25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform the Senate that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) left Australia on Friday of last week on a brief visit to Malaysia and Singapore. He will return on Thursday next. During his absence I will act as Minister for Civil Aviation and will represent in the Senate the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), and the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney).
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, arises out of the Government’s refusal to subsidise the shipping service operating between K-ing Island, and the Tasmanian mainland. Is’ the Treasurer aware that the grant of a subsidy by the Commonwealth Government to the King IslandMelbourne shipping service has given to Melbourne traders a freight advantage of 25s. per ton over traders on the Tasmanian mainland? Is he aware that, accordingly, the traditional trade between King Island and the Tasmanian mainland has been most adversely affected and its shipping service threatened with extinction? Is he further aware that the grant by the Tasmanian Government of an equalising subsidy to the King Island-Tasmanian mainland shipping service will result in an adverse adjustment of the grant recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission unless there is a comparable subsidy paid by the standard States of New South Wales and Victoria? Is such a comparable subsidy for shipping or other forms of transport paid by either of the standard States? If not, in the event of the Tasmanian Government paying an equalising subsidy to the King Island-Tasmanian mainland shipping service, will the Treasurer direct his officers to submit to the Commonwealth Grants Commission that an unfavorable adjustment of the grant to Tasmania should not be made in respect of the expenditure on that subsidy?
– I think it will be recognised that the question posed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate involves a whole complex of considerations, initially, of constitutional law and subsequently of the practices and procedures of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Last, but not least of course, it involves Government policy. In the circumstances, all I can do .is to tell the honorable senator that I will ask the Treasurer to have the question studied and have an answer provided as soon as possible.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. Will the Minister please explain to the Senate the range of topics expected to be discussed at the Commonwealth defence conference to be held in London next week and at which Sir Edwin Hicks, the permanent head of the Department of Defence, will lead the Australian delegation? Is it expected that Ministers of State from the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth countries will be attending the conference in any capacity whatsoever? If Ministers are expected to attend, can the Minister state why he is not attending personally?
– The planning exercise referred to by the honorable senator is an exercise known in the military world as “ Exercise Unison “. I emphasise at once that it is not in any sense a politicalmilitary conference. It is a military gathering of high-ranking servicemen and top defence administrators. During their discussions, as announced by me, they will discuss the role of defence scientists in the concept of present-day defence and such other matters as an examination of the problems of defence organisation in the light of changing strategic concepts and of new weapons systems. I am sure it will be apparent from what I have said that it is purely a military conference which will not be attended by Ministers.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: What was the country of origin of the large drug consignment, stated to be valued at £20,000, seized from the ship “ Straat Lombok “ last week-end? What was the evidence to support the claim of Customs officers that the consignment was intended for sale only in Australia? Is there evidence that following effective restrictions on direct trading in drugs between Asia and the United States of America, attempts are being made to use Australia as a transit route between these areas?
– It is true to say that the seizure of drugs at the week-end was the largest single haul of heroin ever made by Customs officers in Australia, lt is equally true to say that Customs officers involved in the seizure did a magnificent job and must earn the praise of all Australians. When I heard of the seizure on Saturday, I hastened to send them a signal of congratulations. Honorable senators will recall that during the last sessional period, following a series of questions relating to narcotics asked by, I think. Senator Wedgwood, I gave an assurance that the Customs prevention staff would be built up. In fact, that has taken place.
With your indulgence, Mr. President, I would like to give an indication of the results obtained following the increase in the numbers of Customs staff. I shall deal only with the port of Sydney. On 3rd June last 20 oz. of heroin was seized from the “Tjiluwah”. On 3rd July 3 lb. of opium was seized from the “Malaysia”. On 10th July 105 transistor radios, 10 radio sets, and a series of pornographic photographs were seized from the “ Thorsgaard “. On 26th July 405 transistor radios and 18 pornographic photographs were seized from the “ Van Neck “. On 2nd August - again from the “ Tjiluwah “ - 91 transistor radios were seized. On 21st August 5 oz. of prepared opium, half an ounce pf heroin and 47 transistor radios were seized from the “ Sigli “. The goods seized from the “ Straat Lombok “ on Saturday were 1 2 lb. 2 oz. of heroin, 6) lb. of opium and 32 watches. A Chinese crew member was charged and appeared before a court on Monday. He was convicted and sentenced to one year’s gaol on the first count and to one year’s gaol or a fine of £200 on the second count.
Let me come to the more specific questions asked by Senator McManus. The circumstances of this find do not remove the possibility that the narcotics were intended for sale in Australia. In fact, the convicted Chinese crew member said that he would have tried to sell the drugs in Australia. I inspected the packages and it was apparent that the drugs were packed according to different grades, which would make them readily saleable. It would be most disquieting to find that attempts to run narcotics into this country were being stepped up. I can assure the Senate that strong measures are being taken to ensure that any such plans, if they do in fact exist, will not succeed. The Department is still recruiting staff. The campaign which was launched will be continued with great vigour. I assure honorable senators that my Department is alive to the dangers inherent in the smuggling of narcotics.
It has not been proved, and it is too early yet to make any categorical statement on the subject, whether this haul of drugs was in transit to another country or whether it was intended for sale in Australia. There is at least the evidence of the person who was convicted that the drugs were for sale in Australia.
– Where did the drugs come from?
– There is some doubt about that. The Chinese crew member told the court that he had acquired the drugs in Singapore but it is very difficult to be certain of where the truth ties in these matters.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise is supplementary to that asked by Senator McManus. I preface it by congratulating the Minister and his officers on their detection of large quantities of narcotics on ships. What action is being taken to prevent narcotics from entering Australia by air?
– The problems at the points of entry of aircraft are not so great as the problems at the ports of entry of ships. Obviously a search of an aircraft is a vastly different proposition from a search of a ship. Our Customs control at airports is equal to that at wharfs. In fact, we have no problems at international airports. In a port such as Sydney, where the wharfage facilities extend from Woolloomooloo to Balmain and where security on the wharfs is not particularly good, the problem is much bigger than it is at an international airport, where traffic is prac”tically confined to business people and tourists. Stricter control can be exercised at airports and passengers ,are cleared through Customs very satisfactorily. Although the same rigid rules apply to international airports and to shipping ports, the problem lies mainly with ships which, let us face it, in the main come from the East.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that one segment of the “Mavis Bramston Show “ which was televised in Canberra last Saturday was particularly offensive to the majority of Christians in the community by its sacrilegious reference to one of the basic doctrines of Christianity? Will the Minister investigate this matter and inform the offending programme director that sacrilege is neither satire nor humour and does nol accord with the standards laid down for television by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board?
– I am sure that every honorable senator will agree with the views expressed by the honorable senator in relation to the broad question of respect for religious beliefs and satire on them. I have not had the advantage of seeing the programme to which the honorable senator refers but I certainly will direct her question to the Postmaster-General and obtain a reply.
– Is the Minister for Defence prepared to give consideration to the proposal put forward by LieutenantColonel East, who has recently returned from attending a course at the Indonesian National Army Staff College, that a paramilitary force of Australian aborigines be formed for the purpose of countering enemy penetration and sabotage in the -north of Australia?
– The suggestion to which the honorable senator refers was’ an expression of opinion by him and another member of the Army which was published in a recent edition of the
Army journal. I make the. point that it was a contributed article by those two gentlemen and that it did not in any way express the views either of the Army - or more importantly - that of the Government. It was merely an expression of their own views. I take the opportunity while 1 am answering this question to refer to the Press report in which it was suggested that this para-military force might be used to counteract any infiltration of the north of Australia. I want to state quite emphatically that infiltration of the north of Australia does not occur. . .
– Has the
Minister for Customs and Excise seen a report that a private conference of State Ministers responsible for State censorship laws decided in principle last Friday to support a uniform Australia wide system of book censorship? Has the Minister seen also a report that the conference recommended that a widely based joint CommonwealthState advisory board should replace the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board to deal with books and publications which may be obscene but which are claimed to have literary, artistic or scientific merit? Was the Minister aware that such a conference was taking place? Was the Commonwealth Government invited to take part in that conference? Does the Minister intend to give consideration to the establishment of a Commonwealth-State advisory board in lieu of the present Commonwealth Censorship Board?
– Honorable senators will recall that just prior to the commencement of this session, I issued a statement dealing with some of the broader aspects of literature censorship. Honorable senators will recall also that, in the final paragraph of that document, I commented on the question of uniform censorship. In that paragraph, I made the point -
It appears that true uniformity would need to begin in the field of uniform State laws. If this is to eventuate it seems a matter for the States themselves to initiate. The Commonwealth would lend its support to such a project and would consider any administrative scheme which the States might propose in the interests of Australia-wide uniformity of censorship.
So I can say that the meeting of State Ministers responsible for censorship, which was held in Sydney last Friday, was quite consistent with the Commonwealth approach to the matter. When 1 was asked by the Press to comment on this conference on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I said that I felt that this meeting was a good move because the States themselves were trying to find what they believed would meet their requirements. When they reach some degree of unanimity, it is competent for them to ask the Commonwealth: “ Can you marry your proposition to the proposition which meets the requirements of the State?”
In fact, my statement, and, indeed, the statement made by the Prime Minister in answer to a question asked in another place, indicated the Commonwealth’s willingness to consider any proposition that the States might put to us in this particular field.
I was not invited to the conference. I did not expect to be invited and I did not want to be invited. I was informed that the conference was to take place. I indicated to the Minister, who was the convenor of the conference, that I thought it was a good move and I wished them well. I will not comment on the substance of what they proposed at the conference. It would hot be fair for me to do so. After all, they have had only one meeting. The representatives have to take the proposition back to the States and the States have to agree amongst themselves. When that is done I shall be only too happy to consider any proposition that the States collectively may put to me.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that a great number of British migrants who come to Australia under the assisted passage scheme and who return to Britain at the end of two years, and other British migrants who return because of homesickness or discontent, re-apply for permission to return to Australia?
– I believe that what the honorable senator said in relation to British migrants is substantially true. I have here information which indicates that in 1963-64, 54,630 British migrants under the assisted passage scheme arrived in Australia. In 1964-65 the number was 70,688. In 1963-64 the figure for departures of British migrants was 1,502, and in 1964-65 it was 2,208. Of course, if the intake is greater, it is natural to expect an increase in the number of migrants who return home. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures for returning migrants show that Australia’s record for retaining its migrants compares more than favourably with that of any other country. Dr. R. T. Appleyard of the Australian National University, in his studies of British migrants, found that the primary reasons motivating returning British migrants were not economic in character but personal and social. He also found - and this relates to the substance of the honorable senator’s question - that over three-quarters of the returning migrants stated that they hoped to come back to resettle in Australia. Although they return home for personal and social reasons, they indicate that they hope to come to Australia again.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, relates to the drug trade. I ask the Minister: What is the Government doing about controlling the locally grown hemp plant from which the drug marihuana is produced? Is it a fact that this locally produced drug has quite a big sale in Australia? If so, whatis the Government doing about it?
– There is, of course, a convention in relation to the international control of narcotics. I would like a little time so that I can give a comprehensive answer to the question. But the short answer is that opium and its derivatives are, in fact, subject to State laws. They are the responsibility of the States and control is exercised by the States. The States provide facilities for the treatment of drug addiction. It is well known to all of us that addiction to drugs is very difficult to break and that the redemption of drug addicts is not easy. The control of Australian grown plants such as hemp which can be processed for use by drug addicts is primarily the responsibility of the States.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth has not accepted the report recently submitted concerning the re-allocation of air routes in New South Wales? What are the circumstances surrounding the delay in the transfer of air routes from Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. to East-West Airlines Ltd.?
– It is not a fact that the Commonwealth has not accepted this report. It will be remembered that the report was prepared by an officer of the Commonwealth and an officer of the New South Wales Government and was submitted some time during July. The Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Henty, conferred with the New South Wales Minister for Transport. As a result of those conferences and of a further conference between Senator Henty and the Premier of New South Wales about the middle of August, it was announced in a joint statement by Senator Henty and the Premier of New South Wales that the report had, in fact, been accepted by both the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales.
There was one minor recommendation which was altered by agreement between the State and the Commonwealth. A recommendation had come from the officers that a review of the situation in New South Wales should be made every three years. My memory of the matter is that the Premier of New South Wales wanted this period to be reduced to one year and that Senator Henty agreed that that request by the Premier should be met
In respect of the reported delay in the transfer of routes from Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. to East-West Airlines Ltd., I was advised this morning by the Department of Civil Aviation that the delay is occurring because East-West Airlines is unable to secure delivery of certain aircraft and equipment which it had hoped to have at an earlier date than is now practicable. It was proposed that the routes should be transferred on 1st October. It is now suggested that the transfer should be delayed until 22nd November, although no application for delay of the transfer has yet been received from either airline.
– Will the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation assure the Senate that the Government is determined to maintain Kingsford-Smith Airport as Australia’s major international airport? Under the existing plans for theairport, will all international aircraft be able to use the airport fully loaded with cargo and fuel? If not, when will the runways be extended to enable all international aircraft to take off fully loaded?
– I can only repeat a statement which I made when I was Minister for Civil Aviation and which has been repeated by Senator Henty since he has held that portfolio. It is and always has been the firm intention of the Government that Kingsford-Smith Airport should remain the major international airport in Australia. Indeed, I once said that to alter that situation it would be necessary to alter the geography of Australia, which makes Kingsford-Smith Airport our No. 1 international airport. It will be improved to a point that will enable it to handle all operating international aircraft that are using that airport.
I make one reservation, because the honorable senator raises it in his question. He puts to me that all internationally operating aircraft should be able to use this airport fully laden. I do not know whether or not this is going to be so, but whether or not it is so, it should not be assumed that any practical limitation will be placed on the use of aircraft at the airport. It frequently happens that, because of a route structure, it is against the policy of the operator fully to load his aircraft, for reasons of economic operation, conservation of fuel and the like. With that minor reservation, I give the answer which I have given before: Yes.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. First, if a Commonwealth scholarship is awarded but not used, or if a two years scholarship awarded is used for only one year, is the money not expended returned to Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue? Secondly, if a State Department of Education is advised in sufficient time that a scholarship is not to be taken up, has it the right to re-award the scholarship to a hitherto unsuccessful applicant? If not, why not? Thirdly, does the Minister know the amount not claimed by the Tasmanian
Government out of the funds made available by the Commonwealth for Commonwealth scholarships in the financial year 1964-65?
– I think that the honorable senator is referring solely to Commonwealth secondary scholarships. The first part of his question could have referred to tertiary scholarships, but I do not think that it was intended to do so.
– Then the answer that I give relates only to secondary scholarships. The position in which such scholarships are awarded but not used would be extremely rare. I can think of no circumstances in which that would be likely to happen, though it could be so in a very isolated case. On the other hand, in Tasmania, the State from which the honorable senator comes, it would be possible for a Commonwealth secondary scholarship, which is designed to cover the last two years of secondary school education, to be used by the winner of the scholarship for only one year, at the end of which period he might voluntarily decide to leave school. In that case, that scholarship is not reawarded. The State cannot award the scholarship to somebody else, because in fact the State awards none of these scholarships at all. All of them are awarded by the Commonwealth on lists of merit supplied to the Commonwealth by the States. I do not know the value, in terms of money, of scholarships which holders have voluntarily used for only one year instead of two. Such money would return to Consolidated Revenue and would be usable for other Commonwealth purposes at some future time. I think that that answers all of the points that the honorable senator raised, so far as I could take them down at the time.
– In the absence of the Minister for Civil Aviation, 1 direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question which I preface by referring to the debate last week on a motion for the disallowance of a regulation concerning the Ipec-Air Pty. Ltd, matter. It will be recalled that Senator Turnbull told the Senate that he would vote against the Government on this issue unless an assurance were provided that the expenses of the company in respect of its representations to the Privy Council were met. An important principle is involved. I ask: Was any such assurance given to Senator Turnbull? I point out that he subsequently voted in favour of the Government and that it was stated in the Press that such an assurance was given. If an assurance was given to the honorable senator, why was not that information conveyed to the Senate?
– 1 regret that I am unable to answer the question in a manner that the honorable senator may regard as being adequate, for the simple reason that I was not present in the chamber during the whole debate. Whatever the particular point raised by Senator Turnbull in his speech was apparently it was satisfied by a remark made by my colleague Senator Henty in his speech at the conclusion of the debate. I am sure that whatever assurance was given, if any was given, it will be fulfilled in the terms in which it was given. I repeat that apparently it satisfied Senator Turnbull.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a report in today’s “ West Australian “ that the Country Shire Councils Association of Western Australia desires the Federal Government to set up an independent tribunal to hear applications for exemption from national service? Having regard to the unsatisfactory employment situation in rural areas, will the Minister for Labour and National Service give early consideration to the request?
