25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with deep regret that I have to inform the Senate that our former colleague in the Senate, Sir William Spooner, who retired from the Cabinet in 1964 and from the Senate in 1965, died on 15th July. Almost two years ago to the day in this chamber, on 11th August 1964, the late Senator Sir Shane Paltridge, then Minister for Defence and Leader of the Government in the Senate, paid tribute to the service to the Senate and the Parliament of Sir William Spooner who had retired from the Ministry in June of that year. Now, two short years later, Sir William Spooner has died, leaving all who knew him with a sense of deep personal loss.
For the last 15 years of his career, Sir William Spooner served Australia as Cabinet Minister and senator in this Parliament.
Those 15 years were an inspiration to all who were fortunate enough to work with him. He had already had a long and distinguished career before he entered the Senate. He served his country well during the First World War with the 5th Australian Field Ambulance, was wounded and awarded the Military Medal. Later, he became one of the first members of the Australian Flying Corps. Then followed a successful commercial career and considerable service to the Liberal Party in New South Wales and Australia.
In 1949, Sir William Spooner was appointed Minister for Social Services in the Commonwealth Government. In fact, he was sworn in as a Minister before he was declared to be elected senator for New South Wales after the elections of 1949. To enter Cabinet at the very outset of a parliamentary career was a rare honour and a mark of the esteem with which Sir William Spooner was regarded. A year and a half later, Sir William Spooner became also Minister in Charge of War Service Homes. A few months later, in 1951, he was appointed Minister for National Development.
For 13 years, Sir William Spooner held this portfolio through a period of development unprecedented in this country’s history. During that time, the reorganisation of the coal industry, the discovery and development of uranium and iron ore deposits and the encouragement of the search for oil, all marked the great progress being made by Australia and were largely the result of the imagination and driving power of Sir William Spooner. Housing, too, progressed immensely under Sir William Spooner’s guidance and his great interest in water conservation made names like the Snowy Mountains Authority, Chowilla Dam, Blowering Dam and the Ord River Scheme almost synonymous with the name of Spooner. The development of Australia’s north made great strides during his term as Minister, with the establishment of a beef roads policy and the setting up of the Northern Division within the Department of National Development.
All these things are a matter of record. Those of us who worked closely with Sir William Spooner knew him as a fine leader, a man of great integrity and a steadfast friend. From 1956 to 1959 he was Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. In 1959 he was appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate. Thus we remember that he came into the Federal Government with no parliamentary experience at all. Yet from the very beginning he was a man of the Senate, a man for the Senate. He was quick and firm in his belief in this chamber and in the part that the Senate plays in the government of the nation. He brought to the Senate an authority and a dignity of which we can be proud today.
During his parliamentary career Sir William Spooner represented Australia at international meetings at home and overseas. He was Acting Prime Minister in 1962 during the absence overseas of Sir Robert Menzies. When he retired from the Ministry and later from the Senate his energy and wise counsel were sadly missed. With the death of Sir William Spooner Australia has lost a fine citizen who served his country well. We of the Senate have lost a great leader, a staunch colleague and a good friend. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Right Honorable Sir William Henry Spooner, K.C.M.G., M.M., former senator for the State of New South Wales, Minister of the Crown and Leader of the Government in the Senate, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of all senators of the Australian Labour Party I second the motion that has been proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, all of whose remarks in relation to the late Sir William Spooner I endorse. Our own activities in and about the Parliament have been so intimately associated with those of the late Sir William Spooner for so many years that his death afflicts us with a sense of bereavement and the feeling that we have lost some part of our souls.
Sir William was a senior Minister of every Government from 19th December 1949, on which day I surrendered to him the office of Minister for Social Services, until he resigned from the Ministry on 10th June 1964. During that period of 14£ years he had the added responsibility of leadership, at two levels, of the Government in the Senate for more than eight years. He mastered the detail of the work of the departments that he controlled and was an efficient and hardworking administrator. In addition, he made himself knowledgeable on all questions of the day. His common sense and experience led to a demand for his services on innumerable committees of the Cabinet. In short, for 14) years he led an arduous life of unceasing work on complex and important matters as a service to his Party and his Government, and in the interests of Australia as he saw them. In retrospect, I think he was a man who was thoroughly exhausted by his labours when he resigned from the Ministry in 1964. He was driven by a sense of loyalty to the causes he supported, at the cost of his health and at the sacrifice of a domestic life that I know was very precious to him.
