25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuilin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question ls directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister in matters of education and research. Yesterday the Minister said he thought it highly unlikely that the general religious syllabus of New South Wales would be introduced in Canberra schools. Is he now able to revise his opinion? Has a decision been made to extend to the citizens of Canberra the benefits of the enlightened policy of the New South Wales Government?
– Without commenting upon the characterisation of the policy of the New South Wales Government which fell from the lips of the honorable senator, I point out that the position regarding schools in the Australian Capital Territory, which are included in the series of schools about which Senator Hendrickson asked me yesterday, is this: The Commonwealth, through the Department of the Interior, administers the schools, but under a 52 year old agreement between the then Prime Minister and the then Premier of New South Wales the curricula of the schools in the Australian Capital Territory, for obvious geographical and examination reasons, are determined by the New South Wales Department of Education. This situation will continue unless the agreement is altered. So, I think the true position is that as the present agreement stands it would be quite possible for the Government of New South Wales to enforce on the children of the Australian Capital Territory any type of religious syllabus which appeared adequate to that Government.
– Yes, it is true that there is to be a launch as part of the Customs establishment in Brisbane. Tenders have been called from Australian shipbuilders for the construction of a launch similar to the launch being built for use in the Port of Sydney. The launch will be used to facilitate the clearance of overseas ships in the Port of Brisbane and also for preventive work associated with illegal entry or smuggling.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. It refers to a statement alleged to have bea”, made by Alderman Moran of the Sydney City Council regarding the Mascot airport and the Minister’s reply thereto. I ask the Minister whether he has anything further to communicate to the Senate in connection with this matter.
– I thought I made the position fairly clear in a statement yesterday, but in case anybody is under a misapprehension I should like to cover the ground again as to what is apparently developing in Australia into a sort of intertribal warfare between a couple of capital cities. First, both cities - Melbourne and Sydney - have new airport projects planned. They are both important cities and both have a real need for these airport projects. Because the facilities at Essendon have been extended to the utmost, apart from the need to provide for international air traffic, a new airport is needed in Melbourne because of increased local traffic. Major airport projects are in hand at Mascot and I shall deal with it first because work there to extend the runway has been started. lt has been necessary to divert a sewer which has been there for some time. This work has been commenced. A tender has been let for the extension of the runway into Botany Bay. A Dutch dredge will take part in this work and if it is not already there, it is nearly there. It is planned to finish this work by 1966. I have read all sorts of completion dates in various statements but departmental officers assure me that there is nothing to suggest that the work will not be finished in 1966. The operational lengths of the runways at Mascot have been queried. They are 8,500 ft. and 8,300 ft. Runways measuring 8,500 ft. and 7,500 ft. are planned at Tullamarine. I am advised that all these runways will take any jet aircraft that are flying at present, lt has been said that there will be a need to cater for supersonic airliners but these aircraft are still on paper. Nobody knows at this moment what facilities will be necessary for supersonic aircraft and until we know them they certainly will not be planned. I remind the Senate that when jet aircraft were first employed on overseas routes to this country, Sydney airport was ready to take them. When supersonic aircraft get in the air - and we know what their requirements are - Sydney airport will be equipped to take them also.
– Tullamarine too?
– I cannot answer that question as I do not know where the airlines plan to use supersonic aircraft, but it is certain that they will fly into Sydney because the international airport of Australia is at Mascot. It is the cross-roads of the Pacific. Our own international airline, Qantas, has built an enormous installation at Mascot. The honorable senators who are interjecting are demonstrating that we have inter-tribal warfare not only outside but also inside the Senate. 1 must say that some people in here are as ill informed as some outside the House. They are not prepared to listen to the truth. I am not telling honorable senators opposite the story they would like to hear; but these are the facts.
The new international terminal at Sydney is scheduled now to be completed in 1968. The airport at Tullamarine is scheduled to be completed about December 1967. There will be a difference of about four to six months between the completion dates of the two airports. The reason for this difference is the huge reclamation work required at Mascot airport. About 3 million cubic yards of building-up is necessary. The runways, the hard standings and all the other work required at Mascot is a considerable project. This will be done and it will be finished by the middle of 1968. Those are the scheduled dates of completion and I am advised that there is nothing to suggest that the work on the two airports will not be completed on time.
– Would the Minister put the record straight? He said that Mascot would be completed by 1966 and later he said it would be completed in 1968.
– I said that the runways at Mascot would be finished in 1966 and that the international terminal area was scheduled to be finished in mid- 1968, four to six months after the work at Tullamarine was completed. I think the position is clear. I do not think I have missed any points that have been raised but if any more information is required, 1 will be happy to supply it.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Does the Government propose to introduce during this session of the Parliament a bill to consolidate and review the laws relating to bankruptcy?
– The AttorneyGeneral has indicated to me that he expects to be able to introduce this legislation during the current session of the Parliament. He cannot give a firm undertaking to do this as there is still a considerable amount of work to be done with regard to representations made after the publication of the report on’ this matter. However, the Attorney-General believes he will be able to get the work completed and is aiming to introduce the legislation during this session.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In view of the fact that in Australia we have the scientific brains and the knowledge to build commercial nuclear reactors, has the Minister given thought to constructing such a reactor as a national project in an area where it would benefit the nation as a whole, such as in South Australia? Would not such a project be consistent with Australia’s policy and practice of encouraging and obtaining self sufficiency in various industries such as the motor and aircraft engineering industries? Is the Minister aware that the establishment of such a reactor would be of inestimable educational value to our scientists and technicians as well as to the uranium industry? If the Minister has not considered this matter, would his Department set up a committee to consider it in view of the fact that the estimated cost would bc in Che vicinity of £2 million to £3 million?
– The honorable senator intimated that he proposed to ask this question and I have had the opportunity of discussing it with the Minister for National Development. The Minister has informed me that the technical and economic prospects of nuclear power in Australia are under continuous review by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in consultation, as necessary, with the State power authorities which are, of course, responsible for the provision of power supplies in their respective States. The honorable senator will be aware that the competitive position of nuclear generated power in relation to power generated by conventional means has improved considerably in recent years, and that the major industrial countries of the Western world are promoting substantial programmes of nuclear power generation for the reason that nuclear power has already become more attractive in areas of high conventional fuel costs.
The honorable senator may not be aware that there are at present two research reactors operating at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission’s Research Establishment at Lucas Heights, and that these are used for the purposes which he mentions, namely, the training of Australian scientists and technicians in fields associated with the application of atomic energy. In addition Australian scientists and technicians are attached to important nuclear power production centres in other parts of the world and thereby gain valuable experience in the construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear power reactors.
I do not consider that it would bc necessary or desirable at this stage to set up a committee along the lines suggested by the honorable senator, as adequate study of this matter is already in hand. I would add also that in the opinion of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission the cost of a nuclear power reactor of useful power output would be very considerably in excess of the estimated cost mentioned by the honorable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I am wondering whether the Minister would make a short statement on the sub-leader in today’s “ West Australian “ wherein it is suggested that there be differential rates for travel in different types of aircraft? Will the Minister please suggest to the airline operators that charges be graduated according to the quality of the service provided? fs it not a reasonable proposition that travellers should be charged less on a slower and more uncomfortable flight than on one that provides a fast, luxurious service? Will he consider recommending that the long, arduous night flights out of Perth be at a lower rate than that charged for day time travel?
– I understand that there are tourist class bookings available on the Western Australian run at a lower charge than the first class fare. I think that the rest of the questions which the honorable senator raises are matters for the airlines operators. They conduct the services and I suggest that the honorable senator address his suggestion to them.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report in today’s Press stating that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. has handed its shareholding in South Pacific Airways of New Zealand to the employees of that company, the issue value of the shares being £76,000, and that the Ansett organisation will write off a debt of £27,000 owing by South Pacific Airways of New Zealand? The report indicates also that the 47 per cent, shareholding involves an investment of £100,000 which has been written off the books, and that the company has shown repeated losses. Is this loss of £100,000 an allowable deduction to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. for income tax purposes? Will the £27,000 that has been written off be allowed as a deduction for taxation purposes by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.?
– I should imagine thatthe first item to which the honorable senator referred, that is the shares, is a capital loss and, therefore, not a tax deduction. 1 am not aware of what the other losses are or how they were incurred. If they were capital losses they might well be not deductible. If they were trading losses, perhaps some of them would be deductible.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise noted that, following the Budget increase of 5s. 3d. per lb. in excise on tobacco, manufacturers of cigarettes have increased the price of cigarettes by 4d. per packet? Is this increase consistent with the statement of the Treasurer in his Budget Speech?
– The reference in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech, of course, was clearly to revenue. There is no mistake on that point. However, the question, which J think was properly raised by Senator Marriott, relates to whether the increased price of 4d. per packet for some cigarettes was justified. It must be remembered that cigarettes are made and marketed in a variety of lengths, thicknesses and blends. I am not a heavy smoker by any means, but I think there are filter and double filter cigarettes, plain and cork tip cigarettes, long and not so long cigarettes, lightly packed and heavily packed cigaretes, as well as king size and menthol and cooled cigarettes, and so on. The manufacturers have increased the price by 2d. a packet in some instances and by 3d. a packet for the cheaper brands. The remainder have been increased by 4d. a packet.
I have conferred with the Treasurer on a number of occasions since these prices were announced following the Budget Speech. On Thursday of last week tobacco manufacturers were in Canberra for a conference with growers under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister. It concerned another problem. After conferring with the Treasurer I took the opportunity to speak to the manufacturers regarding the increased prices and asked them for some explanation. I pointed out to them that any increase over and above the increased excise or, indeed, the percentage mark-up on the new prices to wholesalers and retailers, was clearly their responsibility and that they would have to face up to and accept that responsibility. The manufacturers have agreed to supply some information on this matter. In replying to a question last week, the Treasurer indicated that already one manufacturer had supplied information on the increased prices. The Treasurer’s statement in the Budget Speech on this particular aspect, and indeed, his answer to a subsequent question, I believe covered the matter both properly and fairly. The Treasurer is alive to the position and is being kept well informed.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Can the Minister inform the Senate how many ex-servicemen have over the past five years applied for a pension entitlement for cancer? In how many cases has such an entitlement been granted and in how many cases has it been refused? As the cause of cancer is still not known with any degree of certainty to medical science, in what circumstances is an exserviceman so afflicted given the benefit of the doubt as envisaged in the Repatriation Act?
– This, of course, is a very wide question and one to which I think the Minister for Repatriation will want to give a lot of consideration before he supplies an answer. I suggest, therefore, that the honorable senator place the question on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Minister anything to report to the Senate on the possibility of bringing about uniformity of censorship laws and procedures? Has he, as Minister, taken any steps in this direction? If so, what steps has he taken and with what response from the States? If no steps have been taken, when does he propose to take action to bring about uniformity?
– What I am about to say will be “of course” in spite of the reference to myself in last Saturday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The correspondent in question might be a good student of English but he is a very poor mathematician, if I am to accept “ Hansard “ as a guide. Let me say, in reply to Senator Laught, that I have given a lot of attention to this matter; both I and my officers have done a lot of work on it. I am not prepared to make any further statement at this stage. I think that a short time will elapse before I shall be in a position to make a statement to the Senate, but I shall do so at the earliest opportunity.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. I refer to my question of 11th August last, directed to the Minister, in respect of pensioner health benefits, and specifically to page 15 of the Commonwealth brochure “ Your Guide to National Health Benefits “, and the advice that “ To enjoy these services you must have and produce an entitlement card “. When 1 asked for a review of this statement did the Minister not say: “No, I shall not refute it, because it is perfectly true.”? I ask the Minister whether he is prepared to reconsider his answer, particularly in respect of New South Wales where pensioner treatment is available irrespective of entitlement cards. If not, what steps will be taken to avoid the possibility of jeopardising the lives of pensioners who would not attend for treatment as a result of the Minister’s statement?
– I shall not even consider retracting my statement because, as 1 reminded the honorable senator recently, the verbiage used in the booklet is perfectly true. The reference was to pensioners with entitlement cards. The honorable senator is now introducing another system altogether. His reference now is to pensioners in New South Wales, who enjoy free hospitalisation. He says that their lives might be jeopardised. What nonsense he talks! The honorable senator said recently in this chamber that the Government of New South Wales had provided free hospitalisation for pensioners for 20 years. Now he stands in his place and says that they do not know that they have free hospitalisation and that their lives might be jeopardised. I suggest that that sort of ambiguity does a great disservice to the people for whom we are trying to provide a service. I repeat that the words used in the booklet are true and correct.
– I address the following questions to the Minister for Defence: Is it a fact that many young men who are training to become professional men, particularly as doctors, engineers and technologists, join a university air squadron and work through for two or three years until they obtain a commission? Is it also a fact that, having obtained their commission, they are placed on the reserve? ls it a fact, too, that, having been placed on the reserve, they are not called up for a refresher course at any time? Is it possible to make arrangements to have these young men called up from time to time for weekend refresher courses so that they may learn how to apply their particular skills to the requirements of an active Air Force squadron and thus in time of emergency be of immediate value?
– I believe that it is the practice of the Royal Australian Air Force to offer short term commissions to suitable applicants. I am not quite sure of the length of those commissions. The honorable senator suggests that these officers, having served their term and having retired, should be offered refresher courses from time to time. I am sure the R.A.A.F. examines every avenue to ensure that the services of these trained men are available should the need arise. The honorable senator suggests that this might be fulfilled by a short camp or even a weekend camp. I do not speak for the Royal Australian Air Force, as I do not know enough about its systems, but it occurs very strongly to me, in view of my general study of the subject of recruitment and the providing of officers for the services, that short term training of this nature would not, of itself, be suitable to fulfil this purpose. I do not know what the Air Force does to maintain the interest of its reservists. I am sure it does not give them weekend or short term camps of the type the honorable senator suggests, but I will draw the attention of the Air Force to the suggestion, if only to inform myself of the practical methods which are followed so that the services of these men are, in fact, held in reserve.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. I point out that adjustments that arc periodically made to superannuation payments to many retired people, who were previously eligible for social service benefits and pensioner medical cards, have the effect of depriving them of these benefits because of the application of the 1953 means test. They find that, perhaps, a 5s. increase in superannuation payments deprives them of their medical benefit card and other benefits. It affects them detrimentally to the extent of much more than 5s. and even to the extent of £1 or 25s. a week. I therefore ask the Minister: In view of the plight of a number of people affected by an increase in superannuation payments and its consequent impact on the means test applied in the issuance of pensioner medical cards to those who are really in need of this service, will he give urgent consideration to a review of the incidence of the means test in respect of these worthy citizens who are being penalised as a result of their thrift? The increase in superannuation payments is outside their control, and they would prefer to continue to have the pensioner medical cards rather than the increase.
– This question calls for a very comprehensive answer from the Minister and I therefore suggest that the honorable senator should place it on the notice paper. I point out that we are at the commencement of the Budget session and that the Budget envisages certain alterations in the social service structure. In those circumstances, it goes without saying that the broad nature of the problem to which the honorable senator refers has already been closely examined by the Minister for Social Services.
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are: First, an international conference on water pollution is to be opened in Tokyo. Secondly, the conference will be attended by a number of scientists from a number of countries to discuss water pollution. Australia will not be represented at this conference, which is not an inter-governmental conference but a conference of individual experts. The convener of the conference who is a Japanese professor was in touch with the Australian Ambassador in Tokyo to ask whether the Australian Government would assist individuals to attend the conference. As water pollution is a matter which is almost entirely under the charge of State Governments, the Australian Government passed the request on to the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria. The Victorian Government replied that it could not give any assistance. The New South Wales Government has not so far replied. The interest that is being taken in water pollution in Australia is, as I have indicated, largely a matter for the individual States. I shall endeavour to find out for the honorable senator just what the Commonwealth is doing in the Australian Capital Territory and other Commonwealth Territories, or possibly through the Australian Water Resources Council. At the moment, I do not know.
Senator BROWN__ I should like to ask the Minister for Defence a few questions. Now that Sukarno has passed from confrontation to guerrilla invasion, is it not a fact that the people of Australia generally are very anxious concerning Australia’s power of defence and offence? Is it not a fact that now the hour of truth is near? There has been much misunderstanding, mental confusion and obfuscation amongst the people concerning our Air Force. I want a plain answer now and not any political “ guiver “. ls it not a fact that the Canberra bombers have been obsolescent for many years and that today they are obsolete? In the event of Australia being dragged into war - which God forbid - what chance would the Canberra bombers have in a mission if they were confronted by MIG arcraft? 1 want the Minister to state the facts plainly so that the people will know exactly where we stand in this matter.
– The honorable senator refers to the situation in Malaysia today as if it had assumed the proportions of a full scale invasion. Indeed, it has not done that, although it is true that yesterday and the day before there was an attempt at infiltration by certain Indonesian or Indonesian controlled forces. That infiltration went to the extent that 30 or 40 infiltrators were landed on the Malaysian coast at various points. The last message that I have states that 19 of the group have now been captured and that two were killed. The Malaysian defence authorities have not yet called on the British Commonwealth forces stationed in Malaysia to take direct military action in respect of this infiltration, obviously holding the view that Malaysian forces can, as would be expected, cope with it up to this point.
The honorable senator asks a number of questions about the capacity of the Canberra bomber and specifically whether it would be able to survive in certain circumstances. I point out to him that a bomber is always at a disadvantage when, unescorted, it comes under attack by a fighter aircraft of any type. I also point out that the Royal Australian Air Force in Malaysia has fighter aircraft at Butterworth along with its Canberra bombers. J tell the honorable senator that the Canberra bomber, referred to by him as an obsolete aircraft, is still doing service in a number of countries. It can and will continue to fulfil the role which it has been allotted in Malaysia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Has the Minister received an offer from a Mr. H. C. Ashton, a qualified natural scientist from England at present in New South Wales, to supply proof that heart disease can be scientifically cured in from six to eight weeks by methods which comply with the New South Wales
Medical Practitioners Act? Does Mr. Ashton seek the establishment of a science institution in Australia to study this and other problems of constitutional disease? Are there 14 such institutions in England and Scotland? Is Australia one of the few civilised countries without a science institution? Has Australia the highest death rate from heart disease in the world? Will the Minister give consideration to the claim made by Mr. Ashton and inquire into the desirability of establishing a science institution?
– 1 have no knowledge of representations being made to me by the person named by Senator Cavanagh, although I think I recall seeing a circular that has been drifting around Parliament House.
– He said he wrote you a letter.
– Perhaps I am somewhat cynical, but I believe that if a man has something of great worth to offer to his fellow men it would warrant a much more direct approach than a circular. If I have not seen such a circular then I am doing the man an injury, and I have no intention of doing that. My point is that if any man has something to offer for the benefit of his fellow men, there are always avenues available to him to make his knowledge known. If Mr. Ashton or anybody else has something to offer, the officers of my Department will always be available for discussions. Concerning the incidence of heart disease, if the honorable senator will put that part of his question on the notice paper I will undertake to get the statistics for him.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it not a fact that next Friday, 21st August, Senator Dorothy Tangney will celebrate the 21st anniversary of her election as a senator for Western Australia? She was the first woman senator elected to the Australian Senate. Does the occasion not call for the congratulations of this chamber upon Senator Tangney’s long and meritorious career in the Senate, and recall to our minds the splendid services rendered to Australia by Dame Enid Lyons the great Tasmanian who, I believe, was the first woman member of the House of Representatives?
