25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the Government concerned with the public expense and inconvenience caused by the holding at different times of elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives? Has the Government yet given consideration to the suggestion I made some months ago that the approaching Senate election presents the best foreseeable opportunity to ask the electors to deal with proposals for constitutional change? Will the Government submit, during that election, referenda based on the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee relating to the Parliament itself - in particular the recommendation designed to assure that a periodical election for the Senate and an election for the House of Representatives shall always be held at the same time? is it a fact that the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee have been before the Government for almost six years? Is there justification for Press forecasts that the Senate election is to be held before the end of this calendar year?
– The questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition cover a number of subjects some of which, of course, impinge directly on policy. The honorable senator has also sought information concerning an election. I do not think I have to tell the honorable senators that it is not the practice of any Government, no matter what party comprises that Government, to state in advance of its formal announcement on what date an election will be held, what form the election will take or whether such election will be accompanied by a referendum. The most I can say in answer to his question - and I tell him this with great courtesy - is that the Government will not delay for one moment longer than is necessary making its plans public, nor will it delay for one moment informing the Opposition as to its plans in respect of any referendum or any election. The honorable senator asked whether there was any justification for Press forecasts. I nave made it a practice as long as I have. been in public life not to engage in any speculation as to Press forecasts nor to encourage such speculation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In the past has the South Australian Government exercised any control over intrastate civil aviation activities in South Australia? If so, what control has been exercised? If not, what body has been exercising the control?
– To the best of my knowledge South Australia is the only State which has no legislation covering the control of intrastate aviation within its borders. Control in the State has been under the direction of the Department of Civil Aviation and its power, of course, stems from the Commonwealth Government.
– I desire to ask several questions of the courteous Leader of the Government in the Senate. Honorable senators will be aware that for a number of years I have taken a keen interest in lovely ladies’ laddering nylon stockings. In this chamber I have spoken on a number of occasions regarding the work of Henry Dohan who, by his inventive genius, has been able to produce a long-lasting nonladdering stocking. Yesterday Mr. Manfred Cross, the member for Brisbane-
– Order! The honorable senator is giving too much information in his question.
– I am leading up to the question. It is important that this information should be given, if you do not mind. Yesterday Mr. Cross submitted a petition in another place calling attention to the economic loss suffered by thousands of Australian women because of the poor quality of stockings made in this country. His petition was rejected. Knowing the Minister’s native courtesy anc his desire to please the ladies, I ask: First, will he kindly prevail upon the Cabinet to take an interest in ladies’ nylon stockings? Secondly, will he ask the Cabinet :o make use of that splendid organisation, the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and have it examine and analyse some nylon stockings treated by Henry Dohan?
– What denier?
– I am satisfied that the Minister takes a keen interest in ladies’ stockings when he asks a question like that. 1 am referring to stockings of from 15 denier to 60 denier. Thirdly, when these stockings have been analysed by the C.S.I.R.O., would it be possible to have the report laid on the table of the Senate so that we can have a thorough understanding of the work that has been done by this man?
– I must confess that I am completely out of touch with the subject mentioned by the honorable senator. 1 have, however, noticed the increasing interest by the Australian Labour Party in the subject of ladies’ nylon stockings, of from 15 to 60 denier. I am wondering whether it: is the beginning of a wave of enthusiasm within the Labour Party which might ultimately find its way to the Party’s platform. Until it docs, 1 do not think that my most persuasive manner could induce the Cabinet to lake any great interest in the matter. I can only suggest to the honorable senator that if he sees some merit in the C.S.I.R.O. having a look at these stockings, he should take the gentleman concerned along to the Organisation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will the views of the Prime Minister contained in his letter of 9th August to the State Premiers, in which he refers to the divided legal controls between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments in relation to intrastate air navigational matters and pending amending legislation, impede the application by a South Australia based company, the Interstate Parcel Express Co. Ltd , for a licence to import and operate five DC4 freighter aircraft? If these reasons affect the application, will the Minister indicate to the Senate and to the applicant whether a long delay will ensue in determining the matter?
– I should not think that the proposals would delay the decision in any way. I do not expect that there will bc a considerable delay, and I hope to have the matter decided within the next two or three weeks.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry relates to repeated references during debates on the wool industry to the consideration that the Austraiian Wool Industry Conference might be expected to give to the admission to membership of the Australian Primary Producers Union. Can the Minister give the Senate any information as to whether consideration is still continuing and as to when a decision may be expected to be made public?
– The honorable member referred quite properly to the references that have been made in the Senate from time to time about A.P.P.U. representation on the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I have said here that the Government hoped that the application made by the A.P.P.U. for representation on the Conference would be acceded to by the other bodies and that a decision would be taken some time in July of this year. I understand that the Conference appointed a sub-committee to pursue the claims of the Union and that it finally came to the conclusion that further information was required about aspects of the A..P.P.U. membership, having regard to the representation of the wool industry on that Union. My understanding of the position is that whilst for the time being the application has again been refused, the door has not been closed, and further investigations are being undertaken. If that is not the true position I will endeavour to find out what it is and will let the honorable senator know.
– My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. In view of the increase in land and building costs in many States, will the Minister ask the Government to consider increasing war service home loans from £3,500 to £5,000 to overcome many of the difficulties experienced by exservicemen today in securing additional finance to build or buy homes?
– This is a question of policy, and any announcements of policy are made at the appropriate time. However, I undertake to bring the question to the notice of the Minister.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether a definite date has yet been decided for the Boeing 727 planes to commence operating between eastern and western Australia? Can the Minister inform me whether, when these planes go into operation, other planes will be made available to MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited to operate between Perth and Darwin?
– The only date I have in mind at the moment is that the Boeing services will start on 9th November. I understand that when the four Boeing jets are available Perth will be included in the itinerary. 1 have no information as to what aircaft will then become available for the MacRobertson Miller airline to use from Perth to Darwin. That will be a matter for the airline itself to determine, as it knows the needs involved. I will seek information from the airline and let the honorable senator know.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. In the course of an extremely conciliatory and diplomatic speech this week the retiring Indonesian Ambassador suggested closer economic ties between our two countries. Will the Government pursue this friendly invitation, the acceptance of which may lead to great benefits by way of trade and permanent friendship?
– I noted the speech to which the honorable senator refers, I am quite confident that the Minister for Trade and Industry will read it with great interest and give every possible attention to it.
– Can the
Minister representing the Minister for Social Services indicate how many applications have been made by private organisations for the Government subsidy for the purpose of providing hostels for handicapped people working in sheltered work shops? Does the Minister consider that, perhaps, the provision of hostels is not as urgent as the need to provide extra work space in these sheltered workshops? Will the Minister give consideration to extending this privilege of Government grants to organisations which are willing to provide extra work space in sheltered workshops?
– I suggest that the honorable senator place her questions on notice. The last of them touches on policy and it is proper therefore that the Minister for Social Services should answer it.
– Has the
Minister for Defence seen a report in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ wherein it is stated that the palm for the most misleading official statement of the year can be unhesitatingly awarded to the Minister for Defence for a statement he made in Perth on 31st July last, namely - and I quote -
In order to play an effective part in the maintenance of security in the South East Asian areas Australia has developed her armed forces to the stage where we are in a position to commit forces at short notice in a variety of situations. We are also in the position to make an immediate and effective contribution to the common defence with our allies or, if the situation requires, to act initially on our own in an emergency.
Is the Minister aware that this statement appears to be in direct conflict with one made by Rear Admiral Oldham earlier this year when the retiring Rear Admiral described the Australian Navy as obsolete, the Australian Air Force as impotent and the Australian Army as immovable? Does the Minister still maintain his view of 31st July or has he since had any reason to modify it?
– I have had a look at the article referred to by the honorable senator. I must say in passing that I have something of a natural disposition to pay something less than the usual amount of attention to articles which are unsigned or whose authorship is unidentifiable. Nonetheless I am always interested in what may appear in one of the daily journals of the Commonwealth in respect of defence, and I read this article. Having read it and taken note of it I hasten to assure the honorable senator that I am not disposed to alter now what I said on 31st July, because what 1 said on that date can be borne out abundantly by a simple examination of the facts. This comparatively small nation of Australia has made significant contributions in recent years to military actions in many parts of South East Asia. In the post-war period, the first incident was Korea. No-one would deny that the Australian contribution in Korea was, indeed, a significant one, our land force winning for itself an American award, if I remember correctly. For many years we have had troops, elements of our Air Force and naval units in Malaya. Some are now in the Borneo States. Those forces have recently been increased. Quite recently when the United States of America asked those nations which might be interested, to support her action in South Vietnam, Australia increased her already significant contribution. Certainly our forces are not big in numbers, but we are not a big nation in terms of numbers. Our contribution was big enough and significant enough for the President of the United States to commend this country publicly for what she had done in supporting the United States. Australia’s flag is flying at Ubon, These forces are not large - the correspondent was quite correct when he said that - but they are large enough to be indicative of the will and the objectives of the Australian people.
The correspondent in question made certain comments about our forces. When dealing with the Army, he referred to some 6.000 men - less than half of the strength of our existing field forces in Australia. He made no mention, as might be expected, of the measures that have recently been adopted by the Government to encourage recruiting. When dealing with the Air Force, he referred to the TFX bomber and its delivery date. Despite the fact that the Canberra bomber will not begin to be phased out of squadron duty until 1970, and despite the fact that this aircraft is still in squadron service in a number of countries, this unidentified correspondent referred to it as being obsolete.
Anybody who has a look at what is going on in the Navy will appreciate at once that the Australian Navy is a growing, modern navy with new DDG destroyers, submarines and modern escorts coming forward. It is not a big navy; it is not comparable with that of the United States. But for a country of 11 million people, our expanding naval forces are a credit to the Australian people. Having read the article, I dismissed it as not truly representing either the position in the forces or what Australia has done in supplying forces to resist Communism in South East Asia over the last few years.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he is aware that yesterday the whole of the port of Melbourne was idle, with more than 30 ships having no labour, because the Victorian Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation had pulled all the men off ships in order to support, they claimed, the policy of imposing sanctions against South Africa that has been advocated by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Kenya, who is now in Australia as the guest of the Commonwealth Government. Will the Minister confer with his colleague to see whether he will speak to the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation and ask him to withhold any further such action so as not to embarrass the guest of the Commonwealth Government?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service. I think we shall have to leave it to him to decide what action should be taken to avoid embarrassing Australia’s guest.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that a belief is prevalent - it is being widely publicised in the Tasmanian Press - that the cost of bringing a tourist and his car to Tasmania on the “ Empress of Australia “, when it comes into operation, will be greater than that of travelling by air and hiring a car in Tasmania? In view of the importance to Tasmania of the tourist trade and the expected great benefits to that State following the commissioning of the “ Empress of Australia “, will the Minister ask the
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which administers the Australian National Line, to state the position unequivocally and clearly to people who are eager to see that the Australian National Line and the vessel in question are not subjected to adverse publicity in Tasmania, and to give to the relevant figures the same publicity as is being given to the belief to which I have referred?
– I am not familiar either with the fare to be charged by the Australian National Line or the airline fares. I shall refer the question, to my colleague and get an answer for the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Many air travellers have expressed to me their dislike of the idea of being shot through the air like a rocket in the newer and faster types of aircraft which are to be introduced on Australian air routes. Therefore, they are anxious to know what is to become of the very comfortable Electra and Viscount aircraft in which at present we enjoy pleasant journeys between Brisbane and Sydney and Sydney and Melbourne. On what routes are the newer aircraft to be operated, and what will become of the aircraft now being used on those routes?
– To the best of my knowledge the Boeing 727, which is the modern aircraft to which the honorable senator refers, will traverse the BrisbaneSydneyMelbourneAdelaidePerth routes. There will be a diversion of the Electra aircraft to the HobartLauncestonMelbourne service and to services as far away as Cairns. I have no other information on the subject at the present time.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services inform the Senate whether any statistics are available as to the number of age pensioners who have no income other than the pension? How many widows with children must exist on the pension only, as they are unable to earn the permissible income because of their family commitments? Has any consideration been given by the Department of
Social Services to an adequate housing programme for such persons, who are unable to pay the high premiums necessary to enable them to obtain accommodation in the homes provided under the Aged Persons Homes Act, such payments varying from £600 to £2,000?
– Information is available in relation to the first two questions that the honorable senator asks. If she places them on the notice paper, I shall see that that information is made available to her. In relation to the pensioner who has no means other than the pension, it is worth recording that a pensioner in the circumstances she indicates attracts a higher social service pension than a pensioner who has his own home. In relation to aged persons’ homes, it is true that certain deposits or certain capital sums are required by some of the organisations which provide these homes and attract the Government subsidy of £2 for £1 . It is worthy of note that 18,654 aged persons have been provided with accommodation in homes for the aged since the introduction of this very fine legislation. It is also worthy of note that 1,048 separate grants have been made to these organisations. To 30th June 1963, 487 had been made to religious bodies, 363 to charitable or benevolent organisations, eight to ex-service organisations, and 42 to other organisations which had been approved by the Governor-General. In all, the Commonwealth Government has provided to 30th June 1964 not less than £21,648,536 under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I think we all agree that this is a very creditable performance and that the Act is achieving magnificent results for people who come to a time in their lives when, having been unable to secure homes for themselves, they can enter a group of homes set in a community and provided with sick bays. They are given security which otherwise they would not have had.
– But they still must have capital to get into the homes.
– That is not true in all instances. I shall refer that aspect to the Minister for Social Services and obtain a reply for the honorable senator.
– My question is related to the previous question and is also directed to the Minister representing the
Minister for Social Services. I ask whether I understand the honorable gentleman correctly to say that the scheme has provided accommodation for about 18,000 people?
– About 18,600 people.
– Has the Minister available any information as to the total capital sum subscribed by the 18,600 people to procure accommodation?
– The honorable senator’s question, I feel, follows the same line as the previous question. I will endeavour to get the information requested and supply it to him.
– I direct my question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. During the last sessional period of this Parliament I asked the honorable senator for information concerning the numbers of university students unable to gain admission to university courses in 1964 because of the application of quotas. At that time the Minister replied that the details were not available. I ask whether he is yet in possession of the information I have been seeking and whether any estimates are available of the numbers likely to be affected by quota provisions in 1965.
– No, Mr. President, I am not in possession of the details sought by the honorable senator. I do not even know whether thc> could be properly and accurately collected or whether they are available anywhere. It would be a matter of each university deciding to furnish them, and even their tabulation might not be accurate. I doubt whether the figures sought, calculated accurately, are in existence. However, I will ask the Commonwealth Office of Education to advise whether it holds any vaguely accurate information on the subject.
– Or the Australian Universities Commission?
– It would not do it.
– My question ls directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Whilst I congratulate the Government and the airlines on their efforts to speed up passenger traffic, will the Minister indicate whether any moves are being studied to speed the delivery of freight by airlines?
– I understand that both major airlines have purchased additional aircraft to be used solely for the carriage of freight. I also understand that the delivery of air freight to Western Australia has been speeded up. One of the troubles of the airlines in the freight field, in respect of carrying freight in passenger aircraft, is that the load factor depends on the number of passengers being carried. Passengers have first call.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. My question is prompted by a news paragraph in the “ Australian “ last week, to the effect that the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, and his Government are considering elevating to degree-giving status two technical colleges in Victoria. I noticed also the proposal by the Victorian Government to proceed with the establishment of a third university in the city of Melbourne. I ask the Minister whether or not the elevation of technical colleges to degree-giving status will have the effect of qualifying those colleges for Commonwealth grants under the scheme for assisting universities. What consideration has been given to the need for the establishment of a third university, deriving Commonwealth assistance, in the city of Melbourne?
– Answering the last question first: The construction of a third university in Melbourne was recommended by the Australian Universities Commission after considerable investigation of the requirements of the student population of Victoria and of where a third university should be sited in order to provide the best service to the greatest number of students in Victoria. Indeed, money for this purpose was made available by this Parliament quite some time ago, and has been available - I forget exactly for how long, but for months and months - to the Victorian Government to begin the construction of the third university. lt was made available by this Parliament through the States Grants (Universities) Bill 1963, or before that.
The second part of the honorable senator’s question related to technical colleges and the possibility that the Victorian Government might give to some technical colleges in Victoria the right to award what they might call degrees. I think it would be quite within the competence of the Government of Victoria, which has control of education in that State, to say: “ As far as wo are concerned, as a government, these colleges can award degrees “; but they would still not be universities. They would still, for the purposes of the Australian Universities Commission, be technical colleges. I think the matter would have to be considered from the Commonwealth Government’s point of view, if a Commonwealth grant were involved as a result of the Martin committee’s report on tertiary education, which we still expect to have very shortly.
– I wish to ask the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research a question. It follows on Senator Wright’s question. I ask: When will the Martin committee’s report on tertiary education be available to the Parliament, and will adequate time be given for discussion on it in the Senate?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator when the report will be available to the Parliament, but it will not be available until the Government has had plenty of time to consider it and decide its policy towards it. The Australian Universities Commission is, after all, merely and solely a body set up to advise the Government on what assistance should be given to universities and the report will be considered by the Government before being made available to the Parliament and, indeed, the State Parliaments.
– In asking the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research a question. I express my sense of obligation to him for the information he gave me in regard to a third university in Melbourne. I now ask him: Did the report of the Australian Universities Commission recommend a mere general reduplication by the provision of a third university, or is there any suggestion that the third university should specialise, or give instruction and facilities for the gaining of knowledge in specialised fields, rather than that we should have three uni versities in the one city all operating in general fields of knowledge for the student population?
– The honorable senator will find a detailed reply to his question in the second report of the Australian Universities Commission which is available in the Parliament. In general, the establishment is to be a university in the same sense as the term is applied to the Melbourne University and Monash University. A third university was recommended by the Commission for Melbourne and a third for Sydney.
(Question No. 186.)
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 199.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– -The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 209.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 49.)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
In view of growing and oblique attacks by advocates of absolute academic freedom upon the liberally administered literary censorship, will the Minister consider making a statement to the Senate when appropriate.
– The following answer is now supplied -
Senator Cormack raised this question during the previous session of this Parliament. The specific circumstances which gave rise to his question were such that a reply could not be given prior to the parliamentary recess. Whilst the particular matter concerned has now been resolved, some other issues regarding literature censorship have arisen, and these bear an important relationship to the broader implications of Senator Cormack’s question. However, just at this stage I would prefer not to make a comprehensive statement on this subject. As I said in this chamber recently, in reply to a question without notice by Senator Laught -reported at pages 96-97 of “ Hansard “ of 19th August 1964 - both I and my officers have done quite a lot of work on the question of uniform censorship. At an appropriate timeI will make a statement to the Senate on this and other aspects of literature censorship.
