24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has noted a statement of the Premier of Western Australia to the Committee of Economic Inquiry in Perth on Monday, 10th instant, which was reported as follows: -
W.A. wanted a new formula for the allocation of loan funds to the States, Premier Brand told two members of the Committee of Economic Inquiry yesterday. Till the system was changed, W.A. could not get an equitable share . . . W.A. was desperately short of funds for schools, hospitals, harbours, water supplies and other vital works.
Does the Minister recognize that this has a very close relation to the argument put up by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in relation to the allocation of loan funds? Does he also recollect that the argument has been put up in this Senate by representatives of Western Australia for a considerable period? Does he believe that the Premier of Western Australia has truthfully represented the position to the committee of inquiry? Does he believe that the committee will be more effective than the statements made to the Government in the Senate from time to time in’ relation to the same matters? Will he give an assurance that the committee is not used by the Government as a medium to delay matters which need the urgent attention of the Government and which are the responsibility of, and should be attended to in, this Parliament? Has the Premier of Western Australia made similar submissions to the Commonwealth Government, either in Premiers’ conferences or in meetings of the Australian Loan Council?
– Yes, I have seen the report in the press to which Senator Cooke referred. I say at once that the interview which was held between the Premier, Mr. Brand, and Mr. Court on the one hand and Sir John Crawford and an executive member of the Committee of’ Economic Inquiry appointed by the Commonwealth
Government on the other hand, had to do with only one aspect - an important aspect, I acknowledge - of the use of loan money. It should not be assumed that the whole field of the use of Commonwealth loan money was encompassed in this talk. What the Premier of Western Australia was putting to Sir John Crawford was the same argument as he has submitted, not to the Commonwealth Government but to the Australian Loan Council, on a number of occasions. The gist of his submission is that Western Australia does not, under the loan formula to which every State as well as the Commonwealth is a party, get sufficient to sustain and maintain the progress which the Premier of Western Australia holds to be necessary.
This question of the formula is not one which can be solved by unilateral action on the part of any one State government or action by any one State government and the Commonwealth acting together. I emphasize to Senator Cooke that it involves an agreement between the Commonwealth and each and every one of the States. The basis of the formula is that the loan funds available in any one year shall be distributed to the States on the basis of each State’s average expenditure from loan funds over the preceding five years. It is true that Mr. Brand has submitted this request for an alteration to the Australian Loan Council on a number of occasions. The alteration of the agreement is not such a simple matter as has been represented by Senator Cooke who, I think, misunderstands the situation.
– I do not think that it is a simple matter.
– It is not a simple matter of the Commonwealth Government’s taking unilateral action. It is a matter of every one of the States agreeing to a variation of the formula.
In order to meet Premier Brand’s request, it would be necessary for some States to agree to take a smaller proportion of the total available than they are now taking. I put it to Senator Cooke that that is not a very practicable proposition. The Commonwealth Government, however, has recognized the fact that Western Australia and some other States require special assistance. I suggest to Senator Cooke that that special recognition has been given in the form of special project grants which have been underwritten by the Commonwealth Government in recent years. Some of those special projects in Western Australia are the rail standardization project, which is the biggest single railway project undertaken in the Western world for many years, beef roads in the north and port works and the Ord diversion dam. The Commonwealth Government, recognizing the need of Western Australia for help, has assisted it with a number of projects of this nature. I repeat that the variation of the loan formula and the distribution of loan funds among the States must be undertaken by agreement of all the parties concerned - all the States and the Commonwealth. The proposition has only to be stated in order to make the difficulty of securing an alteration immediately apparent.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government. Is it a fact that tests carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resources on phosphate deposits in the Northern Territory have disclosed that they are not of sufficient quality to warrant exploitation? In view of this fact, is the Government having any search carried out in other parts of Australia and adjacent islands for this commodity which is so very necessary for primary industries? What is the latest information regarding the number of years which will elapse before present phosphate deposits are exhausted?
Trying to answer the first part of the honorable senator’s question first, I think we have supplies ahead of us for 20 or 30 years. In view of the large quantities of phosphates used in Australia, it is necessary to plan for our requirements to be covered for a longer period than that. This matter has been the subject of a comprehensive programme of planning by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, not only in the Northern Territory, but in other parts of Australia. I would not go so far as to say that the discovery near Rum Jungle has yet been completely written off. The results have not been as good as was hoped when the deposit was first found. As I said, this is the subject of a fairly large programme concerned with systematically testing or surveying various parts of Australia in which there is the possibility of finding phosphate-bearing rock.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, is supplementary to a question which I asked him last Thursday in relation to an allegation by Australian fishermen on the north coast of New South Wales that Japanese tuna boat crews had caused lobster pot damage and losses amounting to £2,000 to the equipment of the Australians. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that investigations now show that the estimated loss to these fishermen is in the vicinity of £5,000? What action, if any, does the Government propose to take to protect the interests of the Australian fishing industry?
– When Senator McClelland asked his original question he indicated that there was a degree of urgency about it. Accordingly, I asked my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to give it his immediate attention. The Minister has replied to me, and I should now like to quote the relevant passages of his reply because I think they will be of interest to the Senate. He stated -
I have had inquiries made through the New South Wales State Fisheries Department and I am advised that the Japanese vessels are working about eleven miles from the Australian coast .in areas where the local fishermen set their pots. Although fishermen interviewed do not claim deliberate damage, the heavy Japanese long-lines and hooks have apparently cut the buoy lines attached to the pots and the fishermen have been unable to recover their gear. The fishermen in the area claim to have lost £5,000 worth of gear, but this has not been confirmed.
Legally the Japanese can operate for fish anywhere outside the territorial limits and as Australia recognises a three mile territorial limit the Japanese are not violating any international law. However, as the Japanese operations are causing damage to the gear of fishermen operating in a long established fishery close to their home ports, I consider than an approach should be made to the Japanese, through diplomatic channels, wilh a view to seeking their co-operation to refrain from fishing in such areas.
My department has therefore taken up the matter with the Department of External Affairs with a request that an approach be made to the Japanese through the Japanese Ambassador in Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I refer to an item under the heading “ International Air Services “ in the civil aviation report which was recently tabled in the Senate by the Minister and in which it was disclosed that as from 1st October, 1962, Qantas Empire Airways Limited was forced to suspend services to Kuala Lumpur until that city developed an airport which was capable of handling Boeing jet aircraft. This is my question: In the light of the increasing importance to Australia of Kuala Lumpur as an administrative and trade centre in Malaya, and possibly as from next Monday in Malaysia, can the Minister state when he expects a direct Boeing service from Australia to Kuala Lumpur to be restored?
– It has already been announced by the Malayan civil aviation authorities that the construction of the international airport at Kuala Lumpur will bc completed this year and that the airport will be available for the operation of big jet aircraft such as the Boeings in March or April of 1965.
– I direct these questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: First, has the Government considered the annual report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board which states that many dried fruits growers are being forced from the industry due in part to the Government’s failure to prevent rising prices and high shipping freight rates? Secondly, has the Government considered the board’s recommendation that immediate financial assistance should be granted to the industry? Thirdly, if it has not, will it do so as a matter of urgency to help preserve a valuable industry which affects the lives of many of our people?
– The question should be directed, at least in part, to the Minister for Trade. It is true that representations have been made to the Government for some financial assistance for this industry. I suggest that the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper. Both parts of it will be duly answered.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer noted the criticism by the Tasmanian Treasurer of the adverse effects on Tasmania’s finances of the action of the standard States in applying special Commonwealth grants for employment to normal expenditure? Has the Minister also read a statement by the Tasmanian Treasurer to the effect that the Australian Loan Council was being undermined by Commonwealth grants or loans to States for specific work in which Tasmania has not shared? Would either of these; matters have any effect on Tasmania’s finances?
– I have seen the comment made by the Tasmanian Premier and Treasurer, both in the Tasmanian Parliament and in the Tasmanian press. The first aspect of his complaint involves the attitude of the Commonwealth Grants Commission to the different accounting methods adopted by the standard States on the one hand and, as it happens, by both the claimant States on the other hand, in respect of the grant to foster employment which was made available by the Commonwealth Government in the last financial year. I emphasize this point because it is most important to note that the accounting treatment of these grants was examined by the Commonwealth Grants Commission itself. I suggest that when the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is before the Senate with the relevant legislation, we will have a full opportunity to examine not only the two types of procedure adopted by the two sets of States but also the recommendations of the commission after it had considered this rather technical problem. I have had need to look at this myself, and since Senator Lillico has asked me whether these factors will affect the finances of Tasmania disadvantageous^ I take the opportunity to express my own opinion that they certainly will not. However, the Senate will have an opportunity to examine this matter in detail when the legislation is before the Parliament.
The second part of the criticism made by Mr. Reece involves the special projects grants which have been made by the
Commonwealth to the States in recent years. I remind Senator Lillico that in pursuit of information on this matter he asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a somewhat similar question some weeks ago. The Leader of the Government made it quite plain to Senator Lillico then that these grants made by the Commonwealth Government were to assist the States in developing projects which had a definite export potential. This was, in fact, the main purpose of the Commonwealth’s special projects grants. I assure the honorable senator, as my leader did some weeks ago, that if the Tasmanian Government submits an’y projects of this type which are comparable with those that come from other parts of Australia, they will receive full and sympathetic consideration.
So far as I know no proposals received from Tasmania to date meet the export potential requirement laid down by the Commonwealth Government. However, it may be well to add that it is estimated that Tasmania will receive £68 14s. 7d. per head of population by way of Commonwealth payments in 1963-64, as against the average for the Australian States of £42 19s. Id. In addition, Tasmania’s share of the borrowing programme will run out at £51 10s. Id. per bead of population, as against an average for the six States of £24 18s. 2d. Taken together, those two factors give Tasmania a much greater share per capita than the other States or the Australian average, and the result hardly seems to support the suggestion that Commonwealth policy is having an unfavourable effect upon Tasmanian finances.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In studying the statement of the Premier and Treasurer of Tasmania, Mr. Reece, to which he has just referred, did he notice also the reference to the effect that the action of New South Wales and Victoria, in applying the whole of the proceeds of what purported to be unemployment relief grants to general revenue purposes in the Consolidated Revenue Funds had led to a submission from Commonwealth Treasury officials to the Commonwealth Grants Commission quite recently that Tasmania and Western Australia should take portion of the unemployment grant to their general revenue? The Treasury claimed that as the two standard States had ignored the employment aspect of the grant, the claimant States had to follow suit. Mr. Reece explained then that it would be necessary for Tasmania to apply to general revenue purposes £550,000 of what purported to bc a grant for the relief of unemployment; otherwise Tasmania would be penalized by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Did the Minister see also the statement by Mr. Reece that Western Australia was in an “ exactly similar position “ to that of Tasmania? Will he comment on the accuracy of the claim by the Government that these were unemployment relief grants, when last year the two standard States applied the whole of the grants to their general revenue purposes and now the Treasurer’s own officials have compelled Tasmania to apply £550,000 of the grant to its own general revenue purposes? Can he justify the claim that the Government attempted to make that these moneys were unemployment relief grants?
– This question cannot be answered in a few words, but some aspects of it should be answered immediately. First of all, I take the honorable senators memory back to the circumstances which surrounded the decision to make these special emplo’yment-giving grants at the last Premiers’ Conference, and in fact at the preceding conference. It was pointed out by some Premiers - particularly the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales - that they had particular budgetary problems which required solution. They put it to the Commonwealth that if they were permitted to use all, or a portion of, their unemployment grant by applying it to their Consolidated Revenue they could thereby overcome their immediate budgetary problems. They would avoid the necessity for subsequently funding from their own loan grants to balance their budgets for that current year. The Premiers argued to the Treasurer, and to the Commonwealth representatives, that, as far as their States were concerned, this would, in fact, have the same effect upon unemployment as if the moneys were applied outside their budgets. It was in those circumstances that agreement was reached that where these, budgetary difficulties existed States could use the funds in the manner in which they had requested to be allowed to use them. When the claimant States went before the Commonwealth Grants Commission the situation then, as revealed to the commission, was that New South Wales and Victoria - the standard States - had in fact applied the. grant to their budgets and the claimant States had employed it outside their budgets. The commission took what was the usual course, in making a comparison between the claimant and the standard States, of correcting out of the budget accounts of the standard States the figures which they had carried in for the purpose of overcoming their budgetary difficulties, thus restoring a comparability between the standard and the claimant States. This will be the nature of the report when it comes to the Parliament, and at that point the Leader of the Opposition will no doubt take the opportunity to attempt to establish that the Commonwealth Grants Commission - not the Commonwealth Government - by taking this action placed the claimant States at some disadvantage. I think he is going to be very hard put to establish that case.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has he read an article in the “ Australasian Post “ of 29th August, 1963, headed “ Our Forgotten Exiles “, which refers to Australians who, at the instigation of a journalist, Mr. William Lane - who established the Queensland Labour paper “ The Worker “ - went to live :in Paraguay, South America? These people now desire to return to Australia but have not the money to pay their fares home. According to this article they are in financial difficulties. Does the Department of External Affairs control any fund that can be used to assist Australians stranded in foreign countries who desire to return to Australia? As the Commonwealth wisely assists migrants to come to Australia would the Minister ask the Minister for External Affairs to consider assisting these Australians who are alleged to bc stranded in Paraguay?
– I shall bring the question asked by the honorable senator to the notice of the Minister for External Affairs. Funds are available in certain circumstances and under certain conditions for assisting Australians who are abroad.
I do not think there is any comparison, as the honorable senator seemed to indicate, between such people and migrants. Assistance is given to bring migrants to Australia, but it is not given to them if they later leave and want to return. I do not know the full circumstances surrounding this case but, as 1 have said, I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Minister for External Affairs to see whether anything can be, or should be, done.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to the reply which the Prime Minister gave to a question asked in the House of Representatives by the honorable member for Stirling recently. The honorable member requested (hat ombudsmen, similar to those appointed in Scandinavian countries and New Zealand, be appointed in each State of the Commonwealth to hear grievances of an administrative or personal nature. The Prime Minister stated that senators and members acted as ombudsmen in their electorates and that there was no need to set up separate offices for this purpose. Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate consider the official recognition of senators as ombudsmen on federal matters, such recognition to take similar form to that accorded justices of the peace in the various States?
– I do not know what additional powers and responsibilities Senator O’Byrne contemplates for senators. I can only say that I shall consider his suggestion.
– I address a question to the Minister representing either the Attorney-General or the Minister for Primary Industry. I am encouraged to do so after listening to the involved and involuted question which the learned Leader of the Opposition a short time ago addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. My question arises from an answer given by the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to a question asked by
Senator McClelland about damage done to Australian fishing gear off the New South Wales coast. In view of the fact that the Minister who represents the AttorneyGeneral stated some weeks ago that he thought it was improper to answer a question on a matter of constitutional law, will one of the Ministers to whom I have referred say, first, why the Commonwealth Government should claim that its jurisdiction extends for only 3 miles, although the Constitution provides that the territorial rights of the Commonwealth may extend beyond territorial limits? Secondly, will consideration be given to the payment of compensation to cray-fishermen on the South Australian and western Victorian coast for crayfish pots destroyed by overseas shipping outside the 3-mile limit?
– The matter of the constitutional position was raised some time ago by the honorable senator, and the answer given to him then still stands. It was to the effect that this is a matter of some national and international delicacy. The Australian Government, at various conferences on the law of the sea, has taken the stand that the 3-mile limit, which has previously been recognized universally and internationally as the area over which a country exercises jurisdiction in the sea, is the area which the Australian Government believes should be adhered to. I do not think it is appropriate at question time to give the full reasons for this decision. The question which the honorable senator raised was whether a State of Australia could claim jurisdiction over an area outside the 3-mile limit which the Australian Government recognizes as territorial waters around Australia. Obviously, the question involves a matter of policy, and no answer was given to it. I think that the question of compensation for damage to crayfish pots would come under the administration of a portfolio other than that of the AttorneyGeneral. I would not endeavour to answer that part of the question.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I have had on the noticepaper since 23rd May last a question relating to applications made to the PostmasterGeneral for the approval of the. trans fer of large shareholdings in television companies under section 92f of the Broadcasting and Television Act. I reminded the Minister of the question on 28th August. I admit that he merely represents the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber, but since the question was placed on the notice-paper on 23 rd May I think it is about time that an answer was forthcoming. Can the Minister say when I may expect one?
– I remember the reminder which Senator Kennelly gave me about this question a fortnight ago. I personally followed the matter through to the Postmaster-General who promised me that an answer would be given. Perhaps I am responsible for the delay in not having pursued the matter further. I shall do so forthwith and endeavour to obtain the information that the honorable senator requires.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate appreciate that senators serving in this chamber come from all parts of the Commonwealth and that temperatures as between their places of residence and here vary considerably? For instance, on Monday some of the maximum temperatures were: Brisbane 72, Sydney 66, Melbourne 67, Hobart 62, Adelaide 70, Perth 86, and Canberra 58 degrees. Because the controls of the valves of the steam heating facilities in this chamber and in senators’ offices appear to be twiddled by fickle fingers to the extent that some senators have to suffer from the cold unnecessarily, will the Minister assume the responsibility for having the warming appliances in this chamber and in senators’ offices operated by some person gifted with common sense and good judgment?
– 1 fully realize that ‘the atmosphere is hotter in this chamber on some occasions than on others. I shall speak to the officers concerned and see what can be done.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development, as I believe his department has given its blessing to the symposium currently being held in Canberra on water resources, their use and management. By way of preface, I point out that Mr. Dridan, engineer-in-chief of the South Australian Engineering and Water Supply Department, is reported to have said, in his address to the symposium, that practically every scientific, industrial and domestic development in recent years has increased the demand for water. He also described hot water systems as wasteful and automatic washing machines as prodigal. Can the Minister indicate the possible practical benefits from this symposium? Who will collate the results of the discussions? Who will direct the attention of State and municipal governments and industry generally to the matters raised, in the interests of water saving?
The symposium is not being arranged by my department, lt is sponsored, arranged and conducted by the Academy of Science. My department, of course, has a big interest in the symposium, as the department has so many of the water projects in Australia in its care. 1 notice with a good deal of satisfaction that some senior officers of my department and of statutory authorities associated with the department have delivered papers and presided at parts of the conference.
As I understand the position, all the papers that are delivered will, at the conclusion of the symposium, be printed and bound in one volume. This, 1 am sure, will be an extraordinarily useful book of reference for all who are interested in the problem. The papers cover a very wide field indeed. Senator Laught has mentioned Mr. Dridan’s contribution. The subjects range from that matter to constructional problems and all aspects of water use. The range is so wide that it will not be possible, when the symposium finishes, to say that one person is responsible for consideration of the various ideas that areadvanced. The papers will become a book of reference to which all public authorities and private concerns interested in water problems may turn for information and modern thinking.
– I direct a question _ to the _ Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs.’ Sir’ Garfield
Barwick is reported to have said that he will safeguard the Australian people against radio-active fall-out if France carries out hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific. Is this report correct? If it is, can the Minister indicate just how the Minister for External Affairs proposes to safeguard the Australian people against radio-active fall-out? Further, what action has the Government taken, or what action does it propose to take, to prevent or dissuade France from carrying out nuclear tests in the Pacific?