– I must be honest and confess that I would not have recalled this occasion myself, but I am grateful, and I think the chamber will be grateful, that Senator Marriott has reminded us of the anniversary. Senator Tangney has the distinction of being the first woman senator - the woman senator who blazed the trail, if I may put it that way, for a number of other distinguished women who have entered this chamber and who, in the example set by Senator Tangney, have rendered singular service to this Parliament and, in fact, to their country. Senator Marriott mentioned that Senator Tangney comes from Western Australia. Indeed, I am very much aware of that. This is not the first occasion that Western Australia has provided a shining example to the rest of Australia. We, from Western Australia, whether we sit on this side of the chamber or on the other, pay a tribute to Senator Tangney for the service which she has given to her State and to the nation.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he can indicate the hours of trading which will apply to the petrol station business now under construction on Commonwealth land within the Adelaide airport area. Is it intended to restrict trading hours to those prescribed by the South Australian Early Closing Act or will the station be open for business outside the usual hours of trading? If trading hours are to be extended, will petrol sales and services be restricted to bona fide users of the airport facilities?
– I understand that the concession will be intended to provide petrol during normal South Australian trading hours. However, I understand that selfservice pumps will be installed at the station and these may be operated outside normal trading hours. I also understand that a car valet service is to be provided so that an air traveller may leave his car at the airport, nominate the aircraft on which he will be returning and, within half an hour of his return, his car will be waiting for him. So South Australia is becoming quite up to date.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is the Minister aware that in the New Zealand Parliament, last week, the New Zealand Prime Minister stated that his country had failed to attract support for a protest in the United Nations against French nuclear tests planned to take place in the Pacific, that New Zealand had taken the initiative in every form in opposing French nuclear tests, and that the New Zealand representative at the United Nations had canvassed all likely countries, including those bordering on the Pacific, for support before making a formal protest? However, no such backing was received. Was the Australian Government or its representative at the United Nations approached by New Zealand authorities on this matter? If so, why was Australian support for such a protest by New Zealand not forthcoming? If not, in the event of any approach being made by New Zealand to Australia, will the Australian Government be prepared* to indicate that it will give its support?
– I have not seen the report of the proceedings in the New Zealand Parliament last week, but I draw the honorable senator’s attention to the statement on this particular subject made by Sir Garfield Barwick when he was Minister for External Affairs. It was read both in this place and in another place. I will be happy to get a copy of that statement for the honorable senator because it quite comprehensively sets out Australia’s attitude’ in this matter and clearly indicates Australia’s opposition to the tests to be conducted by France.
– In addressing my question to the Minister for Defence I refer to the answer he gave to Senator Brown a few moments ago when he said that the Malaysian Government had not called on Australian troops to repel the Indonesian guerrilla invasion. I ask: Would the Malaysian Government have had the right to call on Australian troops without reference to the Australian Government in this situation? If so, would it have the right to call on Australian troops without reference to the Australian Government in any military situation affecting Malaysia?
– No, Sir. I think it has been stated on a number of occasions that Australia stands for territorial integrity and for the political independence of Malaysia, Australian forces are stationed in Malaysia as part of the strategic reserve and have already undertaken various tasks in the maintenance of the territorial integrity of Malaysia. In the present circumstances, our forces would be available by the consent of the Australian Government if requested by the Malaysian Government to take part in assisting to deal with armed infiltration. It appears, asI have said, that at the present time the Malaysian forces have the situation well in hand and that stage has not yet arisen. I want to make it perfectly clear to the Senate that should such a request be made by the Malaysian Government, then the Australian Government would acquiesce in that request.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In the light of the statement by Senator Paltridge, will the Minister inform the Senate whether Indonesia and Malaysia are now in a state of war?
– Obviously all sorts of legal implications are involved in this question. I ask the honorable senator to put it on the notice paper so that the Minister for External Affairs may provide an answer.
(Question No. 36.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
I might point out that notice of this question was given on the 3rd March last and I have just received the answer.
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable senators questions -
– On the 19th
May 1964, Senator Bishop asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport the following question without notice -
Is the Port Augusta to Woomera road in South Australia unsatisfactory for transporting the valuable items of specialised equipment and space vehicles required at Woomera? Is the 80-mile section of the road which is not bituminised impassable after heavy rains on some occasions each year? Did transportation over this road of the equipment required in the important Black Knight project present hazards to the departmental or manufacturing operators? Will the Government consider providing the necessary finance to construct a suitable road in view of its importance to the Woomera Range space programmes and Australia’s existing advantageous position in the European Launcher Development Organization?
I have made inquiries and have now been supplied with the following information -
This road is part of the State road system of South Australia and as such its condition is primarily the responsibility of the Government of that State. However, the Commonwealth, through the Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation, makes substantial funds available to the various States for the improvement and maintenance of their road systems. Apart from the condition that 40 per cent, of the grant must be spent on rural roads other than highways, trunk roads and main roads, the States are free to devote the grant to any road they wish and to establish the relative priorities between different projects. Thus, if the South Australian Government considers, the improvement of the Port Augusta to Woomera road of sufficient priority, it may use funds received under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act for this purpose. This means that as this road is not a highway, trunk road or main road, the South Australian Government is free, if it so desires, to devote to the road any of the Commonwealth Aid Roads grant which during 1964-65 is estimated to amount to £7,452,675.
In addition to the Commonwealth Aid Roads grant, the South Australian Government has large financial resources of its own which it can devote to roads if it so desires. However, whether these resources are devoted to the Port AugustaWoomera road, or to other roads in South Australia, is also a matter for that Government to determine.
Nevertheless, because of the importance of this road to the activities of the Commonwealth at Woomera, and in view of the relative volume of Commonwealth traffic, the Commonwealth has made available to the South Australian Government, through the Department of Shipping and Transport, additional grants to assist in the maintenance of this road to a standard that is adequate for Commonwealth purposes. This assistance has amounted to £433,000 since 1947, and it is proposed that a further £33,000 will be made available during the current financial year.
Moreover, in view of the honorable senator’s query, the Department of Shipping and Transport has checked with the Department of Supply, which provides the principal road transport services to Woomera for the Commonwealth, and has been assured that it considers the present road adequate for Commonwealth purposes. In view of this, and the limited volume of total traffic using the road it is felt that there would be no justification in recommending any substantial increase in Commonwealth expenditure at this stage.
Turning to the other specific questions which were raised, the gravelled sections of the road do on some occasions, become impassable for short periods after heavy rains. However, the periods when it is impassable are not sufficiently long as to interfere with the operations at Woomera, particularly as both rail and air facilities are also available if any equipment is required urgently. In connection with the Black Knight project, the existing road proved satisfactory, and there have been no complaints from the vehicle operators, either Commonwealth or private.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I lay on the table the following paper -
Audit Act - Finance - Report of the AuditorGeneral accompanied by the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure for year 1963-64.
CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL (No. 3) 1964. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 63), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- The suggestion of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) is one in which the Opposition concurs because with the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1964, which is the operative Bill, there are three complementary bills. This procedure is always necessary when amendments are made of the principal customs tariff bill. The complementary bills are the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1964, the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1964, and the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1964. Canada, New Zealand and Papua and New Guinea are affected by the imposition of tariffs, on the one hand, and by the deletion of tariffs or duties, on the other hand. There is a large number of proposals before the Senate at the present time. It takes a lot of time to investigate the background of the various commodities that are under review, and only limited time is available to honorable senators to attempt a thorough coverage of the many items involved.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said -
The Bill comprises nine Schedules with each Schedule having a different date of commencement . . The First Schedule provides for reductions in duty on tea and cocoa beans and shells, in accordance with concessions granted by Australia al the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva earlier this year. 1 am certain that people throughout Australia will be pleased to hear of the reduction in the duty on tea and cocoa beans. As a matter of fact, the duty on cocoa beans has been removed, and the duty on tea has been reduced from 5d. to 2d.
– And the price is going up.
– That is the point 1 wish to make. The production of tea in Australia is a very hazardous financial operation. I do not know of any success that has been achieved in the production of tea in this country. We are a nation of tea drinkers. The Government should consider the abolition of the duty on tea - it actually amounts to a tea tax - coming into this country because tea is not competing with any locally produced product. Consideration should also be given to widening the terms granted by Australia at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Develop ment in Geneva earlier this year. The Government could well eliminate the remaining duty on tea.
– You are not thinking of acting like the Bostonians, are you?
– I am not suggesting that we should take such violent action, but being an inveterate tea drinker, I feel that the tea drinkers of Australia have suffered long enough and that it is time they were given a break.
The Minister further stated -
The Second Schedule provides for changes which give effect to the Government’s decision following receipt of the Tariff Board’s report on polyvinyl chloride products.
These are technical matters and it takes a highly trained scientist to understand them. There is a description of these polyvinyl chloride products in the Tariff Board report which, I think, is worth reciting, lt reads -
P.V.C. film and sheeting are produced from combinations of P.V.C. resins, stabilisers, pigments and plasticisers. Film and sheeting can be plain, cmbossed, printed or embossed and printed. Film is generally considered as being less than 0.010 in. in thickness and sheeting 0.1010 m. and over.
The Board recommended that protection should be given to polyvinyl chloride products. I believe that this is one of the products under review at the present time that requires careful watching.
Although the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority, in my view, are doing an excellent job with the number of references that are being made to them, their functions are coming to a stage where closer liaison must exist between the Tariff Board, the Treasury and Government policy matters in order that the implementation of recommendations will fit in with the economy. Later I shall have a few words to say about particular commodities that are, perhaps, sheltering under the umbrella of Australia’s policy of protecting our small industries. New substances, such as plastics and other substitutes for older commodities, have all the economic advantages that come from bulk production and new scientific processes.
I believe that the Tariff Board, of its own initiative, has no authority to enable it to have another look at a matter. References must be made to it. Of course, none of the larger organisations that are, perhaps, sheltering under the umbrella are going to come along and say to the Tariff Board: “ We do not need any more protection. Our profits are so great that we would like to see open competition and the Australian consumers given a fair go.” That day has not yet dawned. The point I am making is that somewhere along the line vigilance must be exercised in the formulation of Government policy, and by the Department of the Treasury. I sincerely hope that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), in his proposals on restrictive trade practices, will keep an eye on those who should have the interests of Australia and the well being of the ordinary consumer at heart. I hope that when small industries have leached the appropriate stage in their development they will be made to stand on their own feet in much the same manner as a little bird that is ready to fly is pushed off the edge of the nest.
Another item that comes to mind is phosphorus and its derivatives. This is a matter which very seldom comes to the notice of the Parliament or even the general public. The derivatives include food phosphate aerators, namely, acid sodium pyrophosphate, mono sodium orthophosphate, acid calcium orthophosphate and their blends. Evidently these food aerators are, like self-raising flour, used to accelerate the cooking process. The Tariff Board has recommended protection for these derivatives. The Board has considered applications in respect of natural barium sulphate, detergent alkylates, woven furnishing fabrics and moquettes, and belts, belting, and fabrics of over 15 oz. per square yard. The Board has submitted a report also on fluorocarbons. Because of the important properties of these commodities, they have been the subject of comment in various places. The Board considered whether assistance should be accorded the production in Australia of fluorinated derivatives and chlorofluorinated derivatives of hydrocarbons. One of the main uses of these products is in the production of aeropacks, which are the little canisters that make it so easy to distribute fly sprays, deodorants, hair sprays and the like. They have an important and growing use in the community and should have a big market in the future. Provision has been made also for protection in regard to tinsnips or shears. An administrative change has been effected in regard to cameras.
Glassware has been the subject of a report by the Special Advisory Authority, Sir Frank Meere, who has a very heavy responsibility as the watchdog of many of our industries. He comes in in times of emergency to make a quick evaluation of the price structure or the economy of particular industries and submits recommendations with a view to their being confirmed at a later date by the Tariff Board. Two references to the Special Advisory Authority related to heat-resisting glassware for cooking purposes and glassware, such as tumblers having a capacity of 5 fluid ounces or more and an f.o.b. price not exceeding 5s. per dozen. Heat-resisting glassware is of interest to a growing number of housewives. There is no doubt that some of the heat-resisting cooking ware has reached a very high standard and that it helps to make much easier a considerable part of the lifetime of the average housewife. With all due respect to the Australian industry, I believe that the standard of the Australian product still has a long way to go to reach that of the imported product. I understand that one particular product was developed as a result of experimentation on the nose section of a rocket. The material used was found to have the capacity to withstand great heat. I have found through practical experience in my own home that it is possible to put such ware into the oven with the certainty that it will stand up to the cooking process. The utensil, when taken out of the oven, is still very attractive and when placed on the table still retains its heat. I repeat that the Australian product has a long way to go before it can reach that standard. Therefore, I do not think that too much protection should be given to the Australian industry unless it demonstrates that it is endeavouring to raise the standard of its products.
I do well to quote from an article which appeared in the “Australian Financial Review “ of Thursday, 6th August, which is germane to the subject under discussion. It is headed “ Collusion Clouds the Beer Glass “, and reads -
Before the Tariff Board in Canberra, Mr. R. Hyndman, a glass importer, said the A.H.A.-
That is, the Australian Hotels Association - and Crown Crystal - a subsidiary of Australian Consolidated Industries–
That is the firm which approached the Government for protection for glassware - had combined to ensure that franchisee! glassware distributors sold only Crown Crystal glassware to hotels.
The New South Wales Government, the New South Wales branch of the Australian Hotels Association and the Crown Crystal Glass Co. were accused yesterday of co-operating to give Crown Crystal a monopoly of New South Wales hotel glassware trade.
Mr. Hyndman, a former executive officer of the New South Wales branch of the A.H.A., said that for many years written franchise agreements had existed between the New South Wales branch of the A.H.A. and the distributors of A.H.A. branded glassware.
In parenthesis the article states -
Crown Crystal has exclusive rights to this A.H.A. branding in New South Wales in return for payment of royalties to the A.H.A.
The article states, further -
He said that the clauses of the agreements were determined after meetings between Crown Crystal, the Glassware Distributors Association of New South Wales and the New South Wales branch of the A.H.A.
The main purpose of the agreements was to ensure that the franchised distributors sold only A.H.A. branded glassware to hotels for use in bars.
In 1961 Mr. Hyndman was asked by the New South Wales branch of A.H.A. to form and establish a trading company to supply glassware and other hotel supplies to hotels at reduced prices. The company was registered and Mr. Hyndman was appointed manager. Finally this article states -
In the absence of restrictive trade practices legislation we are looking to the Board to protect the public interest.
In that final sentence is expressed the main purpose of my having raised this subject and of my general comments on these Tariff Board reports. I am quite certain that the Board is composed of men whose main purpose is to protect the public interest. But there are so many forms of escape by organisations that present a case to the Tariff Board that it is beyond the Board’s terms of reference fully to protect the public interest. It can only follow up by asking for papers and for persons to come before it. It can take evidence on the financial position of a company - in camera, as a rule - and it will not divulge any of the techniques of a company’s production. Today, we have the growing interlocking of companies with subsidiaries and many take-overs. Today we have before us a considerable number of references to the Tariff Board and recommendations for improved protection when I believe that, fundamentally, these industries have reached the stage where they could go on to the open market and compete. I think that, with a little more persuasion, they could also export if they were to do their job in the public interest. However, this is a big thing to ask of them and we must remember the old saying that what is good for General Motors is good for America.
Unfortunately, I think the same attitude is creeping into the ethics and morality of business in Australia, because of this growing trend towards monopoly. We have, for instance, the case of organisations which are tooling up for targets of production, but before they get into full swing they make an approach to the Tariff Board for the protection of their commodity. They are able to give statistics and details of the economic situation to make their case quite strong, while up their sleeves they have, perhaps, a 15 per cent, or even a 25 per cent, unused potential capacity of production. When they are able to get an umbrella protection through the Tariff Board - granted to them in all good faith - they are able to expand their production with that extra price protection and it is good business for them.
– They do not get that protection for evermore, do they?
– Yes, they get it for evermore or until someone makes an application to the Tariff Board. As I said before, you do not find these companies coming back to the Tariff Board and saying: “ We thank you Mr. Chairman, or Mr. Special Authority, for your protection. We can now use our own sea legs. Will you review this industry?” You never get that situation.
– But it is done, nevertheless.
– Yes. Reviews are made. In general principle I agree with the activities of the Tariff Board. I am a protectionist because, if we had not had protection, I think we would still have been out on the farms. I believe we would still have been an economic colony of any other part of the world which could supply us with the products of secondary industry. If you leave it to chance you will get some industries developing through their own momentum - perhaps the discovery of gold or of other valuable metals which are easily mined. But in the initial stages, with the high cost of construction and development of an industry, it is a while before capital comes into production and profitability. But if they did not have that incentive in many industries particularly the one man shows of the past they would be snuffed out.
– And we would not have had them.
– That is so. We would not have had them. I wish Senator Buttfield were present to hear me say this: General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. is a supreme example of what can be done by a protected industry. In this field we were good targets for the overseas car manufacturer.
– And good customers.
– Yes, good customers. Those are very polite words to use. Holden’s were in the industry as body builders and were then wedded together with people with know-how and machinery to form General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. 1 will not speak of what the firm has done since- then except to say that it has produced a magnificent vehicle. That is point No. 1, to the credit of General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. and the Australian workmen associated with the production of these vehicles. This firm has brought tremendous competition into the car industry and is able to match the techniques of the overseas propagandists and beat them at their own game. That is point No. 2. Point No. 3 is that the firm has also brought about a state of affairs in which the Commonwealth Government has been so fortified that it can say to other vehicle manufacturers: “ We are going to make it tough for you to bring stuff in. Manufacture it here and we will give you some help.”
– It says to them: “ Increase your Australian content “.
– Yes those are the words I was searching for. As a result of this, we will get more factories here. This situation has grown out of the basic policy of nurturing a baby industry and I think that, with a certain amount of discretion, that policy could be continued. We could not get a better authority than the Tariff Board to administer this aspect of our economy. But the kind of firm I am referring to today is the organisation that knows the limits of the terms of reference of the Tariff Board and knows that it has open access to the Board’s machinery and has everything to gain and nothing to lose by an approach to the Board. It then depends upon the strength of the case put forward. After all, the Tariff Board can only examine the evidence before it. On that evidence it reaches its conclusions and makes its recommendations to the Government. There might be some fellow too tired or too apathetic to come along and tell the facts who, after the Board’s report is made, gets in a corner and mumbles in his beard. You cannot have sympathy for him but, on the other hand, a lot of organisations know of the apathy which exists. They say: “ We can put up our case”. If it is convincing they can get a recommendation.
Perhaps I might develop the analogy to get my message over. Some of our industries are no longer the fledglings that they would like to make out. They have developed feathers. They have spurs, and their legs are scaly. They are birds with long experience in the economic field and they should have to fly without assistance. 1 hope that the restrictive trade practices legislation will go through the Parliament very quickly and will be rigidly enforced. Some people may then realise that they cannot expect to have everything their own way. They may have to forgo some of the gains they have made through tariff protection.
I was perhaps diverted a little in speaking of the collusion that clouds the beer glass. This particular organisation has done a tremendous job - at some cost, of course - in creating employment for Australians and in using Australian raw materials. If I remember correctly, when the organisation was formed in Australia the Belgian Government took reprisal action against us by cutting down imports of wool by the value of the glass that Belgium had formerly exported to us.
– It might have been barley, too.