– I present the following paper -
Report of the Royal Commissioner on the loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “.
I ask for leave to make a short statement in relation to the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– There will be no need for me to remind the Senate of the tragic occurrence - involving collision between H.M.A.S. “Melbourne” and H.M.A.S. “Voyager” and the subsequent loss of “ Voyager “ and 82 members of her complement - which led to the setting up of this Royal Commission. Time has not diminished the sense of disaster and great loss which all the people of Australia then experienced. There are many families who have been touched personally by this tragedy. They are very much in our thoughts.
The collision occurred off Jervis Bay on the night of 10th February 1964. On 11th February the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced that there would be a prompt, thorough and public investigation into the tragedy; the investigation to be conducted by a Judge. On 13th February the Prime Minister announced that the investigation would be by Royal Commission and that the Royal Commissioner would be the Honorable Sir John Spicer, Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The report now presented is clear proof of the care and thoroughness with which Sir John conducted his inquiry.
To remind the Senate, I shall read the terms of reference for the inquiry. They were - “To inquire into and report upon the following matters -
The Senate will agree that these are far ranging terms of reference, entirely sufficient to ensure a comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances of the collision and the loss of “ Voyager “ and of members of her crew. The Commissioner has not indicated any inadequacies in the terms of reference which hindered him in his investigations or in arrival at his conclusions.I shall not here summarize the conclusions of the Commissioner. Honorable Senators will themselves obtain the conclusions from their own reading of the report and from reference to the diagrams set out as appendices.
The Government, as honorable senators will appreciate, has had only a very short time up to this point to consider the findings of the Commissioner. The report has become available to Ministers only within the last few days. However, the Government has, of course, taken steps to obtain from the Naval Board advice, through the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney), upon the Commissioner’s findings and the implications of those findings. The naval Board has already begun this task. Indeed, it had begun its labours as evidence was being taken. When the results are to hand, the Government will give prompt consideration to them and put itself in a position to make a further statement to the Senate.
I wish in conclusion to refer briefly to a matter which I believe honorable senators would want me to recognize; that is, the prompt and notable actions of individual members of the crews of “ Voyager “ and “ Melbourne “ and of those taking part in the search for survivors. The Commissioner’s report instances many splendid examples of leadership, bravery and sacrifice. On behalf of all of us, I pay tribute to these men.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th August (vide page 233), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the following papers -
Civil Works Programme 1964-65:
Commonwealth Payments to or forthe States 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.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
At the end of the motion addthe following words - “ but the Senate is of opinion that the Budget does not 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 “.
– I rise to support the Budget which was brought down earlier this month and about which the people of Australia have learned much both from the Parliament and from the Press. The motion before us is that the papers be printed. We also have before us an amendment moved on behalf of the Australian Labour Party Opposition which reads -
Atthe end of the motion addthe following words - “ Butthe Senate is of opinion that the Budget does not 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”.
I claim that the amendment shows the errant weakness of the Australian Labour Party Opposition in this place. It is an amendment which, I believe, is purely platitudinous and not based on realities; so I will give it no more reference.
It is my sincere belief that the Government in framing its Budget based it on three particular standpoints important to all Australians: First, the development of this young but prosperous country; secondly, the maintenance of the economic stability of the people of this country and those who will flock to our shores in the years ahead. Thirdly, I believe it took into grave consideration, and in a very grand manner, the defence of Australia in the unhappy mood of the world in which we live today. Dealing with the first point - development - this is of such great importance to us that I emphasise that the figures produced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) show that there has been an immense growth in national production. Our export earnings have never been higher, and in the year behind us we have learnt of our potential of further economic wealth and riches in Australia. I refer particularly to oil. It does look as though we will be self-supporting in oil and petrol in the years ahead of us. This Government can take great credit for the subsidies it has paid and the encouragement it has given to so many companies that have undertaken the expensive and trying search for oil in this vast continent.
We have knowledge of great iron ore deposits in Western Australia and in my own State of Tasmania. We believe that in Tasmania we have rich iron ore deposits and that there may be a steel manufacturing establishment in that State in the not distant future. With the knowledge, know-how and initiative of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and the guidance of the Government, we may well look to further great developments in the finding of valuable minerals. It is heartening in Tasmania to have the great Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., not only establishing works in that State but also engaging in a search for minerals in the almost unexplored coastal areas in the south and western regions of the State. We could not have, in my belief, a better company to engage in searching for and developing the mineral resources of Tasmania than that great Australian organisation. We have in Tasmania also the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd. which, some two or three years ago, looked as if it were facing hard times. But now the future of the west coast of Tasmania is bright and the Mount Lyell organisation is behind the growth and expansion of the mining industry in that area.
Then we have the Government’s action in respect of housing. Two aspects of housing are of great significance to the Australian people. The building of every house gives an impetus to all forms of manufacturing and retail industry but what is most important is that when loans are made available at a low interest rate young people are enabled to purchase a home and avoid paying exorbitant rents or exorbitant interest rates on second mortgages. What has been done by the Government in the housing field is of great credit to it and of great value to the Australian people.
Immigration has proved very successful. As a Government supporter I do not take credit in this respect from the Australian Labour Party and its present Leader, Mr. Calwell, who was the instigator of our post-war immigration programme. However, some years ago the Australian Labour Party became somewhat critical of the Government’s programme. That party contended that we were bringing too many migrants to Australia. However, the Government continued steadfastly with its economic policy and kept up the flow of migrants to the best of its ability. We are now in the position where we have almost full employment. In the skilled trades, as has been admitted by members of the Opposition, there is a shortage of tradesmen. However, the Government has set itself the task of bringing to Australia this financial year as many suitable skilled tradesmen as it can possibly attract to this country. Having attended many naturalisation ceremonies I have discovered that a very large percentage of the people who made what they thought to be a sacrifice to come here found that they did not make a sactifice but that they have been rewarded. They are happy to be Australians. As people born here, or who came to Australia in earlier years, we must remember that, had it not been for the influx of immigrants who worked tirelessly and honestly, many of our great developmental projects would not be as advanced as they are. The Snowy Mountains scheme and the hydro-electric schemes of Tasmania come to mind immediately, but there are many others throughout Australia which have benefited greatly from the coming of these migrants and from their tenacity as the’y have worked with those who are now their fellow Australians.
The Commonwealth Government did a great thing for Tasmania before the last election in making a grant for the provision of roads to that portion of the west coast which is not at present served by roads. The provision of roads will greatly assist the search for and the development of mineral resources in that area. The roads will also provide Tasmania with an additional asset with which to improve and enlarge its valuable tourist industry, lt is very heartening to mc to see this Government taking a real interest in the development of the tourist trade, which is of immense value to Australia. The Government has already provided a modern passenger and roll-on-roll-off cargo ferry for use between Melbourne and the north-west of Tasmania, and it will shortly provide a similar vessel for use between Sydney and the north and south of Tasmania. These vessels will be a great asset not only to Tasmania but to the people of Australia as a whole. They will be of great advantage to people who want to travel to Tasmania. Private enterprise has followed the example of the Australian National Line by providing faster, cheaper, regular cargo services between Melbourne and Hobart and between Sydney and Hobart with two modern roll-on roll-off cargo ships. Those vessels will be a great boon to the exporters and importers of the mainland as well as to their clients in Tasmania.
This Government, in the past and through this Budget, has done a lot to ensure that the development of Australia will continue as best it can and with great reward to the people of Australia. But in developing a continent which is as large as Australia and which has only 1 1 million people, you do not want a boom or bust economy, to use the description of a few years ago. I believe that this Budget has been designed to ensure economic stability. The increases of income tax, company tax and sales tax are not heavy. Having read the newspapers of the various States and having mixed with people in Tasmania, I believe that the increases - increases usually are unpopular - have been well received. They have been received in the light of the current economic climate in which we are living. People realise that as the Commonwealth develops and as the Government takes on greater responsibilities the extra money that is needed must be raised somewhere. It can be raised only hy means of loans or taxation. Taxation has the anti-inflationary effect which is necessary in the current economic climate.
– That is questionable.
– My colleague says that is questionable. I think it is a plain fact that any realistic person would understand. The Budget makes provision also for increased social service and repatriation benefits. These benefits are important and are always subjects of widespread interest. 1 do not propose to speak about them today because my time is limited. I shall have an opportunity to express my views when the appropriate legislation is introduced in the weeks ahead. Criticism of this aspect of the Budget will be forthcoming from members of the Australian Labour Party. Let honorable senators opposite say how they would have raised the money needed for additional benefits. Let them say what other forms of expenditure they would have cut to provide added benefits.
The third basis of the Budget was defence. It is very easy to criticise our defence forces. Those who are ignorant or unrealistic try to tell the public that we must have forces which can defend Australia against all forms of aggression. Let me address this question to members of the Australian Labour Party: “Instead of reading the views of certain commentators or thinking up criticisms, why don’t you go and look at what we have and talk with the men who serve?” If honorable senators opposite did that - and if they were unbiased in their outlook - they would come back here and say that this Government was doing all it could to provide for the adequate defence of this country. 1 was privileged to see the first Australian constructed Mirage aircraft flying in Victoria last year, and f spoke with those who flew it. A fortnight ago I was privileged to board and to travel down the Derwent estuary on H.M.A.S. “Derwent”, which is the latest addition to the Royal Australian Navy. This fine ship is a credit to Australian shipbuilders. She is one of the most modern fighting ships of her kind in the world. Every member of the crew from the captain - Captain Swan - down takes great pride in belonging to the crew. When compared with naval vessels which we had during the last World War, this vessel has terrific fighting power. We know that two other vessels are being constructed in America and that other orders have been given to Australian shipbuilding yards. It must be said that the Australian Government and the Naval Board are pressing ahead to provide us with an adequate modern fighting fleet. The morale of the Navy is higher than it has ever been before, in spite of the tragedy a report on which was laid on the table just before I rose to speak. The Labour Party must have another look before it criticizes our defences. I believe that the Army is modern; its equipment is up to date. Recruiting for the Army, the Air Force and the Navy is very satisfactory, and that is in a time of almost full employment. This shows that the spirit of young Australia, for the defence of Australia is in spite of criticisms, as good today as it was at any time between wars in which we have taken part.
It is my belief that the Budget, on the three basic foundations on which it is built, has been prepared wisely, and that Australia and the Australian people will benefit from it. Furthermore, an enlightened outlook has been taken in regard to the youth of Australia. It is pleasing to note that this Budget debate is taking place while many children who are on holidays are taking advantage of the opportunity to come to this Parliament and listen to our proceedings. The children of today should be very gratified with the Budget and the policy that swept the Menzies Government back into power last November. Speaking yesterday, Senator Benn cynically referred to the fact that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had been awarded the title of father of the year. If I remember correctly, Senator Benn said: “He does not realise that he is the father of a million children he has forgotten “. The only reference that Senator Benn made, in spite of what this Government has done in the past few months for the youth of Australia, was to the payment of 15s. a week for a fulltime student between the ages of 1 6 and 21 years. He cynically said, “ Enough to purchase them a 3s. midday meal each day they are studying “. I do not know how the father of the year award was made or by whom; but the young people today are benefiting from the decision, which I think was the Prime Minister’s own, to set up the Murray committee on universities. As a result the Tasmanian University now has many modern buildings whereas, without this Government’s assistance, it could still be housed in buildings erected in 1890. We have greater facilities and a better university. I believe that universities throughout Australia have been similarly assisted. That policy is being continued.
Grants for science buildings and equipment in secondary schools should prove of great value to the youth of Australia. Wherever we speak, all of us should urge parents and the youth of Australia to take advantage of every opportunity that is provided for education as specialists in some calling, because we are rapidly moving into an age of specialisation, and those without specialised training will have difficulty in finding work at an economic salary. So, the father of the year has done another great deed for the youth of Australia. I have referred to housing for young married couples. I refer finally to the great increase in the number of Commonwealth scholarships provided for the youth of Australia. These will assist many more students to take part in higher education.
I do not believe that as a member of the Senate, which is a House of review, one should merely pick out points of Commonwealth administration on which one can sincerely congratulate the Government. Rather, one should stand in his place in this chamber and point out a few of the things which in his view are not right or which could be improved. During question time today, my Opposition colleague from Tasmania, Senator O’Byrne, asked a question about the “ Empress of Australia “. He referred particularly to the fares and freight charges announced by the Government. It is not because he asked this question that I advert to the subject. I prepared my speech last night, and I have here a heading, “ Empress of Australia “. 1 believe that the fares to be charged are exorbitant and the schedules wrong, and that the Australian National Line should be requested by the Minister to have another look at the matter. Without going into great detail, I point out that the fare for the overnight trip from Sydney to Bell Bay - Launceston - which will take about 37 hours, and involve the provision of four meals, will be the same as the fare for the trip of 40 hours, including two nights, from Sydney to Hobart and involving the provision of four meals. What is worse, passengers on one trip a month, 1 think it is, will arrive in Bell Bay in northern Tasmania at 5 p.m., and unless they have their own vehicles they will not bc able to get out of Launceston that night. That means that they will incur the cost of hotel accommodation for a night and of transport to, say, Burnie, where they will arrive, if they catch the first bus, in the morning some hours after the “ Empress of Australia “ arrives in Burnie. Passengers bound for Burnie will not be allowed to travel from Bell Bay overnight to Launceston.
So, 1 support Senator O’Byrne in his complaints regarding the fares, and I add a sincere wish that the Australian National Line will have a look at the announced schedule. I had the privilege of being shown over the “ Empress of Australia “ some few weeks ago. She will be a grand ship of which every Australian will be proud. I talked with those who are helping to complete and outfit her. They are proud of her and they are doing their utmost to have her fitted out and handed over so that she may go on the run on schedule on 5th December. The Australian National Line should do something to improve the system of bookings on the “ Empress of Australia “ and on the “ Princess of Tasmania “, the north-west coast ferry. On the mainland and in Tasmania there is growing a psychological outlook that it is not worth trying to book on these vessels, that they are booked out, and that therefore one should go somewhere else for a holiday. It is about time that the shipping line and the Minister woke up to the three weaknesses of which I have spoken.
I turn now to what might be called a wider issue and one which I admit I do not understand. I refer to the wage structure system which I believe is doing great economic harm to Australia. I believe it could bc a very interesting exercise for a select committee of the Senate to examine our wage structure and report to the Senate possible improvements. Under the present system, when the basic wage is increased the recipients of the increase get no benefit and a type of inflation occurs.
It is time, I feel, that the Government examined the system of sales taxation now in vogue as it is costing businesses throughout Australia hundreds of thousands of pounds, not only for payment of wages to clerks to calculate the sales tax but also for the maintenance of records which, I understand, must be retained for seven years. At any time during the seven years inspectors from the sales tax office may call to examine the records. They are very polite and co-operative but they interfere with the running of businesses. I do not believe it is a healthy thing in a nation like Australia that taxation by the Government should involve those who pay it in additional expenses because of the manner of its imposition. However, I believe the Budget to be a good one. I support the motion that the Budget Papers be printed and I hope that the Senate will throw out the rather stupid amendment moved by the Opposition.
– I support the amendment proposed by Senator McKenna. which states -
At the end of the motion add the following words - “ but the Senate is of opinion that the Budget does not 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 “.
Senator Marriott referred in his speech to numerous items in the Budget. He referred to national development, housing, immigration, defence, education and sales tax. I could agree with the honorable senator on some items. It is true that there has been great development over the years but it seems to me that it has been brought about not by the Government but in spite of the Government. The foundation for the present state of the economy was laid first by the Curtin Government and then, until 1949, by the Chifley Government. When the present Government assumed office in 1949 a solid basis had been established and it was necessary only to continue the work carried out by the previous governments to maintain the standards that we enjoy today.
It is also true that large numbers of houses have been built in past years, and for this a lot of credit is due to the Government. However, I feel that not enough has been done in the field of housing, as a great many people still cannot obtain houses because of the shortage of finance available through the first mortgage system. To obtain sufficient finance they are forced to resort to second and even third mortgages. A severe strain is thus placed on the income and earnings of people who must pay high interest rates on second and third mortgages. The Government should have acted to increase the amount of money available on first mortgage loans to young couples so that it would not be necessary for them to resort to second and third mortgages.
When referring to immigration Senator Marriott said that at one time the Australian Labour Party opposed immigration, even though the policy was implemented by Labour when in office and our present leader, Mr. Calwell, was Minister for Immigration. Never at any time has Labour opposed immigration. If the honorable senator will cast his mind back to 1961, a time of record unemployment in Australia, he may recall that the Australian Labour Party asked the Government to examine its immigration policy in order to avoid bringing to Australia people who could not find jobs. Labour asked that immigration be curtailed for a period until the unemployment situation eased. It is untrue that Labour has opposed immigration. We have always supported a policy of immigration and will continue to do so because it is now and will be in the future very important to Australia. Immigration is important in relation to national development and defence. I support the amendment proposed by Senator McKenna and I believe that his speech when proposing the amendment could well be borne in mind by Government supporters. Senator McKenna showed what could be done in the field of budgeting. If Government supporters were to heed Senator McKenna’s advice they would be able to bring down a far better Budget than they have produced.
Honorable senators opposite have referred a great deal to the affluent state of our society. It is true that we have an affluent society, but I repeat that this state has been brought about not by the Government but in spite of it. Tt would be futile to deny that an affluent society exists in Australia, but honorable senators on this side of the chamber believe that some of the affluence should have been given through the Budget to the people who deserve it most. I cannot for the life of me understand why the Government persists in denying a fair deal to the people who are in need. I refer to recipients of social services. From time to time some benefits have been paid to them, but they have been insufficient. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
We propose to increase the rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions by 5s. a week, thus raising the standard rate of pension payable to single age and invalid pensioners and to widow pensioners with children from £5 15s. a week to £6 a week.
This is an increase of 5s. a week. The speech continues -
The married rate of pension will be raised from £5 5s. to £5 10s. a week so that the combined rates payable to a married couple, both pensioners, will be increased from £10 10s. a week to £11 a week. For widows without children the rate of pension will rise from £5 2s. 6d. a week to £5 7s. 6d. a week.
It is also proposed to increase the allowance payable to persons suffering from tuberculosis by 5s. a week in the case of a single person and by 10s. a week in the case of a man and wife.
Increased pensions will be payable on the first pension day after the necessary legislation has been passed. The estimated cost of the increased benefits is £10,430,000 in a full year and £7,825,000 in 1964-65.
