25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Amongst the many laudable projects aimed at conserving Australian fauna is a five year plan to study the breeding, biology and migrations of Cape Barren Geese. This plan has the support of State Governments and the Australian Conservation Foundation Provisional Executive Committee. Can the Minister advise me whether the Commonwealth Government will play an active role in this venture?
– Mr President, I will answer the question because I think this would be a matter for the Wildlife Research Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, if it was a Commonwealth Government instrumentality which was engaged in this matter. I am not sure whether the Wildlife Division has undertaken a study of Cape Barren Geese. It might have. I would prefer to find out accurately and definitely for the honorable senator and to give him a written answer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Early in the 1950’s, the Commonwealth Government, to encourage primary producers to contribute funds towards scientific research, offered to match industry contributions for this purpose. Will the Minister indicate what industries have shown interest in this particular activity, and what has been the extent of the allocations made by the various joint Commonwealth-industry research committees?
– Senator Lawrie was good enough to indicate that he would be asking this question, and I was able to obtain an answer from the Minister for Primary Industry. The tobacco, wool, wheat, cattle and beef, and dairy industries asked the Commonwealth Government to bring down legislation to provide a levy which, when matched by the Commonwealth, built up the resources for the establishment of research programmes. The Minister for Primary Industry recently informed me that, during the eight years ended 30th June 1965, a total sum of £28,535,000 had been allocated for research and extension through the joint Commonwealthindustry research committees. These funds have arisen from the contributions by the Commonwealth and the particular industries concerned, the broad basis for which has been £1 for £1 for each industry except, wool where the Commonwealth contributes £2 for every £1 contributed by the industry. Allocations for 1965 have not yet been finalised, but the total will be greater than it was in 1964-65 when allocations by the five committees totalled almost £5.800.000.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: On how many occasions in the last 10 years has the Waterside Workers Federation been fined by the courts? What is the total amount of these fines to date? How much of this total amount has been collected to date?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has informed me that, since 1956, 58 fines have been imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation. The total amount of fines to date is £25,100, and the amount collected is £17,100.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: Is it a fact that the Commonwealth fuel subsidy scheme is to come into operation on 1st October? Does the Minister know that the Western Australian Government intends to increase its rail freights on fuel by 10 per cent, as from the same date? Does the Commonwealth Government intend to increase its subsidy to cover this 10 per cent, increase, so as to keep its promise that the prices of certain fuels in country districts will not be more than 4d. a gallon above capital city prices?
– The Department of Customs and Excise and the oil companies are geared to commence the operation of the scheme. However, as honorable senators know, it is necessary to have complementary State legislation. It is expected that this will be completed in good time. The State Governments have indicated that there will be no difficulty in this regard, so the Commonwealth fully expects to commence the operation of the scheme by 1st October 1965. 1 am not aware of any planned increase in rail freights on fuel in Western Australia. I would like to say that the rates of subsidy set out in the schedule to the scheme will not be varied to take account of day to day changes in distribution and marketing costs. It may be recalled that this point was canvassed when the matter was debated in the Senate on the occasion of the legislation being passed. It is the Government’s hope that increases in rail freights, road taxes or other distribution costs of petroleum products will be avoided as far as possible. However, the Government recognises that if there are general increases in freights or other distribution costs it may be inevitable that such increases will apply to petroleum products. If there are changes in the distribution costs of petroleum products, the result may be that wholesale prices in some or all country locations will be more than 4d. a gallon above capital city prices. However, the Government proposes to make a general review of the rates of subsidy three years after the subsidy comes into operation. We have, in fact, given the State Governments a firm assurance to this effect. This point also was brought out in the Senate when the relevant legislation was being debated.
Senator FITZGERALD__ I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. In view of many statements from Government sources to the effect that Communist China is supplying military aid to North Vietnam, will the Minister advise the Senate of what materials that could be used for the manufacture of military equipment that might be used against Austraiian troops and their allies are exported from Australia to Communist China? If such materials are being exported, will the Government take immediate action to cease the export of those materials?
– With the exception of wheat and wool-
– What about steel?
– I should be glad if the honorable senator would let me answer his question. With the exception of wheat and wool, very little is exported to Communist China. In order to convince the honorable senator of that, I will, within the next day or two, endeavour to obtain for him figures of exports under various commodity headings.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, has reference to something of which I am sure he is aware, namely, the anxiety of pea and bean growers in northern Tasmania about the possible impact of the phasing out of import duties under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement over the next eight or nine years. Am I correctly informed that the present tariff is operative only when the f.o.b. price of peas and beans in New Zealand is less than ls. 10£d. per lb.? If that is so, will the Minister take into consideration the degree to which the tariff has operated to restrict imports from New Zealand in the past and consider making a statement, for the guidance of the growers in ensuring the stability of their industry, on the likely effects of the phasing out of that degree of tariff protection over the period mentioned?
– As soon as the Free Trade Agremeent is finally settled and is, in fact, in being, I shall ask the Minister for Trade and Industry to consider the proposals which the honorable senator has raised. The tariff is applicable when the price is above ls. 10id. per lb. That is the basic price. It is equal to about 2s. 3d. per lb. in Australia.
– I think that ls. 1 Old. is (he Australian figure.
– If ls. 10½d. is the Australian figure, with the freight added I think it amounts to 2s. 3d. per lb. But ls. 10½d. is the basic price. If the price docs not fall below ls. 10jd., no duty is applicable. Then a sliding scale applies. I shall certainly refer to the Minister for Trade and Industry this proposition about making a statement. I am sure that the Minister would want to make a statement. 1 have not the figures, with me at the moment, but I was surprised to learn of the small amount of duty that has been collected on peas over the last two or three years. Obviously, the price has been above ls. I Old. per lb.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Will the Minister make a statement on the Kashmir dispute, which threatens war between India and Pakistan, so that the Senate will be able to discuss the situation in the foreign affairs debate which is listed on the notice paper?
– I shall inquire of the Minister for External Affairs whether he has any intention of making a statement on the Kashmir dispute.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works tabled in the Parliament yesterday urging a speedup of the completion of the Tullamarine jetport terminal and other buildings in
Victoria? Will the Minister examine the report and ascertain whether effect can be given to the recommendations contained in it, particularly in respect of Tullamarine?
– The report of the Public Works Committee on this matter landed on my table yesterday. I have not had an opportunity to study it and to see what the recommendations” are. I hold this Committee in very high regard for the work that it does. I know that it made a comprehensive examination of this proposal, having taken public evidence from a number of witnesses. I will be interested to read what the recommendations are. 1 know that the honorable senator is aware that at the present time Victoria has no international services at all. This is a matter which has been exercising the minds of all those people who believe that there is a place in the sun for Tullamarine in the international aviation world.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Will the Minister ask the Government to take urgent action to meet the threat to the dental health of the community, resulting from (a) the grave shortage of qualified dentists in Australia; (b) the inability of low income families to meet the present high scale of dental fees; and (c) the latest proposals to increase dental fees still further? Has the Minister any present plans to enable families in particular to meet this situation?
– I am aware of the shortage of dentists right throughout Australia. I shall convey the rest of the question to the Minister for Health and get a reply for the honorable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. On Tuesday last I asked a question relating to the surplus of more than £5 million in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. I understand that the
Treasurer stated in another place this morning that he proposes to make a statement on the subject later during the day. Will the Minister make certain that this information in the possession of the Treasurer will be released simultaneously in the Senate today in answer to my question earlier this week? I have taken an active interest in this matter and have already asked a number of questions on it. I believe that the Senate should not be placed disadvantageous^ in regard to such matters.
– Yes, I certainly will do that.
– I address to the Minister for Defence a question which has as its background the defence programme that he announced in November 1964. This is my question: Is the Minister in a position to indicate when a decision will be made on the selection of an all-through jet trainer for the Royal Australian Air Force?
– I hope, indeed I expect, to be in a position to make a statement on this matter in the very near future.
– Has the
Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report that the Attorney-General advised a meeting of the Government parties yesterday that importation of aircraft need not necessarily result in their use as passenger aircraft? Was this report correct? If so, was that statement in conflict with information that was given to the Senate last night by the Minister?
– The honorable senator may make it a practice to make statements about what happens in his party room, but it is not my practice to do so.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. When formulating the agreement wilh New Zealand in regard to the importation into Australia of quick frozen peas was consideration given, in discussions with the New Zealand representatives, to imports by this country from the United States of America, which I understand are rather considerable and indeed are greater than those from New Zealand? When a free trade agreement between the two countries in regard to peas and beans was considered, what cognisance was taken of imports from countries other than New Zealand?
– As I understand the position, there will be no alteration of the duties payable on imports of peas into Australia from any country other than New Zealand. The duties which will be phased out over nine years apply only to imports from New Zealand. It may very well be that New Zealand may gain a little increased trade with Tasmania at the expense of other countries. I do not know. That may be an outcome.
I note that over the last three years imports of beans from the United States of America have been considerably higher than imports from New Zealand. In 1964-65 total imports from countries other than New Zealand were 996,612. lb., and imports from New Zealand were 618,980 Jb. The duty payable on New Zealand beans was only £130, and the duty payable on beans from other countries was £647. The 1,565,592 lb. that came in attracted only £777 in duty, so the prices must have been above the base of ls. 10id.
Last year, 2,077,599 lb. of peas were imported from New Zealand, the total duty attracted being £13,388. The total quantity of peas imported from other countries was 3,203,205 lb., and the total duty payable on this quantity was £453,359.
– Will the Minister incorporate in “ Hansard “ the statistical information that is available to him on that subject, including the figures which he quoted?
– Yes. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the table in “ Hansard “: -
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services obtain for the Senate the number of deserted wives currently receiving social service pensions and also the number of wives of invalid pensioners who are receiving the small allowances payable by the Department of Social Services? Has the Department any record, or can it make an assessment, of the number of wives in the 50 to 60 age group whose husbands are age pensioners with no other income and who therefore receive no payments for their wives?
– If the honorable senator will place the question on the notice paper I shall obtain an answer, particularly to the first two parts of it. As to the third part, I am not aware whether that information is available. If it is available, it will be supplied.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation, if he is the appropriate Minister: Is it a fact that the Government has decided to have Italian jet trainers manufactured in Australia?
– As I indicated in answer to a question asked of me by Senator Cormack a few minutes ago, 1 expect to be making a statement on this matter in the very near future.
– This morning Ministers have asked that a number of questions be placed on the notice paper. I once again draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that complicated questions obviously call for a considerable amount of research before an answer can be given. By asking such questions, honorable senators are simply preventing the asking of questions to which Ministers can furnish replies. The questions of which Ministers asked to be given notice this morning will not be broadcast tonight. I must ask honorable senators to avoid asking this type of question, lt is much better to put such questions on the notice paper and avoid complications.
– My question, with due respect, is addressed to you, Mr. President. Will you, Sir, give consideration to the setting up of a permanent standing committee to consist of seven senators to be appointed at the commencement of each Parliament to inquire into and report upon complaints of breach of privilege which may be referred to it by the Senate? I believe that this is done in the House of Representatives at the commencement of each Parliament. By this means it would be possible for the Senate to deal speedily with any questions of privilege.
– The honorable senator’s question is interesting and has considerable merit. Fortunately, we have not had to worry about a Privileges Committee in the past. The question requires a good deal of thought and consideration. I shall be pleased to refer it to the Standing Orders Committee.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether he is aware that a number of Australian souvenirs are imported into Australia from Japan and Hong Kong? Is he also aware that on some imported souvenirs, purporting to be maps of Australia, all State capitals are shown but Canberra is not shown? Could the Minister inform the manufacturers of these souvenirs that there is such a place as Canberra and that it is the capital city of Australia?
– The question asked by the honorable senator is very interesting, but I am sure she will recognise that it is not the function of the Minister for Customs and Excise, nor of his Department, to scrutinise imported goods to assess their merit in the sense stated by the honorable senator. We have the obligation put upon us to scrutinise a number of imports. An obvious duty which readily comes to mind is censorship. The Department of Customs and Excise is also charged with the administration of regulations in respect of prohibited imports. Certain provisions are set down in the regulations. I doubt very much whether it is the function of my Department to prohibit imports simply because the manufacturer of those goods has committed the terrible offence of not showing the Australian National Capital on his products.
– I had in mind educating the exporter.
– I think that may be the function of the Department of Trade and Industry. However, I promise to look at this matter and ask my officers to comment on it. There is no necessity for the honorable senator to place her question on the notice paper. I will convey their comments to her.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Arising from the withdrawal of Singapore from the Federation of Malaysia, what changes, if any, are contemplated in Australian representation in those two places? Is it proposed to raise the status of Australian representation in Singapore? Does the Minister believe that such changes will provide an opportunity for improved trade relations with Singapore? If he does, will he say what increase is likely to be made in the staff of the Department of Trade and Industry in Singapore?
– It was announced recently in another place by the Minister for External Affairs that our diplomatic representation in Singapore would be carried on by the officer who has, in the past, acted in Singapore as a subsidiary of the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. It is our intention to accord diplomatic representation to Singapore and the existing arrangements will be continued until such time as it is found necessary, by experience, to make other arrangements. Our diplomatic representation in Singapore remains unimpaired. If is our intention that it should receive whatever attention, in the matter of variation, that experience shows to be necessary.
As to trade, which is an entirely different thing, I can assure the honorable senator that this is kept under very close consideration, Singapore being, as I know the honorable senator appreciates, of vast importance to Australia in the field of trade.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that at a recent meeting of businessmen on King Island a mutual agreement was made to import all future supplies of groceries, hardware, fertilisers, machinery and so on from Melbourne so as to gain the advantage of the Commonwealth subsidy of £2 a ton on shipping freights between King Island and Melbourne? Is the Minister aware that the traditional trade between Tasmania and King Island has been an important segment of Tasmania’s economy? Will he have a review made by the Government of the impact of this position on grants to Tasmania under the States grants legislation? Will the Government look into the matter of an equalising subsidy on the Tasmania-King Island service?
– I have no knowledge of the meeting to which the honorable senator has referred. He is ahead of me there. Such a meeting may or may not have taken place. I am fully aware of the importance of the trade, small as it was, which flowed between Tasmania and King Island. King Island being a Tasmanian territory, this becomes a matter of an intrastate service. The representations made to the Commonwealth Government, which were supported by the Tasmanian Government, were for a subsidy on interstate trade - or trade between the mainland and King Island. An intrastate service is a matter or the Tasmanian Government; it is responsible for shipping services of an intrastate nature. I suggest that the honorable senator should address his question to the Premier of Tasmania because I recall that without being asked, the Premier offered a subsidy of £40,000 if the Commonwealth Government would operate a third ferry. No request for such a subsidy had come from anywhere so I do not think the Premier of Tasmania can cry poverty in this case. He should examine the position of what is purely an intrastate service.
I agree with Senator O’Byrne that the trade between Tasmania and King Island is a most important segment of Tasmanian trade, but this is a matter for the State Treasurer and he should not desert the Tasmanian business houses which have been doing trade with King Island for many years.
– Following Senator O’Byrne’s question and without any desire to introduce argumentation, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he will take into serious consideration the anomaly that arises from the granting by the Commonwealth Government of a subsidy in respect of half the trade across Bass Strait between Melbourne and Tasmania which is interstate trade. Will the Minister consider whether there is not some parallel between shipping services and air services, taking into consideration the fact that the Government does subsidise intrastate air services? Then, revolutionary as it may be, will the Minister consider the further point which I think was implicit in Senator O’Byrne’s question, that if we are going to grant £5½ million to Tasmania and it is essential in our view to maintain a shipping service to King Island, should we not see to it as a condition of that grant that the proper subsidy is available for the King Island shipping service? I ask that these matters be taken into serious consideration for the benefit of a community which is left isolated if a subsidy is given to only one branch of its communications - the branch to Victoria and not to Tasmania.
SenatorHENTY.- This matter has been carefully considered. I will ask the Treasurer to reconsider it but I should think it would be pretty clear to everybody that intrastate trade comes within the purview of the Government of a sovereign State. Nobody who studies the figures can say truthfully that the Commonwealth Government has not treated Tasmania fairly and squarely in the provision of subsidies and cash grants. A request to the Commonwealth Government to provide a subsidy for an interstate service conies within the province of the Commonwealth Government. We can enter into such an arrangement. The provision of subsidies on interstate services to King Island has been of immense benefit to this isolated community. A subsidy is paid on freight from the mainland to King Island. This has meant a considerable reduction in the price of superphosphate, for example. The people on King Island pay much less for the fertiliser than they would pay for the Tasmanian product and this has been of immense benefitto King Island producers. That is the sort of purpose for which the subsidy is designed and it has helped producers who have been operating under difficulties on the island.
We have given close consideration to a subsidy on what is a purely intrastate shipping service. We have also considered subsidising the charter air service operating to King Island but we have come to the conclusion that we cannot find the additional money required, because the shipping service is an intrastate service and support for it is a matter for the Government of Tasmania which the State Government could well undertake. The State Government has a sovereign duty to do so. We have also considered a subsidy for the air freight service but it is long established policy that there cannot be two subsidised air freight services to one place and the Commonwealth is not prepared to find the air freight subsidy.
(Question No. 506.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer -
I understand that the United Kingdom decision turned on the. interpretation of a particular statutory provision under which the emoluments from any employment are charged to tax. The court held that certain payments to players were not emoluments but were paid to them for giving up their amateur status and the advantages attached to it. The Commissioner of. Taxation has advised that, because the comparable provisions of the Australian law are expressed in wider terms, the decision would not necessarily be applicable in. Australia. The Australian law declares that assessable income shall include all allowances, gratuities, compensations, benefits and bonuses given to a taxpayer in relation, directly or indirectly, to his employment. The question would haveto be determined in each case in the light of the particular facts surrounding the payment of the fee.
That is the Treasurer’s answer. Might I add, speaking as a southener, that I cannot understand anybody being paid to play Rugby.
(Question No. 521.)
Senator ORMONDE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Is it a fact that Ampol persists in its refusal to take a quota of Moonie crude oil?
Has Caltex threatened to reduce its purchases of Moonie crude oil unless Ampol also takes a quota?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer -
It will be remembered that arrangements were made as a result of the intervention of Sir William Spooner under which Moonie crude was contracted to be bought for a period of 18 months by Australian refiners. The 18 months was due to expire on 25th August 1965. The Tariff Board’s report on Australian crude oil was received by the Commonwealth Government before the end of July but it had become clear that it would not be practicable for the report to be considered and acted upon in such time as to enable a smooth transition to be effected from theinterim arrangements embodied in the contract to whatever regime was adopted as a result of the Tariff Board’s report. In order to bridge this gap the Minister took up with oil companies the question of the extension for a short period of the 18 months contract. Some difficulty arose in this regard because, in the meantime, Ampol had become refiners in its own right and no longer would be purchasing its products from Caltex. Ampol had not been a party to the original Moonie sale agreement. The question now arose who should take what might be described as the “Ampol share” of Moonie crude previously taken by Caltex.
As the Ampol refinery is situated in Brisbane, the question of the application in the case of Ampol of the provision in the existing contract for freight rebate be allowable in respect of shipment out of Brisbane was open to debate. It was clear that there was a substantial difference between the terms on which Union-Kern Oil was willing to supply crude to a Brisbane refinery and those upon which Ampol was willing to take it. In these circumstances the Minister was able to procure an interim arrangement under which the refining companies parties to the 18 months contract would continue for the time being to take their appropriate shares of Moonie crude whereas what might be described as the “ Ampol share “ would be regarded as to Union-Kern Oil’s own account and would be stockpiled by that company in tanks at Lytton.
– by leave - The following is a statement made by the
Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in another place today. Copies of the statement are not yet available, but they will be distributed to honorable senators shortly. As honorable senators will know, the Government has for some time been giving attention to the drought conditions in Central Australia and parts of eastern Australia. We have had representations from the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland, including proposals that the Commonwealth provide special financial assistance towards certain schemes of drought relief being undertaken by the States. There have also been representations from various interested organisations and individuals. The Government has given consideration to these matters and I should like to inform the Senate in general terms of the action that has already been taken in the Commonwealth sphere and to indicate some further steps the Government proposes to take.
In this statement I am referring primarily to the drought in New South Wales and Queensland, and not to the drought that has persisted for a number of years in Central Australia. Although some of the measures to which I shall be referring are applicable equally to the two States and to the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth’s position with regard to drought in the Territory is a special one arising from its direct responsibility for Northern Territory matters. My colleague the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) will be making a separate statement dealing with the question of the drought in the Northern Territory.
Naturally, in our approach to the whole matter we have had well in mind the consequences of the drought for the nation and, more particularly, the plight of those who are suffering from the drought in a direct and personal way. The drought has had serious and widespread effects and some of these will continue. However, provided the drought does not extend into the coming season, the indications are that it should not have a seriously adverse effect on the overall economy in terms of loss of total rural production and export proceeds from primary products. Fortunately, the drought has already broken in certain areas, particularly the dairying areas along the coast, but even in those areas the aftermath of the drought will have severe consequences for individual farmers. A serious position remains in inland sheep and wheat and cattle areas of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland despite some partial relief rains. The position could further deteriorate in those areas if the drought continues during the coming spring and summer, with further heavy losses for the individual primary producers concerned.
The provision of assistance for droughtaffected primary producers is, under the constitutional division of responsibilities, essentially a matter for the State governments concerned. The State Governments of New South Wales and Queensland have introduced various special measures of assistance such as the provision of special loans at concessional rates of interest and freight concessions on the carriage of fodder and livestock, and have asked the Commonwealth to participate in the financing of these measures. Proposals for Commonwealth participation in drought assistance schemes for the benefit of individual primary producers have also been put before us by a number of organisations.
The provision of assistance such as this is properly a State responsibility and the States have the administrative machinery to handle it. After careful consideration, we have decided that it would, not be appropriate for the Commonwealth to participate directly in the financing of such measures, nor do we think it would be a proper function for the Commonwealth to participate in making loans to individuals or providing other forms of direct financial assistance, to those who may be having difficulty, for reasons such as drought, in financing their business activities.
At the same time, we are very conscious of the strains that special drought measures might put on the finances of the two States. When the new financial assistance arrangements for the next five years were evolved at our meeting last June with the Premiers, it was accepted that the arrangements would stand unless there was a major change in the financial position of a State through circumstances beyond its control. If, as a result of action related to the drought, the States of New South Wales and Queensland find it necessary to meet abnormally large calls on their budgets that are established to be beyond their financial capacities, we will be prepared to consider assisting them by means of general purpose assistance grants. I am advising the two Premiers in these terms.