– All I can do is to bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Will the Minister institute inquiries .into the interval of time that elapses between the signing of naturalisation certificates .by the Minister for Immigration and, in the case of some
New South Wales shires, the selection of a dale for the actual naturalisation ceremony? If such inquiries show that this delay is becoming common in such areas, will departmental officers seek’ to devise a speedier completion of the naturalisation process?
– It will be recalled that this Government decided that wherever practicable the ceremonies would be taken away from the courts and would be conducted in the more refined - I do not use thai term uncharitably - or more natural atmosphere of local government, and that mayors of the various municipalities were given a charter to perform the ceremonies. As 1 understand the question, the honorable senator has suggested that there is an unreasonable time lag between the decision of the Minister for Immigration to grant naturalisation and the holding of the naturalisation ceremonies. I shall certainly direct that aspect of the matter to the attention of my colleague. My own experience with local government over the years, both directly and indirectly, has been that most councils strive very hard to make these ceremonies really worthwhile and to give them meaning and significance. I am astonished to learn that there is an undue time lag. 1 repeat that I shall certainly bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Immigration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister been informed that Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd., an Australian tobacco manufacturer, was named last week in the Queensland Parliament as the company which has deliberately ruined the market for Australian grown tobacco leaf? Does the Minister propose taking action effectively to check this company from permanently destroying a valuable primary industry?
– I shall convey the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Primary Industry and have a reply forwarded to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and’National Service. I ask: Can the recent appeal to employers by the Minister for Labour and National Service, that they should employ more female workers and where possible adjust working rosters to accommodate additional female labour, be taken as an indication of a changed attitude by the Government to the policy of equal pay for females performing work of equal value to that performed by male workers?
– I think that the only interpretation to be put upon the Minister’s words is that he believes that employers could with advantage employ more females.
– Has the Minister representing the Attorney-General seen a reported statement of Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, indicating an apparent refusal to co-operate with other States and the Commonwealth by passing complementary legislation to control restrictive trade practices? Has the Government had any direct indication of the Victorian Government’s attitude and, if so, is it the same as Mr. Bolte’s attitude? Have any of the other State Premiers shown a similar negative and nineteenth century outlook on a problem which is so important to the community? Finally, does not Mr. Bolte’s statement show how negligent the Commonwealth Government has been in allowing six years to go by without seeking from the people constitutional power for the Commonwealth to legislate effectively over the whole field of restrictive trade practices, as recommended in 1959 by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review?
– I saw a Press report of some alleged remarks by Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, and I read a leading article which was written as a result of those alleged remarks, but I am not in a position where I can answer in any way whatsoever whether Mr. Bolte did or did not say, or should or should not have said, something which appears in a report of proceedings in a different Parliament. I do not believe that there is any evidence of negligence which has been displayed by the Commonwealth in this matter. The honorable senator well knows of the difficulties inherent in bringing in. a law in regard to restrictive trade practices. He also knows of the procedures which have been followed by both the former Attorney-General and the present Attorney-General in order to ensure that anything which is done is done after everybody concerned has had an opportunity to examine it.
– I was speaking about the constitutional power aspect.
– Well, that is a matter of opinion, is it not, as to whether there should or should not be a referendum?
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Has the Minister seen a report that on both sides in the Vietnam war women are being tortured and executed? Will the Minister explain to the world that at least the Australian Army is not engaged in this type of horror warfare?
– In answer to a question asked in the Senate on Tuesday of last week, I made it quite clear that as far as the Australian forces engaged in Vietnam, or for that matter Australian forces elsewhere, are concerned, they conform to standards of international conduct which are laid down in international treaties to which Australia is a party.
(Question No. 493.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honarable senator’s question -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, I present the Committee’s report relating to the supply of residential blocks in Canberra, which was the subject referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior on 8th April 1965.
I present the report of the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
The provision of operations and control tower buildings at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
I ask for leave to make a statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– A summary of the recommendations and conclusions of the Committee, showing against each item the paragraph in the report to which it refers, is as follows -
Debate resumed from 26th August (vide page 182), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Senate take note of the following papers -
Civil Works Programme 1965-66;
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;
National Income and Expenditure 1964-65.
Upon which Senator Kennelly had moved by way of amendment -
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.”.
– Last week both Senator Marriott and Senator O’Byrne referred to freight charges on shipping services to King Island. The position was fully covered again today in a question asked by Senator McKenna. He seemed to suggest that if the Tasmanian Government came to the rescue of Tasmanian traders the State would be penalised by the Commonwealth Grants Commission by the reduction of its grant by an amount equivalent to any subsidy provided for shipping services between Tasmania and King Island. Obviously this matter is of importance to the people of King Island. It is also of importance to the Commonwealth Government, which has expended millions of pounds in providing for soldier settlement on King Island.
About 18 months ago a deputation from the Island’s community, accompanied by the Premier of Tasmania, waited on certain Commonwealth Ministers. As a result of the discussions which ensued, a subsidy was granted on freight charges between King Island and Victoria. Most of the produce of King Island - beef,lamb and dairy products - goes to Victoria. This new subsidy has completely upset the balance of Tasmania’s trade. In an effort to induce the Commonwealth Government to subsidise also the services between King Island and Tasmania, the Premier of Tasmania told the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that one result of the new set up was that Victorian superphosphate was now selling on King Island at £2 3s. 6d. a ton cheaper than superphosphate transported from Risdon in Tasmania. The subsidy granted by the Commonwealth Government was very generous and it has been a real boon to the Island in the export of its products, because freight rates between King Island and Victoria were reaching saturation point. However, I understand that before the subsidy was granted the supero phosphate trade was shared on a 50-50 basis between Tasmania and Victoria. Now, as 1 have said, Mr. Reece has claimed that Victorian superphosphate is selling at £2 3s. 6d. a ton below the Tasmanian product.
It is further claimed that the shipping service between Tasmania and King Island is threatened with extinction. That may well be the case, lt is difficult to sec how Tasmanian traders can continue to trade with King Island when there is such a tremendous disparity between the charges for the transport of goods between Victoria and King Island and those for the transport of goods between Tasmania and King Island. The position is that either this report is incorrect or was badly typed. For instance, Mr. Reece is reported to have said that if the Tasmanian Government subsidy to companies trading between Victoria and King Island were increased beyond 10s. a ton to 50s. a ton, the State Government would have to pay an additional £17,000 a year. Obviously that is wrong, because this is an area over which the Commonwealth subsidy already operates. Mr. Reece went on to say that if the Tasmanian Government were to subsidise the service to King Island at a rate that would allow the Tasmanian trader to compete on that island with the Victorian trader, it would cost an additional £89,000 a year.
But the point is that, in this statement, Mr. Reece says that the State Government had been paying subsidies for King Island and Flinders Island shipping services totalling £36,000 a year for many years. He said that £10.000 of that sum went in subsidisation of the service between King Island and the mainland. In all, only about £26,000 has been devoted by the State Government to subsidising the freight service between King. Island and Tasmania. So, a yearly subsidy of £36,000 is being paid in respect of both islands. I take it that the £10,000 subsidy between King Island and
Victoria is still in existence, that it is continuous. Mr. Reece says that the figure has been static for many years. It seems to me that the same argument which many honorable senators so often apply, particularly regarding social services, could be applied here. That: is, the figure could increase and should increase with the reduction in the value of money and, particularly, with the greater amount of reimbursement received by Tasmania from the Commonwealth Government. I believe that there is a strong case for the increase of the subsidy payable by the State Government which, I repeat, has been static for many years.
This year, the State of Tasmania receives an all time record amount from the Commonwealth Government. The increase compared with the payment last year is £3£ million. That is a lot of money when it is considered that the State has a population of 350,000 people. In all, Tasmania . will receive £3.1,407,000 from the Commonwealth. But this is what interests me, and I come back to the question that was asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) earlier today: Mr. Reece, in the case he .put up to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), said that the Tasmanian Government could not afford to pay larger subsidies. Again I point out that the amount that has been and is being paid over the years could well be increased. Mr. Reece went on to say that an adverse adjustment might be made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Looking through the reports of the Grants Commission over the years, I cannot see that any reference whatever has ever been made to the subsidisation . by the Tasmanian Government of the shipping freight service between Tasmania and King Island. If the subsidy were increased - and the figure has been only an estimate for many years - I would be very surprised indeed if it came within the purview of the Grants Commission, particularly when it is considered that there is only one reference to shipping services in the Commission’s report. This reference is to the loss sustained by the Western Australian State Shipping Service which has been mentioned in many reports of the Commission. The loss sustained by that service has been within the purview of the Grants Commision for many years. The Commission, in its report for 1964, stated that the loss was £1,161,000, which was £105,000 more than in 1961-62. Admittedly, this was a loss on the State Government’s own shipping service, but I cannot see much difference in principle between that service and the Tasmanian service in which a subsidy of about £100,000 is involved. The Grants Commission took notice of the fact that there was a loss of £1,161,000 by the Western Australian Shipping Service. Although two years ago the Treasury drew the Commission’s attention to this matter and said that some budgetary adjustments should be made regarding it if for no other reason than to impress upon the Western Australian Government the necessity for economising in some directions in regard to this service, the Commission took the view that because of the peculiar circumstances in which the loss was incurred, it did not feel disposed towards making a budgetary adjustment in respect of Western Australia.
Taking into consideration all the circumstances, the previous attitude of the Grants Commission, its attitude in regard to the comparatively large loss by the Western Australian Shipping Service, and the peculiar nature of the freighting position to King Island which is probably unique in the Commonwealth I would be very surprised if the Tasmanian State Government were penalised for raising the subsidy which has been static for years. It was imposed at a time when money was probably worth twice as much as it is worth today. I think that the State Government well might take a risk, as far as the Grants Commission is concerned. I can understand the attitude of the Commonwealth Government. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) pointed” out that the subsidisation of this most important outlet, which is the avenue for practically all of the Island’s exports, should not be taken to mean that the Commonwealth would accept responsibility for the subsidisation of other outlets and for another island. I refer to Flinders Island. I can understand that position quite well. Under all the circumstances, it seems to me that there is a mighty strong case for the subsidisation by the State Government of this service from Tasmania.
I repeat that the case for an increase in the subsidy, which has been static for years, by the State Government is, in fact, overwhelming. A plea for assistance has been definitely turned down by the Commonwealth Government. Rather than see a loss of trade which the Tasmanian traders will have to endure, the State Government certainly should come to the rescue. In doing so, in my opinion it would at least be spending money which would ensure a reasonable return to the people of Tasmania when compared with some other purposes on which the State Government spends its funds.
I come now to a matter which was touched upon by Senator Marriott. He referred to the concern - and there is a real concern - by people in Tasmania because of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The canning pea industry is one which has potential for expansion, but it is one of the few industries in Tasmania which seems to lag behind the other States in the Commonwealth. What makes the position more critical is the fact that Tasmania, which produces 60 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s canning and quick frozen peas, is a State where the holdings are small. In fact, it has been estimated that 22 per cent, of the holdings in Tasmania consist of 50 acres or less. It has been further estimated that 40 per cent, of the holdings in Tasmania fall below 150 acres, which has been designated as an economic unit.
I think I can truthfully say that the canning pea crop and the canning bean crop are the only dependable cash crops left in Tasmania. People complain about the price of potatoes, but they forget that potatoes are dear because the great majority of the farmers do not grow them. That is why the canning pea crop and the canning bean crop are the main dependable cash crops left in Tasmania. I know the North Island of New Zealand as well as I know my own State. I say deliberately that nowhere in the world can fat lambs, dairy produce, canning peas and, in fact, most of the items that are listed in the schedule in the Minister’s statement be produced more cheaply or more abundantly than in the North Island of New Zealand. It has nothing to do with the inefficiency of the Australian farmer. I heard honorable members from city electorates iri another place make a comparison between the dairy industry in Australia and the dairy industry in New Zealand. They pointed to the inefficiency of the Australian dairy farmer. The superior production in New
Zealand in regard to many of these items is purely and simply a fact of nature. New Zealand has a wonderful climate and it has one of the best spreads of rainfall on earth. The capacity of this country for carrying sheep and for the production of fat lambs is phenomenal. It would be just as reasonable to say that the superiority of Australian wool over that of New Zealand is due to inefficiency on the part of the New Zealand farmer as it would be to say that the fact that the carrying capacity of the Australian farm is not as good as that of its New Zealand counterpart must be due to some inefficiency on the part of the Australian farmer. I repeat that the greater productive capacity of New Zealand pastures is just a fact of nature.
There are people who say that there should be a free trade agreement, and in fact an economic union, between Australia and New Zealand, and that these will have to come. We have two countries comparatively close together - within 1,000 miles of one another. One of them has a great potential for secondary industry and the other has not. Both countries largely depend on the export of primary products for their export income and both supply approximately the same world markets. Australia has built up secondary industries behind a tariff wall. For as long as I can remember, the complaint by the Australian farmer is that he must buy all his requirements from protected secondary industries in Australia and must pay more for them than he otherwise would. He has been compelled to subsidise Australian secondary industries. That has been the story told by the farmers for as long as I can remember, and there is a lot of truth in it.
If the safeguards contained in this trade agreement do not work as they should and if the New Zealand farmer is allowed to sell his more cheaply produced products on the Australian market, that combination of circumstances must be detrimental to Australia. Speaking as a farmer, I say that the justification for the building up of secondary industries in Australia has been the excellent local market for primary products so created. There is no doubt whatever that, to create that market, the farmer has been compelled to subsidise secondary industries, although it is true that he has received consideration from all Governments and has been subsidised in many directions.
We have built up a most valuable local market in Australia. If we pull down the protective barriers so far as some classes of primary products are concerned and if New Zealand, with its great potential for primary production, is allowed unhindered access to Australia - I do not think that will be so or I hope it will not be so - that will be detrimental to Australian primary industry. It seems, at first glance, that there is no reason why there should not be a free interchange of trade’ between the two countries. I am in favour of that, but not if it is going to do serious .damage to our own primary industries. I sincerely hope that the safeguards that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has spoken of will work as he has envisaged that they will.
The agreement aims at redressing the imbalance of trade between the two countries. I suggest that, because of Australia’s superior manufacturing potential, it probably pays New Zealand to purchase a lot of her secondary goods from this country, but if they had not been purchased from Australia they would have had to be purchased from the United States of America, the United Kingdom or somewhere else. It is the purchasing of those goods from Australia that has led to the imbalance of trade which this agreement seeks to rectify in part. Having discussed this question with many people and many farmers’ organisations I place on record my sincere hope that, with the safeguards it contains, the agreement that has been entered into will be adequate for the protection of Australian industries.
As I found out years ago, a Budget is never a popular document. There is something about a Budget which seems to lend itself to tremendous criticism. It might well be that this Budget has been subject to less criticism than many presented in years past. It is always the contention of an Opposition that expenditure in certain directions is not enough and, if taxation is increased, either that it should not be increased or that it is levied on the wrong people. That is always the Opposition’s story so far as Budgets are concerned. In this instance I have heard Opposition speakers talk about the penchant of the present Commonwealth Government to levy indirect taxation. They have referred to the increased taxation on beer, spirits and cigarettes, together with the increases in petrol tax and income taxation. Similar criticism was levelled against last year’s Budget and during the debate on that Budget the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) said something that I have never forgotten. He said that in the last year of office of the Chifley Government direct taxation yielded 55.3 per cent, of the total Commonwealth revenue and indirect taxation 44.7 per cent., and that in the year of which he was speaking direct taxation yielded 60.1 per cent, of total revenue - an increase of 5 per cent. - and indirect taxation yielded 39.9 per cent., a fall of 5 per cent, from the 44.7 per cent, in the last year of the Chifley regime. Those were official Treasury figures. I do not know what difference the increases in indirect taxation this year will make in those percentages. It seems to me that all Governments try to balance income taxation and indirect taxation. On the figures produced, it is completely fallacious to say that this Government has a penchant for levying taxation by the indirect method.
The other criticism - Senator Kennelly devoted a good deal of time to it, as it is a very hot potato - related to the recent decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in respect of the basic wage. It is claimed that costs have so risen since the increase granted before the latest decision that that increase has been eaten up, or more than eaten up, by them. There is no doubt that the increases in costs have been hard for the wage and salary earner but the judgment of Mr. Justice Gallagher, Mr. Justice Sweeney and Mr. Justice Nimmo contained a truism which has been mentioned in this Chamber on many occasions. They said -
We have decided to grant wage increases which we consider will not be incompatible with price stability, because in our view any wage increase granted at the present time without regard to this question would not confer a real or lasting benefit on wage and salary earners.
It seems to me to be a reasonable proposition that if the court grants a wage increase to offset an increase in prices and afterwards the prices go up again and the court grants another increase to chase those rising prices, that is inflation. It confers no real and lasting benefit on anyone, least of all on the wage earners. Obviously, until the amount of money that is earned has some real value - some real purchasing power - inflation is merely added to inflation by the granting of these increases ad lib.