– It was barley. The industry has had the protection it warrants and Australia can be proud of it. The Parliament should issue a warning that industry can go so far and no further in relation to the tie-ups, collusion and monopolies that are discussed in this article. I should like to refer also to the Tariff Board report on shipbuilding, which is a matter of tremendous importance to Australia. The main arguments in support of the granting of assistance to the industry included -
I am very much in favour of the recommendations that have been made, particularly as Tasmania is an island State relying so much on sea transport. The day of the roll on roll off ship is with us. With the introduction of every new technique Bass Strait is made to appear less formidable. We would be in a much better position if all our requirements, in respect of both naval vessels and vessels for the coastal trade, were produced in Australia. We should establish a Commonwealth overseas shipping line to get stuck into the Conference monopolies that are skimming so much of the cream from the milk of our national production and wealth. We on this side of the chamber entirely support the Tariff Board recommendations on shipbuilding.
I should have liked to develop much further my remarks on some of these subjects. As I said at the outset, they are most interesting matters to which we should apply ourselves in more detail. We should acquaint ourselves further of their impact on the whole dynamic of our economy and on the expansion of Australia as a nation. By all means we should protect industries until they are able to stand on their own feet. But when the time comes the fairy godmother - be it Government or Tariff Board - should say: “You must do without a protective tariff. You should be able to develop with the natural advantages that exist in this country “. Export markets must be developed. Hundreds of millions of people are to the north of us in countries which are well behind us in the techniques of production. Those markets are waiting for us. I expect the industries that are now being protected as a result of Tariff Board recommendation to play the game and to ensure that they give back to the Australian people what is being given to them now by way of protection. We do not oppose the Bills and we wish them a speedy passage.
– I wish to intrude into the debate for only a few moments, because I do not think that it does any harm now and again to have a look at the policy which motivates the Government and, I think, in this instance also the Opposition, in the protection of Australian industries. I have read recently some criticism which has been levelled at our policy. Continued criticism can damage the image of the Tariff Board before the general public. I do not think that this is good.
– This is not directed at me?
– No. When I come to you I shall tell you. The protective policies, which have been followed by all Governments for many years, depend on a public examination by an impartial body known as the Tariff Board. In recent criticisms there were suggestions that the Tariff Board could be accused of all sorts of things. This is where I think the image of the Board may be damaged. It is not right to say that any new industry may go to the Tariff Board. It must establish its costs by being in production in Australia for at least 12 months. It has to establish its costs under pretty close examination by the members of the Board before, as an infant industry, it may receive the protection of which the Board thinks it is worthy. It must persuade the Department of Trade and Industry that it has a case for protection and only then can it find its way to an examination by the Tariff Board. I am speaking now of infant industries. The position is that in a number of its recent reports the Tariff Board has recommended protection for a certain period of time only - two or three years - and has recommended an automatic review at the end of that time. So it is not correct to say that once protection is granted it goes on forever unless some outside person applies for a new hearing. The Tariff Board regularly determines that a rate of tariff will apply for a specified period and recommends a review at the end of the period. 1 think this protects the public interest. It enables a review and allows for a reduction or increase in duties at the re-hearing. In respect of one of the items we are discussing at present - polyethylene ~the Tariff Board has recommended a reduction.
References have been made to one or two matters that the Senate should look at. One critic said -
I always understood that the purpose of the tariff was to assist infant industries. I cannot help wondering, rather bitterly, when some of these infants will grow up.
Senator O’Byrne and I have dealt with that point. The Board does not grant protection only to infant industries.
Any industry that considers it is being harmed by imports from low cost countries or by import prices that are unfair, can apply for protection to enable it to continue in the cost structure of Australia’s economy. The Tariff Board does not protect only infant industries. There arc now major industries outside Australia which, because of the vast home market for their products have a tremendous throughput which materially reduces their costs and so permits exports. Other industries, however, in countries with smaller home markets have not that advantage and therefore lean on the Tariff Board. At a public hearing the public, importers, exporters and other manufacturers can give evidence. One party can rebut the evidence of another. Evidence can be sought from the books of the companies concerned, and often such evidence is taken in confidence by the Tariff Board. The Board comes out of these inquiries pretty well informed, and its judgment is made accordingly. By and large the Government normally accepts the Board’s recommendations, because the Board is an independent body which is recognised by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Agreement provides that before Australia can increase duties it must first subject the industry concerned to a hearing by the tariff authority.
– Does G.A.T.T. provide that the Government must consult the Tariff Board before a duty can be altered?
– No. I am now informed by my officers that it is the United Kingdom - Australia Trade Agreement which lays down that principle.
– Docs the same apply to the United Kingdom if it proposes altering tariffs?
– It should be reciprocal, of course.
– As far as I know it is not reciprocal. I want now to refer to a comment made about the application by Australian Consolidated Industries Ltd. for protection on glassware. I notice that the name of an officer, who was in the employ of the Department of Customs and Excise for many years and who was ‘one of our top ranking officers, was brought into the discussion. His name is Mr. R. W. Brack. He was First Assistant Comptroller-General in the Department when he left and went lo A.C.I. It is the perfect right of any public servant to enter into a private contract and, therefore, I thought that these comments were a little off the line. The critic said -
The reason why 1 looked at this matter with particular care is that Mr. R. V. Brack, who was employed by the Department of Customs and Excise, in which he held a high office, was enticed away by A.C.I. , and this is the first fruits of his work.
He was referring to the protection given by the Tariff Board.
– Whose comment was that?
– I shall give the name a little later, but certain forms of the Senate suggest to me that this is not the lime to do so. He continued - l do not suggest for one moment thai there is anything underhand . . .
If that is so, why bring the officers name into it at all? He said -
This is the first fruits of his work. 1 tlo not suggest for one moment that there is anything underhand, but I think it is a dangerous procedure.
If there is nothing underhand about it I can see no reason to implicate an officer under the cover of the privilege of Parliament. I had the privilege of administering the department for seven years and eight months and Mr. Brack was there all the time. He was a most trustworthy and fine officer. There is no suggestion of anything underhand, but I took the precaution - as I thought the person making these comments would have taken the precaution - of ringing Mr. Brack. He volunteered the information that he had joined A.C.I, in February - the month in which the case was prepared for the Department of Trade - and that he had had nothing to do with its preparation. The case went to the Department of Trade and eventually to the Special Advisory authority. If comments of the kind to which I have referred are to be made the facts should be checked before a man’s name is revealed.
– It is always too easy to sling mud.
– Yes. That is why I have raised the matter. I have a high regard for the officer concerned. When I spoke to him he expressed some surprise, because as Minister for Customs I had many times asked him to come over and discuss various problems with the member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). Mr. Brack was of great assistance. I thought the normal procedure would have been to do as I did and ring the officer concerned. I understand from Mr. Brack that he did not appear before the Tariff Board on this matter. The case was prepared and sent to the Department of Trade at the end of the month in which he joined A.C.I., but he had nothing to do with its preparation.
There are one or two other comments which I should make, because every time Tariff Board reports are introduced into this Parliament I find this kind of criticism: “It is a small industry; it employs 100 or 200 people and the protection costs Australia dearly. It would be better if we shut the industry up, put these people out of work and paid them this amount to do nothing. It would be cheaper than carrying on the industry.”
That is a pretty short sighted point of view because it is necessary to consider, not only the industry within Australia but also all the other industries that are connected in supplying the smaller and larger industries which are of such value to Australia. This continual criticism that the Tariff Board is not aware of all the facts is damaging the image of the Tariff Board. I disagree entirely with it. I do not suppose that there will ever be a public body, a commission or board, which will be 100 per cent, perfect and which will be able to make judgements satisfying everybody. It has been upon the complete impartiality of the Tariff Board that every government has leaned for ils tariff policy and for the policy of protection which is the backbone of Australian industry.
I have entered the debate for a moment to say those things and also to comment on one remark that Senator O’Byrne made: That is that the Board should take into account excess capacity. The Board does take excess capacity into account. One of the reasons why the duty on polyethylene has been written down is that the board found that there was excess capacity in the industry. The Board has followed, for some little time, the very sensible and practical course of saying that it will arrive at decisions on the facts and if anybody has created excess capacity it should not be charged against present day costs.
– That is excess capacity to manufacture?
– Yes. I think the Board has done a very sensible thing and I am sure that we all wish the Board to continue that course.
– in reply - In winding up the second reading debate on these Bills I want to express my thanks both to Senator O’Byrne, who led for the Opposition, and to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) who took part in the debate. I am the first to recognise that the honorable senator leading the debate on tariff bills at short notice where nine separate schedules are involved in required to undertake an amount of research and exercise a degree of tenacity to get the picture of what is intended.
I do not think that there is much for me to reply to in the debate. Senator O’Byrne referred to the First Schedule and whilst he did not oppose the decision in relation to tea, he referred to the fact that a duty of 2d. per lb. is to be retained on small packs of up to 20 lbs. From an importing point of view, the facts of life are that not too much tea is imported in small packs containing less than 20 lbs. It is quite clear that most importations of tea are in bulk. The clear intention in retaining the 2d. per lb. duty on the small packs is to encourage the creation of a local industry and provide employment in the preparation of small packages of tea.
– There was no Tariff Board report. It was a Special Advisory Authority report and I wanted to know why.
– 1 think you will find the situation is as I have stated it. I do not think any of us can disagree with the decision. As to the honorable senator’s overall references to the Tariff Board, again I acknowledge that they were not made in a critical sense but were references to the procedures of the Board. It should always be remembered that the Tariff Board is made up of people with wide experience who are especially trained for the research that must be entered into in any determination that is made. They represent a wide cross-section of industry, commerce, and the Public Service and they are people who are expert in the study of the economic structure of individual industries which seek variations of tariff duties.
I feel that Senator Henty dealt with the criticism that a small industry may get a protective duty, build up strength, and live behind the protection. That is not the position. Reference was made to small industries sheltering behind a high protection after becoming established, but the schedules before us show the provision for reviews on a number of commodities. On conveyor belling, provision is made for a review in two years, on automotive electrical equipment in seven years, on transistors in two years and shipbuilding - the last item to which Senator O’Byrne referred - in five years. In shipbuilding where so much fundamental planning is necessary for the building of a ship I suggest that five years is not an undue length of time to wait for review. Tinsnips are to be reviewed in three years. There is a reference on the schedule to shrimps and prawns which are subject to review in three years. I do not think that a case was established to show that an Australian industry can start in a small way, build up and then lean back on the traces behind high protection. There is ample machinery for review and very often an industry is critically examined. The commodity is always critically looked at by the Tariff Board in relation to long term tariff variations.
– The Government docs not necessarily take notice of the Board.
– That is so. You can take it as a normal procedure of business that if an industry were leaning on the traces behind a protective wall those people who engage in the importing business would very soon make representations pointing out how the practice was working disadvantageously to the Australian economy. That would very soon be pointed out if a particular industry were leaning on the traces behind a high tariff protection imposed without due allowance for the cost to the economy of imports at a very much reduced price.
I shall conclude as I started: Because the new sessional period has just commenced, naturally there is a backlog of schedules to be presented. I feel both Senator O’Byrne and the Minister for Civil Aviation were very helpful in their contributions to the passage of this legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I would like some general information concerning the tariffs and the operations of the Tariff Board although the matter I have in mind is not exactly related to the tariff schedules before the Committee. I would like to know how the Tariff Board functions? Does it have any legal basis? Docs the Government take any notice of it? Finally, do industries generally take any notice of it?
About three years ago. the coal industry went to the Tariff Board and put up a case for protection against imported furnace oil. I think the Government was probably the third party in the case. The Board advised the Government that the coal industry was entitled to some protection from imported furnace oil or crude residual oil. The Board also dealt with the types of oil that were being imported, and reported that some heavier oils had a greater effect on the coal industry than lighter oils. The point is that although that application was heard by the Tariff Board and a decision was made, it was not heeded by the oil industry or by the Government. The result is that tomorrow a delegation is coming to Canberra comprising mine owners and mine workers in order to discuss with the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) a case for protection for the coal industry. Incidentally, the Joint Coal Board, like the Tariff Board, supported the mine owners’ case, but three or four years have passed and nothing has been done. The position of the coal industry has become worse each year. Why did not the Government in that case take notice of the Tariff Board’s report? Did the Government have a duty to take notice of it?
– I can answer Senator Ormonde only in a broad way. The Tariff Board operates under an act of this Parliament. The first act relating to tariff was passed in 1921, and it has been amended at intervals over the years. On short notice I cannot give an answer to the specific questions raised by Senator Ormonde, but no Government necessarily binds itself to accept a finding or determination of a Tariff Board. It becomes a matter of Government policy. Evidence is produced and a recommendation is put to the Government by the Tariff Board. The recommendation is then considered in the light of Government policy and the Government then gives its determination in accordance with the approved system as I am doing today. As to the remainder of Senator Ormonde’s questions, if he communicates with me at another level I will get the information for him.
– I refer the Minister for Customs and Excise to the tariff on glassware which appears in Division VIII under the Fifth Schedule of the Bill. Why did the Government act upon a Special Advisory Authority report and not on a report of the Tariff Board in relation to glassware? Why was not the matter referred to the Tariff Board in the first instance? In his report, the Special Advisory Authority stated-
In reply to the questions raised in the Minister’s reference I advise as follows -
it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect the Australian glassware manufacturing industry . . .
Can the Minister recall the nature of the urgency which led to the application? I understand that the company which made the application is a respected organisation of long standing. What was the essence of urgency which resulted in this matter being considered by the Special Advisory Authority rather than by the Tariff Board? The matter would be investigated more fully by the Board than it would be by the Authority.
– Representations made to the Special
Advisory Authority are of an urgent nature. They are made to the Authority because of the urgency, but concurrent with the representations to the Authority for a short-term holding position, there must be a long-term application to the Tariff Board.
– That is its specific function.
– Yes, that is its specific function. You cannot have a situation where an application is made for a short-term decision without having a longterm decision. Very properly, one thing is tied to the other and, incidentally, the finding of the Tariff Board is made some time ahead. I understand that the basis for the application to the Special Advisory Authority, in the case mentioned by Senator Laught was an increase in imports. Such an increase, a fall in sales of the local manufacturer and a fall in employment in the industry are all classic reasons for an application for a tariff variation. The important point is that while it is true that the Authority makes a short-term determination, full consideration of the matter is undertaken also by the Tariff Board.
– Can the Minister give a date when the matter is likely to be before the Parliament.
– I am not in a position to give that information.
– Earlier in this debate, by way of interjection, I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) whether there was an agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia that the Government would not act on a review of tariff in the case of any particular industry without referring the matter to a Tariff Board. I asked that question at the time because I understood that none of these Boards bind the Government. As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has just pointed out the Government does not necessarily accept a recommendation of the Tariff Board. The Government may amend or review such a recommendation in some way. What provision is there in the agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia as to the notice that must be taken of the report of the Tariff Board? When a matter is referred to the Tariff Board by agreement - and it must be done - to what extent does that agreement bind the Government in accepting or rejecting the Tariff Board’s recommendation?
– The only information available to me is to the effect that no duty higher than that recommended by the Tariff Board is permitted under the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement. The honorable senator also asked whether this provision is reciprocal. My understanding is that it is not but there are some other concessions required to be made.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 1 81 h August (vide page 63), on motion by Senator Anderson -
Thai (he Bill bc now rend a second lime.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from i Sth August (vide page 63), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time , and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 18th August (vide page 63), on motion by Senator Anderson -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 90). on the following paper presented by Senator Gorton - incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin - statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated lilli August 1964.
And on the motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the paper be primed.
.- When this debate was adjourned last night, I had dealt wilh the degree of support enjoyed by the present regime of General Khanh in South Vietnam. I was referring to the need to fight Communism, not only with weapons but also with ideas - with a social, political and economic dynamic that has some relevance to the needs of the people in the area. In dealing with the battle for men’s minds we must surely by now realise that it is absolutely necessary to offer to the people in these depressed areas, who arc fighting for emancipation, something which will strengthen their interest in offering resistance to Communism. Unfortunately, considered in that setting, nobody can bc satisfied with the attitude of the Government of South Vietnam today.
I wish to deal for a few moments, in a summary way, with the history of governments in South Vietnam since (he time of the Geneva Agreements of 1954. For years wc were told what a remarkable man the late President Diem was. We were told that in a ministerial statement made on behalf of the Australian Government.
– Wc wined him and dined him here in Canberra.
– Yes, as Senator O’Byrne says, we wined him and dined him here in Australia. He was built up as a paragon of virtue, and as a man who offered potential of real leadership in the troubled events in South East Asia. But when he was deposed in a military coup last November he suddenly became the “ despised ex-President Diem “. We were told in our Press that the man who had been held up as a mighty model for free men was a man who had headed a hated regime.
– lt was an approved assassination.
– I know there are muckrakers who even allege that the late President Kennedy had had something to do with it, but the point I make is that having displaced the Diem regime in December wilh a regime led by General Minh, the President of the United States wrote to General Minh. This appears in one of the documents we were handed yesterday entitled “ Select Documents on international Affairs, No. 1 of 1964. Vietnam since the 1954 Geneva Agreements”, produced by the Department of External Affairs in Canberra. It appears from the documents that by 31st December President Johnson was writing to offer his congratulations to General Minh. A month later he was writing to offer his congratulations to General Khanh, who displaced General Minh early this year.
If honorable senators look at page 59 of the documents they will read the address to the nation by General Khanh on his assumption of office. He spoke, first of all, of the “ dictatorial, rotten, and inefficient Ngo Dinh Diem regime “. He spoke also of the failure of the Minh regime in these blunt words -
But three months have elapsed since the revolution. The political, economic, social situation especially in the countryside still oders no promising prospect for the country, not one single compensation worthy of the sacrifices accepted daily by the soldiers. Therefore, the aspirations of the population and of the soldiers are nol fulfilled.
He then set out the future programme of the new regime. I have not time to go into this matter in detail, but last night I referred to the fact that there was but limited support for General Khanh. In fact, the consensus of the commentators from all over the world on the subject is that the South Vietnamese people have shown no sign of rallying to Khanh’s leadership. I do not imagine that the events of the last week, under which military dictatorship has been set up, will strengthen the resolve of the people of South Vietnam. One commentator said that grass roots popularity is an asset which, to Washington’s distress, Khanh still conspicuously lacks. Another commentator said that his pacification programme is badly in need of an uplift and that he has failed to win any mass support. I do not say this with any degree of pleasure, but we have to assess the situation which we, as Australians, are called upon to meet when we know that we are being asked to commit ourselves and our troops. And there is the possibility of being asked to give further support to fight in wars in countries where the effective local regime is in the hands of people like Khanh. Whether it will remain so is another matter.
We clearly have to make up our minds whether wc and our allies, great and small, wilh whom and to whom we have commitments, want to press for some political solution to the problem, or whether we are inevitably to take part in a long war of attrition, the end of which cannot at this stage be even remotely foreseen. Wc on this side of the House make no apology for saying that the approach wc make is that, as military methods have failed to solve this crisis, it is time to take the initiative and to look for an economic and social solution of the problem. That approach was very clearly set out in the resolution that was passed by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party at ils meeting early this month.
– Military methods have failed.
– How do you gel the agreement discussed?
– The first thing to do is to re-convene the 14 powers Geneva conference. That seems to me to bc an absolutely unanswerable request. I am never impressed by putting difficulties in the way of conferences.
– I am not raising difficulties. I am just asking how you would get the agreement discussed.
– I should think there would be every possibility of that if the co-chairmen - from Britain and Russia - were prepared to summon the conference. I am not suggesting there is any certainty of success, but the effort is worth making. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in his statement, which has been subjected to our criticisms, said -
We will continue to use every diplomatic opportunity that presents itself to seek peace . . .
– That is what the Government is trying to do.