There are two matters which do lie within the Commonwealth’s particular sphere of responsibility and which have a bearing on the position of those suffering from the drought. I refer to taxation and the question of access to trading bank finances. In our consideration of both these matters we have been concerned to do whatever we reasonably can to help primary producers affected by the drought, in relation to both their needs for carrying on until the drought breaks and the problems they will encounter in rehabilitating their properties, especially by way of re-stocking, to get them back into shape for the resumption of normal production operations after the drought breaks.
In the consideration of taxation measures, we have found that the present provisions of the income tax law, and the administration of that law by the Commissioner of Taxation, already go a long way towards meeting the taxation problems of those affected by the drought. It needs to be borne in mind that, by and large, taxation concessions are neither direct nor immediate in their effects on taxpayers’ incomes and that, being related to income, their benefit is greatest to those primary producers with large incomes, paying high rates of tax, and least to producers with small incomes, paying low rates of tax. There is thus limited scope for taxation concessions as an appropriate means of helping drought affected primary producers.
With regard to profits arising from forced sales of livestock because of the drought - a matter which has been the subject of numerous representations - the law already gives the primary producer the right to elect to have those profits spread over five years, that is, over the period during which in more normal circumstances they might be expected to arise. A producer who makes such an election will be liable to tax on only one-fifth of his additional profits in the year in which such profits arise. Subsequently the profits so spread must be applied wholly or principally . to purchase replacement livestock. Expenditures on replacements being themselves deductible, the amount of abnormal profits carried over into the second and succeeding years need not, depending on re-stocking rates, involve any addition to a primary producer’s tax liability in those years. In addition, of course, if a primary producer considers that the provisional tax notified in his assessment is too high, he may seek adjustment of that tax on the basis of his estimate of his current year’s taxable income.
The cost of purchasing fodder used to feed livestock, which has also been the subject of several requests, is already deductible in the year of acquisition; so that primary producers who are forced to buy in additional fodder to maintain their stock may deduct, as normal practice, the whole of the purchase price. Similarly, the cost of producing or purchasing a reasonable quantity of fodder for stockpiling against emergencies is deductible for income tax purposes.
Concern had been expressed in several quarters at the possible inability of some drought affected producers to meet their tax liabilities by the due date. The Commissioner of Taxation, who is responsible for the administration of the income tax law, has discretion under the law to grant extension of time for the payment of tax, and has assured the Government that he applies this discretion sympathetically when considering individual applications by primary producers in financial difficulties because of the drought.
A particular problem that has arisen concerns the position of primary producers who, because of the drought, have shorn their flocks twice within the 1964-65 income year. As the law now stands, wool growers so placed are required to account for the proceeds and expenses of two wool clips in their 1964-65 income tax returns. There is is no provision in the law whereby proceeds of the second clip, net of direct expenses, can be transferred to the 1965-66 income year. To meet the situation, the Government has decided to introduce an amendment of the law to permit primary producers concerned to elect to reduce their 1964-65 income by the amount of the net proceeds of the second clip and to carry that amount forward into the 1965-66 income year.
I turn now to the question of access to trading bank finance. The Reserve Bank has kept itself closely informed of developments in the drought situation, particularly with regard to the demands of primary producers affected by the drought for finance from the banking system. Preferential treatment is extended to the rural industries under the traditional policies of both the Reserve Bank and the trading banks, and the trading banks have assured the Reserve Bank that the demands for bank finance arising from the present drought are being dealt with sympathetically. As the implications of the drought became clearer, the Reserve Bank informed banks that, in providing necessary finance for purposes arising from the drought, additional lending might be undertaken outside the general limitation on new lending commitments. The trading banks have been asked to continue to keep the Reserve Bank informed of the extent of demands for drought finance upon them. The Reserve Bank is closely watching the situation, including the trading banks’ continuing ability to provide additional loan finance to drought affected clients.
We recognise, of course, that the measures of drought relief which the States and ourselves have introduced or contemplate do not deal with the long term problem of drought mitigation measures. The unfortunate consequences of the present drought have served to stimulate an awareness of the ravages that droughts in this country can cause, from the standpoint of both individual primary producers and the nation as a whole, and there is general acceptance of the need for further action to mitigate the effects of droughts that will inevitably and unhappily continue to occur from time to lime in the future. Already, following discussions in the Australian Agricultural Council, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics are undertaking investigations of drought mitigation. We further intend to put to study the question of the role that the Commonwealth and its agencies might play, within the sphere of
Commonwealth responsibility, in the devising and execution of measures to mitigate the effects of future droughts.
– by leave - Honorable Senators will be aware of the severe drought which has been ravaging pastoral properties in the Alice Springs district for some nine years or more. Over this period, the situation in the pastoral industry has progressively become more serious. With the development of the industry in central Australia and a long run of good seasons, cattle numbers had increased by 1958 to about 350,000. Since then, numbers have declined to about 130,000 at the present time. Although rains over the weekend of 14th and 15th August brought useful falls to the south, south-east and far north-east parts of the district, these falls could not be classed as drought breaking and large areas in the centre-north and north-west received no significant falls.
In conjunction with its consideration of drought relief submissions made by the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland, the Government has been giving careful consideration to drought relief measures in the Northern Territory in addition to those which have been in operation for some years. Bearing in mind the comparative isolation of the Alice Springs area and the fact that fodder supplies and cattle for sale and agistment usually have to be transported over extremely long distances, the Government has decided as a short term measure to increase the existing drought freight concessions on fodder and stock from 50 per cent, to 75 per cent.
Pastoralists throughout the whole of the Northern Territory are eligible for long term loans from the Government for water bores. As a special drought relief measure, the Government has decided that interest on such loans should be remitted and repayments deferred while properties are drought-affected and for a period of 18 months after the drought breaks. In a few cases, the drought has affected individual pastoralists so severely that if an early break does not materialise they may have to abandon their properties, at least temporarily. To avoid this happening and to maintain the industry as far as possible in a condition which will enable a return to production immediately the drought breaks, the Government will make available special loans through the Primary Producers’ Board in the Northern Territory to pastoralists in necessitous circumstances who are unable to obtain further credit elsewhere. These loans will be limited to a maximum of £3,000, will be repayable over seven years and will bear interest at 4i per cent. The purpose of the loans will be to enable pastoralists to preserve their essential operations and meet necessary maintenance costs. In this connection, mention should be made of the very considerable assistance already advanced by pastoral firms operating in the central Australian region for carry-on finance. At the same time it is the Government’s aim to provide an additional form of assistance; it is not intended that the granting of these loans should enable financial agencies who have been extending credit to the pastoralists to reduce their own liabilities.
The Government proposes to review the operation of these special short-term relief measures which I have outlined in twelve months’ time. The cost of these measures will be additional to the figures contained in the Budget Estimates and is estimated, on a preliminary basis, at approximately £1 15,000 in 1965-66. Longer term measures to mitigate the effects of drought in Central Australia will be considered separately in the light of investigations being undertaken by the New South Wales Soil Conservation Service and by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senators Cotton and Toohey be appointed to fill the vacancies now existing on the Standing Orders Committee.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - proposed -
That Senators Davidson, Lawrie and Murphy be appointed to fill the vacancies now existing on tha Library Committee.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 290, I demand a ballot, and I nominate Senator Gair to be a member of the Library Committee.
– There being no further nominations, a ballot will be taken. To enable the ballot papers to be prepared, I fix 2.15 p.m. this day as the time for the ballot to be taken.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
Thai, in accordance with the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946-60, Senators McClelland and Sim be appointed to fill the vacancies now existing on the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings.
The PRESIDENT__ I inform the Senate that I have received letters from Senators Hannaford and Marriott requesting that they be discharged from the House Committee.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senators Hannaford and Marriott be discharged from attendance on the House Committee and that Senators Cotton, Toohey and Wedgwood bc appointed to the Committee.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Sherrington requesting that he be discharged from further attendance on the Printing Committee.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Sherrington be discharged from attendance on the Printing Committee and that Senator Davidson be appointed to the Committee.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters from Senators Cormack and Prowse, requesting that they be discharged from attendance on the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senators Cormack and Prowse be discharged from further attendance on the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances,
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate nominating Senators Davidson and Lawrie and a letter from the Leader of the Opposition nominating Senators Bishop and Cohen to be members of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senators Bishop, Cohen, Davidson and Lawrie, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order No. 36a, be appointed to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
– I inform the Senate that J have received a letter from Senator Marriott resigning as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-60, Senator Scott be appointed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters from Senators Branson and Scott, requesting that they be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate advising that he had appointed Senator Morris to fill the vacancy existing on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
-I table my warrant appointing a Committe of Disputed Returns and Qualifications. It reads as follows -
Pursuant to Standing Order No. 38, I hereby appoint the following Senators to be “The Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications” -
My warrant appointing a Committee of Dis puted Returns and Qualifications dated 4th March, 1964, is revoked.
Given under my hand this twenty-sixth day of August, 1965.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That Government Business take precedence of General Business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Debate resumed from 17th August (vide page 19), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Senate take note of the following papers -
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1965-66;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June 1966;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June 1966;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1966;
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June 1965;
Income Tax Statistics for income year 1962-63;
.- I move -
At the end of motion add the following words: - “but the Senate condemns the Budget because -
such taxation increases as it contains add further burdens to wage and salary earners whose living standards have already been eroded by price rises and the Government’s active intervention against wage increases;
such meagre social services benefits as it proposes are inadequate, belated and partial in their application; and
the Budget fails entirely to deal with such problems as increases in imports and Australia’s dependence on foreign capital.
The Senate further declares that only by proper economic planning can Australia rapidly expand the resources required to meet its urgent needs in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare.”.
In my view, it is a bad Budget and an unjust Budget. What is worse, it is a hypocritical Budget which, in my opinion, will do very little to solve many of the most pressing problems that face the people of this nation. I shall deal first with the element of hypocrisy. If it is understood that the Government is hypocritical, the mass of the people will know how to judge the Budget Speech. I think it is fair to say that most people do not understand the economic hocus pocus that is intoned by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget Speech.
I shall take first a single but major example of the Government’s hypocrisy. In reading the Budget Speech, the Treasurer referred to the fast growing economy and claimed that in 1964-65 we saw a further great rise in national output. He concluded by saying that by any reckoning the year was a good performance. Of course, it is very nice to say that in August, but it might be as well if the Senate examined what was said about the economy by Mr. Kerr, Q.C., who appeared as counsel for the Commonwealth Government before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission a few months previously. The Government cannot have it both ways. The economy cannot be so good today and have been so bad then. It is still the same economy. At page 375 of the transcript of the last basic wage hearing Mr. Kerr is reported to have said -
Essentially for these reasons, and intervening as it does in the national interest, the Commonwealth believes it cannot do otherwise than say to the Commission that an increase in the basic wage at this juncture would be fraught with great danger for the economy.
If the state of the economy is as good at present as Government supporters claim, surely they cannot advance the argument that in the short space of four of five months it has shown such a great improvement that it can be spoken of in the glowing terms contained in the Budget
Speech read by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) who represents the Treasurer in the Senate.
I believe that it was very largely on account of the submission of counsel for the Commonwealth Government - I should say more because of that argument than any other argument advanced - that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission finally gave a decision of an increase of H per cent, in margins. No increase was granted in the base rate. For the tradesman the li per cent, increase meant, in round figures, an increase of 6s. a week or £15 12s. a year. We are all concerned when we read of stoppages in industry. No one wants them or likes them. But the fact is that after waiting for a year for their application to be heard by the Commission, members of the work force received an increase of li per cent, in their margins for skill. What do honorable senators expect members of the work force to do when they read the Treasurer’s Budget Speech with its reference to the tremendous growth in the nation’s economy?
To be fair, I think everyone must agree thai those who have only their labour to sell are equally entitled to a share of the benefits of increased productivity. At times 1 marvel at the actions of certain people who have the very arduous task - I think Senator McManus will understand what I mean by the expression “ arduous task “ - of trying to keep people on a more or less reasonable train of thought when a judgement is handed down granting an increase of only H per cent, in margins. What is the outcome of that decision? Soon after the decision to increase margins by li per cent, was made, the figures for the consumer price index for the June quarter were issued. They showed that prices had increased overall by 4s. a week. Thus an amount of £10 8s. was lost out of the annual marginal increase of £15 12s. 1 am indebted not only to the officials of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for the figures I am citing in relation to the basic wage, but also to Mr. Kerr, Q.C. On page 375 of the transcript of the basic wage hearing he is reported to have said -
By now the price movement has reached a significant momentum. Over 1964 the consumer price index rose by 4 per cent.
Although there has been a li per cent, increase in margins, which amounts to £15 12s. a year, the worker is immediately confronted with a rise in prices of 4s. a week, which takes £10 8s. of the increase that he received. Tradesmen received an increase of 6s. a week, but this involved a tradesman with a wife and two children in an additional £2 10s. a year in income tax. With this Budget, we all must pay an additional 2i per cent, income tax. Therefore, the tradesman to whom I have referred loses another £1 14s. in tax out of the £15 12s. that he received. So even before indirect taxes are taken into consideration, the Government has taken £14 12s. from the £15 12s. that the Commission awarded.
Is it any wonder that there is discontent? This discontent lies in not only one section of the community. The industrial history of this and practically every other country has shown that, in the main, only certain people in certain industries have always been prepared to fight and suffer and blaze the trail. As a rule, in the old days it was the coal miner. He was the man who blazed the trail. Today it is the waterside worker, irrespective of whether we think he is wrong all of the time or only part of the time. But today the great army of black coated workers is just as concerned as the waterside workers about the injustices inflicted on them by the Arbitration Commission. One must keep in mind that costs are spiralling in Australia now. I believe that I can use the word “ spiralling “ without my language being regarded as in any way extravagant.
Now let us consider what the Government has done to the workers by its indirect taxes. Incidentally, many tradesmen received an increase of less than 6s. a week. The 6s. increase applies to the metal trades margins, the highest of all. Officials of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have worked out that if a man smokes half a packet of cigarettes a day - those of us who have the habit know that that is not a great many cigarettes - he will pay £2 5s. 6d. a year more in indirect tax. If he drinks ten glasses of beer a week, he will pay an additional £2 12s. a year in indirect tax. I admit that I do not know much about beer, but I know that a number of people do drink that much in a week. I do not suggest there is anything wrong with that. It is a custom of Australian life to have a drink of beer, and the average man spends some of his money in that way. The point is that the Government is eroding the increase that the worker received.
Let me now turn to the increase in the price of petrol. Speaking from my own experience, the average man who uses his car only for pleasure and at week ends would not travel more than about 500 or 750 miles a week. In fact, he might not even travel that much. However, on that basis, he will pay an additional £2 10s. a year by reason of the increase in the price of petrol.
The Treasurer used glowing terms when he presented the Budget, but when it is studied by people whose job it is to study it we see that although the tradesman received a H per cent, increase in margins, which gave him roughly an additional 6s. a week, he is, as a result of the Budget, £6 7s. 6d. a year poorer than before the Commission delivered its decision. Is it any wonder that we on this side of the chamber are not happy with the Budget? That is one of the reasons why I believe I am entitled to refer to it, as I did early in my remarks, as a hypocritical Budget.
The Government seems to be happy to use the very old and very easy way of obtaining additional revenue by increasing indirect taxes. I often wonder whether the Government studied the position. One would expect it to have done so. Did the Government give thought to the probable effects of increasing the duties on petrol, beer, spirits and tobacco so as to return another £66 million a year in revenue? It is claimed that the average man earns about £25 a week. That man is a myth. We are told that we have a wonderful economy and that we have never been better off, but did the Government consider the fact that today 42 per cent, of the female work force is married? About 20 or 30 years ago, when young people married the husband kept his wife. Today a young man and woman before marriage arrange for their annual leaves to coincide; they marry, they take their fortnight off work, they call it a honeymoon and then they both return to work. It is forced on them because the cost of living is so high that one pay packet coming into a home is not enough. They have to work unless they are fortunate enough to be helped by the parents on one side or the other. Otherwise they could not carry the burden.
No one is entitled to say that we should be proud of the national economy while these circumstances prevail. Therefore, I ask the Government: Why do you not look to other avenues of taxation? Take advertising, for example. If anything makes me sick it is the advertisements one has to watch on television. Thank God in Melbourne now between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday I can watch my favourite sport on television without interruption from advertisements. Station ABV2 televises football in that hour. I am sick of advertisements for detergents and various brands of cigarettes. I often wonder how much money is spent on advertising. Is it not time the Government had a look at this?
– The honorable senator should look at the advertisements for beauty treatments. He might profit from them.
– I am past it now. Years ago I would have looked at them with pleasure. But what are the facts? Surely we are entitled to look at other ways and means of getting revenue. I recognise that the nation needs money. We must need more as we develop. But why must the burden always fall most heavily on the lower or middle income groups? The Government has raised personal income tax by 2i per cent. If a man is taxed on an income of £4,000, he will pay an extra £100. If he is taxed on £400, he will pay £10 more. Who feels it the most?
– That is not correct. The rate per £1 on £400 is not one-tenth of the rate of tax on £4.000.
– I will get someone to work it out. My point is that the Budget has been so framed that the additional burden on the lower and middle income groups is more than they are able to bear and is less on those most able to bear it. No one likes taxation. If it is true as the Treasurer has said that the economy is expanding, why must one section of the community always have to pay more than its share? Has the Government given any thought to a capital gains tax? Has it thought of a tax on unearned increments? Everybody knows that the Commonwealth Government has no control over land in the
States; but the cost of land in the States and in the various capital cities is fantastic. What hope has the average citizen of getting a block of land at a reasonable cost?
People who possibly are wiser than others buy a large area of land and pay very little for it. Then because of the work of others who build around the land, the price rises and they sell at a profit and get away with it. Certainly, if they have any left when they die the Government gets something from their estate by way of probate duties. But the Government could have investigated many avenues of taxation before it took a big slab of £66 million through indirect taxes.
I listened with great patience to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) when he read that portion of the Budget proposals relating to social service benefits. 1 was most intrigued. For once I curbed my impatience and did not turn over a page to sec how much the new benefits were going to cost. 1 thought that at last we were going to get something worthwhile for the pensioners. When all the glowing words were ended I found that in a full year the pensioners would receive additional benefits totalling £7.7 million. Considering the total amount provided in the Budget I wondered how the Government could make the story of the extra £7.7 million sound so good. This provision was paltry and mean.
I give the Government credit for at least agreeing to something we have tried to get for a number of years. We have sat in opposition for a long time. I refer to pensioners medical cards. I was delighted to see the extension of this provision because it removes a tremendous amount of worry and strain from elderly people. But I was bitterly disappointed with the Government’s mean and paltry approach to funeral benefits. When the funeral benefit was introduced in 1943 it was £t0. The Government has raised it now to £20 if a pensioner is responsible for the funeral costs of a spouse, child or another pensioner. But what about the payment of this benefit to a son or daughter who is generally a decent sort of person? It would not have hurt the Government to extend the payment of £20 funeral benefit for a pensioner to everybody responsible. Do honorable senators on the Government side know what this would have cost? 1 will tell them because I telephoned the Department of Social Services and inquired. It would have cost the Government an additional £400.000. The Government could have been a little fairer to the person responsible for the funeral costs of a pensioner, be that, person the son, daughter or sister of the pensioner. Because of increases of prices and charges in the 1950’s the funeral benefit of £10 which applied when this Government came into office has been eroded in value to such an extent that its real worth is now only £3 or £4. I do not know who advised the Government on this matter, but he should be told to give it good advice next time. It would have cost the Commonwealth only £400,000 to extend the funeral benefit to all pensioners. I could have written that part of the Budget speech myself.
– Probably we will have to ask the honorable senator to advise us next time.
– At least my advice would not be as bad as the advice to which I have referred. It is stupid.
What is the most worrying feature of this budget? What is the greatest harm which will come from it? The greatest harm is that there will be a rise in prices. Almost everyone is concerned with the tremendous cost of transporting goods. Transport costs represent between 18 per cent, and 20 per cent, of the total cost of any item. I have obtained those figures from a statement issued by the Royal Automobile Association of Australia. Under the Budget proposals, excise duty on petrol has been increased by 3d. per gallon, but it remains to be seen whether the public will have to pay only 3d. per gallon extra for petrol. It has always been the habit in matters of this kind, when increases of costs are filtering through one section to another, for someone to try to gain a little extra. The new excise on petrol could increase transport costs by 2 per cent. This would be in conformity with the pattern. The increase of price borne by the consumer often is greater than the original increase imposed by the Government. Three or four years ago the Government was able to stabilise prices very well indeed, I thought. Any movement was very slight. But the Government cannot say that, for the last year or so-
– I did not hear the honorable senator say that three or four years ago.
– I did say so. I think the honorable senator should listen to me more attentively and not take too much notice of people who try to lead him astray. If he heeded my advice, he would get on a lot better. I want to be kind to him.
I again refer to the remarks of Mr. Kerr in the hearing of the 1964 basic wage case. He said that the increase of prices was 4 per cent, overall. He was presenting the Government’s case to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as to why the basic wage should not be increased. He said that for the last two quarters in 1964 the price rise was at the annual rate of from 4 per cent, to 8 per cent. The Government cannot get away from the fact that transport costs will rise by at least 2 per cent. In fact, I have read that one if not both airlines - I do not want to be unfair to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., as honorable senators know; I would be the last person to be unfair to it - are talking about a 5 per cent, increase in fares. Therefore, increases in prices and charges resulting from the Budget proposals apply
Tight down the line,
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Senate will now proceed to a ballot to appoint three senators to the Library Committee. (The bells having been rung) -
– There are four candidates for the three vacancies; namely, Senators Davidson, Gair, Lawrie and Murphy. Honorable senators will vote by striking out one of the four names. I ask Senators Paltridge, McKenna and McManus to act as scrutineers. (A ballot having been taken) -
– The result of the ballot is that Senators Davidson, Lawrie and Gair have been chosen to serve on the Library Committee. The voting figures were:
The question is -
That Senators Davidson, Lawrie and Gair be appointed to fill the vacancies now existing on the Library Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Government has reached a decision on the selection of a new jet trainer aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. Earlier this year a joint R.A.A.F.-Department of Supply aircraft mission, headed by Air Commodore Eaton, Director-General of Operational Requirements for the R.A.A.F., visited Canada, the United States of America, Europe, the United Kingdom and Japan investigating available jet trainer aircraft. A member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force also was with the mission.
After a detailed examination of six aircraft available overseas the mission recommended the Italian Macchi MB326H and its manufacture in Australia. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty. Ltd. will be the prime contractor with Hawker de Havilland Pty. Ltd. as the major subcontractor. Seventy-five aircraft will be initially ordered and there will be a later followup order of thirty-three aircraft.