Soon after he resigned from the Senate in July last year he suffered from an illness which led to his death last month. During that trial he comported himself with the same stoicism and courage that he had shown in all his activities. It was consoling to learn from the naval chaplain who spoke of him at the funeral service at St. James’ Church in Sydney that throughout his illness he turned increasingly to his Maker and his church. That is one more proof of the wholeness of the man. I thought the chaplain had great insight into character when he showed the constancy and steadfastness that ran through Sir William’s life. If, as I believe to be the case, every act, important or even seemingly inconsequential, that is not actually wrong attracts merit then Sir William will have ended his life with much merit to his credit. I am sure he had neither inclination nor time for wrong-doing. He did many things of great importance, as his distinguished record shows. My colleagues and I respected him as an unyielding and able fighter for the causes he espoused. His manly qualities won our affectionate regard. I treasure a letter I received from him only a few days prior to his death, signed simply “Bill”, suggesting that on my way in or out of the city one day I should call and see him for, as he put it, he “would love a yarn”. 1 pay tribute to Sir William as a true Australian, a good man, an upholder of the traditions and the dignity of the Senate, and one of its great leaders. My colleagues join me in extending to Lady Spooner and her son and daughters our deepest sympathy in their great loss. We trust that they will be given the strength to bear their burden of sorrow.
– The Leader of the Country Party in this chamber, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), is absent in Sydney on Government business and has asked me to read a message to the Senate on behalf of the Party. It is as follows -
The Country Party wishes to be associated with the motion of condolence. It is its wish, too, to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to the widow and family of Sir William Spooner.
Sir William, a member of the Senate for 16 years, was a remarkable man. One would have to delve deeply into parliamentary archives to find a record to compare with his. He was elevated to the Ministry immediately after his election to Parliament in 1949. This, in itself, was a considerable achievement, one that few senators could hope to emulate. He had a tremendous capacity for work. He had personal qualities that made him a distinctive senator and Government Leader. He had wide experience in administration and he served his country in war and peace and during the most dramatic period of growth in the nation’s history.
The Government and Opposition leaders have outlined bis parliamentary career. I do not wish to add to it, beyond passing the general observation that Big Bill Spooner, as many of us would like to remember him, as Government Leader directed the affairs of the Senate with force and skill. He was an iron willed character, a warm hearted man, a man with a kindly and happy disposition. When he was the leader of the coalition parties in this chamber, his co-operation with my Party was always highly appreciated. I was the recipient of many kindnesses at his hands. All senators mourn his passing.
– Mr. President, members of the Democratic Labour Party desire to be associated with the motion submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and supported by the Leader of the Opposition and the representative of the Country Party. I did not have the pleasure, as a member of this chamber, of knowing Sir William Spooner but as a Minister of a State government I had an opportunity on frequent occasions to come into contact with him on matters of national development. All that has been said of him today, I believe, has been merited by him and is truly justified. He was a great Australian, a man who never sought to impress other than by his genuineness and his enthusiasm to do things for the development and growth of Australia. He served this country well in time of war and in time of peace. He was a man of exceptional experience in the commercial and political life of Australia. He served this Parliament - and I use the term “ Parliament “ in the broadest sense - as a senator and as a member with distinction. He had a long Cabinet career and in that time he was able to display his exceptional ability, administrative capacity and realistic approach to the innumerable problems that face Ministers of Government now as they did during the period that he was a Minister of the Commonwealth Government. He displayed exceptional capacity, vision and enthusiasm and had unlimited hope and confidence for the future of this country. On many occasions he discussed with me at length matters such as the finding of oil in Australia, the utilisation of natural gases, uranium resources and all the other natural deposits and gifts of providence that this country possesses.
Sir William was tireless in his efforts to win the consideration and the appreciation of the Commonwealth Government and of State Governments in respect of the necessity for doing things, not merely talking about them. If many of these things were not developed or exploited as readily and as rapidly as some of us thought they should have been, I can say in conscience that it was not due to lack of enthusiasm, hope or desire on the part of the late gentleman.
It is undeniably true that this country is poorer for the passing of such men as Sir William Spooner. However, there is not anything that you, Mr. President, or I can do about that. At least we should be grateful for and appreciative of the services these men have rendered and we acknowledge them with gratitude today. My colleague and I express our sincere condolence and sympathy to his sorrowing relatives.
– I, too, wish to express sympathy and regret at the passing of Sir William Spooner. Sir William’s career over a long period of years at all levels was one of service to Australia and to the community. He was a distinguished parliamentarian. He was a man who played an outstanding part in the promotion and practice of our democratic way of life. He was a leading and respected businessman in the commercial life of the city of Sydney. He was a lifelong helper and friend of the cause of ex-servicemen. He was a devoted and loving husband and father, a good friend and a very considerate opponent.
I had the opportunity of knowing Sir William for a few years longer than his service as a senator. I knew him before he came to this Parliament in 1949. I have said that he was a distinguished parliamentarian and both the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate referred to his career in that capacity. It is significant that he became a Minister of State immediately upon entering the Senate. By one of those odd circumstances his brother, Eric Spooner, became a Minister of State in the New South Wales Government in almost identical circumstances. Immediately upon being elected he became a Minister of State in the Stevens Government.