– I do not believe that Senator Sandford’s representation of what the Minister for External Affairs is alleged to have said is accurate. I believe that the Minister for External Affairs indicated that there was little danger to the Australian people - no danger to the Australian people - from radio-active fall-out as a result of this particular explosion.
– What is it - little danger or no danger?
– No danger. The explosion would not be expected to raise the level of radio-activity to one at which it became dangerous. As I think the honorable senator knows, the Australian Government has made representations in this matter to the Government of France and has indicated that it wishes that government not to conduct the tests.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Over what area of Essendon airport does the Department of Civil Aviation charge parking fees for motor vehicles? Is it true, as was alleged to me in Melbourne on Monday, that a motorist cannot get nearer than a quarter of a mile from the air terminal building without paying a parking fee of at least 2s.?
– I cannot say with any precision just what are the areas of parking allotments at Essendon airport. 1 very much doubt the statement that it is not possible to park closer to the terminal building than a quarter of a mile without paying - I think the honorable senator said - a 2s. fee. But I shall have a look at that matter. If I am wrong, I shall certainly take the opportunity of correcting if. Parking arrangements and facilities at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport have been altered very greatly, to the great convenience, we believe, of members of the public who use the airport. It is proposed that the same type of parking facility be introduced at Melbourne as soon as possible.
” FOUR CORNERS”.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General arrange for the “ Four Corners “ programme on the Returned Servicemen’s League to be screened next week, when films are shown in the Senate club room?
– I think I made it abundantly clear yesterday, in answer to a question along these lines, that the Government would not intrude in these matters. I was pleased to learn that my colleague, the Postmaster-General, gave an almost identical answer to a similar question in another place yesterday afternoon. I cannot say whether or not the programme is available. “ Four Corners “ has a very wide coverage. In Victoria it is screened on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and I have no doubt that other States enjoy the same opportunities to see these programmes. I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral whether such an arrangement as is requested can be made. If it can be made, I am sure that he will make it, but I cannot give any undertaking.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to an item in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 2nd September in which the chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, Professor Baxter, was reported as saying that the first nuclear power station would be built in Australia within the next three or four years and that its probable location would be in South Australia? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government has received any specific request from the South Australian Government for finance to establish such a project? If so, what stage has been reached in the negotiations? Has the Government any overall plan for the establishment of nuclear power stations in the various States and the Northern Territory with the object of ensuring that any initial atomic power stations con structed in the States will conform to technical and other standards which will not conflict with a co-ordinated Australian network? Has any consideration been given to constitutional issues which may arise out of the Commonwealth Government’s subsidizing the States in the construction of the plants?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__
Senator Toohey’s question, in many ways, invites from me a long general dissertation upon atomic energy on which I am hesitant to embark because it is a very important matter and one likes to feel that one is accurate in giving any reply. I did see Professor Baxter’s statement to which Senator Toohey has referred. I have yet to receive a report from him and have a discussion with him. I have no doubt that the view he has expressed that the atomic age industrially is closer to Australia than we imagined a year or so ago is correct. As power for industrial purposes, atomic power is the primary responsibility of the State governments which have the task of providing generating capacity within their borders. No Commonwealth Government policy as to whether Commonwealth assistance will be provided has yet been evolved. The only grounds upon which a successful case for such assistance could be based would be that the establishment of nuclear power stations represented the commencement of a new and profoundly significant industry in Australia.
As to the technical problems to which Senator Toohey referred, I have no doubt at all that we have to proceed very carefully indeed in the early stages to ensure that there is integration between nuclear power stations erected in various parts of Australia. I have heard one commentator state in graphic terms that if this were not done we could repeat the error of the past in connexion with differing railway gauges. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission has already had a memorandum from me designed to ensure that the task is commenced.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise made attempts to get uniformity between the Australian States and the Commonwealth with respect to the censorship of books? Is he able to inform the Senate what progress has been made or what problems have been encountered?
– I had a conference with the State Ministers concerned on this matter about twelve or eighteen months ago. Since then, one or two conferences have been held at the departmental level on the problem of endeavouring to get closer uniformity between the State Governments and the Commonwealth Government on book censorship. We have done a lot of work on the problem and I think that we are now closer to uniformity than we have been at any previous time. Each of the States said that it would retain for itself the right to take any action that it wished to take within its borders. So, in the final analysis, it still remains the prerogative of the States to make decisions on matters within their borders. A decision of the Commonwealth Government on a matter such as this cannot override a decision of a State government. In other words, each State has the sovereign right to prohibit the distribution within its borders of a book which the Commonwealth Government has decided is acceptable.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that, in June last, the Minister objected to an Australian Broadcasting Commission “ Four Corners “ programme on which he had declined an invitation to appear and was then given special time on the air? Is it a fact that after Returned Servicemen’s League objections to another “ Four Corners “ programme and the calling for the transcript by the Prime Minister several days ago, Mr. Ashbolt has been removed from appearing on “ Four Corners “? Is the apparent submission to pressure in these and other notorious incidents a pattern of what the Australian public may expect under the Menzies Government from what was once regarded as an independent institution, jealous of its freedom?
Senator Murphy has the facts wrong as far as my particular episode is concerned. I did not decline an invitation to appear on this programme. I accepted an invitation to appear on it. The Australian Broadcasting Commission changed the original arrangement, bringing the programme forward to a time at which I could not attend because the Senate was sitting, and substituted somebody else who gave a very distorted representation of Government policy. All I claimed was the right to be heard in order to give an answer to that incorrect representation.
– Will you give that right to everybody?
That is a right that one naturally expects to have extended to him in a country such as Australia, lt is usually afforded by even the most hostile newspaper. A newspaper will always give such a right of reply.
– Not always.
Nearly always. Therefore, 1 think that the same principle should apply to a television programme. So far as the programme relating to the Returned Servicemen’s League is concerned, that is a matter for the league, not for me. I saw the programme. I have been a member of the league for many years. I think the programme was very unfair to represent the main activities of the Returned Servicemen’s League, as, in effect, it did, as beer drinking, Com. -baiting and the activities of a pressure group. If I were the president of the league I would ask for the right of reply, as I did on the other occasion.
– Would you ask for somebody’s dismissal?
I do not know anything about the Ashbolt episode. However, I would say that Senator Murphy is quite wrong in alleging that this man had been dismissed.
– I did not say he had been dismissed.
Then my remarks apply to whatever term the honorable senator used. It is not the custom in Australia to victimize people. It is certainly not the custom within governmental agencies. This programme has its rights. It will continue to exercise those rights and will not be interfered with by the Government. But I think those who are affected by it have the right to reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. As the PostmasterGeneral admitted yesterday that the Post Office had made an agreement with television stations TON., Sydney, and GTV., Melbourne, both of which are controlled by Sir Frank Packer, to have the use of the coaxial cable between Sydney and Melbourne for certain periods each week, I ask: 1. Will the Minister state the periods for which the coaxial cable is to be available to these stations? 2. Will he give an undertaking that equal facilities both as to periods of use and the time of the day will, if required, be made available to the national stations and competing commercial stations? 3. As the PostmasterGeneral has stated that the Post Office reserves the right to use the cable at any time for an important occasion such as a royal visit or a speech by the Prime Minister, will the Minister give an undertaking that, when the Prime Minister engages the cable for his use, equal facilities will be granted to the Leader of the Opposition?
– The honorable senator has an advantage over me because I did not read the statement that was made by the Postmaster-General yesterday. My understanding of the situation is that for, I think, two years the coaxial cable between Melbourne and Sydney has been available to commercial stations if they desired to use it. I understand further that until quite recently no application was made to the Postmaster-General’s Department for the use of this cable. It is true that recently one station in Sydney and another in Melbourne applied for the use of a tube of the cable and it was made available to them. I emphasize quite bluntly that the same facilities will be made available to other commercial stations which may require them and which have an entitlement to them. No preference will be given to any station. I repeat that the tubes will be made available for the use of the several television stations. Having said that, there is no need for me to give any further undertaking.
– Will the Leader of the Opposition be given the same opportunity as the Prime Minister?
– If the honorable senator wishes to persist with that sort of question, I give him this answer: I think an appropriate occasion on which to use television might well be when he asks a question of this type.
– I address my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. It is prompted by a conversation that I had with an overseas businessman recently when travelling by plane to Melbourne. This gentleman was very impressed by the practice of the hostesses of Trans-Australia Airlines in stating over the public address system that certain kinds of cars for rent were available at the airport. I ask the Minister: On whose authority do T.A.A. hostesses announce that a particular car renting company has cars available at airport terminals? Is there any agreement which requires this form of advertising over the public address system of T.A.A.? Are similar opportunities available to other people such as newsagents, tobacconists, chemists and hairdressers who are stationed at airport terminals, to get such favoured treatment?
– These announcements by the hostesses are simply for the purpose of providing a service which is ancillary to air flight - ancillary in the sense that the passenger must get from the terminal to the city or wherever else he is going. It is a commercial matter as between the airlines and the car hiring companies or taxi services concerned.
– It concerns only one airline.
– That may be so; I do not know. Trans-Australia Airlines might have an arrangement with the company. Ansett-A.N.A. may have such an arrangement. It lies between the two parties to the contract, as most commercial arrangements do. It has never been suggested to me that the hostesses should advertise other types of business at the airports or elsewhere.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. When will the AttorneyGeneral be able to give a complete answer to the nine questions about the activities of an organization known as the Nationalist Party which I placed on the notice-paper on 14th May last - that is, before the question about which Senator Kennelly has complained - and which was discharged from the notice-paper on 23rd May by an answer that the Attorney-General was unable at that date to reply in detail but that he would make inquiries and at a later date would furnish additional information? I want to know when I might get the additional information.
– The answer is, “ To-morrow “.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for the Navy. In view of the answer that was given by the Minister to the question asked to-day by Senator Sandford in relation to the potential danger of fall-out from the proposed French nuclear tests in the Pacific, will he tell me how much longer I may have to wait to receive an answer to question No. 17 on the notice-paper, of which I gave notice on 14th May and in which I asked whether the Government had received the results of the assessment of fall-out from the tests conducted by the Soviet Union in the Arctic late in 1961 and by the United States of America over the Pacific Ocean in April, 1962?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator when he will get an answer, because the question was not addressed to me as representing any other Minister.
– Then I address the question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the Minister representing the Prime Minister.
– I give this polite but effective answer: I do not know. I shall do my best to get a reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he recalls the Treasurer’s promise, made more than two years ago, to implement the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. Is legislation to implement the recommendations of the committee in the process of being drafted? If not, is it intended that ingenious evaders of taxation should be allowed to continue to rob the Treasury of not less than £ 14,000,000 a year indefinitely?
– During bis Budget speech the Treasurer announced the recommendations of the committee that would be given effect during this session. Legislation to implement those recommendations will be introduced during this session. Many of the other recommendations are still under consideration for the simple reason that they involve most complex questions which require lengthy examination.
(Question No. 3.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In order that the statistics of unemployed may be more useful, would the Treasurer give consideration to issuing statistics, similar to those in the United States’ Monthly Labour Review, viz. - (a) those unemployed four weeks or less, (b) those unemployed five-ten weeks, (c) those unemployed eleven-fourteen weeks, (d) those unemployed 15-26 weeks, and (e) those unemployed over 26 weeks, as well as totals and a subdivision in each category into males and females?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
I am informed that the Commonwealth Statistician has conducted work force surveys of an exploratory nature in the six State capitals. Extensive testing of the sampling methods used has been undertaken and the consistency of the estimates is now being examined. On completion of this examination, the Statistician intends to publish the results of the surveys in such detail as satisfies acceptable standards of statistical reliability.
(Question No. 28.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 31.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 43.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 44.)
asked the Ministerrepresenting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. No additional A.P.O. equipment has been installed at the United States tracking station at Muchea within the past two years.
(Question No. 46.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice: -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 49.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Are migrants to Australia included in statistical figures of unemployed persons until such time as they become employed in Australia?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
Migrants who, on arrival, go to private accommodation or a migrant hostel are included in the statistics of the Commonwealth Employment Service as soon as they register for employment. Migrants who, on arrival, are temporarily accommodated in a migrant centre conducted by the Department of Immigration are not immediately available for employment and are not included in the statistics. They are usually few in number.
(Question No. 59.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
(Question No. 60.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply has furnished the following answers: -
(Question No. 61.)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 62.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied, the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 69.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Following the statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service that he has no power to intervene in the question of the loss of pay to waterside workers for last Anzac Day, will he state whether, in his belief, the significance of this solemn commemoration is such that waterside workers, who are mostly returned servicemen, some with distinguished military records, should not be denied payment for some action in civilian life on a day other than Anzac Day?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
The facts of this matter have been thoroughly canvassed and at some length on a number of occasions, and I have nothing more to addto what I have already said.
(Question No. 74.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied me with the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– In accordance with the provisions of section 18 of the Tariff Board Act 1921-1962, I lay on the table of the Senate the following, paper: -
Tariff Board Act - Annual Report of the Tariff Board, for year 1962-63, together with summary of recommendations.
The report is accompanied by an annexure which summarizes the recommendations made by the board and shows the action taken in respect of each of them.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10th September (vide page 420), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
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 Securties on Issue as at 30th June, 1963;
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 stationaryin respect of the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust “.
– I had spoken only two sentences last night when my remarks were abruptly interrupted by the submission of the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I realize that my time is limited to-day and, therefore, I am precluded from dealing completely with the political misdemeanours of the Government. I almost described them as political crimes, but no one can be held criminally responsible if he is irresponsible or acts through ignorance, I understand. Consequently, I refer to these acts as misdemeanours. In the time available to me I propose to deal with some of them. As honorable senators know, I am not completely wedded to the idea of indulging in destructive criticism all the time. I propose to make some constructive suggestions, which I hope the Government will adopt. Many of them I have suggested throughout the years, but they have not been adopted in toto. Some have been adopted in the process of time, but it is inevitable that all of them will be adopted in the interests of efficiency and the welfare of this country and its people.
I should like to deal with some of the remarks made by a distinguished senator who, as recently as yesterday, said that no one seems to know where northern Australia is. I take it that he was referring to honorable senators on the Government side and Government supporters in another place, because certainly Labour representatives know where northern Australia is. They know that its development and settlement is justified; they have a policy and are prepared to adhere to it. Belatedly the Government has seen fit to adopt some of the measures suggested by the Labour Party.
Reference was made to Peak Downs, which happens to be a fairly large area of arable land with a reasonably assured rainfall of between 20 and 25 inches a year. Irrespective of what happened during the war, Peak Downs was not a failure. A lot of money was wasted during the war, not only at Peak Downs but in other ventures. It was proved that Peak Downs was suitable for grain growing and fattening cattle, and there are many successful settlers in that area at present. Incidentally, the present Government at the end of last year, again belatedly, saw fit to finance - by way of loans, not by way of grants - to the extent of £7,500,000 settlement in this area for the purpose of raising and fattening cattle. The Queensland Government has seen fit to pursue this developmental work.
Further, an honorable senator opposite said - I am not going to quote his exact words because it would take too long, but I assure honorable senators that what I say is correct - that he had no doubt that some time in the future the Burdekin dam scheme might be feasible. He said also that the Fitzroy basin might be developed, but that he should like to know whether there was any crop that could be grown economically there. He went on to talk about the efficiency of the sugar industry. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have paid tribute to the efficiency of the sugar industry. We are grateful to the people who have settled the coastal areas of Queensland and who follow he occupation of sugar growing. There are 58,000 square miles of land available in the Fitzroy basin.
– According to the figures I have there are 58,000. The Fitzroy basin offers the most favorable opportunities for long-term water conservation and irrigation development of any river system in the State. It might be suggested that as that opinion came from the Queensland Irrigation and Water Supply Commission it could be biased. That may be so; I am not denying that. Let me quote from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization report in relation to the Dawson region, which is part of the Fitzroy basin. For the information of honorable senators opposite who do not know northern Australia, the Dawson river is one of the tributaries of the Fitzroy. Other tributaries are the Mackenzie, the Nogoa and the Comet. The report indicates that already about 1,000 acres of irrigated cotton have been grown in the region. The yield and quality can undoubtedly be substantially improved by better husbandry and further research. The evidence indicates that adequate acreage of suitable soils is likely to be found within the commendable area. The report proceeds to discuss the Nogoa and Comet rivers and to detail the areas available in their basins. It speaks also of the Emerald area in the Fitzroy basin proper and directs attention to the attractive land that is available. There are suitable dam sites on the rivers. I do not propose to refer to the report any more, because my time is limited, but incidentally there are four suitable dam sites. The Nathan Gorge on the Dawson river could be dammed and the construction, together with irrigation channels and necessary earthworks, would cost about £25,000,000. The dam would increase the national income by more than £11,000,000. Another dam could be constructed on the Comet and another on the Nogoa at a cost of £15,000,000, and these dams would increase the national income by more than £3,000,000. A dam could be constructed also on the Fitzroy. Yet an honorable senator opposite has asked us to name one particular crop that could be grown economically!
Investigations have revealed that with irrigation the soil in the area could produce enough cotton to allow the cost of Australia’s imports of cotton to be reduced by £4,100,000 and to meet 25 per cent, of our demand for cotton. The honorable senator to whom I have been referring said that “cotton is for New South Wales”. I shall not name the State from which he comes.
Before I proceed further I should like to appeal to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). I am concerned about the actions of certain people who visit Australia. I refer particularly to lames Morris, an ex-correspondent of the Manchester “ Guardian “. This is not the first time that he has come to Australia, received our hospitality and then gone away and written articles attacking us. On the occasion to which I refer he wrote a feature article for the Sydney “Sun-Herald” in which, it seemed, he was practically incapable of praising Australia or Australians. As recently as twelve months ago he was out here, and then went back to England and wrote a series of articles in the Manchester “ Guardian “ in which he accused Australians of being sleazy and anything but great. The articles were later published in booklet form.
Barbara Ward should have every reason to be grateful to Australia and Australians. She has been welcomed here on a number of occasions and has been paid for syndicated features she has written. Australia provided her with a husband who served Australia well in war and has served other countries well and efficiently in peace. Recently Barbara Ward wrote a feature article for the Sunday section of the “ New York Times “. No contradiction of the statements made in this article has emanated from Government representatives, although the Minister for Trade is trying, belatedly, it must be admitted, to create goodwill for Australia overseas. These people should not visit Australia, return overseas and write articles attacking Australia and Australians and have their statements left unchallenged. This country is not perfect. I do not think Australians are perfect, but there are certain good features about us. There is a certain measure of attractiveness associated with the environment in which we live. Even though it may not be in accordance with protocol for our diplomatic representatives to take up the cudgels on behalf of this country, the overseas representatives of the Department of Trade should do so.
As recently as two years ago two old ducks were out here for twelve months. On their return to America they addressed a meeting which was reported in the Tampa “ Tribune “. Tampa is a city in Florida. They talked about the long distances in Australia and about the unattractiveness of the place. The only things they seemed to be able to report about graphically were that we eat or drink - whatever you do with soup - kangaroo soup and use Granny sauce. I have never heard of Granny sauce and I have never tasted kangaroo soup. The Tampa “ Tribune “, with the isolationist approach so characteristic of some Americans, would not publish a reply that I sent over to it. It is time that the Government attempted to portray the attractiveness of Australia as we see it and as most decent people see it. We should try to convey to the rest of the world an impression of the worth-while features of Australia. What did Barbara Ward, this so-called world-famous economist, have to say? She said that Australians would not face a crisis and that they were lotus-eaters. She suggested that all we did was lounge and laze - preferably laze, was the impression she sought to convey - on the sundrenched beaches of Australia.