The Macchi trainer will ultimately replace the Winjeel propeller-driven aircraft and the Vampire jet trainer aircraft of the R.A.A.F. At present student pilots of the R.A.A.F. undergo about 120 hours initial training on the Winjeel, followed by a further 120 hours of advanced training on the Vampire jet aircraft.
The introduction of “all through” jet flying training into the R.A.A.F. will necessitate moving the Air Force’s initial flying training school from its present location at Point Cook, Victoria, to the R.A.A.F Base at Pearce, Western Australia, where the advanced flying training school of the R.A.A.F. is already in operation.
There are many reasons for the change of location of the flying school from Point Cook to Pearce, including the difficulties associated with operating a flying school equipped with jet aircraft in the middle of an area which is already the centre of a complex civil air route system. There are also other considerations of a service nature which would be advantageous in transferring the location of the existing school, including the value of having both schools operating in close proximity.
– by leave - This statement sets out the work which remains to be done before the actual distribution to individual contributors and pensioners of their share of the surplus in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund can be made.
to contributors, as a group; and
The time required will depend largely upon the availability of trained actuarial staff to assist the Commonwealth Actuary who is at present shouldering the full burden of actuarial work personally.
It is difficult to estimate at the moment a date when it will be possible to commence payments to individuals both because of the complexity of the operations involved and the difficulty in securing trained actuarial staff. Extensive advertising in Australia and the United Kingdom has so far failed to produce any suitable candidates for two vacant positions for qualified actuaries. However, everything possible is being done, within the limit of the officers’ powers, to get the job completed and noone could be more anxious to bring the matter to finality than all the officers involved.
Debate resumed (vide page 140).
.- Prior to the suspension of the sitting for lunch I had dealt with the effect of rising prices on all persons in industry in Australia. Unfortunately, increased prices have a tremendously adverse effect on our export trade. Australia has just passed through one of the worst years for a long period of time. In the last financial year the value of our imports was greater than that of our exports by £280 million. If we take into account the invisibles and the dividends that were remitted overseas on funds invested in Australia, the difference was as much as £375 million. I have yet to learn of anything that could have a worse effect on our economy today, when we are battling to sell our goods on the export market, than an increase in prices. A close study of this Budget must lead one to the conclusion that it will have a very detrimental effect not only internally but also on our exports and our balance of payments situation.
I thought we would have learned from the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that something would be done to deal with overseas investments in Australia. Not for one moment do 1 believe that all overseas investment in this country has been wrong. Investments that have led to the establishment of new industries and the provision of new know-how have been of great assistance. But we all know that some investments from overseas have been used only to buy out existing industries and have done very little, if anything, to improve our national welfare. We all know that there are very strong differences of opinion on this subject within the Government. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has one view and, according to what one reads, the heir apparent, the Treasurer (Mr, Harold Holt), has another view. The Treasurer has been joined by Senator Paltridge in advancing the view that we should obtain investment funds from overseas irrespective of what the ultimate position will be. We recall the journey that Mr. Holt made to Washington not very many months ago. Even if he were as successful as he had wished, I do not think it would be wrong to say that the Government has only been putting off the evil day.
Those persons who have taken the trouble to read Table 6 of the White Paper that was handed to us with the Budget Papers will have found the information about interest, dividends and profits remitted overseas from 1960-61 to 1964-65 to be very interesting. There has been a gradual increase in the sum remitted overseas. In 1960-61 it was £107 million; in 1961-62 it was £115 million; in 1962-63 it was £127 million; in 1963-64 it was £132 million; and in 1964-65 it was £163 million. Undistributed profits were as follows: In 1960-61 they amounted to £57 million; in 1961-62 to £33 million; in 1962-63 to £53 million; in 1963-64 to £65 million; and in 1964-65 again to £65 million. One would be right in thinking that the United States of America and, more particularly, Great Britain, because of their balance of payments problems, will request their companies that have money invested in Australia to remit as much money as they can to lighten the burden back home. Both Canada and Mexico have seen fit to take a stand on this matter. I am not certain, but I believe that Japan has done likewise. We should approach this problem apart altogether from politics. We should do what is right in the interests of this country. Much as I would hate to see a fall in national productivity, I believe we should ensure that foreign investment is stabilised so that sooner or later the sum of the amounts that are paid out in dividends overseas and held here in reserve are not much more than we receive in investment from overseas. The figures show that the position was pretty serious last year. This is wrong from a national point of view. Other countries have seen the adverse effects of such investment. Canada has a population of 18 to 20 million people - we have only 12 million people - and it is next door to the United States of America. When Canada thinks that it is good to call a halt to foreign investment without proper safeguards to the nation, it is about time that something similar was done here.
It is interesting to note the tremendous hold that foreign investment has on Australian industry. I obtained some figure from a paper on investment in Australia presented at a symposium conducted in February 1965 by the Melbourne Stock Exchange. A table shows the percentage of foreign control and the equity of foreign investors in Australian industries. In secondary industries overall, there is a 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, foreign control or equity. As we have mentioned in the past, pharmaceutical industries are virtually wholly controlled from overseas. The figure is 97 per cent. For other industries, the percentages are - petroleum refining and distribution, 95; motor vehicle manufacture, 95; oil exploration and production, 85; telecommunications, 83; soap and detergents - I smile when I recall what I said earlier about advertising - 80; bauxite and aluminium, 75; iron ore - except the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited - 75; chemicals, 60; motor vehicle parts, etc., 55; food, 50; lead, zinc, copper and mineral sands, 45 to 50; heavy engineering, 30; sugar milling and refining, 15; glass, 15; paper making, 10. Sooner or later, if this process continues, we will not own anything at all in this country.
From a defence point of view, it makes one shudder to think that oil exploration and production, iron ore production - except by our own B.H.P. Company - lead, zinc and copper production, and heavy engineering, are so largely controlled by overseas interests, however friendly they may be at the moment. 1 hope that they always remain friendly, but history does not show this to be so. It shows that there is always a swapping of friendships over the years. We must think not only of the Australia of tomorrow but also of the Australia of many years ahead. Whilst I would be extremely disappoined to see the rate of growth cut by even 1 or 2 per cent., I would rather that than that we should, in the not distant future, own nothing of this country ourselves. One might ask how we are to achieve a reduction of overseas control. I admit that this is not as easy as saying that it ought to be done, but our people ought to have an opportunity to get a footing in those industries. One of the worst features is the type of control that overseas investors exercise over undertakings in Australia. They tell us where our exports from the subsidiary companies may be shipped. These companies are not permitted to export to markets where they can provide adverse competition for the products of the mother companies, wherever these may be. Sooner or later we must face up to this problem in the interests of this country and those for whose future we have responsibility.
Let me return to the Budget. What amazed me was that there seemed to be a concerted effort by the mass media of communication - I do not wish to start on a campaign against them - and by the Government to convey the impression that increased taxation, both direct and indirect, is the result of the defence activities in which we are now engaged. Going back over the years, one finds that such a claim cannot be sustained. There is an increase in defence expenditure for this year, but the total increases in taxation, both direct and indirect, cannot be attributed to defence alone. I believe that it is the Government’s intention to convince the people that the failure to provide extra social service benefits is due entirely to the extra defence expenditure.
A study of the Budget figures shows that defence expenditure for this year has risen by about £81 million, lt is true to say. as the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell) said, that this is a record civil Budget. When regarded on a percentage basis, it is not nearly a record defence Budget because in 1953-54 almost 3$ per cent, of our resources was devoted to defence. In the ensuing nine years defence expenditure was reduced to a little over 2i per cent. In the last three years it. has risen again to 31 per cent, of our available resources, but is still a lower percentage than in 1953-54.
Expenditure on defence is to rise by about £81 million but the rise in expenditure on civil activities is about £185 million. It is clear that, despite increases in direct and indirect taxation, the Government’s failure to increase social service payments to a decent amount cannot be attributed entirely to increases in defence expenditure.
It is incorrect to claim that this is a defence Budget and to attempt to convince the people that the increases in taxation are needed for defence purposes alone. I believe that the people would be prepared to accept increases in taxation so long as the burden were evenly spread and not placed in the main on the lower and middle class incomes. If it comes to a case of necessity to defend the nation there is no risk that the necessary funds cannot be obtained. During World War II and in the post-war years the necessary finance was raised. I think the Budget is wrong. I have pointed out that Government supporters paint a glowing picture of the economy today, but in March counsel for the Government told the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that if the work force obtained an increase in the base rate it would adversely affect our economy. The Government cannot have it both ways and for that reason I do not think it is a good Budget. I think it is one of the worst Budgets that has been produced.
I can understand why the Government has received a good Press. Everybody expected to be touched in the Budget, but they have not been touched. It was clever propaganda. I would be the last to decry the use of clever propaganda in an election campaign, but the figures demonstrate conclusively that the work force of this nation is poorer after receiving a marginal increase of H per cent. Government supporters cannot prove by the use of figures that increases in taxation are necessary for defence. That is why I said that I believe that it is a hypocritical Budget. I say quite candidly that it is an unjust Budget in its effect on the mass of the people.
.- I think all honorable senators would agree that Senator Kennelly is usually one of the most trenchant critics of Government policy when he has an opportunity to drive a wedge into the Government’s ranks and to prove, to his satisfaction, that something is amiss with the administration. He is always to be heard when he believes that the actions of the Government call for criticism because that is a characteristic of the honorable gentleman. I think the mildness of his approach today illustrates, perhaps better than anything else, the almost general acceptance of this Budget throughout Australia. I would like to say in friendly comment that I commiserate with Senator Kennelly and his colleagues in the task ahead of them because evidently they are very hard pressed to find anything in this Budget which is truly a subject for criticism. I say that after having read the contributions made by the Opposition in another place. 1 would like to comment on one or two of the points raised by Senator Kennelly. For the first half of his speech he tried to illustrate - I do not think very successfully - that there was some type of hypocrisy in the presentation of the Budget. He spent about 25 minutes on this point, but for the life of me I cannot see the slightest justification for the rather harsh term he used. The honorable senator referred to the costs that will be imposed on industry in Queensland and other parts of Australia. I hope I will be pardoned for sometimes referring to Queensland, because I do so almost unconsciously. Senator Kennelly referred to the increase of 3d. a gallon in fuel costs and to an adverse effect upon our exports. I think this aspect is worthy of a little examination. I do not think many people would deny that the major exports from Australia are primary products. For almost all of our adult life as a nation, primary products have been the backbone of our exports. I think it would be fair to say that the commodities which would be the first three in this field are wool, beef and sugar.
Let us examine the position. The price of fuel has been increased by 3d. a gallon, but let us not forget that provision has been made for the equalisation of petrol prices in areas outside the capital cities. While I admit that this scheme will not have any advantage so far as some cities outside the capitals are concerned, it will have an enormous advantage in those areas which are producing two of the three commodities that I have mentioned, namely, wool and beef. Taking into consideration the increase of 3d. a gallon and the equalisation principle which is being applied, in the end result there will be a reduction in some centres of up to 1 s. 6d. a gallon in the price of fuel.
If, as Senator Kennelly has argued, an increase of 3d. a gallon will increase the cost of transport by some 2 per cent.I do not see the validity of his argument but let us accept it - what then will be the effect on these two great primary products of a reduction of ls., ls. 6d. or even more in the price of a gallon of fuel? When examining a document such as the Budget I do not think it is fair to select one effect of the Budget and completely disregard another. I hope I have said enough to illustrate the honorable senator’s illogical approach.
Now let us consider overseas investment, the next subject to which he referred. I appreciate and agree with his comment that we should look at this subject apart altogether from politics. It is above politics. There is much evidence of members of all parties having worked extremely hard to increase the degree of capital investment within Australia. I have tried to play my part from my own political viewpoint. I can recall most clearly the very heavy competition that Queensland encountered in her efforts to attract overseas investment. That competition arose from the work that was being done by the then Labour Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill. He and other members of the New South Wales Labour Ministry were most active at the period to which I have referred in their efforts to attract capital to New South Wales. To a degree they were successful, although not as successful as were some of the other States.
They believed in the desirability of introducing foreign capital. So do I, although I realise that an inflow of foreign capital is something which can become dangerous if it gets out of hand. There may be some instances of it getting out of hand, but there are many instances to the contrary. I could name certain companies - American companies, for example - which have developed an industry in Australia. Their whole basis of operation has been to draw from their parent company overseas, by way of loan, the establishment costs in the early stages of development in Australia. Running parallel with that approach has been their stated objective, desire and intention - not a forced statement, I emphasise, but one made voluntarily - that once the business became a going concern they would invite capital from within Australia for the purpose of continuing and developing the business.
It is all very well to say that the opportunity should be given to Australians to invest in these businesses or industries which are being developed, but it is sometimes quite another thing to get the people to make an investment or even to find people who are capable of making an investment. Perhaps I could illustrate this by referring to something not entirely relevant but nevertheless, to my mind, a good illustration. Some time ago a cement industry was established in north Queensland by the North Australian Cement Co. Ltd. The opportunity was given to the people of north Queensland to invest in this business at its formation. Some investment was forthcoming but you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, would probably know that the overwhelming investment in that industry came from places other than that where the industry was being developed. This was caused, perhaps to a degree, by lack of ability to invest but very much more so by the fear of loss of the investment. For that reason there was not the rush to invest that was expected. This industry has proved to be a very valuable one. It has made handsome profits. I am sorry that Senator Gair is not in the chamber at the moment because he would be able to confirm the background to the facts that I have just cited. He was intimately associated with this particular development.
What I regard as another appropriate illustration is the Mount Isa mining company. Most of us realise that this is one of the great industries in Australia. It is making a wonderful contribution to our economy.
For many years, in the early stages of its development, a great deal of money was lost and it was impossible to find additional investment capital in Australia. The originators of the firm were in trouble for very many years and, as I have said, they lost a good deal of money. However, sufficient capital came eventually from overseas - I think most of it from America - and in the end result we now have one of the most successful enterprises in the Commonwealth. Certain short sighted people in Australia today object to the fact that those overseas investors are possibly now quite large shareholders in the business and are drawing dividends which leave Australia. I can only repeat that had it not been for the foreign investment in this enterprise the company would not be in existence in Australia today. This is analogous with a lot of different industries in Australia. It is the other side of the penny. This is the facet that is conveniently overlooked by some of the critics of the Government’s policy. But it is a facet which must be taken into consideration by those charged with the responsibility of the economic development of Australia.
That phrase reminds me of another point made by Senator Kennelly. He tried to draw the final conclusion that the Australian economy was not at all healthy. I do not think anybody who had made a study of the economy would seriously support such a statement. In the Budget debate last year or possibly earlier I referred to the very fine tribute paid by the London “ Times “ to the development of Australia and I shall refer to that again in a few moments.
The next point I noted in Senator Kennelly’s speech was his reference to the rising tide of imports. Of course, we have to acknowledge that imports are rising. Indeed, in his Budget Speech the Treasurer clearly pointed to this as one of the problems that must be recognised. It cannot be disregarded. The right honorable gentleman said that the volume of imports was very high last year and that this flow would continue well into this year. The Treasurer recognises, as do all members of the Government, that this is a symptom and not a disease. It is a symptom which, if it progressed too far, could become a disease but the nature of many of these imports is such that the symptoms could not possibly become a disease. The reason is this: Many of our imports are purely for consumption but a heavy volume of imports provide the machinery and basic requirements to enable our manufacturing industries to build up production in the process of time. In the long term, we will gain exports from the material produced with imported machines and other requirements for manufactures. It would be too time consuming for me to give by way of illustration the names of companies which produce goods to replace imports because I doubt whether there is any honorable senator who is unaware of some organisation to which these comments would properly apply.
My final note on Senator Kennelly’s speech refers to bis comment that it is not right that the Government should suggest that the whole increase in the Budget appropriation can be attributed directly to defence. It was abundantly clear from the Treasurer’s Budget Speech that he of all people recognises this fact He did not attempt at any stage to suggest that the general increase in the Budget figures was attributable to defence. Senator Kennelly himself ,said it was a record civil Budget. Undoubtedly it is and later I shall refer to that specifically because it is most important that one should do so.
Having made those comments on Senator Kennelly’s speech I propose now to turn my attention to the amendment he moved. This is identical with the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). This was the basis of my earnest and sincere commiseration with Senator Kennelly in his task of trying to justify the arguments in support of the amendment which obviously his Party required him to move. The first point of the amendment is related to taxation. In the second paragraph, the amendment asks the Senate to condemn the Budget because - such meagre social service benefits as it proposes are inadequate, belated and partial in their application;
Let us look at that for a moment. If we examine the speeches made on the Budgets over the past 15 or 16 years, we see this characteristic note running through them. I dare say if we examined the speeches on the Budget ever since Federation, and the speeches delivered in the State Parliaments and in every Parliament in the Commonwealth of Nations we would find the same characteristic note. I must acknowledge that I have used this theme myself while in Opposition. Throughout the whole of the Budget debate and the detailed discussions of the Estimates, every Opposition member complains that the Government is taking too much money from here and there.
– The Government is taking it from the wrong places. That is what we complain about.
– That is not by any means the totality of the Opposition’s argument or the argument behind the amendment. The totality of the Opposition’s argument is that too much money is being taken from the taxpayers; yet on the other hand, honorable senators claim as they go through the Budget that not enough money is being given to every section of the community which is a recipient of Commonwealth finance. I do not say this in any spirit of harshness against my friends of the Opposition because I can only repeat that we all have participated in discussions of this nature in whatever Parliament we have spoken. I dare say that our children and our children’s children who participate in debates of this sort will do so too. But it is somewhat unfair to say it with the degree of emphasis that was used, quite improperly in my view, by the Leader of the Opposition in another place in his comments on this Budget.
I have dealt already with the third paragraph of the amendment in my earlier comments. The last paragraph states -
The Senate further declares that only by proper economic planning, can Australia rapidly expand the resources required to meet its urgent needs in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare.
If there has been anything remarkable about Australia in the past 15 years it has been the fantastic economic growth of the country as a whole. I do not think one person in a thousand would deny that the people individually are infinitely more prosperous today than they were 10, 15 or 20 years ago. If any country has earned worldwide acclaim for its general economic development it has been Australia. I repeat, because I do not think a good thing can be repeated too often, that a very high compliment was paid to Australia some 18 months ago in the “Financial Times”. There is, as most honorable senators know, a system whereby, through the “ Financial Times “ Oscars are presented to various countries, not only Commonwealth countries, for outstanding performances in the year which has preceded the awarding of those Oscars. The awards are keenly sought after and a country has every reason to be proud of one and the commendation which accompanies the award. I have referred to this before, but I quote it again -
Best all-round economic performance. This much coveted award has been won by Australia. She earned it by managing to resume economic expansion at a fast rate while maintaining the balance of payments in robust condition and preserving a close approach to economic equilibrium in the internal field. The Committee recognised that Australia had been greatly helped by the heavy inflow of overseas capital but came to a conclusion that, allowing for (he . fact that this itself was partly explained by the efforts she had made to make such investment welcome, she was still entitled to the premier award.
Awards were given to various countries for other purposes. This year, the same authority gave to Australia one of the outstanding Oscar awards. I have the extract dealing with this award. I received it some two or three weeks ago. I intended to quote it this afternoon, but I could not find it before I came into the Senate. However, I have no doubt that I will have the opportunity of finding it in due course and using it on another occasion. In the light of world judgment we have every reason to be proud of the progress Australia has made. That being so, it .does not do us any good as a nation to have either our governments or our oppositions knocking the progress we have made. Knocking only reduces our stature in the eyes of other countries and, heavens above, no country at all, particularly a young and fast growing country like Australia, can afford to have its progress, quality, and advancement down graded by its own people for political purposes.
Having touched on the comments made and the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I shall move on to one or two matters that I would like to discuss on my own behalf. The first thing I want to say is that I believe the correct summing up of the country’s reaction to the Budget is an almost unanimous acknowledgement that it is realistic; that it is benign in its application; that, in spite of a necessary preoccupation with defence needs, there is not a diminution but even an increase in three vital factors. The first is in relation to our social service commitments. I think this matter will be traversed by one or two of my colleagues. The second is that there has been a very notable increase in this Budget in the financial assistance to be given to the States. The third point I make is that there has been a continuation of overall national development notwithstanding the obligation which must be met in relation to defence expenditure.
These, I think, are three outstanding features of the Budget. I want to examine them briefly because, unfortunately, there is a tendency among quite a number of people within the States to be critical when they do not understand the facts. I do not quarrel with criticism. Indeed, I think criticism is a very good thing. We can all do with a little bit of criticism. It helps to keep our feet on the ground. But those who are critics should try to be fair and just in their criticisms. It troubles me a great deal to find that there are many people who most extravagantly say that nothing is being done, for example, for the north of Australia. One hears this kind of statement quite often. It is not true to say that nothing is being done for the north of Australia. This is most easily demonstrated. We should not overlook the fact that the responsibility for developing Australia and also its natural resources is not uniquely the problem of the Federal Government. It is equally - sometimes it is much- more so - the problem of the State Governments. The State Governments, as we know and recognise, are handicapped a great deal, just as the Federal Government is handicapped, by having insufficient money to do all the things that they want to do.
Why has the fallacy grown up that the Federal Government has unlimited money at its disposal and that State Governments have practically none? This is wrong and unbalanced thinking. It is vital that our States carry out the role which is theirs quite properly, the role of development of their own State. I recognise this fact myself, and I was most delighted to see in the speech on the Estimates and Budget Papers delivered in the Senate by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) representing the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), a statement under the heading “ Payments to or for the States “. I think that this should be emphasised -
Payments to or for the States make up the largest item in the Budget. We estimate that this year they will reach £549,640,000 - and this does not include anything for the support we may have to provide for Loan Council borrowing programmes.
This next sentence is very significant - lt amounts to an increase of £61,402,000 or 12.6 per cent, over the payments made last year.
Within this increase of £61,402,000, about £37 million is duc to the rise’ in financial assistance grants this year under the new arrangements agreed wilh the States last June to cover the period 1965-1970.
I was very unhappy for many years with the previous financial agreement. I believe that we are getting to the stage where, under the new financial agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, a more realistic attitude is being adopted. After the transfer of taxing powers from the States to the Commonwealth, and the warning of the necessary criticism that accompanied it, we started to become adult in our attitude towards it. The sign of that adult attitude can be seen in this great increase as a result of the new agreement. The quotation continues -
Following recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, there will also be an increase of £5,025,000 this year in the Special Grant payable to Western Australia and Tasmania.
The Budget statement continues to deal with other factors which are worthy of quotation, lt says -
Grants to States for assistance for universities will be £22,714,000, an increase of more than £2,000,000 and we will be providing £9,953,000 for science laboratories and technical training, £750,000 for research grants and £1,000.000 for interim capital grants for Colleges of Advanced Education. The two latter items, amounting to £1,750.000, appear in the Budget for the first time this year.