These increases, together with increases in repatriation benefits and other pensions, have been swallowed by the upsurge in the cost of living which took place before the announcement of the £1 increase in the basic wage. Even before that announcement we could see that the cost of living was spiralling and that the people most damaged by it would be those receiving social service benefits and those on fixed incomes. We have been told, from time to time, that the cost of living spiral is brought about by increases in the basic wage. I feel that this is not true, because the workers must approach the Arbitration Court if they desire an increase of wages.
– Before the employers compel them to link that to the basic wage.
– The workers have to go before an arbitrator-
– Not to increase wages; that can be done by agreement.
– They have to have a judgment given in their favour. My colleague from South Australia, Senator Ridley, who will follow me for the
Opposition in the debate, will explain the full workings of the arbitration system and its relation to the basic wage and increases in the cost of living. A cost of living adjustment in the basic wage is given on the basis of the prices prevailing in the previous twelve months and also in accordance with the ability of industry to pay a further increase in wages. When an increase in the basic wage is announced - although it has been granted on the basis of the prices prevailing for the previous twelve months - leaders of industry and commerce do not have to go to an arbitrator to seek permission to put up their prices, but immediately start to put them up. Thus increases in the basic wage are blamed for increases in the cost of living and most people ask: “ Why do the workers continue to apply for increases in the basic wage?” What would happen if they never applied for increases? Would the cost of living remain static? 1 do not believe it would. I will quote from the Treasurer’s Budget Speech on the subject of the cost of living, as I think it makes interesting reading. He said -
Yet, notwithstanding all this rise in incomes and activity and expenditure, and despite considerable increases in wage rates and earnings, consumer goods prices remained stable until the later part of the year, when they began to show a rising trend. In the June quarter of this year the consumer price index was 1.7 per cent, higher than in the June quarter of 1963. It is noteworthy also that, while the exceptional rise in exports had added greatly to incomes, the disturbing effects which in other limes it would probably have had have so far been fairly successfully contained.
The Government must admit that the cost of living had risen prior to the increase in the basic wage. For the life of me I cannot see why the working people have to be blamed at all times for the high cost of living. It is only the spiralling of prices that forces the unions to apply for an increase in the basic wage.
– Nobody blames the working people. They blame the system.
– I do not know whether anything could better the system we have at the present time. I believe that while the working people have to go to an arbitrator for an increase in their salaries something should be done by the Commonwealth Government in conjunction with the States about the fixation of prices. Price fixation may be criticised, but I feel that it is (he only way in which we can keep a proper relationship between wages and prices. If you peg one without pegging the other you must have an imbalance all the time. In order to create a balance there should bc some fixing of prices.
– Instead of monkeying with both wages and prices, why not leave both to be set by more sensible methods?
– I feel that if we could arrive at that happy medium it would be a very good thing for all concerned. With all these increases in the prices of commodities people receiving pensions and those on fixed incomes are being penalised. It is not easy for persons to live these days on £6 a week, which will now be the pension for a single person, or on £5 10s. a week each for a married couple. A look at the Budget will show that the pensioners - or at least a great number of them - will not receive any benefit whatsoever from the increases in pensions, and I will show why this is so. For example, take the single pensioner who is compelled to have a telephone. 1 say “ compelled “, because I feel that it is essential for a person living alone to have a telephone. His pension has been increased by £13 for the year, but if he wants to have a telephone he must now pay an extra £5 to have one installed. He must pay £15 for the installation, together with an increase of £6 2s. 6d. in the rental, making a total extra cost, over last year’s charges, of £11 2s. 6d. This will leave him approximately £1 17s. 6d. out of his £13 increase in pension with which to meet the increase in the cost of living over the next twelve months. If the Government thinks that to give these people 5s. a week increase in pension on the one hand and then take back almost 4s. a week on the other hand is justice, I fail to agree, because I believe they are being treated very shabbily indeed.
A married couple who are forced to have a telephone installed will be a little better off than the single pensioner, because they will be receiving £26 a year extra income while the increased cost to them through having a telephone will be only £1 1 2s. 6d. a year. This gives them a margin above the person who is living alone. Another section of the people that I feel the Government has consistently ignored arc married women whose husbands are receiving the invalid pension but who cannot themselves receive a pension because they are not of the eligible age. Most such women must be in their fifties and pressing on to their sixties. To give them £3. a week to live on is an injustice, because the combined income of husband and wife would total £9 a week. Including the 5s. a week increase in the husband’s pension, the combined amount classed as a pension would be £4 10s. a week each.
This is an injustice. I do not think any couple should be asked to live on £4 10s. a week each. It could be said that the wife should go out to work but it is very difficult for a woman in her late fifties to obtain employment, even with the shortage of labour that exists today. Moreover, if she did go out to work, her allowance would bc stopped because the benefit is limited to those women whose husbands are totally incapacitated and who have a full time job looking after them.
Although the Government did increase the allowance for women in these circumstances by 12s. 6d. in the 1963-64 Budget, making the benefit £3, I think another increase should have been given to them in this Budget. If the Government considered there should be an increase in the pensions of married couples - and I am not complaining about this one little bit - I cannot understand why it did not extend the same consideration to those women who are not eligible for a pension and who are eligible only for a wife’s allowance.
This is a Budget of give and take. It has given with one hand and taken away with the other. It is not a good Budget and it has been criticised quite a lot, despite what Senator Marriott has said. I will quote some of the criticisms. The Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ commented under the heading, “ Brake on Progress “ -
It was a depressing, distressing, unimaginative Budget that Mr. Holt produced last night.
Then the article went on to criticise the Budget and, in conclusion, said -
Australia deserved a much better Budget than the dreary bundle of burdens, old and new, that Mr. Holt gave us last night.
It was not only the newspapers that criticised the Government for this Budget. Men who handle industries, commerce and businesses also criticised the Government. I quote again from the “Sun NewsPictorial “ of the same date in which the headlines read -
Many critics in trade, industry.
The article continued -
Most leaders of business and industry strongly criticised the Budget last night. And the Federal Opposition Leader, Mr. Calwell, said that the Budget was one in which the big man had once again escaped and the little man had “copped the lot “.
The article went on to give the names of those people who made the criticisms. I will read some of their comments as reported in the newspaper I have cited -
The President of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Mr. J. Harvie Picken: “ This is a retarding Budget, lt will slow the progress the country was making. Australia has only recently emerged from the effects of the 1960 credit squeeze, and having regard to the comparatively, moderate extra expenditure on defence, the increases on taxation and other charges seem hardly justified, lt is difficult to understand the Government’s philosophy that Government spending is less inflationary than spending by private enterprise “.
The Federal director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, Mr. R. W. C. Anderson: “ The Budget is aimed at ensuring the Government’s policy of growth and stability. Some people will be critical, but there should be a broad measure of general acceptance “.
Those two quotations show that there was a difference of opinion on this Budget. I do not believe in quoting only the critics of the Government. I believe that in fairness to the Government, one should also quote those people who support the Budget, but it has been said by Government supporters that this Budget has met with the approval of all the Austraiian people.
I refer back to the matter of income tax. We on the opposition side do not criticise the deletion of the 5 per cent, rebate. The Australian Labour Party criticised this provision when it was introduced. We said that the little man would not receive much benefit from the 5 per cent, rebate but that the big man would receive quite a lot. I think the Government should have given a rebate on a sliding scale. In my opinion the rebate should have been continued for those with a taxable income of less than £1,000, and should have been applied on a sliding scale to those with a taxable income exceeding £1,000. The small amount that the working man will lose from the withdrawal of this rebate cannot be compared with the amount that will be lost by those with larger incomes, but the small man cannot afford to lose even a few shillings a week.
I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna. I believe the people of Australia are not whole-heartedly behind this Budget, lt is not a Budget that will benefit the people of Australia. The people who deserved most out of the Budget have not been considered. Until they are considered, I will continue to criticise the Government.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers and to oppose the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I enter this debate to pinpoint certain things that have been said about the Budget in this chamber. I am glad that my friend Senator Ormonde is present because in the course of my comments, I propose to refer fairly extensively to some remarks that he made. I assure him, however, that I mean no discourtesy to him. I merely want to put the record straight in relation to the political content of his speech.
Before I deal with the more specific points of the debate as it has proceeded so far, I think it would be fair for me to make some general observations on the economic position of Australia today. After all, a Budget is virtually a report to the nation on the economic scene. It deals with the economy as the Government finds it and projects the fiscal policy of the Government for the coming year.
First, I would emphasise that it is recognised generally that Australia is in a state of economic stability. I think that is recognised by Senator Ormonde also but I will deal with that point later. We have had a year of great economic growth. Therefore, the key-note of the Budget from the Government’s point of view is stability and growth. I think it can be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these two factors have been very much to the forefront of the Australian scene during the past financial year.
Dealing with stability first of all, I think it is sufficient to cite the employment situation. During the 12 months to the end of May 1964, opportunities for employment have been so plentiful that Australia has virtually full employment. I say that because we all know Australia is a vast continent which has an economy based principally on primary industries in which there is seasonal employment. At the present time we virtually have full employment. In fact, in many industries there is a shortage of the skilled personnel who are necessary to enable them to expand to a greater degree than is possible at the present time.
Over the years there has been a great increase in production. Building and construction started the year at a high level, and the level remains high. We find that there is in the building industry at the present time a shortage of the skilled personnel who are necessary to provide further expansion in that industry. Activity in transport, communications and the service occupations generally ran very high during the year. The volume of trade rose steadily. There was a further great rise in motor car sales. I suggest that the slight increase in the sales tax on motor vehicles has not had any material effect upon the high rate of sales in the motor vehicle industry. That, in itself, is a measure of the degree of stability that exists in the Commonwealth.
I have here some recently released figures concerning the manufacturing industries, which are important. They were released by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) several days ago. The value of exports of Australian manufactures rose by 25 per cent, from £123.6 million in 1961-62 to £154.2 million in 1962-63. Significant advances were recorded in the light manufacturing industries. Exports of yarn and fibres increased by 77 per cent, to £3.3 million. I could continue to quote figures in relation to our manufacturing industries to show a significant upward trend.
Our favorable trade balance is worthy of mention. Despite the fact that imports were high during the year, we finished the year with a favorable trade balance of £228 million. Our overseas reserves were £854 million as at 30th June, which, I understand, is the highest figure that they have reached in our history. All of these matters suggest a magnificently stable economy. During the year wages and salaries increased by 9 per cent., company income increased by 10 per cent., and farm income increased by 26 per cent. Savings bank deposits rose by £268 million. These things did not happen by chance. They happened because of the co-operation between the private sector of the economy and the Government. It can be shown that this
Government has taken every possible step in co-operating with the private sector of the economy to help in building up our manufacturing industries, to improve our trade and commerce and to increase employment opportunities for the people of this country.
In regard to the help given in building up our trade and commerce, I refer to the taxation concessions which were granted to encourage the export of our products. There were special concessions granted in relation to payroll tax. The establishment of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation is another example of the Government’s consideration of a problem that the private sector of the economy had in relation to trade and commerce. The Government provided an answer which has facilitated the export of products from Australia bearing in mind that we are a primary producing country and also a manufacturing country, and that we have to find markets for our goods. I could continue to give examples of our stability and growth. Examples are on all sides, and we all recognise them. They are before us every day and are there for everybody to see. We are a fortunate country in this regard.
Senator McKenna, in leading for the Opposition, spoke of the Budget as deflationary. It is difficult to follow his reasoning when we bear in mind that this is a Budget of some £2,500 million - an all time high Budget. It is difficult to follow his reasoning when we realise that on the expenditure side there is an increase on the previous year of some £224 million. To describe it as a deflationary Budget is, I think, to misunderstand the meaning of the word “ deflationary “.
The Budget is a demonstrable instrument of security and, I might add, of prosperous security. Its clear purpose is to hold the line at a level of soundly built prosperity. We can forget the many criticisms that have been advanced in the Budget debate by the Opposition. The facts are that we in Australia have a stable economy and a high level of prosperity. We, as a Government, have no lack of modesty when we claim that this state has been largely attributed to by the actions of this Government since it has been in power. We in Australia are a blessed people. We have a standard of living unparalleled in the world. I do not think that that fact can be denied.
I said earlier that I would refer to some of the comments made by Senator Ormonde. I want to deal more specifically with his comments in relation to health. On the score of a stable and prosperous economy, I think that his contribution to the Budget debate is worthy of mention. At page 175 of “ Hansard “ of 20th August 1964 Senator Ormonde is reported to have said -
We do not say that Australia is not a great and prosperous country. It is a great and prosperous country today, and will be an even greater country. Whatever government is in control, Australia will be a great country. We are not going to say that there is not an element of truth in the statement that we have never had it better.
He went on to say - . . outside there is great public apathy which goes with prosperity and with having the good things of life, as we have them in abundance today.
That is excellent, and I am sure we are grateful to the honorable senator for his contribution. A little further on, when referring to the Chifley Government and things that had happened at that time, he said -
The world was changing and the Labour Government did not realise that it was going to change, that money values were going to alter and that money was to be the servant of government, as it is today. Now we see Dr. Coombs, our socialist planner of fond memory, in charge of the banking system of this country and doing a good job.. This helps honorable senators opposite to talk about the prosperity we are enjoying under the Menzies Government. I suppose I would be foolish to suggest that it is not taking place. I only say that the Menzies Government is not responsible for it. The Menzies Government has tuned in to this prosperity, and it is entitled to do so, of course. The problems on which we used to fight have been to a largs extent solved.
In view of coming events I would be prepared to settle for that, coming from Senator Ormonde who is, of course, a Labour senator from New South Wales. I hope he will take this view into the campaign arena in the near future.
– There are new problems, aren’t there?
– I am quoting the statements made by you, and I purposely took the last quotation back a little way because I did not want it thought that 1 was taking something out of context.
– Would you also agree with the other statements he made but which you have not quoted?
– I have quoted him to bear out the point- 1 started with - that we are in a state of great stability. I said that it was generally recognised that that was the position. 1 am merely quoting Senator Ormonde to prove that by his utterances in this place he also recognises this position. References have been made to the social services provisions in the Budget. The Budget provides for increases for age pensioners, widows and tuberculosis sufferers. It also provides for increases in the repatriation field for totally and permanantly incapacitated pensioners, in the war disability general rate, and for war widows. All of these items will require separate legislation, and no doubt when that legislation is before the Senate we will have an opportunity to debate them more fully. However, it is fair to mention that there has been an increase in repatriation benefits as well as in social service benefits. It is fair and proper to remind the Senate that we did, during the last session, deal specifically with family endowment and we gave special increases in that field. It is also worth mentioning that there have been special increases in the sums provided for homes for the aged.
I do not want to speak at great length, but 1 want to deal specifically with health, because Senator Ormonde really spread himself on this subject. As he would appreciate, I am rather interested in health because in private life I have devoted much time to this particular aspect of public service.
– Do you disagree with him?
– I am going to prove to you that he just does not know what he is talking about. 1 do not mean that in any cruel way, but the facts are that he has made statements which are not true, and with your forbearance, senator, I propose to demonstrate just that. He set out to build a case against the Government’s health scheme, and I want to quote some of his statements, which are contained in last Thursday’s “Hansard” at page 180. After giving certain examples of medical charges - which I thought were rather fascinating - he said -
Yet this is supposed to bc a free scheme supported by the Government.
That is what he said, but it has never been a free scheme, and everybody knows that it is not a free scheme. I was amazed that Senator Ormonde should suggest in a debate that it is a free scheme. Ever since it was created it has been a contributory scheme and it has never been reppresented as other than a contributory scheme supported by the Government. For anyone, most of all a senator who has had the opportunity of debating this health scheme since it was first introduced by the late Sir Earle Page, to suggest that it is a free scheme rather amazes me. The whole basis of this scheme has been that the Government’s contribution together with a contribution from an approved fund will approximate 90 per cent, of the medical charge. But we have the situation I indicated where, in this debate, Senator Ormonde referred to it as a free scheme. Another passage gives colour to his statement. It, too, is in “ Hansard “, so the honorable senator need not worry about my misquoting. When talking about costs of a confinement he referred to the previous contribution by the Government as being £4 10s. and then made a remark which gave absolute proof of his lack of knowledge. He said -
Where could you get a confinement for that sum?
That rather suggests that he believes that £4 10s. is the total charge. We cannot escape the clear message that is conveyed in the words: “ Where could you get a confinement for that sum “ - £4 10s. Everybody in Australia, except Senator Ormonde, knows that the scheme provides that you get a Government contribution and a fund contribution which together approximate 90 per cent., or backwards, of the actual cost of the confinement.
– Tell us how far backwards.
– I suggest that you cannot escape what was said. Senator Ormonde must have known, surely. I do not know what to think. I am not going to impute improper motives to him, but he did say it.
– Wasn’t I talking about the Government’s contribution?
– Yes, you were. In the very statement I quoted you mentioned it and said: “Where could you get a confinement for that sum? “ No one is suggesting anybody can get a confinement for that sum. The increase in Commonwealth benefits from 1st June 1964 has substantially reduced the gap between fees and benefits from the medical schemes mentioned by Senator Ormonde. The percentage return, using the most common fee charged by doctors, of the new Commonwealth benefit plus the fund benefits currently payable varies between 63 per cent, and 95 per cent, of the doctor’s fee. This is based on statistics taken out by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
– That is for only doctors’ fees.
– We were talking only about medical fees. Finally, dealing with this question of the contribution, I come to Senator Ormonde’s real howler, because this is the comment where I think he really spread himself. You will recall that during the debate I made an interjection. That, admittedly, was very improper of me. 1 pointed out that if people were admitted as patients to a public ward they would in fact be treated by the honorary medical staff at the hospital, which would mean matthey would not be charged a fee at all. Senator Ormonde acknowledged that what I said was true, which almost knocked his own argument out. He said -
That is absolutely true but whereas, at one time, in New South Wales, half of a public hospital usually consisted of public wards, today, under the influence of this Government’s legislation, one would be lucky to find an average of 10 per cent, of the area of public hospitals consisting of public wards.
– That is right, lt is pretty true, that.
– I do not know that the New South Wales Labour Government would be happy wilh that statement. After all, it has been in power now for some 22 or 23 years, and since hospitals are a responsibility of the soverign State I should not think it would be very pleased to think that it had allowed such a situation to have continued. But, be that as it may, I put that in only as a snippet. I am going to tell you the position of public wards in New South Wales and I intend to quote from the New South Wales Hospital Commission’s annual’ report. It reveals that as at 30th June 1964, which is not so long ago, of 21,806 beds in the public hospitals of New South Wales, 15.264 were classified as public beds, or 70 per cent, of the total. There is a big difference between 10 per cent, as Senator Ormonde said, and repeated just a moment ago, and 70 per cent. The figures I am quoting were taken from the annual report of the New South Wales Hospitals Commission.