How are we to create goodwill overseas if Australians are portrayed in that way? This is not the first occasion on which such a thing has happened. Some years ago, a representative of Norman Hartnell came out here and stayed for less than 24 hours. He spent the whole of his lime in the Australia Hotel in Sydney. Sir Frank Packer, who is beloved of the Government, gave him a page in the “Australian Women’s Weekly “ in which to castigate Australia and Australian men and women. He said they had no figures, no deportment, and so on.
– Some of them have not.
– I would not be a judge. I am not particularly interested. I am interested in Australians as a group.
Needless to say, I support the amendment which Senator Kennelly moved on behalf of the Opposition. The amendment refers particularly to defence, education, housing, health, social services, northern development and child endowment. There is little need for me to refer to many of those features of our life and livelihood because so many previous speakers from this side of the chamber have dealt adequately with them. The supporters of the Government have not been similarly efficient in their attempts to cover up for the Government. They have left themselves wide open to attack, and if time permitted I would take advantage of that fact. On the subject of defence, the services are now looking for officers. A government of the political ilk of the present Government introduced national service training. I am not quarrelling with its right to do so, because that is consistent with the political approach of the present Government parties, but after a few years had elapsed and after more than £100,000,000 had been spent on national service, the Government abandoned the scheme.
There is no need for me to discuss in detail the delay which occurred in furnishing the Army with a suitable rifle. When we turn to the Navy, we think of the aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “. It is now a troop carrier which can carry 1,000 men and equipment. The Government did not know what to do with H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “, except to put some modern helicopters on it. As for the Air Force, the Mirage fighters are not here yet. For years, the responsible authorities have been considering the type of aircraft which should be obtained. There is still a measure of dissension on the question of whether or not the Mirage is the right fighter aircraft to bring here. It has been suggested that it was not the defence needs of this country which determined the decision to purchase the Mirage fighter, but the question of the balance of trade. Surely, Mr. Deputy President, the balance of trade is not to be considered when we are thinking of the defence of Australia.
– It is the land speed-
– I have not much time at my disposal and I have a message for the nation. If the honorable senator would like a private consultation for the purpose of obtaining authoritative information, I shall oblige him.
The Government has not yet made a decision on the type of bomber which should be purchased. At present, we have the Canberra bomber. In terms of motor cars, it is a bomb, not a bomber, as every one knows. The Government has purchased some modern helicopters, but having regard to the fact that it has spent approximately £2,500,000.000 on defence, there should be something- to show for it, despite the Government’s extraordinary inefficiency or complete irresponsibility.
Time does not permit me to deal fully with the subject of housing. However, I have heard the statement that the Government has authorized the savings banks to lend up to 35 per cent, of their deposits for housing, instead of the previous limit of 30 per cent. When we survey the position at present we find that the amount being lent for that purpose is approximately 22i per cent., so that the previous limit of 30 per cent, has not yet been attained. In effect, the proposal to increase the proportion to 35 per cent, is eye-wash for a gullible public. It will not serve to meet housing needs. As I have said, Sir, this Government is not game to face an inquiry into the real and legitimate housing needs of Australia and its people, although many people in responsible positions have demanded such an inquiry. All that we hear about is the construction of new homes. In 1960-61, when the number of new homes being erected approximated 100,000, what was the attitude of the Government, as conveyed by its Ministers? The Government panicked and pulled the target back to 80,00.0 homes. There was little or no provision for people being removed from slums or sub-standard dwellings. I believe that those comments briefly sum up the attitude of the Government to housing, and its inefficient attempts to meet the housing needs of the people.
It is futile for the supporters of the Government to try to drive a wedge between the Australian Labour Party .and the single pensioners. On no occasion has the Labour Party denied the justification of the 10s. a week increase for that section of pensioners. All that we have said is that the Government has denied economic justice to married pensioners and has not accepted social responsibility for them. I should like to deal with some of the remarks that have been made during the debate by honorable senators opposite. I think they are honest in their approach, however incompetent they may be. They are not necessarily unintelligent. It will be remembered that, during the debate, the “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ was referred to by honorable senators opposite, particularly in relation to comments which praised the Government. Let us look at the leading article in that publication. It states, under the heading “ An ‘ Inadequate ‘ Budget “ -
The 1963-64 Commonwealth Budget might be suitable for a highly developed country -
How could this country be highly developed under an incompetent government such as that which wc now have?
– That question is not asked in the article, is it?
– No. That is my intelligent interpolation. The article continues - with all its resources fully employed and concerned mainly wilh preserving the status quo; it is a completely inadequate document to present to a young nation like Australia . . . Mr. Holt has given no lead to the nation; there is no theme in the Budget to inspire . . .
Hundreds of thousands of people have said that the present anti-Labour Treasurer is the most tragic, incompetent, calamitous and incorrigible Treasurer in the history of Australia. 1 do not believe that that is so. He is the willing tool of an otiose, incompetent, calamitous, tragic and incorrigible government. That is what I believe. The article in the “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ went on to show that the Treasurer had thrown a boomerang at us. The remission of sales tax on foodstuffs has not been applied to goods sold over the counter.
Looking at the Treasurer’s Budget speech, we find that apart from adjectives, prefixes and conjunctions, the word that appears most frequently is “ stable “. Australia is not in a position to accept stability. Australia must go forward. To the people of Australia, this is an unexciting and unenticing Budget. In the short time available to me, I wish to deal particularly with three subjects. Time does not permit an adequate treatment of the whole Budget. I want to refer particularly to education, health services, including pharmaceutical benefits and hospital services, and the development of northern Australia. I have a measure of quarrel with some people in north Queensland who think that northern development should follow the line of the Tropic of Capricorn. They are prepared to modify this attitude because of pressure from the Western Australian Government, which wants development to begin at a lower latitude in Western Australia than in Queensland, but there are equally vital problems in Queensland from Gympie northwards.
This Government is frightened - I do not know why - of having an authoritative inquiry by experts into education. For some reason the Government has repeatedly refused to have such inquiries conducted. These inquiries have been asked for - in fact demanded - not only by members of my party, but also by parents, teachers, university staffs, and representatives of graziers’ associations, trade unions, chambers of commerce and business people. All of them have asked for an adequate inquiry into education generally. I admit that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has been in some small measure interested in education at university status and has provided funds for it, although these have not been adequate. In one period of three years an amount of £55,000,000 was provided and in the period just finishing an amount of £105,000,000 was provided. However, a child is moulded not at the university but at the kindergarten, primary school and secondary school. Those are the places where children are fashioned. What do we find to-day? Investigations of intelligence quotients show that only 15 per cent, of those persons who could obtain a university degree attend university, yet the Government will do nothing about this. In national productivity per capita we are fifth highest in the world, yet in expenditure on education we are thirteenth, although we term ourselves a modern nation. The ratio of teachers to pupils is completely unsatisfactory. Going further into this field, we find that many teachers are not qualified to teach the subjects that they are employed to teach. They have to do as well as they can. The Government does nothing, although the future belongs to the educated nation, whether it be the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Soviet Union or Australia. Sir Douglas Copland recently said that education was our big task. Still the Government will no nothing about it.
I have not an opportunity on this occasion to deal adequately with the subject of health. I can deal with it adequately, given a suitable opportunity. We find that an amount of £98,000,000 is to be spent on health services, including £12,700,000 on medical benefits. The figures are there to be read. An amount of £40,800,000 will be expended on pharmaceutical benefits for ordinary patients and pensioners. When the 5s. prescription fee paid by ordinary patients is added, the total comes to nearly £49,000.000.
Despite repeated requests for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to move into the drug market, this Government has done nothing about this vital matter. The biggest thing that the Government did to fit in with its own pattern of free enterprise was to drive Dr. Bazeley away. Honorable senators need not take my word in relation to the profits made by drug firms. A prominent financial paper published a review of the subject in four issues. Honorable senators need not accept only that authority. Some three years ago, in the United States of America, an intensive survey of the functioning of the so-called ethical pharmaceutical trade was conducted, and what was found? In no instance was there a loss. In some instances the cost of drugs in the hands of the unfortunate patient had moved up 4,000 - not 400 - per cent, on the manufactured price. This group of manufacturers is very powerful. Fearing the measure of antagonism that was rapidly developing, it established in Australia a socalled reputable association of the ethical pharmaceutical industry. The first executive director was appointed at a salary of £4,000 a year, plus expenses, with provision for unlimited expenditure for publicizing the point of view of the association. I do not know what the present director receives.
We know what these people can do when it conies to crushing a competitor. We know the prices at which they can supply drugs to hospitals, as compared with the prices at which they supply them to chemists. I am not attacking these people. They are doing the best the’y can in a free enterprise economy. I am concerned with the cost to the people, through the Government. I am not at all opposed to a pharmaceutical benefits scheme; I am all for it. But drugs should be placed in the hands of the recipients at the lowest possible price, consistent with the quality that is so necessary. The Government has done nothing about this. Even the Minister who represents the Treasurer in the Senate is not a bit concerned. He just would not know. He is not even prepared to try to learn. If ho cares to come to see me on some occasion I shall provide him with information that will be authoritative and reliable.
– Will you charge for the information?
– I have not yet noticed any one, on the Government or the Opposition side, paying me. I recommend honorable senators to read Labour’s national health proposals. The north Queensland chambers of commerce, the Premier of Queensland belatedly again despite a suggestion from a certain person many years ago, long before he was a State politician, Mr. Court, the Minister for Industrial Development in Western Australia, Sir Douglas Copland, Mr. Walkely, of Ampol Petroleum Limited, Mr. Irish, of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Limited, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and in fact almost every newspaper throughout the Commonwealth are in favour of the establishment of a north Australia development authority.
– Are you in favour of it?
– -Of course. I was one of the first to sponsor it. The establishment of such an authority is necessary, not only for the development, but also for the settlement of northern Australia because development without people will not hold the north. So I make that plea to the Minister for National Development who is not in the chamber at present. I know that he is suave and smooth and has to accept the dictates of the Cabinet of which he loves to be a member. But there is no reason why he should not change his approach to this big national problem. Mr. Deputy President, the hands of the clock move inexorably on. It is a nemesis that none of us can overthrow and I have to bow to time.
– Mr. Deputy President, I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion for the printing of the Budget papers. In doing so. I should like to say that this Budget appeals to me as one that has a touch of humanity about it. I believe that, in many respects, it will help the financially smaller people and will remove a number of anomalies which have existed for many years. It will help many people who really need to be helped. 1 think that the proposal to increase social service benefits is very good. Every one of us would like to give more in certain respects. But I think that the proposed assistance has been very well directed. The anomaly that has existed for many years in relation to single and married pensioners has now been rectified. I am sorry that, while this adjustment has been made, it has not been possible to increase benefits for married pensioners. However, the principle has now been established of a difference between the pensions of single people and married people, and I hope that we will be able in the future to improve the rates paid to both types of pensioners. The Government’s proposal with respect to widows’ pensions represents a very fine achievement. I think it will alleviate distress in many cases.
Other points in the Budget about which I am very pleased, because I come from a rural area of north Queensland, are the provision of the superphosphate bounty and the granting of an investment allowance of 20 per cent, for primary producers. In Queensland, nitrogenous fertilizers are mainly used. Superphosphate is the fertilizer mainly used in other regions including the southern States. However, some superphosphate is used in Queensland and any concession which is available to primary producers anywhere in Australia represents a real benefit to this country because we depend to a great extent upon rural industries. Opposition senators and a section of the press, no doubt in an endeavour to create a split between the Government parties, have represented the proposals for a superphosphate bounty and an investment allowance of 20 per cent, as having been supported only by the Australian Country Party. I should like to say that the Government parties work as a joint team. I think that my Country Party colleagues will agree with me that the proposals to which I have referred represent Liberal Party policy as well as Country Party policy. It is a joint policy. I know that the policy committee of the Liberal Party has been agitating for these two concessions for quite a few years. So credit for the incorporation of these proposals in the Budget must go to both the Liberal Party and the Country Party which jointly form the Government.
Another Budget feature which I like is the proposal to reduce estate duty. This concession will concern many, mainly the relatives of people who have died. I am sura that the relief proposed in this regard will be very much appreciated by those concerned. I think that the Government is to be congratulated on this move.
The subject of development of Australia generally and of northern Australia in particular has been brought very prominently before the minds of parliamentarians and the people of Australia in recent times. The’ debate on the Budget has brought forth arguments for and against northern development. All sorts of views have been expressed as to what should and what should not be done. The development of the north presents special problems. I believe that its solution may be found in more intensive scientific investigation. I feel that the more research people such as those from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization who can be stationed in northern regions the more likely we are to advance the development of those regions. I do not think it is right that the people who engage in research such as this should all be gathered in the south. The percentage of C.S.I.R.O. officers stationed in northern regions is very small. I recommend that more and more research staff be stationed in these areas with a view to concentrating upon the solution of problems of northern development. lt is amazing what can be done by scientific research to ascertain the types of pastures and crops that can be grown in a given area. It is amazing what has been achieved in this respect over many years. I believe that there is still a very bright future for further development along those lines. Most people live in the temperate region and I feel that the concentration of scientific research in the northern and tropical areas will pay handsome dividends to this country.
The matter of development has been given attention by the Government by virtue of the assistance which it has afforded to many projects throughout Australia. The construction of beef roads in Queensland will be assisted by the further grants mentioned in the Budget. Beef roads have been discussed, praised and abused by some people. I believe that beef roads have been planned in such a way that, when they are complete, they will serve a very fine purpose in the northern and western regions. It must be remembered that, in time of drought, when stock cannot be moved, a great national loss takes place. I am convinced that the building of beef roads will save this country millions of pounds over a period of years. Furthermore, they will provide a very fine amenity for the people of the north and of the west. 1 have always felt that we should do everything possible to make the lives of the people who go into these distant regions as tolerable as possible. They are the people who provide this country with a great proportion of the overseas credits which are so essential to our welfare. We should make their burdens as light as possible by giving them all the amenities we can provide. Not only will the beef roads assist in the conduct of primary industry but they will be a great boon to the people of these distant areas. I believe that the development of the northern regions will have the constant attention of the Government. These regions cover a big part of Australia and they call for as intense a settlement programme as we can possibly implement.
With the discovery of mineral resources in the north we should witness a big increase in the population of the area. I am concerned about the fact tha: so often when minerals are discovered in the north they are transported to the southern regions of the Commonwealth for processing. I hope that eventually these products will be processed in the north, with a consequent increase of population in the area. Wherever possible this Government should encourage the processing of minerals in the north.
My own State of Queeusland is on the verge of great development. It has everything to provide a wonderful opportunity for development. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) is very interested in any project that may develop not only that State but Australia generally. The Honorable Ernest Evans, the Minister for Development in the Queensland Parliament, has done a magnificent job. He is a downtoearth and practical man. When his term of office expires he will leave behind him a record of development in regard to basic metals, oil and so forth for which the people of Queensland will owe him a great debt of gratitude. What has been achieved in Queensland indicates what can be done with the right direction and the right type of government. Queensland is about to surge forward. If the right direction is maintained, it has a future which I believe will not be excelled by that of any other State.
A budget should have some definite purpose in view. To my way of thinking there are two aspects of the economy which are of great concern to this nation - the need to reduce costs in industry and the need to reduce our overseas commitments or payments. I have spoken before about a reduction of costs. I am sorry that the problem has not been tackled in this Budget. I am strongly of the opinion that the best way in which to reduce costs is to abolish the pay-roll tax. To abolish the tax would involve a large sum of money, but I believe that it should be abolished as soon as possible. The raising of the exemption does not provide a solution to the problem, because it ls not the small industries but the big industries which establish the cost factor. To raise the level of exemption does not really alter the cost structure. The effect of the imposition of the pay-roll tax reverberates throughout the cost structure. If we abolish the payroll tax the beneficial effects on the nation may be much greater than many of us who feel so strongly about the matter have thought. Not only would costs be reduced, but a lot of work would be eliminated.
This is a line of approach that the Government should pursue, because over a period of years we have had an inflationary trend. It is a trend which occurs in most developing countries - in countries which are achieving greater progress and prosperity. Anything we can do to reverse that trend is of paramount importance, and 1 believe that the abolition of the payroll tax would have that effect. Let us assume that the average wage is £15 a week. The abolition of the pay-roll tax would mean a reduction of 7s. 6d. a week in salary costs. The saving would probably be greater than that, because many salaries and wages would be much higher than I have suggested. As I have said, such a reduction would reverse the inflationary trend. The Government should concentrate upon the abolition of the tax and not just upon an alteration of the scale. Wc have been talking about abolition of the tax, but we should act.
The other important aspect of the economy that I mentioned was the need to reduce our overseas commitments or payments. This is a factor which harasses the country every now and again. There are various ways in which we can overcome it. One is import licensing. To license imports is an unfortunate way in which to deal with the situation, but it is a quick method and at times it has had to be adopted. Import licensing always leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of those who are engaged in business and industry. It leads to great difficulties, problems and anomalies; it leads to all sorts of false practices. We know that with the abolition of import licensing in recent years we have overcome many problems of that kind. The need to cut down on our overseas outgoings is something that could face us at any time. The problem must be tackled as strongly as possible. There are two ways in which we can solve the problem. One is to reduce the amount of money that we send out of the country and the other is to increase our earnings overseas so that we can more than offset our overseas payments.
The Minister for National Development, in particular, and the Government in general, deserve very great praise for. the initiation of the oil search subsidy programme. lt is pleasing to note that because of the payment of this subsidy over the past few years oil has been discovered at two places in the Surat Basin in Queensland - at Moonie and Richmond. But we still have not sufficient oil to supply Australia’s needs. We import more than £120,000,000 worth of oil a year. If we did not have our own refining processes but had to import refined oil, it would cost us more than £200,000,000 a year. If we had our own oil industry and were able to supply all our own requirements, we would save an overseas payment of £120,000,000 a year. The discovery of oil could be the key to solving our problem.
The oil subsidy scheme has been of very great value to Australia. Last year the scheme cost Australia almost £5,000,000, but the money was very well spent. 1 noticed a statement made by the Minister for National Development which was published in yesterday’s press and in which he said that, if there was a great discovery of oil, there might have to be some change of the subsidy scheme. I sincerely hope that instead of reducing the subsidy the Government will increase it. The money will be raised in Australia and spent in Australia, and will not involve the difficulties associated with money that we obtain from overseas. The more we do to assist in the discovery of oil in Australia the quicker we will solve the major problem of our overseas balances. Quite a lot of money is being spent in chasing trade, sometimes against strong competition. We are importing oil, and by encouraging investment in the search for oil within Australia we might overcome the difficulty of our overseas balances.
It is pleasing to see the speed with which work associated with the Moonie field is being done. The pipeline is almost to the city of Brisbane. In February, when the oil tanks are completed, we will have the first Australian oil from Queensland wells flowing through the pipes and going to the refineries. Eventually, there will be a complete refining set-up in Queensland. This will bring to Queensland other ancillary industries associated with oil production, and this will be of tremendous importance to Australia generally and to Queensland in particular. Queensland is an unusual State because of seasonal employment, and any work tn help the discovery and development of oil deposits there will be of great advantage to the State. In considering what has been done already, I associate the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir Wiliiam Spooner) with the Minister for Development and Mines in Queensland, Mr. Evans, who brought down legislation to encourage investment in the search for oil in Australia. We owe a great debt to both those Ministers.