I was intrigued by that part of the judgment of those three Justices which referred to the effect of strikes on the growth of economic capacity. The Mount Isa strike is over and we have almost forgotten about it, but in relation to it the Justices said -
The recent Mount Isa strike cogently illustrates this tact. Its circumstances and effects are common knowledge. Although confined to one area of one State of the Commonwealth, it nevertheless had serious effects upon the whole economy. The losses suffered by the employees involved or directly affected, of the Mount lsa community and of the main employer and of the contractors concerned were great, but they were dwarfed by the repercussive effects of the strike. These were felt throughout Australia and substantially affected the position of our international balances, as we not only lost the benefit of the exports which would normally have been made but were obliged to increase our imports to provide raw material for those industries normally supplied from Mount Isa at rates lower than import prices.
Of course, this strike must have had a most serious effect upon the economy of the whole of the Commonwealth. By the same token, it must seriously affect the capacity of industry in this country to pay an increased wage rate. I think I can speak for every honorable senator - although we approach it by different methods - when I say that we believe that awards of the Arbitration Commission should be as high as industry can afford to have them. When the effect of an increase is only inflationary, it has no real value at all. When the position is reached where the Arbitration Commission is chasing prices round and round and up and up, surely it is obvious that no benefit whatever is conferred on anyone. We must get down to the realisation that we cannot have our cake and eat it, that we cannot have these disasters to the economy yet expect to accrue real value in our national life.
The Commission went on to refer to what is happening on the wharfs. As we have said so often in this Chamber, this is simply imposing a penalty, or placing an additional impost, on everything that is imported into this country and everything that is exported from it. I believe that if the average man who works on the wharf were to have his way, the demonstrations that we have seen lately would not have occurred. I believe that the position has been reached wherein the waterside in Australia is just about under the control of international Communism, which has a vested interest in the disruption of the Australian economy. From what 1 have gathered from discussing the matter with people who work in this avenue, if the average man who works on the wharf were to have a free and unfettered say there would not be nearly so much of this sort of thing occurring.
– That is ridiculous. Why docs the honorable senator not face up to facts?
– I heard Fitzgibbon say that it was fitting to bring the waterside workers out on strike because the Commonweath Government proposed to call the standard coin in Australia a “ royal “. How silly can you get? He thought that that was a fit and proper reason to penalise the whole of the Australian community.
– But the men- did not stop work.
– I am referring to what Fitzgibbon said. He said that. He justified it.
– Where did he say it?
– He said it on television. I heard him. When, because- they do not agree with the Commonwealth Government’s policy on Vietnam for one thing, the leaders on the waterfront pull men out on strike and as a result penalise the whole community, they are simply striking over conditions that have nothing whatever to do with their wages. I repeat that by doing this they are penalising the whole Australian community and are reducing the ability of the employer to pay higher wages.
On top of all that, we are experiencing the effects of drought. The recent drought has had, and it will have for several years to come, disastrous repercussions on the Australian economy. Until the men who hold key positions on the waterfront realise that the value of the £1 is measured by what the people as a whole put into it, and that unless we put full value into the £1 we will not get full value out of it, they will continue to penalise Australia’s import and export industries for frivolous reasons. Somebody has to pay the bill, and it will be the Australian community as a whole.
I support the Budget. I am disappointed that more money was not allocated for defence. I believe that in the conditions that exist today more money could well, have been expended on defence. However, when everything is taken into consideration, this is a reasonable Budget. It has gone over well with the people and with less complaint - that in itself is a good commendation - than has any other Budget that has been introduced in this Parliament for many years past.
– I do not want to join issue with Senator Lillico in respect of the waterside workers. Over the past six years I have listened to too many of his hate sessions on the waterside workers. Almost every time he rises to his feet it is to have a bash at these members of the community. However, I do wantto join issue with him in relation to his reference to wages chasing prices and to prices going up and causing inflation. We know this happens. We know also that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is charged with the responsibility of fixing wage rates and in particular a minimum wage which is known as the basic wage. Surely if the Commission fixes a basic wage which is based on the capacity of industry as a whole to pay, it should maintain the value of that wage in accordance with fluctuations in the prices index. It must be remembered that when workers seek an adjustment of the basic wage, as they did earlier this year, it is in an effort to have the value of the basic wage restored to the level previously awarded by the Commission in accordance with the consumer price index. It must be remembered, too, that when such adjustments are sought, cost increases have already occurred.
If Senator Lillico wants to make some contribution to the stability of prices and wages, he should go into his Party room and persuade the Government to peg not only wages but also the prices of the commodities that people have to buy. You cannot have one thing without having the other. Why should only one section of the community have the price of the commodity that they have to sell fixed by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission while others are allowed to charge for the commodities, they sell whatever prices they like or whatever prices the market will bear? Until such time as this Government takes action on these lines, the inflationary spiral will continue and workers will continue to strike for wage justice. If that means industrial strife, then there will have to be industrial strife. The workers are entitled to put on their labour the price that they think it is worth just as the merchant has a right to put on his goods the prices that he thinks they are worth.
I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Kennelly. The very width of the amendment indicates the shortcomings of the Budget proposals for the ensuing year. Of course, this Budget is characteristic of the Budgets that have been brought down by Mr. Holt since he became the Treasurer following the retirement of Sir Arthur Fadden. I think this is the seventh Budget that Mr. Holt has introduced, but during this period there has never been an attempt to plan the Australian economy for the future. Indeed, the Treasurer reminds me of a man who runs about with a leaking bucket; he tries to plug a hole in it here and there but every time he plugs one hole the bucket springs another leak. That is exactly what the Treasurer has done in this Budget. He has tried to plug holes. It is a stop gap Budget - the kind of Budget that we have become accustomed to expect from this Government. The Government never seems to get on top of the problems that face the community. It waits until the problems occur and then tries to remedy them instead of adopting some plan that would prevent many of the problems from arising.
The Treasurer does not show any enterprise; he never displays any forward thinking. On this score, this Budget is perhaps the worst that the present Treasurer has introduced. The budgetary proposals adopted by this Government change direction as problems arise; they meander all over the place without achieving anything for the development of Australia. Whatever development has occurred in Australia has occurred in spite of this Government and not because of it. Every time that honorable senators on this side of the chamber put forward some plan for the future or express thoughts on future planning, they are described as being either Socialists or Communists. Australia is one of the few countries that do not plan their economies in an orderly manner. Planning is not allowed in this so-called free enterprise economy.
The aspect of the Budget that interests me mainly at this point of time is the provision that is made for the development of Australia. While it is true that a fairly large sum of money is set aside for developmental works in Australia, very little money has been provided for additional works. In fact, the sum to be spent on developmental works covered by the present Budget relates only to projects that were started years ago. Provision is made for finance for only two small items of development that will commence this year. Those are the commencement of the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia, on which £650,000 will be spent, and the development of facilities at Weipa in Queensland, on which a little more than £1 million will be spent.
Those are the only two new projects which this Government proposes to undertake with finance provided for in the current Budget. We know, of course, that the Commonwealth Government will have to spend a lot more money on defence than it has had to spend in earlier years, but that is no excuse for damping down the development of the country, because development is of the greatest importance. Population of the land will be brought about only by development of the land, and increased population is the best form of defence for Australia.
On Thursday last the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) read to us a statement on drought relief which had been made in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). It related to the drought in eastern Australia which is said to be the most severe drought in the history of that part of the world. It is interesting to read some of the comments made by the Prime Minister in the statement. He said -
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 time 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.
This is not the first drought we have had in Australia. It may be the most severe. Nevertheless- there have been very severe droughts within the last 20 years or so. Yet, it is only at this time that the Prime Minister speaks of devising some kind of plan for the mitigation of the effects of droughts. It is recognised that we have had severe droughts before and will have them again, but it is only when we come to the climax of the matter that the Government starts to move. It does not do so until we begin to get into difficulties. I believe that the drought in eastern Australia is causing very severe difficulties which will be felt in Australia for a good number of years. The Prime Minister also said -
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.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Government knows the drought is a very serious one and that its effects will be Commonwealth wide and will have an impact on the whole of the economy of Australia, the Government does not seem to think that it is its responsibility to provide financial relief. lt is true that there is talk of taxation concessions which the farmer may receive through being able to average over a period of five years profits arising from forced sales of livestock, but overall that does not give very much relief. The concession is given at a time when perhaps it is not so badly needed as are other forms of relief. The man on the land, who provides the very basis of our export income, should receive assistance.
In the Prime Minister’s statement it is said that banks will make loans available to farmers at reasonable rates of interest. I do not know what would be a reasonable rate of interest to a man who probably has lost the greater part of his stock and will need to restock, to resow. seed to provide stock feed, and even to rejuvenate his land because so much of it has been eroded and blown away. Apparently, he is to be able to put another chain around his neck. He is to have another lot of interest to pay every year on a further mortgage, and perhaps he will never recover from the effects of the drought. Yet, the assistance I have mentioned is the only kind of assistance which the Commonwealth Government proposes to give to persons in the drought affected areas.
Recently I read a Press report to the effect that it was proposed to ship 2,000 tons of cotton seed from the port of Wyndham to Japan. Anyone who has had anything to do with the land will know that cotton seed cake is perhaps the highest protein stock feed that can be found. Tests have proved this to be so over many years. It is used extensively in the cattle industry in the United States of America. Yet, in this country, at a time when every ounce of stock feed, particularly high protein stock feed, is of great value, we are snipping 2,000 tons of it to Japan. If the Commonwealth Government or the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland had any interest in the man on the land they would be buying in that 2,000 tons of high protein stock feed and selling it at cost price or less than cost price to the men on the land who required it. But they prefer to let it go out of the country rather than to give real assistance in that way. I was rather surprised that this year’s Budget did not contain very much harder provisions because wc are facing very difficult times. I am aware that politics are played in these matters and that the Treasurer, in bringing down a fairly easy Budget this year, will have to introduce a fairly stiff Budget next year - an election year - unless the winds of change are favourable to him and the conditions allow him to pull himself out of the rut.
A few days ago I read an estimate that the income from the wool clip next year will fall by £100 million, almost as a direct result of drought conditions in eastern Australia. Not only will the quantity of wool produced decrease, but also the quality of the wool will suffer. The falling off in quality will be reflected in the price obtained. Half fed sheep will not produce good wool. The fleeces will be much lighter and the staple length will also be affected adversely. Because of the reduced prices, our export income will drop. Two factors are operating. They are lower production because of reduced numbers of sheep by deaths, and reduced prices because of poorer quality wool. If (he estimate of a fall of £100 million is correct this year, the effects will be much worse in the following years. The effects of the drought will not be overcome in a comparatively short time. The restocking of farms and stations with sheep takes a considerable time. have not seen any estimates. of the effects of the drought on meat production in the coming years, but I have .read reports that in the last financial year our meat production increased. This is a result of the drought because primary producers, rather than have their stock die on the farms, sent them to abattoirs for killing. Drought affected stock do not produce good meat, but the truth is that the American market does not require good meat. It wants factory beef, which is generally third or fourth grade meat. Meat production has risen because farmers and station owners in the drought areas have preferred to send their stock to abattoirs, but the effect will be a reduction in next year’s meat production. Unless the drought breaks fairly soon production will fall even more sharply because the sheep and cattle left alive will not be fit for killing even for factory beef.
The fat Iambs market also will be affected because stock weakened by drought are not capable of bearing lambs. Even if the mothers survive, many of the lambs die and meat production is correspondingly reduced. It is certain that less beef will be produced, but I am not aware of any estimates of the reduction. Although the drought has not really affected the beef areas of Queensland, a considerable number of cattle are grazed in parts of New South Wales and southern Queensland where the drought will have an effect. The prices obtained will be reduced. In Australian conditions it takes about four years to breed a beast and prepare it for the sale ring and it will take that long to restore the killing rate to average. Many of the cattle killed this year because of drought conditions were breeding cattle.
Wheat production has been adversely affected by the drought. The wheat growing areas of New South Wales - the biggest wheat producing State - have been affected and although some wheat will be available for export, the quantity will be smaller than previously available. Export income accordingly will be reduced. Our primary products have provided the main part of our export income for a number of years and will continue to do so for a considerable time. All the grain crops will be reduced and much of the grain production will be required for stockfeed in the drought affected areas. Consumption in Australia will tend to rise arid less grain will be available for export to earn income for Australia overseas.
The sugar industry is being affected by falling prices and our export income is again reduced. Australia is an island continent and one of the 10 largest exporters but I think it is the only large exporting country which does not have its own shipping line. While we are battling to gain export income, freight rates are being increased by about 6 per cent. The invisible factors affecting the balance on current account, because of their influence on the costs of our exports and imports, will cause a drop in our export earnings. In the last financial year Australia’s deficit on current account was £375 million, the second highest on record. The position was saved only by overseas investments. For a good many years we have survived only because of overseas investments. The deficit of £375 million on current account last financial year was £230 million greater than in 1962-63 but £74 million less than in 1963-64. Our bill for imports in 1964-65 increased by £250 million over 1963-64. Our export income in 1964-65 was £74 million less than in 1963-64 and on invisible transactions we were worse off by £26 million in 1964-65 than in 1963-64. As I have said, increases in freight charges will further affect the balance of payments.
Although the Treasurer has said that our overseas balances currently are reasonably stable, they fell from £854 million last year to £696 million and our drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund increased by £11 million to £234 million. As our first and second line reserves we have still £900 million, but it does not take very long for such reserves to disappear. We learned that only a few short years ago. If, in a good year, our balance on current account can fall by £375 million, what can happen in a year like the present one if my predictions about the drought and its effect on the economy are anywhere near reasonably correct? If there is a fall of £375 million in a good year the fall could be very much greater in the coming year.
Looking at the overall picture, we see that in 1963-64 we had a favorable balance of £229 million and in 1964-65 an unfavorable balance of £147 million. In other words, the real difference between the two years was £376 million. If we could get a result like that in what were regarded as good years, we could be in serious difficulty next year.
One of the most disturbing features of our balance of trade is the continual increase in our imports of iron and steel. In the 11 months to the end of May this year - the figures available cover only the period to the end of May - the volume of our imports of iron and steel increased by 71 per cent, and the value by £19 million. During that 1 1 months we imported iron and steel to the value of £45.9 million. We have massive resources of all the raw materials required to manufacture iron and steel, yet we go to the extent of exporting those raw materials and then importing the finished products. The Government should review the position. If the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. wishes, to maintain its monopoly over the iron and steel industry in Australia, it should be compelled, first, to supply ‘Australia’s needs and then bc subjected to an export quota.
– I think B.H.P. exported very little this year, so that it could supply most of Australia’s needs.
– Exports of iron and steel for the 11 months were valued at £17.9 million.
– I think the honorable senator will find that the value of exports was insignificant when compared with exports for the past two or three years and when related to general production.
– I am sorry; I misled the Senate. The total value of exports of iron and steel in 1963-64 was £33.5 million and for the 11 months to the end of May £28.7 million. There was a fall in exports, but the problem exists.’ In the main, B.H.P. has done a reasonably good job for Australia, lt is a monopoly that we do not resist to any great extent, but to me the policy of exporting raw materials - coal and iron ore - and them importing steel seems to be wrong.
– Only very special qualities are imported, are they nol?
– That is probably so, but for the 1 1 months that 1 have mentioned the imports were valued at £45.9 million. Even if these imports were special products, the quantity of such special products that we will require as we develop will increase. Therefore, the techniques of the B.H.P. rolling mills - the company is installing new mills pretty well continuously - should be adjusted.
– The company is spending about £50 million on development this year, is it not?
– It is something like that. As I have said in this chamber on previous occasions, at the end of the war the Japanese steel industry was practically out on its feet but today Japan is the third largest producer of steel in the world. We had a steel industry and all the raw resources that Japan did not have, yet we are now importing steel. Australia should be the third largest producer of steel in the world, not Japan. We should not be exporting our raw resources to help another country become a supplier of steel to the world.
I have mentioned that only two developmental projects will be commenced in Australia this year. I am disturbed to think that only about £1.1 million is being spent at Weipa. The Northern Division of the Department of National Development is not progressing as it should be. During the 1963 election compaign the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was very brave when he made the following statement in relation to northern development -
To make the examination of northern projects - an examination made, of course, in consultation with Commonwealth and State Ministers, and with expert advice - needs to be in the first instance the special responsibility of one Commonwealth Minister.
To this end we will establish a special Northern Division of the Department of National Development.
It is true that a division of the Department of National Development was created bat nothing has happened since then. I do not know of one recommendation that has been made. One cannot find out whether the Division has recommended anything to the Government or to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). I have asked questions about it and have been told that projects have been recommended and are under study but we are never told what the projects ate. As far as I know, none has as yet been accepted by the Government. The only real thing that has happened in the Northern Division of the Department of National Development up to the present is that the Director appointed by the Government proposes to resign to contest an election.