Grants and advances to the States for developmental projects this year will total £11,567,000, which is £2,496,000 above the total for last year. Besides this, £14,238,000 is being provided for rail standardisation works in South Australia and Western Australia, an increase of £6,860.000 over last year. Those are relevant figures. I have quoted them because, unfortunately, when they are included in the Budget papers among a lot of other figures one is inclined to read them but not really assimilate what they represent.
During a debate on educational grants earlier this year I pointed out that the money paid annually by the Commonwealth Government to the States for education had risen during this Government’s term of office from some £6 million to some £55 million. I am quoting from memory, because this debate took place some months ago. This is a staggering increase. People do not realise what is being done by the Federal Government within the framework of what it considers to be its responsibilities. In addition, the Government is making record payments to the States this year. They total £549,640,000, which is an increase of 12.6 per cent, over the payments made last year. This is to enable the States to carry their own share of the responsibility for development. Having referred to that matter - and that alone, I believe, could usefully occupy one for a much longer period than I have devoted to it - I must move on to other things; otherwise I will not have time to mention them.
I want to refer to overall national development, and particularly to northern development. As you know, Sir, this has been a subject dear to my heart, and I may possibly almost be accused of making it my hobby horse. But I feel that it is of overwhelming importance. Reading the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in another place, I noted that he made what were presumably intended to be some witty comments about the resignation of Dr. Patterson from the Department of National Development. Let me make this very clear: I have met Dr. Patterson on many occasions. I believed, and I still believe, that he is a man of great capacity. I have approached him with many problems and many proposals relating to far northern development. I say that because it would be unfair for me to say otherwise. I feel that in the Northern Division of the Department he had the opportunity to do great things for Australia. I leave it at that. I do not want to make any further comment as far as he personally is concerned.
Several people, having read the Budget papers, have shown me the allocation of £174,000 for the Northern Division of the Department of National Development and have said: “ Can you wonder that Dr.
Patterson has resigned, this small amount having being allocated?” This is incorrect thinking. The Northern Division of the Department of National Development is not a spending division; it is an advisory division. If anybody is so infantile as to suppose that this £174,000 represents the total financial commitment of the Government in the north, I suggest he needs to do his homework a little better. One could spend a lot of time talking about what is being done for the north, but I will run through some of the activities very briefly. I will refer first of all to beef roads. I think Queenslanders should be reminded that an amount of £8.3 million was allocated to that State for the development of beef roads. Of this sum, £5 million was a grant and £3.3 million was a loan bearing interest. Is this not something for the good of the north? I say that anybody who would try to suggest that this is not benefiting the northern parts of Queensland and Western Australia and the Northern Territory does not know Australia.
Only three or four weeks ago I was at the Cairns show and saw some most interesting exhibits. There was a carcass competition fostered by the meat industry in that area. I visited the show this year and also last year. I do not profess to be an expert in classifying beef, but I was staggered to see the improvement in the condition of the cattle who were slaughtered and whose carcasses were subsequently judged at the show. Last year there was scarcely a carcass that did not have huge bruise marks on it as the result of the beast being carried over rough roads. This year, although the number of competitors had more than doubled, it was difficult to see a damaged carcass. This might not seem important to some people, but it is in fact vitally important. In our beef carcass trade, if cattle are slaughtered which have been bruised and injured whole sides of beef are downgraded and a great deal of money is lost. I elaborated on this matter during the debate on the bill dealing with roads last year, but I mention it again now because I regard it as being vitally important.
A further heavy increase was made quite recently in the financial allocations to the States for road building. One must not forget that much of this money goes to the northern parts of Australia. In these
Budget documents we read of assistance for Weipa being made available by the Government. I do not recall the precise amount, but I think it is £1.675 million. We should not forget that there is now a rehabilitated railway line from Townsville to Mount Isa and we should also not forget that that work was made possible largely because of financial assistance made available by the Commonwealth to the Queensland Government. Do not misunderstand me. The Queensland Government has done a mighty good job in this regard, and I would not for a moment take away the credit due to it for what it has done. It has done very well and was prepared to bear an even greater share of the cost had that been necessary. This work was done so well and expeditiously that the estimate, which I think was in the vicinity of £30 million, was underspent by some £3 million. It is pretty good, in these times of rising costs, when a job anticipated to cost some £30 million is completed for £3 million less than that. I give all the credit that is due to the Queensland Government for the success with which it has carried through this operation. But I will not take away from the Federal Government the credit for the assistance which it gave to the Queensland Government.
I dealt with the petrol price equalisation scheme a little while ago. I also hope that some interesting material will come from the report of the committee which was appointed to investigate freight costs in northern Australia. I think that the report is due in the very near future. I hope it will contain recommendations which will have a beneficial effect on much of the outback areas of Australia. Additionally if we turn to the estimates for the Department of National Development we see the provision for mineral survey and survey of water resources, which is by no means small, that is being made by the Federal Government towards the development of northern Australia.
I come now to what I think is some of the most outstanding and phenomenal work that has ever been done in northern Australia. I refer to the work of the Commonwealth Scientific, and Industrial Research Organisation. I was privileged to examine the work that this mighty organisation is doing. I do not know all the ramifications of the organisation, but I know of the work that it is doing in regard to pasture research. I know that 15 years ago there were literally millions of acres of land which was virtually useless, but today, because of the work of the C.S.I.R.O. in developing many different types of legumes which are suitable for those areas, the whole of the Cape York Peninsula and Gulf of Carpentaria areas can become mighty cattle producing areas.
Only two weeks ago I was at the recently established Townsville research station, f pay the highest tribute that I can to those responsible for this new development. The station is situated in an area which is certainly not good country. It is typical of thousands of acres of land in this region. 1 went to an area where three cattle were grazing on six acres of land. Because I was a guest at the station I felt that I could not be too critical. I looked at three cattle and 1 thought: “ How in the name of fortune can we take any credit for this?” But I did not say anything. I think that this rather surprised the person who was with me. We moved on to another area, which was similar in size and on which the same number of cattle were grazing. Incidentally, there were several of these areas. The cattle in the second area were worth three or four times the value of the cattle in the first area.
I started to ask questions. I said: “ Why do you put the poor cattle near the road and the good cattle at the back?” 1 discovered that this was a most outstanding illustration of the work carried out by the C.S.I.R.O. with identical cattle on country of the same carrying capacity. One lot of cattle were so rangy and poor that if I were seeking to buy cattle, especially breeders, I would not have paid £10 a head for them. The cattle in the other area were of the same breed and age. At the beginning of the experiment they had been identical in appearance to the poor cattle but were now in infinitely better condition. The reason for the difference in the appearance of the cattle was explained to me. The cattle which were in poor condition had been left to graze on the land just as it was. The cattle which were in magnificent condition had been grazing on land to which superphosphate had been applied.
One might say that is a perfectly simple process and not worth making a great deal of, but to me it was one of the most outstanding illustrations of the work of the C.S.I.R.O. that I have ever seen. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of this type of country. Any man who is interested in cattle raising can visit that station and see for himself how this country can be converted from virtually useless land to outstandingly good productive land. I pay the highest tribute to this organisation that is able to prove to the producer what can be done with such land. I will never stand by and allow anybody to criticise the C.S.I.R.O. without quickly doing all within my power to explain the splendid job that it is doing.
I have been very interested in this subject for quite a long time, but I shall move on to the next point that I want to make. I wish to refer to Volume 36, No. 5, of the “Current Affairs Bulletin” for July 1965. Its title is “Feeding Future Millions”. There is an article in it which deals with the population explosion, a problem that is spoken of quite widely these days. I sometimes wonder whether sufficient attention is being paid to this dreadfully important subject. I use those words “ dreadfully important “ for a particular reason. There are many experts in this field who say that before the turn of the century, the people on earth will be unable to feed the increased population. Before I deal with the beginning of this document, I wish to refer to a paragraph of this article, appearing on the second last page under the sub-heading “The Fourth Victory”. It states-
This CAB– that is, this bulletin - will have served its purpose if it has managed to convey something of the magnitude of the provisioning problem which faces the world in the remaining decades of this century, some measure of the production potential that agricultural science makes possible- meaning the C.S.I.R.O. and similar groups, although it does not refer specifically to any organisation - and some appreciation of institutional difficulties which stand in the way of increased food production in the under-developed countries.
That article appears towards the end of the publication, but there are some startling figures given at the beginning of it. It states that from the beginning of the Christian era to 1650 the population of the world increased from 250 million to 500 million. That was an increase of 250 million in 1,600 years. In the period from 1650 to 1850, which is the next period that is used for purposes of illustration, the population increased from 500 million to 1,000 million. That was an increase of 500 million in 200 years, whereas there was an increase of only 250 million in the first 1,600 years. In the next period, from 1850 to 1930 - a period of 80 years - the population increased from 1,000 million to 2,000 million. Growth projections indicate that in the current period of 45 years from 1930 to 1975 the world’s population will increase from 2,000 million to 4.000 million. This problem is being emphasised by many of our scientists, but unfortunately I do not think the seriousness of it has penetrated the minds of too many other people. I repeat that in the current 45 year period the world’s population will increase by 2,000 million whereas in the first 1,600 years of the Christian era the increase was only 250 million. This problem must be solved. It is one in relation to which every country has a responsibility.
Now I come to a subject that I have mentioned in this place before - the fact that the Peninsula area of Australia is capable of tremendous development for the production of food.
– Does the honorable senator mean the Cape York Peninsula?
– Yes. I go further and say that the area right across Australia, north of the Tropic of Capricorn, which is producing comparatively little and most of which is producing very little indeed, is capable of almost unlimited production if the problem is approached in the right way. I have written several papers on this subject. I wrote one last year, which I delivered on 22nd September. This paper was written entirely by myself; I did not quote from anybody else. I submitted this eight page paper to every authority I could think of, including Dr. Patterson of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, as a proposal for the development of the northern part of Australia. I sought criticism of the paper, but so far I have not received any. All who have commented have told me that they believe it to be one of the soundest proposals for de- velopment that they have read. I would not have had the temerity to mention that to honorable senators except that just recently I became possessed of a booklet which is an extract from the journal of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science of June 1965. The article in that booklet was written nine months after I prepared my own paper. So it will be seen that I did not crib anything from it. This article was prepared by Dr. Davies and Mr. Eccles of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization; they are experts and not amateurs like myself. It confirms almost every proposal that I advanced for the development of north Australia.
I wish that I had not been so verbose. If I had refrained from talking so much about other subjects I would have quoted from my paper, because I believe it is relevant to the problem that we are facing today. May I say in all sincerity and modesty that I shall put the paper in the Library and anybody who wishes to read it may do so. Honorable senators may kick it to pieces as much as they like as long as, having kicked it to pieces, they produce something a little better in its place. If the proposals contained in that paper were followed by the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments, this area which I have referred to as the area of maximum hardship - it corresponds to taxation zone A - could be converted from a semi-deserted region to one that literally flowed with milk and honey. Perhaps I cannot guarantee the honey, but I can guarantee that its place would be taken by something that is even more valuable - unlimited quantities of beef for the populations of the world.
– When dealing with the documents that we are discussing today it is necessary for us to acknowledge certain facts. We must acknowledge that governments are lawfully empowered to raise from the people the money they wish to spend for the people. It is an outstanding feature of the British parliamentary system of government that governments furnish the people with accounts showing in detail the sums spent in the preceding financial year and the sums they propose to spend for the benefit of the people in the current financial year. It is acknowledged by everybody that governments have certain ways in which they may collect money and provide themselves with funds. The Commonwealth Government is required also to provide the six State Governments with substantial sums of money. I shall deal with that subject perhaps a little later. There is laid upon the Government the necessity to levy taxation and for the Government in turn to do certain things for the benefit of the people. 1 have in my hand a newspaper report under the heading, “All Taxes Cut”. It reads -
Income levy down 12i p.c.
The . . . Budget cuts income, company, payroll, and sales tax.
It cuts income tax on individuals by an average of 124 per cent, from July 1 last.
Then it proceeds -
The cuts are on a sliding scale, so that people on lower incomes benefit by more than 124 per cent, and those on higher incomes by less than 124 per cent.
Dealing with various other taxes, it states -
Excise duty on whisky, rum and other spirits has been reduced by 3s. 6d. a bottle but is still more than 10s. a bottle.
The Government has reduced sales tax to two categories - -16-2/3rds. per cent, and 124 per cent.
Then it states -
Invalid, old age, widows and war widows pensions, the general rate war pension, and service pension have all been increased by 2s. 6d. a week.
I shall offer a packet of cigarettes at the old price to any honorable senator who can tell me the year in which that Budget was introduced.
– Was it 1947?
– The Minister is allowed only one guess. He is wrong.
– What year was it?
– It was in 1953-54. So I still have the packet of cigarettes in my pocket; I am the winner. I guarantee that while this Government is in power we will never again hear anything like that. The Government reduced taxation very substantially 12 years ago, but what has it done since? I will not deal with the problem of inflation now. The Government has whittled down all the benefits that it granted to companies in 1953-54. It has taken from individuals, too, the small benefit that it had granted to them. The amount which pensioners were receiving in 1933 and 1934 is the same amount as they are receiving at present, if we consider only the purchasing power of money. I acknowledge that the Government increased pensions by 5s. a week last year. It does not propose to increase pensions this year, because next year will be an election year and the time will then be ripe to increase pensions. Comparing the pension which is payable at present with the pension payable 15 years ago, one finds that today’s pension will not purchase for the pensioner one whit more in food or the other essentials of life than the pension received years ago.
Last year the Government abolished the rebate of 6d. in the £1 in company tax. Companies now pay the full rate of tax prescribed in the schedules. Last year the Government also abolished the 5 per cent, rebate in the income tax paid by individuals. This year company tax has been allowed to remain static, but individuals will be required to pay increased taxation. The rate has been raised by 6d. in the £1. We know that companies operate in all of the principal industries in the Commonwealth. We have witnessed their growth over the past 20 or 30 years and we see that they are a very important factor in the economic life of the Commonwealth and, for that matter, of every other country.
One might ask whether the companies are prosperous and whether they have been making profits. It does happen that on the stock exchange sales of stocks of the principal companies have decreased by 19 per cent, during the past 12 months. Certain reasons have been advanced for that decrease. One of these is the monetary policy of the Reserve Bank of Australia. I know that to a great extent the Reserve Bank can design and carry out its own policy, but every governmental institution must, to some degree, lean towards the policy of the Government, and the Reserve Bank is not exempt from that requirement. One of the things that rather amazes me at a time like this is the maximum rate of interest which the banks charge on overdrafts. In 1949-50, when this Government came into power, the bank overdraft rate was 44 per cent. That rate continued until 1953, when it was increased to 5 per cent. In 1956 and 1957 the rate was 6 per cent. It later rose to 7 per cent, and at present it is 7i per cent. That information may be obtained from the latest report of the Reserve Bank.
Let me turn to indirect taxation. Last year excise was increased by 3d. a packet of 20 cigarettes and 3d. a two ounce packet of tobacco. This year the Government has repeated the performance. It has applied a similar increase. I know why it does that. There is no federal association known as a cigarette smokers’ union to protest about these things and to put pressure upon the Government for relief. When this Government is preparing the tax schedules there is an open season for cigarette and tobacco smokers and spirits and beer drinkers. So the Government collects more from certain sections with the people than it does from others. These facts are worth mentioning.
The Government has not increased all the taxes which it increased last year, because to do so would have been very unpopular. I am sure that it will not touch them for a number of years. Television viewers’ licences were increased last year by £1 to £6 a year. This is a country in which the population is comparatively sparse. Television is a form of entertainment and of communication with the people that should not bear a high tax. If information is to be given to the people about Vietnam or any other matter of importance, they should be encouraged to make use of television.
Charges relating to another branch of the communications system throughout the Commonwealth were increased last year. Telephone rental and connection fees were increased by between 50 and 100 per cent. That is an increase which the people felt. Business houses and companies manufacturing goods, naturally, pass on these increased charges. Superannuation funds were left alone by the Government last year. They are taxed at the rate of 6d. in the £1. Air navigation charges were increased by 20 per cent. The licence fees of television and radio stations were increased. As I said a little while ago, the Government increased pensions last year by 5s. a week. This increase was applied to age and widow pensioners, sufferers from tuberculosis and some ex-servicemen. This year there is no substantial increase at all in pensions. This is something which I must query for certain reasons before I resume my seat.
Last year, when I commenced my speech on the Budget, I said that 1964 was the first year in which the Budget provided for a sum of over £2,000 million. A message came to me to the effect that I had seen nothing yet, and that I should wait till the following year. This year, of course, the Budget amounts to more than £2,500 million. By reading the Budget speeches for the past 15 years, one gets a complete history of inflation in Australia. When it comes to levying taxation, the Government knows what it is doing. Believe me, it has at hand skilled experts in the Treasury. Any government can function if it relies entirely upon Treasury officials, and it appears to me that, this Budget was very carefully prepared by Treasury officials.
An amount of £9 million extra will be raised by customs duties this year. I do not know whether it is anticipated that international trading will increase and that more goods will come into Australia to attract customs duties, thus increasing revenue by £9 million, or whether the rates of duty are to be increased. Excise is to yield a bonanza. An increase of £67.9 million is to be received this year from excise. It is expected that sales tax will yield an extra £15 million and I have no doubt that that will be the case. I am confident that all the expected increases will be realised. I believe that customs revenue will increase by more than £9 million, excise revenue by more than £67 million and sales tax revenue by more than £15 million. I said at this time last year what I expected would be obtained from increases in indirect taxation and it happens that I was correct.
In collecting income tax the Government deals with two classes of people: Those taxpayers who pay as they earn and those who obtain their income from sources other than salaries and wages and pay their income tax at the end of the year. It is proposed to collect from the individuals in the community £96.8 million more than was collected last year. Of course, that expectation will be realised because the increase of 2i per cent, in income tax is sufficient to produce that sum. Those taxpayers who pay income tax once a year will have to pay £16.6 million more. Companies will pay the moderate increase of £38 million over last year’s taxation.
A form of taxation known as uniform taxation operates in the Commonwealth. I subscribe to that form of taxation because I think that it is the best form possible. A company operating in the eastern part of the
Commonwealth is required to pay taxation at no higher rate than a company operating in the western part of” the Commonwealth. There is no difference in the rates applicable in all the States. It is a uniform rate of tax. This system of taxation was introduced by a Labour government and I believe it will last while we have a Commonwealth. Now and again the Stales object to uniform taxation, but when they examine the whole scheme they find that there is nothing worth complaining about.
In the field of indirect taxation, the Commonwealth has the exclusive right in respect of excise, customs duties, payroll tax and similar indirect forms of taxation. No State can enter into those fields. It appears that the Commonwealth Government is exercising its lawful powers to tax the people and obtain funds for the purpose of spending the money for the benefit of the people. That is its judgment. This system of revenue raising has been adopted commonly by people who recently have been granted self-government, lt has been tried over the years. Wars have been fought to establish this form of government, and we have to submit.
In examining the Government’s expenditure we must ask ourselves some questions. Many of those questions can be reserved until the Senate is discussing the Estimates, but it is just as well in a discussion on the Budget to raise certain matters. It would be very helpful if the Government when presenting the Budget would also outline some of its policies. I do not say that it should outline its major or most important policies, because they could be regarded as private. However, some policies should be publicised by the Government. I. refer to several very important policies. For instance, sections of the Commonwealth Public Service are housed in privately owned buildings. I know that in Brisbane sections of the Commonwealth Public Service occupy insurance buildings. I think the Government should make clear to what extent it is prepared to use private buildings for that purpose, or whether it is forced to do so because it cannot construct its own buildings. Some explanation should be made.
I should also like to hear explained the Government’s policy in respect of trading with under-developed countries. I do not expect the Government to disclose to us any of its secrets but some things should be made public. The Government’s purchasing policy is another example. The Commonwealth Government is one of the biggest buyers of domestic goods in the Commonwealth. Nearly all of the goods are purchased in Melbourne, merely because the Commonwealth Government once operated there. A study of the operations of the Department of Supply shows that nearly all of the factories which provide that Department with its requirements are located in Melbourne. I would like to see a policy in writing from the Government so that I could be made aware whether the Government is following a policy .of decentralisation or of centralisation.
At this time of the year I should like to see handed down, with the Budget an explanation of the Government’s policy in relation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Are we strictly to observe the provisions of that Agreement or are wc to make trading pacts and obviate as far as possible the requirements of G.A.T.T.?
I- could mention many other smaller aspects of Government policy which, taken as a whole, are of the greatest importance. In respect of disbursements in the coming year, the Government is to spend about £81 million more on defence than it did last year. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced recently in a short sentence the fact that we were at war. Those were his words. He said: “ We are at war “. As a matter of fact, we are. It happens that the typical senator does not know the items relating to expenditure on defence services. I believe that no senator, other than the Ministers, can tell us with any accuracy the number of warships owned by the Commonwealth, the number of barges, the number of aircraft and their types. Most senators cannot tell us what this country is manufacturing at the present time. I am one who does not want to know. I believe that, it is the prerogative of the Government and of the Minister for Defence to know all those things.
Occasionally we turn up some magazine, published either in the Commonwealth or overseas, and we find a long list of things which the magazine claims are owned by the Commonwealth. We do not know what kind of submarines the Commonwealth is buying, whether they are the Oberon type or the old fashioned kind. I never seek information about those things. We must trust the Government and the Minister for Defence. These facts are not revealed in the Parliament. No country reveals how it is spending its money on defence.
This year the Government proposes to spend an additional £81 million on defence. Last year we voted £297 million and hoped for the best. The members of the Australian Labour Party, and no doubt every worthwhile citizen in the Commonwealth, believe in the defence of Australia, but we are in the dark. We do not know how the money is being spent. However, we do not ask too many questions on this subject. I am not one who asks every day of the week what defence equipment, what ships, submarines, aircraft, bombs and other things are being purchased.
I come now to a rather substantial item. The Government proposes to allocate to the States this year £61.4 million more than was allocated last year, when the grants to the States for their requirements totalled about £488 million. This is really a corollary of the adoption of the system of uniform taxation, by which the Commonwealth collects the taxes and then allocates to the States, according to a formula, the sums to which they are entitled. Of course, the States always claim that they are not receiving enough from the Commonwealth and they always ask for more. This is understandable, because we know that heavy demands are continually being made on the States.
The allocation to the National Welfare Fund will be increased this year by £25 million. There is no need for alarm about this increased allocation, because the Government continually widens the scope of the calls upon the Fund. As an example, the homes savings grants are included in it. Any new expenditure which is related to public welfare comes out of the National Welfare Fund.