When we consider the other aspect - increasing our earnings overseas - we are reminded that Australia is spending a lot of money chasing more trade. The industry to which I want to refer is the tourist industry. No industry could be more quickly developed to bring money into Australia. Advertising in the United States of America will bring people to Australia where they will spend money. In recent years this Government has stepped up the grant for tourist advertising to a magnificent level compared with the vote for this purpose when it was first elected. Last year the expenditure was £265,000 and the proposed vote this year is £320,000. The Government has been more generous this year, and I do not want to be accused of criticism of its activities in stepping up the international tourist trade; but some years ago I said in this place that we needed to spend £500,000 a year on advertising and that we should step the vote up to £1,000,000.
When we are advertising overseas for tourists we have to compete with other nations which are closer at hand to the United States of America. If Great Britain spends £1,000,000 a year in advertising its tourist appeal to travellers, we should certainly spend £1,000,000 also. A person in the United States who wants to travel is more impressed by frequent advertising on a big scale than by intermittent, small advertisements. Potential tourists are influenced by the advertising that speaks loudest and most often. If other countries are spending more on tourist advertising we should certainly step up our appropriation even beyond the amount that is provided by this Government, which is generous compared with the votes of its predecessors. If we spend £1,000,000 a year on advertising and get £10,000,000 into the country through the tourist trade it is a worth-while investment.
Australia has a definite individual appeal, and it should be featured overseas. I meet people from overseas and I know that Australia is not featured as well as other countries. Last weekend I went to Eungella National Park behind Mackay and I met a young American couple who wanted to settle in Australia. The difficulty they had in getting information about Australia made me realize that we must do a lot more to advertise our appeal. Those two people wanted to leave the United States of America to live in Australia. And where did they get the best information? From our own international airline - Qantas. These people wanted to come to Australia, but there are others who do not know exactly where they want to go. We have to make an impression on such people by appropriating more for advertising, but it must be done properly. The money must not be wasted as the Australian National Travel Association wasted it the year before last.
– Its campaign was entirely wasted because of the wrong type of advertising. A picture showed two little boys with bare feet and wearing felt hats standing hand-in-hand in the gibber country of the far west. This was supposed to attract tourists to come to Australia. Places like Hawaii have their tourist industry promotion down to a fine art, and feature their attractions properly. In my office there is a calendar distributed by British Overseas Airways Corporation. It has a series of twelve pictures - one for each month. The same picture that I have referred to is in the calendar for this year. Another airline told me that the picture was supplied to it but the company did not use it.
We have to get down to proper advertising that will appeal, and not the slick, sophisticated kind. People will not come here to see the sort of thing I have mentioned. The Government should provide the money, and there should be a committee or something of the sort to ensure that it is spent properly and is not dissipated on silly advertising. I am honestly of the opinion that we have a great opportunity before us to develop the tourist industry by which we will be able to bring people to Australia. The benefits could be immense. Not only would some of our own carriers, such as Qantas Empire Airways Limited and others, receive transport charges, but the tourists would spend money in this country. This is an industry that can be very quickly worked up. Despite what the Minister responsible for tourism in Queensland has said, it will be found that where there is a demand for accommodation that demand will be met by people who are prepared to invest money to earn money. The development of this industry would play a very great part in assisting my own State of Queensland, apart from other States. I know that the Government has been conscious of the problem which exists there.
As honorable senators know, Queensland has certain seasonal industries. Our very important sugar industry, which it is estimated will be worth more than £100,000,000 this year, will earn a great percentage of our overseas credits. Of the six States, Queensland is Australia’s greatest earner of overseas credits, but it faces the problem of seasonal employment. The sugar and meat industries are seasonal. So any industry that can overlap into part of the slack period of employment is of great importance. The tourist industry could help. In some parts of Queensland this could be an all-the-year-round industry. Remember the appeal to southern people in their cold winter time, and remember the appeal in summer to Americans who wish to evade their winter season. For the tourist Queensland has an appeal from the border to the top of Cape York Peninsula. Many people know about the attractions of the Gold Coast, but that is not the only place with tourist appeal. On the coast north of Brisbane, you will find many attractive areas, such as those of Bundaberg and Childers. There is the Rockhampton area, and also Mackay, which is a jumping-off place for the great Barrier Reef and the islands of the Whitsunday passage. There is wonderful tropical vegetation in those areas. Townsville has its appeal. Cairns is a jumping-off. place for Green Island, and behind Cairns is the lovely Atherton Tableland. Out west there is appeal to the tourists. I believe that more and more people wish to visit the outback. Last night I heard on the radio that the New South Wales Government Tourist Bureau was appealing to people in distant places to open their homes so that overseas tourists might spend some time in the outback. That part of Australia is becoming more and more important.
My time has almost expired. So I conclude with these words: I believe that if we pursue a policy to reduce costs and to increase our overseas balances, either by expanding our exports or reducing the flow of funds from Australia to other countries, or develop the oil industry so that it will supply all our needs, we will build an Australia much greater than we have at the present time. I commend the Government for this Budget. I sincerely believe that it has a human touch, and will benefit many little people of Australia.
– I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate our new colleague on this side of the chamber, Senator Whiteside, upon the excellence of his maiden speech. I remember quite well what an ordeal it is to address this chamber for the first time. He must have engaged in a lot of research to prepare his speech.
In the limited time at one’s disposal, it is almost impossible to touch on all aspects of this Budget. One can deal with only a couple of items in the course of half an hour, which is the time we have agreed to allow each speaker. I have gleaned from honorable senators opposite - this has been contradicted by some of them - that they are prepared to accept for all time a pool of between 80,000 and 100,000 unemployed in Australia. They have accepted that as a basis. No doubt if the Government remains in power that figure will increase. Government supporters are quite content to say that we have 100,000 unemployed. They are satisfied with that.
– You do not believe that yourself!
– This is what Government senators have said, and they have attempted to justify it. In this chamber they have quoted remarks of members of the trade union movement, including Mr. Monk, regarding the percentage of unemployed to the total work force. I do not know what Mr. Monk said or did not say, but honorable senators opposite have attempted to justify 100,000 permanently unemployed by quoting from statements made by representatives of the trade union movement. Therefore, those honorable senators must believe that that is the minimum unemployment figure that wc can have and that it is all right to have a pool of between 80,000 and 100,000 unemployed in Australia. It may be all right for honorable senators who are receiving their salaries and have their own businesses to say that 80,000 or 100,000 is not many to have unemployed. It may not be, but if you were one of the unemployed I venture to say you would have another look- at the picture. Unemployment is a great hardship which should not be borne by any people in Australia. We should have no unemployed at all. We should be able to provide the wherewithal to give the workers, and the people of Australia generally, social and economic security. There is no reason to say that we cannot do that for either the primary producers or the workers generally.
I should like to mention just a few matters that have been introduced by other honorable senators. Senator McKellar, Senator Wood, and I think other honorable senators, mentioned the new bounty on superphosphate. Mr. President, do Government supporters not realize that it was their Government that removed the bounty from superphosphate? They are the people who have robbed the primary producers of Australia over the last twelve years of that amount of bounty on superphosphate. The Labour Government gave a bounty to the primary producer who used superphosphate.
– When wool was lOd. per lb.
– Wool was as low as Id. per lb. under a Liberal government. When Labour took the reins of office in 1941 wool was lid. per lb.
– That is not right, either.
– For your information, and for the information of the Senate, I say it was the Labour Party that subsidized the primary producers and brought them to the stage that they had reached when this Government took office. We gave them a bounty on superphosphate. We stabilized the price of their wheat. We stabilized the price of their wool. Wheat was ls. 7id. a bushel under an anti-Labour government - honorable senators opposite cannot deny that - and wool was bringing a maximum of lid. per lb. when Labour took office. It was this Government that took from the primary producer the bounty that he should have been receiving on superphosphate for the last ten or eleven years. If Government supporters had not been so soundly thrashed in the election in 1961, and if Labour had not announced in its policy speech on that occasion that it would restore the bounty on superphosphate, the Government would not have acted. It would have treated the primary producer with scorn, as it has done over the years when it has had a big majority in both Houses of this Parliament. But to-day the Government is in a different position, and I am pleased to see that it has now decided to give the primary producers the benefit of a bounty on something that is necessary to the progress of this country.
Senator Cole made a statement on immigration. I can only touch lightly on this matter because my time is limited. It was the Australian Labour Party that fathered Australia’s immigration policy. Our present leader, Mr. Calwell, who was Minister for Immigration when the war ceased, was the man who commenced the gigantic immigration scheme. We planned an immigration programme. Yet Senator Cole asks where the pioneering spirit has gone, and why we need to prepare homes and jobs for people coming from overseas. Where has the pioneering spirit gone? I ask honorable senators, through you, Sir: How can people be expected to pioneer this country as our fathers and grandfathers did? The opportunities are not here to-day. We will create a greater army of unemployed unless we are prepared to plan for the migrants coming here. Senator Cole talks with his tongue in his cheek when he says that people who come to this country should have a greater pioneering outlook. In the early days you could buy a piece of land and put a shack, hut or house on it by felling timber out in the bush. You could select a small piece of land, but you cannot do that to-day. In the working-class suburbs of Melbourne- it is impossible to buy a block of land, on which to build a home, for under £2,000-odd. If the Government continues to bring people to Australia it has the responsibility to plan for them - to find jobs for them and homes in which they can live. I hope that the Government will take some notice of what I have said. I shall deal with the matter later in my speech when I refer to people who are always using the bogy of communism.
Senator Sherrington spoke of the development of the north.
– He made a very good speech.
– In parts, yes. He should realize that the Labour Party has been in power in this country for only about one-fifth of the time since federation.
– A good thing, too.
– The honorable senator did not say that in the war years. Labour has handled the affairs of Australia during two world wars. The present Government parties occupied the treasury bench from 1931 until 1939, when war broke out. During that time they had ample opportunity, with cheap labour and plenty of materials, to go ahead with the development of the north. What did they do? They decided in their wisdom- the honorable senator who has been interjecting might not know this, and I am going to tell him - that they would give the north of Australia to the Japanese.
– That is wrong.
– It is not wrong. The parties now in office decided to give the north of Australia to the Japanese; they were prepared to quit the north of Australia. Before Labour came into office the present Government parties were prepared to quit (he north of Australia and give it to a foreign country. That is on record; it is history, it is correct, and honorable senators opposite cannot deny it.
– It is quite untrue.
– The honorable senator is red in the face. I know that he is ashamed, and so would 1 be in the circumstances. The Labour Party came into office in 1.941, when Australia was facing its great peril. We were ashamed that this country had had in office a government that was prepared to give the north away because it was supposed to be fit not for white people to work in, but only for the coloured races. I say to Senator Sherrington and other honorable senators opposite: If this Government is sincere, why did it not do something to develop the north of Australia? As Senator Sherrington admitted, the Government suffered its heaviest defeat in Queensland, where hundreds of thousands of people were unemployed. It is only since the Government lost its big majority in both Houses that it has been prepared to do something to develop the north of this country in the interests of the nation.
The same applies to Western Australia. What did the Labour Government find in regard to Western Australia and the north of Queensland when it came into office7 It found the country ill-prepared to meet any emergency. The emergency came in December, 1941, when the Japanese hit at Pearl Harbour. Honorable senators opposite forget those days, but we on this side do not, because the Labour Party was faced with the responsibility to protect Australia. I see Senator Hannaford smiling. He may have had his job to do in the trenches, but while he was away doing his job the great Australian Labour Party had the task of conducting the affairs of this nation during the crisis of the Second World War. When the bombs fell on Pearl Harbour, in December, 1941, the Labour Party had the task of defending this defenceless country. It was the Labour Party, not the Liberal Party, not the Country Parly and not the “ bitzer “ party we have on the opposite benches to-day - a bit of Country Party, a bit of Liberal Party, a bit of Democratic Labour Party and a bit of independent, claiming to be a consolidated party. The great Australian Labour Party was left to do the job by itself in 1941.
The only real contribution to this debate from the other side came from Senator Wood. He has always had ideas about doing something for the north. There is unemployment in Queensland. Senator Wood suggested that we make the northern part of . the State a tourist resort and so do something for the people. This Government, which has been in office since December, 1949, did nothing to develop the north of Australia until it suffered such great losses at the general election in 1961.
– Would you run through what the Labour Party did in the north prior to this Government coming into office?
– It did not shoot the donkeys.
– It should have. I wish to refer now to the subject of pensions. This, Mr. President, is a colossal Budget. Nobody in his wildest dreams ten years ago could have imagined that in the Commonwealth of Australia, with a population of under 11,000,000 people, a budget would be produced* providing for an expenditure in one single year of £2,280,700,000. In 1949 the Chifley Government introduced the largest budget that had until then been produced in the Commonwealth of Australia, when it provided for an expenditure of £500,000,000. When the present Government came into office it said that it would put value back into the £1, that it would reduce taxes and do all the other things that it had promised during the general election campaign in 1949. To-day, budget expenditure is 4i times as large as it was in 1949. It is colossal! I wish to refer to an article I read in last night’s Melbourne “ Herald “. Nobody can suggest that I am reading from a newspaper sympathetic to Labour. In one of the columns of the “ Herald “ the following appeared -
Browsing through the Reserve Bank’s latest note issue summary, we notice that there are still 309 £100 notes, 574 £50 notes and 84 £20 notes still on issue, although all notes over £10 were withdrawn from issue back in 1945.
Wonder where they are? Perhaps we should all start looking under the carpet, just in case. Probably quite a few are in the U.S., taken home as souvenirs by American troops who served here during the war.
Listen to this from the Melbourne “ Herald “-
Hope the people who have been hanging on to them realize the £ to-day is worth only about a third of what it was worth in 1945.
Honorable senators opposite, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) promised the electors of Australia that they would put value back in the £1. They said that the Chifley £1 was worth only 13s. 4d. If that is so, then the £1 to-day is worth only one-third of 13s. 4d. Not since 1949 has this Government conducted an election campaign based on its performances at Canberra. It has always used some bogy; it has always got some one to come in at the right moment. It is trying to do this at the present time. The Government has tried to raise the issue of the North West Cape base. It has always tried in some way to use the bogy that all will not be well if the Communists take control.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended I said that the people of Australia could scarcely have imagined only a relatively few years ago that this country, with a population of 11,000,000 people, would have a federal budget of the size of the present Budget. I suppose that jokes could be made about the Budget, if it were not such a serious matter. I say it is serious because of the speeches I have heard from honorable senators opposite, including the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner).
I wish to refer to age and invalid pensions. Many people use the aged people of this country as a political football and as a means of gaining party political advantage at election time. I have had a lot of experience in this respect and I venture to say that it is not possible to alter the political opinions of old people in receipt of pensions by holding before them a carrot in the form of political promises. It is for that reason that the party to which I belong considers age and invalid pensions from a humane point of view. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, in all sincerity, stated that married pensioners are happy and are smiling because single pensioners have been given an increase of 10s. a week in their pension. It is hardly possible to believe that a responsible Minister would make such a statement.
I wish to read from a letter from an age pensioner. I shall not read all of it, but only part. It states -
At the moment I am listening to the Parliamentary debate and may I have the pleasure to inform some of the Government members that myself and all married pensioners are frothing at the mouth at the Budget for starving the pensioners. I do think that it is time they had the true facts from the pensioners and not have someone on a fat salary-
The writer would not be referring to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, would he?- to say the pensioners are happy.
The letter was written by a married age pensioner and can be tabled, if necessary. No doubt there are some married pensioners who are satisfied. I do not want to take from the Government any credit that is due to it for liberalizing social services for our aged and invalid people. Some time ago, the Government amended the provisions of the means test and certain people were given an advantage over others. Some married couples who are pensioners are entitled, according to the means test provisions introduced by the Government, to have £2,020 and a pension of £5 5s. a week each. They may have a motor car and own their home. In addition, they may perhaps have an income of more than £9 a week. I do not say that married couples in those circumstances would object to single pensioners receiving an increase of 10s. a week, but what of the age pensioner couple who are renting a home and who were obliged to live on the basic wage before the husband retired? As Senator Wood mentioned this afternoon, the basic wage is to-day approximately £15 a week. How much money would such a couple have on retirement?
Statistics which emanate from government sources show that rent in Melbourne at the moment averages about £6 a week. Consider the position of an aged married couple who are pensioners and who have to pay rent of £6 a week from their pensions. Do not honorable senators opposite think that people such as those are entitled to some consideration? I do not know, Mr. President, whether the pension should be increased by 10s. or £1 a week. The party to which I belong does not view pensions in terms of money. It views them in terms of social security. We on this side believe that the pioneers, to whom Senator Cole referred, who built this country at least are entitled to live in economic and social security and to have decent homes and a reasonable standard of living because of the job they have done for the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate said that the pensioners are satisfied1, but let me read to the Senate extracts from another letter I have before me. It comes from the Combined Pensioners’ Association. I had the pleasure to meet a deputation from the association last week in Melbourne. The honorary secretary is Mr. Dawson. In fact, this is a circular letter which has been sent out to the various branches of the organization, and I think that most members of this Parliament would have copies of it. Nevertheless, honorable senators opposite are silent. The letter states -
Dear Sir or Madam,
Our association views with alarm the attempt of the Federal Government to differentiate between the single pensioner and the married aged and invalid pensioner, to the detriment of the married.
The basic pension rate has stood at £5 5s. per week since 1961, and a 10s. increase represents 10 per cent.
An increase of 10s. to all pensioners, including marrieds, under social services would cost £20,000,000. (Mr. Holt’s figures.)
It would cost only £20,000,000 to give an increase of 10s. a week to the many thousands of pensioners in the Commonwealth. Yet, the Government is budgeting for expenditure in this financial year of £2,280,700,000. In comparison with that figure, the sum of £20,000,000 is small, but nevertheless the Government is not prepared to provide it for this purpose. The letter continues -
Single pensioners number approximately twothirds of pensioners, so the saving of Government money is £6,000,000 odd, a small amount indeed in overall Budget figures.
Is the single pensioner better off because the married pensioner has been excluded from the 10s. rise?
Of course, he is not -
In all conscience can the Federal Government justify its action?
Of course, it cannot justify its action, although it attempts to do so by introducing red herrings. We know that the Government will tell the pensioners very shortly: “ Now, do not be upset. We know you are not getting sufficient, but if we go from the treasury bench you will have the Communists there. So, bc very careful. Vote for us and be patient.” The letter continues-*-
The married pensioner, by being excluded, has been robbed of a just rise.
I should like one of the smiling senators on the Government side of the chamber to attempt to justify the Government’s action in this respect. The letter goes on-
Therefore, why this denial of justice to the married pensioner?
The Minister said that the pensioners were smiling and happy because the Government had not given them an increase of pension. Senator Hannaford may laugh, but the Minister’s words are recorded in “Hansard”. The letter from the Combined Pensioners Association goes on to state -
The Government is attempting to place one section of the community on a lower economic scale, at the same time posing that they have ameliorated the problems of the single pensioner. We condemn this falsehood.
This letter comes from a non-political organization. People of all shades of political thought belong to it. The letter continues -
A responsible and humane government legislating in the interests of the people would see that living standards were lifted, not lowered.