What kind of reception did the Director’s announcement receive? I remind the Senate that we live in a democratic country. We in this House are part of a system of democracy. This Senate divides evenly every three years for elections. It provides the basis for continuous government. This is the basis of democracy. The civil service provides the other arm of continuous government. In the dealings I have had with civil servants, irrespective of their political beliefs. I have found them to be men of integrity. ] refer to a question asked in another place by the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), who is a scientist. I hope that Dr. Gibbs does not apply to the science that he practices the same criteria as he would apply to Dr. Patterson, in addressing a question to the Minister for National Development, Dr. Gibbs asked -
Mas the Minister for National Development seen a report that Dr. Patterson, the Director of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, has offered his services as a socialist Australian Labour Party candidate for the Queensland seat of Dawson at the next House of Representatives election?
Dr. Gibbs asked further
Has Dc. Patterson ever made any public utterances which may have indicated his socialist leanings? Could those leaning!) have influenced Dr. Patterson’s attitude to his Department and his administration of it?
This is one scientist talking about another.
I think that the answer that the Minister gave to this question is disgraceful. This nation has to rely on the integrity of its top public servants. Any Minister should be in a position to defend them at all times, and should defend them at all times. The Minister did not even have the courage to do that. Let us look at the answer he gave -
Shortly after 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon Dr. Patterson approached the Secretary of my Department and informed him that he intended to stand as a Labour candidate for the seat of Dawson at the next Federal election.
This remark is interesting -
J had not previously realised that Dr. ‘Patterson had any Socialist sympathies.
That is the answer. The Minister leaves completely up in the air the matter of whether Dr. Patterson was influenced in his work by his political beliefs. What is the instruction in that answer to every top public servant or anyone who is seeking to move to the top of the Public Service? lt is that he should not have politics different from those of the Government. That is what the Minister for National Development said in his answer. Every public servant should take notice of this statement. If that is the way in which the top men of the Public Service are to be treated by this Government, then it is time that public servants and not waterside workers had a strike and brought the Government to its senses. Public servants are free citizens living in a free country. They are entitled to have whatever political beliefs they like. They are entitled to belong to any legal political party in this country, be that party the Australian Democratic Labour Party, the Communist Party or any other party. Their characters should not be besmirched because they belong to any of those parties. I think the Minister for National Development, in giving that answer, went out of his way to cast a reflection on Dr. Patterson.
I wish to touch on a couple of parochial matters relating to my own State of Western Australia. In December of last year, the Tariff Board refused to grant assistance to the flax industry in Western Australia, which is the only flax industry operating in Australia at the present time.. Australia’s flax industry was supported by subsidy for a great many years. Eventually, it was decided that the subsidy would nor be continued. It is interesting to note what the then Minister for Primary Industry, Mr. McMahon, had to say in 1957 regarding flax production. I find this set out in the
Tariff Board’s report on flax fibre. The report states -
In 1 957, however, the Commonwealth Government decided to withdraw from the field of flax production. In announcing the disbanding of the Flax Commission the Minister for Primary Industry stated that under “ . .. . present and forseeable conditions continuation of financial assistance to the flax industry cannot be justified on defence grounds “. Thus when the Board inquired into the flax industry in 1959, it felt obliged to make its recommendation on the basis of criteria other than defence. Hie Board considers that it should make its recommendation in the current inquiry also on the basis of criteria other than defence. lt is not for me to trace the history of the flax industry in Australia. But it is true that this industry was commenced with Commonwealth assistance during the Second World War because flax was a strategic commodity. I have a vivid recollection that, only a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) stated in London that we were at war. Certainly, it is not a worldwide war such as the wars in which we were involved in 1914-18 and 1939-45. Nevertheless, we are at war, according to the Prime Minister. I am wondering whether flax has any strategic purpose in these conditions and whether we should continue to support the industry in the circumstances. The Tariff Board itself admits that the amount of assistance required by the industry is comparatively small.
– What is the source of our imports now?
– Our imports mostly come from France and Belgium. Those imports are heavily subsidised.
– By the respective Governments of those two countries?
– Yes. But we do not subsidise our industry. The cost of production in those two countries is much lower than the cost in our country, and, because of the subsidies, their flax can be sold on the world market much cheaper than our product.
The Government and, I think, all honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, would like to see more decentralisation in Australia. We would like the population to be distributed over a wider area. The flax industry in Western Australia is only quite small and is carried on at Boyup Brook. The factory itself supports 40 families. The farmers who grow the crop also are dependent on the industry. If the industry closes down, there will be nothing else in this area for those people to do. They will have to move to some other area. Inevitably, it will be a city because that is where the employment opportunities are. So the internal economy of a small country town will get a severe shock. The workers and their families will be uprooted and will have to move to another part of the country.
– This industry is an excellent instance of how agricultural and secondary industries can be integrated.
– That is so.
– I had the pleasure of visiting the area last year.
– Yes. The Tariff Board also made these remarks -
From the evidence given at the inquiry and as a result of the Board’s visit to Boyup Brook, it became apparent that the outcome of the inquiry had little, if any, bearing of economic importance on farming operations at Boyup Brook, but was of some importance when related to the employment opportunities which the flax mill provided for a small and somewhat isolated community.
The Tariff Board stated that workers at Myrtleford in Victoria were able to obtain other work in that district after the closure of the Myrtleford flax industry and that it was possible that the workers at Boyup Brook would be able to obtain employment in that area if production ceased. I do not know the Myrtleford area. But anyone who knows the Blackwood area or the Boyup Brook area realises that other employment cannot be found there unless it is as a farm labourer, and only a limited number of farm labourers are required there.
In view of the situation that is developing to our north, we do not know where our involvement in South East Asia is going to lead us. Reference has been made to the possibility that Chinese interference could blow up into a major struggle between world powers. Of course, if this happens we will require flax. Because of the small amount of subsidy that is required to keep this industry in production, I urge the Government again to have a look at the possibility of giving assistance by means of a subsidy rather than tariff protection.
One other matter that I think concerns Western Australian commerce and business is the trunk line telephone service between
Western Australia and eastern Australia. For a start, Western Australian time is two hours behind eastern Australian time. This means that by the time the business houses open at 9 a.m. in Perth, it is 11 a.m. in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and 10.30 a.m. in South Australia. I shall not deal with South Australia because the telephone service between Perth and South Australia is reasonably good. I have said there is a two hours lag between Western Australian time and eastern Australian time. In addition, nearly every time that a person books a call to eastern Australia during the daytime - one can get through at night time fairly well - there is a wait of two or three hours on booked calls. This, of course, brings the time for connection of a call to 1 o’clock in eastern Australia. This is the lunch period, and the business man whom the person in Western Australia wants to call has gone to lunch. So the person has to wait until 2 o’clock eastern Australian time before he can get in touch with whoever he is calling. These constant delays make it almost impossible to conduct business between eastern Australia and Western Australia.
The Chamber of Manufactures in Western Australia had a meeting about this matter only a few weeks ago and endeavoured to impress the facts of the matter upon the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). Despite the enormous amounts of money that the Post Office is spending on developmental works, the Postmaster-General is of the opinion that the telephone service between eastern Australia and Western Australia cannot be improved for at least two years. Australia is in a period of development, and I think it is true to say that Western Australia is developing much more quickly than eastern Australia at the present time. Much of the business that is coming to Western Australia is coming from the eastern States. Branches of eastern States firms are opening in Western Australia. Their head offices are in eastern Australia and they want to be in reasonably close contact with them. The idea exists that the telephone is a means of reasonably close contact, but the telephone service between Western Australia and eastern Australia at the present time is a very poor one. In fact, it is easier to make a telephone call to Europe than it is to get Sydney or
Melbourne. I urge the Government, while it is waiting for these improvements that are expected in two or three years, to have another look at this matter to see whether another method cannot be found by which to provide a better service. Perhaps a radio telephone or a service of that type could be introduced so that the business and commerce of the State -may be properly conducted. ‘
Last year we had a very complex measure brought before the .Parliament to amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act. The amendments were the result of the report of a committee of inquiry known as the Ligertwood Committee. But there was one aspect of taxation that did not come within the terms of reference of that Committee. I refer to zone taxation. I want to speak very briefly about zone taxation as it affects certain people in Western Australia. It has been the policy of both the Liberal Government and the Labour Government in Western Australia to post certain people in certain areas for periods of two years. They may stay longer if they wish, but the minimum period has been two years. I refer to the north west area of the State and to people such as policemen, school teachers and others who are transferred there.
The zone taxation, as it is administered at the present time, falls very harshly on school teachers. They are posted into this area for a period of two years, but they do not work in the area for two years. The school year commences at the beginning of February. That is when the teacher goes to the area. So although he is posted there, he does not live and earn his livelihood in that area for six months of the financial year. Therefore, he cannot claim the zone allowance deductions. He is in the area for over six months of the next financial year and, of course, he is entitled to the zone allowance. But for the next financial year, when he is finishing his two year term, the school vacation commences before 31st December, and he leaves the area, having been transferred to another.
As he has not been in the zoned area for a full six months, although his posting would be for the full six months, he is not entitled to claim the zone allowance for that financial year. Therefore, although his posting to this area is for a period of two years, in fact, he receives zone allowance for only one year. When any legislation or rule is introduced and lines are drawn, anomalies must exist, but I think the matter to which I have referred is a glaring anomaly. Perhaps the Government could have a look at it. 1 have asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) by letter to consider the matter. He said it will be reviewed the next time the zone allowances are reviewed. I do not know when that will be, and I do not suppose the Treasurer knows at this point of time. But I think the Government should look at the matter, lt does not affect school teachers only in Western Australia. It must affect school teachers in other areas in which zone allowances apply. I make another plea to the Treasurer to consider the town of Geraldton and its exclusion from the Zone B provision. As I said before, when lines are drawn, anomalies must be created, but I think this is an outstanding anomaly. I do not know the position regarding the cost of living at the present time because the consumer price index is not based on 30 towns as was the old C series index. According to that index, the cost of living in Geraldton was the highest of any town in Australia. Yet this town is excluded from Zone B whilst other places where it is much cheaper to live get the taxation concession.
– Did you say Geraldton was excluded from Zone B?
– Yes, Zone B. We ask the Government to have another look at this question. It would be simple to make the adjustment because the boundaries of the zone are drawn on the basis of local authority boundaries. It would simply be a matter of bringing the boundary of the Zone on to the southern boundary of the Geraldton Road Board area. That would bring Geraldton in. No other large town would be affected. I think the Government should examine this matter and see what it can do. I support the amendment.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [5.31]. - I rise to support the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget papers, and I oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition. I would like to draw the attention of the Senate to a number of points in the. Budget speech. I think a Budget speech is always a matter of great interest to us here and of great importance to the nation. Looking at the speech delivered by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), we see that the Budget makes provision for greatly enlarged expenditure on defence - and indeed we are very conscious of the need for this in the world of today. The Budget also provides for increases in the payments to State Governments and increases in payments in the fields of social welfare and international aid, as well as for further assistance in the field of education, which is very important in the development of this young and growing country.
I disagree with Senator Cant, who charged the Treasurer with having shown no forward thinking in this Budget. The matters that I have mentioned and others that will be mentioned during this debate show clearly that the Government is very conscious of its responsibilities and has displayed vision and forward thinking of which every Australian can be very proud. In the field of education, the Budget provides for further grants of assistance to universities up to a total of £22,714,000. That is an increase of more than £2 million over the provision made last year. This is a matter of great substance and importance. The Government is providing £9,953,000 for science laboratories and technical training, both matters of paramount importance. Today we live in a world where science and technical training are of the utmost importance. We are almost spellbound by the wonderful achievements of people like the two American astronauts who have just returned from space. Whatever the future of our young people may be, they must be equipped in every possible way to play their part in a new, exciting and developing world.
I am interested also in two new items which appear for the first time in this Budget and which total £1,750;000. The first of these is the provision of £750,000 for research grants, and the second is the provision of £1 million for interim capital grants for colleges of advanced education. These colleges will play a very important part in the training of our young people. A statement attached to the Treasurer’s speech indicates that the research grants will be made available, . through the State Governments, in support of selected research projects to be carried out in any academic field by individuals or research teams. I would like to’ be told, at a later stage of the debate, what the research projects arc to be. I think that would be of interest to us. We all want to know what is being done in this field in our own States.
The Opposition has decried the assistance provided by the Budget in the field of social services. It has belittled the Governmnent, and 1 think this is rather a pity. All of us are interested in social services and in the needs of other people. This applies to both sides of the House. We would all like to see more given to those who are in need. But, of course, the Treasurer, in drawing up a Budget, has to take into account all the needs of the community. It is, therefore, unfair for any honorable senator to deal with a particular social service benefit in isolation. 1 believe this Government has done more in the field of social services, during its years of office, than has any other National Government. Under this Budget, the Government is to give further supplementary assistance to pensioners. I remind the Senate that it was this Government which introduced supplementary assistance for single pensioners who are deemed to be solely dependent upon their pensions and who pay rent. This was of great benefit to single pensioners. The supplementary assistance will be increased from 10s. to £1 a week. The increase will be associated with a means test, under which some supplementary assistance will be payable until a pensioner’s means, as assessed, reach the equivalent of £1 10s. a week. Assistance on the new basis will be extended to a married couple where the husband is a pensioner and his wife receives the wife’s allowance. In this case .the husband’s pension will be increased to. the standard rate of £6 a week.1 These rates will bring the income of an eligible married couple up by up to £1 10s. a week. These increases will be a great help to those who pay rent, and particularly to single pensioners who very often live alone in a room in very sad and unhappy conditions.
The wife’s allowance of £3 a week, at present payable to the wife of an invalid pensioner or age pensioner who is permanently incapacitated, will in future be paid to the wife of any age pensioner where she has a child in her care. Those of us who deal with such matters have seen a very real problem in such cases. This new provision will bc of great assistance. Payment for a dependent child will be extended to all age pensioners. These increased benefits represent the results of forward thinking on the part of the Government in the field of assistance to pensioners. -The Budget also provides for a payment to pensioners in respect of children undergoing full-time education. At present the payment ceases at the end of the year in which the child reaches 18 years of age but now it will go on until the child reaches 21 years of age. In today’s competitive, exciting and developing world the time spent in gaining an adequate education is longer than -it used to be, and I think the Government has shown a very real appreciation of the needs of the people in extending the payment of this benefit until the student child reaches 21 years of age.
Another important provision of the Budget is that widows with student children will remain eligible for the class A widow’s pension until the youngest child, if a student, reaches 21 years of age. Provision is made also for a new benefit known as the guardian’s allowance. This will be of great assistance to widowers and to unmarried persons receiving an age or invalid pension and having the care of one, two or more children. The Government has shown its appreciation of this problem by granting this added benefit. Indeed, when we think of social services we should not think of one item in isolation, but should remind ourselves of all that this Government has done.
It will be recalled that this is the Government which recognised the housing problem faced by aged persons and the loneliness and the difficulties of those who had to leave the areas in which they had their friends and in which their families had grown up. The Government sponsored the Aged Persons Homes Act which provided, at first, assistance in the form of a £1 for £1 subsidy, later increased to £2 for £1. This has helped our senior citizens tremendously. Whether it be in the closest suburbs or as far away as Alice Springs, one can now see delightful centres where aged people, in the twilight of their lives, live with others of their own age and interests. Because of the assistance provided by the Government aged people can now face the years ahead of them - whether they be many or few - without fear of the loneliness which otherwise would have been their lot.
Let me give honorable senators some figures concerning the excellent assistance provided by the Government in this field. Since this Act came into operation, 1,196 grants to a total amount of £24,792,585 have been approved, and the amount actually paid out to date is £22,917,093. As a result of this far-seeing, understanding, humane legislation, the number of aged people accommodated is 20,630. Why should anyone say that this Government has not appreciated the needs of our senior citizens or that our social services have been meagre? Of course, we all want to see them greater and better than they are, but let us not forget that we should never take any one thing in isolation. We should look at all that the Government has done, at what it is doing and what it will, I believe, continue to do.
It is well worth reminding ourselves that in addition to doing these things, this Government is the Government which appreciated the great problem of the care of aged and ill people in their own homes. I refer to people who did not want to stay on in hospital when it was not absolutely necessary, who wanted to go to their own happy surroundings, the bits and pieces and all the other things that mean home, but faced the problem of having to be cared for. We had in our community some very fine home nursing services, but they encountered problems of cost. These people were needed more than ever to go into the homes to care for the aged and ill. This Government, appreciating the problem, decided to institute home nursing service subsidies. In 1957-58, the first full year of operation, £18,135 was made available. We thought then that this was a large amount, but last year the Government made subsidy grants of £232,339 to home nursing bodies. This is, indeed, a tremendous amount. It has been of very great assistance. Through this provision, 283 trained nurses and 53 organisations throughout Australia are being subsidised. So wherever you may be, wherever these excellent home nursing services are functioning - we have some splendid ones in Queensland and I know that my colleagues will say the same of other States - these trained, understanding women, with a desire to help those who need them, are able to go into the homes of those who need assistance. This is one more service which has been greatly assisted by this Government.