One of the outstanding things in Sir William’s service as a parliamentarian was that he was able to reach the pinnacle of Acting Prime Minister of Australia. Being called upon to carry out this duty was an honour from which he obtained tremendous pride. Senator Sir William Spooner was a man with a great sense of duty and a great sense of proprieties. He was a great parliamentarian who believed in the cause of Parliament. When I said that he had played a tremendous part in the promotion and practice of our democratic way of life, I was referring to the fact that prior to coming to this place he was prominent in the formation and was the first president of the Liberal Party which is one of the leading political parties in our system of government. I say, in the sense of parliamentary practice, that anyone who played the part that he played in the promotion and formation of a political party which puts democratic principles into practice has a record of achievement which will find its place in the history of this great country of ours.
I refer also to Sir William as a man who was a good friend to the ex-servicemen. He himself was an ex-serviceman; he had been awarded the Military Medal. Despite his tremendous activities in his business and parliamentary career, Sir William found time to take a very real and active interest in, and render support to, the Legacy movement. He found time to take a real and active interest in and give support to ex-servicemen’s .groups of which he himself had been a part. I think that one of the very lovely things that happened on the day of his funeral service was the attendance of a group of men who had served with Sir William some 50 years before. They had come to pay their last respects to Sir William, or Bill as they knew him. Over those 50 years, Sir William had found time for the companionship of ex-servicemen, to keep in touch with them and to go to various functions that they held.
I have said that Sir William was a devoted husband. He was devoted to his family. This we all knew. We all knew how proud he was of his family. I know that we all join in extending our very sincere sympathy to Lady Spooner and the other members of Sir William’s family. Sir William was a good friend. He was not a flamboyant friend who made his friendship apparent all the time. He was a man to whom a person could go to talk when he had a problem. Sir William would be kind and gentle. He would show interest in, and give careful consideration to, what a person had to say. His record in this place as a leader, as Senator McKenna said, is that of one who fought hard for what he believed in. But in the cut and thrust of debate in this place, Sir William was, I believe history will show, a fair man and one who had respect for the point of view of the other man. He recognised above all else that our democratic way of life and the party system had to be made to work. In that concept there was the opportunity for him to consider the points of view of those opposed to him.
I wish to conclude by saying that we who knew him quite well had tremendous respect for his achievements. I have spoken thus today because I wished to add my words to the tributes which have been paid to Sir William already.
– Mr. President, it is 12 months ago today that I was sworn in as a senator to replace Sir William Spooner, so today is a sad day for me. But I do not wish to speak at length. Fortunately, I was able to see Sir William just a little while before he died. I want to tell you that he remembered the Senate with great affection. He listened to its debates with extreme thoroughness. He read “ Hansard “ and thought about what he had read a good deal. He wished to be remembered to you all. On his behalf I do this now.
It is said of one that in one’s life the impact of important, useful and consequential men is the most important thing. Therefore for my part, I treasure the years that I worked under the influence of William Spooner and I pay tribute to his memory in this Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– Mr. President, it is with deep regret that I have to inform the Senate that Mr. John Cockle, who represented in the House of Representatives the New South Wales electorate of Warringah, died on 3rd August at the early age of 57. He represented Warringah in the Parliament from 1961 onwards. From March 1964 onwards he was a member of the Printing Committee and he was also a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He was able to make a special contribution to debates in the House on matters concerning shipping because he had been for several years the Secretary and Industrial Court Advocate of the Sydney Branch of the Australasian Steamship Owners Federation. He also served in public office before entering Parliament when, from 1953 to 1956, he was a member of the Sydney City Council. His early death has cut short a parliamentary career of promise and I am sure that all members of the Senate will join with me in offering condolence to his wife and family. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of John Simon Cockle, member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Warringah, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of all members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate I second the motion. I concur in this tribute that has been paid to the late Mr. Cockle by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Mr. Cockle’s five years in the House of Representatives climaxed a long period of community service in various fields. He was highly regarded in the Parliament. I extend our sympathy to members of the Government parties who, through Mr. Cockle’s untimely death, have lost a valuable colleague. All my colleagues join with me in extending to Mr. Cockle’s widow and children our deepest sympathy in their great loss.
– In the absence of Senator McKellar I wish to associate members of the Australian Country Party in this chamber with the expressions of sympathy that have been made at the death of Mr. Cockle. We heartily support the remarks made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and by the Leader of the Opposition. I can only add that with the death of John Cockle the Parliament has lost a man who was competent to speak with great personal knowledge and ability on the shipping industry, as the Leader of the Government has already mentioned. Those of us who had the privilege of working with Mr. Cockle on the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee recall his evident sincerity, his integrity and his personal friendship. He was liked and respected by us all and we all regret that a man of such qualities was not spared to carry on for a longer time. We offer his widow and family our profound sympathy in their great loss.