Surely Government senators will not support something that will lower the standard of living of those people who have been pioneers and have developed this great Australia of ours. The letter continues -
Action on the part of all organizations and individuals will see that justice prevails. Business people, a couple of years ago, forced alterations to postal rates.
Of course they did, and the pensioners know it. Business men have the power to say to this Government, “ You do this or that, or out you go “. The letter continues -
While social service increases fall short of our demand of a basic pension of 50 per cent, of male basic wage, with supplementary assistance to all single pensioners, this discrimination against our married pensioners must be foiled. We ask you or your organization to demand justice for our married pensioners by sending a resolution of protest to the Federal Government . . .
I think that I am the best medium, because I make the protest in Her Majesty’s Parliament -
One might as well wink at his girl in the dark, because the Prime Minister will take no notice. He will not be bothered with the pensioners. He will not do anything for them. The parliamentary leader of the Australian Labour Party is sympathetic, as he showed by his promises to pensioners during the election campaign in 1961. I remind the pensioners that had it not been for the close vote in 1961 they would not be receiving what they are receiving to-day.
These matters must be taken into consideration. This Budget provides for enormous expenditure on the affairs of this country during the next twelve months, but the Government is not prepared to give the people who made this country possible for us the right to live in some reasonable measure of comfort. The Leader of the Government in this chamber says that these people are smiling, that they are happy because the Government is giving them nothing more for the next twelve months. Had it not been for the Australian Labour Party, there would have been no social services in this country. My friends opposite smile. I am not very old, but I can remember when there were no social services in the Commonwealth, no widows’ pensions and no age pensions. I was born in a mining area. If a miner was hurt, was sick, or was laid aside, there were no social service benefits for his wife or family. The destiny of his wife and family was left to the charity of those people who had lived under the conditions of slavery of miners or of men who work on the land. The Australian Labour Party, because of its numerical strength in the Commonwealth, has made it possible to have age, invalid and widows’ pensions, . maternity allowance, and all the other benefits that go with these things. No government is prepared to take away any of those concessions. The people have got them, and we shall fight to see that some better consideration is given to the people who made this country possible.
I am sorry that my allotted time has run out. I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of my party. I hope and trust that in the interests of people who deserve more consideration from the Government than is given in this Budget the amendment will be carried. I shall have something further to say on other matters that will come under the notice of the Senate when the estimates of expenditure are before us.
.- I am tempted to reply to some of the wilder and more exaggerated statements made by Senator Hendrickson in the last quarter of an hour, but if the honorable senator will bide his time I shall, at a later stage in my contribution to the debate, deal with at least some of the matters that he has raised. I listened with a great deal of interest to what he has had to say, because the Australian Labour Party has interested me all of my life. It has contributed much to the welfare of Australian life, but, unfortunately, it has another characteristic with which I shall deal.
The Australian Labour Party claims that it is the sole custodian of a scientific method by which all political matters can be resolved, lt claims to have a scientific philosophy. It claims to be a scientifically based party. As we live in a scientific age, it is worthwhile to take a few moments to see what is the scientific quality that the Australian Labour Party possesses. Science so often these days, I suggest, gives a scientific explanation for things that have been known by people for many hundreds of years, and one of the things that people have known, in terms of folklore, for hundreds of years, is the curious quality that exists in many people of having a sort of double nature. Fairy tales are recounted of the Good Klaus and the Bad Klaus. There is a famous novel about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Scientists have demonstrated this quality of split personality which - I know Senator Dittmer will agree with me - is known as schizophrenia. lt is quite appropriate, and scientifically based, to conclude that if there are people who have split personalities and suffer from schizophrenia, a great group of people, taking the sum of the people in the group, may also have a split personality and suffer from schizophrenia. What has interested me all my life about the Labour Party is this split personality quality that it possesses, a sort of political schizophrenia.
We have seen evidence quite recently of this situation existing manifestly in the Labour Party, not so much on the Opposition benches in the Senate, where there are some wiser men, as on the Opposition benches in another place. It is reasonably demonstrable that there exists in the Labour Opposition in the Senate one quality of the split mind and in the Labour Opposition in another place another quality of the split mind. The trouble is that the electors and Government supporters are always fearful as to which personality is in control of the Labour Party at any given time. That is the political problem we have in Australia at the moment.
When we look at the example of the British Labour Party we find enormous convulsions inside that party, which is attempting to get rid of the allegedly scientific determinism of Marx, and which has had great conferences from 1961 onwards in an effort to get rid of the socialization platform. The British Labour Party is split from top to bottom. We find that exactly the same thing happened at the Australian Labour Party conference in Perth. Only some of the matters of interest to electors and members of Parliament have been leaked or handed out of that conference, but it is very obvious, the more ons examines what has been given to the Australian public about that conference in Perth, that the split personality of the Australian Labour Party was operating to its fullest extent at that conference.
It will be worthwhile if I demonstrate for a moment some of this quality of the split mind of the Australian Labour Party. Let us take the question of defence about which Opposition senators have been declaiming. Senator Kennelly’s amendment to the motion for the printing of the Budget papers suggests that we are doing nothing about defence and that hope for defence lies in the Australian Labour Party. Let us examine the statements on defence from Perth. The position become extraordinarily interesting. You have to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist to understand it. Let ma quote it to the Senate. It is as ambiguous as it could possibly be but it has to satisfy the good and the bad - the right and the left - the political schizophrenics. According to the Labour Party’s statement issued from Perth the Australian forces may remain in Malaya in these terms -
If a clear and public treaty-
– Did you get that from Perth?
– lt was issued by the pontiff himself - Mr. Chamberlain. The statement refers to “ a clear and public treaty, completely within a mutual defence scheme “. Then it goes on and negates this in a separate paragraph which states -
But it must be a defensive system of United Nations member States . . . for mutual defence . . . consistent or not inconsistent with the general provisions of Australia’s existing defence treaty commitments.
The more you examine that statement the more curious it becomes. Obviously, it is one of the curious statements that emanate from the Australian Labour Party from time to time in “which its members have to satisfy both Good Klaus and Bad Klaus. There are many inconsistencies in Labour Party defence policy and I quote this one as an illustration.
Let us look at some of the other statements that have come from the Perth conference. There is a compendious statement which completely dodges the question of unity tickets. This question has been worrying the Australian electorate, particularly in Victoria, where Senator Hendrickson comes from, for a very long time. Although on a previous occasion the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party has condemned unity tickets, when an attempt was made by some of the conference delegates to obtain a clearer statement of policy on these tickets the question was dodged again. The conference did not resolve it. Amongst many other things, the conference issued a statement to the effect that when Labour was returned to power a Labour government would exercise all its ingenuity to obtain an increase in the public investment. Then the conference listed those elements of the public investment field upon which a Labour government would embark. They included public stevedoring, public over seas shipping, public marketing enterprises, public consumer finance enterprises and public transport. These are very interesting. It will be noticed that the Labour Party has shifted from the old concept of nationalized transport and nationalized marketing. It is now talking about public investment in these activities. It is doing this, I suggest, for the simple reason that it has suffered five electoral defeats in a row. It realizes that the Australian public is not interested in the nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. This is the very thing that keeps the Labour Party in its state of political schizophrenia. There have been some complaints against the record of the Government since 1949.
– Did you hear no complaints about ownership by the Victorian Government?
– Order! Senator Dittmer has kept up a running fire of interjection. He must cease to interject.
– I am seeking knowledge.
– You are disturbing the honorable senator who is speaking.
– I am inviting him to answer my questions.
– Order! Keep quiet.
- Mr. President, you are a wise and upright judge - a Daniel come to judgment. In 1949 Australia was in a parlous situation. It is true that it had come through a war; but it was in a parlous state because of the quality of mind which was being directed towards the economic problems of the country. Here I come to the problem of pensions which was earnestly examined by Senator Hendrickson. I was fortunate - if I may say so with modesty - to have the most illuminating and enlightening experience of being a member of the political research staff of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). One of the subjects which that staff had to examine when I was with it was pensions. The tragedy of the situation resulting from the actions of the Labour Government which left office in 1949 was this: On the basis of the rates which had been laid down by the Labour Government in 1948 and 1949, by the year 1964, fifteen years later, there would not have been enough money in the National Welfare Fund to pay the pensioners who would then be entitled to draw pensions at the rates then existing because the whole of the actuarial trend was against it. We were becoming an aging population. It was a keen liberal interest in the welfare of the people which began to dictate the economic policy which was laid before the people by the present Government parties in 1949. The people accepted that policy by an overwhelming majority and returned the Menzies Government to power on 13th December of that year. But the economic situation was even more tragic than I have indicated. Even at the then rate of natural increase and the then low level of immigration into Australia we would have been importing potatoes by 1960. Sugar exports would have been down to 39,000 tons a year, which will interest my colleague from Queensland, Senator Sherrington, who spoke on the subject last night. Meat exports for the whole of Australia would have been down to 58,000 tons. Last year, for example, we shipped in beef alone to the United States 210,000 tons. My colleague from Victoria, Senator Wade, will agree with me that wheat exports would have been down to the level of 60,000,000 bushels. This was the fantastic situation in which this great and prosperous country found itself in 1949. At the present moment, a married pensioner couple receive about £10 a week. Such couples do not, as Senator Hendrickson alleged, have to pay £6 a week in rent. They can get a home from the Victorian Housing Commission for £1 5s. a week. They may also be eligible for medical benefits. It cannot be denied that pensioner benefits could not and would not have been maintained at their existing rates had it not been for the economic policy applied by this Government, comprised of members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party, in the last fifteen years.
From time to time, there is a tendency to cast doubt on the value of figures appearing in papers issued by government and other sources. Consequently, I have obtained a report on the Australian economy made by another country. It is the report of the Commonwealth Economic Council of Great Britain. This official pamphlet published by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office contains comments on the Australian economy for the period to which I have referred and certain statistics which I think the Senate should have before it in order to assist it in understanding these matters. The great problem of the last fifteen years has been that of the reconstruction of the Australian economy. It has been achieved simply by allowing a dynamic, free enterprise system to operate, controlled, it is quite true, not rigidly, but lightly in the interests of the people. This dynamic system has been able to sustain a rate of development in Australia which is marked by the report of the Commonwealth Economic Council. I know that the remarks of the Council will interest the learned Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who gently suggests from time to time that the Government is not planning the economy as well as it should do. It it is stated in paragraph 19 of this report - . . the Commonwealth and State Governments have needed to plan their own programmes for development projects.
The report is referring to the period of fifteen years which I have mentioned. The report goes on to deal with this period of enormous economic expansion which has been able to sustain the rate of capital formation being paid. Paragraph 25 states - . . even for a period of intensive development these are high figures.
The reference is to the rate of capital formation in Australia. The paragraph states that in this period of intensive development the capital formation figures for Australia were high figures and that they had been exceeded in very few countries at any period. The gross capital formation per head in the United Kingdom in that period averaged £A.98 per year as against a figure of £172 per year in Australia. The figure for West Germany was £A.132 per year. The report further states, in paragraph 28 -
More than nine-tenths of the funds required for this massive capita] formation achieved in Australia in these years have been supplied by the Australian economy itself.
We hear a tremendous lot of nonsense uttered about Australia putting herself into hock with her capital imports. The fact is that in this period the Australian economy, in both the private and public sectors, has been raising this massive capital investment almost entirely from its own resources. Only one-tenth of Australia’s capital needs in that -period has been imported from overseas. I hope I shall hear no more criticism on this point.
I mentioned that when this Government took office the economy was in a bad way and we realized that unless we obtained this tremendous increase in capital formation and production the country would not be able to sustain itself economically. To demonstrate the result that has been achieved, I propose to quote from the same document, certain figures which will interest all honorable senators. As the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is sitting before me at the moment, it is appropriate that 1 should commence by referring to the department that he administers. Between 1950 and 1963 there has been an increase of 88 per cent, in the number of passenger miles flown in Australian airline operations. In the same period there has been an increase of 96 per cent, in the cargo carried expressed In terms of ton-miles.
The distinguished Leader of the Government in the Senate is sitting at the table. He is also the Minister for National Development. The portfolio of national development was a concept of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). He mentioned it in his policy speech of 1949. The department was first administered by Lord Casey and, as 1 have indicated, it is now administered by Senator Sir William Spooner. Power output in Australia has increased, mainly during the time that the present Minister has been administering the department, from 2,093 milliwatts to 5,540 milliwatts. In other words, it is now two and a half times as great as it was when this Government assumed office. The rise in the power output in terms of the need of the economy is the measure by which all else is achieved. In the same period the output of black coal in Australia has risen by 55 pec cent., with barely half the number of men now engaged in black coal-mining as were employed in 1949. The production of iron ore has risen by 1 10 per cent, in the same period, that of copper by 472 per cent., that of zinc by 32 per cent., that of silver lead by 32 per cent, and that of ingot steel by 180 per cent. I could go on and on, but figures tend to be repetitive and to become wearying.
Now I turn to primary production. Great credit must be given to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who was formerly Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and to the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for the increase that has been achieved. The amount of labour employed in primary production has dropped to about two-thirds of what it was in 1949. In that year we were in the position of becoming an importer of some of our foodstuffs, but between then and the present time the production of cereals has risen by 38 per cent., wool by 53 per cent., beef by 32 per cent., mutton by 68 per cent, and sugar by 64 per cent. Last night Senator Sherrington, and this afternoon Senator Wood, expressed the sugar export value iri terms of money. 1 have mentioned in passing that our export of beef to the United States of America alone was 210,000 tons last year. When we speak of these products we are speaking of commodities that are produced in Queensland. That State produces the sugar and nearly all the export beef that is produced in Australia. So when we talk about the increase in the production of export beef and sugar, we are talking about the development that has occurred in Queensland.
The Labour Party is constantly saying that no development is occurring in Queensland. The rate of development in that State is fantastic. Not only has the production of sugar and beef risen to tremendous levels, but also Queensland is contributing to the export of black coal. Copper, which is produced at Mount Isa, is one of the major contributors to Australia’s export income. Senator Sherrington was quite right when he said last night that Queensland cannot be fully developed instantaneously. The development of northern Australia will take years to accomplish; the problem of continuing development will always exist, lt is farcical and inaccurate, and is bad politics, I suggest, for my friends opposite to claim that no development is taking place in northern Australia, lt is an area of vast change. There has been a vast change not only in northern Australia but also in relation to social services and production. The increase in the gross national product has been unexcelled by any other country. A rise in income, a rise in the real value of wages and increased prosperity have all occurred between the time that this coalition assumed office on 14th December, 1949, and the present time.
I suggest that the Australian Labour Party is in the situation where it believes that it has not very much left to offer and therefore it continues - I do not blame it for doing so - to till the field it knows so well. I refer to the field of social services. What are the intentions of the Australian Labour Party? They have been made fairly clear in the announcement of Mr. Chamberlain about that part .of the proceedings of the Perth conference which he released. I refer to its proposals about investment in the public sector. I suggest the the Leader of the Australian Labour Party has staled that in no circumstances will he countenance any fall in the level of taxation because he wants this increased revenue to invest in the public sector. I ask you, Mr. President, and other honorable senators to examine this matter. In what elements of the public sector does the Labour Party propose to invest this money? I remind the Senate that not so long ago investment in the public sector was known as the nationalization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. I would like to hear the Queensland senators opposite tell us something about investment in the public sector - for example, public ownership of smelters in Queensland, and of butcher shops and cattle stations.
– Peak Downs!
– Peak Downs is another example. Senator Dittmer seemed to think that Peak Downs was established for cattle raising, but I understood that it was established to raise pigs. For 40 years in Queensland a Labour government repeatedly invested in the public sector - in the means of production, but not in services. It seems to me that every time it did so, the effort ended in bankruptcy and corruption. Honorable senators from New South Wales will remember the nationalized enterprises there - the fishing system with State-owned trawlers, and the State brickworks. Now it is suggested that the Australian Labour Party Government in New South Wales re-invest in the public sector of the economy and engage in economic life in other forms. It is said that the A.L.P. Government is going to invest in the public transport sector. I suppose that means that it will invest in shipping, and although those concerned have not said so it is a reasonable assumption that it will have a go at nationalized road transport. I suggest that the Australian public would be wise to look at some of these suggested public investments.
There has been a suggestion of public marketing also. Public marketing of what? Does this mean compulsory acquisition of meat and more butchers’ shops? Is there going to be compulsory acquisition of meat for export by public marketing authorities? If that is proposed, it will be informative for the Australian Labour Party, the electorate and particularly the primary sector of the economy to consider what is happening in New Zealand. Last year, the New Zealand meat exporting authority exported 1,000,000 lambs at a loss of £1 a head. That is not bad going, even for New Zealand - 1,000,000 lambs exported and a loss of £1,000,000. 1 suggest that if some of the marketing experts on the authorities that may be set up get into the highly competitive meat export trade they will end up not only failing to improve the position of the primary sector of the economy, but destroying it.
I have a warm personal regard for Senator Hendrickson, but I say to him and his colleagues that the improvements in social welfare that have been achieved have been gained not, as he has said, by the pioneers of Australia - and I am not trying to be distasteful when I say this - but by the pioneering that has taken place in the last 16 years through the hard work of immigrants. The existing rate of social welfare has been maintained on the backs of the immigrants and the new generation. If the system of economic management which has existed for the past fifteen years is to be continued over the next five, six or eight years, it will be under our present forms of government, management and economic strength. That is how the rising welfare of the Australian people will be achieved.
.- I rise with great diffidence. After 31 years in the Senate I realize in my old age that much time and effort have been wasted. We meet here as honorable gentlemen in the service of the State. We talk to one another. We get hot under the collar, and excited sometimes. We hear tales of commission and omission. We hear from the Government side of the failures of the Labour Party in running butchers’ shops. On our side, we attack vigorously the evils that have been attendant upon government of the people by the representatives of capitalism. One feels dispirited to some extent when one realizes the failure of this chamber to get its message over to the people.
– Cheer up!
– I am always cheerful, even in my most macabre moments. I know it is useless speaking to the government side. Honorable senators who support the Government have made up their minds and, as old “ Smoothie “ on the Government side Said on one occasion, “ We have the numbers so it is not much use your talking”. However, we do talk, because politicians are like preachers - they like to talk, and get a certain pleasure out of it. Under our capitalistic system we are here to talk to each other and even if the public are not very interested we are interested in one another, and I suppose each plays his part.
I tried to-day to find out how many people listen to the proceedings of Parliament when they are broadcast. It was impossible for me to gain any real information, but I was informed that a review was made before the introduction of television in Australia, and at that time fewer than one per cent. of the people of Australia listened to the parliamentary proceedings. I suppose that after television the percentage shrunk. As I speak, I think that perhaps a few hundred are listening to me and as it is useless to talk to the government side I shall address my remarks to the radio-listening public. Because the people outside are not parliamentarians and are not used to the subtleties of parliamentary debate or the methods adopted by politicians to pull their own legs, I shall try to entertain and interest those who are listening with my own story which I shall tell - may I say? - in my own inimitable way.
– I can hear the radio sets clicking off already.