– What does the phrase “We will continue to use every diplomatic opportunity “ mean? Where can this Government point to any initiative that it has taken in any of these complex situations? Why is not Australia asking that the Geneva conference be re-convened? Why are we always passive, negative and waiting for somebody else to give a lead? Why cannot this country become the country that it was in the early days of the United Nations when Dr. Evatt was the champion of the smaller powers; when Australia had so impressed itself upon the conscience of the world as a spokesman for the middle and smaller powers, that in its third year of existence Dr. Evatt, representing Australia, was elected President of the General Assembly? That was not accidental. It was because we stood for something then. We stood for independence and strong initiative in international affairs. It is perfectly plain what the Geneva agreements meant back in 1954. We have the advantage of the documents to which I have referred. The Department has made them available to us, perhaps a little late for thorough digesting before this debate.
– Do you think that the North Vietnamese would attend a Geneva conference?
– They say they want it.
– They have kept on saying it. To my regret, there are some matters in the documents about which we have not been fully informed by the Government. We have the “ Special Report from the International Control Commission in Vietnam to the Co-Chairmen of the Geneva Conference on Indochina “ at page 36 of the documents. It is a majority report of India and Canada, with Poland dissenting. It appears from the documents that there was a censure by the Commission of both North and South Vietnam. I shall not attempt to apportion the degree of responsibility. The majority report held that the North Vietnamese were at fault in violating Articles 10, 19, 24 and 27 of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam. The report said -
Having examined the complaints and the supporting material sent by the South Vietnamese mission the committee has come to the conclusion that in specific instances there is evidence to show that armed and unarmed personnel, arms, munitions and other supplies have been sent from the zone in the north to the zone in the south with the object of supporting, organising and carrying out hostile activities, including armed attacks, directed against the armed forces and administration of the zone in the south. These acts are in violation . . . of the Articles to which I have referred. At the same time the Commission went on to deal with the allegations of the North Vietnamese Government against the South Vietnamese Government regarding breaches of the Articles in permitting the entry into the area of troops from the United States of America. Paragraph 20 of the Commission’s report reads -
Taking all the facts into consideration, and basing itself on ils own observations and authorised statements made in the United Slates of America and the Republic of Vietnam, the Commission concludes that the Republic of Vietnam has violated Articles 16 and 17 of the Geneva Agreement in receiving the increased military aid from the United States of America in the absence of any established credit in its favour. The Commission is also of the view that though there may not be any formal military alliance between the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Vietnam, the establishment of a United States Military Assistance Command in South Vietnam, as well as the introduction of a large number of United States military personnel beyond the stated strength of the M.A.A.G. (Military Assistance Advisory Group), amounts to a factual military alliance, which is prohibited under Article 19 of the Geneva Agreement.
The Commission further stated, in paragraph 12 of its report -
Since December 1961, the Commission’s teams in South Vietnam have been persistently denied the right to control and inspect, which are part of their mandatory tasks. Thus, these teams, though they were able to observe the steady and continuous arrival of war material, including aircraft carriers with helicopters on board, were unable, in view of the denial of controls, to determine precisely the quantum and nature of war material unloaded and introduced into South Vietnam.
In paragraph 21, the Commission continued -
The Commission would also like to bring to the notice of the co-chairmen a recent and deliberate tendency on the part of both the parties to deny or refuse controls to the Commission’s teams, thereby completely immobilising their activities and hindering the Commission in the proper discharge of its obligations to supervise the implementation of Articles 16 and 17 of the Geneva Agreement.
The Commission said, finally -
The International Commission wishes to draw the serious and earnest attention of the co-chairman to the gravity of the situation that has developed in Vietnam in the last few months.
The report is dated 2nd June 1962. It continues -
Fundamental provisions of the Geneva Agreement have been violated by both parties, resulting in ever-increasing tension and threat of resumption of open hostilities. In this situation, the role of the Commission for the maintenance of peace in Vietnam is being greatly hampered because of denial of co-operation by both the parlies. The Commission, therefore, earnestly recommends to the co-chairmen that, with a view to reducing tension and preserving peace in Vietnam, remedial action be taken, in the light of this report, soas to ensure that the parties -
The point I want to make about these references is this: We have not been shown in this booklet any other document originating from the same body, but as recently as June 1962 the work of the Commission was being frustrated and it was asking for observance of the agreement. In the clearest possible terms the Commission allocated blame to both sides. I repeat that the Polish representative dissented in regard to the findings against North Vietnam. But, dealing with the majority report submitted by India and Canada, it is plain that, in the view of the Control Commission, there was a proved allegation against both sides. The Acting Minister for External Affairs at that time. Mr. McEwen, made a statement on 25th June 1962, in which he said that Australia fully supported the recommendation of the International Control Commission that peace should be restored by full compliance with the Geneva Agreements. There can be no possibility of error about what was involved in Mr. McEwen’s statement. He was saying that Australia would support any attempt to enforce the Agreements. That cannot be done unless the Control Commission is reinforced with fresh authority from the original Geneva powers.
My reply to the question raised by Senator Cormack is that an attempt must be made to reconvene the Geneva Conference. I am optimistic enough to think that after the American presidential election in November the time may be right for some attempt to reconvene the conference. At the moment no one can say whether it would get anywhere. But certainly an attempt must be made. Otherwise, we arc admitting that we have no alternative to a long war of attrition. I suppose it is common ground in this Parliament - it ought to be so - that a wider war is unthinkable. President Johnson has said so; he has rebuked Senator Goldwater for implying that be, President Johnson, had authorised the use of nuclear weapons if necessary in the recent raids against North Vietnam. General Khanh may want to use such weapons. He is insisting upon his drive to the north. But I suggest that any attempt to move the war dramatically into North Vietnam - any attempt to escalate the war - opens up the possibility of disaster and of another conflict like the Korean war. That is the last thing that this nation, the United States or any other country should reasonably want to happen.
Once we reject the notion of widening the war, we are left with the problem of deciding whether to slog it out over the years without any end in sight and of attempting to get some sort of social justice moving at the same time, or whether we are prepared to say here and now that the road to solution is through political negotiation. If you do that, what is the answer to the propositionthat it ought to be attempted now? It is not a question of whether, but of when and how and under what conditions, a search for a political solution should be made. We on this side of the Senate - I suggest that the vast majority of Australians are of the same mind - do not want to believe that we are engaged in an enterprise of which we cannot reasonably hope to see the end. When we are asked what is our attitude to the policies that are pursued by the MenziesGovernment, I believe that we are entitled to turn the question round and ask what the Government’s assumptions are, when it is committed to the view that there is no current alternative to the use of force. I am not specifically concerned with the particular incidents. I am attempting to raise this wider question: What are the Government’s ideas? What ought the Australian people to know about this commitment and what it will involve in the years to come? What kind of assessment is the Government making of the situation upon which ordinary people in this country may act and upon which intelligent criticism may be brought to bear? The answers to these questions are conspicuously absent from our discussions on this problem at all levels. We just do not know what they are. I suggest that the Government does not know either. That is why there is a genuine concern at all levels in the community. That concern exists not because it is not worth while attempting to win the battle of minds, not because we are not capable ultimately of pitting our form of “ open society “ against the monolithic systems that are in operation in some parts of the world, but because apparently we lack the resolution to take the initiative firmly.
We would like to see some initiative on the part of the Australian Government. Where is there a single, concrete contribution which has been made by this Government to the task of attempting to provide some kind of political, economic and social solution? After all, we are dealing with very critical matters. We were very strongly reminded of this the other day by that wonderful old man, Lord Bertrand Russell, who still writes even for the Australian Press. He said that the United States of America and the Soviet Union between them have stockpiled the equivalent of 320,000 million tons of T.N.T. and that to exhaust that arsenal of death it would be necessary to use the total explosive power of all weapons used in World War II each day for 146 years. That is what could be the ultimate result of military activity.
I do no believe that at the present stage the balance of terror is likely to permit any nuclear explosion of that fundamental kind. But while there is even the possibility of such an event happening by accident, all the efforts of men of goodwill have to be strained towards preventing any war, containing any conflict and limiting the area of any kind of war. That is what we are after in South Vietnam. I think that is what the vast majority of people all over the world are after. We, in Australia, have a special responsibility because the kind of policies we are pursuing are going to be judged by hundreds of millions of Asians, in whose general area we live. We would not want to be judged as always swimming against the stream of history. We would not want to be judged as always looking for the difficulties. We would like to be judged as always looking for optimistic and hopeful solutions which will have the result of bringing about peace on earth and goodwill towards all men. I make these observations because the interesting and important statement made on this subject by the Minister raises for us fundamental issues which go far beyond the particular dramatic events that occurred in the Gulf of Tonkin two weeks ago.
– Time is very short and, at this stage, 1 can only intervene in the debate by saying I was interested in Senator Cohen’s last few words, when he said that we cannot swim against the stream of history. This is the argument used by the people of North Vietnam and the people of China, who say that the National Liberation Front, as they call it in South Vietnam, is a true liberation movement following the natural stream of history. This is a curious parallel in remarks - a curious method of thinking along common lines. As the hour is late, I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 11th August (vide page 40), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the following papers -
Civil Works Programme 1964-65;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the Slates 1964-65;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for year 1964-65;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the
Ordinary Annual Services of the Government, for year 1964-65;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure other than the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government, for year 1964-65;
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June, 1964;
Income Tax Statistics;
National Income and Expenditure 1963-64 - be printed.
– The motion before the Senate is, in short, that the Budget Papers be printed. The Minister for
Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) laid them on the table on Tuesday last. The interesting thing is that they are already printed, hundreds of pages of them. However, the formal motion is that they be printed. To this motion I propose an amendment on behalf of the Opposition. I move -
At the end of the motion add the following words - “ but the Senate is of opinion that the Budget does noi adequately grapple with the problems of striking a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare.” 1 want to say at the outset that the adoption of this procedure which enables the Senate, in effect, to debate the Appropriation Bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government simultaneously with the House of Representatives, in which place alone such a measure may originate, will J think speed the day when the Senate’s powers in relation to money bills are severely restricted. In the view that I take, which I have repeatedly put from this place, it would certainly be better if the Senate were to remain a house of review strictly in relation to what, with some imprecision, 1 term money bills. 1 come at once to the Budget Papers and say that the Government’s estimating of receipts and expenditures, as shown in the papers before us. is at best a proof of incompetence and at worst a piece of deception, and that in any case it may be a mixture of both those clements. There is the most grievous underestimating of revenue. If honorable senators will take the trouble to look at page 4 of the statements annexed to the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), they will see that revenue for last year - we are now reviewing the results of that year - was underestimated by £68.8 million. On some items it was overestimated to the extent of £1.3 million. That is an extraordinary margin of error. I put it in other words when I say that the Treasurer received £68.8 million more than he said he expected and, on three items only out of all the items listed, he received £1.3 million less than he had expected. By and large, this is a grievous piece of wrong estimating by the Treasurer. Looking at that document it is very hard to understand how he could have erred to the tune of £29.2 million in estimating his receipts from income tax on individuals. That works out at an error of 41 per cent, in estimating. It is just as well that our Treasurer, in view of his performance in this respect, is not a builder tendering for contracts. He would very speedily find himself in the bankruptcy court on errors of that magnitude.
I repeal that it is very hard to understand how he could make such an enormous error in calculating his receipts from income tax on individuals when in a related item - payroll tax - calculated on wages in the community, his error was only £278,000 on his estimate of £68.5 million. In that case his error works out at less than one-half of 1 per cent. I put it that his error of 4i per cent, or £29.2 million in calculating income tax on individuals calls for the fullest explanation from the Treasurer. He should explain how he could be in error to such an extraordinary extent. I refuse to believe that the Taxation Branch officers were responsible for an error of that kind. I know their keenness in making these estimates, and the calculation that is made of payroll tax is a very good example of it. 1 hope thai some Minister acting for the Government will give us an explanation, particularly in view of the relationship between the two items of payroll lax and income tax on individuals.
When one looks at last years results, one finds that the Treasurer underestimated lo the tune of £5.4 million on customs duty, £3.5 million on excise duty. £6.9 million on sales lax, £5.8 million on post office receipts, and £10 million on miscellaneous revenue. These errors are far too serious and far too grievous to bc looked at lightly by any Government supporter. They are certainly not lightly regarded on this side. V turn to expenditures. These, too, were some £34.5 million more than was estimated. I do not say a great deal about that at this stage, because the item includes an amount for the States of some £32.5 million more than was originally estimated, and it may well include the special assistance grants of some £20 million that were professed to be related to unemployment relief.
The pattern I have just disclosed in relation to the results of the last year has been repeated by this Government down the years. I have no doubt that it is carried into the Estimates for the current year. All this is reflected quite visibly and clearly when one conies to look at the end results submitted to the Parliament and the nation year after year. Let me go back two years to 1962-63, when the Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of £118.3 million, to be financed by temporary borrowings, and finished the year instead with a surplus of £16 million, an overall error in his calculations of £134 million. Last year he budgeted for a deficit of £58.25 million, again to be financed by temporary borrowings. In his Speech before us he claims that the year ended with a surplus of £27 million. Allowing for that surplus and his estimated deficit of £58.4 million, his error last year amounted to £85.4 million. Putting the two years together, we see that he was out in his calculations to no less an extent than £219.4 million. That is a performance of which no-one on the Government side should be prroud. We have not the slightest doubt that that pattern has been repeated in his Estimates for this year, particularly as the Treasurer has embarked on what clearly is a deflationary Budget. All this leaves the Opposition without any trust whatsoever in the figures that are placed before us in these papers.
This year he tells us that he is budgeting for a surplus of £181 million. I want to deal briefly with the method of his calculation. He sets out that the total expenditure for this year will be the extraordinary sum of £2,511.1 million. Against that he states that even if there were no changes in taxation or other charges collections from all sources, except borrowings, would amount to £2,177.6 million. From borrowings he expects to collect £275 million. These two figures - the collections without increases in taxation, and his estimated borrowings - will yield him £2,452.6 million. This, against his proposed expenditure of £2,511.1 million, would leave him with a deficit for the year of £58.5 million. He proposes not just to cover that deficit but to raise taxes and to impose new charges to yield £87 million for a full year. He has indicated that the increased amount to be received in the unexpired period of the current year will be £77 million, but the higher taxes and the new charges are levied at rates designed to yield .£87 million in a full year. Accordingly, on the basis of the anticipated deficit of £58.5 million and the raising of £77 million, he proposes to finish with a surplus of £18.5 million.
If the pattern of the last few years is repeated - thus confirming the suspicions of the Opposition as to what goes on in his estimating - the Budget surplus will be much greater, and therefore will be much more severe in its deflationary effect on the community. We believe that revenue from all sources will be greater than the Treasurer estimates, and that borrowing will be greater than he estimates. Last year the amount received from borrowings at home and abroad was £317.3 million. This year, he is again very conservative and he expects a yield from borrowings of £275 million. Having regard to all the factors in the economy at the moment the Opposition is confident that the final figure will again greatly exceed his expectations.
We say that there is no need for increased taxes and charges unless the Treasurer has in mind expenditures during the year which he has failed to disclose. In the year just passed there were such items. Last year he made no provision for a transfer to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. He made no provision for paying off Treasury bills. Yet he paid out £18 million in redemption of Treasury bills and transferred £14.8 million to the trust account that I have indicated - the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. It may well be that he has in mind some such performance again this year. Already it appears, even from the statement of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), if I may read this into it, that additional defence expenditure beyond that disclosed in the papers before us is contemplated for this year. If that is the case then this Budget is suspect. It lacks frankness. We shall be very interested to see the final result.
I mentioned the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. I have spoken about this on many occasions. It is a trust account devised by this Government quite a few years ago and is built up mainly from revenue provided by the taxpayers year by year, contributions to the reserve have been debited against the Consolidated Revenue Fund. At June 30th last the Reserve had a credit of £299 million, all except £24-) million of which was represented by Commonwealth Government inscribed stock at various rates of interest up to 51 per cent. So that fund is backed by very negotiable documents - the safest documents in all Australia. I ask that these words be noted and marked: I put it that subject to market considerations the Treasurer is free to sell this stock or dispose of it or any portion of it to the Reserve Bank of Australia. Instead of making that approach he prefers to levy additional taxation and to impose new charges at the rate of £87 million a year and yielding £77 million in the current financial year. 1 draw attention at this stage to another phase of this Government’s budgeting to which 1 have frequently made reference, namely, the heavy impost upon the taxpayers, year by year, in debiting so much capital works expenditure to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The taxpayers in this current year are being asked to find £2101 million for works which will endure for generations. Let me select out of that total of £2011 million five items which between them account for £154 million. The Snowy Mountains project is to absorb £21 million. Some £10 million of this is to be provided by loan from the International Bank, so the taxpayers this year will find £1.1 million for that work which we hope will endure for centuries. For war service homes £35 million is to be found from the proceeds of taxation and ordinary annual receipts of the Government. For railway projects - no doubt rail standardisation - £1 1 million is to be provided. New post offices, telephone exchanges and physical facilities for the Postmaster-General’s Department will account for £77 million, and the development of Canberra, £20 million. These are all items that the taxpayers will finance this year. I repeat that this is an exceedingly heavy burden upon the taxpayers of the nation.
I want now to say something about the burden of new taxation which is being levied at the rate of £87 million per annum and will yield £77 million this year. My first point is that most of this additional revenue will be raised by flat rate taxation, and that is iniquitous, lt is unjust because, with one possible exception, it falls on all people regardless of their incomes, regardless of their means, whether they are wealthy or poor, whether they are in the business class, the working class or in the pension field. Sales lax is to be increased on motor cars. The rate of taxation is being lifted from the exceedingly high figure of. 221 per cent, to 25 per cent. This is expected to yield £6£ million in a full year or £5 million for the rest of the year. Then there is excise duty on cigarettes, cigars and tobacco. That is expected to yield £14.1 million in a full year and £12.5 million for the rest of this year. Television licence fees are to be increased by £1 and that is expected to yield £1.7 million for the rest of this year. Postal charges are to be increased in three categories. The service connection fee which was fixed by this Government at £10 a year or two ago is to be lifted to £15 to be paid for the installation of a new telephone. Telephone rentals are to be increased. 1 understand that the annual rental is to be increased by about £5 7s. 6d. That will yield £9.5 million in a full year and £8.5 million for the rest of this year.
I come now to the taxation of individuals. The Government which has given a rebate of ls. in the £1 on income tax calculated at the rates that were fixed is now abolishing the rebate so that, in effect, everybody in the community will pay an additional 5 per cent, on whatever tax they are mulcted for this year in comparison with last year. From that source the Government expects to get additional revenue of £35 million in a full year and £30.8 million for the balance of this year.
Life assurance companies and certain superannuation funds will pay tax at a rate which has been increased by 6d. in the £1. In a full year the increase is estimated to yield £22 million and £20 million for the rest of this year.
Taking those items together, they add to about £77 million which was indicated by the Treasurer as the extraction to be made from the community, business or otherwise, during the rest of this financial year. It seems to us of the Opposition that the Government, and the Treasurer in particular, have deliberately set out to negative the additional spending power put into the hands of all those who benefited by the increase of £1 a week granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as from 9th June 1964. It seems as though the Treasurer has deliberately set himself to take the additional spending power put as a fair thing by the Arbitration Commission in the bands of the people just two months ago. He has set himself to make sure that they are deprived of it and cannot spend it. That action is quite consistent with the history of this Government.