– Mr. President, I desire, with my colleague, to be associated with this motion of condolence to the relatives of Mr. Cockle, the late member for Warringah in the House of Representatives. I am at a disadvantage in that it was not my pleasure or good fortune to have been very intimately associated with the late gentleman for any length of time. However, I have knowledge of his capacity and ability, particularly in matters relating to the shipping world and I recognise that the Liberal Party, of which he was a member in the House of Representatives, has suffered a great loss because unquestionably he was a man who had had a very wide experience. He brought to this Parliament a good deal of knowledge that he had acquired over the years and which I am sure was of great value to his Party and to the Parliament. Men of varied experience from all walks of life and from a cross section of the community contribute to the success of this Parliament. The Parliament can ill afford to lose, particularly prematurely, men with a knowledge and an understanding of the requirements of the community life of Australia. We join very sincerely with previous speakers in extending our deepest sympathy to the relatives of the late gentleman.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I suggest that as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased gentlemen the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
– I am sure that the suggestion meets with the approval of the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 3.31 to 8 p.m.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a certificate of the choice by the Parliament of Queensland of William Clarence Heatley as a Senator to fill the vacancy in the representation of that State in the Senate caused by the death of Senator Robert Duncan Sherrington.
Certificate read by the Clerk.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Quarantine Bill 1966.
Loan Bill 1966.
Vinyl Resin Bounty Bill 1966.
Tractor Bounty Bill 1966.
International Wheat Agreement (Extension) Bill 1966.
Income Tax (International Agreements)Bill 1966.
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 1965-66.
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1965-66.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1966-67.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1966-67.
Loan (Defence) Bill 1966.
Western Australia Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill 1966.
Housing Agreement Bill 1966.
Asian Development Bank Bill 1966.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications)Bill 1966.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1966
Customs Bill 1966.
Therapeutic Goods Bill 1966.
Financial Agreement Bill 1966.
States Grants (Drought Assistance) Bill 1966.
Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1966.
Bankruptcy Bill 1966.
– I have to report the receipt of a letter from the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) conveying the terms of a resolution passed by the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea relating to Australian commitments in the Territory. The resolution reads as follows -
We, the Members of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea express to the Government and the people of Australia our firm belief that the people of this country are deeply grateful to Australia for the vast expenditure being made in this country to ensure that the peoples of Papua and New Guinea will be able to move peacefully towards their destiny without let or hindrance from outside sources.
We are aware, and believe that the people of this country are aware, of the price of security. We realize that the geographical locality of this country on the fringe of the Pacific, yet also on the fringe of South East Asia, demands an expenditure on security forces and installations which this country could not face alone.
We welcome, as do our Malaysian friends, the presence of Australian defence installations and forces as a guarantee that that country would come to our aid in time of need in the future, even as it has done in the past.
Civil Works Programme 1966-67.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the Stales, 1966-67.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for the Year Ending 30th June, 1967.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending 30th June, 1967.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the Year Ending 30th June, 1967.
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June, 1966.
Income Tax Statistics for income year 1963-64.
National Income and Expenditure, 1965-66. and move -
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Tonight, the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) is delivering in another place his Budget Speech for 1966-67. It is my privilege to outline to the Senate the Budget proposals of the Government. I want to refer first to the economic state of the nation and the outlook for the future.
For five years now economic expansion has continued strongly although drought has taken toll in the past year. There have been many notable achievements; I mention a few. Since June 1961 employment has increased by nearly 600,000 or 19 per cent. Net immigration has brought us about 400,000 more people and we have had a net capital inflow of more than $2,500,000,000. Most industries have increased production, some of them considerably. Many of them also have considerably expanded their capacity for future production and many new industries have come into being.
The value of our exports last year - not itself the best of recent years - was $2,648,000,000; that is, 43 per cent, above that of five years ago. Our overseas reserves have been considerably strengthened. The pessimism in some quarters of a year ago has proved to be unjustified. We have achieved these results without an undue rise in prices. Despite the fact that there has at times been heavy pressure on resources, the Consumer Price Index has risen by only about 9 per cent, during the last five years. This relative stability in our price level as compared with trends in prices overseas has been very welcome from the standpoint of our international competitiveness.
In these years our problems have been extremely complex and have involved much more than the straightforward task of increasing employment and production. We have had to provide a big and rapid build-up in defence. Just at this time, too, many valuable capital projects, some of them very large, were getting under way. In a fully employed economy such as ours this involved a substantial transfer of resources so that some activities had to be held back in order that others could go quickly ahead.
This readjustment has been accomplished without any serious dislocation or significant check to the overall growth of employment. Inevitably, however, there has been a slackening of demand in some industries. This occurred in the motor vehicle industry and most of the industries producing consumer durables. In addition to this, the serious drought in New South Wales and Queensland affected both consumer spending and farm investment.
Looking ahead, there is reason for confidence about the outlook for production this year. From local increase and from immigration there should be enough additional labour to make possible a rise of about 3 per cent, in civilian employment; this of course is quite substantial. Other conditions should also favour an increase in output. On the rural side, while the drought or dry conditions have affected large areas of New South Wales and Queensland, seasons elsewhere have been generally good. Given good fortune with the weather over the next few months it is expected that total farm output will rise - though by how much is, of course, uncertain at this stage.
