to support the Government, but at times I thought it might be much more fun to be in Opposition. I commiserate with my friends who have been, for all these dismal years, sitting on the Opposition side of the chamber and unable to gain the reins of office.
We have such thoughts as those I have mentioned, but upon reflection we have no hesitation in casting them aside because we realize, when we look at the party which would form the alternative government, what it would mean to Australia if the Labour Party were elected to office. Even though the idea of being in opposition may have some kind of attraction for me, I think it is best that I remain on this side of the chamber. In the interests of our country, I hope that we are here for a very long while to come.
– You do not suffer from an inferiority complex.
– That may be so. I do not think that Senator Brown suffers from that complaint, either. Most of the speeches that have emanated from the Opposition have indicated an almost supreme confidence that at the next general election Labour will attain its ambition to occupy the treasury bench. Senator Kennelly was in the van in expressing such confidence, and other honorable senators opposite followed his example. I do not agree with them on that score.
There have been times when things have not been going quite as well with us as they might have been, but taking everything into consideration, I think that in the last couple of years, and in the last six months or so in particular, we have altered that concept. We have really gained ground. In my judgment, we have fairly good reason to think that at the next general election we will win again.
– What was your judgment in 1961?
– It does not matter what it was in 1961. The important thing is my judgment of the position now and of what it will be when we next face the electors. I shall not be affected. I feel that we have regained any ground that we may have lost. At the present time we have every reason to think that after the next general election we shall again occupy the treasury bench in the Commonwealth Parliament.
The view I have just expressed is borne out by a rather interesting gallup poll result which I saw published in the press on Saturday last, 7th September. If the result of the poll had been published prior to the speeches of some honorable senators opposite, I think that they might not have been so confident of achieving office at the next election. The gallup poll shows that we have made a lot of recovery in the estimation of the electors of Australia. The relevant newspaper article states -
Electors’ support for LCP and ALP was not affected by the Federal Budget. …
Yet, it was said that the Budget would result in our being swept out of office -
As usual in Gallup Polls or. election prospects, an Australia-wide cross-section was asked: “ If a Federal election is held soon which party are you most likely to vote for? “ Answers were almost the same as in a similar Gallup Poll in June, which disclosed the LCP slightly ahead of the ALP for the first time since the last Federal election nearly two years ago.
The figures given indicate that in April the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party received 42 per cent., in Tune they received 43 and on the most recent occasion 43, whereas in April the Australian Labour Party received 42, in June 42 and most recently 42. Therefore, according to the gallup poll, we are one ahead of the Labour Party, and that one represents a good many thousand votes. If we can hold this position it means that when the next general election is held - and I do not know when that will be - the Labour Party will remain in opposition for another term.
The newspaper article went on to state -
This year the Gallup Poll has been experimenting with the “Gallup Ballot Box” as used in recent years by the American and Canadian Gallup Polls for their remarkably accurate election predictions.
In the past fortnight an Australia-wide cross section of electors, similar to those referred to above, were handed “ Gallop Ballot Boxes “ and ballot papers. They were asked to mark the party they would like to see win “ if a Federal election were being held to-day”. People then put their marked ballot papers in the boxes. Answers, in the next table, show a 6 per cent, drop in “ undecided “ and 2 per cent, more for each party . . .
That is, people who were undecided dropped by 6 per cent., and 2 per cent, more voted for each of the two major parties. The report continues - as compared with the preceding table results from the usual Gallup Poll question on voting intention.
L.C.P.- 45 per cent.
D.L.P.– 6 per cent.
A.L.P.- 44 per cent.
Others - 1 per cent.
Undecided- 4 per cent.
So we are still in the lead even under the gallup poll ballot-box system.
– Don’t forget the D.L.P. vote.
– I do not deny that the D.L.P. exercises a considerable influence on elections and is likely to con tinue to do so.. Getting down to tin tacks, we are heading the Australian Labour Party in this regard. Gallup polls are not inaccurate. Sometimes they have failed us, but not very often. One can rest assured that when the time comes these figures will almost certainly be borne out. I have no doubt that we shall continue to improve our position and, I would not be at all surprised if, when election time comes, in view of the magnificent economic prospects of this country, which will be furthered by the Budget, the figures will favour us even more.
– You must remember that Mr. Roy Morgan is a member of the Labour Party.
– I do not know what he is. He is the man who conducts the gallup polls which have become an accepted barometer and measuring stick in anticipating political events. I have a great deal of faith in what Mr. Roy Morgan’s gallup poll indicates on this occasion.
I do not intend to speak at great length. I should like to discuss the general economy as we know it in Australia to-day. No one in his right senses could suggest that the economy was in the doldrums. I do not think that anybody even on the Opposition benches suggests that. Honorable senators opposite make all sorts of charges against us. That is merely consistent with Opposition tactics. In reality, they know in their own hearts that we in Australia are enjoying a buoyant economy. That has not come about just by chance. It has been brought about, first, by the magnificent country in which we live. I give credit for that. It has been brought about also by sound economic management over the years. I do not pretend that we have not made mistakes. No one in his right senses would suggest that we had not. I try to be honest on these questions and in general the economic management of the country down through the years has been good. That has been proved. When a government is returned, election after election, by democratic vote, it must indicate that the people, who are not fools, appreciate that their best interests are served by that type of government. That is why they have returned us to office and that is why Australia enjoys such a high level of prosperity.
Let me go back over the years to the different types of budget we have brought down. Let me go first to the one described by the Labour Opposition as the horror budget. Whether or not it was a horror budget, it was absolutely necessary at the time, lt was formulated to curb the inflationary process that was inevitable following the fantastically high wool prices that we experienced. It was absolutely essential that we bring down a budget of that type. Then in 1956 we had the little budget in which we made a further correction to the economy by fiscal measures. What other means have we of correcting trends that are obviously harmful? I pass on to the economic measures of 1960. Stringent though these were, they were proved beyond question to have been in the interests of the community at large. We certainly could not go on in the way we were going. We were pricing ourselves out of our export markets. If only for the primary producer, we simply had to bring down those 1960 measures, distasteful though they may have been to people who had a vested interest in inflation, and distasteful though they were to us - more distasteful even than to the Opposition.
We have rectified the position. Since then we have steadily made the recovery that we knew would follow. We knew that the stringent measures were necessary and that we had to bring some sense into the way things were being done in the business world. This has been achieved by fiscal measures. We have not used some of the measures that the Labour Party would have used. Certainly not. We believe in a free-running economy. We do not believe in the type of thing in which honorable senators opposite believe, such as price control and other controls ad infinitum. No, Sir! We believe that the way of correcting these trends is by proper fiscal measures. We believe in correcting them by the taxation medium and in other ways. We have had to impose import restrictions. These measures have been taken where necessary and they have alleviated the problem. We have got back on to an even keel and as a result of this fiscal policy we are now enjoying probably the highest level of prosperity of any civilized country.
– You want to wake up some of your colleagues so that they can listen to this.
– If they can sleep with my voice blaring in their ears they have an easier conscience than I have. I should like to refer to an article published in the South Australian Farmers Cooperative Union Limited monthly journal, “ Farm, Stock and Station Journal “, the authors of which must have read the Treasury White Paper issued early in July. They make some very apt comments on what has been achieved by primary industry and the vital role that it plays in the Australian economy. The Government has always been mindful of the great primary producing industries. It realizes that the primary industries are the backbone of the community and of our prosperity. For that reason, the Government has always done what it could, as it has done in this Budget, to assist the primary producers to maintain a level of prosperity and enable him to continue to produce those vital exports upon which we are so dependent.
The White Paper went on to refer to achievements in production, the value of which exceeded £800,000,000 in the last financial year. I think that the primary industries can be very proud of that fact. With the trend of modern agricultural science, fewer people are engaged on the land, but there is a startling increase in primary production. Of the value of £1,070,000,000 of exports, our primary industries have accounted for £800,000,000. If it were not for those exports of primary products where would our secondary industries be? I believe that 70 per cent, of our imports go directly to secondary industries. If that is so, where would the secondary industries be without this magnificent export income of £800,000,000? They would be out of a job and the economy of this country would fold up completely.