As I have said, I do not expect the Minister for Defence to tell the Senate all the details of his Department’s operations, such as the number of men in the Army, the number of sailors being trained, the location of ships and so on. However, I suggest that he should give attention to one aspect. The Prime Minister has told the country that we are at war. If we are at war now, the action is confined to South Vietnam, but who can say whether next year the conflict will spread to another quarter and finally reach the shores of the Commonwealth. The secret of Hitler’s success in the Second World War was that he had trained tradesmen in the workshops in Germany. The Minister is not in the chamber at present but he can read my speech later. What is he doing in relation to tradesmen? I do not think he has done a thing about them. If we are at war, the Commonwealth has full right to step into the apprenticeship field and handle the whole question of apprenticeship in Australia. I hesitate to suggest that it do so, but at least it should co-operate closely with all State Governments in the training of apprentices.
I could ask the Minister a question about this matter and I am sure that he could not answer it, despite the fact that there are clever men in the Department of Labour and National Service. He could tell me perhaps in a week or a fortnight the number of fitters and turners and perhaps the number of boilermakers in the Commonwealth, but if I asked for the number of toolmakers he could not give me the information within two months. I know from practical experience that he would not be able to do it. If ever the occasion arises for Australia to look to its army of tradesmen, the Minister will have another hard task put upon his shoulders. This is a matter that he could look into. It would be for the benefit of the nation. I believe that the Commonwealth Government, because of its financial obligations, because of its various commitments and because it is associated so closely now with the country’s development, should not remain aloof from the training of tradesmen. It should interest itself in this subject, provide better training facilities and give our tradesmen the opportunity to become as highly skilled as the tradesmen of any other country.
I have mentioned that the States have many obligations. There are, for example, the construction of roads and the provision of schools. These obligations are increasing every year because of the Commonwealth Government’s migration programme, by which many thousands of men, women and children have been brought to Australia. They have to be provided with homes. When they are provided with homes, streets have to be constructed. Street lighting and the facilities which go into every home in a civilised community then have to be provided. If the children are of school age, school facilities must be provided. The Commonwealth Government’s migration programme has placed a continuing heavy financial burden upon the States. If 100,000 people are brought to Australia from other countries, houses must be found for them. As the number of migrants increases, the expenditure becomes more onerous for the States.
I mentioned briefly payments for age pensioners and other pensioners. Let us face facts. This is not a poor country. We can make any comparison we wish between Australia’s prosperity and national income and those of other countries, but we must come to the conclusion that Australia is not a poor country. There are times when we have excess supplies of food. We have been successful in selling wheat, dairy produce and meats to other countries, although ready markets have not always been available. Surely to goodness, we could feed our pensioners better than we do with our surplus stocks. Of course, the only way in which they can be fed decently is to increase their pension. There should not be any trouble about selling our surplus food. We could always increase the pension and relieve the pensioners of some of their burden. As 1 said, we are not a poor country and the pensioners at least should be privileged to live decently.
I turn now to prices. The Government has a dreadful record in regard to increased prices. Its record stretches back to the day it became a Government. It is acknowledged by economists, and mathematicians that the best gauge of inflation in the Commonwealth is the basic wage. When the basic wage is increased because of higher prices, because of the consumer price index or for any other reason, it is a record of inflation. Over the years since this Government was returned to office there is a complete record of inflation in the Commonwealth. When Sir William Spooner was Leader of the Government in the Senate he always acknowledged that the best yardstick of inflation of prices was the basic wage. He never made any bones about it.
The Government was elected in December 1949 and on 30th January 1950 the basic wage was £6 Ils. a week. I am not going to give details of the basic wage rales throughout the years although I can do so if any honorable senator asks me. In 1955 the basic wage was £11 9s. a week. In 1960 it had risen to £13 lis. and at present is £15 6s. It should be more now because that basic wage rate was fixed in December 1964 and prices have increased considerably since then. One of the reasons is the high price of meat in Queensland and New South Wales. Honorable senators know why meat prices have increased and they realise that we are powerless to deal with the problem. Nevertheless, we are a meat eating race and when meat prices rise, people should be paid more to cover the extra cost.
I know the amount the Government has provided for the construction of beef roads although I do not propose to quote it. 1 say that the Government should give up the construction of beef roads for a while because there are very few cattle in the areas involved to be transported anywhere. Many of them have died during the drought. Queensland has always carried about 7 million head of cattle and 22 million head of sheep. New South Wales has always had about 70 million sheep and 3.5 million head of cattle. If we were to have a bang-tail muster tomorrow to ascertain how many sheep and cattle there were in the States, I am sure the result would convince the Treasurer that he should have spent more time on. this subject in his Budget Speech than he did. He approached the question of drought at a speed of 70 miles an hour. He merely looked at the question and passed on at 80 miles an hour. Today, the Prime Minister had to make a statement of six or seven pages for both Houses about the great drought.
The drought is far more serious than we are prepared to acknowledge. Most honorable senators know that a bullock is not put on the market until it is approximately four years old, when it is fully developed. Breeding cattle have died and must be replaced. The funds of many cattle growers are giving out. It was the policy of the big cattle holdings and the sheep runs when confronted with a drought to allow the stock to die. They found it was cheaper to let the stock die than to feed them. Feeding the stock was an impossibility. If the owners tried to feed the stock they would have been bankrupt in a year or so and when the drought was over they would not have had any stock or any money. They have not improved their position in that way. I know of properties in Queensland which were running 55,000 sheep. When a drought came they let the sheep die and when the drought was over they would have 3,000 or 4,000 sheep on the property. That is the position today.
There has been an improvement in the provision of water facilities in all parts of Australia because of the machinery that is used for water conservation. It is possible to build weirs on watercourses and dams to conserve water where such work would have been far too costly many years ago. We have reached the stage in our development where water on grazing properties and elsewhere is not the problem it was 20 to 30 years ago. But stock cannot live on water alone. They must have feed. That is why I make this suggestion: Forget about beef roads. Never mind giving poor cattle or fat cattle flash rides on macadamised roads. Provide funds to the States for silos to be constructed on the properties. This should be done in a businesslike way. If a man has a holding, he should be able to raise the funds in the first year or two to construct a silo. This work requires cement and steel but once it is constructed, a silo is there for ever, with a little maintenance.
Some of the progressive cattle raisers and others have had silos and have had the means of conserving fodder on their properties. They have kept their stock alive. They have not been able to feed them as generously as they would wish but they have kept them alive and will probably have them alive at the end of the drought. The feed that is put into a silo is really waste grass. Mitchell grass or good succulent grass can be put in, but other types of grass also can be used. You can conserve the best hay if you like and it will be preserved for any number of years. When I asked how long ensilage would last I was told it would keep indefinitely. Millions of pounds could be spent in providing ensilage on the properties to feed sheep and cattle.
This is only common sense because in Queensland there is one partial drought for every two good seasons. There may be three good seasons and then a severe drought. There is no way that the problem can be solved. Capital is required - that is acknowledged - but the Government should realise that it is worthwhile making capital available to people on the land to enable them to build silos so that their stock can be fed adequately during periods of drought. Immediately the rains come, the countryside soon responds and there are lush pastures once more. The cattlemen can then fatten their stock quickly. That stock can go to the meatworks to produce some export goods. As a matter of fact, the proposition is gold tinted as far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned. I do not think honorable senators would find one person who would object to an increase in some form of taxation- direct taxation or income tax - if the money received from that increase was to be spent in this way.
I know what the wealth of the cattle industry in Queensland means to many towns there. I know that there are thousands of men engaged in the meat industry at the present time notwithstanding the drought. I know also that some of the comparatively large cities in Queensland would face a drought themselves - that is, a business drought - if it were not for the meatworks that are operating within or adjacent to their boundaries. That is another good reason why the resources of the Reserve Bank or the revenue gained from taxation should be used to do something to relieve the losses incurred through drought.
Some honorable senators have lived sheltered lives and have never wanted for anything. They have never seen want. They have never seen 500 or 600 head of cattle starving, ft would do them good - it would be an education for them - if they could be transported from Brisbane to the south west of Queensland to see just what the drought has done to the land. Perhaps the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) will make that trip possible. It only means a few plane trips, and honorable senators would be out in that country and could see for themselves what is going on there. I am not going to let this matter rest. I hope that the members of the Country Party will return here in a week or two with stock whips so that they can lay the whips about the Government and force it to make funds available for the purpose of preventing losses in the country through the ravages of drought.
When we were here earlier in the year, I asked why there was not a Minister for Tourism in the Commonwealth Government
As I have said before, Australia is not a poor country and there should be a Minister for Tourism. 1 noticed subsequently in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ that a position of Director of Tourism was advertised. The person holding that position might be able to do all that a Minister for Tourism could do, but the Government should not be hesitant about appointing another Minister for a specific purpose. Australia would gain millions of pounds more a year if it took a greater interest in tourists. If the position advertised in the *’ Gazette “ is filled, the Director of Tourism need not co-ordinate the services which are being conducted at the present time in respect of tourism by the States, but I am sure that if he could co-operate with the States, more money would flow into the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth would be repaid handsomely for any expenses it incurred.
I wish to refer briefly to the tobacco industry. This is a battlers’ industry. If honorable senators were to go up to Queensland and visit the Dimbulah or Mareeba districts where tobacco is grown, they would find that this is an industry in which many battlers are engaged. That is, these people have a small amount of capital which they invest in tobacco growing lands. Water and irrigation are provided and they are able to grow tobacco successfully. I have been informed that the quality of the tobacco leaf grown, in Queensland is equal to the quality of any tobacco leaf produced in any other country. Yet the Queensland growers are unable to sell their leaf in the open market. One has enough common sense to ask who the buyers are. The buyers happen to be the tobacco manufacturers of the Commonwealth. This is where the Commonwealth Government should step in. It permits the tobacco manufacturers to import leaf and manufacture cigarettes with tobacco from other countries. That tobacco leaf is brought into Australia while the leaf of our growers remains unsold. It is a topsy turvy way of administering the affairs of government to allow that to be done.
– Is the honorable senator sure that all leaf is of good quality?
– I am sure it is of excellent quality. The honorable senator is from Western Australia. Better tobacco is grown in Queensland than is produced in
Western Australia. But the honorable senator has raised a very important question. What would it matter if this leaf were not of excellent quality? Is not smoking only a question of the palate? Is it not like good beer or bad beer? Is it not like Corio whisky or Johnnie Walker whisky? One arrives at the same thing. But the tobacco grown in Queensland, 1 assure the honorable senator, is of good quality. I have been, told this by experts, not just by the growers themselves. In any case, it is an Austral ian produced leaf. Let us have cigarettes made out of the Australian grown tobacco and let Australians smoke those cigarettes. If they begin to smoke those cigarettes they will never know there is a better cigarette. As 1 said a while ago, it is only a question of palate. It is like the scones we have at our own homes. They are always better than the scones we have in a cafe because we are accustomed to the scones made at home and we know something about them. 1 turn now to civil aviation. We have in Brisbane a pretty good air terminal. The runways are well kept. I will say that they are strong. Up to the present, they have taken the jets and other aircraft which have landed at the airport. But there are several buildings there which were made during the war. They are of the igloo type. Each building takes the shape of a billy can cut in half and just deposited on the ground. One big igloo is occupied by Ansett-A.N.A. and another by Trans-Australia Airlines. I will say this: When a person is in one of those buildings, he will find that he is in a better building than he would be in at Sydney, or at any other airport. The services provided there are quite equal to those at any other capital city airport except Perth. But they are good. Between these two igloos there is a big igloo. It is commonly known as the middle igloo, lt happens to be the international air terminal at Brisbane.
Recently Sydney had 9 or 10 inches of rain and some jet planes were unable to land at Mascot. They came to Brisbane with the result that there were 400 or 500 international passengers in the middle igloo. There were no facilities for providing them with refreshments. There was a leaking roof and passengers began to get wet. Of course, they enjoyed it because it was romantic. But they only enjoyed it up to a point, until they became uncomfortable. Then the matter became serious. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) is not here at the moment. I am not saying anything against him; too many honorable senators did that yesterday. I leave him alone. But there ‘must be some spare potato sacks in Tasmania, and we have tar in Queensland. The old potato sacks could be brought up from Tasmania, and then it would be a simple matter for the Department of Civil Aviation to arrange for somebody to dip some of the sacks in tar, climb onto the roof of the igloo building and poke the tarred sacks into the holes there. This would then be the only international air terminal building in the world that had tarred sacks stuck into the holes in the roof to prevent people from getting wet. If this concentration of traffic occurs again there could be a shortage of food at the airport. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a supply of green stringy bark taken there, so that if we had to accommodate 400 or 500 international visitors on a wet day some one could use the green stringy bark to send smoke signals to any Aborigines who might be camped within 40 or 50 miles of Brisbane, so that they would know how many cooked snakes, wallabies or other things of that kind to bring in to provide refreshments for the international visitors.
Before concluding, I want to mention a matter that must give great concern to pretty well everybody in the Commonwealth. 1 refer to the carnage on our roads. It is not possible to pick up a daily paper in any State without reading that some young man has driven his car into a truck or a telephone pole and has been killed, and that two or three other people have been seriously injured in the accident. So far as those who are killed are concerned, their lives are over. But what of those who are spared but are crippled for life? The number of crippled people is increasing daily. Some of them are paralysed from the waist down. What is their future? Some of them are only in their teens, and some are children of parents who are not in a financial position to support them. I would like to see an institution established to provide homes in each State for people who are permanently crippled through road accidents.
– There is a spinal unit in Victoria, under Dr. Cheshire.
– I hope the honorable senator will tell us about it when she speaks to the Budget.
– 1 will be happy to do so.
– This is a gap in the social services of all the States today. It is sad to see a young person, 17 or 18 years of age, more or less committed to a wheelchair for life.
My time is running out, but there are many other things I would like to talk about. One is the sugar industry. The price of sugar has fallen from £62 per ton to £34 per ton, affecting the incomes of the sugar growers. I am pleased to say that the employment situation in Queensland is fairly good. I have no complaint to make about it on this occasion. I think everybody knows that if there is cause for complaint about unemployment, I will voice my complaint unhesitatingly. I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly, which amounts to a motion of censure on the Government for its Budget.
.- I rise to support the Budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). I have been amazed at the language used by the Opposition in describing the Budget because it seems to me, not only from my reading of the newspapers published in the various States but also from my contacts with many people since the Budget was presented - I took the opportunity of talking about it to as many people as possible in various walks of life so that I could get their comments - that although the people are not pleased with the extra taxation they expected some increase and fully approve of the steps that are to be taken to provide for the welfare of Australia over the next 12 months. It seemed to me that the people realise that Australia is faced with serious problems at home and abroad and that they expected a large increase in defence expenditure. The £386 million allocated for the defence of Australia is readily accepted by all the people.
Another matter which is causing the people concern is the very great need to build up our work force. They realise that we must not only defend our country but also develop it and, therefore, that our work force must bc built up. At this stage f. would like to congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) on the work of his Department during 1964-65 in bringing to Australia a total of 140,152 migrants. A disturbing factor of the increase of immigration by over 17 per cent, in the last 12 months is that the number of male migrants exceeded the number of females by 9,000. It will be remembered that on a previous occasion the imbalance was very serious indeed and that steps were taken to increase the number of women among the migrants coming to Australia. It is to be hoped that this imbalance will be rectified, because if male migrants are to be satisfactorily assimilated it is necessary that women from their countries be brought here too, thus enabling marriages to take place and homes to bc established. That is essential if these people are to settle happily in Australia.
Senator Benn repeatedly used the phrase: “ This is not a poor country “. I think that is an extraordinary phrase to use in regard to Australia. The more I see of it - I am grateful for the opportunity to see a great deal of it - the more f. am struck by the wonderful potential of our country and the extent of the sources of wealth that are here but need to be developed. It is heartening to see the increase of £61 million in the grants to the States, as well as the capital grants for special developmental projects. 1 was as interested to see the development taking place at Port Hedland, Derby, Kununurra and along the Ord River as I was previously to see the wonderful developmental schemes in Queensland and the Northern Territory. 1 am very glad indeed that under the heading “ Capital Works and Services “, which includes civil aviation facilities, an extra £3 million is to be provided this year. The greater part of this increased expenditure will be devoted to the Tullamarine and Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airports. We in Victoria have long wanted this airport at Tullamarine. We consider that the industrial progress of Victoria is such that the airport is needed. Although primary production in Victoria is a tremendously important part of our economy, nevertheless, our secondary industries are growing rapidly. We are justly proud of the progress that has been made.
Senator Kennelly, in speaking to the amendment which he moved, referred to the erosion of living standards because of recent price rises. One of the indications he gave of the lower living standards was the fact that a great number of women are now in employment. 1 read recently that up till April in the 1964-65 financial year, the rate of employment of females was much greater than the rate of employment of males. The female rate increased by 5.4 per cent, and the male rate by 3.1 per cent. The figures indicated that at the beginning of the financial year the number of women unemployed was greater than the number of men unemployed. But they also indicated that women are entering employment, probably because of the high demand for labour. This trend applies, not only in Australia, but throughout the world. The clock cannot be turned back. Women aTe seeking employment in all fields and at all levels both in the developed countries and in the developing countries. Of course, some of them are seeking employment through sheer necessity. But others are entering professions, industries, business and commerce because of their interest in this work. Therefore, the number of women in employment cannot be taken as an indication that the standard of living has dropped.
I have been told that the building industry is a sound guide to the prosperity of a nation. I have figures here which show that the value of work carried out on the construction of new buildings rose by 6 per cent, in 1962-63, by 16 per cent, in 1963-64 and by 18 per cent, in the first half of 1.964-65. I suggest that this Government has taken every possible step to enable young people to develop their own standards of living by giving them the means of education. The grants to the States for assistance for universities will reach a figure of £22,714,000 this year. This will enable many more boys and girls to obtain tertiary education.
To undertake the development that we have planned in this country we need not only people with tertiary education, but also people who have been educated in the scientific and technical fields. It was with very great pleasure indeed that T read in the Budget Speech that for the first time an amount of £750,000 is to be provided for research grants, and that there is to be an interim capital grant of £1 million for Colleges of Advanced Education. I suggest that these are figures which bring great satisfaction to all who are interested in and aware of the very great problem of providing education for our young people.
The picture for people who are in less fortunate circumstances in our community is not such a happy one. I, in common with many others throughout the Commonwealth, wish that the people who are completely dependent upon their pensions could have received an increase. Nevertheless, it is a fact that expenditure from the National Welfare Fund is the second largest item in the Budget and shows an increase of more than £20 million for the coming year.
We know that in 1958 the single pensioner who, after all, is greatly in need because he is solely dependent on his pension and has to pay rent, received 10s. a week supplementary assistance. It is proposed that that amount will be increased to £1 a week. Moreover, it is pleasing to note that although the pensioner may have very little money over and above his pension, he will receive a proportion of that £1 until his means as assessed reach the equivalent of £1 10s. a week. Also, the wife of an aged pensioner who has the care of a child will receive an allowance of £3 a week. This is a new provision and it is greatly welcomed by all who are interested in social service work. Not only is the wife to receive an allowance of £3 a week, but the supplementary assistance of £1 a week to a married couple will be given where the husband is a pensioner and his wife receives the wife’s allowance. In these circumstances the husband’s pension will be increased to the standard rate of £6 a week.
Another item which appears in the Budget for the first time is the allowance to a guardian, that is, a widower or an unmarried person receiving an age or invalid pension who has the care of a dependent child. That person will receive £2 a week, and also 15s. a week for the child.
– Does the honorable senator think that this provision will affect many people?
– I think it will affect quite a number of people. I should imagine that these guardians will be very glad indeed to receive, not only the guardian’s allowance, but also the child’s allowance. The child’s allowance of 15s. per week will be extended to the dependent child of an age pensioner.
Honorable senators opposite have expressed gratification regarding the proposed alteration of the Pensioner Medical Service. No doubt they have made representations along these lines. But nevertheless, much useful work has been done in this connection by the members of the Government’s Social Services Committee. The members of that Committee are extremely gratified that the scope of the Pensioner Medical Service has been broadened and that the existing means test governing eligibility for enrolment has been removed. It will enable 120,000 age, invalid, widow and service pensioners and 17,000 of their dependants to enrol from 1st January 1966. It is estimated that, this will cost about £2 million, but we must think not just of that sum but of the fact that under the pensioner medical scheme care and benefits will be given to approximately one million people. They will receive free general practitioner medical treatment and pharmaceutical benefits, as is the case now, and also free public ward treatment in public hospitals. 1 suggest that this is a very real benefit to the people concerned, and we must be glad that this provision has been made in the Budget for 1965-66. The Government Members Committee on Social Services is extremely gratified at the fact that the age governing payments to pensioners for children who are receiving full time education has been raised from 18 years to 21 years.
Looking through the list of benefits to be provided from the National Welfare Fund, 1 note that provision is made for rehabilitation. I wish that this scheme could be extended. At the present time a housewife is not eligible for the benefits and the vocational training allowances that are provided under the general scheme for treatment and rehabilitation. There is a very great need for more sheltered workshops to be provided. I urge the Government to make provision in next year’s Budget for the payment of a subsidy to institutions and groups that are interested in the establishment of sheltered workshops where invalids and physically and mentally handicapped persons may be assisted to lead useful lives. I have visited some of these workshops and have been immensely interested in the improved outlook on life that has been gained by such people when they have been able to use whatever skills they possess. I suggest that their interest in living would be still further increased if they were given some useful work by more commercial houses and were to receive some remuneration for it. That remuneration should not be such that it would cancel out their pension but such that it would enable them to have some pocket money and to realise that their work had been recognised by the community.
J suggest that some extra remuneration should be given to the class A civilian widow. I would hope that the permissible income of these people could be increased. At the present time they are allowed to earn 10s. a week in respect of each child under the age of 16 years who is undergoing full time education. I suggest that it is reasonable to expect this amount to be increased. To increase it would be of tremendous benefit to many of the women whom Senator Kennelly probably had in mind and who are now forced to seek employment but who can earn up to only £3 10s. a week. While speaking of people who are in need, let us not forget the very brave women who are bringing up a family in very difficult circumstances as the result of the death or desertion of their husbands. 1 rejoice in the fact that a substantial increase has been made in the funds to be made available to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. I note that over the next three years the sum of £420,000 is to be allocated to this organisation. There is to be an increase of £25,000 a year in the capital subsidy and an increase of £20,000 a year in the operational subsidy. I have seen the Royal Flying Doctor Service operating from Alice Springs. I was privileged to listen in to a session that was conducted by the doctor who was in charge. I saw on the wall of the office a map which indicated the number of stations and centres that are in contact with the Service, and I can quite appreciate the significance of the reference, in the statement prepared by the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz), to the fact that in 1964 aircraft belonging to the Service flew 719,000 miles and brought relief to people in need throughout the outback of Australia. In that year nearly 16,000 field clinic cases were treated and nearly 1,600 people were transported to hospital. The Royal Flying Doctor Service not only attended to people in those field clinics but by means of radio communication with outback stations was able to give advice to mothers who were worried about illnesses, some grave and some not so grave but all causing very great anxiety, within their families. I was interested to see recently the Port Hedland station of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. I congratulate the Minister for Health and his Department upon. their imagination in providing for new equipment and the development of this Service.