– Public hospitals.
– I am referring to public hospitals, to which the honorable senator referred in his speech. Because the honorable senator has a fair knowledge of the local scene, I wish to quote figures I obtained in relation to the Sydney Hospital, the Balmain Hospital, the Royal North Shore Hospital and, naturally enough, the Ryde District Soldiers Memorial Hospital.
– What about St. George?
– I have taken the hospitals I have mentioned because Senator Ormonde knows them quite well. Bearing in mind that the overall percentage of public beds in public hospitals in New South Wales is 70 per cent., I now wish to mention the figures for these four hospitals. There are no private beds in the Sydney Hospital. There are 28 intermediate beds and 425 public beds. In the Balmain Hospital there are 4 private beds, 44 intermediate beds and 170 public beds. At the Royal North Shore Hospital there are 8 private beds, 85 intermediate beds and 466 public beds. At the Ryde District Soldiers Memorial Hospital there are 112 intermediate beds and 117 public beds. Those four hospitals represent a pretty good cross section of the large suburban hospitals in Sydney. Taking an average of those hospitals we find that there are 80.8 per cent, public beds and 19.2 per cent, private and intermediate beds. Those figures prove that the statement that only 10 per cent, of the area of public hospitals consists of public wards is sheer nonsense.
– Do you suggest now that 75 per cent, of the people in New South Wales are on the free list?
– I did not say that.
– That is what you mean by public wards.
– It is useless to introduce new grounds on which to fight. You said that only 10 per cent, of the area of public hospitals consisted of public wards.
In fact the percentage is somewhere between 70 per cent, and 80 per cent. The whole point of the honorable senator’s argument falls to the ground.
The health and medical scheme that has been introduced by this Government is an integral part of the Government’s policy to provide services to the Australian community. It is not suggested, and it has never been suggested, that the health scheme is a free one. The whole basis of this scheme has been one of co-operation between the patient, or the citizen, and the Government. The Commonwealth makes a contribution and the citizen, by his own choice, insures in a medical benefits fund. The return from both these sources ensures a degree of security in the payment of a person’s account to a me’dical practitioner. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is in the chamber and he could tell honorable senators about a ve.ry careful study that has been made of medical fees throughout Australia. It has been found that the sum paid by a medical benefit fund and the Commonwealth’s contribution amount to as high as 90 per cent, of the normal bill charged by a medical man. The percentage goes down, perhaps to 60 per cent., but there is a balance between these two. The very fact that a cross section of the Australian community has joined these funds indicates that the people appreciate them and recognise that the legislation under which they were introduced was a good piece of legislation.
My time has almost expired. I conclude by saying that this is a good Budget. Its purpose is to hold the economy at a high level of security for the Australian public, to provide a way of life in which there are opportunities for all so that we will be certain that the amenities of life will be available not only to ourselves but also to our children in the future. I support the Budget and I am quite certain also that across the face of Australia the general public will support it.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on behalf of the Australian Labour Party. To the motion that the Budget Papers be printed, Senator
McKenna has moved by way of amendment -
At the end of the motion add the following words - “ but the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget does not 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.”
There is so much latitude allowed in a debate on the Budget that it is difficult for a senator to decide on which topic he will make his contribution. It necessarily follows that whilst an honorable senator can criticise or praise, as the case may be, different aspects of the Budget, each of us has some particular subject on which, because of his experience or special interest, he can make a better contribution than he could by devoting himself to a more general coverage of the Budget Papers. For instance, Senator Anderson, the Minister for Customs and Excise, mentioned at the commencement of his speech that he intended to devote the greater part of his time to a subject in which he had a particular interest. Whilst I do not wish to enter into argument on that particular aspect of the Budget, and on the figures which the Minister quoted, I think that he read into Senator Ormonde’s speech a meaning different from that which I did; and 1 listened carefully to Senator Ormonde. I think that Senator Anderson in the contributions he made in this chamber prior to his elevation to the Ministry was just as much a critic of the Government’s health scheme as is Senator Ormonde.
The subject I wish to deal with is the recent increase in the basic wage granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I select that subject because of a number of irrational statements that have been made by Government supporters. One of those statements was that an increase in wages of workers granted by the Commission must of necessity result in an increase in prices. Another statement that has come from the other side is that an increase in the basic wage results in no benefit to the worker. In regard to the first statement I hope to prove that an increase in prices need not flow from an increase in either the basic wage or margins. I hope to prove also that it is completely stupid to claim that the workers, having obtained an increase in wages, must of necessity be in a worse position than they were before the increase was granted.
In this connection I might mention that both the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), almost before the ink was dry on the decision of the Commission, rushed into print to give the green light to manufacturers and others throughout Australia to increase their prices. In other words, they hopped on the bandwagon with those who wished to convince the people of Australia that once there was an increase in the basic wage or the wages of various classes of workers that increase must be passed on to the public, thereby not only robbing the worker of the benefit of his increase but making him worse off than he was before.
I do not believe that either the Treasurer or the Minister for Labour and National Service would say that the members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission were fools or rogues. But that is the only conclusion that one can draw from their statements, because if their criticism of the Commission’s decision was correct it would mean that if the members of the Commission knew that an increase of prices would flow from their decision and that consequently the workers would be worse off than before the increase was granted, they were rogues or, if they did not know that would happen, they were fools. Ft would be quite wrong for anybody to believe that they were rogues or fools. It was quite irresponsible of the two Ministers to give the green light to people to increase prices when, as Senator Drury pointed out a short while ago, the Commission’s decision was based on the ability of industry to pay the increase without the necessity for increasing prices. Senator Wright interrupted Senator Drury and said that it was not the decision but the system that was wrong. 1 hope in the time at my disposal to trace the history of the basic wage from the time of its adoption in 1907 and to point out that, following the granting of each increase, people have argued that the increase would unbalance the economy and lead to an increase of prices and that the worker would not be any better off. I propose to point out that pressure was brought to bear on the government of the day to alter the approach of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court with the result that the basis of the Court’s decisions was altered.
Although there had been some talk about a basic wage in the middle 1800’s, the first basic wage in Australia was adopted in the so-called Harvester award of 1907. Mr. Justice Higgins said that the amount which he awarded was a fair and reasonable minimum wage for an unskilled worker and that it would meet “ the normal needs of the average employee regarded as a human being living in a civilised community “. Using that judgment as a basis, various judges after Mr. Justice Higgins awarded margins for various classes of employees. Different unions argued periodically for an increase of the basic wage and the margins applicable to their members. The result was that different awards provided for different basic wages. That state of affairs was regarded as not being altogether satisfactory, and the Court eventually tied the basic wage to an index. The result was the the basic wage rose or fell in accordance with a rise or fall in the cost of living. The basic wage remained fairly stable for a number of years; as long as prices did not move upwards or downwards very much, there was very little alteration in the wage During the war period, when Labour was in office, it moved no more than ls. one way or the other. During that time no section of the community sought an alteration of the system of tying the basic wage to the cost of living-. In point of fact, I can recall that, when the unions sought an alteration of the regimen, the employers argued that the system had operated well over a number of years. Mr. Wright later Mr. Justice Wright, who appeared for the employers, argued on those lines. Chief Judge Foster stated that whilst the system might have had some imperfections there was no doubt that it was easily the best that could be evolved and that it fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed.
It was not until there was agitation on the part of the employers after this Government assumed office that there was any criticism of the tying of the basic wage to prices. That followed the freeing of the economy from the controls that had been exercised under the Federal Government’s wartime powers. At that time prices and profits rose sky high, and the price of wool reached a very high level. Senator Wade, in initiating a debate in this chamber, said that he hoped that such a price would never again be reached.
– His hope was realised.
– That is so. Senator Wade was not worried about the cost to the buyer but about the effect on the economy. I could have agreed with him in relation to the effect on the economy, but 1 could not have agreed with his attitude and that of other members of the Australian Country Party when, realising that the effect of the high price of wool was being felt throughout the economy and that the whole cost structure was being raised, they did nothing to correct the situation. In fact, in 1948 they joined forces with the Liberal Party in successfully opposing a referendum to control prices. The control of prices for a period would have helped to prevent the high price of wool from affecting our cost structure. Because socalled escalation clauses in awards allowed the basic wage to rise each three months in accordance wilh the cost of living, in one year the basic wage rose by 39s. It was after that that the employers agitated for the untying of the basic wage and the cost of living, lt was hoped that if the basic wage were frozen, as it was in 1953, prices would level out in a period of twelve months; and that the Commission would review the basic wage in the light of what had happened in that period. I am referring to this matter, because of Senator Wright’s interjection to the effect that the system was wrong. The system was sought by the employers and advocated by the Government in place of the system which tied the basic wage to the cost of living index. If there is anything wrong with the system as it exists today, the culprit is not the trade union movement, which has consistently advocated return to the earlier system.
– Do you say that the Government brought pressure on the Court?
– It went into court and supported the employers’ claim that the basic wage be untied. It is folly to argue about it, because all honorable senators opposite agree with the present system. Not one of them would vote for tying the basic wage to the cost of living. The Government was party to the decision of the Court.
– I very much doubt that. I do not think you are correct.
– Even assuming that I am wrong, the Government’s advocacy before the Court and that of Government supporters on the hustings was to the effect that the escalator clause was the cause of all cost rises. The expression, “ Dog chasing its tail “, was used. It was said that no sooner was an increase of 10s. granted as a result of a rise in the cost of living index than an increase of 13s. was needed to catch up with increased costs. At no stage would the Government grapple with reality and peg prices. It had only to peg prices for one quarter to stop the basic wage from moving upwards. The Government refused to face up to that reality.
Frequently during debates in this chamber it has been claimed to the Government’s credit that it introduced child endowment for the fir. t child. I mentioned earlier that we went through a period when the Court reviewed the basic wage from time to time and made adjustments in various awards. After that period the basic wage was tied to the cost of living index. The Court’s concept was that the basic wage should provide a reasonable standard of living for a man with a wife and two children. The concept was of a needs basic wage, although it was argued that the wage proposed did not truly provide for the needs of such a family. When the Labour Government foreshadowed introduction of child endowment, there was a claim before the court for a review of the basic wage. The then Chief Judge made it clear to the union advocates - the employer representatives argued in support of this proposition - that if child endowment were introduced by the Labour Government such amount would be offset against the basic wage. The Court reached a compromise and advised the unions’ advocate that if no child endowment were granted for the first child the basis upon which the needs basic wage was fixed would not be altered. If honorable senators do not already know, I inform them that that is the reason why the Labour Government did not introduce child endowment for the first child. Had it awarded 5s., 10s. or any other amount for the first child, the Court would have deducted that amount from the basic wage and Australian families would have gained exactly nothing. This Government claims great credit for being first into the field of endowment for the first child, but the Commission does not take child endowment for the first child into account when fixing the basic wage.
The unions are charged with being the culprits responsible for price rises because they initiate claims for higher wages and so bring about price spirals, with their members receiving no benefit in the long run. It is claimed also that with each increase in wages the recipient moves into a higher income group and pays some of the increase by way of tax to the Government. The Commission has never claimed, as indeed it could not claim, that it did other than decide on the evidence presented to it by advocates for the employers and the unions. lt is true that the unions have initiated the last few basic wage claims, but it is also true that on occasions the employers have lodged claims. The fact that employers have not been pressing for a review in recent times shows that they know that all of the evidence weighs in favour of an increase for workers.
The Commission lays down the lines upon which advocates must argue. It states that it wants evidence and statistics on certain points Both sides know exactly what the Commission will take into consideration in arriving at his judgment. The trade union movement is not happy with the present setup, because it believes that prices should have been fixed when the basic wage was tied to the cost of Jiving index. That would have resulted in stability after three months. When the basic wage was removed from the influence of the cost of living index, manufacturers felt free to increase prices in the knowledge that wages would not immediately reflect the increases. Whilst the trade union movement has not been happy about the situation, it has been forced to argue along the lines dictated by the Commission. The Commission determines the lines along which a claim will be argued. When handing down its last basic wage decision, based on the economic events of the previous 12 months, the Commission stated that it believed that the economy and industry could afford to pay increased wages without passing on the increase to the public. Other authorities have said the same thing.
Senator Anderson referred to Dr. Coombs, Governor of the Reserve Bank, who has stated that he believes prices are increased when there is no necessity; in other words, prices are increased not because of pressure from increased wages but because the market will stand increased prices. I submit that is the determining factor in price rises, lt is not that the employers cannot afford to pay increased wages as determined by the Arbitration Commission but simply that they believe that the market is sufficiently buoyant to stand an increase in prices. I do not believe that any employers would have gone out of business had they absorbed the last basic wage increase. Had they done so, most certainly it would have prevented any argument on that score that the unions could have presented in future claims for higher wages.
In some sections of industry increased costs cannot be absorbed but if the Government wished to tackle the problem a solution could be found through grants, subsidies or taxation reimbursements. The basic wage cases are argued in relation to the main section of industry, which could have absorbed the cost of the last basic wage increase It is complete folly for anyone to blame the unions by saying that if they would not be so foolish as to lodge claims for increased wages with the Arbitration Commission everything in the garden would be lovely and prices would remain stable. We all know that prices rose even before the Commission handed down its last basic wage decision, lt is common knowledge that the South Australian Government, following pressure from the Australian Labour Party, is initialing an investigation to find whether prices may be restored to their level prior to the last basic wage increase, unless a seller can substantiate his increased prices.
It boils down to this: If the criticism of the unions is valid, that by approaching the Arbitration Commission they are doing their members an injustice because they are receiving a lesser share of the national income or the gross national product than they did before, it follows that the employers’ representatives must also be remiss because they should be requesting the Commission to increase wages and the unions should be requesting the Commission to decrease wages. If increased wages cause increased prices, decreased wages should bring about decreased prices. We all know that is fallacious and I submit that the charge against the unions of lodging irresponsible claims with the Arbitration Commission is completely wrong. It is the responsibility of the Government to face up to the problem of preventing increases in wages from being passed on in costs to the community.
Silting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
.- After listening this afternoon to Senator Ridley’s rather piteous story I am reminded of an incident that happened at the declaration of the poll in a recent State election in Victoria. It is my bounden duty, as a senator representing a State - a situation that honorable senators across the table, who do not seem to acknowledge that they do represent a State but seem rather to represent some other form of critical judgment and loyalty which has nothing to do with the States, apparently do not understand - to emphasise the problems of the States. In any event, as a senator representing the State of Victoria, I considered it my duty to go to the declaration of a poll in a certain area of Victoria. I heard the defeated candidate - a member of the Australian Labour Party - in the course of his address to the electors on that occasion, say that he was not surprised in any degree that he had been defeated because, to quote his own words: “ How can you expect them to vote for us in the Australian Labour Party, because we are an affluent society in Australia? “ I asked him: “ What do you mean by affluent society? Are you referring to the American economist’s description of society as the affluent society? “ He answered: “ I do not know anything about any American economist’s book. I am just saying what the secretary of the Australian Labour Party in Victoria told me; that there is no hope of getting rid of the LiberalCountry Party Government as long as we are an affluent society.”
Before the suspension of the sitting Senator Ridle’y was saying that we are not an affluent society, and this is the essence of the Australian Labour Party’s contribution to this Budget debate. Members of the Australian Labour Party say that we are not an affluent society and that, if we have a degree of affluence, it is not as great as it should be. I think honorable senators will agree with me that, having listened to Senator Sandford, Senator Ridley and other honorable senators opposite, we recognise the curious situation that there is a group of mcn in the Australian Labour Party, which composes the Opposition in both Houses, who do not realise that they are living in a world that has changed. Senator Anderson was perfectly right tonight to point out that Senator Ormonde had admitted the change. It is quite refreshing, in the circumstances, to find this realisation in some members of the Labour Party, but the fact that there was a change was contradicted last night by Senator Sandford and today by Senator Ridley. They have not discovered that a change in polarity, as it were, has occurred in the last 15 years.
Senator Ridley spent half an hour this afternoon demonstrating to the Senate - I think quite happily, in his own mind - the condition of the siege society in which he and Senator Sandford have been raised. It is quite apparent that they have not been able to meet the mood of the situation in which we find ourselves. By “ siege society “ I mean a besieged society; a society which is besieged - in the present context - by economic and other forces and in which, therefore, there has to be a sharing out of the limited resources available within that walled economic society. That has been a characteristic of the Labour Party for the last 40 years of Australia’s development.
As I have pointed out to the Senate before, the problem which existed in 1949 was that of not being able to remain within the economic wall, but of having to move outside the besieged city and build a greater city. I do not think that that is in any wa’y a far-fetched analogy. So within the besieged society which is the economic concept of the Australian Labour Party there have to be all sorts of stringent controls. If you wish to go outside the walls you have to take risks - and this is what has happened. We accepted this quite bluntly. It has been the policy of the Australian Government since 1949 that in order to grow, in order to become strong, we must take economic risks. I am the first to admit that we have taken economic risks in the last 15 years. The test is whether the risks taken have been acceptable and justified. I think the answer is quite conclusive. The risks taken have been justified, and the rewards have been commensurate with them. I have not heard anyone in the Australian Labour Party, here or in the other place, who has had any heart in doing so, contend that the people of Australia of high or low degree, in economic terms, are not infinitely better off than they were 25 years ago. Surely that is the test, and this is what the defeated candidate in that recent election in Victoria meant by saying that this is an affluent society. It is an affluent society.
The only just cause for an Opposition not besotted by outmoded economic theories to attack the present economic policies of the Government would be a condition in which Australia as a whole had not been adequately and commensurately rewarded through all levels and sectors of society for the economic risks taken, and in which an unjust proportion of the national prosperity was going to a small section of the community. I do not think such a proposition could be sustained in any degree, although it is claimed that old people have not been adequately protected. I refer honorable senators to what the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said yesterday, when challenged in another place as to whether or not adequate economic resources should be placed at the disposal of people not able to sustain physical effort. The Treasurer said -
When we took office, the provision for social welfare was the equivalent of 47 per cent, of our collections of income tax from individuals; in this year’s Budget, it is 60 per cent. So I think honorable members will see that in these ways we have been making increasing provision out of national resources for social welfare.