We have done a great deal in enabling this great export figure to be reached. We have done an enormous amount in providing trade outlets. That fact was mentioned in the article to which I have referred. It contained the statement that wheat sales to mainland China were a conspicuous example of this. Up to 1961 those sales had involved a total of 190,000,000 bushels of wheat to the value of £128,000,000. Mainland China is only one country to which we export wheat. The article refers also to the enormous increase in our beef exports. In 1957-58, sales of beef to the United States of America amounted to the paltry sum of £1,000,000. This year those sales will be worth over £60,000,000. The total value of exports of beef and veal has risen from £22,000,000 in 1957-58 to more than £70,000,000 in the current year. Meat has moved up to a high place among our exports. It is estimated that this year such exports will bring us in more than £100,000,000.
– That is nearly as good as sugar.
Senator HANNAFORD__ Sugar exports also have found a wider market. In 1963 they will probably earn £50,000.000 compared with £34,000,000 in 1961-62. There was a fall in sugar output last year, but world consumption per head increased as it has done in other years. Currently, the United States of America has switched its sugar imports from Cuba to other suppliers, including Australia. This illustrates that it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Because our production has been of record proportions, we have been in a position to supply sugar that was formerly supplied from elsewhere to the great markets of the United States and Japan. All these facts indicate the part that the great primary industries play in the stability of the Australian economy. It is not possible to have this sort of production without economic stability. That has been one of the Government’s objectives in framing this Budget. We have always sought stability. Stability is not an easy objective to achieve in any economy. Either you go forward or you go back. In order to achieve some sort of stability, the economy has to be managed sensibly and the various sections of the community have to be treated equitably. We have done our utmost to do that over the years.
Undoubtedly, we have had the problem of unemployment in the last few years. It has been plainly said by honorable senators on this side of the chamber that our record in regard to employment is a very proud one, indeed. We give the lie direct to Opposition senators when they say that we on the Government side believe in having a pool of unemployed. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think it was Senator Mattner who mentioned that 1.8 per cent. of the work force was unemployed. In what other country in the free world does its unemployment figure compare with that? We do not know what takes place in the countries outside the free world. A section of the community will always be unemployed.
– For the simple reason that there is seasonal employment. You cannot ignore that. There are always people who go from one job to another. In Queensland, where there is seasonal employment on a large scale, a lot of people earn the equivalent of a year’s wages in a very short time. I do not think that even Senator Brown will deny that when these people cease their employment at the meat works, in the sugar fields or at shearing, they do not hesitate to register as unemployed. I do not blame them; but that makes if inevitable that a number of those who are registered as unemployed cannot strictly be said to be unemployed. They represent a considerable proportion of the community.
We can take pride in the fact that for the third quarter of 1962-63 farm income rose by 24 per cent. compared with a rise of 1 8 per cent. in the second quarter. That fact gives me very great satisfaction because it has been rather difficult to hold the balance between the prosperity of the man on the land and the prosperity of his city brother. It gives me great satisfaction to know that there has been an improvement in the income of the farming community to the extent that I have mentioned. The rise of 24 per cent. in farm income has been compared with an overall rise in gross national product of only 8 per cent. It seems that the farming community is enjoying a remuneration which is in keeping with the hard work that it does. The value of wool production rose by £11.000,000, or 23 per cent. All these facts indicate that the primary producers are enjoying a level of prosperity which will ensure a continuation of the degree of prosperity that is being enjoyed by the rest of the community.
From time to time the Opposition has attacked the Government in relation to the inflow of capital from overseas. I have never been able to understand Labour’s attitude. I think it was Senator Cohen who said that a financial expert, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, was seriously perturbed not so much about the rate of capital inflow as about the Australian component of the capital of some companies which have attracted investment from overseas. I do not deny that the Government should keep a close eye on the situation. There is the danger that overseas investment could absorb some of our industries, to the disadvantage of Australia. The Government is not unaware of that possibility, but I do not think the stage has been reached where we should impose arbitrary controls. Capital investment is absolutely essential to the well-being of our economy; it will ensure progress in the long run. We are dependent upon capital from overseas and at this stage of our development we must not do anything to deter such investment.
Just let us think of the millions of pounds that have been invested in this country in the search for oil. A lot of that money has gone down the drain. Let us not forget that tremendous sums have been lost forever by investors in this sphere. Although we may have achieved a certain measure of success in the search for oil in Australia, we have a long way to go before we will be able to rely on our own supplies. If we can continue to encourage the investment of outside capital in the search for oil we will be doing a great service to Australia.
The inflow of capital corrects our balance of payments to a very important degree. I am glad, Madam Acting Deputy President, that our overseas balances are in a very healthy condition. That has not been achieved by haphazard methods. I repeat that the inflow of capital has had an important bearing on the situation. But capital docs not come into a country merely because that country has some potential but no great possibilities of development. Capital is attracted to a country because overseas investors realize that that country has a great potential. Capital has flowed into Australia to the extent that it has been able to correct any deficiency as between our exports and our imports.
– You admit that there is an element of danger in it.
– It is of interest to note that the Government has not failed to recognize that there are inherent dangers in the investment of overseas capital.
– Labour has been trying to overcome those dangers.
– The Government believes that any interference with the inflow of capital at this stage could have disastrous effects on the economy. I venture to say that if Australians were unfortunate enough to have a Labour Government, we would really be in danger.
– Why do you say that?
– I say it for the simple reason that outside investors would be wary of a Labour government. They know the history of Labour governments. We know about Labour’s policy of nationalization. Capital cannot be attracted to a country that might nationalize industries. There would be a very real danger of this source of capital drying up if Labour were to assume office. I do not know the exact figure, but I believe that our overseas reserves amount to approximately £560,000,000, in addition to which we have drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund. That being so, we can continue to adopt our present methods without any fear. I believe that we would be very unwise to depart from them. If we continue to adopt the measures that we are at present employing, there is no reason to believe that the economy will not continue to run on an even keel and that Australia will go from strength to strength.
Last year the value of our exports exceeded that of our imports by £33,000,000. But then, as has been mentioned by Senator Cooke, invisibles account for a very big sum. We are not in the position where we can completely balance our exports against our imports. It is quite obvious that in a developing country like Australia the overall value of imports must exceed that of exports for a very long time. That is why it is essential for us to maintain an inflow of capital from overseas.
I have always been intrigued by the attitude of the Labour Party in regard to loans. We have listened from time to time to the rather puerile argument that loan money should be raised on the Australian market. I say without any hesitation that for very many years Australia will have insufficient capital from its own savings to finance the great developmental works that must be undertaken. In spite of what has been said by the Opposition, costly development has been undertaken throughout Australia. This development needs capital. I repeat that for many years to come we will have insufficient capital to finance these great developmental projects. That is why we must maintain the inflow of capital and why from time to time we will have to go to the markets of the world for loans. Australia is one of the few countries that have gone successfully to New York and Switzerland to raise loans at favorable interest rates. Other under-developed countries are crying out for capital and they are only partly successful when they go to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other sources for loans, but we in Australia have such a high credit rating that we have been able to go to the New York and Swiss markets to obtain valuable funds. These are brought to Australia in the form of equipment for developmental projects and so raise our gross national product.
The gross national product has risen every year since I. came into this Parliament. In some years the rate of increase has been higher than in others. In the last financial year the gross national product has risen by 8 per cent.. I admit that in some years the increase has not been as high as that, but we have built the gross national product up over the years to some £5,000,000,000 compared with probably less than half that total when this Government came to office. Senator Cole referred to the inflow of capital, but he forgot to mention the comment of Mr. Staniforth Ricketson on the Budget. I have a great regard for Mr. Ricketson and often read the comments which come from his Melbourne office. He is a first-class financier and his comments on the Budget were highly favorable. Senator Cohen forgot to mention that, when he attacked the Government on the inflow of capital.
I believe this Budget is a good one, and I do not think that the amendment can be validly supported by any thinking person.
The charges against the Government contained in the amendment, which relate to defence, education, housing, health, social services, northern Australian development and unemployment, fall to the ground when they are examined carefully and fairly. Consequently I can only reject the amendment as being rather unfair and untrue, because I honestly believe that it is not in accordance with facts.