I turn now to the financial provision that has been made for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I am indeed glad that the total proposed expenditure for the current year is more than £31 million. Two years have elapsed since I saw New Guinea, but I was impressed then by the devotion of all those people who are working in the Territory and the obvious co-operation that exists between the people of that area and those from Australia and European countries who are endeavouring to help them in such spheres as health, education and social services. It is recognised that the natives of the Territory are stone age people, but I was impressed by their dignified carriage as they walked along the roads and up and down the hills.
– They carry their clothes well too.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, if these people are really interested in clothes perhaps I could describe some that I saw. When driving along the mountain range 9,000 feet up in the highlands near Mount Hagen, on the way to two out of the way villages. Wabag and Wapenamanda. I saw a man and his son dressed in the full regalia of feathers, wig, bracelets and pandanus leaves. In Port Moresby I saw young girls dressed in most colourful skirts and jumpers and with their hair bleached by peroxide and not now by powdered coral. So there is a very great diversity in their clothing.
To leave that frivolity, I would like to say 1 was struck by the pride and dignity of these people. They are intelligent, and in this tremendous leap forward from the stone age to the 20th century those who are helping the people of Papua and New Guinea are preserving the dignity of the people. A few days ago I heard an Opposition senator describe these people as being of slave status. I saw no indication of this, and I greatly deplore any suggestion that their pride and dignity have been in any way lowered by Australia’s care of Papua and New Guinea. Australia has undertaken responsibility for this area and it has also undertaken a tremendous burden of responsibility for the developing countries which are near to us.
I read in the Budget Speech that the provision for Papua and New Guinea, and other forms of international economic aid, amount to just on £51 million. This aid for overseas is increasing substantially. The increase in the subsidy to the International Development Association is over £2 million. The increase in the subsidy to the Indus Waters scheme is £546,000. We are indeed glad, Sir, of the benefits conveyed to us by the various river and water schemes of Australia. Senator Benn ‘ mentioned the great lack of water and the privations and losses as a result of drought. It is good to know that the Australian Water Resources Council is active and planning to meet the very great needs of our country. So, when we think of the benefits which we are receiving as a result of those schemes, we must feel glad that capital grants are being made for such schemes as the Indus Waters scheme, so that water may be brought to the thousands of people living in that area. Quite recently I saw what could be done in completely desert country by means of irrigation. All sorts of vegetables were grown, providing very welcome food for a great number of people.
The Colombo Plan aid scheme is going forward. Our provision is being increased by £783,000. Over the past few months I have heard criticism of the Government, its extra allocations for defence, and the sending of forces to Vietnam, especially, and to Malaysia. I have heard criticism to the effect that Australia has not played an active part in working towards peace. I contend, Sir, that the very real aid which this Government is giving by these means to the developing countries is a practical measure towards obtaining peace. 1 feci certain that most people throughout Australia are glad that the Commonwealth Government is making this very practical contribution towards improving the standards of living of these countries.
Senator Morris spoke about a world population explosion. This is a serious problem indeed, which must be met by every means within our power. It is gratifying to know that by such means as the Freedom from Hunger Campaign practical plans are being carried out and that assistance is not confined just to gifts of food and so on. Ways are being devised to assist peoples of other countries to help themselves. We are doing this to a very great extend under the Colombo Plan. We are sending authoritative persons, experienced in many walks of life, to assist peoples to develop their countries and to raise their standards of living.
I conclude, if I may, in all humility, by paying a tribute to the people of Australia. At this time, when we review the past 12 months and plan for the next 12 months, we must pay “tribute especially to the men and women who have shown such fortitude in the drought areas, to the enthusiastic young people in such places as Kununurra, others who are working in widely scattered areas with very little contact with the outside world, and to people in our cities and settled rural areas, all of whom are making their contribution to the prosperity of our country. They are showing the utmost faith in Australia’s future and convincing the peoples of the world of our integrity and of our determination to maintain our own way of life and to assist those in the freedom loving countries that still remain. I congratulate the Treasurer on his Budget. 1 support it and reject the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– At the outset, let me say that I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). Particularly do I support his references to the taxation increases and meagre social service benefits which are proposed under the Budget. Unlike Senator Breen, I have not heard favourable comments on the Budget. Quite recently in Hobart a television station sent a representative to interview people in the street and seek their comments as to the popularity or otherwise of the Budget. Some of the people thought that the Government had put forward a reasonable Budget. Others criticised the Government for its lack of expenditure on defence and particularly for its lack of imagination in relation to social service benefits. Especially were they wrathful at the increase in indirect taxation. One of the worst features of the Budget is the increase in indirect taxation. The Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, described the Budget as unjust. I certainly agree with that point of view. The description was justified but the language which he used was very, very temperate. One could, if he so desired, make very caustic comments about omissions from the Budget and the impositions that it makes. lt would be safe to say that in the main the Budget is loaded against the workers and middle class people. By “ workers “ I mean mainly persons working under awards and receiving an average wage in the £18 to £21 bracket. Actually, that is not the average wage of the Australian work force, but the receipt by quite a number of people of incomes well up to the £14,000 mark, and over £50,000 in some instances, does tend to inflate the average wage. According to the taxation statistics for 1962-63, 69 taxpayers earned more than £50,000 a year. Those people tend to inflate the average wage in Australia because of their very high incomes. lt is not surprising that taxation has been increased in the Budget. It is normal practice with an expanding economy to increase taxation to develop the country. More money must be obtained from some quarter. I think it is safe to say that very few people have complained about the increase in direct taxation in the Budget. I anticipated that the increase would be greater.
My main concern in considering the Budget is indirect taxation. Mention was made earlier in the debate of the increase of 3d. a gallon in petrol tax. I do not know whether Senator Morris convinced himself, but he failed to convince me that the increase of 3d. a gallon will be, after uniform petrol prices are established, a boon to several industries. He referred to the wool industry - or the “ white gold “, as it might be called. He also referred to the beef and sugar industries as two of our main industries. I join issue with the honorable senator on that point. I appreciate that sugar is very important to our economy and forms an important part of our export market, but I do not think that sugar exports are of the same importance as our wheat exports.
When allowance is made for all the commodities that must be transported to ports of embarkation and which will be affected by the increased price of petrol, it is clear that the effect on the economy will be great. I am somewhat doubtful that the increase will stop at 3d. a gallon. It certainly will not stop at that point in relation to many industries. One can anticipate quite naturally that transport costs throughout Australia will rise. Taxi and bus fares also will be increased. During this week in Sydney the suggestion was made that taxi fares should be increased. A similar suggestion was made in Hobart. It is clear that the extra 3d. a gallon will be passed on to the public, who can least afford to pay it. In many cases the people who use taxis and buses do not own a car. Of necessity, they must use some form of public transport to get to their employment and home again. The increased cost will tell against these workers.
Tt is probable that because of the increased tax on aviation fuel, air fares will rise. I think that is a reasonable supposition. In the past increased air fares have followed a rise in the price of aviation fuel. We must also face up to the fact that the price of beer is to be increased.
– That is not included in the cost of living.
– lt may not be, I agree, but I think Senator Mattner will agree with me that beer drinking is part of the Australian way of life. I do not drink more than one beer in six months, but it is part of the Australian way of life for the worker to have a few beers at knock-off time or at the weekend. The workers now will have to pay more for their beer.
In addition to the increase in petrol tax and social service contributions, provision is made in the Budget for increased excise of 3d. on each packet of cigarettes or on each 2 oz. packet of tobacco. The average person smokes 30 or 40 cigarettes a day.
If the honorable senators who are interjecting wish to discuss averages 1 will tell them of something a little more than average. I have reached a maximum of 112 cigarettes in a day. Honorable senators should not tell me that one cannot smoke 30 or 40 cigarettes in a day. I can smoke almost that many before breakfast.
The increases I have referred to will cost the worker, it is reasonable to suppose, about 10s. a week. In addition, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the recent basic wage decision denied the workers’ claim of 1.8s. a week and placed them, to put it colloquially, further down the drain. The Commission awarded an average of 5s. 6d. a week to the ordinary wage earner - the award worker. As a result of that decision, the average worker is another 12s. 6d. a week behind. When this amount is added to the 10s. a week the worker is to lose as a result of the Budget, he is worse off by 22s. 6d. a week than he was only a few months ago. I will take a lot of convincing that this Budget is framed to assist the work force of the Commonwealth. It will need somebody from the other side of the chamber with more persuasive powers than I have yet heard displayed by honorable senators opposite to convince me on that point.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended I was referring to the Budget’s taxation provisions. I addressed my remarks particularly to the award wage earners, that is, the group of workers who earn between £18 and £21 a week. Reference to taxation statistics for the year 1962-63 reveals that workers in the wage brackets 900 to £999, £1,000 to £1,099 and £1,100 to £1,199 contributed more to revenue in that year than did wage earners in any other three groups. In the year to which I have referred, wage earners in the brackets £1,000 to £1,099 and £1,100 to £1,199 contributed £50 million, and those in the wage bracket £900 to £999 contributed £20,204,000. In other words, workers in the three groups I have mentioned contributed about £71 million in tax.
Turning to the year 1957-58, we find that workers iri the £900 to £999 wage bracket - this represents slightly under £20 a week - contributed £23,222,000 in tax and that workers in the £1,000 to £1,099 wage bracket contributed £22,949,000. In round figures, workers in those two wage brackets contributed £46i million of the total tax collections for that year.
Comparing tax collections for the year 1957-58 with those for the year 1961-62, we find that over the whole field of direct taxation on income there was an increase of £15,726,000. One can see from the figures I have cited that wage earners in the income brackets to which I have referred have contributed, in the main, more in tax than have any other groups of wage earners. This demonstrates quite clearly, as 1 said earlier in my speech, that the award wage earner is the one who will suffer the greatest hardship from the provisions of this Budget.
Prior to the introduction of the Budget the Press forecast a harsh Budget. I believe this was done to condition the minds of taxpayers to the thought that they would be caught out pretty badly by the Budget. The Treasurer went to the sunny State of Queensland to prepare the Budget. One would have thought that there would have been at least a little warmth somewhere in the Budget but, taking an overall view of it, one sees that it is so cold that one could be excused for thinking that Mr. Holt had gone to the Antarctic to prepare it. If he had done so, the Budget could not have been any colder than it was.
As I have said, the Press endeavoured to condition the minds of the taxpayers to the thought that they would be called upon to contribute a considerable amount in the form of taxation. What happened? When the Budget was introduced the Press called it a realistic Budget. I do not think there was one newspaper in Australia - at least not one that I saw - which referred to the Budget as anything other than realistic, good, or worthy of some degree of praise. I believe that the earlier statements in the Press were a deliberate attempt to hoodwink the public to the Government’s thinking. The Press, can do that quite easily to people who do not give some thought to the Budget, particularly as it affects the award wage earner. I think this was an attempt by the Press to prop up the falling popularity of the Government because there is no doubt in my mind that over the past few months the Government’s popularity has slumped considerably. That fact has been shown very clearly on a number of occasions.
I want to advert now to repatriation benefits. I am very pleased to see the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in the chamber. Let me say at the outset that I appreciate the increased benefits which this Budget has granted to returned service personnel. I am confident that every returned serviceman will appreciate that fact, as will the majority of taxpayers in Australia. It was most noticeable that some “ Dorothy Dix “ questions were asked of the Minister for Repatriation on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The first one on Tuesday, was asked by Senator Sir Walter Cooper. The Minister elaborated considerably in his reply. The second was on Wednesday when, in reply to a question asked by Senator Bull, the Minister gave what one would have thought was a second reading speech and not merely an answer to a question. Be that as it may, it is the Minister’s prerogative to get the story over for the Government and for his Department. I might add to the Minister that if I were in his position I would have done exactly the same as he did.
Having said that, I want now to have a look at the other side of the coin. While I appreciate that something has been done for these people, I think that there is something more which should be done. I will take one case, and one case only, in point. Frederick Miller of Hobart served as a merchant seaman on the captured ship, S.S. “ Essen “, at Gallipoli during the First World War. That ship carried troops and supplies for the landing at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. The “Essen” was ordered to stand by in case wounded troops or crippled animals had to be evacuated. The ship was ordered, I understand, to endeavour to stay out of the line of fire as much as possible. However, despite the fact that the ship endeavoured to stay out of the line of fire, a shell which seemed to be of a greater velocity than the others came over and, unfortunately, Mr. Miller was wounded. I am not sure whether he was a Quartermaster or an A.B. However, that is beside the point. It has been proved conclusively that Mr. Miller was wounded in that action. He cannot obtain any pension from the Repatriation Department. I know the reason for this, and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) knows the answer to his claim. This man did not serve in the Merchant Navy. He served under British regulations or articles. He was prepared to offer his life on behalf of his country and he was wounded in action. He is now elderly and has only his age pension on which to draw.
In common with a quite number of other people, I remember the 1914-18 war. I well recall that people went down to the railway stations or the waterfronts and waved little red, white and blue flags at the departing servicemen. The troops were promised all the good things in life if and when they came back from the war. Many of them did come back. Some of them have received the good things, but many of them have not. Frederick Miller has received nothing. So I feel that the Government should take a more realistic view of such cases and do something for people who find themselves in a situation similar to that of Frederick Miller. This man’s case has been taken to the Repatriation Department on two or three occasions. His claim has not been successful. I feel confident that this case has not been raised on the floor of this Parliament before. I raise it merely to point out to the Senate the anomalies, or what I consider are anomalies, that exist in the present Repatriation Act. I sincerely hope that the Minister will do something, or prevail upon his Government to do something, that will assist Mr. Miller and others who are in a similar situation.
In my opening remarks, I mentioned that I supported the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly. I said I was concerned particularly with the first and second paragraphs of his amendment. I have dealt at some length with the matters concerned in the first paragraph. The second paragraph of Senator Kennelly’s motion reads -
. but the Senate condemns the Budget because-
Some increases have been given. One can appreciate that these benefits will be welcomed by those people who are qualified to receive them. But the extension of the free pensioner medical service has caused quite a number of people to become confused. I have discussed the provisions in this Budget relating to social services with as many people as it has been possible for me to do. 1 have been very surprised to discover that quite a number of people were of the opinion that the easing of the means test in relation to the free medical service applied to all pensioners. 1 do not know whether or not the Government can clarify this point. 1 have endeavoured to do so with the people whom 1 have contacted or who have contacted me regarding the matter. If the Government can do something to clarify the matter, it will probably be helping a number of people who are now under a misapprehension regarding this benefit.
I was most concerned to see that no general increases in pension rates were granted. Married pensioners will probably be the worst sufferers because general rates pf pension are not to be increased in this Budget. An increase is to be given to single pensioners living alone. 1 feel that the ones who will probably benefit the least under this Budget - and I think I am on pretty safe ground here - will be married pensioner couples. Those people should have been given some increase. But when one stops to consider the form of this Government and the attitude it has adopted over the period of years that I have been a senator - and I watched what the Government was doing before I entered the Senate - one can expect ho more than what is given in this Budget because this is not an election year. I suppose it would be reasonable to expect that the 1966-67 Budget will give an increase to pensioners because that will be an election year. I believe that quite a number of pensioners are waking up to the fact that the Government gives them increases - normally, anyway- only in election years. Even Senator Breen was not happy to know that the Budget contained no provision for an increase in pensions. Being a member of the Government parties, however, she had to support the Government’s policy and the Budget in general.
I was very interested to hear the honorable senator speak of sheltered workshops. This is an aspect of social services which I have supported for a considerable number of years. I sincerely hope that the sheltered workshops will be extended so as to cater for all persons who are unable to take their part in the normal industrial life of this country. I feel that the Government, where it is humanly possible to do so - as 1 think it is in a number of places and, under certain circumstances - should establish factories for the manufacture of aids such as calipers, crutches, wheelchairs and hearing devices. We must remember that items such as wheelchairs, calipers and hearing aids are very expensive. I know of people who have had to pay £300 or £400 for wheelchairs. I do not know how pensioners could ever hope to provide themselves with wheelchairs at that price. In fact, I know perfectly well that they could not do so. Calipers are also very dear. There is not much work involved in making a pair of calipers, but unfortunately they are very dear to buy.
I think the Government, where possible, should build factories for the manufacture and supply of these articles, staffing them with people who are unable to take their places in normal industry. I throw that suggestion out for what it is worth, but whether the Government is prepared to do anything about it I do not know. It could possibly treat my suggestion in the same manner as it has treated a number of other suggestions which we on this side of the House have brought before it in regard to social services. I recall that in another place the Labour Party moved an amendment to a social services measure in an effort to ensure that all pensioners should have free medical services. It was noticeable that the Government parties, to a man, opposed that amendment. Yet a few years afterwards the Government brought similar legislation into the Parliament, as its own policy. It had apparently seen the value of that aspect of social services as a vote catcher.
I want now to refer to the industrial unrest that is evident throughout the Commonwealth today, particularly on the waterfront. I realise, of course, that the waterfront industry has always been a turbulent industry, but I feel that a lot of the turbulence which exists there today is due to bad management and also, to a great extent, to the penal provisions of the arbitration legislation and the application of the Crimes Act. It is noticeable that when the workers in any industry endeavour to secure an increase in pay or to better their conditions by means of direct action, the full force of the arbitration legislation is brought to bear on them and their organisation. Quite a lot of the machinery of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been installed by this Government. Only today a question was asked in this chamber as to the numbers and amounts of fines that had been imposed on the waterside workers’ organisation under the Act, and the amounts which had been paid. They represent quite a considerable sum.
One of the worst features of this type of legislation is not the fines which can be imposed, but the costs which are involved as a result of an organisation taking direct action. In a civilised country such as this surely nobody wants to take away from the workers the right to strike. The only thing the worker has to sell is his labour and he must sell it in the best possible market, as must anybody else who has a commodity to sell. As I said a few moments ago, the cost of fighting this legislation is proving almost as expensive to the organisations as are the fines imposed. I have here a list of the fines which have been imposed upon the unions. It is an authentic document, put out by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which is an authority on these matters. It gives figures commencing in 1950 and going on to March 1963. I realise that the document is not quite up to date, but I think it gives some indication of the viciousness of this legislation. We find that the fines imposed on unions in the period I have mentioned totalled £43,200. I do not know how much of that was collected. We find also that the costs in which the unions were involved over that period amounted to £33,000. So the costs for that period were only £10,000 less than the fines imposed.
We should not think for one moment that the waterfront workers today are not doing an efficient job. Statistics show that although the amount of cargo handled in the various ports of Australia has increased considerably, the amount paid in waterside workers’ wages has decreased. I shall take the figures for 1955 and 1963. In 1955 there were 24,250,000 tons of cargo handled, and in 1953 there were 31,028,000 ions. There was an increase of approximately 7.000.000 tons between 1955 and 1963. In 1955 the waterside workers’ wages amounted to £22.2 million and in 1963 they were £20.8 million. There was a reduction in wages but an increase in the cargo handled during that period. Let us now look at the freight charges for the two years I have mentioned. In 1955 the freight charges amounted to £200 million, and by 1963 they had risen to £430,000,000. On those figures I would say that the shipowners are more to blame than the waterside workers for the turbulence on the waterfront today. The waterside workers are receiving less in wages although freight charges have increased considerably.
While I am dealing with the freight charges, I shall give some figures for the freight rates on our exports. These figures are authentic because they have been taken from the Commonwealth “ Year Book “. In 1955 the freight on greasy wool - I have heard that referred to as white gold - was 2.97d. per lb., and in 1964 it was 3.74d. per lb. If we turn to scoured wool, we find that in 1955 the freight was 3.74d. per lb., and in 1964 it was 4.69d. per lb. Another of our very good export earning products is butter. In 1955 the freight on a 56 lb, box of butter was 8s. Mid. and in 1963 it was lis. 6d. These figures show the increased freight rates which operate between Australia and many of our main importing countries. If we take beef, which has been mentioned in the course of the debate, we find that in 1958 the freight rate was 3&d. per lb., and that in 1964 it was 3.51d. per lb. In 1957 the freight rate on wheat was £4 10s. per ton, and in 1964 it was £6 per ton. The freight rate on apples, an important product in my State, was 10.3d. per bushel case in 1955 and 12.9d. per bushel case in 1964.
These figures prove conclusively that it is not the waterside workers but the shipping companies which are the cause of the turbulence on the waterfront today. The question we have to ask is: How are we to overcome this problem? In my view, if the waterside workers were put on the same level , as other industrial workers we would have a great deal more harmony on the waterfront than we have today. If the waterside workers were given a guaranteed wage, as are other industrial workers, and were paid an average of between £20 and £22 a week, I am sure that many of them would welcome that. They would know that they were going to take a certain amount of money home in their pay packets each week.
The present situation is that they might receive attendance money for one week, if they have not incurred a penalty imposed by the Arbitration Commission, and the following week they might earn £30 or £40 because of a build up of ships in a particular port. I believe that another way in which we could combat increased freight charges is to establish an Australian overseas shipping line. I think that would achieve what we on this side of the chamber have claimed it would achieve for many years. It would decrease freight charges and thereby make our export markets more profitable.
I intended to deal much more fully with this aspect, but unfortunately time is running out on me. I am afraid that I cannot devote any more time to it. There are one or two points that I want to make regarding the basic wage. I think that the present basic wage does not reflect wage justice.
The suggestion has been advanced on more than one occasion that there should be a royal commission to inquire into all aspects of the basic wage. I think there is some merit in that suggestion, but, irrespective of the merits, I wonder whether the findings of such a royal commission would meet the same fate as the findings of a royal commission back in the 1920’s. A royal commission was set up by the then Government under the chairmanship of Mr. Piddington. A considerable amount of evidence was taken by the Commission. It is very pertinent to note that at page 90 of its report the Commission sets out a table of certain incomes. I do not intend to quote from that table, but I do intend to quote the paragraph that follows it. It states -
The above Table shows that every basic wage earner’s family in the Commonwealth with even one dependent child is now receiving less than a reasonable standard of comfort. When it comes to three dependent children, the shortage is formidable and justifies the evidence given on 25th August by the President of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce (Mr. Malcolm Kennedy) that with prices as they are, a man with a wife and three children on a wage of £3 17s. “ is having a rotten bad time of it.”