I’ hope that in addition to what governments are able to do for the elderly people of the community, in a fully employed and highly prosperous Australian community such as we have at this time, a sense of family responsibility will ensure that our aged persons are well cared for by the remaining members of the community. lt is not only a question of the resources used under the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act by which wealth is re-deployed over the community. In this particular sector there is an enormous contribution being made to social welfare by the States, which we represent in the Senate. 1 asked a colleague and friend of mine, the Minister for Health in Victoria, to take out figures on the ancillary contributions that the States make to solving the social services problem in Australia. This problem of social services cannot be seen in isolation simply as a Federal responsibility. lt is a social responsibility which penetrates and permeates through all strata of society. I say, without very much hesitation, that the contribution made by the
States towards social service welfare is at least equal, in money terms, to that deployed through the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. I do not propose to pursue that subject any further, I am replying in this instance, of course, to Senator Ridley.
I propose now to make some passing observations on a problem which has never been brought to the surface and which we could well scrutinise closely. It is this: In the siege economy of 1945-47, certain comments were made by the writer of the famous White Paper on Full Employment in Australia. No honorable senator can discern the writer’s identity but it is reasonable to make deductions as to who the author was, and is. He is a man who has enormous responsibilities in the financial management of the country at the present moment.
– Are you referring to Dr. Coombs?
– Well, I cannot prove the case. That White Paper was based on the concept of the Labour Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) of how the Australian society should be managed. In that concept, much emphasis was placed on full employment. The White Paper stated in effect that as experiences and techniques were tested, the problem of making full employment an economic and going concern would become increasingly easier.
What those words indicate, perfectly truthfully, of course, is that Mr. Chifley, who presented a minority view in the report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, and his economic adviser realised that a full employment economy means that you have to take some sort of risks. You cannot get an even sea. There are waves and there are crests and troughs. What the anonymous writer of this White Paper said was that techniques had to be evolved by which the peaks, the crests and the troughs could be ironed out. There is no economy in this world that could proceed in a flat calm. We have to find the means by which the economy can be sustained on as even and as calm a level as it possibly can, with certain provisos that I shall make clear in a moment.
– Planned economy?
– lt has nothing to do with planned economy. You had a planned economy until 1949 within the economic walls of a ‘besieged city, where everyone was on a common level and noone could get outside the walls. But the problem that confronted Australia was that it had to become an expanding economy. If it did not become an expanding economy then Australia had no capacity to exist in this continent. Its population and its resources had to be built up and they had to be built up by taking risks. The risks have been taken. This country has nearly doubled its population in 15 years. Last year in the Budget session I gave some figures which illustrated the enormous rate of expansion of all the basic elements of the Australian economic community. So these risks have been taken, and not only have they been taken but those who have not been able to sustain the pace of expansion have been protected all the way.
– The capitalist was protected in his funk hole during the war. He came out afterwards to exploit the public and has been doing it ever since.
- Senator O’Byrne subscribes to the concept of 30, 40 or 50 years ago that all wars are imperialistic and that all wars have an economic basis. If he suggests that Communist China, which is now besieging almost half the newly emerging countries of the world, is acting ©n an economic foundation, he is talking absolute nonsense. The problem confronting the world at the moment has nothing to do with imperialism and neo-colonialism. There is no capitalist imperialism in the world today. The wars that are being created today arc being created on the basis of ideologies and have nothing to do with economics.
– You are supplying wheat to them to keep them alive.
– That has nothing to do with it. The point is that the Australian Labour Party is hanging to an outworn credo that has no validity. This is the test: Have the Australian people suffered in this period of enormous increase in population and economic capacity? Have they suffered while Australia has progressed at a rate that bas not been matched by any other country in the world? The answer is “ No “, because in the words of a defeated Labour candidate in the Victorian election last month: “ We are living in an affluent society “.
I am duty bound to turn to some of the problems that have been besetting my own colleagues in the Senate in relation to the domestic concerns of the Senate itself. I assume these problems have also concerned honorable senators opposite. Honorable senators will recollect that last May we discussed the presentation of the Appropriation Bills. The Senate decided that it should take a look at the real meaning of sections 53, 54, 55 and 56 of the Constitution. Between May and this sessional period of the Parliament I have investigated some of the matters relating to this constitutional problem with which the Senate finds itself involved and I have reached a rather interesting stage in my inquiries. I have discovered where this division of the Appropriation Bills originally took place. I find that the first occasion in constitutional practice where this division of the Appropriation Bills occurred - it seems to me. anywhere in the English speaking world - was in South Australia in 1857. In those days South Australia was an interesting place. It was a State of much radical thought. At the present time it is going through a sort of political hibernation, but in 1 857 a dispute arose between the Legislative Council of South Australia and the House of Assembly. In those days the Legislative Council was a Council based on restricted franchise. As a result of the disagreement between the two Houses what is known as “ the Compact “ of 1 857 was formed. By this the two Appropriation Bills were divided.
In Victoria, in 1878, a rather disastrous situation occurred which is known in Victorian history as Black Wednesday - Sth January 1878. On that day the Legislative Council rejected the whole of the Supply that had been sent to it. It is known as Black Wednesday because there appeared on that day a Government “ Gazette “ which, by name, dismissed every public servant in the State of Victoria.
Relations between the two Houses were obviously very much in the mind of the conventional assemblies which met between 1892 and 1898 because the men who attended these conventions, representing the various States in Australia, were aware of this problem regarding the functions, responsibilities and rights of the two Houses in the various States. When the Commonwealth Constitution was being prepared in 1898, provision was made for the relevant sections with which this Senate finds itself involved and by which there was a constitutional demand that there should be a division in the actual appropriations presented to the Senate. The words, used in many debates here, both in this Budget debate and in the May debate, were that the Senate had no powers over the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government.
– No power to amend but complete power to reject.
– I stand corrected - no power to amend. I believe that no upper chamber, except in a period of enormous crisis, should ever have the power to reject the means by which the ordinary annual services of the Government are maintained. Senator Murphy said in May that the basis of any dispute that might exist - it should not exist in my opinion - between the House of Representatives and the Senate must always relate to the criteria of what are the ordinary annual services of the Government, and what are not. I was heartened when I heard the speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), who represents the Treasurer in this chamber. He said that the Government is continuing to examine the problem posed by these criteria.
That brings me to the point that the circumstances of 1901 are obviously not the circumstances of 1964. What were the ordinary annual services of the Government in 1 90 1 are not the ordinary annual services of the Government in 1964 because in this pattern of economic change that I have been describing it is obvious that the Parliament cannot accept a static position. It must move on and accept certain elements of expenditure in 1964 which were not known or even envisaged by the men who drafted the Constitution.
I move now to the functions of the Senate, a subject on which I am not going to be denied the opportunity of making a few comments in the little time that I have left. The Senate, as I see it, exists to represent the minorities within the Commonwealth of Australia. Embedded in the Constitution is the principle that all the States shall have equal representation in the
Senate. Therefore, although the rights of the minorities have to be protected, the minorities do not have privileges to the detriment of the rest of the community. They have rights but no privileges. The Senate is here to see that the rights of the minorities are protected, and also to see that a combination of minorities does not exert influence unjustly against the majority.
I have been informed by my colleague. Senator Scott, for whom I have a great affection and who is to follow me in the debate at a later hour tonight, that he proposes to deal with the subject of the Ord River scheme. I propose to deal with that subject on a subsequent occasion. This may be an illustration of an attempt by a minority to impose what it conceives to be rights or privileges against the interests of the majority. It is true that we are involved in this paradox all over the world at the present time. Whereas every society attempts to create a unitary society, in the end the powers of a unitary society have to be diminished in order that the individual shall be protected.
I suggest to honorable senators that one of the problems with which we are confronted in Australia at the present time is that, with the growth of central financial powers in Australia, power tends to flow into the area where the money is. Power therefore tends to flow into the Canberra area. In a continent such as Australia I believe that the liberty of the individual, in the final analysis, is commensurate with the degree of efficient management of society as a whole. Extraordinary problems exist in Russia at the present time. The Russians thought it necessary to create a highly unified society - a monolithic society, to use a common phrase. It is a unitary society which in its economic management has reached the situation where it is no longer able economically to conduct itself. In other words, one of the great problems that the Russians face at the present time is to evolve a system which might be described, perhaps, as a federal system, by means of which the authority of the economic management of the community may be taken down, not to the grass roots level, but at least to the level of decentralisation.
A matter that disturbs me very much as a senator representing the State of Victoria - and I commend the study of it to every whether or not we are advancing too quickly towards a unitary society and whether we are overlooking the means by which efficient management on a decentralised level might be achieved.
– I do not think we are.
– The Minister does not agree with me. We have argued this out many times. In my opinion, there must exist at least a reasonable area of decentralisation.
The history of Parliament has been the growth of Parliament’s capacity to withstand the overpowering pressures that the central area of government is able to exert against it. That is how Parliament evolves. Not only in the Commonwealth of Australia, but also in Great Britain and the United States of America, executive power is growing. A new power is establishing itself between the Crown and the Parliament. I refer to the administrative power. The complexities of finance today are so great that the administrative power tends to insert itself between the Crown and the Parliament. In other words, the Executive is reaching the stage where it is tending to lose control over the administrative component. The power of the Parliament is diminished by the degree to which the Government or the Executive loses power to the administrative component. This inevitably means that we seek, from lime to time, to establish what the Americans call regulatory agencies to try to provide the means by which the administrative power can be made more responsible to the Congress or the Parliament.
By another paradox we find ourselves in the situation where the regulatory powers themselves act in coalescence with the administrative and bureaucratic element, and thereby the power of the electorate at all levels tends to be destroyed. The capacity of Parliament to stand and exert influence on behalf of the electorate is diminished to the extent by which these administrative and bureaucratic powers increase. I feel I am justified in making these remarks because I am appealing to honorable senators, who represent the decentralised components of government, to see that in future Budgets and Estimates, and in all legislation that comes before the Senate, the rights of the individual are protected by this chamber.
– On this occasion, Sir, I rise with alacrity.
On most occasions I rise with a measure of hesitancy, as you know, but I have a message from my people of condemnation of the Government for its many sins of omission and commission. To me it seems a tragedy that Senator Cormack, my distinguished colleague from Victoria, has no hope of advancing, not because of lack of ability, but because of personal discrimination. If I were in his position I would feel entitled to express my views. By nature I am not provocative, but if I see smirks or smiles on the faces of my opponents I can be provoked. I have not seen smiles, but I have seen smirks. Why should they smile? They are humourless and are engaged with Machiavellian cunning in attempting to destroy a decent young man from Western Australia - Senator Drake-Brockman. I hear someone say: “ Hear, hear! “ Do you agree with me? Let me trace the story stage by stage. If honorable senators want it that way they can have it that way, and we can deal with it in detail. You know what is happening in Western Australia. You people opposite know it better than anyone else. What did you do in South Australia?
– I’ll tell you.
– Let me tell the story. You are not going to tell it for me.
– Then why ask the question?
– I will tell the story. You probably know more about it than I do.
– I hope so.
– You have had a decent lady from South Australia in the Senate for ten years, but what did you do? You brought in a rabid newcomer in an endeavour to destroy that lady, because it was inevitable that she would be destroyed. You will never get three senators from South Australia; so she is destroyed politically.
– She has the skids under her.
– Yes. The aspirations and efficiency of the women of this country have been destroyed. What do you do in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania? You have them trampled underfoot. What is the position in Queensland at present? It is a standover job with the Liberals standing over the Australian Country Party and being completely ruthless.
– Leave me out of this.
– I will tell the story. You were on the skids, senator, but they cannot afford to put you on the skids now - neither you nor Senator Wood. It is all very well for the honorable senator behind you to smile and to smirk, but what have they done? Let me tell you. It is simply this: They hope at the next election to gain three senators.
– It will be a shame if they get them.
– That is all we want.
– All you want is three Liberals. Let me tell the story for a change. I am sick and tired of being interrupted when I get to my feet. It is all right to have Senator Sir Walter Cooper as No. 1 in their team at times,, but do you know that they are demanding now that the Country Party nominee, a former President of the Queensland branch of the Country Party, Mr. Lawrie, be No. 3 on the ballot paper for their particular team and that the Country Party meet half the expenses although the best the Country Party can hope for is to elect one senator out of three. That is how callous and irresponsible they are. They are determined to go on with it. It suits my party if it goes that way, because it just shows how ruthless and politically irresponsible they are.
– Who are “ they “?
– The Liberal Party.
– Are you basing this on newspaper reports?
Senator DITTMER__ No. It is known everywhere. 1 am telling you the truth. I do not base my information on newspaper reports. You people win elections on newspaper reports because they are irresponsible. Why are you not going to have an election this year for the Senate? Because you have not ironed out your Queensland difficulties yet. That is why the Prime Minister will not announce the date for the Senate election. That is why I say you are trying to destroy a decent young Western Australian who knows more about Western Australian industries and Western Australia itself than does any other Western Australian senator. The only other senators who would equal or excel him would be the Western Australian Labour senators.
– What did you do to ex-Senator Armstrong in New South Wales.
– I did nothing.
– What did your own crowd do?
– I did nothing to ex-Senator Armstrong. I happen to come from Queensland, as you should know. What did the Prime Minister say in reply to the statement of the leader of the Labour Party that the Budget was deflationary and stop-go? All the Prime Minister could say was that the leader of the Labour Party had changed the term from “ stop-go “ to “ stop growth “. He himself used the term “ antiinflationary “. 1 do not. know what that means except “ deflationary “.
I admire the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and agree with his choice of the grounds on which he criticised the Budget - defence, development and social services. What is happening at this very moment? The Government is planning to tear the telephone from the wall of the home of a dear old lady, and it is planning to deny a sick old man a telephone by the very fact that it proposes to increase telephone charges. How fraudulent can they get? These people opposite are the people who go before the public and say that they will defend this country, develop it and provide social services. J do not need to talk in terms of percentages. The honorable senator before me spoke of direct and indirect taxation - 60.2 per cent, direct taxation and 39.8 per cent, indirect taxation. That is all very well, and that is the way it should be, but the point is that the Government has not increased the rate of tax on higher incomes. Every time there is a salary rise more revenue accrues to the Government. Have you never thought in terms of the rights of people? Have you never thought in terms of how you have depreciated the value of the £1, and so on? I am probably more vicious than my Leader, but I say that this Budget is unimaginative. Where can you have imagination when you have no mind? Where can you have feeling when you have no soul? Where can you have aspiration when you have no heart? This applies to, and is typical of, this Government, as evidenced by preceding speakers from the Government side.
We have a navy of which we arc proud. That is, we arc proud of its personnel. We have before us a report that has to be read. We should be ashamed of our boats. They cannot even avoid colliding with each other. One was sunk and many lives were lost because of the absence of a spanner. Surely no Government should be proud of that? There is condemnation in the report which has been published. We have an Ak Force of which we are proud. That is, we are proud of its personnel. We have kites that are obsolete. What have we? Everything on hire purchase and yet to be delivered.
Let me now deal in detail with some of these things. The position regarding the Navy is that we have the “ Melbourne “, almost out of date; we have a tanker that sank; we have some helicopters; a few frigates; the Charles F. Adams class destroyers on order, the first to be delivered next year and not yet paid for, with three to follow; we have some submarines on loan from the British Navy, and we are going to have corvettes in time. That is the story of the Navy by and large. Then we have some ships in mothballs in Sydney Harbour. As regards the Air Force, what have we? We have Canberra bombers, which were obsolescent in 1949. We have Neptune reconnaissance planes. I am quite frank about this, because we should be frank. This is the Government that has claimed it will defend this country - as it claimed prior to the last war. Do not forget that a former Minister for Defence, Mr. H. V. Thorby, published a series of articles condemning a Government that was led by none other than the present Prime Minister of Australia. They were vicious articles.
What is the position with the Air Force? There are some Sabre jets. Some 100 Mirage fighters are on order to be delivered over four years. They are not completely the answer to the needs of this country. There are some helicopters and some Hercules freighters. Then, of course, there are the Canberra bombers and the Neptune reconnaissance anti-submarine aircraft stationed at Townsville and in the south. That is about all the Air Force has apart from a couple of squadrons in Malaysia. Yet this Government and its predecessors, led by none other than the present Prime
Minister, will have spent £3,000 million on defence in this country at the end of the current financial year. What have we got for that expenditure? The greatest issue in the minds of the Australian people is the defence and preservation of Australia and its way of life. Honorable senators opposite talk about Mr. Calwell’s sabre rattling. If there are any sabre rattlers, they are the members of the present Government, but their only trouble is that they have no sabres to rattle.
I pass to the subject of development. The Government’s political associates are the most outstanding critics of this Budget. None other than the present anti-Labour Premier of Queensland and the present antiLabour Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Brand, have criticised the Budget. There has been not one word of praise for it in business or political circles. It is all very well for Senator Scott to smile, but he will have to face Mr. Brand on this issue. Mr. Brand has condemned the Budget; he was a bit vicious about it too. Mr. Nicklin was not so vicious. He would not know how to be vicious, but at least he condemned the Budget. Not one association has praised the Budget. Even the taxpayers’ journal could not find anything in it to commend.
This Government has claimed to have done something worthwhile but the only things that have helped it are good seasons and rising prices - a buoyancy that has been characteristic of conditions in practically all countries.
– They have been lucky.
– Senator Ormonde says that the Government has been lucky. But the people have been unlucky. If the Government had not been so lucky the people might have put the Labour Party into office and then the people would have been lucky. What is the position? As everyone knows I am not parochial as a rule, but let us take the typical example of Queensland. The per capita export earning capacity of Queensland is £266 which is much above the average for the other States. What is the Government going to do for Queensland? It is providing £7i million on loan to develop the brigalow country. What is it going to do for the rest of Queensland? No provision is being made for development even though everyone claims that there is an expanding market for meat. The Government has loaned £20 million to recondition the Collinsville-Townsville-Moun.t Isa railway which is a great export earner. It serves one of the really great mineral deposits of the world - deposits of copper, lead and zinc. The money that the Government is lending has to be paid back at a high rate of interest but nothing is being given by way of a grant.
A lot has been said about beef roads. We recall only too vividly the last night before the Senate adjourned prior to the 1961 general elections when the Commonwealth Government agreed to provide £650,000- along with £350,000 to be provided by the State Government - for a road 287 miles in length. I am not being wise after the event; I was wise before the event. I am not an engineer, but I ask: What sort of a road would you get in a city for £3,000 a mile? How much do you expect to get in the distant north for £3,000 a mile? While I was overseas the Government had to reconsider its ideas and agree to seal the road; but it still did not make an adequate scientific approach to the problem. Much of the road has already been washed away. It is useless for the Government to say that that was a State responsibility. If Government supporters are prepared to say that, let me take them to the Northern Territory and tell them the story of beef roads there. No doubt most honorable senators have seen photographs, which even the anti-Labour Press has published, of holes in those roads.