Let us look round the continent and see what has been done to assist development. The gross national product is a true indicator of the development that has taken place in both the primary and the secondary fields. Senator Scott’s references to the development of northern Australia were most applicable. You can pour millions of pounds into the north - and you can waste millions of pounds there. Senator Scott knows the north particularly well, and his comments were salutary. I have seen some of that country and I am not unaware of the great difficulties that confront us in northern Australia. I refer not only to the north-west of the continent but also to the Northern Territory and northern Queensland. We have done constructive work towards rectifying the backward situation that undoubtedly exists in that area. We know that there are assets in the north. Great mineral fields extend from Queensland across the Northern Territory. I think this is described as a pre-Cambrian area, and it extends from Mount Isa to Western Australia although it is broken by different forms of country. However, in general terms, it is a belt of mineralized country which will be of tremendous benefit in the development of the north. We are trying to do what we can to harness the waters of the north-west in particular. More can and will be done in that regard in due course.
Senator Mattner mentioned the beef industry. I do not know that we can do much more than provide the road arteries to permit the transport of the beef lo ports for shipment to world markets. The beef trade has been a winner for Australia. In the current financial year the returns from this beef export trade will exceed £100.000,000. It is evident that the arterial roads in that area are important in the development of a great beef industry in northern Australia.
Senator Mattner referred to the grants that will be available to the States this year from the financial resources of the Commonwealth. All this has been arranged by the Premiers in consultation with the Commonwealth Government at the Premiers’ Conference. Grants totalling £318,000,000 have been made available to the States for the conduct of their government as well as for service and developmental activities. In addition, £272,000,000 will be devoted directly to capital works and services. In South Australia we have water reticulation services which, if laid end to end, would stretch from Adelaide to Karachi.
– How far is that?
– Nine thousand miles. South Australia is the driest State in the Commonwealth. We have had to tap the Murray River and will tap it further when the Chowilla Dam is constructed.
– That is New South Wales water.
– It is not. There are such things as riparian rights, and we are going to have that water. A great deal has been done by this Government in the field of education in spite of what Senator Drury and Senator Cooke have said. If they believe in independent schools - and I think it is obvious that they do - I respect their point of view because I am a broadminded man, but I do not agree with it. The Opposition cannot say with truth that we have done nothing for education. Grants made to the States in the university field alone have been considerable. In addition, the States are free to spend as they think fit the money they derive from financial assistance. A vast sum of money is spent on education.
Comparisons have been made with other countries such as Sweden, but they have been developing for hundreds of years. They are old countries and they do not face the developmental work that we have to undertake in Australia. They can apply more money to education. They have a background that is quite different from our own. I think it is quite invalid fo make a comparison between those countries and Australia We are doing what we can in the educational field, no matter how the funds may be applied, and I think that we have no reason to fear that we are not keeping pace wilh the rest of the world in this sphere. At least, that is our ambition and it is one that we will foster as much as possible.
I should like now to touch on other matters. I think I have said sufficient to indicate to the Senate that this is a budget which, despite early press references - one does not hear so much about it now - has been accepted by the people of Australia very well indeed. It has been accepted at least by the primary producers because they know that they are prospering under the type of economy that we sponsor. They have been given an investment allowance which will further assist them to increase production. They have enjoyed over the years depreciation allowances that are not allowed to other sections of industry. In the long run, I feel that the Budget has been well received by the primary producing section of the community, which ‘. feel is one of the most deserving. I am heartily in accord with the Budget proposals, almost in toto, because I believe they are soundly based and that they will continue the prosperity that we have enjoyed in our Australian economy. I believe that these proposals will stand us in gOOd stead.
Finally I want to express my confidence that when we go to the people at the next election they will realize that they cannot afford to have a Labour government in charge of the treasury bench.
– We have listened with great attention to Senator Hannaford, who has quietly advanced his case and talked of his fourteen years in government. He said he was hopeful that when this Government faced the electors in the very near future it would meet the approval of people generally. However, that is up to the people. We on this side of the chamber would welcome an election on this Budget at any time. The honorable senator mentioned too that it is much more fun being in Opposition. Possibly he will have an opportunity to enjoy that fun in the very near future. He is not sure what the result of an election would be but he hopes that everything will be all right. As he mentioned earlier, he will not have to face the electors at the next election, because he has been elected for six years. I want to remind him that, despite all the stories he told, the arguments he advanced and the gallup polls he instanced, in the last election the Liberal and Country Parties combined polled more than 300,000 votes fewer than did the Australian Labour Party throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. For the election of senators in New South Wales the Australian Labour Party polled almost 100,000 votes more than Government party candidates.
Let us be realistic about this. The Government is in office to-day because of the Democratic Labour Party, which is fostered and financed by the Government parties. It has been their ally since 1955. The Government is in power also because of the Communist votes given to Mr. Killen in the electorate of Moreton.
– I suppose that was on a unity ticket!
– That is right. Of course, the honorable senator recalls the story of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) throwing his arms around Mr. Killen on his arrival in Canberra as the saviour of the nation. But let us not talk about that. Surely no government senator to-day can feel happy, despite his great wealth or his indifference to people outside, when 77,000 people are registered as unemployed. That figure does not include migrants who have never taken jobs, nor does it include those over 65 years of age who are sent direct to secure age pensions. When honorable senators on this side of the chamber speak about nearly 100,000 being unemployed, they are presenting the real picture. There should be no false ideas about a situation of this nature existing in this country.
Wc have heard about an increase of 8 per cent, in the gross national product, but over the past twelve years the average annual increase in our gross national production has been about 2 per cent. With that in mind we on this side of the chamber honestly believe that this nation is not progressing as well as it might. We think the time has arrived for a change, and this is certain to take place with the advent of the next election.
The leaders of our party in both Houses of Parliament have outlined Labour’s case in a most effective manner. They have announced Labour’s policy and programme, of which we are all proud. 1 might say that the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Kennelly) has met with the approval of the independent senators. 1 am led to believe that they will vote for it. I hope that it will meet also with the approval of a number of Government supporters. This amendment, which I endorse, states - . . 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 ils 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, for increases in child endowment, which has remained stationary in respect of the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust.
Again I say I hope that some honorable senators opposite will support this amendment. I repeat that Labour is prepared to face the electors of Australia to test their feelings on this Budget.
Before the Budget was brought down a Sydney periodical in early August mentioned that this was the fifth budget brought down by the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and went on to say -
After missing his target by such a wide margin last year he will be anxious to make amends, not only to save his own face but also the Government’s in the light of a possible early election.
So the question of an early election has always been in the forefront so far as the Government is concerned. Last year the Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of £118,328,000, but so inexact were his calculations that he had a surplus of £16,000,000. He and his advisers had miscalculated to the extent of £134,000,000! I ask: Is it wrong to assume that the people of Australia have been robbed of twelve months’ benefits that could have been given by the 1962-63 Budget in the fields of national development, housing, education and social services had a correct assessment been made? The answer is “ Yes, to the extent of £134,000,000”. One honorable senator was given press headlines when he said, “ This is the best budget in fourteen years “. That claim has been repeated tonight by Senator Hannaford. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps he is thinking of the horror budget of 1951, which followed the double dissolution. Of course Senator Hannaford apologized for that. He went on to speak about the “ little budget “ and made his further apologies there. He spoke also of the credit squeeze in 1960. The fact is that this Government has been in office for fourteen years. When it came into office it removed all Labour’s safeguards imposed in 1949. Immediately following the double dissolution of 1951 it introduced vicious control of imports and reimposed more vicious controls on credit. Some honorable senators opposite are talking about the possibility of an early election. I remind them that the people of Australia will remember what took place on two other occasions when there were early elections during the fourteen years that th’.s Government has been in office. The horror budget followed the 1951 double dissolution after the Government had been in office for eighteen months. Then, after the election in 1955, the Government introduced the little horror budget which brought horror and disadvantage to the people generally. If the Government were to go to the country before its present term expires the people of Australia will be wondering what would happen should this Government be returned to the government benches.