Let us look again at the Budget speech. Many of us have been disturbed about the pensioner medical service. 1 speak not only for myself and my colleagues but also for very many people outside the Parliament when I say how much the Government’s proposal to remove the existing means test governing eligibility for enrolment in the pensioner medical service is appreciated. All persons receiving age, invalid, widow’s, and service pensions, or tuberculosis allowances - whatever they may be - will be eligible for medical benefits. The definition of “ dependant “ will be extended to include student children. This will take away from many of these people the fear and the worry with which they were faced, wondering whether they would be able to have the necessary medical care which was so important to them. The Minister has said that 120,000 pensioners and dependants should benefit from these extensions. However many the number, the important thing is that men and women who need this very necessary benefit will receive it.
In the field of repatriation, the Budget makes provision for a new repatriation pension. The Minister has told us of a new, intermediate rate war pension, which will greatly assist those partially incapacitated ex-servicemen who suffer much distress because of frequent loss of work owing to war injuries. So many of us have known of these cases and known these men. We remember that they served this country, your Australia and mine, and it is indeed one more step in the wonderful work of repatriation that these men will receive this benefit.
Sitting suspended from 5.4S to 8 p.m.
– Mr. President, you will recall that before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I had discussed the additional social service benefits for which provision is made in this Budget. I had referred also to the great work that has been done by this Government in providing housing for the aged and in the payment of subsidies for home nursing and the general care of those who are in need in the community. 1 had also mentioned how pleased we were with the added help that is to be given under the pensioner medical service and with the new intermediate rate war pension that will form part of the Budget benefits. I had referred also to the great work that has been done by this Government in the field of education.
In this day and age when, because of the speed of modern travel and the wonders of radio and television, the world is growing smaller we all are aware of the need for more international goodwill. Therefore, the international aid that is to be provided through this Budget must interest us all. I am very pleased to note that aid under the Colombo Plan is to be increased by more than £783,000 this year, that our subscription to the International Development Association will rise by £2,067,000, and that we will be making grants to Papua and New Guinea. Recently in Brisbane we had a wonderful international conference of 700 or 800 university women. It was a wonderful experience to be with these very fine women, to talk with them, and to hear of the interests of themselves and their countries. One of the outstanding results of that conference was the feeling of goodwill, friendship and fellowship that was created. One can never assess the real value of such conferences or of the giving of international aid. But we do know that, because Australia has cared enough to give help under the Colombo Plan and through the International Development Association, and because of her work in Papua and New Guinea, the future of many people in other countries will be better, that areas of land which formerly were unproductive will produce, and that people who formerly did not have enough food will now have food and the benefit of medical services. All this is part of the aid which Australia is giving to other countries. I believe that it will be of untold value.
I come now to the provision that is made in the Budget for beef roads. As a Queenslander and as a person who believes very strongly in the development of north Queensland, and indeed of northern Australia, one must always be interested in this subject. It is interesting to note that the total amount that has been expended by the Commonwealth under the beef roads programme to the end of June this year was £11,631,000. Already, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has stated, these roads have paid excellent dividends. As a result of the construction of such roads, cattle can now be marketed earlier and in a better condition. As my colleague Senator Morris said, the improvement in the condition of the beasts that are sent to market Ls quite obvious. As you know, Mr. President, we have been experiencing a terrible drought. I shall say a little more about that later, but at this stage I wish to point out that during this period of drought the movement of cattle has been facilitated by the existence of the beef roads. All of us in Queensland are tremendously interested in the activities of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. It is interesting to learn that the Government is examining a report on the future of the beef roads programme which was prepared recently by the Northern Division and that discussions on various aspects of the programme will be held with the States. Planning for future development is of paramount importance. Australia’s position in the Pacific area makes it imperative for us to develop the northern part of this country to the greatest possible extent.
I have always believed that, when we talk about national development - the development of areas in which people will live and work - we must think of very many things. If we want families to live in far flung areas and to enjoy being there and not want to leave after a certain period, we must ensure that provision is made for the right kind of housing and the right kind of transport so that they will not feel that they are isolated but may have the opportunity to get to the cities and provide for the education of their children.
I pay a tribute to the Department of Civil Aviation for the work it has done. What has been done by this Department in the distant areas of Queensland, and indeed in other parts of Australia, is one of the great achievements of this Government since it assumed office. We have provided allweather airstrips in a number of areas. As a result of the efforts of the Department of Civil Aviation and local governing bodies, small airstrips which perhaps were clearings on station properties and were not open in all weathers have been coverted into allweather strips. Hospitals and medical treatment have been brought within easy access and children may now attend school through this mode of transport. Families no longer are lonely and isolated. Surely one of the most valuable ways of developing our distant areas is to make life in those_parts as comfortable and as far removed from loneliness as possible.
I am glad to note that provision is made In the Budget for ‘an increased subsidy to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Senator Breen spoke about this Service last week. The Flying Doctor Service means much to people who live in the vast outback areas. We from Queensland, and doubtless many other honorable senators, know how Flynn of the Inland, a Presbyterian clergyman, strove for many years to establish such a service. He wanted to ensure the safety and wellbeing of women and children in these areas. The result was that women went with their husbands to these distant areas, had their children and brought them up there secure in the knowledge that the flying doctor could come in and provide medical assistance for any who were ill. The payment of the subsidy is an indication of the realisation by this Government of the needs of people wherever they live.
Colleagues on both sides of the House have already referred to the drought, but I should like to mention it too. No Queenslander could fail to be disturbed about the dreadful drought from which Queensland is suffering. I believe that the effects of the drought will be felt in every home and every business community. I have been out info the western areas and have seen the plight of the starving animals, lt is indeed a terrible sight. In these parts I saw the care that was extended to these animals by those who were feeding them. As soon as a truck goes out with food these poor thin animals come from as far away as one can see, weak and tumbling over one another, frying to get quickly to that food, which means so much to them. Queensland is a great State; it plays an important part in the Australian economy. Therefore, we all must have regard to the terrible effects of the drought. We have to ensure th.it in the future there is no continuance of this position in the
States, with flocks and herds perishing from the ravages of drought, for, Mr. President, that is neither sensible nor economic. Somehow, something must be done to devise corrective action in this matter.
Queensland is a vast State, covering 667,000 square miles. It has a variable rainfall ranging from 150 inches on the far …….. coast to 5 inches’ in the central interior. Every Queenslander knows that in the wet season millions of gallons of water rush away and are wasted, flowing’ down our rivers to the sea. It is surely urgently necessary that something be done to conserve water and also fodder. That is imperative. We have already seen the great work that has been clone in the field of irrigation. Each year we have more and more areas of crops under irrigation, but still the need for some kind of conservation of water and fodder is of paramount importance. I have been interested in the comment of the Water Research Foundation of Australia that Australia lags many years behind the United States of America and Britain in essential water knowledge, yet spends the least of its research budget on water problems. Whereas those two countries spend 3£ per cent, and 2 per cent, respectively on total research programmes, Australia, the driest of the continents, devotes only .7 per cent, of its national income to water problems. Is it not,, time that the lessons of drought became clear in our minds? Is it not time that knowledge of what drought can do in a community led to a programme to beat drought and that it be pursued with enthusiasm and urgency? Surely this is something to look to. It must always be of paramount importance in this Australia, your country and mine.
May I turn to a matter which is of great concern and which I have brought before this chamber on other occasions. I believe it is of very great importance to the people of north Queensland. When we speak of development we must think of the things which affect people living in the areas concerned, not perhaps things in the wide field of national development only, but also things of a personal nature. I would like to pay a tribute to this Government for all that it has done through its rehabilitation centres. These centres do a magnificent job. If we visit the centres in the capital cities we see men and women being trained so that they may go back to employment. They are being given confidence in themselves, so that they may go out with great hope for the future. Business, industry and service clubs all are tremendously interested in the work of the rehabilitation centres which assist over and over again the men and women who are trained to take up occupations.
Queensland is a large State and the only rehabilitation centre is in Brisbane. Brisbane is a very long way from north Queensland. 1 ask the Government, as I have in the past, whether consideration could be given to the establishment of a rehabilitation centre in north Queensland. I believe that Townsville probably would be the best site for it. We have there excellent homes for crippled children and other children in need of assistance, but what happens in the case of older persons? They have to go all the way to Brisbane. If honorable senators look at the map and note the mileage between Townsville and Brisbane they may care to measure it against the mileage between the capital cities of New South Wales and Victoria. I may be wrong, but I think that the distance from Brisbane to Cairns is the same as that from Brisbane to Melbourne. The distance from Brisbane to Townsville is a couple of hundred miles less than that.
People who need treatment may have to travel to Brisbane from the islands in Torres Strait, from the Gulf country and from out west. They must travel that long distance to Brisbane for rehabilitation training. They must leave behind their families, their friends and the people with whom they had formerly been working. Sometimes families have to sell their homes and go to the city to give a member of the family the opportunity for rehabilitation. Distance is the great thing. It is such a long way for them to travel. I believe that this is a great problem for many families. If we had in Townsville a centre such as we have in Brisbane and the other capital cities people who were trained at the centre would be able to find employment much more readily within the area from which they came, the area in which they were known, in which their families and friends lived, and in which perhaps they had been employed before the accident or the tragedy which had forced them to undertake rehabilitation.
I understand that, since the rehabilitation training commenced, 18,697 people have been returned to employment as a result of the training. That is a wonderful achievement and something of which we all can be tremendously proud. We want to keep this great service going at the maximum degree possible. I believe that in Queensland, that vast State, the very best possible service can be given only if there is a centre in north Queensland as well as the centre in Brisbane.
Mr. President, we have a Budget once more before us. We have again before us a motion for the printing of the Budget Papers. As 1 look at this Budget and peruse the many matters which have been brought forward by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) it seems to me that we have before us a Budget which shows very clearly the Government’s deep sense of responsibility to all sections of the community. This, above all else, I believe, is the most important thing about this Budget. By virtue of what it proposes to do and also by virtue of its vision and its forward looking policy, the Budget spells development for a young nation. What does development mean? It means opportunities for all our young people. It means employment and continuity of employment. It means that our young men and women can find the kind of work that they want to do and, indeed, can have continuing employment.
I believe that this Budget, because of the forward looking programmes and policies behind it, means high living standards for the people of Australia. It is a realistic Budget in that responsibility to the nation in the field of defence is accepted. The Budget acknowledges the need for the defence of our country and the need for us to play a part with other nations in fighting for the freedoms in which we believe. The security of this country is of paramount importance. It is for these things that this Budget stands. There are behind it a realisation and an appreciation of the needs of the aged, the infirm and the ill. AH of us here wish that every possible assistance can always be given to such people. We want for them the maximum assistance possible. We want for our young people, in the fields of education, the best possible opportunities so that they may play their part with other young people in the exciting years which lie ahead of this developing nation. 1 have the greatest pleasure in supporting the Budget because I believe that in it we have a very real appreciation of the needs of the community. It is a Budget which spells for Australia development and security, and for those who live within Australia’s shores it means happiness and security both at home and abroad.
– This is the seventh consecutive Budget that has been introduced in this Parliament by the present Treasurer of the Commonwealth (Mr. Harold Holt) and it is the second Budget that has been introduced by him since the 1963 general election. It is the second successive occasion on which increased taxation, both direct and indirect, has been imposed on Australian wage and salary earners. It is rather ironical to look back and remember some of the statements which emanated from senior Ministers of the Government at about the time of the 1963 elections. It will be recalled that the common cry then was that Labour’s policy would mean increased taxation. The conservative Press of the day carried headlines to that effect, in order to sensationalise the election propaganda that was being put out by the Government against the Labour movement. At the time of the 1963 Federal elections, economists estimated that to finance Labour’s practical, positive and desirable policy would cost between £175 million and £200 million. Ministers and those who sit behind them went on the hustings and used the catchcry: “Where is all this money coming from? The people will have to pay for it. This will mean increased taxation “. Unfortunately for this country, a Labour Government was not elected.
The present Treasurer has retained his position and, I repeat, in both Budgets since the 1963 Federal election direct and indirect taxation have been increased on the wage or salary earner. This year the Treasurer has budgeted for increased expenditure of £275 million, all of which has to be paid by the wage or salary earner - the family man. Last year expenditure in creased by about £224 million. How did the Government raise that amount?. It raised it by increasing taxation on wage and salary earners. Last year the Government removed the 5 per cent, rebate of income tax previously allowed. Company taxation was increased by 6d. in the £1. Excise on cigarettes was increased by 3d. a packet. Television and radio licence fees were increased, telephone connection fees were increased from £10 to £15 and there were correspondingly significant increases in telephone rental charges. All these increases were designed to hit and did hit the family man and the family unit.
A report in the Sydney “ Sun “ of 27th May last stated that taxes collected by Commonwealth and State Governments in 1963- 64 averaged £166 8s. a head of population. As an average, every man, woman and child in the community paid £166 8s. to Commonwealth and State Governments for the cost of administration. Commonwealth taxes collected in 1954-55 averaged £103 4s. a head, compared with £146 a head in 1963-64. Income tax collected by the Commonwealth Government averaged £57 14s. a head in 1963-64. Customs and excise duties averaged almost £37 a head and sales tax £14 15s. Those are the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician, showing the effects of last year’s Budget’ on the community. But last year’s Budget’ was only a taste of _ things to come because an additional burden of £275 million has been superimposed on the impositions of last year. How is the additional £275 million to be raised? Where is it to come from? Of course, once again income tax payable by individuals has been increased, this time by 2i per cent. Petrol prices have risen by 3d. a gallon and the increased excise payable on beer alone will yield £21 million annually. As happened last year, the excise payable on a packet of cigarettes has been increased by 3d. How can it possibly be said, having regard to all the circumstances, that this Government is giving the Australian wage and salary earner and his family a fair go?
Prices and profits are running at a record level, but nothing has been done or is being done by the Government to collect more revenue from those who are receiving record profits. All the Government thinks of doing is slugging those who can least afford to pay - the young people who are saving for homes and for the furniture to place in them and the workers who are struggling to give their children the best possible education. lt is very interesting to observe in the report of the Commonwealth Office of Education that last year 78,000 applications were received for 16,000 Commonwealth scholarships. This is an indication of which people are being hit and hurt by the Government, while profits and prices continue on their unchallenged way upwards, the sky not necessarily being the limit.
At the time of the last Federal election the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) went on record as saying that the election of a Labour government would result either in heavy taxation or inflation, or both. There is an old saying that he who lives in a glass house should not. indulge in stone throwing. lt is obvious that the stone thrown by the Minister for Labour and National Service is going back to the present Government. In the two years since 1963 overall taxation has been increased by £500 million and profits and prices continue on their merry way. I have already dealt with the effects of increased direct and indirect taxation on wage and salary earners. Now I shall deal with prices. In his Budget speech the Treasurer said -
Internally, there has been a fairly strong and continuous rise in costs and, although this has not shown up in the final prices of goods as much as might have been expected, the rise in these prices has been greater than we would normally wish to see.
The Treasurer noticeably has not said anything in his Budget speech of the action that the Government proposes to take if prices continue to rise, nor has any Government supporter said anything on that subject. The Treasurer knows, as all Government supporters know, that the Government is powerless to do anything about rising prices without giving offence to the powerful and wealthy interests who are its friends. Prices have risen considerably. A report in the “Sydney Morning Herald “ of 21st August States -
The Stale Government is concerned at widespread price increases and is watching the position carefully . . . Motor insurance rates and smallgoods will join the growing list of price rises. A warning was also given yesterday that building costs woulds rise by 2i per cent, in the next six months, adding between £60 and £70 to the cost of an average house. Reasons given for the price rises include the “ alarming increases in road accidents, the drought, higher wages and the increased duty on petrol announced in the Federal Budget “.
The report then sets out details of increased insurance rates and increases in the prices of smallgoods, liquor, petrol and tobacco, and in building costs. The New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry went on record as saying that he was watching the position carefully.
I warn this Government that it certainly is heading for trouble if it allows this system of wages chasing prices to continue - wages which are controlled by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and prices which are uncontrolled and unchecked in any way. People in Sydney, especially the housewives, are complaining bitterly about the recent exorbitant increases in the already high cost of living. In Sydney the price of meat is at an all time high, and the humble potato is selling at about ls. 3d. or ls. 4d. per lb. This seems to reflect the general run of the prices of commodities that are essential for families.
According to the Treasurer’s Budget speech, this situation could well worsen. At the same time, as a result of the provisions of this Budget, there will be less value in the pay packet or the take home wage of the family breadwinner. If one peruses the statistics furnished by the Commonwealth Commissioner of Taxation one will find that of 4i million taxpayers in the community 3i million, or over 70 per cent., receive an income of less than £1,500 a year or £30 a week. I call upon the Government to heed the problems of the family man. The housewife has to manage the home and provide the essential needs for the family on a limited budget. If this Government finds it necessary to impose additional charges in any future Budget, I ask it to remember that already it has hit the ordinary man reasonably heavily on two consecutive occasions.