– Are you against the beef roads?
– I will tell the honorable senator the story. He may not have seen the photographs although they are in circulation. They have been published by the Tory Press. A man could disappear in some of the holes. That is the story of the beef roads. I agree that beef roads are justified, and that money should be provided to build them. But at least let us make a scientific approach to the problem. Let us have reasonable engineering. Do not humbug the people. Millions of pounds are required, and it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to provide the requisite finance because it collects the taxes.
The Government is budgeting for revenue of £2,500 million, lt should deal with big issues in a big way. The problems of the north are multitudinous and varied and a scientific approach must be made to them if we are to solve them. We all know what is happening in central Australia. Man’y parts of the country are experiencing the worst series of droughts ever known. Some areas have not had rain for more than seven years and others have not had rain for up to eleven years. Notwithstanding this fact the Government has closed down the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s animal research station. Why? Not because the project was not worthwhile but in order to economise. After carrying on research for many years the station was in the process of concluding its investigations; but it was closed down and its personnel had to be dispersed.
I turn now to the seas around Australia about which the Government has done nothing. I have urged the Government, and Senator Murphy has done likewise, to establish a major biological research station on a marine structure which is unique in the world - the Great Barrier Reef. The Government has done nothing in that respect. The responsible Minister has not even looked at the proposition even though his advisers know that something should be done. The Government is not bound to make promises just prior to an election, but prior to the election last year the Federal Government decided to make a grant of £5,000 for a marine biological research station at Heron Island. That is a miserable amount when we think in terms of the wealth that is hidden in the seas. This Government will do nothing about the matter. But I have enough faith in my fellow Queenslanders, even though they are of the same political colour as supporters of this Government, to believe that they will realise that they have a responsibility not only to their own State but to the nation. This nation is dependent entirely upon its overseas earnings for its development and ultimate settlement. Which State has the greatest future? I do not want to differentiate between the great State of Queensland and the great State of Western Australia.
– Or South Australia.
– Let me tell the truth.
– You are talking about good States.
– I am talking about great States, not good States. I am dealing with substance not wilh virtue. The future of Australia is wrapped up in raw materials, principally metals. Where does the future of Australia lie? It lies in Queensland and Western Australia. In Queensland we have the greatest deposit of bauxite in the world. It is proposed to extend production there to 1,200,000 tons a year. Up to the present time 600 million tons of bauxite have been proved; there could easily be 1,600 million tons. That bauxite will be refined at Gladstone. Five companies are interested in the project - the Kaiser organisation of the United States of America, the Pechiney organisation, the Alcan company of Canada, and the English firm Comalco. The Rio Tinto company comes into the picture too.
– What about the French company?
– I mentioned that the Pechiney organisation. What will happen at Gladstone? It is proposed to concentrate the bauxite into alumina. In other words, they propose to halve the bulk. The fabricating industries will be in other countries. At Moura and Kianga in Queensland we have some of the best coking coal in the world, but that coal is being exported to Japan. In Western Australia there are 14 billion tons of iron ore of commercial grade.
– There are 14,000 million tons.
– I said there were 14 billion tons. Did you not hear me?
– You have your m’s and b’s mixed up.
– I have nothing mixed up.
– Not much.
– Let me finish my story in my own inimitable way, if I may say so. There are 14 billion tons in Western Australia. At Bunbury the Laporte organisation has established a titanium oxide plant at a cost of £14i million. There is an oil refinery at Kwinana. In addition, there is a refinery for the treatment of bauxite from the Darling Ranges. One thing may be said in favour of Western Australian bauxite - it goes to Point Henry to be smelted into aluminium ingots. At least the Western Mining Corporation and its associates are producing aluminium from raw material which is produced in Australia. What is to be done with the Queensland product? It is proposed to supply many countries with the raw material, with the result that they will enjoy a substantial rise in their standard of living.
– Are you not going to convert it to alumina?
– Yes. But what will that mean? It will mean that 300 or 400 or 500 men will be employed there. But it will mean that 6,000 men will be employed overseas. Does the honorable senator not think that when we produce the raw materials we are entitled to expect a rise in the standard of living of our people? This Government would not think of that, would it?
– It is doing it.
– It is not doing it.
– We are too busy doing it to think about it.
– I am telling you why you are not doing it and the way in which you are not doing it.
– You have only to look around you to see that we are doing it.
– There is only one solution, and that is to change the Government.
– You know perfectly well that the conversion of alumina to aluminium is recognised as being a following stage. That is to be done in Queensland. You know that.
– I know too much about this.
– -You know this, but you are not telling it.
– I will tell the story. The whole thing hinges on the supply of electrical energy.
– Why do you not tell the proper story?
– Why do you not tell your colleagues who control the treasury bench in Queensland what is needed? I tried to tell Neil Smith, the Chairman of the Queensland Electricity Commission, and others. Let me remind you of what is being done in Victoria. Even though the Victorian Government is an anti-Labour Government it has provided electrical energy. They found their bauxite in the Darling Ranges. lt consists of 33i per cent, trisilicate and 52.2 per cent, trihydrate. 1 will admit that at Weipa the position is a little more difficult. Victoria is producing aluminium ingots because the Victorian Government was prepared to subsidise the supply of electrical energy, but your associates in the Queensland Government were not prepared to subsidise the supply of electricity at Gladstone.
– That is not true, and you know it is not true. Why do you try to mislead the Senate?
– Why are they not going to smelt the alumina at Gladstone?
– You know that they propose to do so. That is provided for in the agreement, and you know it.
– They are spending £52 million on a refinery from which will come a white powder called alumina.
– Yes, alumina.
– Do you think that is aluminium?
– No, it is not.
– Where will the alumina go?
– Have you not read the agreement?
– Where will the alumina go?
– Read the agreement.
– Where will the alumina go? It will go to France, Canada, England and the United States. That is the story, and you know it.
– No, it is not.
– And a maximum of 600 men will be employed in Gladstone.
– That is not true.
– It is true, and you know it. If you deny it, you are not telling the truth.
– I know you are not.
– I know you are not telling the truth.
– Evidently you have not read the agreement, because it provides for the conversion of alumina to aluminium in the next stage. You. know that.
– That is not true.
– Of course, it is true.
– You were not here then.
– I was.
– You were in Queensland in 1957 when the bauxite at Weipa was sold at a royalty of 6d. a ton. Anyway, I did not want to bring in personalities.
– I will tell the story later.
– You were the Deputy Premier of Queensland at that time.
– That is so-. That is why ‘ I know all about it.
– All you left up there was a hole in the ground. Do not bait me, because I am trying to deal with this dispassionately.
– I will correct you later.
– I will tell the truth.
– As long as you arc not fabricating, everything will be all right.
– I am not fabricating. Anyway, we say that this Budget should be condemned on the ground that there is a lack of vision in regard to the defence and development of this country, and a failure to improve social services. A total of £2,500 million will be coming into the Treasury this year, but a woman with a babe in her arms will be denied economic justice and her social rights. We say that ours is an affluent society. Of course, it is. Why shouldn’t it be? Honorable senator opposite, I and other members of the Parliament are living in an affluent society. But what is the position of the ordinary people in the community? The old people are to be denied their telephones. That will be the effect of increased installation costs. Telephone rentals are to be increased. Elderly people, by and large, will deny themselves the telephones to which they are justly entitled. The Government is guilty of neglect of the north. Even Mr. Brand, the Premier of Western Australia, does not know what he is going to do with the staff at Kununurra, because there is no provision for an extension of the Ord River scheme. He will have to direct the staff to other purposes. In Queensland, there is no provision for extra financial accommodation, even though that State is the greatest export earner of the Australian States. Senator Morris can get up and deny that.
– That is true.
– Everything. I say is true. We are justified in condemning the Budget. As my political leader in another place said, irrespective of what the Prime Minister says, this is a deflationary Budget, a stop growth budget. It discloses the muddling of the bungler from Bingil Bay.
– I rise to support the Budget. I am amazed at the approach that Senator Dittmer has made to these problems. He started by criticising the Liberal Party in South Australia.
– In Western Australia, not South Australia.
– He criticised the Liberal Party in South Australia for not endorsing Senator Buttfield as its No. 2 candidate at the next election for the Senate. Those were his words.
– I did not say that.
– I do not think that you can remember what you said.
– I never mentioned the honorable senator’s name.
– You said, “Senator Buttfield will not be returned, because she is No. 3 in the team “.
– I am being misrepresented.
– I remember distinctly what the honorable senator said. I have a note of the words he used. He then stated that the Labour Party in South Australia would win three Senate seats. How does he know that the Labour Party will win three seats, even before the elections are held? Senator Buttfield is working day and night in South Australia with other members of the Liberal Party’s Senate team, to ensure that only two Labour candidates will be elected in that State at the forthcoming election. Right opposite me sits a person who knows how hard Senator Buttfield and other members of the Government parties’ Senate team are working. He has a look of gloom on his face tonight. He is sorry that Senator Dittmer made that statement. I can understand that, because he thought he might be able to sneak in; but if he is his party’s No. 3 candidate, I do not know whether he will. Senator Dittmer went on to say that the Liberal Party had lowered other people in its Senate teams. He said that Senator Kendall and Senator Wood might not be in the Queensland team. I suggest that he leave the Liberal Party’s affairs to the Liberal Party. I do not want to be making statements about the Australian Labour Party and what it did to Senator Cooke in Western Australia .or to ex-Senator Armstrong a few years ago in New South Wales.
– It crucified him.
– Yes. I shall not criticise the Labour Party. It has a right to do that, and it is our parry’s right to do what it has done in these matters. The other matters which the honorable senator raised were of great interest to me. He said that the Budget had been condemned throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Is this a fact?
– I agree. Of course, it is not a fact. Any one can look at the newspapers. I am not going to say that it is not a deflationary Budget. I shall talk about that in a moment. The fact is that within three days of the announcement of the Budget shares on the Australian stock exchanges rose one or two points. That is about the best indication that any one can have as to whether the Budget has been well received. By the end of the week in which the Budget was presented the share market rose two or three points. That was stated in the “ Australian Financial Review “. The Budget, of course, is designed to produce a surplus at this time in our history when our economy is bounding along so nicely. We are trying to hold the economy as it is, because we want stability with rapid development and growth. This will achieve that objective. We know that the people of Australia realise that they have a government which is prepared to take the necessary steps to safeguard the economy. ] lake the Senate back a year or two. when we had a lot of unemployment. We budgeted for a deficit.
– You did not know how to handle the economy; you all panicked.
– That statement annoys mc. Senator Dittmer says that the Government does not know how to handle our economic problems. All I ask is that the Australian people be the judges in that matter. Not more than 3 per cent, of the workforce was unemployed at any time during the period from J 949 to 1964. The year before we were elected to Government the Labour Government had 5.6 per cent, of the workforce unemployed. That was in the June quarter, as is shown in the “ Year Book “.
– You know why there was such a high percentage of unemployed at that time.
– There were strikes and lockouts. Of course, I know that. The Labour Government could not produce coal or anything else. It did not know how. We have the best employment figures of any of the free nations of the world. You can compare them with the figures for Canada, England and the United States of America. Each of those countries have experienced far greater unemployment than has Australia. At this point in our history when we are budgeting for a total expenditure of £2,511.1 million we have approximately 1 per cent, of the work force unemployed. I believe that to be a great achievement. I hope that we are able to continue along those lines.
The Australian economy at the moment is functioning better than ever before. The people are satisfied with the Government and with the Budget. Big increases in production are being achieved, many industries are being set up and new production records are being established from day to day. Salaries and wages have risen by 9 per cent, over the previous year’s figures. Company incomes are up 10 per cent.; farm income is up 26 per cent, and the gross national product is up 9 per cent. Our export income has risen by about £300 million over the previous year to about £1,300 million or £1,400 million.
We are earning more money overseas than we are spending overseas on imports.
– No, we are not.
– I understand that we have overseas balances of more than £800 million, an all-time record. The figure is much higher than it was at this time last year; I think by £200 million or £300 million.
– You are down £14 million on current account.
– On last year?
– Our overseas balances are higher than they have ever been. You can make your speech later. I will make mine now. I shall now refer to some items which I believe should bc brought into the Budget, and I do not want any further interjections from the Opposition.
The Federal Government has given to the Western Australian Government £5.2 million to assist it with the comprehensive water scheme in that State. This item has been on the books for quite a while and the funds will enable the sheep carrying capacity of the area to be almost doubled. Additional export income will thus bc provided. I agree with Senator Dittmer that while the Government has said that it has given consideration to other developmental projects we have not as yet been advised that the request of the Western Australian Government for finance to complete the great Ord River scheme will be acceded to. I ‘recently visited Kununurra and I was greatly impressed. I spoke to the enthusiastic settlers in the area. I believe that an opportunity should be given to the Brand Government to go ahead with the building of the major dam.
The Ord River scheme was started because of a visit by the Director of? Public Works for Western Australia in 1941. He realised the great potential of the area for irrigation and immediately recommended to the Government that experimental irrigation works should be proceeded with. From 1941 to 1945 experiments were conducted on the Ord River banks. In 1945, with the co-operation of the Commonwealth Government, a research establishment was set up at Ivanhoe on the banks of the Ord. There the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government have carried out experiments every year since 1945 to find out what can be done in the area. The Commonwealth Government made a grant to the Western Australian Government of £5 million to develop the first part of the scheme at Bandicoot Bar. A total of about £8 million has been spent on this phase of the project.
What are the results? In the first year five farms were established and allocated to settlers. The five farmers have returned an average profit of over £2,800 each after deducting all expenses, notwithstanding the fact that one of the farmers showed a loss of £2,000 on his property because he, and his son working with him, were ill for two months and could not properly attend to the farm. Nevertheless, the five farmers have earned an average profit of over £2,800 each, after deducting all costs including £5,000 for the ginnery and a charge of 30s. an acre for water for irrigation.
I believe this to be the first time in Australia’s history that a developmental farming project, including irrigation, has shown a profit in its first year of operation. The Commonwealth Government should immediately direct its attention to the project with a view to giving approval to the Western. Australian Government to proceed with the scheme. The Western Australian Government is asking for a total sum of £30 million to complete the scheme over a period of 15 ‘years. The first requirement is an amount of £385,000 in this financial year; then £965,000 in the following financial year; £1,880,000 in 1966-67; and a total of £30 million by 1980.
When the five farms were allocated it was thought by many people that the scheme would not succeed, but the figures released in the last 10 days show, I repeat, that each of the farms has earned a profit. Another seven farms are to be allocated in the ensuing year. Among the farmers going to Kununurra are two or three Americans. I am asked: “ Why Americans?”. But these Americans have been growing cotton for three or four generations, I think in Arizona. They are expert cotton growers and have travelled throughout the length and breadth of Australia examining areas where they could establish cotton farms. After examining many areas they settled for Kununurra, on the Ord River. They have said that if the Land Board in Western Australia - set up by the Western Australian Government - is prepared to allocate any more farms to Americans they will bring out enough people to take those farms, provided the Government can guarantee to give them the blocks. They have stated publicly that they believe that, notwithstanding the fact that this year’s crop - the project is in its initial stage - was only about from 500 to 700 lb. of seed cotton per acre, in a few years they will get that poundage up to somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 lb. per acre.
– What would be the economics of it? .
– I cannot tell you that, but I can tell you that 600 acres is allocated to each farm. That is a large area. The Western Australian Government has approached the matter along these lines - that it believes in giving an ample area for a start, so that a man with a family can establish himself there and will have room to subdivide the area into three or four blocks on which other families will be able to live. I do not believe that these Americans, who for three or four generations have been growing cotton, would go to the Ord River area unless they could see dividends there. People say: “ Yes, but at present the growing of cotton is subsidised.” The world price is somewhere in the vicinity of 7d. or 8d. per lb., but the price that the grower is getting is a little more than that. I do not know what the subsidy is, but I believe it brings the price to 14d. per lb.
It is interesting to know that these Americans say that once they are established they will not require the subsidy to enable them to make profits out of the project. So I hope the Commonwealth Government will have another look at the Ord River scheme, particularly in view of the new figures which have been released lately, with a view to carrying oil this developmental project in the north of Australia. I believe it is the responsibility of the Government to look to the north for further development. University economists in the south have said that £30 million could be spent to far greater advantage in the south, and I do not doubt that that is correct. But it is a responsibility of the whole of the people of Australia to view this particular project, and the development of the north generally, as of great significance to Australia. Here We are in the first year of trying out this scheme, and we have been shown that it is a success, so I hope the Government will give further consideration to the application by the Premier of Western Australia for assistance to complete the Ord River irrigation project.
During his speech Senator Dittmer talked about bauxite and the exporting of our raw materials overseas for processing. He mentioned that the Western Mining Corporation Ltd. in Western Australia, in conjunction with some other companies like Comalco Industries Pty. Ltd., is mining bauxite, turning it into alumina in Western Australia and shipping it to Geelong, Victoria, for final treatment for the production of aluminium. He went on to say that Comalco was exporting raw material from Weipa and that the companies involved, were putting in an alumina plant at Gladstone, Queensland. This is a fact, but that is only the initial programme. With cheap coal available in Queensland the companies concerned must, under the agreement, carry out the whole of the processing from bauxite to aluminium, in regard to certain tonnages, in that area within a few years’ time. And this will happen. I believe these companies are largely controlled by overseas capital. There is no doubt that we have to have overseas capital, but we ought to consider endeavouring to establish an aluminium plant on our own deposits of bauxite in the north of Australia. I am now talking of the Gove Peninsula deposits in the Northern Territory. This Government has insisted that, when these deposits are exploited, it must have a guarantee that the whole of the processing will be completed in that area. I would go further than that. I recommend to the Government thai it establish cheap power in thai area so that the processing can be completed at Gove.
– How would you produce cheap power there?
– That is a question. My answer is that I believe the Commonwealth should put in an atomic reactor in that area.
– Yes, I mean that. I would give the companies concerned power at such a price that they could compete with aluminium producers overseas. The point is that we in Australia, if we are to play our part, must develop our own atomic energy power plants. With modern processes and modern research we are finding that atomic power can be produced at a cost of about 45d. per unit and the cheapest coal burning power station, built on a coal mine, can produce power only at about .4d. per unit. Atomic power production has not yet reached anywhere near its maximum efficiency, but I believe that we should establish an atomic reactor on the site up there, produce power and experimentally sell it to the companies to which the leases are granted. If necessary we should subsidise the production of power so that this can be done. I also believe that some Australian capital should be invested in the companies which will operate these new leases.