This Government would be well advised to study the address delivered by Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, when he was delivering the Shann Memorial Lecture at the University of Western Australia. I believe that the material used there would be of great value. The address delivered by Dr. Coombs pointed out that the economic progress of France and Japan - two basically free enterprise structures - has been superior to that of many other countries, including our own country. The learned doctor emphasized the need to plan and the need to increase our gross national product. It has been said that Australia has had magnificent growth during the past twelve months, but the fact is that during the past ten or twelve years the growth of this country has been very minute despite the fact that we were one of the victorious countries in World War II. Some of those countries which were devastated in that war have progressed much more rapidly than Australia has. The Government would be well advised to read very carefully the document produced by the esteemed doctor who delivered the Shann Memorial Lecture at the university in Perth. The Opposition’s dispute with the Government is that the rate of growth has not been as fast as that of other countries in the western world. Is it any wonder that a few weeks ago the report of the Reserve Bank stated that unemployment is still too high? When a job is advertised in any of the major cities, or for that matter in any part of Australia, the number of people who apply for it is amazing and a discredit to this Government. I desire to quote from the speech of Dr. Coombs. He said -
In speculating about the probable growth of the economy, we can foresee roughly how the labour force is likely to grow and we know that we will be better off if this work force can be kept effectively working - i.e., if we can keep close to full employment. But just as important is the rate at which the productivity of the labour force can be increased and the skill and intelligence with which we deploy it; this latter is a problem of producing the right things in appropriate proportions.
It is stated that increased productivity distributed properly could give the benefits which all Australians feel they are justly entitled to. We well know that increased productivity is mainly the result of technical changes and that we would increase productivity more rapidly if these procedures could be speeded up. Dr. Coombs outlined the things that are required, and in doing so he pointed out just what was necessary in particular fields. He went on to say -
It is well known that increasing productivity is mainly the result of technical change - of the application of new knowledge to the products and processes of industry. Productivity will increase more rapidly only if the process of technical change can be speeded up.
I repeat that I advise Government supporters to have a look at what the doctor said. He went on -
We spend abroad some £15 million per year in payment for the use of other people’s ideas - in royalties. &c. But these payments arc for the developed ideas - for the knowledge from research applied to the products or problems of industry. Much of the research is as available to us as to those to whom we pay this £15 million and there is nothing to prevent our doing the development.
He then paid a tribute to the valuable work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the State departments of agriculture and the universities in the field of primary production, and went on to say that om exports have increased by about 7 to 8 per cent, per annum over the last decade. That in itself is an indictment of the Government. If is an indictment of the Government for its neglect of our development during the last ten years to say that our exports have increased by only 7 to 8 per cent.
The doctor went on to point out the great work that is being done by the central research unit of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Then, speaking of the percentage of the gross national product that, hits been spent on research development, he said -
We spend approximately 0.6 per cent, of our G.N. P. on research and development, which compares with expenditure in recent years, for which information is available, of 2.8 per cent, in the U.S.A., 2.5 per cent, in the U.K. and 2.3 per ce ; in the U.S.S.R. and ranks us below such countries as Sweden, Canada, West Germany, France, Norway and Japan.
I feel that the Government could learn much from this paper, but I am sure that it will not. A Labour government would co-operate with men such as Dr. Coombs and use the outstanding ability that they possess, lt would increase the rate of national development.
I read recently in the press that Mr. Harold Wilson, the United Kingdom Labour leader, said that the duy of tired mcn is over. A new generation, vigorous and dynamic, determined mcn of great responsibility, is coming into its own, he said. I say to this Government that the day of tired government is over. Great changes arc taking place around the world. The Government should keep pace with them. On the subject of development I recall the words of Labour leaders in campaigns that have been waged in the past, f recall the words of Dr. Evatt and of our present leader, Mr. Arthur Calwell. I have heard them say that unless we develop this country we will lose it. 1 feel certain that only Labour will develop Australia.
What is the record of this Government? lt has been in office for the past fourteen years. Admittedly some development has taken place, but it was only three months before the last general election that the Government made any real attempt to do anything. The Opposition thinks that more money should have been spent in develop ment. We have a huge continent with an area of 3,000,000 square miles and a coastline of 12,000 miles. To the north of us there are hundreds of millions of people. Is it any wonder that the people of this country who did so much in two world wars are desirous of seeing Australia developed as Labour developed the Snowy Mountains scheme. Labour is pledged to the development of the northern portion of Australia which is 40 per cent, of our country and is occupied by 4 per cent, of our people. The Labour Prime Minister, the late Ben Chifley, set up a northern development board under the chairmanship of Dr. Coombs. This board carried out much research work and recommended the establishment of a permanent body similar to the Snowy Mountains authority. That happened some fifteen or sixteen years ago, but since Labour was defeated in 1949 all that has been lost and forgotten. In 1959-60 the present Liberal Government rejected a request by Queensland and Western Australia to establish a northern development authority. This request is now being repeated and if this Government does happen to remain in office I hope that honorable senators and members of the other place will use their influence to see that this authority is established. Labour’s plan for investigation of methods of development would cover, in addition to the marketing of our products, the whole range of economic matters and would include water conservation and irrigation, the development of mineral resources, overseas investment, the cattle industry, port facilities, roads, railways, housing, immigration and education. With the United Nations, we would embark on an overall plan of assistance to underdeveloped countries. Without such a plan it is not possible to feed the starving people to our north. Without action such as that we cannot hold this country for our children. As a matter of fact, we may not be able to hold it for our own lifetime unless we do something along those lines.
In May last, I addressed the following question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate - ls the Minister aware that the Freedom from Hunger campaign is to close this week-end and that we, in this part of the democratic world, know that more than one half of the Asian people, our near neighbours, are suffering from hunger and malnutrition? Will the Minister arrange wilh the Governments of the United States of America and Canada and our own Government - the governments of the three countries which have the largest surpluses of wheat - to send, with the least possible delay, a large quantity of these surpluses to the world’s hungry people? Finally, does the Minister not believe that such a gesture to assist the world’s hungry people would help to create respect and friendship between ourselves and the needy nations?
The Minister replied that the Government was not prepared to do any more than it was then doing by way of financial aid.
I wish to remind the Senate of words that were spoken by President Kennedy of the United States on assuming office, because I think they are pertinent to the position of the Australian people. In fact, they should bc heeded by democratic people everywhere. He said -
If we arc not prepared to help the many who arc poor wc cannot save the few who are rich.
That is a most important statement and one which we who live in a reasonably comfortable atmosphere should remember. I remind Australia that the records show that this year we have a surplus of 400,000,000 bushels of wheat, with an expected carryover of another 1 80,000,000 bushels. There is talk of a restriction of wheat acreages next year. Wc should do everything we can to assist the fight against hunger in the under-developed countries. Our greatest danger lies, not in nuclear bombs, but in the picture of an Asian mother with a starving baby in her arms. Hunger is of real concern to-day to hundreds of millions of people. In yesterday’s “ Sun “ newspaper I saw an article to the effect that it had been stated in the Indian Parliament at Delhi that most of India’s 462,000,000 people were poverty stricken and starving; that 270,000.000 people, or 60 per cent, of the population, were living on less than 6d. a day; and that between 100,000,000 and 150,000,000 people had a daily income of less than 3d. It was further stated that unless the government acted, the hungry people of the Indian nation might cause the downfall not only of the Government of India but also of governments throughout the world.
I remember reading some years ago a suggestion by Walter Lippmann, the wellknown columnist, that the free world should prove that democracy had more to give to its people than had communism. He also suggested that India, a neutral nation which was accepted by the Asian people, should be made a showplace by the advanced democratic countries. I thought it was a suggestion that ought to be carefully considered, but unfortunately, nothing was done about it. Lippmann stated at the time that he did not expect anything to be done about it because no profits were to be made from its adoption. He said that we could pour in money to under-developed countries, but unless profits were forthcoming, little would be done.
From time to time the Australian Prime Minister meets other Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth of Nations. In my view, when such meetings occur the Prime Ministers ought to consider ways of helping the starving people of India, which is a sister dominion and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In India, there is a population of more than 460,000,000, and in Pakistan there is a population of approximately 90,000,000. Those people represent a buffer against the Communist world. I warn the Government and the people of Australia that if India and Pakistan go Communist it will be a case of God help the rest of the Asian people. We in Australia are members of the Asian bloc and are vitally affected in this instance. I say again that a starving child in the arms of an Asian mother makes a picture that calls for urgent and sympathetic consideration by the Australian people.