There should be a large increase in the output of minerals and metals, especially as lange new projects in iron ore, alumina and so on come into production. The large expenditures on plant and equipment which have already taken place must raise productivity and will continue to do so for some time to come. Looking to the future, the level of activity and hence of output depends very much on the trend and strength of domestic demand. As to one big sector of demand - that is, expenditure by governments and other public authorities - we can be absolutely certain that it will go on rising strongly.
The outlook for private capital expenditure in building and construction is difficult to assess. Dwelling construction has made some recovery and seems likely to continue to rise. The Government will do all it can to see that it does.
There are, however, doubts about the trend in private non-dwelling construction. This wide and varied category has been increasing rapidly for several years past - partly because some large mining and industrial developments have taken place. In recent months there have been indications that the pace of growth in this sector may be slowing down. The possibility that it will do so cannot be ignored and we have kept this possibility well in mind while shaping our policy on the Budget.
Much the same applies to private capital expenditure on plant and equipment. Expenditure in this sector has been running high for a long time. Whilst much of the equipment has been imported from overseas, a good deal of it has been made locally, so that any fall in expenditure would tend to affect the local industries involved in such forms of production.
As to consumer spending, the rate of increase in it has tended to fall off in recent years, especially over the last twelve months or so. Tax increases, the effects of drought and the pressure of debts have all affected consumer spending. Some reduction in the rate of increase of consumer demand had to take place in order to release resources for defence purposes and for other high priority uses. Obviously it would not be wise to permit such a trend to go too far if our resources are to be kept fully employed. As it is, there was a fall in output and employment in a large number of the industries which produce consumer durables, and employment in manufacturing as a whole rose very little in 1965-66.
Speaking generally, we expect a considerable lift in consumer demand through 1966-67. The large and widespread wage increases flowing from the decisions in the national wage cases will undoubtedly boost community spending. This spending will be strengthened if there is some rise in farm income. The effect of the Commonwealth Budget will be expansionary and will affect many avenues of demand including consumption.
Because of the prospective increase in the supply of labour and the growth of industrial capacity we should welcome some increase in demand in this area. But we do not want the economy to be stimulated to a degree that will later cause heavy competition for labour and materials.
In the broad, then, there should be scope for a rise in employment this year of about the same size as last year; it could be a little bigger and, with some encouragement from the weather, output should grow a good deal faster than last year.
Our overseas trade has grown in both money and physical terms and our overseas reserves are substantial. For all these reasons a reasonably strong increase in overall demand could probably be met without causing too great a run-down of our international reserves.
This year the Government is providing $1,000,000,000 for outlays on defence. This is $252,000,000 or 34 per cent, more than actual expenditure in 1965-66.
Thanks to the excellent financial arrangements we have made with the United States Government, about $114,000,000 of the amount to be spent in that country for the purchase of materials and equipment this year will be covered by credits. This obligation is, however, only deferred and cash will have to be found in later years.
This fact of steeply increasing defence expenditure dominates our budgetary problem this year as it did that of last year. It also raises profound issues of national priorities. Since 1963-64, only three years ago, annual defence costs have risen by §480,000,000 or over 90 per cent. Some allowance must be made for price and cost increases; even so, it is obvious that, in this comparatively short space of time, defence has come to claim a very large additional amount of resources that would otherwise have gone to developmental or consumption uses.
No one could seriously question the rightness of this. The need has arisen to strengthen our defences and to support allies with whom we have treaty obligations: We have faced that necessity and no one can reasonably say that the cost has so far been unduly burdensome. In fact we have been able in these years to ensure both a big increase in the defence effort and also a large expansion of our productive capacity. And yet, with each successive rise in defence expenditure, we have become increasingly conscious of a developing conflict between major national purposes - between the requirements of defence and those of growth. It is a real and substantial conflict. For Australia, more than for most countries, growth in its more fundamental forms is vital and of great urgency.
So far as defence preparations compete for resources with other aims and activities we have difficult choices to make. Many times when compiling this Budget, these choices had to be made. The problem just cannot be solved or evaded by some conventional process of turning the screws a little harder and then a little harder again - that is, by increasing taxation to cut back consumption in order to release resources and when this has been done to increase defence expenditure and provide for more development. Beyond a point that sort of process can have adverse effects on the economy.
Accordingly, while a big rise in our defence commitments has been inescapable and has been accepted, it has been very much our concern to ensure that the burden should not become so great, either now or in the period ahead, as to force a curtailment of other activities which are fundamental to the growing strength of the nation.
We have had to put aside some popular and desirable measures. We have not, however, been prepared to put aside the claims of those who, through age or illness or other misfortune, are in need of help.