Another great thing which I believe this Budget has done is to honour the Government’s pledge, made at the election, to have petrol sold throughout the country areas at no more than 4d. a gallon above city prices. A separate Bill will be introduced for this purpose and it is mentioned in the Budget. In view of the present high cost of fuel in the outback areas of Australia - I think it costs up to 7s. a gallon in northern Queensland and 6s. -odd a gallon in the outback parts of Western Australia as against 3s. 7d. and 3s. 8d. in the cities - I am glad to know that country people, instead of paying the enormous price of 7s. a gallon - will be able to purchase petrol at 4d. a gallon above city prices. This means that petrol will cost about 3s. lOd. a gallon in country areas in Queensland instead of 7s. a gallon. This is a great move by our Government to help the people in outback areas of Australia develop their own projects. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Budget and
I assure the Leader of the Opposition that I will vote against his amendment.
. - I wholeheartedly support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The Budget is a deflationary Budget. I think Senator Scott admitted that that was so. But let us take it a little further. During the 1963 election campaign the Australian Labour Party claimed that if the Liberal Party was again elected to govern this country the people would be faced with another credit squeeze similar to that which operated in 1961. To date the Government has been able to avoid that by a process of manoeuvring.
First of all, we had three calls on the statutory reserve accounts of the private banks. Then there was an increase of onehalf per cent, in the overdraft rates of the private banks and the Commonwealth Trading Bank, and an increase in the interest rate paid on savings banks accounts. All of these measures were designed to restrict the liquidity of the economy and so dampen any expansion.
During the election campaign the Government made great play of a bonus to be paid to young people under the age of 36 years for saving a certain amount of money towards building a home. On this bonus it placed a restriction that the amount must be saved over a period of at least three years. What was the purpose of this restriction? It was to encourage people to bank their money- rather than spend it. Again it was a method of dampening down the liquidity of the economy of this country and to encourage young people to assist the Government out of the disability into which it had put itself. It was an attempt by the Government to buy itself out of the muddle that it had made in 1960.
Now, on top of these things, we find that we have been presented with a deflationary Budget. Let us examine it for a moment. We find that the recent basic wage increase of £1 a week was estimated to cost industry and government throughout Australia £100 million per annum. This Budget is designed to siphon off £87 million of that £100 million and leave £13 million for distribution in the community. In addition to that the people will have to pay increased prices which the commercial world will force upon them.
The £1 increase does not yet apply in Western Australia to 86 per cent, of industry because it is controlled by State awards and has not been granted. Despite this fact, costs in Western Australia have increased. One notices that prices of goods in shops have increased. Yet there has been no £1 increase in the wages of employees in that State.
This Budget is designed not to fulfil the philosophy of the Australian people of live and let live but to fulfil the Government’s philosophy of live and let die. That is exactly what it does. The amendment moved by Senator McKenna is to add the words - “ but the Senate is of opinion that the Budget does not adequately grapple wilh the problems of striking a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare.”
I will not deal with social welfare but I propose to deal extensively with development and defence, if time permits. Senator Scott said that the Government had given Western Australia £5.25 million for the development of a comprehensive water scheme. His statement somewhat amazes me because when I peruse the Budget Papers, I find that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has made no such provision for this year. The Treasurer blandly made the statement that £5.25 million would be advanced to the Government of Western Australia as a contribution to the scheme but he said that no payment would be made until 1965-66. So nothing is to come out of this Budget for the comprehensive water supply scheme in Western Australia.
With the world situation as it is, particularly in South East Asia, it may well be that £5.25 million will not be available in 1965 -66 for Western Australia and I think it is the height of hypocrisy and deception for the Treasurer to make the statement he did in his Budget Speech.
Honorable senators are aware that repeated representations have been made to the Government to pay a realistic bounty to the gold mining industry or at least to vigorously support an increase in the price of gold. It is all very well for the Government to sit back and say that it has asked for an increase in gold prices and leave it at that. This matter requires vigorous support. Last year the industry attracted a subsidy of £669,000. This year the subsidy will be £560,000, or £109,000 less than last year. Yet this is an industry which is deteriorating every year. It is the only industry in Australia which has been able to absorb the effects of the inflationary spiral since 1959. It has done this through efficiency, good management and an excellent work force. It is the only industry that has not had an increase in the price of the commodity it produces in recent years. Its last increase was in 1949 when gold was revalued. This gave the industry a rise in price of 50 per cent.
To give an idea of how this subsidy has decreased, I point out that in 1959-60 the subsidy amounted to £838,000, whereas this year it amounted to £560,000. In 1962 the Government amended the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act to provide for the payment of an extra bounty for developmental work, but because of muddling by the Treasury a proper interpretation of how the development allowance shall be administered has not been given. As a result, the mining companies ‘have not received any asistance from the legislation. As each year passes the mines are forced, by their development programmes and increased costs, to bypass ore that in other circumstances would be mined at a profit. I remind honorable senators that in the mining industry once ore is bypassed it is lost. The mining companies do not go back and mine it later. The life of a mine is diminished each time the company has to be more selective in the grade of ore it produces.
The gold mining industry of Western Australia produces a commodity that is readily saleable on world markets. It produced £12 million worth of gold last year. Gold is a commodity that assists in every way our balance of payments overseas. At the present time, our overseas reserves amount to £854 million. It does not necessarily follow that we will continue to maintain them at that level. It has been predicted that our overseas balances will be reduced by £500 million in the current financial year. Although gold is an export commodity that can bring us in revenue, this Government is prepared to let the industry languish and die. I suggest to the Government that it should decide quickly how it intends to administer the legislation that was passed in 1962. and so allow the industry to carry on with the developmental works that are so necessary if the lodes at Kalgoorlie are to be properly developed.
Over the years the flax industry in Western Australia has made representations to the Commonwealth Government and to tile State Government for the payment of a bounty. I have heard the Leader of the Australian Country Party, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) speak of the need for decentralisation of industry. 1 believe that he talks of decentralisation of industry with his tongue in his cheek. At Boyup Brook in Western Australia we have a flax mill and flax farms that have operated since ‘the war years. They have reached the stage where the management believes they can produce sufficient flax to satisfy Australia’s needs, but some assistance is required in order to do this. A subsidy of £15,000 per annum for a period of five years - a total of £75,000 - has been requested to put this industry on its feet and secure for Australia constant supplies of flax fibre. To date the Government has not taken heed of the representations that have been made to it.
In 1961-62 we purchased £332,000 worth of flax fibre overseas. We purchased it mainly from European countries where the industry is heavily subsidised. It must be remembered that while the Blackwood flax growers receive £14 15s. per ton for the fibre they produce, the Benelux growers receive £27 10s. a ton because the industry is so heavily subsidised. We permit European fibre to enter Australia at’ the expense of our own industry which maintains 50 families in a small town, provides £70,000 of income for that town, and pays £8,000 in freight to the Western Australian Government Railways. We impose no tariff on the commodity that is imported into Australia, except that, if it is imported for manufacturing purposes, a tariff of 45 per cent, is imposed.
The manufacturer is protected, but the producer of the raw material is not protected in any way at all. It has been estimated by the industry that if a 3 per cent, tariff was applied to the importation of raw material and the money was paid as a subsidy to the industry’, it would be sufficient to pay the bounty that is required to put the industry on its feet and enable it to carry on.
– Has not the industry an application before the Tariff Board at the present time?
– I believe it has an application before the Tariff Board, but it also has an application before the Government for the payment of a subsidy. Subsidies are not new to Australia. If we look at the secondary industries throughout Australia we find that practically every one is supported either by the payment of a subsidy or by tariff protection and, in some cases, very high tariff protection. Many of our primary industries are protected by subsidies. Expenditure on subsidies from Consolidated Revenue has risen from £22.5 million in 1959-60 to £51.8 million in 1963-64. That is an increase of over 100 per cent. This small industry asks for assistance, but the Commonwealth Government completely ignores it.
Senator Scott spoke about the Ord River project, and 1 agree with all he said about it. lt is one of the greatest developmental works that has been undertaken in Australia for very many years. I think that with the exception of the Snowy Mountains scheme it would be the greatest that has been undertaken in the postwar period. About £8.5 million has been spent on this scheme up to date, but that £8.5 million could easily go down (he drain. All that this expenditure will provide is 20 (o 25 farms, which cannot be an economic proposition in this area.
– How much per farm is that?
– About 600 acres.
– How much in money?
– It varies according to the capital equipment and the crop that is grown.
– To spend £8.5 million on 20 farms makes it a costly item in my book.
– lt is, but I do not believe that the capital cost of developmental works should be added to the industry.
– Somebody has to meet capital -costs out of their earnings.
– This is being financed out of Consolidated Revenue. It is being financed out of taxation which has been provided by the people. It is not money that has been borrowed and which must be repaid. It is part of a developmental programme that should be the responsibility of the public of Australia, which has subscribed the money. Quite apart from that, it cannot be an economic proposition for 20 to 25 farms. The project at present envisaged is the irrigation of some 15,000 acres. That is all the diversion dam will provide for, but the main dam, if and when completed, will irrigate some 250,000 acres, and with a multiplicity of farms involved this will become an economic proposition. It cannot be economic in a small way. The Commonwealth Government has been asked repeatedly to give some undertaking to the Western Australian Government and the people of Australia that money will be made available for the completion of this project, but do you think we can get anything out of this Government? Not a word; yet if the money for the major project is not forthcoming £8.5 million could easily go down the drain.
– It is much better to have that amount go down the drain than have .£30 million go the same way.
– But £30 million will not go down the drain. By the expenditure of £30 million on the completion of the main works this will become an economic proposition.
– You have to prove that.
– Of course. We had to prove that you were born.
– That is right, and I am still with you.
– We have to prove all things.
– The money will be available, you see.
– The Commonwealth Government will not give any undertaking to the Western Australian Government it will be available, yet it has been repeatedly asked the question and each time the question has been evaded. I say that it is up to this Government not only to give the Western Australian Government some security but to give those farmers who have invested their money on the Ord an undertaking that the major works will be proceeded with so that people will have the secondary industries and power available to them to make their farms economic propositions.
– This is the first time I have ever agreed with you.
– I am aware of that. Nevertheless, these are my thoughts and I have asked questions about this matter on several occasions, but the Government will not come to the party. It is prepared to spend for South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales £460 million on the Snowy Mountains scheme; but it will not come to the party for £30 million for Western Australia.
– You are jumping the gun.
– Not a bit. I want now to say a little about defence. I want to know who speaks for the Government in respect of the defence of Australia. It is intersting to study newspaper reports. A newspaper article on 10th July headed “ Government rejects scheme as too costly “, referred to the national service training scheme. On the 18th August a headline was: “ Paltridge expected to consider national service”. First it is too costly and then within a month the Minister will consider national service training. Then, on 21st August, the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) said that national service training was too expensive. Who speaks for the Government of Australia - the Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Army or who? I am not saying that national service training is the answer, but this is the type of muddled thinking with muddled statements which is associated with Australia’s defence. Someone said that Senator Paltridge did not make these statements; neither did he contradict them.
Defence expenditure is to be increased by £36 million. This represents 16± per cent, of the increased expenditure of £224 million proposed by the Budget. We are told that great expediture is proposed for defence, but in relation to the gross national product, on the figures given by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), it represents only a 1 per cent, increase over the expenditure in 1960-61. I do not know why the Treasurer had to go back to 1960-61 for a comparison to show that it was a 50 per cent, increase over the expenditure of that year, but viewed against the gross national product it actually represents only a 1 per cent, increase. It would be interesting if the Minister for Defence or someone on behalf of the Government would inform this Senate exactly how much of the £36 million increase will be spent in improving our defences. I believe that most of the money will go to meeting increased wages anil improving conditions of servicemen. I say quite frankly that £36 million, or the biggest proportion of it, should not at this stage have to be spent on improving the wages and conditions of the Services. At all times they should have had good wages and conditions. In order to try to boost recruitment the Government has had to take this panic action. The Minister for the Army blithely says that we will get our 28,000-men Army by 1967.
– Is this not always a problem when there is over-full employment?
– We, did not have overfull employment two years ago, so why did the Government not improve wages and conditions then? We had almost 3 per cent, of unemployed and you could have got people into the Army then. However, now that there is full employment you say that this is a problem of over-full employment. When you had the opportunity to get men you did not take advantage of it. It is said that Army officers have attacked the salary rises. They believe that because of the increase in salaries they will have to make higher payments to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and pay more taxation, and so will get little out of their increases in salaries. In fact, one major says that although his salary will be increased by £800 he will get onl’y £200 of the increase. The Government proposes to spend £36 million more on defence mainly on wages and conditions and then take most of the increase back by taxation.
My time is running out. The Government has not played its part in the defence of Australia. We will have an Army of only 28,000 men in 1967. We have a Navy that is a memory. We have an Air Force without a proper bomber squadron. Yet’ during the election campaign we had B57’s flying in every capital city in Australia. Immediately the election was over the Minister for Defence said that we could not take the B57’s as a replacement for the Canberra bombers. How hypocritical can one be. The Government displayed these aircraft to the people, as it were, and then at the first opportunity rejected them. I have the greatest pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by Senator McKenna.
– 1 listened very carefully to the speech of Senator Cant who has just sat down. I congratulate him on the pleas he put forward for development projects in Western Australia. However, I think that he spoilt his speech towards the end by making extravagant claims about defence. I am not going to answer him on that matter.
– You cannot.
– I think the subject was adequately covered by the Minister himself in this chamber this afternoon. I should like also to congratulate the honorable senator for the case he put forward for the gold mining industry. Assistance to this industry is badly needed. As the honorable senator said, the industry has absorbed rising costs over the years yet has received nothing by way of an increase in gold prices during that period. The honorable senator put forward a plea for the flax industry and said that nothing had been done for it by the Commonwealth. He spoke of the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen) as being an advocate for decentralisation, but said that Mr. McEwen had made speeches about decentralisation with his tongue in his cheek. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Deputy Prime Minister has time and time again advocated decentralisation projects.
I well recall the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia going to the Deputy Prime Minister with a case for the flax industry at Boyup Brook and the Deputy Prime Minister, after studying the case, stating that an application should be made 10 the Tariff Board. When Senator Prowse interjected, Senator Cant admitted that he knew nothing about any approach to the Tariff Board. Surely one would expect that Senator Cant would be sure of his subject before he stood up and made statements in this place of the kind that he has made.
– How long does it take to get an application before the Tariff Board?
– The matter is being studied at the present time. 1 want to deal with the Budget. A great deal has been said in relation to social services, repatriation and development projects by other speakers. These matters have been criticised by the Opposition, but having studied the Budget Speech read by Senator Henty as the Minister representing the Treasurer, I believe that in it we see evidence of the continuing progress and development of Australia. That is what the people want. The Government, whilst not taking credit for all the favorable aspects of the economy, has to be congratulated for what it has done for the development of this country. The Government knows that the people want the maximum rate of development and it has initiated policies to that end.
It is true that the Government has the responsibility through its policies to. provide the foundations on which production can be expanded. In other words the Government has the responsibility to provide an economic climate in order to make it profitable for farmers, manufacturers, miners, and producers of all types, to carry out their respective jobs with reasonable recompense for doing so. If the Government initiates the right policies the people will respond and carry out the development that we all hope will take place. I repeat that this Government has initiated such policies and that as a result very great success has been achieved during the past 15 years. We have seen the population of Australia increase by 3 million people. We have seen the work force increase by one million, and we have seen 20,000 new factories established since 1949. Rural production has increased since 1949 by something like 60 per cent., and has contributed greatly towards increasing our exports. We were told in the Budget Speech that the value of exports reached the all-time record of £1,374 million which was £309 million higher than the figure recorded in any other year. The value of exports of a rural origin reached £1,000 million for the first time.
It is true also that this high export value was due in part to higher prices for wheat, sugar and dairy products. Nevertheless the achievement has been great. This achievement is due not to the Government alone but also to all the people involved in industry. However these things do not just happen. They have to be planned over the years and this Government has, during the last 15 years, planned this kind of development. It has done this by sound budgetary policies which it has initiated from time to time. Contrary to what Senator Cant has said we see in this Budget a number of developmental projects. The development of beef roads in the north and the expansion of the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia are two that come to my mind very readily. I am very pleased to see that at last Western Australia is to be granted assistance by the Commonwealth Government for the expansion of the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme. This is something that was badly needed. It was planned in 1949 but was omitted from the final plan in 1961-62. The present scheme was put forward by the State Government at the beginning of last year and involves an extension to the Scheme to embrace an area of about 3,700,000 acres in Western Australia. This area is used mainly for the production of wheat, sheep and meat. It contains approximately 12,000 people, 5,000 of whom are living in the towns. Excluded from that figure are the people who live in towns through which the goldfields water supply already passes.
The existing water supplies are quite inadequate. Time and again when I have attended meetings in the area people have told me that they have to cart water. When listening to them one tends to think that he is back in the early days of this century. In the case put forward by Western Australia it was pointed out that in this area fewer than 2 per cent, of the farms have water in every paddock. It is estimated that 8 per cent, of the farmers cart water in seven years out of every ten and that 40 per cent, cart water in four years out of every ten. The carrying capacity of the land is about half a sheep to the acre in the north and about one sheep to the acre in the south.
What benefits are to be derived from this scheme? It is estimated that the carrying capacity will increase by about 76 per cent, in the first 10 years. That will mean an increase of about 1,204,000 sheep. It is estimated that without the implementation of the scheme sheep numbers will increase by only 28 per cent., or 439,000. Under the scheme additional income will amount to approximately £36.4 million in the first 10 years. Without the scheme the additional income would be about £32.8 million. In other words, with the provision of water the additional income will be £3.6 million. It is estimated that that increased income would continue to be earned for a further period and that it would reach about £10.7 million at the end of 21 years.
– Is that for each year or over the whole period?
– In the whole period. The Commonwealth has been asked by the State to provide £5i million on a £1 for £1 basis. The Commonwealth has agreed to make the money available on this basis, but the assistance will take the form of interest-bearing loans with the first advances, as Senator Cant said, expected to be available in 1965-66. When an approach was first made to the Commonwealth it studied the case and decided to send officers of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to Western Australia to examine the proposal. This survey was carried out in October and November of last year, and I understand that the report of the officers was very favorable.