Although I have painted the foregoing picture of conditions throughout the world, I feel that, despite the many serious problems which now exist, world tension has eased. The signing of the three-power nuclear ban could mean the realization of the dream of a world without war. France’s plan to test nuclear weapons in the Pacific area poses a great threat to Australia, particularly to cities such as Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne which could bc affected by radio-active fallout. The sources of water and food of the people of the Pacific islands will be poisoned by the fallout. I read in the press to-day that the trade unionists of Australia and New Zealand were taking an active interest in the matter. I believe that the Australian Government, too, should exercise as much influence in this connexion as it can bring to bear. General de Gaulle, who was a great soldier in World War I. and World War II., recognizes that many Australian lives were lost in France during the wars. Before a boycott of France is either discussed or implemented in this country, the Australian Government, together with the New Zealand Government, should make direct appeals in the matter. The same comment applies to nuclear tests which China may propose to carry out. Everything must be done to prevent such tests from taking place. We hear a great deal about the quantity of wheat that we are selling to China. Surely we could talk to the Government of China in the same way as it has been suggested we should talk to the governments of our allies. If the “ Atoms for Peace “ campaign were successful it would give a great fillip to the outlook of the human race.
We have read of Indonesian attacks on our Prime Minister and also on the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The Australian Labour Party played an important role in the fight for freedom in Indonesia. Dr. Evatt, a former leader of the party, was prominent in that respect. However, we do not want to see the Indonesians expanding their territory to the extent of coveting Australian territory. We in Australia want to live in peace and friendship with our neighbours. The Indonesians say that Australian Ministers and others should be guarded in their statements. So should the Indonesians. I have read that in Indonesia it is said that hypodermic needles for 10,000,000 Australians would solve the problem. I know of the attitude of some Indonesians towards Australia and of the treatment which Australians sometimes receive at Indonesian airports.
These are matters which ought to be taken up with the Indonesians. We want their friendship and should say that we are prepared to give our friendship to them. There is an Indonesian proverb to the effect that one can repay a debt of gold but one is for ever in debt to a person who is kind. One can never repay gifts of kindness and friendship. We must always remember that. We must assist the Indonesians in their development and, if. necessary, ,in their defence. Only when a nation is without security and is in difficulties does it have great fears. We, of course, have these concerns. To-day, as in the past, we depend on the help of great powers. In the past, we depended on the United Kingdom. To-day we depend on the United States. We ought to look very carefully at our own defence. There is no justification for this Government’s taking great credit in defence matters. Honorable senators opposite speak of what Labour has done. We recall what happened in World War II. Two weeks before Japan struck at Pearl Harbour, a government of the same political complexion as this Government relinquished control of the nation and Labour took over. Australia knows how, with the co-operation of our allies, that war was brought to a successful conclusion.
I do not want to complete my speech on the Budget without making special reference to some items. In regard to social services, there are five great blots on our society. The first is our treatment of aborigines in the matters of housing, hygiene and employment. New South Wales is a State in which an attempt is being made to give them greater assistance. I remind the Senate that our complacency could blow up in our faces at the United Nations. We talk about apartheid in South Africa, but if we do not do more for our aborigines a situation somewhat similar to that which faces South Africa will face us in the United Nations.
The second matter is our treatment of civilian widows and deserted wives. The help that they are being given by the Government will be of great assistance and the Government should be commended for it. The third matter relates to the provision of an increase of 10s. a week to single age pensioners. Any increase in pensions is laudable but the discrimination being exercised is not to the Government’s credit. Senator Cooke and other honorable senators have referred to the cartoon showing two elderly married people looking at each other and saying, “Did we do the right thing?” I refer to an editorial in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 29th August. This newspaper is the Government’s own organ which voices . so effectively .the Government’s opinions. The passage is headed “ Government puts a penalty o marriage “ and reads -
Mr. Allan Fraser pointed up the anomaly of the situation by saying that a married pensioner couple who divorced would get an extra 10s. a week each, even if they continued to live together. The explanation by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), that the increase was intended to ease the shock when married pensioners found their joint income suddenly halved with the death of one partner, will give small comfort to pensioners. 1 can understand Mr. Roberton making such a statement, because I have kept for many years a reference to hostility between the Minister and the Government Members’ Social Services Committee, which reads -
The greatest stumbling block is Mr. Hugh Roberton, who some members privately refer to as Mr. Humbug.
This was a reference to his becoming Minister for Social Services in 1956 not long after saying, in effect, that if he had his way there would be no social services at all. That is undoubtedly his viewpoint to-day. Attacks by reputable people upon the Government’s provisions in relation to social services have continued. The superintendent of the Central Methodist Mission, Reverend Alan Walker, said -
I regret there will not be an all-round increase. Married pensioners often have to pay nearly one full pension for one room.
The superintendent of the Leichhardt Methodist Mission, Dr. Harold Hawkins, said -
Married pensioners should share in the increase, even if they get only 5s. each.
Other similar comments by responsible people have appeared in many newspapers, lt is a damning indictment of the Government that age pensioner couples are not being given an increase in pension.
Child endowment is the fourth matter to which 1 wish to refer. Workers with young families have not received any benefit. The last liberalization that the Government granted was extension of child endowment to first children in 1950. Thirteen years have elapsed since then. During that period, the price of butter has risen from 2s. 2d. to 5s., milk from 64d. to about ls., bread from 10id. to about ls. 9d., and eggs from 3s. 6d. to 6s., or more. Inflation has become so rampant that only if wives are employed can the benefits of present-day society be enjoyed by workers. A government supporter said earlier that some of the persons registered for work were married women who had no right to be so registered. Only families in which both husband and wife are employed can properly enjoy the benefits of modern society. This is a vital issue. A situation such as this does no credit to the Government.
It is not possible to live decently on the present age and invalid pensions. No government senator could assert honestly that it was, although he would actively defend the Government’s policy. I should like to see the appointment of an expert committee to ascertain the real cost to the nation of a substantial increase in social service benefits I know it is said that an increase of ls. a week in every pension would cost about £2,000,000, but what would be the real cost to the nation? What employment would be created? Money such as this is not hoarded but is spent immediately. What would be the return in taxation? If some of this money were spent on a packet of cigarettes or a pint of beer, two-thirds of the amount spent would go back to the Treasury. An investigation of this process ought to be undertaken. Australian mothers should know that had Labour been in government for the past thirteen years and had its pledges been implemented, they would have received in that time at least an additional £180,000,000 in child endowment alone. That would have been in accordance with the policy outlined by Labour during that period.
Unemployment is far too high. This is a young country in which so much remains to be done and there is no need for an army of unemployed. Comparisons may be made between expenditure on defence by this Government and by the Chifley Government. In 1949-50 Labour allocated £54,000,000 or 2.8 per cent, of the national income to defence. The Budget of 1950-51 similarly provided for 2.8 per cent, of the national income to be spent on defence. In 1952-53, when the Korean war was taking place, 4.3 per cent, of the national income was provided for defence. At present, the provision for defence represents 2.7 per cent, of the national income. So the Government cannot be proud of its defence record. We have no reason to be grateful for what it is doing in this field.
The reduction in sales tax on food which the Government has proposed will be worth £11,000,000, but’ total expenditure on food amounts to £1,193,000,000 a year. There are 3,000,000 families in Australia. Consequently, the reduction in sales tax represents 1 s. 3d. weekly for each family. This is good to a degree, but it does not put much purchasing power into the hands of the people. The Government should: have removed the sales tax on household goods. These are not subject to a great amount of tax but it should be removed from them altogether. It has been suggested that the tax has been retained so that it might be increased if the Government so desires.