Total expenditure is expected to reach $5,930,000,000 in this financial year. On existing accounting procedures, the increase over expenditures last year will be $600,000,000. Besides the increase of $252,000,000 on defence spending there is estimated to be an increase of $348,000,000 in other items. The figure was kept down to this level only by rejecting many expenditure proposals that came before us and by drastically pruning others. The plain fact is that many ideas of what the Budget can carry, the costs the taxpayer should be asked to bear and, indeed, the extent to which our resources can be stretched, have been tending to outrun the limits of what is practicable.
May I turn now to each of the main expenditure groups.
Payments to or for the States.
The financial assistance grants are estimated this year at about $816,600,000, an increase of about $59,000,000 over lastyear. The special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania, as recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, total $40,072,000, which is $1,698,000 less than in 1965-66.
Because of the continuing effects of drought we have had to give special consideration to the financial difficulties of New South Wales and Queensland. Last year we provided them with $21,700,000 so that they might carry out programmes of drought assistance and relief. This year, regrettably, the need continues; to some extent it is accentuated because of the problems of re-stocking in areas which have had relief rains. As well, it has been found that the budgets of both States are suffering heavy adverse effects of an indirect kind which are clearly attributable to the drought and they would both be in serious financial difficulties without some further help. Accordingly it is proposed that, besides providing some $24,250,000 for drought assistance measures, we should also make grants of $8,000,000 to New South Wales and $2,750,000 to Queensland to help them meet budgetary problems due to revenue losses arising from the drought. All told, therefore, our assistance to those two States this year on account of the drought is estimated to be $35,000,000.
There are in addition some miscellaneous grants for general assistance to the States. They amount this year to about $34,000,000, an increase of about $1,280,000 over last year. So that, on these figures, general purpose grants to the States and drought assistance will total about $926,000,000, which is some $72,000,000 above the total for 1965-66.
Next, on the capital side of the account, there is the money that has to be found by the Commonwealth for construction activities of many kinds, mainly on the part of the States but also on its own account. First, I refer to the Loan Council programmes, which cover the general run of State works and housing operations. Last year the total was $605,000,000; this year it will be $645,000,000, or $40,000,000 higher. This amount has to be found either by public borrowings, or insofar as borrowings fall short - as they are almost certain to do this year - from the Commonwealth Budget.
Next, there is a long and fast increasing list of payments to the States for specific projects or classes of development work. It includes land development, forestry, water conservation and flood mitigation, roads, railways and ports. Such activities are estimated this year to require $198,600,000. an increase on last year of $12,900,000. Besides these, the Commonwealth has its own big programme of capital works and services, estimated .this year to require $471,400,000, which is $37,400,000 above expenditure in 1965-66.
We have set down an amount of $58,000,000 for war service homes. This is $12,000,000 less than last year because applications for advances have fallen and there is now no waiting list for advances either to buy or build new dwellings or to buy previously occupied dwellings. If applications through the year prove to be more than now expected, additional funds will be provided. Works in the Territories are expected to cost $80,900,000, which is $15,000,000 more than last year.
Bringing these large items together, then, the Commonwealth is undertaking to find in this financial year $1,315,000,000 for works, including housing, and related capital services. This is an increase of $90,000,000 over the amount found for comparable expenditure in 1965-66.
The railway line between Parkes and Broken Hill will need to be upgraded as part of the projects under way to provide a standard gauge railway across the continent to link the eastern States with South Australia and Western Australia. Following a request by the Government of New South Wales for financial assistance for the purpose, we have decided to offer New South Wales a grant of $10,000,000 towards meeting the cost of upgrading the Parkes-Broken Hill section by the end of 1969. It is envisaged that the arrangements between the Commonwealth and New South Wales will be contained in an agreement which will be submitted to Parliament in due course. Because it is not yet known how much of the proposed grant is likely to be payable in this financial year, no specific provision has been made in the 1966-67 Budget.
Besides finance for works in the Territories, which include the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, Papua and New Guinea and the lesser Territories, there will be operational expenditures this year estimated at $51,700,000. This is over and above the grant to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea of $70,000,000 to which I shall refer later.
Following the same broad theme, I next draw attention to the formidable amounts being provided these days for subsidies and other forms of assistance to industry. Last year the total was $124,200,000. This year the estimate, allowing for a major addition we propose to make, is about $142,000,000. The list already includes subsidies on butter and cheese, cotton, gold mining, ship building, petroleum products prices, petroleum search, wheat stabilisation, wool use promotion, and superphosphate. petroleum search subsidy.
The amount provided this year for expenditure under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act is $11,900,000. This is designed to cover a programme of new subsidy approvals during the year of $16,000,000, compared with a programme of $1 1,700,000 in 1965-66. It is estimated that at 30th June 1967 the outstanding commitments in respect of subsidy approvals will be $10,800,000; the corresponding figure at 30th June 1966 was $6,700,000. superphosphate bounty.