– Possibly that is so. I would not blame anybody for clicking off a radio set when listening to the Senate at any time. I have stood it for 31 years and I often wonder how I have retained my sanity. However, I shall speak to those who have not switched off their wireless sets and who may be listening to me. I remember that as a boy at school some 70 years ago, I read in a school book a poem or a piece of doggerel. Alongside the verses there was a picture of a rising or a setting sun - I do not know which - and a young man walking along the sands of the seashore. These are the words as best I can remember them after 70 years -
Alone I walked the ocean strand, A pearly shell was in my hand, I stooped, and wrote upon the sand My name, the year, the day. As onward from the spot I passed, One lingering look behind I cast, A wave came rolling high and fast, And washed my lines away. And so, methought, will shortly be All trace upon this earth of me, A wave from dark oblivion’s sea Will roll across the place Where I have been, to be no more, Of me, my day, the name I bore, To leave no track, nor trace.
When 1 think of those words, I think of the activities of honorable senators over the 31 years thatI have had the honour and pleasure of being a member of this Senate. The debates are ineffective because the majority rule. The debates are ineffective in a large measure because the press does not report them and because, when the television programme begins, radio listeners switch off their sets and watch television. I do not know whether anything can be done about it. It is saddening to think that intelligent men over those years have put so much into their speeches. I say to the people that many speeches delivered in this chamber are the result of intense research and labour and it is a pity that many people do not know what is being said in this Parliament. In my own city of Brisbane one would come to the conclusion from reading the “ CourierMail” or “Telegraph” that the Parliament of Australia did not exist. I think the same can be said of many papers throughout Australia. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, so far asI can glean, is one of the best for reporting the proceedings of Parliament. It has been suggested in the past that a resume should be made of speeches and that so many columns should be bought from the press so that the resume could be published. I remember as a youth reading the London “ Times “ and seeing pages of that journal devoted to parliamentary reports. There was a time when the Australian press devoted columns to parliaments. In the early part of my parliamentary career I attended a meeting in Bundaberg. Frank Forde was to speak, and when Senator Courtice and I, who were candidates, went to see the press representative we discovered that Frank already had a whole page set up with a report of his speech. “Applause” and “ Cheers “ interlarded the report. When Ben Courtice and I looked for the words of wisdom of Senator Brown and Senator Courtice we did not find one. I spoke to Mr. Marks, the reporter - a decent old gentleman - about this omission but he said: “ Well, Gordon, I do not know what I can do. I will see the printer to find out whether he can make room for a report of your speech “. The printer closed up some of the lines of type but in the finish the page was given to Frank, and of Gordon Brown and Senator Courtice the report said, “They also spoke.”
As every speaker has said, time does not permit us to go fully into all the matters we would like to discuss. Perhaps it is a good job that it does not because on some of the matters perhaps we do not know too much. But I will tell those who may be listening to this debate that I am speaking to-night in a magnificent chamber with red carpet and red seats. We have one or two listeners in the gallery. The bewigged and begowned President is not in the chair, but two bewigged and begowned Clerks are sitting at the table. Sometimes when I look at them I think of the words of Bobby Burns -
To gull the mob to keep them under The Ancients tell their tales of wonder.
I do not know whether we have a President bewigged and begowned, and the Clerks bewigged and begowned to gull the mob, but I suppose such apparel adds dignity to the chamber, and I am not averse to their wearing wigs and gowns.
– It is all right on a cold day!
– Yes. I would like to tell the Senate of a recording that we made in my chamber at one time, I think when I was President. This recording was about the wearing of a wig and gown. However, I shall not go into that. It was very interesting indeed. We made a recording of Senator Sir Walter Cooper’s voice and he listened to it later. Sir Walter may remember that.
I want to be brief, but I do not want to be quite as brief as a speaker at a Rotary meeting who was asked to give a lecture on women and wine. He stood up and said, “ It gives me great pleasure “, faltered and sat down. Nor will I be as brief as Jack Price, the son of a former Premier of South Australia, I think, whose speech was the shortest on record. Jack stood up and said, “ I support the bill “, and sat down. Darby Riordan told me of an occasion when he was at a meeting- in northern Queensland, and he made the shortest speech ever delivered in that district. He said that although he was the principal speaker, the chairman of the meeting had taken one and a half hours to make his remarks so he merely stood up, moved a vote of thanks to the chairman and sat down.
To-night we are dealing with the Budget which is, of course, a kind of balancesheet. It is a balance-sheet of, shall we say, the capitalist system. In the main the Government of this country is a triumvirate - not Robespierre’s triumvirate - but comprising Sir Robert Menzies, Mr. McEwen and Sir William Spooner. This Government, from my point of view, naturally seeks to serve the interests of capitalist organizations through- » out Australia. The welfare of the masses is, to this Government, a secondary consideration. I do not blame Government supporters for that, because, after all, they are all capitalist minded and believe in the system of private enterprise and monopoly enterprise. Naturally their minds, mentalities and psychologies are affected by the economic situations in which they find themselves. The Labour Party is in a different category altogether. Because we have been brought up among the mass of workers, who have organized into trade unions and who have only their labour to sell, and as we are representatives of the exploited ones, we have a different psychology and different outlook. lt is no use fighting and arguing about the situation. This difference does exist. Honorable senators opposite are the representatives of financial capitalism; we are the representatives of the mass of the people, working men and working farmers, [f Labour gets into power - honorable senators opposite say it never will, and I do not know whether their prognostications will be correct - we shall be compelled to administer this political organization under the capitalist system. The question arises in my mind whether Labour, as a political party, which owes allegiance to the mass of working men, working women and working farmers, should seek to run capitalism more efficiently than the Liberals. I shall leave that thought with some of my friends on this side of the chamber; they may find some interest in working out a solution to that question.
Let us be frank in all these matters. I am sick and tired of the constant recriminations about Labour and Liberals. Grown men in this Parliament have been talking to one another and to themselves about what Labour did and what the Liberals did. In these dark days, with the possibility of a catastrophe before many years are over, we should all be concerned in developing Australia to the full and safeguarding our people, economically and militarily. Let us be frank. Men, organizations and countries react according to their economic interests, and to-day money is a greater power than patriotism, except in times of war. We politicians are no exception to that general rule. When our seats are in jeopardy we fight keenly indeed, as the Liberals and the Country Party are fighting to-day because a section of the Liberal Party is desirous of putting some Country Party members of Parliament out of business. There is quite a fight on, and of course we look upon that with sympathy. [ have listened to honorable senators on the other side for 31 years, and I cannot help but smile when Liberal-Country Party Government supporters seem to know so much about the Labour Party. I admit that they do know a lot about Labour, but the trouble is that they know a lot that is not true. Listening to Senator Hannaford last night I realized that he knew a lot that was not true. He attacked Labour and made statements that were not true. They seemed to please him. He had a smile on his face when he uttered these things and received the applause of his fellow tories. They thought that what he was saying was very good. He told us succinctly and without circumlocution that Labour was opposed to the flow of capital from abroad - that Labour was against the ingress of foreign capital. I do not think that Labour is. Labour is in favour of supporting the interests of Australia but does not want to see Australia become a mere appendage of some foreign country.
I remember speaking to dear old Ben Chifley many years ago - one of the finest Prime Ministers who ever breathed in this country. I was a bit of a rebel, I suppose. I said, “ Ben, so long as we are getting this foreign capital let us take it. The more we take the better it is for Australia, because after all it comes to this country in the form of goods, which they cannot take back from us.” Ben replied, “Gordon, that may be all right for a time, but eventually this country will be in pawn to the foreigner “. That is what we want to stop. That is what Labour sets its face against. Never mind the lies of Senator Hannaford or anybody else.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy President. Senator Brown said that I lied in the course of my speech. I ask you, Sir, to request him to withdraw that remark.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! The honorable senator will withdraw that remark.
– Did I say “ lies “? I apologize to my good friend Senator Hannaford; I did not mean to say that. I will say that Senator Hannaford handled the truth very carelessly. Possibly what he said was a terminological inexactitude. However, it was not the truth.
Let us deal with this matter from Labour’s point of view. Senator Hannaford knows that recently there was an election in Canada and that Mr. Pearson defeated
Mr. Diefenbaker. What was the main consideration on the hustings at that election? lt was the fact that there had been such a development in the investment of American capital into Canada that Canada was in danger of being absorbed by the United States. The people resented it and they put Mr. Pearson into office.
– It was Mr. Diefenbaker who was making all the fuss about American capital, and he was defeated.
– Pearson was the man who was battling to protect Canada from the prehensile grasp of American investors. If honorable senators will listen to me for a moment 1 shall read from the “ Australian Outlook “, of April, 1961. The article is of deep interest to every citizen in Australia and to us in the Labour movement, because Australia is in a similar position, or at least is rapidly getting into a position similar to that in which Canada found itself. On page 89 of the the publication the following appears: -
Canada has regularly had an adverse trade balance since 19S4. In 1958, the new government succeeded in reducing it below 200,000,000 dollars, but it has since risen to more than double that figure in 1960. The most disturbing reason for the deficit is the apparently ineluctable rise in ‘ invisible ‘ items, which have increased from 325,000,000 million dollars in 1952 to more than 1,000,000,000 million dollars in 1959. By far the biggest source of this outflow is the payment of dividends and interest on borrowed capital and equity investment in Canada. Like Australia Canada has been aided in its balance of payments difficulties by the inflow of foreign capital - i.e., mostly American - but this creates further problems. As each year’s deficit is covered by a fresh inflow of capital, the level of interest and dividend payments keeps rising; in 1959, it reached 473,000,000 dollars.
I will read the article as it is here. I suppose if Senator Hannaford was reading it he might leave out this next passage. The article continues -
In the situation the role of Jeremiah has fallen to Mr. James E. Coyne, governor of the Bank of Canada. On at least three occasions during 1960, Mr. Coyne chose a public platform to warn his fellow countrymen, the latest of them being an address at Calgary, Alberta, in October.
I was about to ask Senator Sir William Spooner to listen to this, but I notice he has left the chamber. The article continues -
He has accused Canadians of going on a borrowing spree, whose long-term result could only bc the loss of national identity to Canada’s southern neighbour. (United States interests already own about one-quarter of Canadian industry, and the proportion is much greater in some of the ‘ resource industries ‘, especially oil.) Managerial decisions in such cases were frequently made by foreigners, and there was no guarantee that Canada’s national interests would be considered in the formulation of these decisions. As a first step towards correcting foreign economic dominance, Mr. Coyne proposed that shares of Canadian subsidiaries of foreign companies should be made available to Canadians on the open market. .
The same thing applies here in Australia. Let me read just one other thing on this subject. What I am about to read is taken from the “ New Commonwealth “, of December, 1962, under the headline “ Americans are Buying up Canadian Industry “. Chapter and verse for recent take-overs are given. The article states -
Even without two bids which are still being negotiated - Rio Tinto’s 51,000,000 dollar bid lor Atlas Steels and British American Oil’s £45,000,000 bid for Royalite Oil- Canada is firmly under foreign (which means U.S.A.) control.
Do honorable senators opposite want Australia to be in the same position? The Labour Party does not want it to be. It is prepared to use to the full any foreign capital in a proper manner in order to develop this great country more rapidly. Labour does not desire for one moment to be under the domination of the United States of America or any other country. Finally on this matter the document states -
More than SO per cent, of its petroleum and natural gas is under foreign control, more than three-quarters of is mining and two-thirds of its manufacturing.
I hope Senator Hannaford has been listening.
I have listened for 31 years to talk of developing the Northern Territory. It is vital to Australia that “.hat should be done, but under our democracy and our private enterprise, financial-capitalist system, there does not seem to be the will, the energy or the money to develop that part of Australia which is so important to our security. Time has gone by and we have seen the development that has occurred amongst the breeding millions to our north and amongst the millions of Chinamen who soon will have the atomic bomb. We have seen the development of military power under
Soekarno of Indonesia. The position has degenerated to such an extent that within a few years we may be faced with a most disastrous situation. We have failed, as democracy and private capitalism have failed, to develop the north. The capitalists are more interested in the south and in immediate dividends. Indeed, the private capitalist system cannot possibly develop the north without the assistance of a wise government. Unfortunately, we have not such a government. Sometimes, I think it is too late and that we shall continue to talk until disaster overtakes us.
The other day I took from amongst my papers a copy of a statement made by our leader, Arthur Calwell, as a part of a policy speech. It is as follows: -
The Labour Party which developed Rum Jungle and Mount Isa and made the first grants to help the north-west of Western Australia, believes that roads and railways and airports and seaports must be built, and rivers dammed in the top half of Western Australia and the Northern Territory and Queensland, where 40 per cent, of our country is occupied by only 4 per cent of our people.
This is a top priority undertaking because time is short and to-morrow might be too late.
The expenditure of a few million pounds a few months before an election on beef roads and the like, or a coal port here, or on something else there, means very little in the light of the challenge facing us.
And it is almost the only expenditure of this sort the Government has made in twelve years.
Those are the facts and we cannot gainsay them. Of course, the old fox who leads the Government in the Senate has told us of the millions of pounds that have been spent in the north. Cunning as he is, he does not state the number of millions of pounds that have been spent each year. Me multiplies the figure by five because it sounds better. He has told us that a total of £6,000,000 has been provided for the north of Western Australia. I remember fighting Arthur Fadden during an election. As a matter of fact, I actually made him the Prime Minister of Australia. He stood for a constituency known as Mirani. If he had won Mirani he was to have been the leader of the tory party in Queensland, but owing to the good work we put in in that constituency he was defeated. Forgan Smith gave me great credit for the work I did there. After the death of Sir Littleton Groom, Fadden came into this Parliament and eventually became Prime
Minister. I told Artie on many occasions that I had been instrumental in making him Prime Minister.
I remember putting a big advertisement in the newspapers during the last few days of the election campaign. A man named Walsh was standing against Mr. Fadden. I put at the top of this large advertisement the words, “ Walsh will win Mirani “. Then I listed the eleven tory senators who had voted against the sugar embargo. I put a picture of Scullin on one side and one of Walsh on the other. Then I took an excerpt from the Brisbane “ Courier “. A correspondent of that newspaper had stated that if the Lyons Government were returned to office it would seek a reduction in the price of sugar of a half-penny per pound. The last reduction of a half-penny had cost £1,000,000. Artie Fadden came back and stated over the radio: “ Senator Brown was wrong. The reduction did not cost £1,000,000. It was only £850,000.” I answered him over the radio and multiplied the figure by ten. I said: “ Ladies and gentlemen, we will take Mr. Fadden’s figures. If you return Mr. Fadden and the tory government, remember that in ten years you will lose £8,500,000.” One of the heads of the sugar industry said to me: “ Gordon, you have frightened hell out of the poor devils. They will vote Walsh info power.” And so they did. Artie was defeated.
It is the habit of this present tory government to multiply the amount several times when its supporters are speaking of the sum that has been spent on development over the years. We have heard that done during this present debate. Honorable senators opposite try to create the impression that they have developed Australia by themselves. The fact is that people outside this place have developed it. The same comment may be made in relation to the Government’s defence expenditure. The Budget that we are now discussing provides for the expenditure on defence of an additional £30,000,000 approximately. Of course, the Government does not tell the people of Australia that the money which it proposes to expend on defence in the next year or two has about the same purchasing power as £200,000,000 had ten years ago.
The supporters of the Government pull their own legs and they try to pull the people’s legs as well. I suppose that all politicians do so occasionally. We use the weaknesses of our opponents to expose them to the populace. They cotton to our weaknesses and try to use them to expose us. However, after 31 years, a man becomes sick to death of hearing political arguments about the Northern Territory. I said so to Jock Nelson recently. I said: “ Jock, I am fed up to the tonsils with this talk of development of the Northern Territory. Is it ever to be developed? What is your suggestion?” He said that there was much mineral wealth in the Northern Territory and that the Government should see to it that mines were developed and subsidies given; railways should be built so that the minerals could be transported to the seaboard, and villages constructed around the mines, as the township of Mount Isa has been built around the mines there.
I have read the very interesting speech which Senator Sherrington made in the Senate last night. I am afraid that I misunderstood what he was saying at the time. I spoke to him to-day about the matter. When he was speaking last night he gave me the impression that he was against this proposition of developing the mining industry in the Northern Territory. To-day, he told me that that was not so. He said: “ I believe that we should take every opportunity and use every method and measure to find out whether minerals really are there, because in the past mines have been opened up only to find, perhaps after a few years, that they were useless.” It is necessary for this Government or any other government to-day to use the power at its command and the mcn under its control to go into the Northern Territory, and to ascertain where these minerals are and whether they can be successfully and commercially mined. The Government should then see that subsidies are provided and railways built, and that mineral development takes place for the purpose of populating the Northern Territory There should be something tangible and real, not discussion, humbug and continual talk year after year. Why are politicians unable to do something real? Instead of pulling one another to pieces, instead of decrying Labour policy, liberalism or something else, let us get down to the essential facts and do something for the service of Australia. The people are sick to death of this constant wordy warfare between one section and another. Let us get the facts on defence. Why pull the people’s legs? Why deceive them? Every one knows, every Minister knows, and every thinking man in the Parliament knows-
– And now you know.
– You can be stupid and facetious. A senator on the other side is trying to make a joke of me. I tell the listeners that Australia is in a parlous position in relation to defence, and the men who will be in the criminal dock are the leaders of the tory party, because they have failed miserably to provide defence for Australia. In military power we are very weak indeed and time is running short. We have no submarines at all. We have no bombers. What about the report of Sir Valston Hancock? Let us hear what he has to say. What about the demands of the Royal Australian Air Force? The Government has been told by Opposition senators that our bombers are obsolete, yet Government supporters sneer and laugh at us and try to make a joke of it. Labour stands for the defence of Australia. We tell the people that if we are ever returned to power we shall put the defence of this country on a firm basis.
– At long last we are coming to the end of this debate on the Budget for 1963. I thought there might have been some interjectors to say, “ Thank goodness for that “. One of the penalties of doubling the size of the Senate in 1949 is that we are bound to get twice the amount of repetition that we formerly had in debates of this sort, twice the thrashing out of issues in a Budget debate and therefore probably twice the tedium that we experience as we sit in this place over the years. I suppose that this ls the price of democracy. It is the way In which democracy works. Having sat here for a while, we think that it might work a lot better. Nevertheless, we have not got around to organizing a better system. There is an advantage in a debate of this type on the Budget. Over the fortnight or so during which it continues ideas on the issues do harden. After a period, we may find the Government’s attitude hardening. Sometimes backbenchers on the Government side inject some form of doubt into the Government. The Opposition, which happens to be composed of members of the Australian Labour Party now, solidifies its attitude towards the whole thing. I notice that over the days we start to cut off the twigs and get down to the hardwood.
If this was only a budget in the narrow sense of the word it would not be so important. But a budget to-da’y is much more than a bunch of financial statements and arrangements and an examination of the economy over the past twelve months and a forecast of the position in the future. I feel that each year it is becoming much more than that. A budget sets for the nation and for every citizen the pace to which the Government feels we should be geared. Even this Government, which proclaims the great advantages of private enterprise, cannot move away from the tremendous responsibility of its influence in the community.
I was hoping that this might have been a budget by which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) would finally redeem himself with the Australian people. It has been his lot, since becoming Treasurer, to bring down a series of unacceptable budgets, including supplementary financial arrangements between normal budgets. I thought that this was his chance to rehabilitate himself in the affections of the Australian people, but it seems as though he will have to wait at least another year before that state of affairs, desirable to himself, can come about.