I now turn my remarks to the burden imposed on the Australian economy by overseas ship-owners. ..From time to time, and particularly in recent times, we have heard a lot from
Ministers and from Government members about the Waterside Workers Federation, the Federation’s policy and the trouble that the waterside workers are causing to the Australian economy. I rather think oft-times that this is a cover for some of the things that overseas shipowners are getting away with. Having done some reading on this subject recently I have come to the conclusion that Australia’s overseas trade is completely in the hands of the Conference lines, the overseas shipping cartels. lt is interesting to read the first of the conclusions which appears on page 7 of the last annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. This indicates that man hours worked by waterside workers increased by 11.7 per cent., from 28.3 million in 1962-63 to 31.6 million in 1963-64. Further, 53.5 per cent, of the total man hours worked were worked in Sydney and Melbourne, and the year’s total was the highest since 1956-57. Cargo handled increased by 18 per cent., from 31 million tons in 1962-63 to 36.6 million tons in 1963-64. Overseas exports increased by 3.8 million tons, overseas imports by 1.1 million tons and interstate trade by .7 million tons. Page 51 of the same report contains a statement that I do not think is ever quoted by any member of the Government. It carries the heading “ Delays in Stevedoring operations Attributable to Employers “ and states -
During 1963-64, the delays in the performance of stevedoring operations due to the failure of registered employers to comply with a provision of the Stevedoring Industry Act, of an order or direction of the Authority, or of an award of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission numbered 75 and resulted in a total loss of 3,611 man hours of stevedoring work. Both the number of delays and the loss of working time are the highest recorded. Although the loss of man hours in itself is not particularly large in comparison with the losses of time through stoppages by waterside workers and rain, the increase is disturbing and raises some doubts as to the attitude of employers to their obligations, particularly in the port of Sydney.
That is a very interesting section of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1964. There surely can be no doubt that overseas shipowners are holding this country to ransom. The Treasurer himself, in his Budget speech, expressed concern about our overseas reserves. He said that it seems fairly obvious that there will be a further reduc tion, and possibly a substantial reduction, in our overseas reserves within the forthcoming 1 2 months. When you bear this statement in mind and understand its implications you realise that in plain language that political phrase really means that the Australian people will have to tighten their belts. One might fairly ask what the Government intends to do to break the stranglehold that overseas shipowners already have not only on Australian trade but also, generally speaking, on world trade;
According to a publication issued by the Waterside Workers Federation, the freight charges by overseas owned shipping companies amounted to £200 million in 1955 and to £430 million in 1963.
– What is the dale of that publication?
– June 1965. Unfortunately I have not had the time to check these figures but as its authority for them the pamphlet states that they were taken from the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. As far back as 1957 a committee which was appointed by the Government to inquire into the stevedoring industry came to the conclusion that the ultimate determining factor in the setting of freight rates is what the traffic will bear; not the costs involved but how much the overseas shipping companies can in fact tear out of us, the Australian people. The committee, which was appointed by the Treasurer when he was Minister for Labour and National Service, comprised Mr. J. B. Tait, Q.C., who was chairman, Mr. F. J. Gibson, and Mr. J. Shortell. The following passage appears at page 128 of the report -
It is clear that shippers have had to restrict their field of inquiry to the upward movement in costs because shipowners, whilst prepared during the 1953 and 1955 negotiations to make available to a third party (the Department of Commerce and Agriculture), on a confidential basis, information related to costs, have not been prepared to make available to shippers or the Department of Commerce and Agriculture information in relation to earnings and profits. The evidence shows that, in general terms, the basis of negotiations in 1953 and 1955 was to regard the year 1951 as a base year with shippers prepared to agree to increases in freight rates demonstrated to be commensurate with increases in costs since the date. The shippers had, of course, no means of ascertaining whether or not the profits being made by shipowners in 1951 were reasonable.
Turning to page 151 of this report we find that in dealing with its conclusions on this matter the Committee made the finding -
Shipowners engaged in this trade, viewed as a group, have had, in effect, a monopoly of the trade, and the conditions are conducive to basing the freight rates on what the traffic will bear;
The report goes on to say -
It is evident that there has not been a strong organisation of shippers to negotiate with the shipowners and they have not had available any facts as to the profits made in this trade but only general facts relating to movements in costs.
– How has that been effected? Has it been by agreement to investigate accounts and charges on costs?
– Let us examine the situation a little further. Having regard to these findings relating to the activities of these people not only so far as Australia is concerned but also so far as other under-developed countries are concerned, I have no doubt that the findings of this Committee were correct. If honorable senators look at the Overseas Current Account which was produced with the Budget papers - and I refer to the document entitled “ National Income and Expenditure “ - they will see that in 1960-61 transportation costs involved an amount of £164 million. In 1961-62, which was the year of the credit squeeze imposed by the present Government, transport costs were only of the order of £139 million. However, three years later, namely in 1964-65, these costs had risen astronomically to £199 million. This is some indication which has bearing on the Committee’s finding that freight charges are assessed on the ability of the traffic to bear the charges.
There is a publication entitled “ British Shipping and World Competition “ written by S. G. Sturmey who has given instances of competition in postwar years relating to discrimination which is being practised officially and unofficially by these Conference lines people. At page 201 of this publication, he says -
Unofficial discrimination has also been practised by conferences. Several examples have already been mentioned.. Another well-authenticated case is the attitude of the conference line in the Australian trade to the Greek steamer “ Patris “ which started a service from Greece to Australia in December 1959. Australian travel agents and shippers were threatened with reprisals by the conference lines if they booked passengers and cargo With the “ Patris “. To thwart, the conference boy cott, -the owners oi Une. ship entered the meat business themselves in order to secure the cargoes other shippers were prevented from giving them. In order to attract passengers, a vast advertising campaign was launched in Australia and passengers were offered a three day stay in Greece at no extra cost. The success of the measures encouraged the owners of “ Patris “ to place a second liner in the service. No difficulties were experienced in obtaining passengers for the outward trips from Greece.
Surely that must give honorable senators some idea of the types of practices that are being pursued by the overseas shipping cartels against the interests of Australia and those who live within our shores. This, as I have already said, affects not only Australia but also many of the under-developed countries of the world. Australia as a country is among the under-developed countries which do not have their own overseas shipping lines. As this is happening to Australia, so is it happening to the other nations to which I have referred as under-developed countries.
In Geneva between 23rd March and 15th June of this year a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was held under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. This Conference was concerned with the improvement of the invisible trade of developing countries. The report in this regard is very interesting to read because under the heading “ Complaints regarding high and anomalous freight rates and arbitrary increases in freight rates “ one sees that practically every nation which was a party to this Conference had complaints to make about the manner in which it was being treated by overseas shipping countries. For instance, Burma said -
Total increases in liner rates since 1951 appeared to be about 60 per cent., i.e. IS per cent, in January 1951; 15 per cent, in September 1956; 15 per cent, in May 1957; 5 pgr cent, in February 1960; and 10 per cent, in September 1961. Higher costs of operational charges and shipbuilding did not warrant such a degree of increase. This was affecting the expansion of trade in the region.
Without reading further what Burma had to say about the situation, I pass to the statement by the island of Taiwan. The report states -
China (Taiwan) had to depend largely upon its ability to develop industry and trade and needed efficient shipping facilities and competitive freight rates to promote exports and to reduce as much as possible the cost of transporting imported raw materials. The increased exports from China (Taiwan) in recent years have been made possible by the lower freight rates charged by its national merchant fleet which was started in 1958.
Then I go to the report concerning India which complained -
Ocean freight rates on cargoes shipped from India are often relatively high and adversely affect India’s trade.
Without reading any more of what India had to say, I find that Korea reported -
Like many other developing countries in the region, the Republic of Korea depended for much of its foreign trade on foreign shipping. Unless some improvement could be brought about through mutual co-operation and understanding, discriminatory rates would continue to hinder intrarcgional trade.
So far as Malaysia is concerned, the report says -
The freight rate on Malayan pineapples to the United Kingdom was comparing unfavourably with those of Australian and South African shipments. The pineapple industry, supported by the Malaysian Government, represented the matter to the conference lines without success.
– What about the comparison of freight rates between Malaysia and Australia?
– I have not the figures with me. I am just giving instances of what has been happening. It is significant that this is happening to countries that do not have a national shipping line of their own. The report states further, as far as Malaysia is concerned -
A recent complaint to the conference lines about a rise in the freight rates on tin was rejected. There is also a dispute pending over a surcharge imposed on rubber exports.
Then the report deals with Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand. Each of these countries is an under-developed country and does not have its own shipping line. It is obvious that as these countries have been played on and played with by these international cartels, so too has Australia and so will Australia be affected in the future. I have here an article which appeared in the Sydney “ Sun “ on 27th May. It states -
Freight charges on 1 1 shipping lines carrying cargo between Australia and the Far East will rise between five and 10 per cent, on August 1.
In “Muster” which. I think, is the official organ of the United Graziers Association, the following report appeared on 21st July 1965-
Commonwealth officials in both the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry are becoming increasingly concerned at the almost continual trend shown this year towards increased freight rates for Australia’s export commodities.
Then in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 25th August 1965, the following article appeared -
An Australian woolgrowers’ delegation in London will claim hardship caused by drought when they seek lower shipping freight rates in London tomorrow.
In December of last year a journal entitled “The Australian Manager” published an article written by Mr. K. M. Hadden, Assistant General Manager of the Australian National Line. Mr. Hadden said -
A well organised office with efficient and cooperative executives in charge of each branch.
A comprehensive knowledge of all phases of maritime law.
A knowledge of practical economics, the ability to assess trends of trade and to plan intelligently for future expansion . . .
An intimate knowledge of ships and the men who man them, and the ability to get the best results from both.
The provision and maintenance of dependable services.
The proper maintenance of ships, equipment, terminals and cargo handling appliances.
The exercise of sound cost control.
The tabulation of reliable cost and performance records . . .
Provision for contingencies, possible accidents . . .
Good staff training and staff relations.
Good industrial and public relations.
Surely each and every one of those things is within the realm of possibility if Australia–
– Did he say what the impact would be on Australian wages and working conditions?
– We have heard this cry many times. What does the honorable senator think the wages and working conditions of American seamen are like? Does he not think that the Americans can run ships? If the Americans can operate ships with the wages and working conditions that the American sailors enjoy, why cannot Australia do the same? We have heard this negative approach time after time, not only from Ministers, but from Government back benchers. I am sorry to hear that Senator Wright has joined in this cry against positive thinking and that he prefers the negative approach in this sort of matter. All of these things are within the realm of possibility if the Government is courageous and wise enough to confront and tackle them.
When one realises that Australia is one of the largest trading nations in the world, desperately trying to expand its trade with other Asian countries most of which have been quoted in the E.C.A.F.E. report, and many of which are without shipping services of their own, certainly an Australian owned overseas shipping line must be an overwhelmingly successful and certainly an enterprising Australian business. I ask the Government to ensure that our markets are protected and that Australian primary producers, manufacturers and workers are not allowed to be exploited by these overseas shipping owners.
This is a subject about which I could speak at great length, but suffice it for me to say that because this Government, a conservative Government which has been in office for 16 years, has adopted a negative approach on this matter, as it has with so many other things, Australia at this time and for the next twelve months is completely at the mercy of these vultures from overseas. The Government certainly refuses really to understand the necessity for Australia to have her own shipping service. The Budget has failed to give Australians any hope for the future, it has failed to ease the burden of the high cost of living on the Australian wage and salary earner and the housewives of this country, and it has failed to give a positive lead forward. It is dull, unimaginative and uninspiring. It is typical of this Government’s negative approach and failure to appreciate the real problems of Australia and Australians generally. I have great pleasure in the interests of my fellow Australians in supporting the amendment that has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly).
.- I support the motion for the printing of these papers and oppose the amendment that has been moved by Senator Kennelly. I wish to offer my congratulations to the newly elected senators who now grace this chamber and to wish them a very happy and constructive period whilst they adorn the Senate. In making the speech that has just been delivered, i wonder whether Senator McCelland was really sincere in his approach to the problems that exist today. In this young and thriving country in which,’ perhaps, we enjoy the highest standard of living in the world and in which prosperity and increased benefits have flowed continuously ‘ since 1949, it is just not true to say that the Australian public u. poorer today than it was in 1949. Any honorable senator opposite who tries te impress upon the people of Australia that they, are poorer today than they were in 1949 has the results of such efforts before him because he, together with other honorable senators opposite, occupy the Opposition benches. That is the proof. I was a little disappointed in Senator McClelland because he is a man of talent and ability and I believe he really knows that Australia is prospering.
Let me now deal with some of the questions that are posed for us in the Budget. The Opposition has not caught the spirit that is driving Australia forward and providing social services, security and jobs for everybody.
In the financial year 1964-65 the receipts of the Commonwealth were £317,311,000 greater than those for 1963-64. Looking at conditions in Australia today, it seems that revenues in this financial year will not be as buoyant as in the previous year. Farm incomes feil heavily in the 1964-65 period, so taxation receipts from this source will be less. Mention has been made of the disastrous drought which has affected many parts of Australia and which has taken a great toll. Its effects will be felt for many years to come. The incomes of the farmers and graziers will be affected and that, in turn, will affect the income received by the Treasurer. It may be that the volume of goods imported into Australia will be less, and it seems probable that sales of goods subject to excise duty and sales tax will decline. 1 will have something to say about this in a few moments.
The 2i per cent, increase in personal income tax will bring a certain amount of extra money into the Government’s coffers, and it is hoped that increased excise and other duties will also provide additional revenue this year. In his Budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said it was estimated that revenue from these sources will be £225,035,000 greater than for 1964-65. In other words, this amount of money will be taken from the private sector of the economy and devoted to the public sector. The estimated expenditure for this financial year is £2,667,030,000 and the estimated receipts are £2,538,975,000, leaving a deficit of £128,055,000. This deficit has to be met by borrowing. The Opposition’s claims for increased spending are very interesting, but honorable senators opposite conveniently forget that we are not living within our means. That is the point. We are living beyond our means, to the extent of £128 million. We should pause to ponder on that fact when we hear honorable senators say: “We want this and we want something else “, amounting to many millions of pounds. A deficit can be offset either by reducing expenditure - I am hoping honorable senators opposite can tell us where this might be done - or by increasing taxation.
I mentioned earlier some of the increased taxes we will have to pay. Among these are extra duties on spirits. There is an increased charge of £1 lis. per proof gallon. The concessional margin for brandy still stands, but, because of the extreme difficulties of the grape growing industry, I had hoped that no increased excise duty would be applied to Australian brandy. I appeal to the Government to see whether it is possible not to increase the excise duty on Australian brandy, because the Australian public has a great deal of money invested in the grape growing industry and many of our returned servicemen are dependent on that industry for their livings. An honorable senator opposite is interjecting. I cannot hear what he is saying, but if he has any interest at all in the grape growing industry and in the soldier settlers who are engaged in it he will agree that this is one of the things we might have done to assist them.
– There is a differential duty in favour of brandy.
Senator MATTNER__ Yes, and it has been a great boon. George McLeay of South Australia was responsible for it. I feel confident that my plea has not fallen on bare and stony ground.
Much has been said in this chamber about the tobacco and cigarette advertisements which appear on television and are heard over the radio. Honorable senators opposite have said that they wish this kind of advertising could be reduced, but the question of whether or not people shall smoke is a personal one. I have often wondered what these advertisements actually cost. Looking at the matter, one realises that the companies concerned are not actually paying very much, because of every £1 that they spend on advertising the Commonwealth pays 8s. 6d. I say that the Commonwealth pays 8s. 6d. because advertising expenses are allowable taxation deductions, and the company tax is 8s. 6d. in the £1.
A little while ago Senator McClelland made some suggestions about income tax. 1. was constrained to do a little mental arithmetic on income tax. It is interesting to see some of the points one can get from the figures - the latest available - for income earned in 1962-63 and the assessments for 1963-64. I will deal first with the income group from £105 to £299. Taking men and women together, this group covers 353,911 taxpayers. Their actual income is £72,662,200, their taxable income is £67,591,000, and they pay £921,000 in” tax, or .17 per cent, of all income tax collected. I take these figures because income tax is one of the biggest items pf revenue. I now go to the group earning from £500 to £599, in which the number1 of taxpayers is 256,636. Their actual income is £141,031,000. They pay £6,274,000 or 1.19 per cent, of the total income tax collected. In the income bracket from £900 to £999 there are 329,293 taxpayers. Their actual income is £313,001,000. They pay £19,222,000 or 3.78 per cent, of the total income tax collected.