I should say that that comment applies today as much as it did at that particular time.
Probably some supporters of the Government will take me up on that point and say that since that time child endowment has been granted. I am as aware of that as are honorable senators opposite. But that statement clearly demonstrates to the Senate that never at any time has the basic wage given a fair and comfortable living to the ordinary wage earner. As I said a few moments ago, if a royal commission were set up today to inquire into all aspects of the basic wage, possibly its report would meet the same fate as did the Piddington report; probably it would be pigeon-holed and never given effect.
I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Kennelly. The language used by speakers on this side of the Senate which Senator Breen regarded as not being justified was, I thought, quite temperate. I mentioned earlier that Mr. Calwell described the Budget as being harsh. One could have applied a quite different term to it. If one said, to use a colloquial term, that the Budget was on the nose, that would sum up the position quite correctly.
– I commence by saying, as an Australian and as a member of the Senate, that I am very proud that in three weeks* time we will be assembled here to watch, with great honour and pleasure, the swearing in of the new Governor-General of Australia. Everybody in the Senate is thrilled at the recent announcement by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) of the appointment of Lord Casey.
I have referred to the Senate. Contrary to what many people may think, it is a House of changing people and changing personalities. A quick count of those who are occupying their seats tonight shows that of the 60 people who were members of the Senate when I came here in 1953 only four are now present. When I was sworn in recently with 29 other honorable senators I noted that only seven of them had been members of the Senate prior to my having the privilege of being elected to this’ House. That shows the big change that has taken place.
We welcome the new senators. The only maiden speech that we have heard so far in this sessional period was delivered by Senator Gair, and we must give him great credit for it. We all know of his great experience. It is gratifying to see men of experience from the State Parliaments taking their place on either side of the Senate. Admittedly, Senator Gair’s pitch was rolled for him, but he took up the bowling. I believe we will hear some very interesting speeches from him. 1 look forward to hearing from, other new honorable senators, too. We have back with us a couple of men who previously were members of the Senate. It is nice to have back with us Senator McManus and Senator Davidson. It brings to mind the saying that senators come and go and come back again. Quite frankly, I hope the day will come when our former colleague, exSenator Hannan is back here doing the good work that he did during the time he was with us. You, Mr. Acting Deputy President, were one of those who were here when I look my place in the Senate. I recall that I had the temerity to interject early in the piece while you were speaking and you, with your usual good nature, referred to me as an Assyrian that had come down like a wolf on the fold. I do not intend to adopt that approach to the Budget tonight. I do not propose to praise the Government or strongly to condemn it.
– Nor bury it.
– It cannot be buried because the people want it. You do not bury the things that the people want. I do not propose to bring party politics into the debate, to refer to what happened in 1949, or to say that somebody got so much from a Labour Government and that we gave them something else. Even if one could remember the facts of those far off days, such comparisons would be odious. Senator Poke made some very good remarks about the basic wage and trouble on the waterfront - I do not criticise the views he expressed in that respect - but the remainder of his speech was taken up with- criticism of the Government for having taken money from the people by means of direct and indirect taxation and with saying, almost in the same breath, that the people were not receiving from the Commonwealth Treasury in the form of various benefits enough of the taxpayers’ money. It is time that members of the National Parliament let the people know frankly that what the Government gives must come from the people in the first place. In presenting this Budget, the practised parliamentarian and experienced Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), has presented a normal Budget. He has produced a document that will help to maintain steady development of the national economy. How ever, a little later I shall refer to certain aspects of the Budget which 1 believe give” the people some concern.
This is a States House. When the bills that flow from the Budget come before us I shall have an opportunity to speak about social services, repatriation, taxation and the like. But I have an opportunity now, as a member of the States House, to say something in great sincerity about Tasmania, which I have the honour to represent in this place. Tasmania has a great potential and it has progressed, but its growth during the last several years has not been as rapid as that potential does permit. I believe that there are signs of inflation in the mainland States but there are no signs of inflation in Tasmania. There is no unemployment but there is not the growth in population and there is not the development that there should be. When I say that we have potential, I think of the iron ore deposits at Savage River on our famous west coast which, it seems absolutely certain, will be developed with the help of Australian, Japanese and American money. It looks as though, on the north west coast - I should think at Stanley in the Circular Head district - a new port costing some millions of pounds will be constructed, and that part of the State will develop.
With our great mineral resources, forests and primary producing potential, we have what it takes to provide a happy, prosperous State. But we have a drawback, the seriousness of which has not, I think, been properly got over to the Commonwealth and it is certainly not tackled at all adequately by our present State Government. We are dependent on two means of travel - sea and air. No rail or road links make our trade paths easier. Time was when the Commonwealth realised this. I remember that in a debate in March 1957 I was a very happy Tasmanian to read an extract from the Governor-General’s Speech which announced that the Government was to build the ship that is now in operation as the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Prior to the launching of the “ Princess “, the Commonwealth Government was paying £250,000 a year to private enterprise to subsidise a very poor passenger and cargo service.
I believe that the “ Princess ‘ is now operating at a profit sufficient to amortise over the years the capital cost of the ship.
It has proved an amazing success. Of course, we were lucky, as was the owner– the Commonwealth - that it came into operation in a blaze of glory, with publicity throughout Australia and even overseas that would have cost at least £1 million if it had had to be bought commercially. It was given a glorious reception, and some of us remember the proud maiden voyage that we had when the “ Princess “ left Melbourne and went via Burnie to Devonport. Then the Australian Government, developing the Australian National Line because, I think, of the incompetence of private enterprise shipping, has come to the rescue in providing ships for the export of timber, primary products and other commodities from our island Slate and for imports to it. The Government must remember - believe it to be a fact - that the Australian National Line freights charged to Tasmanians are profitmaking freights. It is said that some of the profits from the Australian National Line helped to pay or defray the cost of the “ Empress of Australia “. I believe it to be factual that although provision of shipping has been made it has been made as a workable enterprise by the Commonwealth, which is saving the subsidy that it used to have to pay.
The “Empress of Australia” did not come into service with the blaze of glory of its sister ship and it has had a very unfortunate run. Sometimes I have sincerely felt that there was a hidden hand restraining the possible success of this ship. Its schedules have been wrongly drawn, in my opinion. Its freight charges are too high and due publicity to its continued running has not been given. However, in spite of those factors I feel confident that, with some care being taken in administration, this fine ship will prove a success. I am glad that the Australian National Line has agreed at last to try next winter to encourage more passengers by giving what other forms of travel have given over the years, namely, off-season rate fares. We asked the Line to do this over 18 months ago and it has now announced that it will do so. This will help to encourage people to visit Tasmania during the winter, which is now known as the off season. If tourism to Tasmania is adequately developed, it will be realised that Tasmania has everything that is required for a year round tourist season. That will come if we can get a State Government that will combine with private enterprise to develop the potential that is offering.
There is another aspect of shipping, which is small in the national sphere but important to the Tasmanian economy and the economy of King Island in Bass Strait. The Commonwealth is now providing a subsidy for freight from King Island to Melbourne but it says that it cannot subsidise freight from King Island to Tasmania as, under section 92 of the Constitution, about which we heard something last night, it cannot subsidize intrastate trade. The Tasmanian Government appears to take the attitude that it cannot afford to subsidize this freight between Tasmania and King Island because that bogy, that bad wolf, the Commonwealth Grants Commission, may punish Tasmania in its next assessment of special grants. It will be serious to the people of King Island and it will be serious to the economy of Tasmania, to primary production and trade, if as looks likely shipping between King Island and the mainland of Tasmania ceases. The time has come - I will not say “ to overcome constitutional barriers”, because we cannot - to get rid of party politics and bickering and for the relevant Ministers of the Commonwealth and States, with some sincerity in their hearts and with some knowledge of the facts, to get together and iron out what should, in the norma] run of national politics, be a small problem. Chipping at each other through the Press and by letters is not getting anyone anywhere but is causing irritation and annoyance to the people of King Island, the majority of whom are soldier settlers who are there by virtue of money provided by the Commonwealth. If they fail the Commonwealth, too, will be a loser.
Regardless of constitutional barriers, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to examine this problem and find a solution. The Commonwealth could be of assistance in other ways to the economic strength and development of Tasmania. Very little Commonwealth building is proceeding in Tasmania. The city of Hobart has no Commonwealth Parliament offices. I would hate to pay the rent that the Commonwealth pays for offices in Hobart. Some are inadequate and some are too expensive, yet there seems to be no sign of any Commonwealth Parliament offices being built there. In 1947 an area was purchased close to the main block in the centre of Hobart. One building has been renovated and, 1 think, painted twice. The other building would be a disgrace in the suburbs of any city, but no action has been taken by the Commonwealth.
I am not for one moment suggesting that the Tasmanian economy depends upon the Commonwealth’s building offices, but Tasmania has ports and harbours that could be of great value to the Navy, lt is time that the three Services examined the possibility of sensible defence expenditure in Tasmania. At the moment there is what is called, I think, a harbour defence launch. I believe, and so do some personnel in the Navy, that it would be wise to base in Hobart a destroyer, frigate or minesweeper on the active list so that a crew of Tasmanian volunteers could be trained. If the need came for that ship to go into action it would have a trained crew who knew each other and knew the ship. An opportunity would be provided for enthusiastic volunteers for the Navy to be trained together so that should they be called to service they would not be scattered throughout the various shore bases and ships at sea but would be available as a trained and practised crew, used to working together. I believe that is a sensible suggestion.
Perhaps the Air Force could study the possibility of establishing an important station in Tasmania. I recall that during World War II not only did the Air Force take over the northern airport of Western Junction and establish a station there, but it also built two aerodromes in the Midlands of Tasmania for the use of R.A.A.F. aircraft. When the war was ended the rabbits took over and the aerodromes were used as speed tracks. It was necessary to take these measures in time of war. Therefore I believe it would be sensible for the Services to study whether expenditure for defence purposes in Tasmania would be of benefit to the Services and to the economy of Tasmania.
At the beginning of World War II, the Army hastily constructed near Hobart a military camp which was improved and modernised. It was a fitting training base for national service battalions. But what is it now? It is still a camp site, unused except by vandals for most of the year, but very useful when Army cadets go into camp during school holidays. I believe the Army should examine the possibility of using that camp. I know from reading the Government’s financial papers of the terrific amount of money being spent on the mainland to construct camps for the training of national servicemen and the Citizen Military Forces. Within fifteen miles of Hobart is a camp ready to be occupied but laying idle. The injection into the Tasmanian economy of money spent wisely on and through the Services would be of great assistance to our State. I do not suppose that anyone with authority will read what I am saying. I do not know how a backbencher gets his message across when he has a message he wants to be heeded.
I turn now to the recent trade treaty with New Zealand. I do not think we will realise the worst until we read fully and comprehend what is to result from that treaty. Many a primary producer in Tasmania is worried that our frozen vegetable market might cause him to be put out of economic production during what is known as the phasing out period. That is the worst that can happen, but until we fully examine the treaty we will not know whether a blow is to be dealt to the Tasmanian economy. I am not being cynical or attacking anybody when I say that not enough ministerial visits are made to Tasmania. The ministerial visits that are made - and we are very pleased to have them - are fleeting visits. A Minister comes over for this speech or that opening and return’s by the next available aircraft. Perhaps we have too many air services.
I do not believe that Tasmania’s present situation and its future possibilities as an important part of the Commonwealth are realised by the powers that be. Not sufficient detail is known. Woe betide me if I were to ask for an increase in the number of Commonwealth departments. I am not. But I believe that serious consideration should be given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to reshuffling the Cabinet a little to provide one of the Ministers with the portfolio of Minister for State Relations. He would deal with every State. 1 ask honorable senators to think of Western Australia and the Ord River project, northern Queensland,” southern New South
Wales and parts of Victoria. Do not honorable senators believe that a Minister of this Parliament could visit the States, either byinvitation or acting on his own wishes, ascertain whether Commonwealth assistance should be provided and then return as a voice in Cabinet to put the claims of the States? He would be far nearer the focal point from which action would flow if he were in Cabinet and not seated on a back bench in the Senate. I believe that a Minister for State Relations could greatly assist in keeping the Commonwealth together. I am not threatening secession, but it may be that such a Minister could prevent differences creeping in such as have occurred over the construction of aerodrome facilities at Tullamarine and Mascot. 1 revert again to the Budget. I repeat that on numerous occasions in the last 12 years 1 have complained in the Senate of the delay in the introduction of the Commonwealth Budget. The financial year ends on 30th June. Yet this year it was 17th August before the Budget was presented. Not only heads of departments and other public servants but also members of the business community did not know until 17th August what was to be their fiscal fate in the 10 months of the financial year that lie ahead.
– At what time of the year docs the honorable senator suggest the Budget should be brought in?
– If we do not like to come to Canberra in the winter let us change the financial year. If I am correctly informed, the financial year in the United Kingdom ends on about 28th March. On the nearest Monday or Tuesday to 28th March the Budget is brought in. The people know from the word go what the policy of the Government will be.
What was the theme of the Treasurer’s Budget Speech this year? It was to the effect that these days the Budget has to be carefully considered because it has such an impact on the economy and can result in the economy slowing down or overheating. Everyone recognises that that is so. The share market is affected by the Budget. This year, I think the effect was to benefit those who trade in shares, although they did not know beforehand that that would be so. I believe that the Budget should be brought in within a week of the end of the financial year. What is the procedure for preparing the Budget? The Treasurer of the day usually goes away somewhere to do the necessary work. If he makes a statement which is misreported or misunderstood there are headlines such as, “ Treasurer pessimistic. Wants £300 million extra revenue. Taxes will go up.” If the Treasurer steps from an aircraft and smilingly says to questioners “ No comment “ we may see a headline, “ Treasurer optimistic “. Any comment that he makes is published in the Press and has an effect upon the people.
The Press, as is its right, begins kite flying regarding the contents of the Budget. The newspapers do not get their information about the Budget through leaks. They fly kites. This brings me to an aspect of private enterprise of which I am critical. It has become a sharp practice to make money out of the Budget. The proposed increases of excise and customs duty on spirits, petrol and cigarettes were forecast and some people made many hundreds of pounds. The forecast was publicised. It is an established fact that wine and spirits merchants and wholesalers of cigarettes got rid of all their stocks to the retailers so that if the duty was increased the retailers could make money from their customers. On the other hand, if the forecast was wrong and there was no increase the wholesalers intended to tear up the orders and say to the retailers: “ Well, we did not really sell you those things. Send them back and you can have them delivered and pay for them when you want them.”
– Did that happen when it was proposed to increase the sales tax on motor cars?
– I do not know. 1 have no facts concerning sales tax on motor cars. However, the interjection reminds me of another aspect of business activities in pre-Budget days to which I object. I refer to the large advertisements which appear in the newspapers with the object of trying to instil in the people fear of possible taxation increases, particularly increases of sales tax. It is common to see in the newspapers, in the weeks before the Budget is presented, full page advertisements of special “ pre B-day bargains “. We cannot prevent that. It is human nature to do this kind of thing, but I believe that if the
Budget were introduced as soon as possible after the close of the financial year many practices which could almost be termed rackets .would be prevented. 1 have said that in my view the Budget is’ satisfactory, but I believe that in some respects the Treasurer is almost gambling. It seems that our finances will be successful if the loan market provides the money that is required by way of loans in this financial year. If it does not do so the Treasurer will be in a financial hot spot. The prospects are not bright. The “Treasury Information Bulletin” No. 39 of July last reminds us that net cash proceeds from loans floated in Australia and overseas in 1964-65 totalled £245.1 million, or £60.5 million less than in 1963-64. Prospects for the flow of money by way of loans from the United Kingdom and Europe are not at all bright.
I believe that one of the problems within Australia is the ability of fringe banking institutions to take up a lot of money and pay a higher rate of interest than the bond rate. They take money that normally would flow into Commonwealth loans; There is an aspect of this short term money market which I think should be worrying the people in Australian financial and governmental circles. As we know, the requirements of the wholly overseas-owned finance companies which operate on the short term loan market in Australia in the field of hire purchase are readily met, but all the profits earned by those companies go back to the countries of origin of the companies. They do not stay in Australia to benefit our economy. I believe that the Reserve Bank has taken some action to restrain activities of this kind, but in my opinion fringe banking in its entirety needs to be looked at if we are to have a successful financial year in respect of Commonwealth revenue from loans.
I turn now to the amendment proposed on behalf of the Australian Labour Party. The Opposition does not like the increases in taxation because it says they will add further burdens to those already being borne by the wage and salary earners. It also criticises what it calls the meagre social service benefits. Early in my speech I referred to the criticism of my friend and colleague from Tasmania, Senator Poke, who castigated the Government for taking money from the people in the form of taxes and then criticised it for not giving back to the people more than it proposes to give.
I believe it can be said honestly that this is a generous country, doing the best within its ability to help those who require help from the State. Never will the day dawn when all those who honestly require financial assistance from the State will get all that they want. However, if we view the present position- fairly we must admit that a high percentage of those people are getting a very fair deal. Our treatment of our ex-servicemen and women is, I believe, the most generous - rightfully so- in the western world. The Government can take some pride in what it has done and is doing in that field. However, I hope that during this financial year it will not be content to think that everyone is happy and that no more work remains to be done. There is plenty of work to be done in this vast, rich and developing country.
.- I have listened with attention to the speech made by Senator Marriott. At the outset he referred to the number of senators who have come to, and have passed from, the Senate in the years that he has been here. I would have thought that his experience in this place would have given him the capacity to depart from the kind of Budget speech that he normally makes and to turn to wider horizons and deal with the most important issues that face this nation. These, I believe, have been evaded by the Treasurer, by the Government and by this Budget.
Senator Marriott has been very generous to his colleagues. If there was an Order of the Mutual Admiration Society, 1 would give him the oak leaves with crossed swords to that honour because each year his praise of what the Government is doing increases in volume and each year the amount of mutual admiration seems to expand. Senator Marriott is actually out of touch. He has wasted all that praise on the Government because the simple fact is that this Budget does nothing to come to grips with the great issues that face Australia at the present time.
– That is only the honorable senator’s opinion.
– It is not only my opinion, it is reality. One of the great issues on the domestic level is inflation. We have this pernicious influence pervading every section of our economic life. We have the spectacle of a wicked Government which each year, through its budgeting and fiscal policy, erodes the assets of people who have built up investments over the years and have fixed incomes and people who, during their working life, contribute to a superannuation fund, hoping that when they retire they would have an income of perhaps £15 or £20 a week. In the days when they were saving that money or contributing to a superannuation fund the benefits would have been sufficient for them to live in relative comfort. Now they are in difficulties. They have been robbed by this Government. There is no other way to describe what has happened to them. Many of them have given their working lives in the service of the Government and that very same Government has reduced the value of their superannuation by this vicious inflationary spiral which continues’ year after year.
One of the worst features of this inflationary process is that the Government benefits from it. It helps to balance the Budget each year. The Government increases taxation one year and this is followed in turn by a rise in prices and pressure for an increase in wages. By the end of the financial year the cake that is to be cut up for taxation purposes has grown and the Government takes a corner which becomes bigger each year. This is an immoral Government financially because it is not fronting up to the wicked influence in our community today - inflation.
I further charge the Government with not facing up to another challenge of our time, namely, the growing discontent among the workers iti industry and among the white collar workers, the key men from whom the wealth of this nation flows. It is through their ability, their initiative and their labour that the Government is able to predict our future development. The white collar workers are not happy with the situation that now exists and things are coming to the point at which direct action by them is inevitable. The Government apparently is prepared to bypass this tremendous issue which now confronts it.
Another great domestic issue that the Government has not faced up to in this Budget relates to the introduction of decimal cur rency. Perhaps the Government is complacent. Perhaps it thinks that Dollar Bill will lessen the effects of the great upheaval that must take place in the transition from our old traditional system of currency to a new system. We have only to think of the documents in which the £1 symbol is used and in which the words “ pounds, shillings and pence” indicate the value of a commodity to realise what a tremendous job it will be to alter that description in every document in Australia. The coinage aspect presents a big enough problem in itself but that can be handled by mechanical means. The problem which confronts the business world is of vast proportions, but there is not one word of this in the Budget Speech, and this is the Budget year in which this dramatic change in our currency is to take place.
A problem which is partly domestic and partly external relates to the matter of our mandate or trusteeship of Papua and New Guinea. This problem is growing daily. The increase that this Government has seen fit to provide in its expenditure on this Territory to assist the people there towards selfgovernment shows that it is only playing with this problem. I have in my hand today’s issue of the Melbourne “ Herald “. An article in this paper illustrates that the situation in Papua and New Guinea is not as happy as the image that is being given to Australians and to people in other countries. In the newly established House of Assembly in New Guinea, there has been very strong criticism on a matter of vital principle that could mean the difference between happy relations or discontent between these people and Australia in the future. I refer to the action of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) in advising the Governor-General to refuse assent to the public service ordinance passed by that House last February. The principle involved is that the ordinance would have transferred some of the Minister’s powers over the Territory’s public service to a local public service board.
In the early part of this week, we had a long debate on this matter. Government senators would give us to understand that the path of progress in Papua and New Guinea is quite a straight one. The praise that was given to Government policy by Government senators gave the impression that that policy was successful in this Territory. But I believe that the seeds of success are shrivelling in the very soil in which they were sown. The action taken by the Minister is breaking down the confidence in Australia which must be fostered in these primitive people. They are just beginning to learn how people outside their own borders live. The people are coming to know and learn how the democratic form of government works. Knowledge of these fundamental principles should be encouraged in Papua and New Guinea. Responsibility should be placed more and more in the hands of the indigenous people there. They should be trained for the task that they have ahead of them. But the achievement of this purpose is being frustrated, in my view, by the action of the Minister for Territories.
I understand that the Minister proposed to the Parliament that a committee should examine the present structure of the public service in Papua and New Guinea. The report in the Melbourne “ Herald “ states -
Speaking in the House of Assembly yesterday, a frontbench elected member, Mr. Ian Downs, said Mr. Barnes and some of his advisers “ should be transferred to some other portfolio or (ask which requires less brains “.
Mr. Ian Downs has been a member of the Administration. He is a very highly respected man, a key man. He is one of the men who is creating the image of Australia and also the elite corps amongst the native people of Papua and New Guinea from whom will come the leaders of those people to form the future government. If a man makes criticism such as that, he must have very strong reasons and he must be reflecting the mood and the views of the native people there.