If ever there was a time in the history of this Government when the Australian people waited for a budget to give them the green light, this was the occasion. Everybody expected a green light to indicate that the Australian nation could move forward with drive and dynamism which is so necessary to-day. We frequently hear from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that we are living in an exciting and challenging era. We thought that in this Budget the Government would have taken up that challenge. I agree with the Prime Minister that we do live in exciting and challenging times. There is the challenge of our own nation with its tremendous expansion under its own momentum and by immigration. That is a challenge to us every day. We live with the challenge of an export drive, unparalleled in our history. We are challenged by the emerging nations, as well as the older nations, for markets. This is a great challenge to a young and expanding nation. Australia lives in a curious situation in the Pacific area, where there are many emerging nations. As an older nation, we have special duties and responsibilities which can only be met if we play our full part, if we lead and be not content with being merely a camp follower.
Although in the Budget we certainly did not get a red light, instead of a green light we got the amber light of caution. We have been warned to be careful, in spite of the eulogies in the early part of the Treasurer’s Budget speech. The whole of the business community was expecting this Budget finally to disperse the fog that has been hanging over the business community ever since November, 1960. It seems as though we must live with that fog just so much longer. Merely because the fog was man-made, we should not allow the budget attitude of living by guess and by God to take control of the nation and its economy. The fog of November, 1960, having been man-made there must be a man-made apparatus to sweep it away and restore the economy.
I suppose that one of the greatest examples of the lethargy into which Australian people have fallen is to be found in the all-time record high in the amountof money lying in the savings banks of Australia. The savings banks contain the deposits of the small people of Australia. They are infinitesimal beside the amount of money which is banked by the big business interests and which could be used to provide’ credit for development. Unfortunately, the mistake of 1960 has not been remedied in this Budget. That was one of the most serious mistakes made by a Government which had been noted for its stop and go approach to the progress of Australia. It represented a clumsy attempt to adjust the situation existing in 1960 and the mistake should have been adjusted in this Budget.
Unfortunately it was not. As is very apparent in the opening paragraph of the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) the mistake inherent in this Budget is that of looking backwards. The Government has indulged in stop and go activities. It has lacked real confidence in the future of Australia. It was badly scared in its first years of office- in 1950, 1951 and 1952- and it allowed the economy to get completely out of control. Despite these facts, the Australian community has experienced great economic progress and the Government is relying on the fruits of that progress to carry it through in the future. This progress has occurred, not because of the Government’s actions, but in spite of them. It has been achieved because we have an expanding economy which has gained momentum that not even the Government can possibly stop. With the economic momentum and the effect of immigration it does not matter what honorable members opposite do. The only factor which could retard our momentum would bc an event beyond our control such as a happening overseas or a bad season. Whatever credit I may have given to this Government at any time I have always felt that the great pity about it has been that, living in bountiful years of world peace, it has not bad the confidence to go forward and lead us into the great future that lies ahead of Australia. It has not realized the opportunities which lie before us.
During the last few weeks particularly, the newspapers have contained statements by the Treasurer to the effect that he cannot understand why the Budget has not been well accepted. He cannot understand why people are complaining in view of the fact that we have had an 8 per cent, increase in the gross national product over the last few years. In the third paragraph of his Budget speech, he made the following statement: -
I am happy to be able to bring down a budget under conditions so propitious as those which rule in the Australian economy to-day. On the one hand, we can look back on a year of strong, continuous, widespread growth; on the other, we can look forward to possibilities at least as favorable - and in all probability more so - in the current year and perhaps beyond.
There we have sentences which cover every contingency that might arise in the next twelve months. The Treasurer said that conditions would possibly be as favorable in the current year as they had been last year. Then he said that, in all probability, they would be more favorable, and when he gets to the question of time he refers to the current year and, perhaps, beyond. He covered the situation from all angles. The first couple of pages of the Budget speech reflect, as the paragraph I have just quoted reflects, the inherent mistake in the Budget of claiming that the present position in Australia could not be better. I hope that the Liberal Party will accept the Treasurer as a very good authority on this subject. He went on to say that it was a good production year. He said that building activity had increased, that manufacturing activity had increased, that loans had reached record levels, and that overseas investment was at a record level. In listening to the commencement of the Budget speech, the pensioners and others who have been anxiously awaiting the Budget must have thought that all they had read in the newspapers would come true. But then the Treasurer stopped speaking in that manner and, apart from mending a few fences along the line, he did not indicate that he would do anything that the first part of his speech led us to believe he would do. He said that the years to come might be better than last year, but he advanced no evidence for that supposition. Every one of those numerous institutions which issued forecasts about economic activity in Australia have expressed doubt as to whether the existing situation can be maintained. Referring to the increase in gross national product of 8 per cent., the Treasurer said -
Some say the rate should have been even faster; yet, clearly, it was sufficient both to absorb the increase in the work force and to make possible a significant reduction in unemployment.
If time permits I should like to deal with that point a little later. My first complaint about the Budget is that it reflects the Government’s tendency to look backwards on what has happened in the past. I suppose that a government that has been as lucky as has this Government in having a long period of world peace and good seasons and all sorts of opportunities thinks that it can look back over its achievements. This is a very bad trait in man or government. There is no guarantee that the present situation will continue. Instead of looking back on the 8 per cent, increase in gross national product the Treasurer should have been taking steps to ensure that it would continue to increase. Instead of speaking of a significant reduction in unemployment having taken place he should have announced plans by which unemployment could be further reduced in the coming twelve months or completely cured in the years beyond. That has been the type of comment that has been heard on this Budget. That is the warning bell that has been ringing over the Government’s head. The kind of statement to which I have referred occurs throughout the Budget, I have been trying not to speak on subjects which have been dealt with by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber more adequately than I could deal with them but I have tried to pick out the main issues in the debate. Further on in the Budget speech I noticed a point relating to territories which illustrates the policy of looking backwards that 1 have mentioned. The Treasurer said -
The grant to the Papua and New Guinea Administration will this year be increased by £5,250,000 to £25,250,000. This is an increase of a full 25 per cent. in the funds made available to the Territory.
He added -
I may recall that in the Budget of 1949-50, the last budget prior to this Government taking office, the grant for Papua and New Guinea was only £4,200,000. Thus we have provided over the years for a six-fold increase.
My first objection to this statement is that the Treasurer used a figure which was not related to anything else. During this Government’s term of office money has become worth about a third of its value at the beginning of that term. Thus, the increase which the Treasurer referred to as a six-fold increase is, in fact, only a twofold increase. It is dishonest to compare the amount of money granted fourteen years ago with the amount of money granted to Papua and New Guinea to-day. The Treasurer referred to the grant for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. He could not have chosen a much worse example to illustrate his case. In 1949-50 the main problem in Papua and New Guinea was to re-establish the planters on their plantations and to establish a new post-war order for the people of the Territory. There was thenno pressure from outside; the problem was largely one of post-war rehabilitation. To-day, we have to face quite different problems which are silhouetted against the dark skyline of international interest. In 1949-50 Papua and New Guinea did not represent the last trusteeship in the Pacific area. What worries me is that these things should be written into a speech as important as the Budget speech. The Treasurer spoke of a period of thirteen years. In view of the rate at which Papua and New Guinea has been developed thirteen years is now equal to a generation in earlier years. The Treasurer has tried to stress the importance of the grant to Papua and New Guinea. Of what significance is it even if it did represent six times as much money as was granted thirteen years ago? What relationship has that to the problems of to-day? The Government has consistently fallen into the trap of looking backwards and failing to take cognizance of what must happen in the future.
I want to deal very briefly withthe subject of unemployment. I shall do my best not to traverse the ground that has been so ably covered by many of my colleagues. I want to deal with the attitude that is adopted towards this problem, because it constitutes the basic difference between the outlook of the Government and the Australian Labour Party, which temporarily forms the Opposition in this Parliament. The Government has been able to rely on national expansion to cure most of its problems, but unemployment is one problem which national expansion will not solve. During the last election campaign the Prime Minister said -
I confidently expect that we will cure the unemployment situation in Australia to-day without the wild inflationary measures of Mr. Calwell.
At that time approximately 110,000 persons were unemployed; to-day the number is about 78,000. I repeat that this policy of relying upon the expansion of a virile, young country has not worked out in this instance.
It is all very well to say that in 1945 - Senator Scott may interject and correct me if I am wrong in stating that to be the time - the level of unemployment under another government was 6 per cent. or 5 per cent. I do not doubt that he quoted the correct figure. But what bearing has that on the situation that exists fifteen or more years later? It is not right to say, as Senator Sir William Spooner did, that somebody has said that there must be a minimum level of unemployment of about li per cent., that that is the level at present in three States, and therefore the Government is doing pretty good business. In Western Australia the level of unemployment is much higher than that. There ought to be a dynamic approach to the problem of unemployment. We should not look at the numbers when considering this problem. We all should be saying that the level is too high and that it represents not only misery in the lives of people but a loss of economic power within the community.
The distressing aspect of this problem is that it is not temporary but chronic. This Government has had the problem hanging over its head for many years. If it were only a temporary problem, the Government could afford to continue to adopt its do-nothing policy and to say that the expansion of the country would cure it. I am worried by the nonchalant attitude that is adopted by the Government towards this problem. As I said earlier, I heard Senator Sir William Spooner say some nights ago that some authority - I have forgotten who it was - said that an unemployment level of li per cent, is not bad business. Then he added that that was the level in three States. So what? On the previous occasion on which I heard him speak on this subject he said: “ Do not mistake me. I am not happy about the unemployment situation in Australia.” My heart leapt within me. I said to myself, “ Here is a responsible Minister who is worried about the situation “. What worries me - I hope I do not misrepresent him - is that he is content with the situation to-day. The existence of 78,000 unemployed persons in the population of 11,000,000 is not something to be contented about. It is quite wrong to take refuge behind the fact that somebody said that in 1945 unemployment was at a certain level. To have so many persons unemployed is a loss to the Australian community. Tt is doubly so when the confidence of the people is destroyed to such an extent that many have large bank deposits and are not prepared to invest their money. The framing of the Budget presented a golden opportunity to deal with this problem. I agree with every word in Mr. Holt’s opening statement that this country is in a wonderful position to-day.
Senator Sir William Spooner said that the Australian Labour Party hoped for a high degree of unemployment. That statement has been repeated several times by members of the Liberal Party. At the very worst it is a contemptible statement to make; at the best, it is a cheap political jibe that we can possibly overlook. But let me say in fairness to the honorable senator that I do not think he believes that himself. He does not pull any punches during debate. He never asks for any sympathy and he never gives it. But I do not think that any man in this place believes that members of the Australian Labour Party, above everybody else in the community, want to see a high level of unemployment merely for the sake of gaining votes. There are very few people of my generation and earlier generations who have not suffered in their own homes the effects of unemployment. There is a vast difference between speaking academically about a certain number of people being out of work and having to experience the effects of unemployment every day and every hour of your life in your own home. It is regrettable that such a statement should creep into debate.
I would be less than generous’ if I did not acknowledge that at long last an effort has been made to close up some of the holes that have been apparent in the social services structure. The Government has recognized at last the needs of civilian widows. We all know that we will grow old eventually if we do not die in the meantime, but none of us knows whether he will drop dead at any moment and leave behind a widow and children. I repeat that at long last the Government has faced up to the needs of the civilian widows. But on the other hand, it has set its face resolutely against increasing child endowment. Also, for the first time, the Government has discriminated between single and married pensioners.
I ask honorable senators to cast their minds back to 1911 when the Fisher Government set out to help people who were in financial difficulty and who, for want of a better ‘word, were suffering the effects of poverty. Their plight was recognized after the last war in the Beveridge report and upon the emergence of Labour governments in England and Australia. We then tried to attack the conditions of poverty in which aged and invalid persons were living and the hardship that was being experienced by people because of funerals, births and so forth. But in more recent times a political element has crept into the granting of social service benefits. I do not think even my friends of the Liberal Party would be offended if I said that the granting of 5s. endowment for the first child was a political decision, lt was not granted as the outcome of shrewd judgment. The decision was made on the eve of an election. The Government won that election. It was stuck with the promise and had to implement it.
We have not had a decent inquiry into the social service set-up since probably 1941. The social service structure has grown like Topsy, and it ought to be examined. The fact that the Department of Social Services has advised the Minister that there ought to be a discriminatory pension shows that the department itself is at the crossroads. Senator Marriott said that a means test may have to be applied for child endowment. We ought to be having a complete inquiry to determine where we should spend the taxpayers’ money to alleviate poverty. A start should be made by providing food, shelter and clothing. There must be a mine of information in the Department of Social Services, in the Department of Health, and possibly in other departments like the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It seems crazy to me to give pensions to the pensioners on the one hand and then charge them a lower rate for a television licence but the full rate for a telephone rental. These are all things which take the pensioners into another level of prosperity and away from the subsistence level. 1 am interested in the way that the Government has approached this matter of social services. In many ways, it has acted clumsily, particularly in the case of single pensioners. This is an interesting situation and it is time it was examined closely. I do not propose to go into details now, but I leave this thought with the Government: It is about time we had another complete look at the social services problem. It is crazy. Not once since 1949.,, except to redeem political promises that, it made to gain or regain office, has the Government given increased social service rates. Large families have been dealt with severely.
As my time is running short under our gentleman’s agreement concerning this debate, I merely want to emphasize what I set out to say. I think obvious doubts have arisen about this Government’s approach to many problems. The Government made an inherent mistake in the Budget - apart from the individual matters to which I have referred - with its attitude to the current situation. The Government has convinced itself that everything is going to be all right and that it does not need to give the green light to the Australian people. The fog created in 1960 is still hanging over us, but the Government believes that it will be dispersed in God’s good time.
But that is not the situation. I appreciate fully the difficulties of the Government. Governments, like individuals, live their lives between the twin maxims of “ Look before you leap “ and “ He who hesitates is lost “. If a government can see its way between the two, it is doing well. That is so with most people. But that is the problem that faces the Government now. In the words of the Treasurer himself, the state of the economy indicates that this is the time when the Government should have taken the bit between its teeth and gone ahead.
A change has come over Australia in the past few years. We had a dream of finding oil. To-day, we know for sure that there is oil on the Australian mainland. In Western Australia we were worrying about iron ore as though it were a precious metal. To-day we have so much iron ore that it is almost an embarrassment. Aluminium was something that we hoped to produce and now it is almost certain that we will be exporting aluminium in the foreseeable future.
If ever there was a time when the Australian nation was poised to go ahead to a great and glorious future this was the time. But the Government chose to have a look at the problem in another way. It chose to look .before it leapt instead of taking the jump. Australia has its main chance now when we still have world peace - and do not know how long we will have it - and when we still have bountiful seasons but do not know how long they will last. This was the time for the Government to act. But it has repeated an error it has made consistently. In this Budget it chose to waste time, and time is one asset that can be taken from us without our consent.
The only chance for the Australian people is for the Government to realize that this Budget has not been accepted by the nation. We have a record amount of money dammed up in the savings banks, and a record amount of credit in the trading banks. At present it is under control, but if this financial power bursts its banks and starts to flood uncontrollably, it will bring forth the disaster that any uncontrolled force carries with it. If the Government moves quickly enough and guides this force into the proper channels of investment it will solve many problems. The only chance the Government has is to abandon completely the spirit of caution it has written into this Budget and realize that this is a time for giving the green light to progress. It should realize the potential it has dammed up and that time could easily cut out. If the Government acts now it has a grand opportunity to lead the country towards a great and glorious future.
Question put -
Thatthe words proposed to be added (Senator Kennedy’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Debate resumed from 14th August (vide page 39), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Senate will now proceed to consider a series of bills with proposals to amend the Customs Act and the Excise Act. In introducing these measures the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) gave an explanation of the various goods concerned and the rates of duties applicable. Although the bills will be taken seriatum, I shall briefly outline the Opposition’s view with regard to them.
I must say at the outset that most of the bills are machinery measures which have been introduced as an attempt to simplify the machinery of various aspects of customs administration, and they are designed to tighten the procedures pertaining to the importation and safe keeping of narcotic drugs. A number of the bills deal with matters that have been the subject of recommendations by the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority and serve to indicate to the Senate the delicate balance in which our economy is being held by the activities of the Tariff Board. The board sits constantly, watching various trends in the manufacturing sector of our economy. Many of these bills are designed to give protection to Australian industries which have been found by the Special Advisory Authority or Tariff Board to warrant that protection.
For the machinery measures that are proposed in the Customs Bill 1963 the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise deserve commendation. Here is evidence of their application, energy and initiative in keeping under surveillance all the procedures connected with the entry of goods and the speeding up of processing of entries through customs, lt must be quite difficult for the department to keep abreast of the numerous recommendations by the Tariff Board, especially wilh the ever-changing pattern of transport, with faster-moving ships and aircraft carrying larger freights and moving from country to country at speeds that were inconceivable a generation ago. The forms and methods of business transactions are also changing.
This measure provides for a change in the forms of notification required of consignors from other countries to importers in Australia. It makes provision for importers to receive documents necessary for the entry of goods well in advance of the time of arrival of the goods. When a vessel or aircraft arrives in Australia the advance documents are regarded as having been “ made “ as at the time of the arrival, within the terms of the Customs Act. This is a most necessary amendment and it has the support of the Opposition.
It is the objective of the Minister and his departmental officers to try to assist always in the speedier clearance and delivery of cargo from the various ports. It is with this in view that the proposed amendments have been drafted. They will smooth out the amount of work that the officers are obliged to do in the checking of documentation relating to the importation of goods. The system which it is proposed to introduce has been given a trial by the department and found to be effective and efficient, and it specifically removes any doubt as to the legal position of the actual date of entry.
Another amendment proposes the streamlining of the Customs Act relating to replacement entries. Wilh the special
Advisory Authority making quick decisions on tariff rates, safeguards are needed against importers using the provisions relating to replacement entries to take advantage of reductions in duty, lt is quite easy to understand that people would be very quick to take advantage of any loopholes or anomalies that may arise as a result of the mobility and elasticity of the special authority. The amendments now proposed close those loopholes. In the new provisions the rate of duty will be the same as that applicable on the day the original entry was made, regardless of the date of the replacement entry.
The measure proposes also to dispense with securities which are now required for compliance with conditions attached to the importaton and safekeeping of narcotic drugs and to adopt a more positive method of enforcing Commonwealth requirements by inserting into the act a provision which makes a breach of the provision a punishable offence. It was pointed out by the Minister in his second-reading speech that previously the maximum penalty for transgressions such as smuggling or importing narcotic drugs was a fine of £100. By this measure that penalty will be raised to £500. The Minister said in his second-reading speech -
Penalties for offences involving smuggling and the illegal importation and exportation of goods are increased from £100 to £500. The penalty of £100 has remained unchanged since federation despite the decrease in money values since lh.it date. The figure of £500 is more in line wilh present-day money values- and is in keeping wilh Australia’s obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to provide for adequate penalties for offences involving narcotics.
It is apparent that the Minister and his departmental officers have found it necessary to amend the Customs Act along those lines. The Minister points out that the amendment is in line with’ Australia’s obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which are covered by the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.
Another proposed machinery amendment relates to declarations, and provides that these can be made before- any officer of customs. In order to provide for the moro efficient handling of goods the Minister or the Comptroller-General of Customs can delegate authority to officers under their control.