In criticizing the Budget, the leaders of the Labour Party have put forward Labour’s plan. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, Labour will be forthright and honest and will tell the people openly and frankly what defence burden they will have to bear. A Labour government will provide increased funds through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. It will examine the United States federal housing authority legislation which has been operating since 1934 and find out what benefit can be adopted for Australian purposes. We believe that every family should own its home because this gives it a great interest in its nation. There are no better families than those which are endeavouring to have that interest. A Labour government will establish, in co-operation with Queensland and Western Australia, a planning authority along the lines of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority in order to develop the country. We will provide greatly increased aid for education at secondary, technical and primary levels and for scientific research. We will provide scholarships and will conduct a nation-wide inquiry into all phases of education.
As stated by the Leader of the Opposition, a Labour government will span the continent with a standard gauge railway. It will return the proceeds of the petrol tax to the States for road building and maintenance. We will place the Australian farming community on a firm and secure basis by a system of commodity marketing schemes which will be subsidized where necessary. They will be established with the consent and operated with the co-operation of the growers. The great Australian wool industry will not be ignored as this Government seems to ignore it. The present Government has not introduced one stabili zation scheme in the past fourteen years. Any such scheme now operating anywhere in Australia was introduced by a Labour government.
We consider that the pension plan proposed by the Returned Servicemen’s League is just and reasonable. Very little has been done to give effect to it by the present Government. In the field of social services, a Labour government will increase child endowment to 10s. for the first child, 17s. 6d. for the second child and 20s. a week for subsequent children. Age and invalid pensioners will receive justice. The maternity allowance will be increased to £30 in respect of the first child and £35 will be paid in respect of the fourth and subsequent children. The funeral benefit will be increased to £30. We will stop the curtailment of the pensioner medical service and abolish the means test which exists at the present moment. These are some of Labour’s proposals to provide things which we know that people need. That is why we do not fear but would welcome an early general election.
Senator SHERRINGTON (Queensland) 19.451. - Before commencing to speak on the Budget, I should like to offer my congratulations to Senator Whiteside on his maiden speech. It is not very long since I went through a similar experience and I really did feel for him. The Budget has been subjected to some serious criticism mainly on account of an alleged lack of long-term planning for development. I should like to come back to that point later. The Budget is, after all, a financial statement in respect of the year ahead. It is part of the Government’s programme to give effect in this Parliament to the policy on which it has been elected. In years of relative prosperity budgets are expected to do two things - to provide some measure of relief and lay further grounds for the development of the economy. Looking at the relief measures first, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has spread these in order to cover various anomalies and to provide direct assistance to families which are incurring heavy medical and educational expenses. Of course, these measures have been criticized during the Budget debate by Opposition senators. I speak with some feeling on the subject of education. When I was farming in the far north of Queensland for a number of years I had five children to educate and there were no suitable educational facilities closer than Brisbane. 1 would have welcomed any form of relief at that point of time. On the development side home of time. On the development side home building has been given a further boost now that an additional 5 per cent, of the deposits of savings banks has been made available for housing construction. Primary industries have been given another injection of assistance in the form of a 20 per cent, investment allowance on new plant and equipment. They have been further helped by the superphosphate subsidy. However, 1 shall have an opportunity to say more on that subject on a more appropriate occasion.
I do not think that any government can be held responsible for what an Opposition is thinking. Mr. Calwell’s statement that the Government had1 budgeted for an unemployment pool of between 80,000 and 100,000 people was simply his way of thinking in caricature. He was so wishful in thought that he made no attempt to justify his allegation. In this Budget debate we have heard a lot about unemployment. My State of Queensland suffered unemployment, noi as a result of the credit squeeze, but because we went through a period of drought lasting about seven years. We could nol stand a further strain. But to-day Queensland is up with the best of the States in respect of employment. Admittedly, the seasonal industries are in full swing. At the same time, there is a demand for labour, particularly skilled labour, which cannot bc satisfied. It is not unusual for honorable senators to be approached by firms seeking labour to fill vacant’ positions.
Mr. Calwell’s attitude to taxation has revealed wide divergences. Before the Budget was announced, he declared that the Opposition in another place was opposed to reducing taxation. Now that the Government has accepted several of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation and is looking at the full report, Mr. Calwell has decided to go one better. Now we arc informed that he would reduce taxation od salaries below £1,200 a year. It is difficult to understand how the Opposition in another place would finance a budget which simultaneously reduced income tax, increased child endow ment, expenditure on education and defence, and poured money into northern development while avoiding any reliance upon a borrowing programme. The Opposition should try to appreciate that this is not a hand-out budget. Its aim is to put certain sections of the community on a more equitable basis. No one can deny that the lot of single pensioners has been harder than that of their married counterparts. There is a complaint about the way in which the Government has endeavoured to redress this injustice, but I do not think that such criticism has been made seriously.
Coming to the tax concessions that have been made, the. Government has been told that these have been given to the people who need them least. Presumably, the Opposition is referring to families with incomes of over £1,200 a year who are struggling to send a son or several children through tertiary education. The Government’s concessions will help reduce the financial indebtedness of students to their families and will encourage them to persist in tertiary education. Therefore, these concessions must be worth while. Responsibility for education is embedded in the minds of the States. Each State is proud of its own achievement. The States have full regard to the help that is given by the Commonwealth in this field. The fact that the necessary finance is not given expressly for education does not mean that the Commonwealth is failing to assist in this field, to say nothing of its magnificent effort in the field of tertiary education. During the last campaign in Queensland the State Government was bitterly attacked by the Opposition in relation to education. But its attack was of no avail, because the Minister for Education proudly declared his ability to continue with the achievements of the CountryLiberal Party Government.
I should now like to look closely at the planned development of Australia as a whole and of northern Australia in particular. Nobody seems to know where northern Australia is. It has been variously described in this chamber as “ the tropics “ and “ the north “, and I think it was Senator Cohen who referred to the “ northern half “ of the continent. Perhaps we could learn exactly what northern Australia comprised and what we were really talking about if we were to debate the subject on some occasion.
If my geography is correct and if Senator Cohen’s statement is right, this area would include a very large part of Queensland. That State, regardless of what else may be said, has progressed rather satisfactorily over the last few years and is still doing so. It will be remembered that we contested a general election in 1961. During the election campaign the Opposition came forward with the slogan “ Put Queensland back on the Map “ and it displayed a map of Australia which did not include Queensland. So I take it that the Opposition regards Queensland as being at least part of northern Australia. This was an attempt on the part of the Opposition to upset things for a State government which was of the same political colour as this Government and which, after only a short period of office, had cleaned up the mess that had been caused by the bungling of the Labour Party during nearly 40 years of almost continuous office.
– They are still living it down in Queensland.
– There will be no need to live it down. The results of the present State Government’s policies are becoming quite spectacular. After another year or two of stewardship, the Queensland Government will solve a great part of the problem that has been created. We have heard a lot about what the Labour Party would do if it assumed the reins of government in the federal sphere. I do not think Labour will be able to sell its ideas to many Queenslanders.
– We did at the last election.
– You did, because you caught the State in a time of very stringent drought. Even governments are blamed for droughts when it suits people to do so. But when Labour was in office here there was no talk of development of the north. The north was there then, you know.
– What do you mean by saying that there was no talk about it?
– There was no action. There might have been a bit of talk.
– Don’t forget that we were re-establishing 1,000,000 men and women after the war.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar).- Order!
– There was no talk of development.
– Be fair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– The most successful attempt at planned development in the north was made by the Queensland Government in partnership with the Commonwealth Government. That has been the only attempt at planned development which would return some form of income. I have heard the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) say on three occasions that he would deal sympathetically with any approach by any State government with a proposal that would contribute to our export earnings. The opening up of the brigalow lands and the construction of beef roads is the kind of development that results from a reasonable approach by a government that knows what it is doing.
– With a loan of £7,500,000!
– That ls the result of a reasonable approach by a government that knows what it is doing to another government of the same colour which realizes the importance of development, provided it is undertaken on a planned basis.
– It has taken the Government thirteen years to wake up to it.
– Not at all. Queenslanders have not a short memory. They still remember the State stations, the State butcheries, the State fishery and the failure at Peak Downs where £3,000,000 was sent down the drain in five years. The State government of the day did not produce one pig, even though it was a pigproducing scheme. The State coal-mine - this is a sore point - was so hamstrung that the State government offered the mine to the miners. The miners would not take it as a gift. So it was sold to private enterprise, and it is now operating as a profitable concern. I was there only six weeks ago and had a look at it.