In 1963-64 we brought in a three year scheme to pay a bounty on superphosphate at a standard rate of $6 per ton. The purpose was to awaken interest in and stimulate the use of superphosphate as a means to improve the productivity of farm lands deficient in phosphorus. The effect of the scheme is illustrated by the fact that sales of superphosphate in 1965-66 were just on 50 per cent, higher than in 1962-63. The scheme will be continued in operation, at the same standard bounty rate of $6 per ton, for a further period until 31st October 1969. The estimated cost of the bounty in 1966-67 is $28,000,000. nitrogenous fertilisers bounty.
Nitrogenous fertilisers have long been important to a number of our primary industries, especially sugar growing and fruit and vegetable production. Recent developments have indicated that there is much scope for increasing productivity by applying nitrogenous fertilisers to fodder and grain crops and new or established pastures. We have accordingly decided to introduce a bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers in addition to that payable on superphosphate.
The rate of bounty will be $80 per ton of the determined nitrogen content of naturally occurring sodium nitrates and products manufactured from inorganic chemical nitrogen. The bounty will be payable on such products sold by manufacturers and importers during the period 17th August 1966 to 31st October 1969 for use in Australia as fertiliser or stockfeed supplement.
The bounty is estimated to cost $4,750,000 in 1966-67 and $5,600,000 in the first full year of operation. research and development.
In a world where technology is changing rapidly and becoming increasingly complex, industrial research and development is assuming increasing importance in the promotion of the nation’s industrial strength and efficiency. For this reason we have for some time now been studying the question of encouraging Australian industry to undertake more research and development work on its own.
The Government has decided to provide up to $6,000,000 a year for a scheme of grants for this purpose. Some details of the scheme have still to be finalized, but eligibility for grants will be confined to firms which increase their expenditure on research and development as compared with a base period.
This year expenditure on the scheme will necessarily be small because legislation will need to be enacted and also because the scheme will apply only to expanded research and development. Accordingly, provision is being made for expenditure of $250,000 on the scheme in 1966-67.
The Government has decided upon further important measures to encourage a greater inflow of migrants. My colleague, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), will later announce details of the proposals.
Broadly, we propose to increase our contribution to the passage costs of certain categories of migrants, particularly workers in Europe who wish to migrate to Australia with their families. Many are at present unable to do so because they do not benefit from the financial assistance available under existing bilateral arrangements with countries of emigration.
We are also making special provision for assistance to voluntary agencies which for many years have been active in helping migrants to travel to Australia.
Total provision in the Budget for Immigration costs this year amounts to $45,000,000, an increase of $3,800,000 over expenditure last year. Of this $45,000,000 some $26,800,000 represents expenditure on assisted passages and about $5,600,000 assistance towards the costs of accommodating migrants in hostels on arrival in Australia.
A major part of State expenditure on education is indirectly financed by the Commonwealth through the general assistance grants we make to the States and through the support we provide from our Budget to the States’ works programmes. Besides this, however, the Commonwealth has in recent years substantially increased its expenditure on specific forms of education.
In 1961-62 this expenditure amounted to $51,900,000. Last year the total was $110,900,000. This year it will be $141,100,000. Thus, in five years, there has been almost a trebling of expenditure on this account. For the current financial year an increase of more than $30,000,000 is in prospect.
Of the $141,100,000 this financial year, some $84,700,000 will be made available to the States. This compares with an amount of $28,300,000 paid to the States for this purpose in 1961-62. Of the provision for this year, $54,600,000 will comprise grants for both capital and recurrent expenditures of universities. There will be about $8,300,000 for colleges of advanced education, $10,200,000 for science laboratories and $11,700,000 for technical training facilities.
Commonwealth scholarships this year are expected to cost $22,700,000, divided between post-graduate, university and advanced education, secondary and technical scholarships.
For the Australian National University we are providing an estimated amount of $19,600,000 of which $14,200,000 is for current expenditure and $5,400,000 for capital expenditure.
At this point, having just covered what might be called the developmental items of the Budget, I want to draw attention to a significant fact. The total expenditures included in the Budget amount to approximately $5,930,000,000. Of this amount, about $1,677,000,000 or 28 per cent, will finance works, housing and developmental services in Australia and the Territories, direct current expenditure in the Territories, subsidies and assistance to industry, immi gration and education. These expenditures can be broadly described as investment in Australia and its people.
The estimates provide $103,300,000 for aid expenditure in 1966-67. Expenditure last year amounted to $95,600,000, including emergency aid for India which cost some $7,400,000.
Our regular bilateral aid programmes continue to grow. This year the Colombo Plan is expected to be some $13,000,000 compared with $11,800,000 last year. Meanwhile there will be a big increase in expenditure on multilateral aid. The vote for the International Development Association will increase this year by $1,200,000 to $6,900,000 and the Asian Development Bank will involve a first contribution of $3,800,000. As far ahead as we can see, expenditures on multilateral aid will continue to increase.
There will also be a rapid increase in grants to Papua-New Guinea, which have more than doubled in five years. The estimates provide $70,000,000 for this purpose in 1966-67, some $8,000,000 more than last year.