Let us combine those groups and consider all those persons receiving between £105 and £999. They number 2,256,821. and they pay £70,920,000. Let us go a step further. There are 1,896,977 people in the £1,000 to £1,999 income, bracket. Their actual income is £2,558,124,000. They pay £206,600,000 in income tax, or 38 per cent, of total collections. Let us consider the group about which we hear a great deal, those taxpayers’ who receive £2,000 and over. In that group are 399,922 taxpayers. Their actual income is £1.287,044,000. They pay £249,930,000 or 47.4 per cent, of total income tax collections.
This is the point that 1 want to make. Lc: us strip the group earning £2,000 and over of all of their earnings in excess of £2,000 and allow no tax deductions. This means that we allow them £2,000, which is only £40 a week. I think honorable senators will agree that that is not extravagant. That will absorb £799,744,000, but they have already paid £249,930,000 in tax. This gives us a total of £1.049.674,000. If we subtract that from the total income, it leaves only £237,270,000.
– What has the individual left? Has he £2,000?
– He has only £2.000- nothing else.
– What has he left after taxation?
– I have suggested that we strip him of everything in excess of £2,000. I do not think that it could be said that this is an excessive amount to leave in one taxpayer’s pocket. All that we have left then is £237 million. Let us divide that amongst those persons- whom honorable senators opposite call underprivileged. Let us return to the group of people who pay very little income tax. They number 4,153,798. They will receive £57 a head, or £1 2s. a week, which is equivalent to 2* hours of extra work at 9s. an hour.
Honorable senators should look at it in that light. Those are the official figures. The Opposition claims that this and that should be increased. The total amount extra that would be available on the basis that I have suggested is £237 million. From where is the extra money to come to pay for the extra government expenditure that honorable senators opposite suggest? Something else besides income must be taxed. Why arc they making such a song and dance because excise and income tax have been increased? What is their answer? This year we have not balanced the Budget by £128 million, which is more than half the amount to which I have just referred.
Money for increased benefits must be found by an increase in either direct or indirect taxes, or there must be some reduction in other spending. Honorable senators opposite have not pointed to one thing in respect of which, in their opinion, there is expenditure which is not justified. lt would be well to pause and ponder some of the problems that 1 have put on the question of soaking the rich. There is not by any means an inexhaustible pool, as I think 1 have shown conclusively. Any increased taxes in the future must be absorbed by the £105 to £2,000 group and the £2,000 and over group. Senator McClelland made a great song and dance about what these taxes would mean. A taxpayer with a wife and two dependent children, who has an income of £1,000 will pay an extra £1 ls. a year, or a fraction under 5d. a week, as a result of the 2i per cent, income tax increase. A taxpayer earning £1,250 a year will pay £2 7s. extra a year, or less than ls. a week.
– That is direct taxation.
– We are talking about income tax. A taxpayer earning £3,000 a year will pay 5s. 6d. a week extra and a taxpayer earning £5,000 will pay 15s. a week extra. That is very interesting. We hear of the great burden that will fall on the person who earns £1,250 a year, but it is interesting to note that the increase will cost him less than ls. a week.
An opportunity will occur at a later stage, when we are discussing the defence estimates in general, to debate defence and foreign affairs. At this stage I do not intend to deal in any detail with the vital subject of defence. May I say, however, that the young people of Australia today are alive to the need, and are willing, to play their part in defending this country. The success of our national service scheme is assured, because our young people are willing to do what is required of them. I shall have more to say about that later.
Our defence Services engage in a very wide range of advertising in an effort to encourage men and women to join the forces. In our secondary schools and technical colleges we have an excellent cadet system. These young lads are keen, and among them are to be found the future non-commissioned officers and officers of our forces. I strongly advocate the sending of officers to the schools and colleges to try to attract young men to the forces. Many of these lads will undertake university courses. I believe that we should try to encourage them to join the Army or the other defence Services, to become efficient instructors, and to give to our forces the advantage of their education. I still affirm that the success of our national service scheme depends upon our instructors. Almost every lad today, from whatever class of home he comes, has attended one of our secondary schools.
I suggest to the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) that, as part of our advertising campaign, officers should be sent to the cadet corps at the various schools to try to attract these lads to the forces. Lads who are interested in joining the Army should be taken on a conducted tour of our training camps and shown the environment in which they would train, Moreover, they could be shown the opportunities for advancement that exist, not only in the Services, but later on in civilian life. I know that many of the parents of the boys in the various schools and colleges would welcome arrangements for an organised tour. In my opinion, such tours would return dividends for the defence forces, and in the future defence of .Australia. I repeat that the call for well trained instructors must be answered if we are to be fair to our national service trainees. I am delighted to know that the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) is endeavouring to obtain the best possible talent for our non-commissioned officers and officers.
As one who served as a private - possibly because there was no lower rank - I know some of the conditions’ that the underdog had to put up with at one time. I say that the defence Services provide an occupation that only the best people can discharge. I do not want to see our boys having to submit to the indignities to which I had to submit. I suppose I deserved them, but noone has ever heard me say very much about them. We now have a new concept altogether for our forces and we are putting the brains of Australia into those forces.
– The honorable senator may tell us privately later.
– Perhaps the honorable senator, having had no experience, could not understand it. Let us see that our defence forces are such that any parent may be able to say: “ My boy has gone into the forces and T am happy that he is there. He will get a good training, he will develop character, and he will have in truetors with’ the highest sense of decency and honour.”
Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has just spoken very, effectively about what the Government has done, in regard to social services, and I do not intend to repeat what she said. . Those of us who were privileged to listen to her offer our congratulations to her for her attention to detail and the constructive manner in which she dealt with this very important subject. I content myself by saying that the Government is. to be complimented upon the realism that it displays in the field of social welfare.
Some. of the happenings in this Parliament between 1944 and 1946 and in the years from 1949 onwards leave me with a sense of disquiet. It seems to me that the body of subordinate legislation - that is the rules, orders and regulations - is greater than that of the statutes themselves. How can a member of the Parliament grapple with the substance and the implications of the regulations that are gazetted? The Regulations and Ordinances Committee does an excellent job in trying to scrutinise regulations, but it cannot cope with the unending stream of regulations, rules and orders that are circulated by the officers who serve under the 25> Ministers of State? I have noted that the Parliament has conceded power to the departments. I deplore that in many ways. The Parliament has the task of safeguarding the rights of private citizens. If an official act is performed under the terms of a statute or regulation, any person who is adversely affected by that act may appeal to the court just as though that act had been committed by an individual. To my mind, that right is the keystone of the rule of law. Perhaps I am a little over-suspicious, but over the last 10 years government departments have created in the mind of the ordinary back-bencher the impression that they think they are not answerable to either the Parliament or the law. If departments can legislate by means of regulation beyond the reach of Parliament and the jurisdiction of the courts the rule of law and control by Parliament is taken from our citizens. Then, in truth, parliamentary control and the rule of law become fictions.
We in the Senate. have just disallowed a regulation. An honorable senator opposite says: “Hear, hear”. But he was in favour of disallowing the regulation. I am not going to canvass that matter one way or the other. I want to point out some of the facts. I ask: Can any honorable senator forecast what the impact of this will be on future legislation? We have, I hope, respect for the law, and I also hope that the people will ever hold our laws in respect. To me, the law is the law. Government policy is quite another matter. I shudder for our future if ever Government policy is permitted to override the statutes in this country. 1 am not going to say a great deal more on this subject, but later, when the opportunity presents itself, the matter will receive my earnest attention. It is sad to see the lack of interest in these vital matters which concern the authority of the Parliament. We surrender to the Executive powers that members of Parliament have won over the centuries. The Executive becomes the judge of its own case. It expects political parties, in the unholy name of loyalty, to rescue it from its errors on the floor of the House. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th August 1965 there is a report of a speech delivered to the recent law conference in Sydney by the Attorney-General of Australia (Mr. Snedden). If that report is correct, then again I shudder to think what the disallowance of the regulation on Wednesday last means to parliamentary control of departmental actions. In that instance we saw the great Austraiian Labour Party, whose regulation it was originally, for the sake of political gain throwing its principles aside in order to disallow a regulation which every one personally believed was a good regulation.
– How do you know?
– Because the honorable senator’s leader pledged that within six months he would put back on the statute book the very regulation that was disallowed. The honorable senator is differing from his leader.
– The regulation was wrong in the circumstances, and you know it. It is your guilty conscience speaking now.
– I repeat that the regulation was a good one. Yet the Labour Party disallowed it.
– The Senate disallowed it.
– Very well, but it was not disallowed because it was bad.
– It was bad at that period.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Benn). - Order!
– The regulation was disallowed not because it was a bad one but because in the opinion of the Opposition it was promulgated at a very bad time. Censure it by all means but do not disallow it. I believe that Senator Cavanagh is as keen as I am to uphold parliamentary control. I ask: Why put the regulation back on the statute book in six months time if it is not a good regulation? The Opposition, for the sake of gaining political kudos, threw its principles aside and disallowed the regulation.
– It was not for that reason. It was for the sake of justice.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Mattner, will you kindly leave that subject alone?
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. I accept it. You must be the judge, but with all due respect to your impartiality, I am discussing what the effect of the disallowance will be. I am not by any means saying that honorable senators opposite were wrong in doing what they did, but I want them to realise what the effect of their action will be - not today or in six months time but when people in the future are looking up precedents. They will say, “In 1965 these boys disallowed the regulation “. The circumstances will not be detailed. Honorable senators opposite will have to answer for the fact that people in the future will be able to say, “ Here we are. This is something which says the minister is responsible. Right. Let him be responsible “. lt is interesting to note that at the law conference in Sydney to which I have referred the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) passionately pleaded for the preservation of the law. He said that the rights of the individual can be protected only on the floor of the House. That was his plea before the assembled leading lawyers and judges of the Commonwealth of Nations. The right honorable gentleman pleaded for the rights of the individual to be protected on the floor of Parliament by the constitutionally elected members.
When I read a report of the Senate proceedings on Wednesday last likening them to happenings in the days of Hampden and Pym I thought it was a ridiculous comparison. Those men fought for parliamentary control, not for taking control away from Parliament. The Press came up with fiery headlines. It was a lot of poppycock. Not once did the newspapers say, “ Let us uphold the rights of Parliament “. It is simply not correct to compare the actions of honorable senators opposite on the occasion of the disallowance of the regulation with the actions of Hampden and Pym. I am extremely sorry that in the year 1 965 people should think so. little of the Senate and its power as to want- to give that power to a department. As long as I am here I will not submit to such a thing.
I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said that within six months he would restore the regulation. In that case, why disallow it? The disallowance of the regulation drove a nail into the coffin containing the .remains of parliamentary rule. Hampden and Pym restored the power of Parliament. How can. those men be compared with honorable senators opposite in any consideration of parliamentary government? Again I say: Censure the regulation by all means but never disallow it. In Sydney last Wednesday our Prime Minister, in stressing to the law conference the sovereignty of Parliament, made the plea that Parliament must exercise power over the Executive by its power to dismiss or reject.
Earlier in my speech I mentioned transport and transport costs. I am delighted to know that money is being made available to the South Australian Government for work on the uniform railway gauge which will eventually connect Port Pirie and Broken Hill. In the consideration of transport costs thought must be given to the maintenance of suitable roads and railways. I am a great advocate of the use of railways. The Government has endeavoured to push on with the standardisation of the gauges of railways linking our capital cities, from Perth to Port Pirie, from Port Pirie to Adelaide and from Adelaide to Melbourne. A uniform rail gauge between all. our State capitals would be one means of reducing our freight costs.
The development of the carriage of goods by air has opened up great possibilities. The air is free and does. not have to be kept in order. At ohe time the carriage of goods by sea was a great means of reducing transport costs. Unfortunately, that. time, has gone. In future air transport will play an important part in our transport costs. Some South Australians have complained that when consigning goods by air between Melbourne and Adelaide they are not sure whether those goods are carried to their destinations by aircraft or by. motor transport, . although air freight rates are paid. Those doubts give ground for a great deal of dissatisfaction. I have also heard complaints by Western Australians about air freight charges and delays in delivery. This matter needs a great deal of very careful consideration, particularly to determine whether goods consigned by air are being carried by aircraft or by motor transport between capital cities. I leave it at that.
I have heard a great deal said about a national shipping line and about trouble on the wharfs. There is only one way to cure the problem of disputes on the wharfs. The men who work on the wharfs have brains and ability and, I believe, latent organising talent. The cure is quite easily found. 1 am quite prepared to support a plan for the Government to grant a small subsidy to the stevedoring people so that they may form their own company. Their greatest needs are for skill and brains. They say they possess those qualities. The challenge “ is before them. Why should the community be ruled by these people? It is said that they are exploiting the community. I say in all seriousness that the Labour Party should attempt to assist the people who work on the wharfs to create a co-operative concern. Every producers’ organisation has had to take that step.
I have heard an honorable senator com- , plain about the price of potatoes. It is true that they are dear, but if the honorable senator had to grow them, they would cost 2s. 6d. per lb. Two years ago when the potato growers were receiving about Id. per lb. the .honorable senator said nothing. Growers could not make anything out of that price. The honorable senator also referred to the cost of beef. The beef producers are not making anything. It is tragedy as far as he is concerned.
The waterside workers should be prepared to adopt the method used by primary producers and form a co-operative company. Heaven alone knows that some primary producers have been poorer in financial resources than the people working on the wharfs today. The primary producers had to form co-operative companies and I believe that a similar step should be taken by waterside workers. It is a step in the direction of reducing shipping costs. If the waterside workers are prepared to use their skill and brains to that end, I in turn am prepared to see in this Parliament that they get some financial assistance to enable them to do so and to prove to the world that their latent ability is lying idle and has not been utilised. 1 wish now to turn to repatriation because this subject has not been touched upon by previous speakers in this debate. No country in the world gives to its returned service men and women the excellent benefits provided in Australia. Successive Governments have done their utmost to see that returned servicemen are successfully rehabilitated. When the present Government came into power in 1949 we said that we would assume the responsibility of ensuring the success of rehabilitation measures. I believe that the Government has done so. I would have thought that honorable senators who have spoken before me in this debate would refer to repatriation.
Honorable senators opposite have not been able to offer any constructive criticism of the Budget. They seem unaware that the people are willing to pay for the defence of this country. This Parliament must try to interpret the wishes and aspirations of our young men and women. They are willing and prepared to defend Australia. We have forces now in South East Asia and elsewhere and it is our responsibility to ensure that they enjoy suitable repatriation benefits such as exist today. Repatriation benefits were paid after World War I. They were greatly improved during World War II and since that time. Since 1949 this Government has done a great deal to improve the lot of the repatriate. In this Budget the Government has done a certain amount of tidying up and correcting of some of the anomalies that existed. I refer to payments for sustenance, for example, and pensions for totally and permanently in capacitated exservicemen. I do not wish to be misunderstood when I say that T.P.I, pensioners are, in my opinion, well catered for. I believe we have catered for them particularly well. Successive Governments have leaned over backwards to provide for T.P.I, pensioners. However, some sections of exservicemen - particularly from World War I - are finding it very difficult to obtain benefits that perhaps should accrue to them in spite of all that Parliament has done.
I am delighted that we pushed through the Parliament the legislation which provided for an ex-serviceman who receives a service pension when he reaches 60 years of age being entitled to hospital treatment. This has been a great boon to exservicemen, particularly those who fought in the First World War. I am hoping that we will be able to go a little further and abolish the means test. There arc not too many of the men who fought in the Boer War and the First World War who would be likely to want hospital treatment at our repatriation hospitals now.
Let me go one step further. I believe that these ex-servicemen should be able to receive treatment not only in repatriation hospitals but also in hospitals in the areas in which they live. This would be much cheaper than having them enter repatriation hospitals and it would have the added benefit that they would be in hospital in their own localities, where their friends could visit them quite easily. In addition, if by any chance they had an interest in a business or other occupation they would be able to exercise some oversight of it.
I appeal to the Government to consider my suggestion. There are not many of these old soldiers left. When you sum it up, these are the men who did the fighting. These are the men who won the wars. These are the men who endured very difficult conditions, particularly living conditions, in France, Gallipoli, Sinai and elsewhere. When we think of what happened in France in the winter of 1916-17, is it any wonder that these men, now about 70 years of age, are finding life very difficult because of arthritis, rheumatism and similar complaints? They have difficulty in proving that these complaints are the result of war service because there is no record on their medical history sheets. With all due respect to the medical officers who examined them prior to discharge, they probably were only asked if they felt O.K. and they replied that they did. There the examination ended.
I pay a tribute to officers of the Repatriation Department. They do their best to meet the claims that are made but everything rests on the decision of the Repatriation Department doctor. Most of the doctors from the First World War have gone. The young men now have their reputations to consider. When the old digger goes before them, no matter how sympathetic they might be they come to the conclusion that as it is nearly 50 years since the end of the First World War the deterioration in the exserviceman’s health is due to his civil occupation. There is very little redress. However, we have given these exservicemen a service pension which entitles them to hospitalisation. As I have said, this is a great boon to them. Never let the Second . World War men forget that they too come within these provisions. The service pensioners among them are becoming an ever increasing number.