I refer to this matter because I believe that it is a most important issue. At the present time, the eyes of the world are on us. Being a small nation, we cannot perhaps expend as much money as is required to develop Papua and New Guinea. Perhaps out motives would be understood if we were to go to the International Bank, any of the United Nations organisations, or any country that is rich in money and resources, and tell it of our difficulty in trying to develop this country and to bring it towards selfgovernment. But the Budget sidetracks those issues. Looking through some documents, I found that a number of companies operating in Papua and New Guinea are reaping a harvest in the form of profits. These companies should be encouraged in every way - possibly if not by word of mouth then by some other methods - to salt back into Papua and New Guinea some of their profits in much the same way as the taxpayers of Australia are providing money for the development of that Territory. I understand that the profit of Burns Philp, which has its tentacles on many commercial activities in Papua and New Guinea, is up to the £1.5 million mark. W. R. Carpenter is another firm which has its finger in every pie in that area. Its profit is up to the £2 million mark. This Government has treated those companies very generously with regard to concessions and the like. In view of the share of the cost of developing the Territory that the taxpayers are being asked to meet, these companies also should make a special effort to assist in that development. 1 believe that these issues have been sidetracked in this Budget.
Honorable senators could think, because of the fleeting mention of defence in the Budget, that it was not a major item, and that everything in the garden was lovely. The Budget is a document which is widely read and understood toy the Australian people. It is the annual message showing what we can expect ahead. But we are living at a time when our troops are engaged in a difficult and dirty hot war - a war of a type that we have never known before, and the end of which we cannot see. Our troops are committed to Singapore, Malaya, Thailand and South Vietnam, and we have units in the Borneo-Sarawak area. Reading the reference that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) makes to this, one would think we could pull down a Venetian blind and shut it out. All this is going on quietly. We do not read much about it in the newspapers. The people have been thoroughly brainwashed in regard to the whole matter. The Treasurer’s attitude to these tremendous issues seems to be: “ Let sleeping dogs lie “.
Another issue that the Treasurer has failed to face up to is the balance of payments deficiency and its effects on this country. As I said earlier, the effects of certain influences in our community have led to the position that price rises are such that it pays people to import goods into Australia. This affects our balance of trade, yet this Government allows that state of affairs to continue year by year, complaining weakly here and there but doing nothing effective to counter it.
Another important problem which confronts us, but of which no mention is made in the Budget, arises from the restrictive trade practices which are going on throughout the length and breadth of the country. This is a problem which the Government obviously lacks the political intestinal fortitude to deal with. The mess of pottage which is presented every now and again, in different forms, by different AttorneysGeneral never sees the light of day in the form of law. Legislation to control restrictive trade practices is still like Kathleen Mavourneen. These trade practices are much more pernicious than many people realise. I have before me a copy of the report and recommendations of the Royal Commission on Prices and Restrictive Trade Practices that sat in Tasmania in 1965. The report, in the conclusions and recommendations, states -
A trade arrangement or agreement between firms or groups of firms or action by one firm which, although designed to promote legitimate business interests, has the effect of reducing competition between the parties to the arrangement or depriving other firms of the opportunity to compete, is called a restrictive trade practice.
This Government goes on to the hustings and speaks of the preservation of a competitive free enterprise economy as being one of the bulwarks of the platform of the Liberal Party. The Royal Commissioner in Tasmania, John McBain Grant, was appointed by His Excellency the Governor of the State of Tasmania to inquire into and report on certain matters relating to prices and restrictive trade practices. In his recommendations and conclusions he said, among other things -
Examination of the activities of about seventy Tasmanian trade associations, the majority of which covered firms engaged in wholesale and retail trade, reveals that approximately two-thirds nf the associations were involved in restrictive trade practices as defined above. The restrictive trade practices which were identified included horizontal agreements between supposedly competing firms, involving the fixing of prices and/or detailed conditions of sale, the sharing of markets (particularly on a State basis) and the restriction of entry to the trade. There were also many arrangements and agreements between trade associations whose member firms were engaged in successive stages of the production and distribution process. These vertical arrangements also restricted competition by establishing either resale price maintenance, exclusive dealing, collective boycotts, exclusionary dealing or price discrimination.
We have only to look at the daily newspapers to find that international monopolies are allowed to come into this country, bringing their capital with them, and to take over the private entrepreneur businesses that this Government so loudly claims to support. This process is expanding. These overseas monopolies are not creating new businesses in Australia; they are taking over old-established firms which have proved themselves to be successful and good profit earners. Wherever the hot money is coming from, these overseas investors are able to buy our heritage, and the Government is doing nothing about it. The Government’s oft repeated claim that it is the protector of a competitive free enterprise economy is becoming farcical. Ours is fast becoming a monopolistic economy, and the octopus monopolies are - not slowly but surely - getting us by the throat.
This evening Senator Marriott referred to some of the natural resources of Tasmania. At Weipa, at Bell Bay, in Tasmania, at the iron ore deposits in Western Australia, at Mount Isa or anywhere else where there are great deposits of minerals one finds the international financiers and monopolists with their hands well and truly on our great sources of natural wealth. It is true that the nation gets some advantage from the investment of their funds, but I say that this Government stands condemned now, and will be condemned even more by posterity, for the iniquity of allowing our minerals to be exported in a crude state for use by manufacturers in other countries. Our time as a nation may be short unless we face up to these great issues and build up our population, with secondary industry based on our wonderful natural resources. We must not become the wood and water joeys of other countries.
I feel rather nauseated to think that the Japanese, who during the war would have taken over our natural resources by force, are now getting them through the medium of international monopolies which, having accumulated ill-gotten gains during the war, then invested them in various countries where their rackets were later exposed. Those monopolies are now finding a harvest in this country. This is nauseating, and the Government stands condemned for allowing it to happen. I think also that the Press of this country deserves condemnation for not continually alerting the rank and file of our people to what the Government is allowing to go on. This practice has not yet reached its zenith. We find that huge subsidies are being paid by the Government to companies engaged in the search for oil. The Australian, with confidence in his country, not only has a considerable financial interest in their activities but also, from a national point of view, wants to see the search for oil expanded and continued.
Only today we heard in the Senate, in answer to a question, that a company which discovered oil in Australia is rather favoured if it can get someone to buy its commodity at a payable price. How can any government tolerate such a situation? This Government has given the international oil combines a monopoly in this field. When Labour was in office we had the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd. which could have handled this problem. This Government has a fetish. It must get rid of anything that the people own. After all, Socialism is the ownership by the people of their own national resources. This anti-Socialist policy, or fetish that has brought about these negative results where the Government is in the hands of people who are known to be monopolists and who are known in every country to be reaping the benefits of peacetime through profits and of wartime through the machination of their interests in the manufacture of war materials.
This charge against them has been made three times in my short lifetime. The cycle is repeated. During the 1914-18 War - the war to end wars - mothers’ sons were killed and afterwards the great investors came out of their funkholes. They had a period in which they got the economy by the throat. They were able to manipulate their agents, like our Treasurer who can bring about a credit squeeze, who can cause prices to fall on a stock exchange, and who can allow them to move in and get the equity of a company’s investors on the cheap. Inflation allowed them to ride the storm by making crises, whereas the man, about whom I spoke before, who was on the fixed income, had to sit there and watch the thief of inflation steal his equity.
The wheel turned a complete circle. We encountered a new enemy and there was another war. During the 1939-45 Wa* mothers’ sons again were killed. These great investors got into the groove again in the profit-making field. Then’ the next cycle began. We have another war on our hands at the present time. How stupid is mankind and how stupid are the Australian people when they do not wake up to these things? Honorable senators opposite know of the weaknesses in the Budget, but what are they doing about it to correct them? They are pushing out a lot of froth that means nothing.
One of the inequities of this Budget is its partiality and discrimination. I should like to quote an article from the Launceston “ Examiner “ of 25 August 1965. It states -
While the drinker cries into his over-expensive beer or whisky the Federal Treasurer (Mr. Holt), the distillers, the wholesalers and the publicans are laughing all the way to the bank.
Although the official silence surrounding tha price rises remained deafening yesterday I managed to get a few figures.
These figures prove one thing above all - ons rise leads to another, and another and another.
The snowballing effect of the increase in liquor excise jumped the price of a bottle of Scotch whisky 7s. It all began with the Government’s excise increase of 3s. 5d. a bottle.
Here fs the startling breakdown of what happened after Mr. Holt announced the excise increase on Budget night.
The pre-Budget retail price of a bottle of Scotch was 41s. 6d. After the Budget the Tasmanian division of the Australian Hotels Association announced a new retail price of 48s. 6d. This was 7s. more and the drinker wondered why the steep increase. Nobody in our official position has been able to explain.
I have here details of the increases in my home State. I suppose I can take it for granted that similar increases have been applied elsewhere. Another Press article had this to say about the increases -
New spirits prices to operate in Tasmania from today were announced last night. . . .
Although no information was available as to the effect of new excise on these prices it is believed that the prices have been influenced by new excise plus a margin added by distributors and a retail margin added by the A.H.A.
It has also been announced that the prices will be adjusted again when decimal currency is introduced early in the New Year.
The old price for whisky was 41s. 6d. per quart bottle, 2s. Id. a nip and ls. 2d. a half nip. The new price is 48s. 6d. for a quart bottle, 2s. 5d. for a nip and ls. 4d. for a half nip. The old price for Australian rum was 24s. 6d. per quart bottle and ls. 4d. a nip. The new price is 31s. for a quart bottle. It is a phantasmagoric increase. The new price for a nip of humble old Australian rum - Bundaberg rum - is ls. 8d., and lid. for a half nip. I wonder what the old boys in the west of Queensland ase saying.
I have here another Press cutting under the heading “ Smokers’ Bonfire of £120m in Duties “. The article commences -
Increased duties on cigarettes will see Federal revenue go up “ in smoke “ to £120 million this year. if this matter were not so serious; it would be funny. Of the total provision in the Budget of £2,750 million, the customs levied on spirits and alcoholic liquors amount to £9,850,000 and on tobacco, cigars and cigarettes they amount to £13,990,000, making a total of £23,840,000. That is the amount collected when the goods come into the country. The excise on beer is expected to amount to £151,560,000; on spirits, £13,340,000, on tobacco, £8,730,000 and on cigars and cigarettes, £100,900,000, making a total of £274,530,000. That is, between 10 per cent, and 1 1 per cent, of the total Budget is being put right on the back of a section of the community. It is a discriminatory attack on those people. Because they smoke and drink they are picked out to carry this burden of what is supposed to be a defence Budget, a national development Budget, and all the back scratching items that we heard Senator Marriott mention. This section of the community is asked to carry a big proportion of the burden.
I do not know how the Treasurer can drag his head up from the shame that he should feel in trying to get away with this type of discrimination. Why should he pick out the tobacco smoker, the cigar smoker, the pipe smoker, or the man who likes his drop of Scotch or beer? If the position is as the Treasurer stated, why should it not be one in all in? Why should not everyone put in his whack? Why . should the wowser be able to sit back and say: “ How lucky am I? I do not have to pay a cracker. Look at him, the mug. He smokes and drinks.”?
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that all the people who do not smoke and do not drink are wowsers?
– Some of them are. Some of them are so mean that they do not even have a car; they walk.
– They do not enjoy life.
– Do not worry about that. They are enjoying seeing us pay the bills. That is the only pleasure they have in life.
– It is not the only one.
– Well, it is one of their pleasures.
– The honorable senator is having a drink pf water. Another 6d. is going.
– Thank God, water is still free. The Government has not started to tax that yet. I am wrong in saying that. It has installed water meters in Canberra. It is fanging the Canberra people for everything it can get out of them. I imagine Mr. Holt has worked out how much he is getting from even that glass of water. However, I want to return to these other very important matters. They are of tremendous importance.
I come back to the point I was making about the Royal Commission. The evidence given before that Commission illustrates how the economy of this country can slowly but surely get out of control unless the Government makes itself aware of what is really happening at the grass roots. The Government does not know the percentage of overseas funds that are invested in Australia; it does not know the extent to which the people are exploited by price rings and the like. If this report had not been published in Tasmania, we would not know what was going on in Tasmania. At page 23 of the report of the Royal Commission reference is made to the reasonableness of prices. The Tasmanian Master Drapers and Clothiers Association has a very important responsibility in regard to the cost of living, the wages index, applications to the arbitration court and the stability of the economy and regard must be had to its minutes. Set out in its minutes are suggested minimum mark-ups on invoice prices. They are as follows: Fifty five per cent, for silks, cottons and woollens; 55 per cent, for scarves; 50 per cent, for shirts and pyjamas; 50 per cent, for shirts over £1; 50 per cent, for underwear; 55 per cent, for fashion coats; 50 per cent, and 55 per cent, for manchester; and 45 per cent, for blankets.
Let me quote one more. Provision is made in the Budget for an increase in the amount of excise that is payable on petrol. The resellers’ margin on petrol in Tasmania is 7M. a gallon. Recently the Government introduced legislation to reduce the cost of petrol in country areas. But by increasing the excise that is payable on petrol, the Government has offset the gesture that it made in introducing petrol price equalisation legislation to the accompaniment of a fanfare of trumpets. It has nullified the effect of that legislation.
The Government has set off an inevitable succession of price rises. I have before me a newspaper article which is headed “ Increased taxi fares likely to follow plea by owners “. They are the first off the rank. The taxi proprietors are seeking a rise from ls. 3d. to ls. 6d. a mile and from 15s. to 1 8s. an hour for waiting time. They have been given the green light. The Government has said, in effect: “ You will have to make your own adjustments. We are making ours “. I have another Press report which is headed “ Pressure for air fare rise “. That rise in turn will be incorporated in business costs. Transport is the life blood of business. The Government is now injecting this inflationary influence right on the bitumen. It will permeate the blood stream and sinews of the nation’s economy. 1 now draw attention to an item that has been referred to in the Auditor-General’s report and wish to tie it np with the fact that 39 per cent, of the 20-year-old youngsters who were recently called up for military service were found to be medically unfit. That is a grave reflection on a sport loving country such as ours which enjoys more sunshine hours than does any other Western country or any other country that is inhabited by people with light skins.
– The honorable senator is speaking about Queensland now.
– I am speaking about Queensland and other parts of Australia. The Queenslanders are good sportsmen; I know some of them. But there are times when they cannot match up to those of other States. I am trying to recall how long it is since Queensland won a game of Australian Rules.
– We do not play that game.
– Even Tasmania can beat Queensland at that game. The point I am making is that the national conscience should be stirred by the revelation that 39 per cent, of our 20-year-olds were not medically fit. I heard of some young chaps who had had their examination and, judging by those who were rejected, 1 thought the proportion was going to be 50 per cent.
– Were not 17 per cent, deferred in addition to the others?
– I think that is right. Several were deferred. As a nation we are boastful of our sporting prowess and our physique. Yet right at the core of our manhood is this tremendous percentage of unfit people. At page 51 of his report and under the heading “ National Fitness Fund “ the Auditor-General said -
The National Fitness Act 1941 established tha National Fitness Fund which is a Trust Account for the purposes of section 62a of the Audit Act.
It is of interest that this Fund was established in 1941 when we were facing up to the other war, the middle war, the one before the last. Wars seem to come in cycles of 20 years. The year 1919 saw the end of one, and 1939 saw the beginning of another, which ended in 1945. We are now in 1965. Honorable senators can work it out for themselves - 20 years, 20 years, 20 years. We recall, too, that the earlier war, the Boer war in South Africa, began in 1899. When the National Fitness Fund was established in 1941 we were really getting into the 1939-45 war.
– In the golden age.
– I would say that the honorable senator’s Government does not stand up very well in this respect. Any government, at a time when the country is being threatened, has to look at important things like this. The Government prior to 1941 had not done its job. The Commonwealth’s contribution to this fund was £100,000 in 1964-65 and £100,000 in 1963-64. Is it not a travesty that we can find hundreds of millions of pounds - in the final analysis, thousands of millions of pounds - when war comes? It is inevitable that war does come. 1 have been repeating myself ad nauseam about how often it does come. At the time when these 20 year old boys were being born a campaign was introduced to make certain that they would grow up. to be less unfit than their fathers were at the same age. Here we have this princely sum of £100,000 being provided for national fitness, when I have just about had lockjaw saying the amounts in millions of pounds that the Budget provides for other things. The Auditor-General’s Report goes on to say -
Moneys standing to the credit of the Fund may be applied, with the authority of the Commonwealth Minister of Health, . to provide assistance to encourage the development of national fitness through State National Fitness Councils . . .
Something should be done to speed up this campaign. The Government should see the writing on the wall. Much more than £100,000 is obviously required, but this Government would not know until an occasion such as this, when 39 per cent, of the 20 years old youths are unfit. This Government could not care less as long as these lads turn up at 8 o’clock in the morning in accordance with an arbitration court award to which they have to work, knocking off at the appointed time to go home and have tea in order to be strong and fit enough to turn up for work on the following morning. That is all that this Government wants from the 20 years old group and from anyone else working for wages or salaries. It must come as a shock to decent, thinking people that this state of affairs exists and that the Government has only just found out about it. In spite of that, the Government brings down a Budget to provide for national fitness a sum that would not buy baseball bats or Australian Rules footballs for wide distribution, let alone gymnasiums and well trained instructors and others to advise young people on diet and all those things that go towards building a healthy body and the healthy mind that always goes with it. Here is the Government bragging about its accomplishments and its great Budget, yet we see things like this.
I have time to deal with only one important matter which gives me cause for great concern. It relates to the war service land settlers on King Island. We heard earlier today, during question time, that some assistance had been given to King Island by way of Commonwealth subsidy and that it has really upset the applecart over there. King Island is a very valued part of Tasmania and King Islanders are wonderful people. They live out in Bass Strait in the latitude where the trade winds blow. The trees on the coast grow crookedly because they cannot stand up against the prevailing winds. Before the introduction of trace elements, the cattle used to get sandy. The great types of pioneers that made this country are still to be found on King Island; they are wonderful men.
– They did not get anything for national fitness.
– No, but you would probably find a higher percentage of healthy people in those conditions than amongst people who are brought up in the cities. However, that has taken me away from the point that I wanted to make in relation to the Commonwealth subsidy. This conflict between interstate and intrastate trade is a terrible thing. It is a dividing influence in a federation. The worst features of this country are disputes over State rights and interstate and intrastate trade. If only we still had the vision splendid of the framers of the Constitution and the Federation, we would be one united people without all this paraphernalia which is good for the lawyers but not good for the people.
King Island, in the middle of Bass Strait, is a part of Tasmania. The people can get a subsidy of £2 a ton on goods shipped to or from mainland ports, such as Melbourne, and a subsidy of only 10s. a ton on goods shipped to and from Tasmania. The Premier of Tasmania has explained that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has said: “ This is what you are going to get. If you give any more it will be cut off the other end.” The working of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is another funny business. I cannot work it out. It seems to disadvantage our State quite a lot, when we try to do progressive things to help people. The State can be penalised for providing such things as free hospitals. It had to get away from that idea. It may be penalised in many ways, if it goes beyond the narrow path that the Commonwealth Grants Commission allows it to take. In view of the subsidy of only 10s. a ton on freights to and from Tasmania, the residents of King Island will have all of their trade with mainland ports. Mr. Bolte must be cock-a-hoop, because he is getting something for nothing. He has a new island attached economically to Victoria, and the islanders are not going to trade with Tasmanian ports because they just cannot afford the extra freight of 30s. a ton.
On this island are quite a considerable number of war service land settlers. They have been there for varying periods since the last world war. Some have been there for from 15 to 17 years. Many are in their middle and late forties. In these days of tough business competition the forty years old person is finding it very difficult to get a job and especially to change his employment. Yet there is no future for these men down there because of the way things are going. The frustration with which these men are living continuously is a crying shame. They cannot get any satisfaction from the war service land settlement authorities. They cannot get any satisfaction from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). There is duck shoving and buck passing. Every little device is being used and every little game is being played on top Government levels. These settler-battlers are getting it in the neck all the time. I have no doubt that my good friend Senator Lillico would back up every word I have said. However, that is not good enough. I think this Budget should have provided for the case that has been put up repeatedly by senators on both sides of the chamber, by members of this Parliament and by other people who wish to see the old Aussie maxim of “ fair go “ observed. These fellows are not getting a fair go. It is a disgrace to the Government and a crying shame. I hope that they will receive some justice. There are many points I wish to raise and I will have a chance to do so during the course of the debate on the Estimates. I reserve any further comment until then. I have much determination in supporting the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly which has been circulated to honorable senators.
– I listened with a lot of interest to Senator O’Byrne and Senator Marriott. In fact, I always listen with a great deal of interest to Senator O’Byrne. I agree absolutely with his last contention about King Island, but I could not help reflecting when he was fulminating about the capitalists that come to Australia and use their money to develop our latent resources, or help to develop them. The honorable senator referred to Mr Isa, Weipa and Bell Bay. I could not help reflecting what a pity it was that Mr. Reece, Premier of Tasmania, was not listening to the speech. Mr. Reece has worked harder and done more than anyone to attract overseas capital - from the United States of America, Japan and other places - to Tasmania to develop its iron ore deposits for shipment in pelletised form. Mr. Reece has been striving to achieve that end. I read this week a newspaper report that Mr. Reece had said there was a possibility of reaching some conclusion. He said it was very good news indeed.
Of course, a similar position arose sometime ago in respect to Bell Bay. At that time the Commonwealth Government disposed of its share in those works to the Comalco organisation at a price that was favorable to Tasmania’s future development. While Senator O’Byrne and some of his colleagues were opposing that sale in this Parliament, Mr. Reece in the Tasmania Parliament was condemning them for that opposition. So, honorable senators will see that there were two separate lines of thought in the Labour Party. In Tasmania one branch was, I think rightly, encouraging capital investment from overseas in an attempt to develop the latent resources of Tasmania.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave grunted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - For the information of honorable senators I lay on the table the texts of the undermentioned treaties -
I also lay on the table for the information of honorable senators, the text of the undermentioned treatiesto which Australia is considering becoming a party by ratification.
Instruments mentioned hereunder signed for Australia at the fifteenth Congress of the Universal Postal Union at Vienna on 10th July, 1964-
– I would like to ask the Minister whether copies of these documents will be readily available to honorable senators. I am interested in quite a number of them and there may be those which interest other honorable senators. I would like to know that on quick application copies would be available. In particular, I am interested - 1 think in common with all honorable senators - in the terms of the exchange of letters with Malaysia. There are quite a number of them. Will they be readily available to us?
– I do not know how many copies of the documents there are. I would imagine that certainly they would be available in the Parliamentary Library. I would hope that they would be available for any honorable senator who made application but I am limited in the definiteness of the answer I give because I do not know how many copies there are. But I would be surprised if they were not available for interested senators who made application. I shall make inquiries and let the honorable senator know the results.
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 -
Thtat the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 August 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650826_senate_25_s29/>.