A further amendment relates to carnets. Evidently this is a term that is exclusive to the Department of Customs and Excise. 1 understand that when a tourist brings certain articles into the country, or a representative from overseas brings trade samples into Australia, which will subsequently be exported, security in respect of these articles is provided by some reputable organization. The increasing use of carnets by visitors and tourists and those interested in sales drives - where the goods are only in the country temporarily - necessitates a more specific legal status for these carnets. A further machinery amendment tidies up the administrative difficulties associated with the seizure of goods. Claims for seized goods may now be made to the principal officer at the place of seizure or to the Collector of Customs in the State concerned. It was pointed out by the Minister that the definition of a port of entry was not sufficiently elastic to allow the smooth running of the department. This widening of the act will allow claims to be made at the place where the goods were seized.
As I have already mentioned there has been a review of the penalty for the smuggling and illegal importation of goods, the penalty being increased from £100 to £500. There arc two amendments relating to boarding stations for the boarding of ships and aircraft. They give Collectors of Customs power to hold ships and aircraft and provide for additional boarding stations. This will cover cases of ships carrying hazardous cargo, and freighter aircraft not landing at a capital city airport. This amendment also is to meet the requirements of new patterns of trading that are the result of the use of aircraft, and is most desirable. A change is being made also in the wording of the act to straighten out difficulties relating to concessions covering fuel and other stores necessary for the servicing of aircraft when operating on international flights over routes covered by various international air agreements.
There is another rather interesting provision which is covered by one of these amendments. It deals with a very technical matter and in effect regularizes the position of the Minister for Customs and Excise in respect of the signing of notices of tariff proposals. From my reading of the act section 273EA specifically authorizes the
Minister for Customs and Excise to sign notices of tariff proposals. Evidently a legal opinion was given expressing the view that the wording of the act debarred a senator from signing such notices. It was apparently assumed that the Minister would be a member of the House of Representatives. It would appear that there has been some carelessness on the part of the draftsman in drafting some previous amendments to the act which brought this situation about. I am pleased that the act will be amended to make it quite clear that the present Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Norman Henry Denham Henty, is authorized to sign documents on behalf of his own department. It would appear from the delicate opinion that was given that although he is Minister for Customs and Excise, being a senator he has been precluded from signing these documents. It would seem to be a rather ridiculous situation, and I feel that it could have been taken for granted that the Minister had this power. However, when legal men get their teeth into some of these matters they become very technical.
There are further amendments which bring into line provisions relating to false declarations on oath. Another amendment has to do with the rewording of the section relating to offences involving assaults on customs officers. Finally there is the deletion of a provision relating to warehouses. The requirement for duplicate copies of outward manifests is deleted from the act. These amendments are mainly of a machinery nature and enable the department to keep abreast of the continually changing pattern of tariffs and excise charges. They will help to streamline the activities of departmental officers so that they can meet new circumstances as they arise.
Another bill in this series upon which I should like to remark is that which provides for a tariff on paper. It concerns directly one of our thriving industries in Tasmania. I should like to mention that the Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited price list includes 28 different types of paper, some of these types being available in a number of different colours. Most of them are available in different substances. A very wide range of paper is involved. One company producing in Australia stated that it produces more than 100 different types and qualities of paper. It is pleasing to know that Australia is so well advanced in this field. 1 was rather surprised to learn that, during the course of the Tariff Board inquiry it was found that, prior to 1st July, 1960, Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited had sold its paper through any recognized wholesale paper merchant, but from that date until 1st October, 1962, the company had sold paper only through those merchants who had entered into a merchanting agreement with it. One of the main conditions of the agreement was that merchants were required to limit their sales of paper which was competitive with that of the company to a maximum of 10 per cent, of the quantity of paper they had purchased from the company. Competitive paper in this context was stated to include paper manufactured by Shoalhaven, as well as imported paper. The report of the Tariff Board stated -
A.P.P.M.’s subsidiary, Ballarat, had a similar agr cement except that the permissible sales of competitive papers were 15 per cent. These agreements were the subject of much adverse criticism by some witnesses at the inquiry. However, because the agreements have now been superseded, the Board does not propose to comment one way or another on the criticisms. lt would appear that industries in Australia will have to take note of the obligation that rests on them. If they are to expect protection they must phty the game with the Australian consumer. I am very pleased that the Tariff Board has directed attention to this matter in its report. I hope that the fact will be noted by organizations which enter into merchanting agreements under the protection of our rather handsome tariff and excise duties.
There is another interesting aspect of the Tariff Board’s report on paper and paperboards. I refer to the opinion of Mr. Murray, in dissent from the general report, as follows: -
Mr. Murray is of the opinion that the main recommendation of the Board, whilst affording limited protection over a range of A.P.M. products, is not sufficient to provide the company with an opportunity to recover the large and profitable share of the Australian market which is necessary if it is to consolidate its commercial operations, and, at the same time, to provide sufficient funds for future mill and forestry expansion.
This does not suggest thai the Board should err on the side of extravagance but Mr. Murray is not satisfied that the protection recommended is, beyond reasonable doubt, adequate and reflects full recognition of the contribution to national development which A.P.M. and others of a kind within the paper industry are making.
The report then goes on to refer to opinions expressed at the meeting of the board in Melbourne by Dr. Herbert Eric Dadswell, who appeared as chief of the Division of Forest Products of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. 1 think that Dr. Dadswells comments arc most important from the point of view of Tasmania. He stated, inter alia -
It has been the purpose of this submission to tell, quite briefly, the story of research and development in the Australian pulp and paper industry, and to refer to the fact that many difficulties, quite considerable, have been overcome in developing this industry based primarily on the short-fibred eucalypt woods. Further, it has been necessary to indicate that research personnel, both in industry and government organizations, are looking towards the future; money is being spent to develop better pine plantations which will give us a product that can and will improve both the wood and the fibre for future generations, lt has also been indicated that in the case of the eucalypt forests more complete utilization of the raw material is being accomplished by the integration of sawmilling and pulping industries.
All this development, research, and planning have been costly, and it would he a disaster to Australia if, at this stage, the industry were forced to cease or greatly reduce operations. The whole industry is a national asset and. as such, should be encouraged by the Government, nol only at research levels, but at all other levels. 1 believe that protection of the Australian paper industry, and particularly the Tasmanian section of it, is well merited, especially in view of the fact that the Tariff Board found that kraft liner board and corrugating paper exported to Australia from the United States of America had been sold here to a person at export prices less than the fair market value of the goods. The board also found that imports of such papers and paperboards were causing injury to an Australian industry. A number of the board’s findings direct attention to the fact that dumping was occurring. Quick action was taken by the Special Authority and the situation has been rectified to a large extent.
I wish to pay a tribute to the Tariff Board for the diligence it has displayed in investigating this matter so thoroughly. Due to its efforts, we have been able to obtain an insight into this industry. In other circumstances, that might be very difficulty to accomplish. The Opposition appreciates the nature of the amendments which the Government proposes in this measure. We realize that they are of a machinery nature and we do not intend to oppose them. We. wish the bill a speedy passage through the Senate.
.- in reply - I agree with Senator O’Byrne that the amendments which the Government proposes are mostly of a techncial nature. I live with matters of this kind. I know that the honorable senator does not have a similar opportunity, and for that reason I wish to pay a tribute to the way in which he has grasped their significance, a fact which is apparent from the speech he has just made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14th August (vide page 39), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The amendments proposed in this bill are complementary to those in the Customs Bill, with which the Senate has just dealt. They are not opposed by the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 92), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill comprises six schedules. It is of a technical nature. In the main, the proposed changes are based on recommendations of the TariffBoard and a special advisory authority. The Opposition does not oppose it.
– in reply - Some questions were asked in another place about this legislation and, with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the answers to those questions.
There were seven criteria suggested against which departmental administration might be measured, viz.: -
There are several other items on which questions were raised for which complete answers have been supplied to my entire satisfaction. My brief replies to these are -
Both by-laws and parts orders are delegated legislation. Any importer who thinks he has paid additional duty unnecessarily should advise my department.
These two problems inevitably flow from the difficulties of distinguishing furnishing fabrics from dress fabrics. The Tariff Board has the matter currently under reference.
Long term it is hopedthe Tariff Board can provide a simpler solution.
The term was explained to the board members as “ simply cut into rectangles “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from. 21st August (vide page 92), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill proposes a number of amendments of the Second Schedule to the principal act. The action is complementary to that taken in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2), and is not opposed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 2 1st August (vide page 93), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
. The bill is complementary to Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2). Jt is not opposed by the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 93), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The proposals in the bill are complementary to those of the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2), and are not opposed.
Question resolved inthe affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 93), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill contains amendments complementary to those contained in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) and is not opposed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 94), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second’ time.
.- The bill proposes amendments to the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1963. It comprises four schedules, each having a different date of commencement, and deals with a host of rather technical matters. There is nothing in it to which the Opposition takes objection. We therefore wish the bill well.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 21st August (vide page 94), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 90), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. President, let me say at the outset that the Labour Party does not propose to oppose the sales tax proposals that are presently before the Senate; but we do propose to be critical of the Government in respect of this legislation. We consider that it should have been brought before the chamber some time ago, and we say that it is too little too late. I hope to be able to explain what I mean by “ too little “ and why I say that it is too late. The Opposition takes this opportunity to criticize the measure and to express its dissatisfaction with this type of legislation. We believe that an impost of this kind, which applies equally to the poor as it docs to the rich, is a complete departure from democratic principles. It is a departure from the principle of taxation according to ability to pay. Later, I shall say something with respect to statements made in another place which might throw some light on the reasons why the Government proposes this measure at this time. Indirect taxation which bears heavily on all sections of the community without regard to ability to pay is a form of impost of which the conservative parties are fairly fond. The Opposition insists that the only equitable form of taxation is that which is based on the ability to pay.
Government spokesmen are very fond of telling the people that they believe in a low tax policy, but they use a taxation system which is, in fact, a hidden confidence trick. Unlike direct taxation, the form of taxation supported by the Government is not seen at its face value. It is applied to certain goods and the people are not told how the prices of the goods concerned are made up. We thank the Government, of course, for the relief that is afforded to the low and middle income groups by these proposals. There are few people in Australia who would know the full range of purchases upon which they pay sales tax. People believe, at the present time, that tax paid falls too heavily upon those in the lower and middle income groups and that it should be graduated so that a greater share would be borne by those who are best able to pay.
I often wonder how long the Government would remain in office if it prepared a White Paper setting out how much people are taxed and distribute the White Paper to each taxpayer to give them an opportunity of knowing what the Government gets from them in direct taxation as distinct from indirect taxation. Included in the enactments which impose tax on consumers and which apply equally to all classes of persons are the customs tariff legislation, the excise tariff legislation, the pay-roll tax legislation and the sales tax legislation, now before the Senate. There are many other acts which impose additional costs on the consumer. lt is interesting to note that the estimates of receipts in the current Budget papers reveal that £622,595,000 will be collected by means of these taxes in the current financial year. If you compare that figure with the amount of £905,750,000 which it is estimated will be recovered by means of direct tax you get some idea of the trend towards imposing taxation equally on all classes of people.
This year, there will be an increase of £6,000,000 in customs tariff collections and of £13,000,000 in excise tariff collections. In spite of what the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has said about a reduction of £9,000,000 in sales tax on foodstuffs under the measure at present before the Senate, sales tax collections will, in fact, decrease by £938,000, or less than £1,000,000. It is estimated that collections of indirect taxes will increase by £23,300,000 this year. I reserve the right to say in a few -minutes whether the measure before the
Senate will give relief, as claimed, in its application to sales tax on foodstuffs. It is a fact that because of greater sales of goods upon which sales tax is paid indirect taxation will increase during the current financial year. I have no regard for the estimate of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) of the reduction of sales tax for the full financial year. The Minister for Civil Aviation, in his second-reading speech on this bill, said that there would be a certain reduction in sales tax in this year and he then stated what the amount of relief would be for the whole financial year. The Government’s continuing policy of stop and go does not give the Opposition any confidence in the future. We do not know that sales tax will not be re-imposed on foodstuffs within twelve months. Therefore, it is useless trying to estimate what will happen in the future.
I have no doubt that the Government hopes that this legislation will absorb recent cost increases attributable to wages, and that consumer price increases will be avoided. I warn the Government, that both of these things cannot happen. We cannot have a reduction in the price of foodstuffs to the consumers at the same time as we have stability of costs. If recent wage increases will increase costs, the only way in which that cost increase can be prevented from being passed onto the public will be for the retailers, the wholesalers or the manufacturers - whoever applies the tax - to retain the tax rebate of 12i per cent, provided for in this measure. That would stabilize prices, but it would not reduce the price of commodities sold to the public. In the Brisbane. “ Truth “ published a fortnight ago this statement appears -
The Federal Government’s bis Budget announcement of a 12± per cent, sales tax concession on foodstuffs has proved almost meaningless. It is NOT being passed on to the public in Queensland.
Sunday Truth inquiries last week-end revealed that most foodstuff firms have taken the bulk of the 12£ per cent, into their cash registers. What the public is getting amounts to crumbs.
Further on, under the heading “ People Have Got Little Relief “, this statement is published -
Mr. Holt, in his Budget speech, had pushed this big punchline: “ Sales tax is to be lifted completely from all foodstuffs subject to that tax “. But what a farce it has proved.
Sales tax (al the rale of 2s. 6cl. in the £1) on many food lines meant a considerable slug on the average wage-earner’s pocket.
But that tax has been lifted now for eleven days and the public to dale has derived practically no benefit.
When prices are increased, the public takes the full brunt immediately. Now, look at the position eleven days after the lifting of the 12i per cent, sales tax on foodstuffs.
Cakes formerly costing 3s. have been reduced to 2s. lid. (a reduction of less than 3 per cent.).
Sd. ice cream cones still cost the kids Sd.
Some biscuit manufacturers have prepared new price schedules, but the lower retail prices still haven’t been passed on.
In most cases, there has been no reduction in the price of small cakes.
The price of most grocery lines will not be reduced for another six to eight weeks, possibly longer.
That gives some idea of what is happening in Queensland, lt means that the people are not getting the benefit of the reduction in sales tax. The Minister for Civil Aviation, who represents the Treasurer, will probably say that they are getting an indirect benefit because without the reduction in sales tax there would have been a rise in the price of goods. That is rather like gazing into the crystal ball. I am not satisfied that an increase of 10 per cent, in margins - that is, a 10 per cent, increase of about one-fifth of the wage - would cause a steep increase in the price of goods.
It is interesting to note that the Treasurer stated in another place that the loss to revenue as a result of the granting of this concession will amount to fi 1,500,000 in a full year and £9,000,000 in 1963-64. In this chamber the Minister representing the Treasurer said that the loss to revenue in a full year will be £12,000,000 and that in 1963-64 it will be £9,500,000. It would be more satisfactory if the Government were to make up its. mind what the cost will be. Surely when the Treasurer delivers a speech which contains statistical data the Minister who represents him in this place should endeavour to quote the same data. Which of the Ministers is correct? I respectfully ask the Minister representing the Treasurer to let us have the same information that the members of another place. have access to.
It has been stated that the new exemption relates to foodstuffs but the tax is being retained on confectionery and aerated and carbonated waters. These commodities are rather important to children. I know that some people will ask: Are they necessaries? Are they not luxuries? I believe that in this day and age these commodities arc necessaries. If any concession was to be passed on, the Government should have gone the whole way and should have removed the sales tax from confectionery and aerated waters. It is difficult to understand why the Government did not do so on this occasion. Over the years this Government has shown complete disregard of the children of Australia in its refusal to increase maternity allowances and child endowment. So one could more or less expect that in a measure of this kind, which deals with commodities that are used mainly by children, it would have no regard to the needs of children.
If the sales tax on confectionery and aerated waters had been abolished, the additional cost to revenue would have been £6,600,000. I do not say that that sum is correct, but it is as near as I could get to the correct figure after having a table prepared for me by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library statistical service. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the table in “ Hansard “.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator
McKellar). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I apologize for keeping the Senate at this hour and 1 hope that honorable senators will forgive me. I want to lay at rest for ever, 1 hope, a ghost that has haunted this Australian Parliament for well over twenty years. I refer to the constant references to the existence of a “ Brisbane line “ and the claim that the Brisbane line was the creation of a government headed by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in 1942.
I think I am one of the few men left alive who can claim to know something of importance in the history of Australia relating to the Brisbane line. The Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, appointed a commission when this canard - and it is a canard - was first enunciated. The commission stated that there was no such thing as the Brisbane line in existence, although it was constantly claimed by the late Mr. E. J. Ward, when he was the honorable member for East Sydney, that the reality of the Brisbane line was a postulate of the coalition government of 1942.
The situation is this: I was at that time a staff officer at the head-quarters of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces. Japan had entered the war. No command of the air or of the sea was available to Australia in the South-West Pacific. At that time the defence problem of Australia was fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the CommanderinChief, Home Forces. In February, 1942, therefore, he convened a planning conference which was conducted in his presence by Major-General Vasey, who was Chief-of-Staff. The problem of the defence of Australia was thoroughly and exhaustively examined for three days at the head-quarters of Eastern Command, Victoria Barracks, Sydney. I was present and acted as military secretary at that conference.
At the end of three days an appreciation was prepared and was taken to Canberra by the Commander-in-Chief. He discussed the situation of the continental defence of Australia with the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin. The circumstances were these: Bearing in mind that the Japanese had command of the sea it was not possible in the existing state of development north of Brisbane to sustain a military effort north of that city. In other words, logistical support of any Australian effort north of Brisbane would be confined to movement over an internal route west of the Great Dividing Range because it was obvious that there was no possibility logistically of being able to sustain a force on the coastal railways.
The Commander-in-Chief suggested that the most southerly operation of defence would take place on the line beginning at Ipswich and swinging through Gympie to the coast. An immediate beginning should be made to strengthen the railway from Sydney on the internal route to Wallangarra and a switch line for defence should be built from Sydney to Newcastle. An aeroplane base should be established at Tocumwal. These recommendations were substantially accepted by the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Curtin.
Honorable senators will recollect that at the same time the then Prime Minister made an appeal to the United States of America to produce some assistance for Australia. Subsequently, General MacArthur came from the Philippines and was appointed Commander-in-Chief in the South-West Pacific with the consent of the Commonwealth Government. He accepted the then defence planning and all the planning of the conference in Sydney that I have mentioned was sustained by General MacArthur. He accepted the defensive posture of Australia until after the Battle of Midway, when four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk and the balance of power was tipped in favour of the U.S. Navy. At that stage - and only at that stage - did General MacArthur decide to advance the line to New Guinea, and Australian and American forces were despatched there.
It is important to remember that there was a phase when it was necessary to conceive of a defensive posture in Australia immediately north of Brisbane along what appears to be known now in political history as the Brisbane line. But I want to emphasize that this defensive posture was not recommended to the Commonwealth Government until February 1942, when the Government was a Labour Party administration headed by Mr. Curtin. That was the first time in Australia’s defensive thinking that the problem of defending Australia north of Brisbane came into being. It led, as I have said, to the request by the distinguished Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, to the United States to come to our aid. It will be recalled that Japan entered the war in
December 1941, before the February planning conference. The Curtin Administration took over some three months before the Japanese entry into the war. So I hope that forever and a day I have nailed the canard that the Brisbane line and selling out all northern Australia’s defences - as stated by Senator Hendrickson to-day - was a proposal of the Menzies Government. It was a decision forced on Australia by the exigencies of war at the time of the Curtin Labour Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 September 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630911_senate_24_s24/>.