It will be recalledthat in 1960 when the Government ‘bad its brainstorm it had the odium of being the first Commonwealth Government ever to go before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and openly oppose an increase in the basic wage. It has that to its discredit. The workers of Australia got no increase from the Arbitration Commission until the following year - 1961. They then received no increase for three years until they received the increase of £1 per week on 9th June last. Now we see the Government moving in to make sure that the people lose the advantage that they thought they had obtained.
I shall read in full an article by one, Alan Stewart, which appeared under the heading “Oh Where Has That Pay Rise Gone “ in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 12th August last. Ihave not checked the calculations in the article. I believe they are accurate and that they reflect the thinking that I have addressed to the subject. Whilst I do not doubt their accuracy, I offer no personal guarantee. The article states -
And so we reluctantly say farewell to that £1 basic wage rise. The rise was granted to Australian workers by the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission on June 9th. Today the £1 is only a memory. Rises in direct and indirect taxation alone have swallowed up 10s.71/2d. of the typical family man’s £1. And that is before you take into account all the other price rises that have been imposed or threatened as a result of the basic wage rise. Here’s what has happened to the £1 rise received by a typical married man with two children: - The basic wage rise put up his weekly wage from £24 to £25. But it also increased his weekly income tax from £l 15s. 3d. to £1 19s. - a jump of 3s. 9d. Last night’s Budget will add another 6s. 101/2d. to that 3s. 9d., making a total of 10s. 71/2d. The 6s.101/2d. is calculated in this way:
Higher income tax - 2s. a week.
Cigarettes 3d. a packet dearer -1s. 9d. a week.
In fact we know that in many cases the increase is more than 3d. a packet. The article states -
Telephone rent up £5 7s. 6d. a year - 2s.1d. a week.
TV-radio licence up 15s. a year - 31/2d. a week.
Taxation-inspired inflation - estimated 9d. a week.
I think Mr. Stewart was very modest when he made the estimate on that item. He concludes -
Should the typical family man decide to buy a typical family car, he will be up for an extra £20 as a result of the 21/2 per cent, rise in sales tax - another 7s. 8d. a week if spread over a year.
I think that fairly reflects the effect of the Budget and I say without hesitation that it is the intended effect of the Treasurer in the action he has taken. I will return to that subject at a later stage.
Let us look at the expenditure side of the Budget. I refer to the enormous expenditure of £2,511 million proposed for the year, which is an increase of £224 million on the expenditure for last year. How much did the underprivileged classes in Australia get out of the £224 million increased expenditure? The invalid, age, civilian widow and tuberculosis pensioners received 5s. a week. According to the Government, this will cost £7.8 million out of the additional £224 million to be spent this year.
Totally and permanently incapacitated repatriation pensioners - there are not many of them - receive an increase of 10s. a week. The general rate 100 per cent, pension goes up by 5s. a week and the pension of the war widow by 5s. a week. The total of those magnificent increases is about £2.9 million out of the additional expenditure of £224 million and out of a total expenditure this year by this Government of £2,511 million. I have only to state those facts and to add one sentence: In all the circumstances and in the light of those figures the increases are paltry and mean.
I come, now, to one other aspect that arises out of my consideration of the Budget papers. We had a general election in November of last year. Our leader, Mr. Calwell, on that occasion said that without any increases in taxation at the end of three years the sum of £300 million would be available to finance Labour’s proposals. including greatly increased child endowment proposals. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Treasurer and other members on the Government side, one after the other, ridiculed the suggestion before the people. Let us hear what the Treasurer had to say in this Budget apropos of that subject. Under the heading of “ Revenue and Other Receipts 1964-65 “ the Treasurer stated in his Budget Speech -
All told, therefore, we estimate that, with taxation and other charges on their present basis, the total of revenue and other receipts available to us in 1964-65 would be £2,177,600,000, an increase of £180,900,000 over that of 1963-64.
The Treasurer and the Government who said last November that what the Labour Party was talking about was completely mythical now come before the Parliament and acknowledge that even if they made no increase in taxation and other charges at all, they would in this year of grace 1964-65 collect an additional £1S0.9 million - almost £181 million - in additional revenue. I want to refer to what the Treasurer said on relatively the same point when dealing with Government expenditure. In the first paragraph under the heading “ Expenditure “ the right honorable gentleman stated -
The core of our budgetary problem this year lies in the fact that the total estimated expenditures of the Commonwealth are expected to exceed actual expenditures last year by £224,000,000. This follows upon an increase, excluding the effects of accounting changes, of £181,000,000 in 1963-64 and a total increase over the three years since 1960-61 of £440,000,000.
In other words, the Government has had no difficulty in three years - the years 1961-62, 1962-63 and 1963-64- in finding enough money to enable it to expend an additional £440 million. This is the Treasurer and this is the Government who supported the proposition that money of this order was unthinkable. The Opposition concedes at once that while that pattern has been repeated down the years without changes in taxation rates, the natural development and momentum of the economy give a greater yield with increases in the work force and the natural development of industry and activity in the community.
Some part of the increase must go in meeting additions to the pensions field, new entrants and other factors concerned wilh social services. But that still leaves a vast amount of the natural increase in revenue available for new purposes and this Government has found much money this year for new purposes.
The new purposes are mostly phases into which the Government was pushed by the dynamic policy which the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Calwell) has outlined. The Government was pushed further into education. It was pushed further into northern development, and housing - further than it wanted to go in any of those fields. The Government has been able to find the money this year for those purposes and then come to us and say that it will have a surplus at the end of this year.
When one looks at the Budget, both on the revenue side and on the expenditure side, one hears out of the mouth of tce Treasurer himself confirmation that all that the Australian Labour Party put to the people back in November 1963 was completely practicable. That fact is proved out of the Treasurer’s own mouth and from the Treasurer’s own Budget Speech. I feel sorry for the people of Australia who have been bemused by a glib Prime Minister into returning him and his supporters. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) relies upon the people to forget what has happened before the next election.
It may be that the people will forget; but I promise the Senate that we on this side will do our best to keep the people reminded of it and Nemesis may not be so far away. There must be a Senate election before the 30th June next year - within the next 10 months - and we would welcome the Government doing the right thing and synchronising the elections for the two Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament again. We would like to see the Government go to the people from the House of Representatives as well as with half the Senate to be elected. Let us fight the election upon this Budget and these proposals.
We will seek to keep the people reminded of the meanness of the Government’s outlook in social welfare and the trickery - and I use the word deliberately - that has been practised upon the people of Australia in misrepresenting the basis upon which Labour could have financed its proposals. This process will go on. The Treasurer admits that there will be an additional £181 million in revenue this year without any increase in taxation at all. That process has gone on in the past and it will continue so long at this Government refrains from applying the brakes to the Australian economy. It certainly would go on under a Labour administration which is so deeply concerned to have a policy of development and progress - a policy that we have set out before the people in the most explicit terms.
I want to direct attention to the termendous emphasis that this Budget places on indirect taxation. I made a passing reference to that matter earlier. Consider the excise duty ob tobacco. That duty is paid at the one rate by rich and poor alike. All classes of people avail themselves of the use of tobacco and they all pay the one rate of duty regardless of their means.
The same applies to broadcasting and television licences. These licences are to be grouped and if you pay both together, you get the advantage, first of all, of a drop of 5s. but there is to be an increase of £1 against that reduction. I was rather intrigued by the way the Treasurer put this proposal. He made the television licence fee £6 instead of £5 and then gave a rebate of 5s. off the £6 if both television and broadcasting licences were paid together. Tt would have been a simpler matter to have added 15s.
The Treasurer puts that amalgamation of the licences on the basis of administrative simplicity. I have no doubt it will be administratively simple. I have no doubt that the people will be asked to pay more than £8 10s. when they have to bring the dates of the two licences together. They will have to pay more to bring them into line. What the Treasurer completely overlooks is that it is not as easy for everybody in this community to pay out £8 10s. as it would bc for him personally. What should be considered is the plight of those people - and they are there in their tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands in the community - who need every penny to get by from week to week. They are going to be deprived of the advantage of having those two payments spaced, as no doubt they have them today - £5 on one occasion, £2 15s. on another. That is much easier than finding the total sum out of the pay packet of one particular week.
This proposition shows the Treasurer’s outlook. He is merely concerned with administratively simplicity. He ought to address himself a little more to real human needs and find out how many people in the community are getting by from week to week on their wages and to whom those two charges coming in the one week would constitute a real embarrassment.
Sales tax on motor vehicles is at a flat rate. Postal charges are at the same rate for the poorest person in the field and for the richest company. The installation charge for telephones is to go up by £5 and there are to be increased rentals and, indeed, some increased charges for the calls. All these impositions are at a flat rate, and the Labour Party’s outlook is that there should be a constant endeavour to eliminate this unjust flat-rate taxation. But nearly the whole of these special proposals take that form. Income tax rates have not been overhauled for years. They need to be looked at and regraded, exempting more people from tax and easing the position for those in the lower income bracket who remain. A new scale needs to be provided that really will do justice and will keep things on a reasonably even keel.
The Treasurer directed attention to the fact that 1963-64 was a remarkably good year. I agree entirely. On the first page of the Budget Speech he set out what were the marvellous features of the year, and J will refer to them briefly. The seasons were good. Prices of our main exports overseas rose. Commodities like wheat and sugar found wider markets than ever before. Civilian employment increased and unemployment fell. There was a big increase in production as a whole. Wages and salaries increased by 9 per cent., company income by 10 per cent., farm income by 26 per cent, and the gross national product by 9 per cent. Of course, externally, as he said, results were quite spectacular. Exports were £309 million higher in value than in the previous year. Our overseas reserves increased by £228 million.
– All that did not just happen.
– I agree with the honorable senator that it all did not just happen, and even the Treasurer had the grace to acknowledge that there was a lot of good fortune. The Government can claim very little credit for these results. It certainly can claim some credit for the stimulation of exports, but it cannot claim credit for the seasons. It cannot claim credit for the hard work and production, and it cannot claim credit for the fact that China and other countries wanted commodities which they had not wanted before. It certainly cannot claim credit for the wonderful export prices that were obtained on world markets. In short, it can claim no credit for the major factors that led to these very good aspects, and even the Treasurer himself had the grace not to claim credit for these things. The Treasurer acknowledged that there is prosperity. We do too. We agree with the Treasurer also that there will be a continuation of these prosperous conditions, although perhaps not at the same high level. But then the Treasurer embarked on a doleful dirge when he pointed out that demand is on the rise, consumer spending is on the increase, there has been a great growth in the volume of money and there is great bank liquidity. He said that there has been enormous growth in savings bank deposits. He believes that he must curb all these things that he seems to regard as evil. In short, the Treasurer and the Government have settled for stability in this Budget, and stability in the vocabulary of the Treasurer is synonymous with stagnation. He just cannot bear prosperity. He cannot bear to think that things might leap ahead. He has conceived the idea of withdrawing spending power from the people, the business community and the nation. Is it his object to put the money where it cannot be spent? No, his object is to put it where he can spend it himself. He takes it from the people so that he can spend it. One would think that the additional £77 million that he plans to take in this Budget would be just as inflationary if spent by him as it would be if left in the hands of the original owners.
One other deflationary aspect of the Budget that does not readily appear in the papers is that the £20 million grant that has been paid for the last three years to the States, nominally for unemployment relief, is to be discontinued. It is true that under the formula the States will get £22i million this year, but that is only to keep them in the same relevant position as they were in last year. The important fact is that the unemployment relief grant was an unemployment relief grant in name only. It was paid directly into the consolidated revenue of the States. It had become a permanent feature of State Budgets. Now, it is to be abandoned and this certainly will have a grave deflationary effect in the various States.
Of course, many people who will pay the increased taxes and other charges are in business and they will pass them on in increased prices, with the usual profit margin added. The result will be inflation on top of inflation. It is regrettable that in this Budget one can see no forward thinking and no element of long-term planning.
– I invite the honorable senator who says “ Oh “ to say whether the business community is being helped by any foreshadowing of the trend that can be expected in the next five years. Where is there a detailed plan for development? I invite anybody who thinks he can point to some forward thinking in the Budget Speech and in the Budget Papers, to particularise it. I should certainly like to have my attention directed to it.
This Government is not only incompetent, as I have set out to show, particularly in its estimating and its approach to the economics of the country, but it is lazy as well.
– Steady now.
– I will give instances of that. I shall refer to one of the most important problems that Australia has had to face for years - the problem of doing something about our outmoded Constitution and of arming the Commonwealth Parliament with some precision tools to enable it to control the economy instead of having to employ the old taxation power, bluntly, clumsily, and with a coercive effect in so many fields. Six members of the Government parties joined with six members of the Australian Labour Party in making sixteen unanimous recommendations to the Government. The report was received in 1958, but the Government has never even considered it. I doubt very much whether any member of the Government has ever read the report. No decision has emanated from the Government. There has been no consideration of a matter that I am putting forward as one of the most urgent, from the point of view of guiding the economy wisely, as well as curing grave defects in the Constitution. Six years have passed and there has been not one word of decision from the Government on the 22 recommendations of which 16 were the unanimous decision of members of all parties.
I have said that the Government is lazy. Let mc give honorable senators another instance of this. On Sth March 1960, Sir Garfield Barwick indicated that we were to have legislation on restrictive trade practices. We were told that the Government was gravely concerned and that something would be done about the matter. That was nearly 4i- years ago. We have not even seen the legislation yet. 1 document the charge of laziness against the Treasurer himself. I refer to the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation which was available to the Government in June 1961 and tabled in the Parliament on 1.7th August 1961. Let me remind the Senate what the Treasurer said on that occasion. He pointed out that the Committee had drawn attention to escapism - how people were evading and avoiding taxation by various stratagems. He said -
The Committee places the annual revenue loss duc to these stratagems at no less than
That is reported in “ Hansard “ of the House of Representatives for 17th August 1961. The Treasurer said he was going to be active about it. On the same page of “ Hansard “ he is reported to have said -
I propose, however, that any legislation to be introduced to prevent the abuse of the existing legislation will also date from today.
That was on 17th August 1961. From that day to this we have not seen the legislation. According to him, there are taxpayers using stratagems, as he terms them, to defeat the country of £14 million per annum, or £42 million in the last three years.
Will any honorable senator say 1 was wrong when I said that the Government was lazy? How do the people, who have to pay increased charges for tobacco, television licences and various other things, feel when they know that the Treasurer and this Government are so eager to pick up money from them while they admit that there are others in the community who arc evading taxation to the extent of £14 million a year? The Government on 17th August 1961 promised to bring in legislation effective as from that date. But it has put the whole report back on the shelf, so far as the Parliament is concerned. I wonder why I am so mild as merely to use the word “ lazy “ in describing a Government that is capable of doing such a thing. 1 suggest that every member of the Government and all Government supporters should hang their heads in shame when complaints are lodged by the pensioners against the paltry handout of £7 million for the year. If the Government had collected what it ought to have collected, and if it had done what it admitted it ought to have done, the amount of the increase in pensions could have been doubled. This is a disgraceful position.
There is a whole field of foreign investment and take-overs in this country about which the Government does nothing.
– How long have you been in Opposition?
– Far too long.
– You may be lazy.
– No. 1 attribute that characteristic to the Government and its supporters. I come now to the last point that 1 want to make. The Treasurer rather emphasized the need for more money to be raised. He attributed that need to the desire to spend more money on defence. He is to spend on defence £36.3 million more this year than was spent last year. The new Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) is probably responsible for that increase because of his wish to increase the number of personnel in our three armed forces. He has been active in improving pay and conditions and in providing homes to attract personnel to our three depleted armed services. The great bulk of that £36.3 million will go solely in pay and in providing amenities and housing. It will not provide armaments, ships, submarines, fighters and bombers.
– Or men.
– It does not look as though it will attract many more personnel. We have suggestions in the Press and from various quarters that the Government in desperation, and despite these improved conditions, is about to consider the reintroduction of compulsory military service. That experiment was tried for six years back in the 1950’s. After that experience it was announced that the training was useless for military purposes because it took the experienced regulars from their proper tasks and tied them down as instructors for the national service trainees.
– Do you believe that?
– That is exactly what the Government said itself. It found that national service training was useless for military purposes and it discontinued the training. If the Government now says the training is useful, it will have to produce a good argument to counter the ones that were used in 1956 or thereabouts. If one were to allow for inflation in the interim, the amount provided for defence in this Budget will do no more than has been done during the last 10 years. It will barely keep pace with inflation.
In the limited time that I have left I want to say something about defence. Time will not permit me to conclude my remarks on defence. We know that we are without appropriate bombers. We will begin to get them in 1968. The Minister for Defence was very irate in answering a question yesterday when it was suggested to him that we would not have the new American bombers until 1970. He indignantly defended the position and said that we would begin to get them in 1968 - in four years from now. In his statement on 9th June he said that the Canberra bomber would not bc phased out until 1970. It appears that we will not be equipped with modern bombers to replace trie Canberra bombers until 1970. The replacement, programme will be carried out from 1968 to 1970. We have been told that we are to get four submarines. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) told us that we will get the first submarine in December 1966 - in 2i years’ time - the second in 1967, the third in 1968 and the fourth in 1969. According to the Minister for the Navy, we are to get Charles F. Adams class destroyers from America, the first in 1965, the second six months later and the third in 1967.
These procastinations, which have extended over a decade, are those of a government whose Prime Minister said in 1950, in a statement entitled “ The Defence Call to the Nation “ -
The call today is to Australia to be ready, not a year after a war begins, but when it begins. . . .
The Prime Minister, in the policy speech of 1951, said-
We solemnly believe that the state of the world is such that we cannot give ourselves more than three years in which to get ready to defend ourselves. Indeed, three years is a liberal estimate. Nobody can guarantee that it may not be two years or one.
What a sorry record. We are without modern bombers, modern fighters and submarines, and we will be waiting for years for destroyers. Our forces are inadequate for our own defence. They are inadequate to enable us to fulfil our treaty obligations that loom seriously at the moment. I say that the Government has failed dismally in the matter of providing adequate defences. When I say it is lazy, I add to the indictment its record in defence. What kind of a government is it that would need at least 10 years’ notice of a war?
– Mr. Deputy President, we have just listened to a most extraordinary speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The Senate will recall that he commenced his speech by moving an amendment which had to do with what he claimed to be the unrealistic balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare. Having moved this amendment, the Leader of the Opposition spent most of his time on matters which were completely unrelated to the subject of the amendment. I acknowledge that he did spend the last five minutes on the subject of defence, but he made only passing reference to social services and development. Indeed, the honorable senator seemed to me to be much more interested in delivering a speech on constitutional amendments and restrictive trade practices.
That was not the only reason why his speech was extraordinary. Those of us who have had the opportunity of listening to the Leader of the Opposition for a number of years have become accustomed to his addressing himself, as is appropriate on such occasions, at Budget time to an analysis of the economic state of the nation. All of us who sit here tonight can recall the debates on economic matters that have been instigated by the honorable senator on many occasions, even though at those times the Leader of the Opposition in the other place did not bother to address himself very directly to such matters. On this occasion Senator McKenna has avoided the economic state of the nation like the plague. Why has he done so? Remarkably, he acknowledged - grudgingly, one must allow - that Australia now enjoyed prosperity. What a condemnation that was of all that he has said in the past and of all that his party has claimed about the shortcomings of Government policy! That must surely be why he would not face up to the economic state of the nation, although it has been his practice to do so for many years. I again ask: Why has he not dealt with the state of the economy? It was for the simple reason that he would have had to acknowledge that, as a result of the policies that have been pursued by this Government, there has been progress and advancement and, to use his own words, prosperity.