– Be fair. What about T.A.A., A.W.A., the Nor’ West whaling station and C.O.R.?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– Changingtimes and changing circumstances!
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– I am informed that Senator Dittmer will be the next speaker. He may then enlarge on this subject. I should like to discuss one or two other projects closely, because of the sort of planning that we will be subjected to if Labour assumes office in the federal sphere. Although a different government would be involved, it would be of the same colour as that which was responsible for the projects that I propose to discuss. Let me remind honorable senators of the Burdekin dam scheme, which was to cost £70,000,000. Virtually no research was done on that scheme. A weir was built across the Burdekin River at a cost of about £500,000. About 66 exservicemen were settled and the economy of the scheme was built around the growing of tobacco. One crop after another failed. 1 am referring to this scheme, not to condemn the work that was done by the settlers, but to indicate the lack of planning on the part of the State government. Incidentally, no federal money was involved in this scheme; it was a State enterprise. It was proved after ten years that tobacco could not be grown in this area, and the settlers involved found themselves in a very sorry plight. I should think that the only thing that could save them would be to give them a sugar assignment.
– Would you mind telling us something about the C.S.I.R.O. report on that scheme?
– I forgot to mention that these men were so impoverished that the total debt incurred in the clearing of the land and the provision of temporary housing and so forth was eventually written off by this Government and the State government combined. Approximately £500,000 was involved. I repeat that theonly hope for the salvation of these men would be the granting of a sugar assignment. I hope they get an assignment. But this was the first step towards the great Burdekin dam scheme. The economy was built on sugar, tobacco and, of course, irrigation, and everything looked rosy except that the Government did not play. The dam commands in all about 500,000 acres. Now, after ten years of this experimentation the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has come up with a statement that it doubts whether, because of the nature of the soil, the land can be watered unless it is cultivated - and you do not cultivate an irrigated field. So I suggest that because of lack of planned research this thing may have been a failure. I do not say the Burdekin dam will never come good any more than I say that the Ord river dam or the Fitzroy river dam projects will not come good; but at this time there is no prospect that this type of farming will be economical.
– You could grow cotton.
– We will leave the cotton to New South Wales. I suppose that the Opposition will show us how to do these things through the programme of development that it has portrayed. But the Opposition is not interested in private enterprise and what it can do. However, I expect it will be a repetition of what happened in Queensland but perhaps on a bigger scale. Any development of a place like the north must surely be permanent development, and I do not think that by any stretch of the imagination there is anything to indicate that it can be permanent. I agree with the Australian Labour Party’s statement that not enough money is being spent on the north. Even one hundred years from now there will not be enough money spent on the north. I can tell honorable senators who are interjecting something about the measly approach later on.
I know the north pretty well because I farmed part of it successfully for a number of years and I know some of the problems. I visit the place regularly and I find difficulty in relating what is said about the development of northern Australia to the place itself. It seems a different place to me although I visit it quite frequently. If money is spent like this without result, it means that development has been successfully retarded for at least a decade, and perhaps for a generation, because £100,000,000 does not grow on trees and is hard to replace if you make a mistake.
In my maiden speech in this chamber I applauded the Government for its approach to research. We want accelerated research and more of it. I commend the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Senator Gorton) for his bold advocacy of the establishment and extension of the Cunningham Laboratory at Townsville. This was not provided for in the Budget last year; provision was made for it subsequently. The total cost will be about £500,000 and it will cost £100,000 to £110,000 a year to run. This is the first attempt by any government to solve the problems of tropical pastures and tropical agriculture generally.
The tropics are most peculiar. There is some very good land there, and where the land is good not much help is needed. The sugar industry is one of the best examples. But in association with the good land you always get bad land. There is a peculiar river structure with big basins and not many hills, and when a dam is built the best part of the good soil is covered. I am speaking generally and not specifically. This is one problem, and there are other problems which must be tackled and thought out on a scientific basis.
It is all very well to say that a river can be dammed. I find that the association of plant production and water flows fairly freely into people’s minds. During this Budget debate I have heard honorable senators on the Opposition side say that if the Labour Party were in government it would dam some of these rivers and get right into production. I challenge the Opposition to name just one crop that can be produced economically by irrigation in the tropics. I will settle for one crop. Never mind the hooey about what can be produced for the Asian markets. We have yet to solve the problem of what we can grow. That problem has not been solved and it will not be solved within a reasonable period of time.
– What about the C.S.I.R.O.?
– The C.S.I.R.O. is working on it, as others have done - and I include outside interests. For years we have heard about rice production at Humpty Doo and about the Kimberley research station This Government alone has tried to discover what can be grown economically in the tropics. Sugar can be grown on the good soil but the problem cannot be solved simply by spending money and building a dam.
– Does this not show the need for a committee of experts?
-I would not talk about the experts. It is difficult for the Opposition to discover what the Government is doing unless honorable senators are told. We have experts. I was talking quite recently to a supporter of the Opposition who told me that really we have no problems here. He said it was a matter of having the innards to tackle the task. He spoke of what the Dutch do in Holland - how they put in a dyke, pump out the water and in a few years are cultivating land that was once covered by the sea. That is all very well; but I asked him to tell me what the same Dutch people had done in Indonesia and New Guinea. This problem has not yet been solved. All the propaganda that the Opposition has spread in an endeavour to convince the people that nothing has been done will rebound oh honorable senators opposite. In this field, the Opposition missed its chance in 1961, and it will not get another chance, because too many people have been enlightened in the meantime. I repeat that the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. showed courage in breaking this barrier and establishing the experimental laboratory with an associated farm near Townsville. The Minister may not know it now, but the next few years will show that he has in fact built a monument to himself.
There has been some criticism of the Government’s attitude to minerals. I have heard repeatedly that places like Mount Isa are to be found all over the country. How anybody can believe that is beyond me. I should think that for every 5,000 mining companies that are formed only three or four operate. When you get deposits like those at Mount Isa you do not have to worry about government aid. Somebody will develop such deposits, and that is what we supporters of the Government believe in. I know that we have supplied some money for railways to transport the ore from Mount Isa. But the Mount Isa mine is in northern Australia. It is the biggest copper mine in the world and it is planned to mine 15,000 tons of ore a day in a few years time. This is something of which any Australian should be proud. If anybody likes to accompany me through the northern part of Queensland and some of the other northern parts of Australia I can show him ghost towns where it was thought minerals existed, until a shaft was sunk and it was found that no minerals were there. That is the sort of development that must go on. It is, in a sense, to use a term adopted by honorable senators opposite, piecemeal development. A dam that will provide water for 500,000 acres can be described as piecemeal development, but development must go along as we see the opportunity to develop economically. There is no other way to achieve permanent development. I spend1 a lot of my time travelling in the northern part of Australia, trying to find out what, in fact, makes it tick. I have referred previously to the laboratory at Townsville which will solve many problems of pastoral development. I think an answer to some of these problems has now been found, but I would prefer to speak on this subject on another occasion.
Senator Cohen’s reference to “ a few cattle and a handful of eccentrics “ will not help northern development. I think I have quoted him correctly. When northerners read those remarks he will find out how really tough they can become. When we analyse this problem of developing the north of Australia we find a variety of approaches, some of which are meant to appeal mainly to an elector. We are presented with the bright idea that we should have an authority such as the Snowy Mountains Authority to direct the development of this part of the country. But northern development, of course, is not related in any way to the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is a grand engineering scheme. The problem is different in northern Australia and there are no easy answers. The Snowy Mountains area is possibly the only part of Australia which offers an immediate demand for power and which has the necessary elevation. I believe the scheme was designed originally as an irrigation scheme, though it can now be said that primarily it will be a payable power generating scheme. The waters for irrigation purposes may be free - or very close to it. From this type of irrigation we should at least gain something.
The cost of water is usually stated as so much per acre foot. I know the cost of an acre foot of water on a normal irrigation farm because I have had some experience. The cost of water behind a dam is only a very small fraction of the cost of applying that water and of all the attendant work. One can be very easily mislead if the cost is calculated only on the basis of the water behind the dam. To my mind it is not the water behind the dam that counts; it is what you can run out of the dam and control for production that counts.