Although the granting of this assistance was a very good thing, I believe that it should have been made available as a straight out grant. The assistance which was made available for the modified scheme earlier was made by way of a grant to Western Australia. Because there is so much to be done in Western Australia, I do not think that State can afford te obtain assistance Other than on the basis of grants. If Western Australia is to be called upon to maintain this rate of development and to meet interest and sinking fund commitments on this loan to complete this vast developmental project, the burden on its small handful of people could prove to be too heavy and new projects such as that which we hope will be carried out on the Ord River might suffer. Western Australia covers an area of 1 million square miles, or approximately 32.8 per cent, of the total area of Australia. Yet a mere handful of people equal to 7.1 per cent, of the total population of Australia is trying to develop that part of the continent. The Commonwealth Government must continue to help Western Australia if the development of that State is to remain in line with that of the rest of Australia.
– Do you know the repayment time and the rates of interest?
Wc must take action to prevent the growing imbalance in our population, lt is estimated that, if we do not check this imbalance, by the end of this century nearly 60 per cent, of the population will be living in less than one-quarter of 1 per cent, of the land area of Australia. At the present time approximately 4 million of a total population of 1 1 million are living in Sydney and Melbourne. If present trends continue, by the end of the century approximately 20 million people will be living in those two cities. A similar trend is evident in Western Australia. In that State 57 per cent, of the population is living in Perth and a further 17 per cent, is living in urban areas. Surely wc are presented with a challenge to populate the remote areas of this vast continent and to check the continual drift of population to our urban areas. We are trying to do that in Western Australia, but because only a handful of people live in that State we need help.
One way in which to overcome this problem is to do something about decentralisation. Efforts to do so are being made in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and the United States of America, which are much smaller than Australia. All those countries have adopted policies which are aimed at trying to get the people away from the cities and into remote areas - in some cases into special areas. The Commonwealth Government must take similar action in this country. Perhaps one of the quickest ways in which this could be done would be for the Government to continue its good work in adopting the petrol prices stabilisation plan. It could help further by supporting water schemes such as those which have been undertaken in Western Australia. It could help by extending television services to country areas and by extending telecommunication facilities to the more remote areas.
Let us consider some of the suggestions I have made. First, let us look at television. We have been told by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) that by the end of 1966-67, which will be the end of the fourth phase, 92 per cent, of the population will have television services. However, in Western Australia at this stage only 73 per cent, will be receiving television. I have pointed out that in Western Australia 57 per cent, of the people live in Perth and 17 per cent, in urban areas, making a total of 74 per cent., yet only 73 per cent, will have television coverage. Surely something is wrong here. I make a plea for this service to bc extended to areas north of the east-west railway, to the great areas of the Midlands, to Geraldton and Kalgoorlie. These people have every right to television, just as have ‘their brothers and sisters in the cities. They have earned that right by the way in which they have helped to swell the export income of this country. I find that of the States Western Australia has the highest net value of rural production per bead. This figure of £133 compares with £105 per head for the remainder of Australia. I find also that Western Australia accounted for over 11 per cent, of Australia’s total export earnings last year. Surely these people are entitled to something better than they are getting now.
What is the Government to do about the question? It has made known that anyone interested in having a commercial licence may make an application, which will be considered. Although three areas have been defined up to the present, we have had only one applicant. In other words, the commercial world is not interested in television in Western Australia at present because of the economics of the matter. I believe that it now becomes the responsibility of the Government to extend the service to these people. I want to see television in these areas tomorrow, but it must be a service comparable with that which the people of Perth have at present. I do not want a service which will provide television now but which in later years they, the people concerned, will be sorry they accepted. I say this because of my experience on the Senate Select Committee which examined television. It heard evidence from a number of managers of country stations who complained they could not get the programmes they wanted and in some cases could not get any programmes. If stations situated in areas where it is economic to run commercial television cannot get programmes, what hope has a much smaller station? Surely the Government can provide television for the people in those areas.
I turn now to telephones. I must say that I am rather sorry there is to be an increase in telphone rentals. The Postal Department has a problem here. The Minister has told us that installation of a new service costs £570. I understand that the cost of maintaining a service is about £57 a year, whilst the revenue from each service amounts to about £50 a year. In other words, the Government is losing £7 a year on every telephone installation. But is this the way to approach the problem? Have we not a responsibility to decentralise by providing services to the people who are prepared to go to remote areas, to populate and work them, and to increase our export earnings? Only the other day I was in an area which has been established for war service land settlement. It is 37 miles from an exchange, and one of the outer settlers is a further 26 miles away. That settler and those around him are about 60 miles from an exchange, a doctor, and other amenities. Just before I arrived, a small child had met with an accident. The child had been staying with neighbours. I can imagine the reaction of any honorable senator to an experience such as that, with something serious happening to a neighbour’s child on one’s hands, 60- odd miles from a doctor. In addition, these people have to travel over bush roads which have been badly cut about in the wet season.
– How far from a telephone?
– Sixtyodd miles.
– They have radio.
– They have a radio link, by which I do not mean a radio telephone. There is a private link from one of the settlers to the shire offices. This is not the only case of this kind in Western Australia that I could cite. We have dozens of them. Something must be done to help these people, so I make this plea tonight. I could talk about other aspects of the Budget, but some of those aspects will be covered in particular bills. What I have to say on them may wait until then. I make a special plea to the Commonwealth to assist Western Australia with grants to enable it to continue its developmental projects at rates that have prevailed in recent times. I support the motion.
– I support the amendment that has been moved by my leader in the Senate, Senator McKenna, which states -
Already a lot has been said about this Budget, about what it does and what it does not do, in relation to matters of great national importance, national development, housing, defence, communications, and kindred matters. For my part, I wish to view the Budget through the eyes of the ordinary man in the community and to consider how it affects his standard of living. How does it affect him, what does it do for him and what does it take from him? In short, the income tax rebate of 5 per cent, is to be discontinued from October next. Company tax has been increased on income earned during the financial year 1963-64 and, of course, this cost in turn will be passed on to the consumer. The rate of sales tax payable on new motor vehicles has been increased from 22i per cent, to 25 per cent. On a vehicle costing about £1,200 there will be an increase of about £30.
Cigarettes might be considered by some to be a luxury, but others consider them to be essential. An ordinary man in the community who smokes a packet of 20 cigarettes a day will pay an extra 2s. a week. Television licence fees have been increased from £5 to £6 a year; when combined with a radio licence the increase is 15s. a year. Telephone rental charges have been increased to a total of £20 a year. The installation charge has been increased from £10 to £15. Those are the charges imposed by the Budget on the ordinary men and women in the community. Admittedly some people have received what I shall call, for want of a better term, niggardly handouts. Some pensions have been increased from £5 15s. to £6 a week and repatriation benefits for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen have been increased by 10s. from £13 15s. to £14 5s. a week.
The average man about whom I speak, End through whose eyes I view this Budget, in June of this year was granted by <he Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission an increase of £1 a week in his pay as the result of an application made on his behalf by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Shortly, the application suggested that the real value of the basic wage should be increased by £2 15s. a week. After a protracted hearing during which the merits and demerits of the cases put by employee and employer representatives were valued, and after weighing the effect on the community, the Commission finally granted an increase of £1 in the weekly pay packet of the ordinary man in the community. The Commission accepted this amount as the measure of the community’s ability to pay.
Because of the imposts contained in the Budget and because of other charges which will, be passed on to the consumer, the increase of £1 has been almost dissipated. According to statistics the average earnings of the ordinary man are about £25 a week, or about £1,300 a year in round figures. Assuming that he has a wife and two children, his direct taxation has been increased by 2s. a week. If he smokes a packet of cigarettes a day he burns up another 2s. a week in increased indirect taxation. If he has a telephone - and who will say that in these times a telephone is a luxury - his rental charges have been increased from £14, in round figures, to £20 a year, which represents an increase of another 2s. a week. If he is waiting for a telephone to be installed, the increase of £5 in the connection fee will cost him 2s. a week.
– Are you denying the justice-
– Just let me state my case. You will have your opportunity later. As I have pointed out, already 6s. of the £1 increase granted by the Arbitration Commission has been taken away from the ordinary man in the work force of the community by increased direct or indirect taxation. But additional charges have been imposed on the ordinary man of whom 1 speak. First there is the television licence fee and secondly there is the sales tax on new motor vehicles. Who would deny that he is entitled to a motor car in this modern age? I have referred to increased company taxation which will be passed on to the Australian community.
I believe it is fair to say that this Budget takes away from the ordinary man 7s. 6d. of the £1 recently given to him by the Arbitration Commission. The Assistant Secretary of the Labour Council of New South Wales has said that never before has so much become so little so quickly. I agree that is the effect on the ordinary wage and salary earner. The Government, in effect, is saying to the average wage earner: “ We think that the recent increase in the basic wage has been too much for you and we are going to drain a large part of it away from you for what we consider to be essential purposes”. After taking these figures into account, after appreciating that the total hire purchase debt of the community has risen by £5 million in one month since the basic wage increase to a record total of about £474 million, and after taking into account the increases in prices since the last basic wage rise, I say that when these Budget proposals are implemented very little will be left of the £1 increase for enjoyment by the ordinary man. Mr. Marsh, Acting Secretary of the Labour Council of New South Wales, has worked out that after the application of this Budget only ls. 4id. will be left of the £1 increase.
A lot has already been said about the Government’s administration of the defence of this country. I believe that not only the Opposition but also some Government backbenchers believe that this is one of the chinks in the Menzies-McEwen armour. I have listened very closely to the debate on the Budget as it has proceeded in this chamber during the last week and I think it fairly can be said that not one Government supporter has praised the Government’s activities in defence. The Government has been pressed for a re-appraisal of its defence expenditure not only by the Opposition but also by prominent journalists who are supposed to be defence correspondents. I suggest that they have written objectively and not sensationally, as the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) seemed to claim last week when referring to an article in a recent edition of the
American magazine “Time” in which the Royal Australian Air Force was described as obsolete. “Time” said that our Navy is a memory and that our Army is smaller than Cambodia’s. I understand that next week a great American warship, the U.S.S. “Enterprise”, which is, I think, not only the largest aircraft carrier in the world but the largest ship in the world, will be entering Sydney Harbour. 1 have been told that one could fit all the aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force on one flight deck of that carrier; that is, all the fighters, bombers, trainers, troop carriers and whatever other types of aircraft we may have. In April of this year Rear Admiral Oldham referred to o’ur Navy as being inadequate, to our Army as being immovable and to our Air Force as being impotent.
– On what standards of population did he base that statement?
– I do not know. I am just telling you what he said and 1 am comparing his statement with what appeared in the magazine “ Time “. I am sure that many backbenchers on the Government side agree with me that the Government is vulnerable on this subject, especially after it has spent something like £24 thousand million on defence since it came into office.
– We won an election on our defence policy on 30th November last.
– Yes, and a lot more has been said since the election about the TFX bomber and the TSR2, but we will deal with those subjects during the debate on the defence estimates. I do not wish to take up unnecessary time to deal with them during this debate because there are other important matters to which I wish to refer.
I have already referred to the Government’s failure to cater for the defence needs of the Australian people. Another aspect dealt with in the Budget wherein the Government has once again failed to cater for the needs of the Australian community is the provision of telephones for both private and business premises. Earlier this year in another place the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), who docs not subscribe to the same political philosophy as I do, stated that in his electorate, which has some 50,000 people, there are more telephone applications outstanding than there are outstanding applications in the whole State of Queensland. That may be a slight exaggeration, but it would be pretty close to the truth. That has been the position for years in the Bradfield electorate, which is a rather salubrious and comparatively well-settled area, but places like Blacktown - I am using a capital city, Sydney, for the purposes of illustration - Sutherland, Hornsby and the outlying parts of the metropolitan area are even worse off. I was astounded to see Che figures presented to me by the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Senator Wade) in regard to the number of deferred applications for telephones in each State. In New South Wales at 30th June 1961 the number was 16,598 and at 30th June 1964 it had increased to 29,471. In every other State, with the exception of Western Australia, the figures have decreased. In 1961 the number of deferred applications in Victoria was 20,994 and in 1964 it was down to 12,127. There has been a decrease in the number of deferred applications in Victoria and a decrease in Queensland, which is not a small State, geographically. There have been decreases in South Australia and Tasmania-
– What about Western Australia?
– Admittedly in Western Australia, the State you represent, there has been an increase of some 800 deferred applications. But in New South Wales, the State I have the honour to represent here, the number of deferred applications has increased from 16,598 to 29,471 over the last three years.
– How many new installations have there been in that time?
– I am just quoting the figures I have in front of me, as given to me by the Postmaster-General, when I sought information from him. In other words, although in every State except Western Australia there has been a decrease in the number of deferred applications between 1961 and 1964, there has been a substantial increase in the number in New South Wales. In round figures New South Wales has some 36 per cent, of the population of Australia, but it has 60 per cent, of the total number of outstanding applications. I think the people and the State of New South Wales have suffered in this regard at the hands of this Government, which should ‘be indicted by the people of that State when honorable senators have to face them later this year. I believe the problem has been shelved time after time and very little, if anything, has been done to find a solution to it. I believe it must have been constantly put into the “ resubmit “ tray by the Postmaster-General and people in his department.
The method chosen by the Government - as I think Senator Drake-Brockman suggested - to try to overcome the difficulty is completely unjust in many respects. It has fixed the same £20 per annum rental for private and business telephones. The private subscriber - including the pensioner - has to bear the burden and cannot write off all the cost by means of taxation deductions. This £20 per annum rental will mean that many people who already have a telephone will have to discontinue it. Already since the introduction of the Budget many pensioners - humble people in the community - have been in touch with me, and no doubt the same applies to other honorable senators, complaining about what they and I consider to be this very iniquitous charge. As far as the ordinary man in the community is concerned, the charge of 8s. a week merely for the right to have a telephone in his home puts this instrument into the luxury class. This applies particularly to the aged, the sick and invalids who, despite all the other rising costs and impositions on them, have been given a miserly 5s. a week increase in their pensions. Of course, many who have been awaiting the installation of telephones for some time will now, because of the impost charged by this Government for the installation of a telephone, have to cancel their applications. This might be, from the Government’s point of view, a very satisfactory way of cutting down the number of deferred applications. Those who already have telephones are being asked to subsidise the cost of further installations which, according to the figures given by the PostmasterGeneral, is about £570 per line. I urge the Government, and especially the Postmaster -General, to see whether anything at all can be done to ease what I think is a vicious burden on people who cannot afford to pay these charges.
In the time available to me I have criticised many of the machinery matters mentioned in the Budget Papers. But I also think that something that should have been done has been overlooked by the Government. I suggest to the Government, and particularly to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) that a large saving could be effected in many Government activities.
Let us consider the drug industry or what might appropriately be termed - so far as the ordinary man in the community is concerned - the drug racket - and that is all I believe it is. From 1954 to 1964, taking the period from the time of the introduction of the so-called voluntary health insurance scheme, there has been an increase in population from about 8,900,000 to about 11 million. In other words, an increase of about 25 per cent. Pharmaceutical expenditure over the same period has increased from £10,739,000 to £34,419,000 - or about 300 per cent.
Now, what is the situation? Since the introduction of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme 119 companies have commenced operating in Australia to cater for the drug needs of the community, and 66 of these are completely owned and operated by overseas interests. Despite this large inflow of capital to compound drugs, importations of drugs have increased from a total of £7 million in 1954 to £17 million in 1964. This is according to the classified summary of imported articles issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. I know that the Minister for Health will come into this chamber at some time and say that in the last financial year drug charges on the pharmaceutical benefits fund were reduced by some £2.5 million. But the increase in pharmaceutical benefits costs last financial year alone was somewhere about £3 million.
– Do you not need to relate that to increased consumption.
– I have related it to the increased population. I suggest that there, has been over-prescribing and overcharging - over-prescribing by the medical profession and over-charging by the drug houses. This was admitted during the last sessional period by the Minister for Health and it was admitted in another place by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). I suggest that apart from communications between the Minister and the drug companies little if anything has been done by the Government about this matter.
I suggest that this Senate should have a look at the costs imposed by the drug industry at some stage in the future. If ever a Senate select committee was warranted to inquire into an industry, this is it. 1 say this having regard to the high costs imposed by these drug companies and the heavy expenditure incurred by the people of Australia.
– They have had an inquiry in the United States of America.
– As Senator Ormonde reminds me, a committee investigated the problem in the United States and found that 66 per cent, of the net profits made by the drug companies were ploughed back into advertising. Any medical practitioner will tell you of the enormous number of gimmicks that are invented by these drug companies in order to get medical practitioners to prescribe their drugs under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
The hour is getting late. There are other matters that I wanted to refer to. One related to equal pay for equal work. No provision has been made in this Budget for equal pay for Australian females despite the fact that in the United States a law was passed to give equal pay to male and female workers in industry. This law was passed on 11th June last. I could also have said something about the competition between oil and coal.
I could have said something about the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and what its future will be after the Snowy Mountains scheme is completed in about ten years’ time; whether or not this great authority, which has done so much towards developing Australia, will be retained as one entity for developmental work in other parts of Australia. Australia is a young country populated in the main by young people who, in their early lives, are committed to years of debt through exorbitant land prices, the high cost of living, and hire-purchase commitments. They are being forced to borrow to the hilt to keep pace with the high cost structure of the community. I say frankly that this Budget does not grapple with their problems.
The Budget does not show that the Government is adequately grappling with the problem of striking a realistic and fitting balance between our national resources and the needs of defence, development and social welfare, as mentioned by Senator McKenna. For those reasons I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers and to oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). There are two yardsticks to which I always look when considering the position of Australia. One is the employment situation and the other is our overseas balances. I think these are very good yardsticks to use. The building industry is another. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his speech referred to the fact that in Australia we have just a fraction over 1 per cent, of the people registered for employment. I said this before and I say it again: I find myself in complete agreement with a number of authorities in this country on this matter. I will never forget being in the Albert Hall at Canberra when Mr. A. E. Monk said that an agricultural country does very well if it can hold unemployment to H per cent.
This is because of many factors. As the Senate is aware, there, is a lot of transitional labour in Australia, particularly in Queensland in the sugar industry and other industries such as shearing. I think we have reached the stage where we almost have over-full employment when we get down to a fraction over 1 per cent, unemployed. Over-full employment is where you have industry offering to pay men more than award rates and overtime and this is happening in the motor industry. I am sure that Senator Cant is well aware of this. It is not a good thing to have industry bidding for labour. It causes inflation as honorable senators know quite well.
Turning to the other yardstick - our overseas balances - these stand at something like £854 million, if my memory serves me correctly. This is probably a record for Australia. I like to refer to it as money in the bank. When we find we are in the position of having £854 million in the bank, Australia stands in a very good position credit-wise. The Treasurer did say in the course of his remarks that one of the problems facing the Government is keeping things in line; in other words, keeping control of the situation so that we do have a buoyant community.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640826_senate_25_s26/>.