Have we to look far to find evidence of that progress and prosperity? Let us start with people - with the ordinary members of the population. Not only do Australian-born residents enjoy a degree of prosperity, but such have been the conditions in Australia over the years that we have been able to pursue a migration policy which has achieved a degree of success greater than that achieved by any other country that has been actively seeking to promote migration. Here is a story of real success. The migration story not only is a record of the number of people who have come to Australia but also it bespeaks their acknowledgment of the fact that they, exercising a free choice, selected Australia as the country which offered them the best prospects. It is worth placing on record that in the five years from 1959 to 1963 inclusive, Australia, under the administration of this Government, has attracted 501,000 permanent settlers. I emphasise the words “ permanent settlers “. That has been our net migrant intake. The next most successful country - Canada, which has had many more advantages than Australia - attracted 451,000 settlers. What happens to migrants when they arrive in Australia? What are their employment prospects? Over the last year Australia’s work force has increased by 142,000, or 4.3 per cent., the level of unemployment being just less than 1 per cent. Surely that is one of the lowest levels of unemployment in the world.
When one looks to see what is happening in any part of the country geographically or in any segment of the economy, one finds all the indications of a burgeoning and expanding economy. Over the last ten years factory production has been truly remarkable in terms not only of total output but also of the creation of new industries and of a diversity of manufacturing effort, and particularly in terms of the spread of that effort across the nation. There was a time - it was not too many years ago - when industry had a tendency to huddle within a few particular areas. Those of us who come from the more distant States are keenly aware that the expansion of our manufacturing industries has spread to States which only a few years ago were regarded as being exclusively primary producing Stales.
The building industry provides evidence of what is happening in Australia. Expansion of the building industry not only provides activity within that industry but also sets the fuse for activity in dozens of other industries. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the wonderful increase in farm income. I affirm that the Government takes no credit whatever for what may have come to us fortuitously by way of increased prices overseas, but the Government may fairly take credit for the vast expansion that has occurred in our primary industries, particularly as a result of the stabilisation of prices over the last few years. I acknowledge with thanks the statement by the Leader of the Opposition that the Government had had something to do with the increase in export income. In the last financial year the value of exports exceeded that of the previous year by many thousands of pounds, our export income having reached a record level and our front line overseas reserves having risen to no less than £854 million. I emphasise that they are front line reserves - not including reserves in our second line call-up. This figure of £854 million is a record over the entire history of Federation. We have had a peace time record for borrowings. The Leader of the Opposition referred to this and I would have thought that, when he was discussing the Estimates, he would have addressed his mind to this particular aspect of revenue provision because here - not in the Estimates themselves but here - lay the key to whatever discrepancy there may have been in the actual position as against the Estimates.
Let it be said that loan raisings this year, for reasons which were and are and will remain largely unpredictable, did exceed by a large amount1 what the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) had estimated. With all this, and because of policies which were sensible and realistic, consumer prices were contained. Here, I believe, lay the key to the success which has been achieved in our economy over the last few years. It is true that with the reaction to the inevitable upward pressure of costs, including wage costs, there now appears to begin in the economy some tendency for prices to rise. But if we handle this - I use the Treasurer’s expression - as a team, and show some sort of national discipline, this, too, can be contained and will not again take on the dangerous proportions which we knew of some years ago. Altogether it can be said, without contradiction, that we now have in this country a very strong foundation from which to go forward, and that strong foundation will remain. economy where pressures are beginning to express themselves some measure of slight The Leader of the Opposition has referred to this as a deflationary Budget. I do not know how it can be a deflationary Budget. If is true that on all those points of the discipline has been imposed. This is no more than is necessary. It is no more than is desirable and no more than is good, prudent housekeeping in a sensibly managed economy. To call the Budget deflationary when one looks at the figures and sees an advance of £224 million in the public sector of expenditure, seems indeed to be a contradiction in terms. What is required at this point of time in this economy is just that measure of restraint to prevent any real excesses of pressure becoming evident. That is what this Budget realistically and sensibly seeks to do. I do not want to spend a lot of time on some of the criticisms that have been made of the Budget, but I was interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition refer tonight - as I understand was done in another place last night - to the re-imposition of the 5 per cent, income tax rebate.
This seems to me to be a pretty contradictory argument because all of us here who remember when the 5 per cent, rebate on income tax was granted a year or two ago, recall that it was attacked by the Leader of the Opposition and by the Australian Labour Party, it being argued then that this flat rate reduction in income tax conferred some benefit on the low wage earner and some considerable advantage on the high income earner. Yet, when the procedure is reversed, we again hear the same sort of criticism. Clearly the Opposition cannot have it both ways. It almost appeared to me, as I heard this criticism, that the Opposition, not being able to find anything much to criticise in the Budget, felt that it should criticise something and proceeded to criticise that which it supported only a year or two ago. I am also interested to record for the Senate another matter which should commend itself to the Opposition if, in fact, the Opposition has a consistent policy in respect of taxation matters. The Opposition has consistently argued, year by year, that the fairest way to tax people is to tax them by direct taxation and that indirect taxation was, in fact, an impost on the low wage earner.
The figures which come out of this Budget, as compared with the last Budget of the Labour Government, are interesting, because in 1949-50 direct taxation imposed by the last Labour Government was 55.3 per cent, of all taxation, with indirect taxation as 44.7 per cent. For this financial year, 1964-65, direct taxation is estimated at 60.1 per cent., an increase of 5 per cent., and indirect taxation at 39.9 per cent., a reduction of 5 per cent. There has also been some mention of company tax, where there has been a mild increase - the mildest possible increase - of 6d. in the pound. This has been referred to in some quarters as juggling income tax. It is no more than normal budgetary procedure to vary income tax, and to refer to an increase of 6d. in the pound as juggling taxation seems to me to be completely incomprehensible. In any case, what does the Labour Party find objectionable in an increase in income tax which, in large part, does not affect the little men who - I understand from speeches delivered elsewhere last night - arc on this occasion the chief concern of the Labour Party? The amendment refers to social services and, because it is interesting, I want to compare the figures for 1949-50 with those of 1964-65.
In 1949-50 payments to the National Welfare Fund amounted to £92 million. This year they amount to £452 million. Looked at as a percentage of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, these payments amounted to 16 per cent, in 1949. This year no less than 21 per cent, of the Consolidated Revenue Fund is paid into the National Welfare Fund. Looked at again, from a somewhat different angle - the percentage of personal income tax paid - in 1949 the perecentage was 47 per cent, and this year it is no Jess than 60 per cent. 1 think that, as a statement of the arithmetic of the situation, entirely disposes of any charge that this Government has not at all times been willing to face up to the responsibilities that arise in this connection. Quite apart from the arithmetic, if anyone cares to study - I have not time to do it now - the vast increase in the scope and comprehension of social service payments, it will be revealed to him in a startling way that it is the LiberalCountry Party Government that has really introduced the major reforms into this type of social legislation, and not the Labour Party which so vociferously claims that this is its particular specialty.
The Leader of the Opposition, in his amendment, referred to development. It always rather surprises me when he says that this Government has not been at all times ready, willing, able and enthusiastic about pursuing developmental projects. I say to him immediately that there is one great Australian work for which the Labour Government passed legislation, namely, the Snowy Mountains scheme. It passed the legislation and found a few hundred thousand pounds for expenditure on that great work. But it is this Government which has carried on the work. There is another aspect of national development with which the Labour Government of years ago did, in a transient way, concern itself, namely the important work of railway standardisation. The Labour Government had a report prepared for it in respect of this great national matter but, the report having been prepared, there the matter stopped. No railway standardisation work was ever attempted or accomplished in this country until the Menzies Government came to power in 1949. South Australians, particularly, will remember that the first standardisation work was undertaken when Senator McLeay was Minister for Shipping and Transport, on the Maree line towards Alice Springs. Next, of course, was the AlburyMelbourne line. Since then, great works have been undertaken in Western Australia and South Australia.
I point out that the developmental works on our programme are all foundational works - no milk bar economy about these - which bring and build greater strength into the economy. Look what has happened in the State of New South Wales. We have seen coal loading works at ports, to encourage shipment of coal. When I mention coal, I recall that the coal industry was in a state of chaos when this Government came to power. Great water conservation works have been undertaken at Chowilla and Blowering. Flood mitigation works have been initiated. Beef cattle roads have been provided. The great brigalow land development schemes in Queensland has been made possible only by the support of this Government. I think of the port works at Derby, the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia, and the Gordon River road in
Tasmania. These are but a few of the vast developments which are being undertaken. Only the active, financial support of this Government has made them possible. I listen with astonishment to the Leader of the Opposition when he says that this Government has not played a full part in the development of this country.
Defence has been mentioned and 1 think it is proper that 1 should say something about it. A good deal has been said in recent days about the record of the Government. There have been indications that it is thought in some quarters that the Government has not been ready to engage in expenditure of a sufficiently high level on defence 1 recall for the benefit of the Senate the fact that some three years ago wc embarked upon a programme that envisaged the expenditure of something slightly in excess of £200 million a year over the following three years. That was the basic programme, if I may so describe it. but accepting it as a basic programme, the Government always had in mind that from time to time throughout the period of the programme it would in some circumstance bc necessary to increase its expenditure. In the first year of the programme the amount of expenditure became £214 million, in the next year it became £260 million, and in the current year, as the Budget Papers reveal, it will be not less than £298 million. 1 want to make quite clearly the point that although the Government seeks to base a programme on a figure we do not regard a defence programme as being static. Necessarily, it must vary with the altering strategic situation and also with the availability of equipment. Even with the best will in the world, one cannot go out and spend an extra £100 million in any one year or in any one period, for the simple reason that it is quite impossible to buy aeroplanes or ships or other equipment off the hook. These things have to be ordered years in advance of delivery and, naturally, if is a Government’s task, when laying down this programme, to order in relation to the strategic situation or the availability of this equipment. I merely say to the Senate that the Government has the matter of defence under continuing review and will keep it under continuing review. There will be no short fall in the measure of defence expenditure that is required to ensure thai this Government is in a position to fulfil its obligations in respect of the defence of Australia and its territories, and its obligations to those allies with whom it is in treaty bound.
– I was very disappointed with the Budget, not so much from the economic point of view but because it showed what the policies of the Government would be over the next twelve months. I shall not traverse all the various points of the Budget. Two points with which 1 wish to deal tonight are, to my way of thinking, very important. The Budget does not indicate any great advance in providing for the defence of Australia. The economics, the collecting of the revenue, and the means by which the Government collects it, are not greatly worrying me. lt is the field in which that revenue is to be used that is troubling me at the moment. The Minister said that this country has had real success this year, and I agree, but we have te keep the country successful and we must continue to improve the conditions of the people. 1 believe that we must make sure first that if a testing time comes we can defend this country.
During the last few weeks there have been a number of events on which the Australian Government has made great pronouncements, but I want to know how it proposes to back up what it has said. 1 know that the Government, in its defence planning, has entered into certain commitments whereby machines will be delivered in four or five years time for the Navy and the Air Force. But I think the danger to Australia is much nearer than that. We have to be prepared. I do not think it is very important in the scheme of things to worry whether we are going to get four submarines or a couple of frigates over the next few years. In the Pacific, we have as our great ally the United States of America with its tremendous fleets. Ours would be only a small or token force to indicate our willingness to help.
What we must have in Australia is a trained body of men who can take up the defence of this country, either on our own shores or in other fields. We must build up such a force right now. This work should have been started several years ago, then all the arguments about not having sufficient trained men available, and taking away men from the Australian Regular Army and so on, would be behind us. By the expenditure of money we can do something now. We must introduce into this country, not next year but now, some scheme of national service training. People will say: “ Well, national service training was a great failure when it was tried before”. However, an excellent national service training scheme could be worked out. Other countries, including the United States of America and Britain, have effective training schemes, so why not follow their example? This is one of the things we can do in the defence of our country instead of waiting for many years to get a few expensive armaments. We can have our people prepared. It will be the ordinary trained infantryman who will defend this country. Expensive equipment is not of much value in the jungle. Even the effectiveness of aeroplanes is limited. We do not need Mirage fighters for jungle warfare. Ships are not of much value except close to the shores. One of the reasons why this Budget is a disappointment is that it does not show a sufficient breakup of defence expenditure, which would be something to get our teeth into to ensure that the real economic success that the Minister has claimed for this country can be continued for many years.
The position in South East Asia is very dangerous, indeed explosive. When we had a system of national service training before we did not have such conditions surrounding us. We know that this Government has sent a few men to South Vietnam to support the South Vietnamese. It has sent some barbed wire and a few other things, but that is not sufficient. We have not the armed personnel to enable us to do much more. We are committed in Malaysia. I think we have only about 8,000 trained front line troops. We must do better than that, otherwise this country will be given away. The explosive position in South Vietnam cannot be ignored, and we cannot continue to rely upon the great forces of the United States to safeguard us. We have to show that we are willing, both in the expenditure of money and in the training of men, to play our part. I know that Sir Robert Menzies had very complimentary remarks directed to him by President Johnson when he so readily came forward in support of the actions of the United States fleet in the Gulf of Tonkin. From the diplomatic viewpoint, that was a good thing, but if a war breaks out - 1 speak of a war with conventional weapons - we ‘have to be prepared to help our allies and in so doing help ourselves. The Budget fails dismally in that respect, because the Government has not made provision for a greater expenditure on defence. I have read in the newspapers that this expenditure can be reviewed, but 1 believe that is only kite flying. The review will be like a number of other reports that come before Cabinet; it will be pigeonholed. We want to see something definite.
I will not say any more about defence, but there is one other area in which the Government is culpable and that is in the social services field. I do not think that anybody really believed that the Government would give to the pensioners of this country an increase of less than 10s. a week, yet all that has been allowed for in the Budget is the very miserly increase of 5s. a week. I really cannot understand why that should be so. Only a few months ago, the basic wage was raised by £1 a week and that put the pensioner in a parlous position. He is getting further and further behind in his fight for a bare existence. To anybody who thought of these things an increase of 10s. a week to the pensions would seem to be little enough but it was not to be. The increase of 5s. a week will cost in the neighbourhood of £7.8 million this year and, in a full year, about £10 million. It is a meagre sum in this tremendous Budget. There is to be a surplus of about £18.5 million. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) quite easily could have granted an increase of 10s. a week and budgeted for a surplus of £8.5 million. He still would have had a surplus and would have extended some decent help to the pensioners.
I lay the blame for the pensioners’ position to-day, not so much on the Government, but on the Labour Party members in this chamber. The Government works out and has control of the Budget. It has worked out an increase of only 5s. a week, but the position of the pensioners today is solely the responsibility of the Labour Party in the Senate.
– Will you vote for the proposed amendment?
– Yes. But over the last seven Budgets I have moved at Budget time, first, for a select committee of competent people to decide what should bc allowed to pensioners to afford them a reasonable livelihood. 1 have always been opposed by the Labour Party and, naturally, by Government supporters. They do not want their Budget interfered with. The next amendment I have always moved al Budget time has proposed that any cost of living adjustments to the basic wage be added to pensions so that they will not lose their relativity. What have we seen? Over the last seven Budgets all Labour Party members in the Senate have moved over and voted with the Liberal Party against such an amendment to the social service legislation.
– You were not serious.
– I was not serious! Why did you not vote for the amendments and defeat the Bill? Because you were not serious and did not have what it takes to do so. When it came to the point, we had the balance of power in the Senate and the matter could have been forced on the Government.
– You would have pulled out then.
– You have never known me to pull out yet. The responsibility for the parlous state of the pensioners today lies with the Labour Party because of its cowardice in the Senate. When the social service legislation comes up in the Senate J will once again move those amendments. 1 suppose we will again see the Labour Party members run over and vote against the welfare of the pensioners.
– You want to evade your responsibility.
– 1 am not evading my responsibility. There is no question of evasion of responsibility involved in adding cost of living adjustments to pensions.
– But you want a committee to decide it.
– I do not want a committee at all. lt is a motion. You see, you do not even understand the amendments proposed to the social service legislation in order that the cost of living adjustments may be added to pensions. This happens to be the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions but the honorable senator runs away from it. He started to run away because he was afraid of a double dissolution. That frightened him and he has been running ever since.
– We have moved amendments to every Budget but you have never supported them.
– I support all amendments proposed in relation to the Budgets and 1 will support this one even though it is proposed with your tongues in your checks. You would not follow it out if you were in power. I have been talking about defence. Labour’s proposed amendment is something like its defence programme. Labour slates the Government because of its defence programme. Good Lord! If Labour had come into, office there would have been no defence of this country at all.
– There is none now.
– There is very little but there would have been none with Labour in office.
– We had it in 1940.
– Here is a man who goes back to 1940. We are in a dangerous position here today.
– This Government did nothing.
– It did not come into office until 1941. Labour would not have had defence forces and would not have been very successful unless the great United States of America had come in to help us and you know that.
– We did have a few divisions, you know.
– I am not worrying about that.
– It is all very well to talk about defence if the volunteers will do it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood).- Order!
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I am very pleased to know that I have aroused some interest. This is a very disappointing Budget in two main respects: First, from the defence angle and secondly from the social services angle. [ am not much worried by the increases in taxation. I am not concerned by the abolition of the 5 per cent, rebate on income tax. I believe that the people of Australia will not mind paying more tax for the defence of this country. I am prepared to support any Government that says it needs money for defence - all types of defence. I am quite prepared to back any Government in increasing taxation in Australia for this purpose. I cannot see any use in having good social services, and a high standard of living if there is no security for the future.
In this part of the world we have to provide our own security to a great extent. If a world war occurs and atomic weapons are used, we do not stand much chance. I believe that for the next 20 years, until the red stain of Communism is wiped out in this part of the world, we will need the ordinary military services. In New Guinea we border a country that could quite easily become Communist if we do not do our duty in certain parts of South East Asia.
Australia could have to face the orthodox military forces that have been used for many years. That is why I ask the Government to do two things. First, I ask the Government to improve the defences of Australia. Raise the money by increased taxes if need be, but improve those defences. Set up national service, at least within the foreseeable future, so that men can be trained to defend this country - fully trained quickly if they have a basis of partial training.
The second thing that I ask of the Government concerns pension rates. I am rather ashamed of the Government for the very miserly increase of 5s. a week granted to pensioners. In comparison with the tremendous size of the proposed Budget expenditure, the amount devoted to pensions is a measly £10 million. Some people would say that the increase is only peanuts in comparison. Why did not the Governmnent do the right thing for the pensioners? The state of the pensioners is relatively much below what it should be because of the £1 increase in the basic wage.
I will support the Opposition’s amendment because it seeks more for defence. I believe the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is quite honest in this regard but most of the other Labour senators were speaking with their tongues in their cheeks. Under the circumstances, I support the amendment.
– Before I examine in detail the Budget Papers presented to the Senate, I propose to comment on the speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) in presenting the papers. The Minister said in his opening remarks -
On 5th May 1964, the then Leader of the Government in the Senate explained changes being made in the form of the annual appropriation measures to distinguish between appropriations which are, and those which are not, for the ordinary annual services of the Government. This distinction has been continued in the documents now presented to the Senate. The paper “Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for other than the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government “ contains those appropriations for which, in the opinion of the Government and its legal advisers, a good case cannot be made out for the view that they are for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
He went on to say -
During the intervening months since the Supply Bills were passed, further consideration has been given to this classification of appropriations. Discussions on this question are continuing and pending their completion, no alteration has been made to the form of the measures which was adopted in May.