I hope that the Minister for Repatriation will consider allowing hospitalisation in their own localities of those remaining members of the First Australian Imperial Forces who are precluded from it now by the means test. The majority of them are covered by a hospital benefits fund. All I am asking is that the Government make up the difference between the coverage that they receive from the hospital funds to which they contribute and the cost of the hospital treatment.
I should like to refer to many other matters associated with repatriation. Bearing in mind what has been done already, particularly in this Budget, I am sure that every member in this chamber is pleased. Even if the benefits have been somewhat delayed they have now been granted. I repeat that Australia has done a magnificent job for her returned servicemen. I hope that there will be very little call in the near future for repatriation benefits for the lads who are now defending Australia in South East Asia
This is a good Budget. 1 think it will stimulate the people of Australia to regard the contribution that they are called upon to make for defence as a just and reasonable contribution. I think they realise that this is a fair Budget. It has spread the burden of increased taxation in a very fair and impartial manner. For that reason I have great pleasure in supporting the motion that the Senate take note of the papers and in opposing the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly.
– I rise to support the amendment to the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget Papers. I listened to Senator Mattner’s remarks, but he was very difficult to follow. However, we on this side of the House will join with him in trying to ensure that those who are now serving overseas are not deprived of repatriation benefits when they return to Australia. We also join with him in hoping that there will be a extension of the benefits already granted to those who fought in the Boer War, in the First World War and even in the Second World World War. We believe that the widest benefits possible should be given to those who, by military action, served their country. We will welcome any assistance that Senator Mattner can give us in achieving these increased benefits for exservicemen. He said he believed that his Government had done a magnificent job for returned soldiers. His belief is not shared by honorable senators on this side nor by the returned soldiers who daily visit the offices of members of Parliament to see whether they can get some repatriation benefits because of the disabilities from which they are apparently suffering and which have been supported by medical evidence.
Senator Mattner believes he settled the waterfront dispute by suggesting that the waterside workers should set up their own stevedoring company with the aid of finance that he would support them in obtaining from the Commonwealth Government. The waterside workers would be able to do this only if Senator Mattner were a little more successful in obtaining finance from the Commonwealth Government than he was in preserving the importance of the Parliament on the regulations- and ordinances issue that we discussed last week. The Waterside Workers Federation firmly believes that it would have to fight the Government and the Government’s interest before it could be successful in any co-operative effort in the field of stevedoring, lt must be recognised that the Federation is not a company.
It is a trade union designed to better the conditions of its members, and I believe that it carries out that function very effectively.
We have clarified the position relating to regulations and ordinances. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said that in six months he would assist the Government to reintroduce the regulation which the Parliament disallowed last week, because the Opposition believes that control over the matters in question should be in the hands of a Minister, who is subject to parliamentary dictation from time to time, not in the hands of the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation. Saying that we support such a principle is entirely different from taking the right of appeal away from a litigant at the time when he is appearing before the highest court of appeal that we recognise under our British judicial system. Not only was the attitude of the Opposition supported by the majority of members of the Senate, but also it had the overwhelming support of the people of Australia and received the commendation of the Press. I think that Senator Mattner does not do himself justice when he raises this, matter during the Budget debate, representing as he does the minority view. He and his colleagues were upholding the power to take away from a litigant the right of appeal to the highest legal tribunal that we recognise.
There is only one other point that I want to make in relation to the speech of Senator Mattner. He said that the sacrifice regarding taxation is not being made by the working man. This statement is made repeatedly. The honorable senator gave us a mass of figures. I could not follow them; I do not understand the purport of them. But I think the best test to determine who is making the sacrifice is to draw a comparison between the worker who is in receipt of £1,000 a year - leaving aside what he pays in taxation - and the position of the senator who grows potatoes which are selling at ls. a lb. What each man has left to provide for his family each week after paying taxation gives a better idea of the degree of sacrifice.
I turn now to the Budget itself. Budgets today have two purposes. One purpose is to provide the income for the ensuing twelve months for the administration, development and defence of the country. The other is to correct or direct the economy by putting emphasis on one section of it, whether it be primary production, national development or private development. The Budget, by the use of taxation measures, has the power to curtail the activities of any branch of the economy. It controls the expenditure of money. The men who frame the Budget have a big responsibility to determine the economic situation for the next twelve months. Government policy decides what will be undertaken and what will occur in the ensuing twelve months. The policy of the Government decides whether restrictions should be imposed on imports; whether restrictions should be placed in other directions; whether the development of the private or the national sector of the economy should be encouraged; or whether concentration should be on the development of primary production or secondary industry. When Government policy has been determined on these and other matters, it is then the responsibility of the Treasury to work out measures for the purpose of implementing that policy.
To get some degree of accuracy in this matter, the Department of the Treasury employs competent officials to use the figures provided by the Commonwealth Statistician to show economic and other trends from year to year. This information assists the officials to forecast what the trend will be in the ensuing year if no new measures are adopted, or to advise on the adoption of measures in the Budget to alter an undesirable trend. The results of the work that is done on these figures in order to assist the Treasurer is normally made available at Budget time in the form of a White Paper issued by the Treasury. We have been supplied with the White Paper on this occasion to show us the trend of the economy and to give us a better understanding of what the Budget intends to do. I think it is important to realise the purpose of the measures taken in this Budget.
Having studied this White Paper and knowing the intentions of the Budget, the Opposition must oppose the Budget. The Opposition thought that this Budget would provide for rapid national development to be financed from the huge profits which Australian industry is making at the pesent time. The Opposition expected a greater contribution from those who are receiving the biggest dividends from this welfare state in our economy. But what do we see? I repeat what other speakers have said. National development is to bc curtailed, and the announcement to that effect is accompanied by the claim that this is for the purpose of meeting increased expenditure on defence. But only an additional £83 million is being provided for defence expenditure in an overall increase of £275 million. Senator McClelland gave the figures this evening. It becomes pellucid that the purpose of this Budget and the increased taxation is not to meet increased defence expenditure or to provide for rapid national development. The Treasurer has not forecast any new national development projects worth speaking of. The increased taxation is not for the purpose of providing additional social service benefits, because the .meagre increase to be given to those in receipt of pensions is not worthy of mention.
Who, then, is making the sacrifice? lt is the underprivileged section of the community which was hoping for some relief under this Budget, and which has received nothing. That section is paying extra taxation. It includes some groups of pensioners who receive no increase whatsoever. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin expressed concern for these pensioners but said that we could not do any more for them. But the Government takes 3d. out of the pensions received by an age pensioner every time he buys a packet of cigarettes. He has been enjoying the habit of smoking for perhaps, 60 years. One could say he has become indoctrinated into this habit. He cannot be asked to break it off at this time. On pension day, he has his beer with his mates. He is being charged another Id. in excise tax for his glass of beer The conditions of this section of the community have been reduced.
Let us look at the White Paper and see whether we can understand the problems that, firstly, the Government and, secondly, the Treasury had to overcome to produce this Budget which represents, in effect, Government policy. I refer to the section under the heading “The past twelve months and the year ahead “ and the sub heading “Harking Back”. The White Paper says -
Through the two preceding years expansion had gathered force. A strengthening draught of demand was blowing through the economy. Seasons were just right for the rural industries. The work-force was growing fast and there had still been, when the year began, a considerable number of unemployed who could be brought into work, and also some unused plant capacity. Domestic prices remained stable but export prices rose. Seldom can there have been a set of conditions more favourable to all-round expansion.
Doubts as to the coming year turned mainly on the expected scarcity of labour.
Further down it is stated -
In the previous year some 30,000 people formerly unemployed had been brought into work but this had reduced the total of unemployment, especially amongst mcn, to relatively low figures..
So although we had 30,000 people unemployed at the beginning of the year, at the end of the year we had relatively few people seeking employment. That is one of the problems which the Treasurer has to face. Further on in the Paper the following statement appears -
Drought has settled over large parts of Eastern Australia in recent months but 1964-65 will probably still turn out to have been a good year for farm production. In fact, for the fifth successive year, it is expected to record a new peak.
Recent figures of approvals indicate some prospective slackening of expansion in dwelling construction, but a further strong rise in activity in the construction of other new buildings.
Further on it is stated -
If, as it seems, growth has gone on much at the same rate as last year (and the year before that), it is obviously important to know what has made this possible. The main reason undoubtedly would, be the strong growth in the numbers at work. In the ten months to April this year, civilian employment increased by 131,000. For the same period last year, the increase was 134,000. For 1964-65 as a whole, the increase should prove to be at least 140,000 - almost as great as the record rise of 149,000 in 1963-64.
Much the greater increase to April this year occurred in private employment. There it was 111,000 or 4.3 per cent, compared with an increase of 20,000 or 2.3 per cent, in government employment. Relatively, also, the number of females at work increased much faster, 5.4 per cent., than the number of males, . 3.1 per cent.
Where has all this additional labour been found? First of all, unemployment has been reduced further. Over the twelve months to the end of May, the number of registered applicants for jobs fell by 8,000. This was, of course, much less than the reduction of over 30,000 in the preceding 12 months . . .
I would just like to read two further extracts. One is as follows -
Along with the rise in numbers of people at work, there has been a further increase of overtime working. On average in March and April of last year, some 36 per cent, of employees in larger private factories were on overtime and working an average of 8.3 hours per week. The corresponding figures this year were 39 per cent, and 8.6 hours per week.
Nevertheless there is enough in these facts about employment to indicate that, so far, labour difficulties have not been as much of an impediment to growth as they earlier seemed likely to be. What our experience is likely to be in the period ahead, however, could be a different question; it will be taken up later.
Although it was thought that last year would not be a successful year, due to the development of private industry the 30,000 people who were unemployed at the commencement of the year were absorbed into industry. On this occasion the Treasurer drew up a budget for the further development of the private sector of industry. There was no imposition of profit tax or capital gains tax, and there was no increase in company taxation. Again, there was nothing to impede the growth of private industry although there is a labour shortage and we are not able to supply the labour requirements for future expansion. Private industry appreciated this fact. Within a week of the Treasurer’s Budget Speech the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., Woolworths Ltd., Prestige and M. B. John and Hattersley Ltd., which are four large companies, were appealing for capital fund raisings of £14 million. After the Budget was announced those four companies knew that no restriction was to be placed upon their activities. That is why within a week of the Treasurer’s speech they appealed for capital funds to the extent of £14 million.
– Would the honorable senator like to see their work curtailed?
– No. 1 would like to see expansion of their work, but the honorable senator does not understand the point. When £14 million has been spent in increasing their plant and machinery, it will be necessary to find the labour force to ensure the return of that expenditure and the further profit which these companies desire to make. I am not concerned whether they develop, but we have a budget that has permitted their development at the same time as there is a shortage of manpower and at the sacrifice of national development which is urgently needed throughout Australia. I do not want to curtail their development, but I do want to ensure the development of this country and the primary production of this country which is most essential. I am not greatly concerned whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. develops or earns record profits. 1 am not greatly concerned whether the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. makes a profit of £19 million next year. But I am concerned that their expansion is being permitted at the very time when we have not the manpower for the purpose of extending the national development of this country. Even if we stop the development of the country for the purpose of the development of private companies, which the Budget proposes to do and which my friend on the other side of the chamber wishes to do, we have not the manpower to staff the extra expansion of these particular industries. That is another problem which the Government and the Treasurer in all earnestness have tried to overcome.
The Treasurer is endeavouring to supply the manpower which is. essential for the development of private industry but, as he pointed out in his White Paper,, it has to come from the female section of the Australian community. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has been running around the country either making speeches, or making statements in writing to organisations in which he has said that females must form a greater part of the workforce of Australia in the future. That will guarantee the profits of private enterprise in the future. I believe that only 17 per cent, of women iri Australia work at the present time. A higher percentage obtains in European countries and elsewhere. The Minister is anxious to make the hours and conditions of employment such that women, after attending in the nursery, after slaving in the laundry and after working in the kitchen, can make their contribution to the profits of private investment in Australia. He will not have much success unless some compulsion is imposed on women. Very few members of the Commonwealth Parliament, in response to this patriotic appeal for the development of private industry in Australia, have sent their wives out to work. There will be few people in Australia on wages comparable to those of members of Parliament who will send their wives out to work. This concerns the married worker. We have built up the family unit in Australia and we have perhaps developed a home life different from that in many European countries. Here the mother guides and looks after her family. I hope that never changes. This may not be peculiar to Australia, but in our way of life the home is the centre of the upbringing of the family. I think we have suffered greatly through married women being compelled to go out to work and thus neglect their families to some extent. The average man accepts the responsibility of being the provider for his wife and family. He is not keen to send his wife out to work, so there will be no response to the appeal by the Minister for Labour and National Service unless some compulsion is used on families and married women are forced to go out to work to meet the requirements of the profit hungry interests which have invested in Australia.
The White Paper tells us that the cost of commodities rose by 4 per cent, last year, but it is significant that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission raised workers’ margins by only li per cent. At the end of the year the worker was worse off than he was previously. The impartial arbitration tribunal gave a decision that was not contrary to the Government’s submissions to it and was, in fact, in keeping with the policy that the Government has sought to achieve in this Budget. Through the action of the wage fixing tribunal, the worker on an award wage and working normal hours is worse off than he was 12 months ago - and the hire purchase figures indicate that he was not wealthy 12 months ago. So he must try to make do by working longer hours although he is already working a fair amount of overtime. He reaches the end of his endurance but mum is not worn out yet. She can look after the kids and send them off to school, doing her housework at night and contributing to the profits of wealthy companies during the daytime.
In this Budget the Government has imposed taxes which will further reduce the worker’s standard of living. A further tax of 3d. has been imposed on a packet of 20 cigarettes, plus whatever extra profit the retailer or wholesaler desires to add. The working man is now paying a mighty lot for the pleasure of smoking, although possibly, with the arduousness of his labour and his increased anxiety over his reduced standard of living, he finds the relaxation of smoking to be even more essential today than it was previously. Whether cigarette smoking is necessary or not, it is certainly habit forming. The worker will not give up cigarette smoking even though it may ruin his health. In any event, we do nothing to help him to give it up, not only because the tobacco companies are making big profits but also because the Government is getting a lot of money out of the taxes imposed on tobacco and cigarettes. This extra tax will mean a further lowering of the workers’ standard of living, perhaps to the extent that he must send his wife out to work.
– This is an important industry in the community.
– J am trying to show that it is. I have not mentioned the tobacco growers, but the industry is important to W. D. & H. O. Wills and to Rothmans. It is important to the Treasurer, not only because of the taxation revenue it brings in but also because it can be used to achieve a purpose which the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission has failed to achieve up to now - the purpose of increasing the cost of an item essential to the worker.
We come next to the question of liquor. The price of the humble middy of beer, as I think the normal glass is called in the eastern States, is to be increased by Id. The working man has to pay more tax on beer, his normal drink. Whether beer drinking is right or wrong, it has become an accepted part of the worker’s life. One gets tired of hearing comparisons of conditions today and those when Labour went out of office, with the suggestion that this Government can take credit for things having become better in the last 16 years and with the implication that one should not complain of this Government until it has reduced standards to those which obtained 16 years ago. To me that is idle talk and not a proper basis for our consideration of these matters.
I am indebted to the “ West Australian “ of 30th June, for some interesting information. It points out that a middy of beer - the working man’s drink - sells in Western Australia for1s. 2d., which includes 5d. excise duty and a State tax of1/2d. There is no sales tax. The total taxation amounts to 39.3 per cent, of the price. A full nip of Australian whisky costs1s. 6d., which includes 4d. excise,1d. sales tax and id. State tax, the taxes amounting in all to 30.5 per cent, of the price. On Australian gin at 1s. 3d. a nip, taxation, including 31/2d. excise,1d. sales tax and1/2d. State tax, amounts to 33.3 per cent, of the price. There is a 39.3 per cent, tax on beer but less than that on spirits, which are. not the working man’s drink to the same extent that beer is. On beer, the tax is 59 per cent, greater - based on alcoholic content - than that on spirits. When we realise that Australia’s consumption of beer is 250 million gallons a year and of spirits 5 million gallons, we can see the direction of this taxation. This is taxation that the worker will have to pay, without any increase in wages. He will pay it in addition to the extra 21/2 per cent, income tax.
One honorable senator spoke tonight about a1s. a week increase in income tax, but a fortnight ago the “ Adelaide Mail “ pointed out that, on the average Australian consumption of cigarettes and beer, the average family man’s expenditure will increase by 1 3s. 8d. a week. Today the average worker has a motor car and either drives himself to work or takes his family out at weekends. His use of his car must now be curtailed by the additional tax on petrol, although motoring is one of his few pleasures. The purpose of the Budget is the impoverishment of the working man.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 August 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650831_senate_25_s29/>.