Since it has been agreed that Queensland is part of the northern area needing development - I take it that is agreed as I have heard no dissent - it might be as well to look at what is going on in that State. There is considerable private enterprise, which we foster whenever we can. We create the conditions for private enterprise to take root. One i3 inclined to forget about the beef roads, the brigalow land development, the expansion of the sugar industry, oil refineries, power stations, port development, the Kianga railway and many other things that I could name.
The expansion of the sugar industry will require the mills in the far north of Queensland to spend £12,500,000 to cope with next year’s crop of 2,000,000 tons, and there could be additional expansion. I think honorable senators opposite should take a lesson from the orderly expansion of the sugar industry. This is a pretty successful industry.
– What was it worth last year?
– In the vicinity of £100,000,000. This industry has been a shining example to all industries, particularly those of a rural nature, in the control of costs. The people in this industry have never fooled themselves into expanding unless they were assured of a permanent market. They have endeavoured at all times to get this type of market. They have never contemplated an expansion unless they have first had a commission or committee of in- quiry. Such a committee is silting at the present time, lt is true that we have sold to Japan between 400,000 and 450,000 tons of sugar on contract over the next four years. It is true also that Britain’s projected entry into the Common Market threatened to reduce our overseas markets. But the sugar industry in Queensland is not terribly interested in the shortage of world sugar, nor will it be unless it can see an assured market. This is the secret of successful planned development. As I say, the sugar industry can be taken as an example of how things can be done and should be done.
– What if Cuba recovers, Senator?
– If Cuba recovers it will be no skin off our nose because we have not engaged in trade with Cuba’s markets. America was Cuba’s main customer. We did not fall over backwards to sell sugar to America when Cuba ceased to supply it. In the first year 1 think we sold 80,000 tons, and in the second year 150,000 tons. This, of course, is a drop in a bucket when compared with the 2,000,000 tons that we hope to produce next year. The industry has continued to sell to its traditional markets - the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and now to Japan on contract. If a country like Cuba breaks the Sugar Agreement which was designed originally to keep the price at a normal level, we are not terribly worried about it because, at the moment, the price of sugar overseas is £78 a ton. There is a temporary shortage of sugar; it is so temporary that the price is computed on the first day of each month. About ten weeks ago the price was more than £100 sterling a ton. When the price reached that level we did not fall over backwards to put in more cane. An expansion of the sugar industry did not take place. The mills said to the growers, “ If you can produce this cane inside the assigned areas, with no advancement of assignments, we will attempt to market it, but you will take the risk until the committee of inquiry puts out its finding, when we will have an orderly expansion of sugar “.
In the grazing fields some answers are to be found in the tropical legume and grass mixtures. It is interesting when you travel through the State, particularly the northern part, to see what has happened and what is the cause of what has happened. I think the first cause is the State Government’s approach to proper land tenure. The land tenure system - Labour’s policy of State ownership - has been holding Queensland back for many years. This did not work out. There is a lot to be done yet. The land tenure system is still not satisfactory in big areas. Honorable senators opposite should not forget that the present Queensland Government has been in power for only a short time. One of the first things the Government did was to reduce about fourteen types of Teases to a number that could be handled. It decided to venture into a freehold system. In that State one can now have freehold land up to an area of 10,000 acres. This has given, of course, a tremendous impetus, although there is a sting in the tail of this grant of 10,000 acres. You do not get the grant unless you are prepared to develop the property. This, being the first of the new pattern, was an indication to other land-owners whether big or small, that they have to develop the land if they want to retain it.
Some eight weeks ago I was on a station run by Australian Estates Company Limited called “ Kamilaroi “ I think it comprises about 4,000 square miles. The State Government is not particularly helpful to company development, but this company has developed this station. It has a programme to spend about £1,750,000 in three years on sinking bo:es and engaging in a new pattern of grazing whereby it can exploit the grazing up to the amount of feed available and not be limited by water considerations. Things are working out very well. This is a breeding property run in association with a chain of other stations. In a good year they put out about 10,000 beasts, and in a dry year could put out 3,000. The company has stabilized the property at an annual turnoff of 7,500 head. That is a type of private development which this Government fosters. Not far from this station is Brunette Downs, which engages in the same type of development. About 100 bores have been put down and the property has been divided into reasonable grazing areas to enable cattle to get to water with’out walking the whole day and grazing out all the grass away from the water. This planned grazing has been successful. The company is spending £1,500 in three years. The same company has taken another 50,000 acres of the well-known rain forest country in northern Queensland and it will develop that land with guinea grass, centro pastures or perhaps some of the new legumes. It hopes to fatten one beast to the acre.
A lot of breeding is going on in central Queensland at present, but not in this particular venture. The company I have just mentioned is, of course, using the rainfall for the development of pastures. I should like to tell honorable senators about a pasture I visited recently which was laid down by the State Government in 1941. It too was based on guinea grass and centro - naturally it was only a few acres - and without any pasture rejuvenation has carried, during the months of June to December, one beast to the acre.
– Where is this property.
– It is the
Stat? Government experimental station at South Johnstone. From June to December it was able to carry one beast to the acre and from December to June it has been carrying two beasts to the acre.
– Where is South Johnstone?
– I forgot that the honorable senator is not a Queenslander. It is south of Innisfail and probably 250 miles from Townsville. This is the type of thing that is being done and it can be done safely. It is safe to spend this money, and I would say that this is only the start of millions of pounds being poured into this area. It is not difficult to obtain money for investment if there is an assured return.
Other things are going on. too. The Department of National Development and the Bureau of Mineral Resources are currently carrying out a survey of 1.00,000 square miles of country west of Townsville. That is getting well into the north. They are conducting a magnetic survey for minerals and using Canadian helicopters. The work is being done by contract, after sampling by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, with the most up-to-date equipment, in the, world. This survey, of course, will encourage the mining companies to probe further. A sound approach is being made in an endeavour to encourage development.
In the field of oil search the Government can at least take some credit for the amount of money that has been spent in Queensland as a result of the subsidy that is made available. During the last few weeks I went to a lot of trouble to contact the various oil companies, and I am going to make a statement now which I hope will be substantiated. Honorable senators will not have long to wait to judge whether I am speaking seriously or just trying to put something over. It is my guess that without a subsidy £20,000,000 will be spent in oil boring in Queensland alone in the next twelve months. I make that statement on pretty good authority.
I have had a lot to say about Queensland. I have not touched on the huge iron ore deposits of Western Australia in which private enterprise is becoming interested. There again we have planned development by companies. It is not altogether what we require at this stage, but let us hope that it will lead to the establishment of a steel industry there. These people are capable of engaging in such an industry. Governments cannot do it, so we must wait to see what these people will do. An agreement has been entered into between the State of Western Australia and the Commonwealth Government to build the bandicoot bar, as we call it - the Ord River diversion dam. It has cost about £6,000,000. I think that this type of spending is good. At this stage I think we can regard this as £6,000,000 worth of experimentation. The money is being spent to see what we can do with the area. It would be a different matter if we were spending £100,000,000. They are attempting to grow cotton and safflower and to irrigate pastures. Let us hope that the experiment is successful because this is the type of sane thinking that should help to develop this country.
Mr. President, I have endeavoured to bring a little bit of saneness into this question of the development of northern Australia. It is a problem that must be faced. In the future governments will change^.
– Not for a long while
– I admit it will not bc for a long while.
– The sooner the better for the sake of Australia and its great people.
– That could bc right, but I have another view. The problem of developing northern Australia will still be with us in a big sense 50 years from now. A lot will be done in that time, but there will be a lot more to do. If honorable senators opposite ever get into office 1 will bore into them the necessity to sink dams all over the place, and that will be the first thing that will knock them out of office. I support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and oppose the amendment.
– I preface my remarks by congratulating Senator Whiteside, a fellow Queenslander.
In his maiden speech he adopted a national approach by recalling to the minds of Government supporters the responsibility they have towards the major development of Australia. The Brisbane “ CourierMail “ in its tolerance saw fit to headline the major portion of Senator Whiteside’s speech, and particularly his reference to the necessity to turn the rivers back.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, .1 formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630910_senate_24_s24/>.