I am very disappointed indeed that this alteration was not made. All honorablesenators will recall the debate that took place when the new measures were adopted. Some of us expressed ourselves rather forcibly and put forward the view that such an alteration in effect meant a lessening of the powers of the Senate. Surely it must be obvious that if we allow this state of affairs to continue, it will mean nothing less than that. Honorable senators have been good enough to appoint me Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of Committees. I consider it one of my duties to see that the powers of the Senate are not frittered away or lessened in any degree.
If we examine the particulars of proposed expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government for the year ending 30th June 1965, we find the total involved is £1,094,117,000. The proposed expenditure for other than the ordinary annual services of the Government is £2,368,000. Details of the proposed expenditure of £1 million of this amount are not specified at all. An amount of £1 million is to be advanced for other than ordinary annual services of the Government and particulars of this expenditure will be submitted to the Parliament afterwards or pending the issue of a warrant by the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure. Expenditure of £1 million of an amount of £2,368,000 will not be specified in detail in any shape or form.
If the Senate accepts the Budget Papers in the form in which they are presented, it can make amendments only in respect of this amount of £2,368,000. In respect of the remainder of the Budget expenditure - over £1,000 million - it will be able only to request amendments.
Unfortunately there arc some people who cannot or will not see the difference between the Senate having the right to request an amendment and having the right to amend. The big difference is this: When the Senate has the power to amend, it makes the amendment there and then and the bill is returned to the other place. If the amendment is accepted, well and good. If not, it can be returned to the Senate. The point is that the Senate has the right to amend it and the onus is not then on the Senate If the legislation is not passed. When the Senate has only the right to request an amendment, it makes its request. If the other House refuses that request, the onus is then thrown on the Senate and not c.i the House of Representatives. There is all the difference in the world between the right to request an amendment and the straight out right to make an amendment. If we allow this state of affairs to continue there is no doubt at all in the minds of many people - people whose opinion is worth while - that the powers of the Senate are being curtailed. That is something about which all members of the Senate must be concerned. I take some comfort from the words of the Minister, who. when announcing this procedure, said that discussions were continuing. I for one will not be satisfied until an alteration has been brought about along the lines that I have indicated.
I want to give some - and only some - instances of the major items involved which the Senate will not have the right to amend. The items I am about to detail are con tained in the civil works programme for 1964-65. I wish to make it plain at the outset that I am not laying any blame at all on the Minister responsible for the programme. The decision has not been his; it has been a decision of the Government, and it is one which I hope the Government will alter very speedily. Page 10 of this document shows that a sum of £5 million is set aside for the extension of the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome north-south runway south into Botany Bay by 1,500 feet, the reconstruction of a sewer, the construction of a road tunnel to carry General Holmes Drive traffic, with associated engineering services and road connections, reclamation and rock protection work associated with the runway works, construction of pavements, and other minor items. The expenditure last year was £112,953 leaving a balance remaining to be expended at 30th June 1964, of £4,887,047. This is one of the amounts that the Senate cannot amend.
I turn to another. On page 1 3 of the programme is an item for the Australian Capital Territory. Again it deals with an airport runway. The work includes the strengthening of the north-south runway and portion of the east-west runway, taxiway and apron, including extension of apron. The amount authorised is £170,000. The amount spent last year was £125,854 leaving an amount to be expended of £44,146. This work surely cannot bc regarded by anybody as ordinary annual services of the Government.
I turn to another instance on page 16 of the document. This is the erection of a laboratory building at Clayton in Victoria. The amount authorised is £436,039. The balance remaining to be expended at 30th June 1964 was £217,029. Then on page 20 we have an item covering stage two of the erection of Commonwealth offices in Melbourne. The amount authorised is £2,296,122. The amount remaining to be expended at 30th June was £2.066,831. On page 30 we find a quite large item, lt is the erection of the mail exchange building at Redfern in New South Wales. The amount authorised is £2,909,869 and the amount remaining to bc expended was £966,550. On page 42 is an item covering stage one of the erection of the main Canberra Community Hospital block, including construction of roads, landscaping and site works. The amount authorised is £2,043,530 and the amount still to be expended was £1,050,300. 1 pass to page 46 of the document where provision is made for the erection at Darwin of a thermal power station. The amount authorised is £2,011,484. Only £5,676 remained to be expended at 30th June. On page 57 there is provision for work on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Canberra. The amount authorised is £1,947,971 and the amount still to be expended was £60,946. The last example I propose to quote is found on page 61. It is for the erection of police headquarters in the Australian Capital Territory, the amount authorised being £457,000.
All these works are in the category of items which the Senate cannot amend. Surely they cannot be regarded as ordinary annual services of the Government. There are many other items contained in this document, but I have picked out just a few to emphasise the position that has arisen as a result of the alteration in procedure.
I repeat that we cannot be content until this matter has been reviewed because the powers of the Senate are being restricted and its rights destroyed. The danger is, of course, that we as custodians and guardians of State rights may find ourselves unable to fulfil that very necessary function. I am not saying that that will happen, but it could happen if this procedure is allowed to continue. 1 mention these things to emphasise the need to insist upon a change in the method of presentation of these papers.
I now wish to consider the Budget. The Treasurer referred to the very fine employment record. The position has improved even since the figures in the Budget Speech were compiled. I was speaking only the other day to a Federal member who had travelled out on a ship with migrants, followed them into their migrant camp and had seen them being interviewed by the employment officers. He told me that there were five or six jobs waiting for every skilled worker. A very marked shortage of skilled labour exists and it looks as if the position will become even worse in the very near future.
I think that the Budget is a good one on the whole, but I do wish to utter a word of warning. Apparently it has been based on the assumption that the very favorable seasons we have been experiencing throughout Australia - I know that there have been some bad patches here and there - will continue. The present position could very speedily alter. We all hope that it will not, but, after all, we have had a run of good seasons, and just as surely as if the sun rises it must set, so the seasons will come and go in Australia. We hope that good seasons will continue, but a return of bad seasons must come.
We had a very favorable year for exports. They reached the high level of £1,374 million - £309 million above the high total of the previous year. As a consequence, our overseas reserves have reached a total of £854 million - something that we thought would be impossible to achieve as recently as three or four years ago.
– That is a record.
– It is very satisfactory indeed. To add a few grey hairs to the Treasurer’s head, this year he was faced with an increase of £32,800,000 in the amount that is due for redemption of maturing debt. The Treasurer said in his Budget Speech that there is an exceptional total of £347,S00,000 of debt falling due within Australia this year. All these facts are not known to the general public. People say: “You get so much money. Why can’t you do this and why can’t you do that? There is the question of social services and there is the question of defence. You have plenty of money coming in. Why can’t you do something about those questions?” The facts are ignored because they are not known.
An amount of £3 million has been set aside for petrol prices stabilisation. That is in keeping with the promise made by the Government when it said that it would bring about a reduction in the price of petrol in outlying areas. I think that in some remote parts of Australia the price is as high as 4s. a gallon. This reduction in price will be of tremendous value to the people in the outback and it is something that they deserve. It will also help in the development of our outlying areas. This is something on which the Government should be congratulated.
– What was the price mentioned by the honorable senator?
– About 4s. a gallon.
– It is as much as 6s. a gallon in some places.
– I am told that it is as much as 6s. a gallon. I did not realise ii was so high. An amount of £1,800,000 has been set aside for the increased cost of the superphosphate bounty. I. want to congratulate the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) on his success in having the recent increase in the price of superphosphate reduced from 17s. to 13s. 6d. a ton. I sincerely hope that something further will be done in the matter. The companies concerned were foolish to increase the price of superphosphate because moves are already afoot to start a cooperative superphosphate company and there is a good chance that it will be established. If it is, it will mean competition for the companies that are having it all their own way at present.
A further amount of £4,700,000 will be raised from wool growers and will be used towards the cost of wool promotion. This scheme was the subject of a debate in the Senate. 1 am one of those who believe that the money to be spent on wool promotion will be of great benefit to the wool growers. There will bc savings on some items, such as a reduced liability for the wheat industry stabilisation scheme. It is estimated that there will be a saving of £10,800,000 in that regard. The amount being set aside was to assist the wheat growers in meeting the cost of production. As I have said year after year, the wheat growers have spent more than £100 million to subsidise people who eat bread. Now it is necessary for the taxpayers to assist the wheat growers in return. There has been a reduction of £3.700,000 in the amount provided for the Mount Isa railway. The rehabilitation, 1 suppose one might call it, of this railway in the north has been well worth while. Wc are all pleased to see it get under way.
J come to defence. Senator Cole devoted a considerable portion of his speech to this subject. I do not suppose that anyone in Australia is very happy with our defence as a whole, as it is constituted at the present lime, but by the same token, we have to remember that even if our defence forces were doubled we still would not be capable of defending this country on our own, depending, naturally, on the forces arrayed against us. Being a small country, expanding as we are and needing all of our manpower so that we may expand as we wish to expand, it is essential that we have strong allies. It is fortunate for us that we do have strong allies, lt is very comforting, to some degree at any rate, to find that there has been an increase in the defence vote. It is also comforting to find that, according to reports that are handed to us, even stronger measures are being contemplated by the Government over and above those already announced in this Budget.
Much has been said about the reintroduction of universal training. I am one of those who subscribe to the view that if we could have such a scheme it would be good for the individual and good for our country. It would help to make better citizens of our young mcn and would provide a welcome nucleus for our defence forces. Here again the question of expansion arises. If we are to take a number of young men from our work force and place them in the military forces, that must interfere with our economic expansion. If we are to take from the trained personnel instructors to train others, that in turn will detract from the value of the forces we have already trained. When the citizen forces were being disbanded some time ago, I thought it was a mistake not to keep some of the officers and non-commissioned officers to train young men.
We have seen tremendous strides in the development of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) referred to the Government tonight as being lazy. I am sure that no-one realises more than he does the tremendous strides’ that Australia has made in development. In common with many other honorable senators, I am particularly keen on the development of the north. Development there has not been as rapid as we would have liked, but big strides have been made there nevertheless. I want to pay a tribute to the organisation that first commenced to press for the development of the north. I refer to the Federal Inland Development Organisation. It was followed by the People the North Committee. Both organisations have done a good job. They certainly have aroused the interest of the people of Australia and have received the sympathy of the Government by the continuous pressure that they have applied in having the north developed. This is a project dear to the heart of Senator Morris and no doubt he will speak about it in this debate. It is comforting to see new roads and to see the road trains transporting cattle. The more development that is achieved the better it will be, not only for the people in those areas, but for all the people of Australia.
Mention was made of the Australian Water Resources Council. We know that Ministers from each State have had several conferences in Canberra with the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and his officers to decide on policy. A policy has been set in train. I take a great deal of pleasure in remembering that it was the New South Wales branch of the Australian Country Party that called a meeting which aroused enthusiasm for the establishment of the council. The meeting was held in Orange. I cannot recall the exact date, but it was two or three years ago. It has developed very well indeed. The members of this body, known as the Water Development Association of Eastern Australia, had a meeting in Sydney recently. It is very heartening to note the interest that is being taken in this matter and the effort that is now being put forth to ascertain our water resources. The next step will be to try to exploit our resources, which are very necessary for the further expansion of Australia.
The Commonwealth proposes to increase its grant to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea this year to £28 million, an increase of £2.7 million on the grant for 1963-64. It might do well to remind the Senate that this grant, together with contributions to projects like the Colombo Plan, will bring Australia’s contribution for such projects to the equivalent of approximately 100 million dollars. I come now to social services. Honorable senators would do well to realise that, without the projected increase, social services are costing Australia £400 million a year in round figures or more than £1£ million a day. The projected increase, small though it will be, will raise the annual expenditure by £7 million or £8 million. Although I suppose everyone would like to have seen a greater increase given to age pensioners, I remind honorable senators that for a man and his wife who have their own home, car, furniture and what have you, an income of £11 10s. a week represents a return of 5 per cent, on an investment of £11,000. For a man and his wife, particularly if the husband has been earning only wages over the years, to acquire their own home, car and furniture and to be able to save £11,000 is not a bad effort. But if they invest that money at 5 per cent, they get £11 10s. a week - exactly the same as people who have never been able to save or who perhaps have never tried but who are still able to get a pension of £11 10s. I do not say that people should not receive a pension of that size, but what I have said should be borne in mind when we are considering pension increases.
I turn now to repatriation benefits. I am glad to note that there is to be an increase, slight though it may be, in repatriation benefits. It would seem to the outsider that in many cases of application for relief the benefit of the doubt is not given to the applicant. That is contrary to what was intended, as my friend Senator Sir Walter Cooper knows only too well. I express my regret that that is so.
If I am not mistaken, I have only a minute left in which to speak. Before concluding I want to refer to a statement made recently by the Premier of New South Wales in which he accused the Federal Government of washing its hands of the land settlement of ex-servicemen. Provision is made in the Budget for this item, although it does not relate to New South Wales. I replied to the Premier in certain publications. I now propose to give a precis of what I said. I told him that it was the New South Wales Government which had broken the original agreement governing the scheme - a scheme which it had helped to create - and that the State Government now had the impudence to try to pass the buck. When the scheme was introduced approximately 18 years ago, the New South Wales Government, as representative of one of the principal States, insisted that as a matter of State sovereignty it should provide all the capital for instituting war service land settlement within the State. The Commonwealth was to have the responsibility of training ex-servicemen and of paying them living allowances until their land came into production. In addition, New South Wales wanted the Commonwealth to pay one half of any difference in the actual cost of developing a farm, bringing it into production and erecting buildings on it. It was suggested that, if the land was given to the settler at less than it cost to develop, the Commonwealth would pay one half of that cost. At that time the New South Wales Premier said: “We insist that we will provide all the capital moneys needed for purchasing the land, for developing it, and for giving it to the settler”.
The Commonwealth agreed to that proposition, and for seven years afterwards New South Wales carried out to the letter the terms on which it had insisted. The State provided about £4 million each year for war service land settlement out of its own resources, which it had attracted to itself by including in its loan programme a specific allotment for the purpose. Then suddenly the State Government twisted. To the great concern of the Commonwealth New South Wales cut its allocation for war service land settlement in 1952-53 to £2 million. In this emergency, and because it wished to see ex-servicemen placed on the land in the greatest possible numbers in the shortest possible time, the Commonwealth offered New South Wales an extra sum of £2 million so that the State would have £6 million available. Despite that aid, New South Wales again fell down on the job. It actually dropped its allocation still further and eventually, although the Commonwealth again made concessions, it came down to £1,050,000. That was merely one quarter of the amount it had previously supplied. New South Wales made the reduction in defiance of an agreement. Obviously the Government of New South Wales was diverting loan funds from war service land settlement to some other purpose that better suited its own ends. In the face of that example of broken faith, we now find Mr. Renshaw trying to foist the blame onto the Commonwealth. I support the printing of the papers.
– It can be said that the taxpayer is the life prisoner of the Treasurer. He can be likened to a prisoner who has an annual visit from a warder who tells him that things outside are very good. The present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has claimed outstanding achievements in certain directions. He is justified in doing so, because the seasons have been good, the price of wool has reached record heights during the last year, and shipments of wheat to unexpected markets have been in our favour. However, we must look at the circumstances of the people who are Australians and who in their day to day activities are creating the wealth about which the Treasurer can speak in glowing terms. Our conciliation and arbitration machinery is geared to review the returns which a man should receive each week for his labours. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission bases its findings in this respect on what the economy can bear. Yet in recent months the Commission has found that £1 a week is the most that can be given to the basic wage earner. So, on the one hand, we have the Treasurer with his fanfare about great prosperity in the Budget Speech and, on the other hand, we have the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission giving a 6 per cent, increase in the basic wage, based partly on the increase in the cost of living that had already occurred before the increase was granted.
– The application of the unions was for £2 12s. a week.
– As Senator McClelland has said, the application was for £2 12s. a week and, on the face of the Budget which the Treasurer presented, the unions were entitled to that increase. But what has happened? The £1 increase that was granted had been practically swallowed up by the increased cost of living before it was granted in the court. But here, in the Budget, we have charges being made on the salary earner and the wage earner - charges which cut deep into his expenditure on the ordinary, accepted necessities of life. The Treasurer spoke, during his Budget Speech, of the position of the Post Office and I will deal with that first of all. In his Speech the Treasurer said -
We have made « general review of the finances of the Post Office in the light of certain important considerations. The Post Office is Australia’s largest business undertaking and its activities have major budgetary and economic implications.
He said, further -
Since the last major adjustment of Post Office charges in October 1959, the direct and indirect effects of higher wage rates have added something like £17 million to yearly operating costs, and few three successive years there have been operating losses on the telephone service, which faces increasingly heavy losses at current charge rates.
I have before me the Auditor-General’s report of the Treasurer’s statement. The Auditor-General gives a comparison of the revenue of the Postmaster-General’s Department for the years 1963-64 and 1962-63, two of the years referred to by the Treasurer, in which he says there have been operating losses. From the AuditorGeneral’s report, I find that in 1962-63 revenue from telegraph activities amounted to £7,918,938 and last year it amounted to £8,627,518, an increase of £708,580. The Treasurer said there had been losses on telephone services, but I have here the Auditor-General’s report and I suppose we can believe his figures implicitly. The report shows that telephone revenue in 1962- 63 amounted to £92,314,517, while in the last financial year - one of the successive years with losses - it amounted to £102,781,653, an increase of £10,467,136.
– Are those the revenue figures?
– They are.
– What about the expenditure figures?
– The Treasurer has told the public of Australia that the yearly operating costs over three successive years have shown losses in this regard. The Auditor-General’s report shows that for the year 1962-63 the revenue from postal charges was £49,427,223 and last year was £52,976,900, an increase of £3,549,677. Then we come to an item which does show a loss. I refer to “Repayment from Post Office Stores and Services Trust Accounts “. Here the revenue shows a decrease of £60,837 for .the year while miscellaneous revenue shows an increase of £78,028. There was no mention made in the Treasurer’s statement, in imposing increased charges on the taxpayers and the public of Australia, of the fact that, during the year 1963- 64, £500,000 was raised by a statutory rule which increased the unit charge for local calls from public telephones from 4d. to 6d. We have seen in that period some arrangement made by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department - I am sure with the concurrence of Cabinet and the Government - for farming out one of the most profitable sides of the Postmaster-General’s Department, the public telephone service or what are called the “red telephones”.
There we find that with a profit margin of 33 per cent, per call - with all the facilities provided and all the expenditure by the taxpayers in the form of new linkages between capital cities and the extra facilities provided in the automatic exchanges - all that great organisation of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has been channelled out in one of the most profitabale directions. I refer to its use by people who suddenly find they have a communication to make with someone else and instead of being able to speak to them across the street, have to speak by telephone. Every time they use that service a profit accrues to someone outside the Postmaster-General’s Department. That is the type of thing which the taxpayer is not told. All the Treasurer’s great fanfare about prosperity is a myth to the ordinary person because he is just able to pay his bills and that is all. We know that there is full employment in Australia. So there should be. The Government could do no less than produce the figures that are shown, but the point is that those working in this country and producing the great wealth shown in the figures given here are virtually prisoners of the Treasury. They are confined in one respect, in that if they take any other measures to get a better share of the prosperity they come against the penal clauses of the arbitration legislation. They have lost their old traditional ways of getting their slice of cake, because they have to take what is doled out to them and on the other hand there is the great cry of what a tremendously prosperous country this is.
In order to quote some figures I have only to go to the Post Office statement presented by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) on 11th August. Let us review what has happened - without much publicity - in the Budget, in regard to telephone connection fees. For a new service the existing fee of £10 for an ordinary instrument will become £15 on 1st October and the existing fee of £12 for a coloured telephone will be £15. Then we come to the intact services. This, I think, is a confounded impost and an undercover method of obtaining revenue. Intact services are services already installed in premises but which are taken over intact by a new occupant and here there is a charge of from 10s. to £1. How can that charge be justified when a telephone is already installed and deterioration and other charges over a number of years were worked out when it was installed?
The Treasurer sees here a method of getting an extra 10s. a year on a service already installed in premises which are taken over on an intact basis by the new occupant. I now turn to rentals for subscribers’ telephones. In a local service area with up to 2,000 lines, the annual rental for an exclusive service to a business, which is now £7 12s. 6d., and the annual rental for an exclusive service to a residence, which is now £6 12s. 6d. - in each instance for a handset - will be raised to £8. The rate for a duplex or two-party service will be raised from £5 5s. to £6 and for a service to three or more parties the rate will be raised from £4 10s. a point to £5. No mention of these increases is made in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech. He merely states that the Postmaster-General will be making a statement. I hope that the general public is widely notified of the extent to which these charges are being increased.
I turn now to country services which are not included in class 1. The rental for an exclusive service to a business is to be increased from £9 17s. 6d. to £12 and the rental for an exclusive service to a residence is to be increased from £8 17s. 6d. to £12. The rate for a duplex or two-party service is to be raised from £7 10s. to £10 per point. The rate for a service to three or more parties is to be increased from £6 10s. to £9. In the Sydney and Melbourne local service areas the rental in the case of an exclusive service is to increase from £17 17s. 6d. in the case of a business, and from £14 12s. 6d. in the case of a residence, to £20. Many people install telephones so that they may keep in contact with their employers. Commonwealth drivers in many instances have telephones installed so that they will be accessible to the Ministers whom they drive. Imagine the state of mind of the driver of a Commonwealth car, who has a telephone installed at his own expense, upon finding that the rental is to increase from £14 12s. 6d. to £20. In these local service areas the rentals for duplex services is also to increase. Duplex services are inconvenient in that one does not get a full service. The rate is to increase from £12 12s. 6d. per point to £18. For a service to three or more parties, the rate is to increase from £11 12s. 6d. per point to £17.
I turn to the proposed charges for telegrams. Within a radius of 15 miles, the charge for the first 12 words is now 2s. 9d. It is to be increased to 3s. The charge for each additional word, which is now 3d., is to be increased 100 per cent, to 6d. The increased telephone charges will be a heavy imposition particularly on persons who are unable to claim telephone expenses as deductions for taxation purposes. It will be all very well for some of the successful persons in the managerial revolution. The take-over merchants and monopolists have tremendous spending allowances. Telephone facilities are available to their top-echelon staff. Such people are able to claim these expenses as deductions because the services are used for business purposes. A company which is paying tax amounting >to 8s. 6d. in the £1 in effect has a reduction of about 40 per cent, in its telephone charges. The ordinary private individual has to pay 100 per cent.
– Pensioners are turning in their telephones now.
– Yes. The increased charges will be applied 100 per cent, to pensioners. I leave the subject of increased Post Office charges to turn to the position of the user of a small motor car. Because of the speed of the age in which we live, the fashion of the times, and many other factors, the motor car has become virtually essential to every family unit. The Treasurer is imposing an additional direct tax amounting to £25 upon a man buying a £1,000 car, which is a car of the ordinary small family type. The proposed increases in radio and television licences will be an unfair imposition on the ordinary wage and salary earner.
The Treasurer has stated that the great needs of this country are development and defence. We are given to understand that substantial orders have been placed for future delivery of more modern aircraft. Some persons have said that delivery will be made in 1967; others have said that it will be in 1968.
– The latest date is 1970.
– That is one of the deliver/ dates that have been mentioned. I suppose provision could be made for an annual down payment, but the proposed expenditure is not to be made until the aircraft are delivered. We are given to understand that defence is one of the highlights of the Budget, but the bulk of the amount allocated will go in increased wages and salaries for members of the defence Services. I do not begrudge them increases in salaries for the simple reason that on the figures we have seen quite a number of men who are holding commissions and responsible positions in the armed Services have found that their financial position in civilian life would be staeb, that they have wanted to resign from the Services. It has been most interesting to see that the High Court of Australia has ruled that they are not entitled to resign. We cannot have it both ways. They have to stay in the Services, so they should receive proper recompense. My point is that we are not expanding our defences as the Treasurer would have us believe.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) says that we have no current alternative to the use of force; but we are like a man who shapes up with his fists clenched and arms bent, then goes no further. It is a very dangerous attitude for us to take. We speak as though we have a wonderful background of support, but, in fact: we are relatively badly off in real defences. We are living in times when we cannot afford to adopt these postures. The country that we rely on most is the United States of America, and at present the United States is confronted by a problem that could lead to a very difficult situation. The United States is being affected by “ Goldwaterism “. This is a new angle in American politics which appeals to the worst reactionaries in the country, the worst Conservatives, the blind, parochial, narrow-minded people. Yet notwithstanding the domestic political circumstances and the internal racial problems in America, this man Goldwater could become President and we could be involved in extremism. Afer all, Goldwater says that extremism is no vice. Hitler never said anything worse than that in his life.
– Be quite fair to him.
– He said that extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice.
If extremism is no vice, what is wrong with the negroes in the United States saying: “ Let us beat up the place “? We are becoming involved in our external relations with other countries in South East Asia, and the only ally we have up there is the United States. In one way or another we have alienated all our near neighbours. When I say that, I am suggesting that all our near neighbours are losing the great trust and the great faith they have had in us. Hitherto, we have been regarded as being sympathetic to the Asians and to coloured people generally, but today they wonder whether that attitude can be carried right through to its logical conclusion. Yesterday I did not have an opportunity during the debate on foreign affairs to speak about Vietnam, but I will find an opportunity at some other time. I note that my time is running out very quickly, but I will probably have more to say on these matters later.
There has been great disappointment over the Budget. The average working man in Australia believes that the Treasurer has acted with lightning speed in taking back the recent £1 increase in the basic wage. It has been the fastest disappearing £1 rise ever granted to the workers of this country. That is the general taste left in the mouths of the people. All they know of the Budget is that it will raise the cost of their telephones, cigarettes, motor cars and television. There is little in it except a miserable mite for the pensioners, and that will be dissipated in increasing costs even before they get it. 1 support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– At the outset I point out that Senator O’Byrne’s claim that the Budget increases will be paid by the basic wage earner is quite right. But they will not stop there. The increases will be paid by every section of the community, including selfemployed persons, many of whom are not netting the basic wage.
– Be fair about this.
– They will be borne by all sections of the community.
– Senator O’Byrne devoted about half his speech to a reiteration of the increased charges to be imposed by the Postmaster General’s Department. He branded these as impositions, and they would be if one did not take into account the reasons that necessitated them. It is perfectly obvious that these reasons were the increased costs of running the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Such costs must be borne either by the people who use the postal services or by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth as a whole. I call to mind that years ago the present Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) when he was in government, .expressed very strong objection to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth finding anything towards the running costs of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. This Government supports that view, and for any one to get up and quote the ‘increased charges while not mentioning the increased costs of providing services is only to beg the question.
Most of us have seen a good many Budgets presented. A Budget is a stocktaking, an estimate, a report by the management to the people of this Commonwealth. A Budget delate has always been an occasion for complaints and criticisms. Criticisms nearly always follow the usual course - taxation should not be increased; if it is increased the incidence of it is unfair; social services should be increased: if they are increased the increases are always mean and niggardly. I think that just about covers the whole ambit of the criticism that is usually levied at a Budget presented by the present Commonwealth Government.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - 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.
– During question time this afternoon, I raised with the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, Senator Gorton, what I consider to be a matter of national importance. ‘Either the Minister deliberately dodged the gravamen of the issue involved or, by his answer, turned it into a political matter.
My question related to the proposed French nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean and to the attitude of the New Zealand Government to that matter. I asked the Minister certain questions concerning a statement attributed to the Prime Minister of New Zealand in the New Zealand Parliament last week. In my reading of the Australian Press I have not seen a report of this statement. The report that I read appeared in the London edition of 12th August 1964 of the “London Times”. For the benefit of the record and for the edification of the Minister I shall now read the report. It said -
New Zealand failed to attract support for a protest in the United Nations against French nuclear test plans in the Pacific, Mr. Holyoake, the Prime Minister, told Parliament tonight New Zealand had taken the initiative in every form in opposing France’s nuclear tests; other initiatives were in train or in mind. The Prime Minister said that New Zealand’s representatives at the United Nations had canvassed all likely countries including those bordering the Pacific, for support before making a formal protest there, but no backing had been received. He was not yet prepared to take the word of scientists if they said that there was no fall-out danger from the tests. The Prime Minister was replying to an Opposition claim that New Zealanders were not in a mood to be satisfied with diplomatic niceties on the proposed tests. Mr. Holyoake said that he had wanted M. Pompidou, the French Prime Minister, to visit New Zealand to gauge the feeling there when he was in the Pacific last month, but he had been unable to come.
The report goes on to deal with another question - a political matter affecting New Zealanders. The burden of the matter to which I have referred is in the section of the report that I have read.
In his reply, the Minister referred me to a statement made earlier this year by the then Minister for External Affairs, Sir Garfield Barwick. At the time that the statement was made I heard it read by the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs in the Senate. I have also read it since. May I say that I completely agree with the terms of this section of the Minister’s report. He said -
The Government has continued to express its hope that the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, to which it gave its prompt support, should be given as nearly a universal application as possible. It is obviously to the interests of Australia and of all the countries of South East Asia that the Chinese Communist regime should not carry out nuclear test explosions when it has the capacity to do so.
Indeed, it is vital to any effective scheme of universal disarmament to prevent such a further proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. We have expressed our opposition to the French proposal to test in the Pacific and will continue to call France’s attention to the desirability of her accession to the Treaty and to the undesirability of any spread of nuclear capacity. Despite the equivocation of the Minister in his answer to me this afternoon I suggest that this Parliament, and more importantly, the Australian people, are entitled to know the answers to the questions I asked the Minister this afternoon. They are quite simple questions and quite succinct. In short, the questions were: First, was the Australian Government or its representative at the United Nations approached by the New Zealand Government to support it in any protest it might make at the United Nations? Secondly, if so, why did not the Australian Government instruct its official representative to support the New Zealand proposal? Thirdly, if not, in the event of any future approach by the New Zealand Government, will the Australian Government place its imprimatur on any protest which New Zealand might lodge with the United Nations? I assure honorable senators that 1 have not raised this question as a party political matter but because I believe it is the opinion of the overwhelming mass of Australians that these tests no longer can be tolerated by mankind.
I shall give an illustration to which I drew the attention of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) during the course of the last parliamentary recess. When it was announced by the Australian Press that the French Prime Minister would be visiting Australia to gauge public opinion on the tests, I was approached by a man who was attached to no political party but who had had the misfortune recently to lose his five years old son. He claimed that until three weeks before the death of his son the boy was a young, robust, healthy Australian but was an avid milk drinker. It was felt by his medical advisers that the possible cause of his son’s death from leukaemia was the excessive amount of milk taken by the boy which possibly could have been affected by an over-supply of radiation. This is a very grave national problem. Accordin.!! to tonight’s edition of the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “, the Minister for External Affairs in another place has told a member of the Opposition that the French nuclear tests in the Pacific are expected to increase the level of radioactivitiy in Australia. The report states -
Mr. Hasluck said he had received advice from the National Radiation Advisory Committee, the Government’s authority on the subject.
I ask the Minister to give definite replies to the questions I asked this afternoon. If he cannot do so at this stage, I ask him to refer them to a more senior and competent Minister. I ask the honorable gentleman not to fob me off with the nebulous answer that he gave this afternoon which related to an event that took place towards the end of last year. By adopting such an attitude he is not only ignoring me and the Opposition but is ignoring the minds of a vast number of Australians who are equally concerned about this matter. I want to know whether the Australian Government was approached on this matter by the New Zealand authorities. I want to know whether the Government will indicate to the New Zealand Government that it will give its support in the United Nations to the proposal of the New Zealand Government.
This afternoon Senator Cohen referred to the problems of Vietnam and to a statement by Lord Russell. In that statement Lord Russell had this to say -
There has been a more than two-fold, increase of physical abnormalities in children born between 1959 and 1961. Beta radiation has risen from eight-ten units to 2,000 units in local rainfall owing to fall-out from atmospheric tests. The United Nations World Health Organisation’s reports affirm these beta radiation figures in the United States and also affirm that the highest single cause of death to American children aged from four to fourteen is leukaemia.
I do not know whether the circumstances stated by Lord Russell have been caused by additional fall-out, but I say in the interests of my children, of your children and of all Australian children that whilst there is a possibility of this having occurred we should be taking all steps within our power to prevent an extension of these tests. I therefore ask the Minister to give definite answers to the questions I raised this afternoon because I believe it is in the interests of Australia to have this information.
– I take some exception - I think justifiably - to the language used by Senator McClelland, and particularly to being accused of equivocation in my reply to him. As I recall the question he asked me, it was as he stated it: Had I seen the reports of what the Prime Minister of New Zealand had said on this matter in relation to canvassing support around the countries in the Pacific and was there any truth in them. I replied to the question that I did not know. There is nothing equivocal about that. It is a plain straightout answer to the question, Thinking that the honorable senator was interested in the subject generally - as I gather he is - and that he was interested in the attitude of Australia towards the French nuclear tests in the Pacific, I drew his attention to another unequivocal statement that was made by the former Minister for External Affairs, Sir Garfield Barwick, which the honorable senator has quoted, and which unequivocally states the opposition of Australia to these or any other nuclear tests.
– And made six months ‘before this report.
– But I think you will agree, Mr. President, that the statement relates precisely to the matter raised by the honorable senator and to the matter about which he is still speaking and that it expresses Australia’s attitude in unequivocal terms. I have no apology whatever to make for reminding the honorable senator of that statement. I have no apology for answering part of his question with the unequivocal statement that I did not know; but if the honorable senator wants me to go to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and to get an answer to this specific question - rather than he do it himself - then I shall be glad to do so. But I still take exception to being accused of an equivocal answer when both facets of the answer I gave were completely and absolutely unequivocal.
– I think all honorable senators must support Senator McClelland. His question related to a matter which is causing great concern to the people of Australia and to the people of other countries in this area. There may be a difference of opinion as to how a question was asked or answered in the Senate today, but there is no doubt about the concern of all honorable senators on this side of the chamber about the French nuclear tests in the Pacific. I do not know whether the Australian delegates to the United Nations have instructions today different from those they had six months ago, as might be inferred, or whether those delegates are carrying out their instructions, but I say, without the formality of asking someone to go to the appropriate Minister, that the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs should take the matter up and supply an answer not only to Senator McClelland but to the whole Senate.
I entered the debate on the subject only because I considered we still had not got an answer to a most important question. Now I wish to refer to the application of the immigration laws as they affect someone wishing to visit Australia. The case I refer to concerns a Mr. August Von Elm who is a German living in West Berlin. I stress that he is in West Berlin. Mr. Von Elm’s son and daughter migrated to Australia some years ago and are married. I do not know whether they were married when they came here or have married since. Both have become naturalised Australian citizens and both have children of their own.
Mr. Von Elm desired to visit Australia, with his wife, to visit his son and daughter and to see his grandchildren, whom he has not seen before. He applied to representatives of the Australian Government in West Berlin and for some reason was refused a visitor’s visa. The matter was taken up by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), who received a reply from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) that his Department regretted being unable to issue a visitor’s visa for Mr. Von Elm. Mr. Wilson wrote to the son who had originated the representations, and told him of the decision of the Department and that there must be some good reason because the Minister for Immigration was a great family man and would not like to reject an application - not Mr. Opperman! Mr. Wilson’s letter would make it appear - perhaps innocently - that this man must be very bad because not only was he rejected by the Department of Immigration but he was also rejected by a great humanitarian family man who now represents the Department and refused him permission to visit Australia. It would have been sufficient for the honorable member for Sturt to have said that no more could be done.
I received representations from the son. I did not want to be in the position of saying that this man should come to Australia as he may have been diseased or may have had a bad character, and I did not write and ask that he should be admitted. Instead, on the 5th June, I wrote to the Minister for Immigration as follows -
Mr. K. C Wilson, M.H.R., has taken up with you the question of obtaining a visitor’s visa for Mr. August Von Elm and his wife, and I have been shown a copy of your reply to Mr. Wilson whereby you refuse to grant a landing permit.
May [ point out that Mr. and Mrs. Von Elm have a son and a daughter settled in Australia who are married and naturalised citizens, and with children whom the grandparents have not as yet seen. The desire was for a permit to visit this country to see their families and not to establish permanent residence. It is hard to understand how a visitor’s permit cannot be granted unless for some reasons of bad character.
It was hoped that with your appointment as Minister for Immigration we would see an end to the days when a Minister would refuse to grant a permit without giving the concerned the right to defence any accusations that may be made against him suggesting that he is not a suitable person to visit this country.
I would respectfully ask. Sir, the reasons for your refusal to grant a permit to Mr. and Mrs. Von Elm to visit this country for the very humanitarian reason of seeing their daughter and grandchildren.
The Minister replied on the 21st July and stated -
I have received your letter of the 5th June 1964, concerning Mr. August Von Elm and his wife, who have been refused visitor’s visas to come to Australia.
It is not the practice of my Department to divulge the reasons for rejection of applications for entry to Australia.
In these circumstances, I am sorry to inform you that it is not possible to provide you with the information you have requested in connection with the rejection of Mr. Von Elm’s application for a visa.
While, from time to time, criticism has been levelled at the Department of Immigration for decisions to deport certain personnel, including a young child recently - which in my opinion was carrying the law to extremes not desirable in the interests of Australia - there may be good arguments for refusing to permit permanent residence in Australia of people of different nationalities or to debar people for reasons of subversion, ill health or character. But there must be some good reason before a department sets itself up as an institution to decide that someone may not visit his son and daughter and grandchildren. The son is of the opinion that his father is a progressive worker in West Germany. He knows of no disease that his father may have which could spread in Australia. In fact the son feels that he could obtain a doctor’s certificate to this effect. The son knows of no bad character record thathis father has, but he is now of the belief that his father has political views that are not approved by the Australian Government. In fact, Mr. Von Elm did use heated words in his difference of opinion with one of the Australian representatives in Berlin as to the role that Hitler played during the period he was in power in Germany. The man cannot speak English and I do not think that, during the brief period he would be here, he would be able to commence a revolution or start any subversive activities.
This is purely a humanitarian application for a man and his wife to visit their children, but they are refused a permit to come to Australia. This is another case in which it is claimed that a person is being debarred for the best of reasons from coming here, but no reasons are disclosed. If the Government will not adopt a humanitarian attitude then, out of a sense of justice, it should tell this man, who believes that he is innocent of any crime that would debar him from admission to any country in the world, why he is refused permission to enter Australia. He should be told what is alleged against him so that an investigation can be made to see whether there is any foundation for the allegations.
Accordingly, I ask that the Department reconsider his application. If it is not prepared to do this it should make known the reasons why this man should not be allowed to visit his children in Australia. We should be permitted to investigate those reasons. I make this request to the Government.
– Quite clearly Senator Cavanagh is dealing with an individual case about which he has made recommendations to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). It would be pointless, therefore, for me, representing the Minister in this chamber, to make any comment about the case. Insofar as Senator Cavanagh has expressed points of view on the policy of the Department, I shall bring his comments to the notice of the Minister for Immigration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640819_senate_25_s26/>.