Moving to a different field, the Government has carefully and sympathetically considered the needs of social service beneficiaries. The full range of our social services has been reviewed and we have decided to make a number of improvements in benefits and entitlements.
We intend to increase the standard rate of pension by $1 per week. This will bring the maximum weekly rates payable to single age and invalid pensioners and to widow pensioners with children to $13 per week. For widows without children the new maximum rate will be $11.75 per week. The combined pensions of a married couple will be increased by £1.50 per week, thus increasing the maximum basic payment to them from $22 to $23.50 per week. These rates are exclusive of the various allowances payable.
At present pensioners with dependent children are allowed a deduction for means test purposes from any income they may receive apart from their pension of $1 per week in respect of each child. It is proposed to increase the amount of this deduction to $3 per week.
Action is proposed to assist pensioners on their discharge from mental hospitals by increasing from four to twelve weeks the period in a mental hospital for which pension may be paid to them when they are discharged. In addition, sickness benefit will be paid to eligible persons on discharge from a mental institution for up to twelve weeks of the period they were in the institution.
We also propose to remove the nationality qualifications for age, invalid and widows’ pensions.
Important modifications will be made in the administration of the Aged Persons Homes Act to permit an eligible organization to receive grants towards accommodation for residents requiring continuous nursing care. This will apply when the number of beds in such accommodation does not exceed one-third of the total number of beds in aged persons homes conducted by the organization in the particular city or town.
The estimated cost of this group of proposals is $30,082,000 in 1966-67 and $40,800,000, in a full year.
It is proposed to extend the benefits available under the pensioner medical service to those persons who will now qualify for age, invalid, widows’ or service pensions because of the increased rates of pensions.
Linked with the increases in social service pensions is a proposed increase in tuberculosis allowances. The married rate will be increased by $1.50 per week and all single rates by $1 per week. It is intended that the new rates will be paid concurrently with the increased social service pensions. The cost will be $60,000 for 1966-67 and $80,000 for a full year.
We also have in view an extension of tuberculosis allowances to voluntary patients in mental institutions who, up to now, have not qualified for these allowances. The proposal will remove an anomaly and the cost involved is small.
Substantial improvements are planned in health services, apart from the proposals relating to tuberculosis patients. These include increases in the rates of hospital benefits for pensioners and chronically ill patients.
Under existing arrangements, pensioners and their dependants are entitled to free public ward accommodation and treatment in public hospitals. The Commonwealth pays the hospital concerned $3.60 per day on behalf of each pensioner or dependant accommodated, lt is proposed to increase this rate by 40 per cent, to $5 per day in recognition of the increased costs incurred by hospitals in providing pensioners with accommodation and treatment free of charge. The increased rate will operate from 1st January 1967 and will cost $2,500,000 in 1966-67 and $6,600,000 for a full year.
A further proposal relating to hospital benefits involves what is known as the “ standard rate benefit “. Registered hospital benefit organisations, to maintain viability, have rules enabling them to refuse full benefit on claims. The rules relate to chronic illnesses, ailments which were known to have existed before joining the organisation and maximum periods of hospitalisation. The Commonwealth, however, underwrites special accounts maintained by the funds to enable people affected to receive combined hospital benefits totalling, usually, not less than $3.60 per day. It is proposed to increase this combined hospital benefit rate to $5 per day from 1st January 1967. The cost of this will be over $800,000 during 1966-67 and $2,500,000 for a full year.
In all, the cost of these additional benefits and entitlements is estimated to be $33,600,000 in 1966-67 and $50,150,000 in a full year. Including these, the total of expenditure from the National Welfare Fund is this year expected to be approximately $1,020,000,000, which would be an increase of $78,000,000 over expenditure in 1 965-66.
There will be an increase of $2 per week in the special rate of pension which henceforth will be $30.50 per week. The pension is paid to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, to the war-blinded and to certain of the most seriously disabled ex-servicemen.
As a result of this increase in the totally and permanently incapacitated rate, the intermediate rate of pension which is payable to those who, on account of war-caused disablement, are able to work only part time or intermittently, will be increased from $20.25 per week to $21.25 per week.
The war widow’s pension will be increased by $1 from $12 per week to $13 per week.
There will be a number of changes in the service pensions area to accord with proposed advances in the comparable social service benefits. There will be an increase of $1 per week in the single rate service pension payable to ex-servicemen. In the case of a married service pensioner whose wife is receiving a social service pension or a tuberculosis allowance or is herself a member service pensioner the combined increase in their pensions will be $1.50 per week. Also, in line with the provision being made to ease the income means test for social service pensioners with children, there will be a deduction of $3 per week from the income of a member service pensioner in respect of each eligible child in means test assessment.
A new benefit to be provided for member service pensioners will be payment of up to twelve weeks arrears of service pension for a patient discharged after treatment in a mental hospital.
The additional cost of the increase in repatriation benefits and entitlements is expected to be $5,600,000 in 1966-67 and $7,500,000 in a full year. Total expenditure on repatriation services in 1966-67 is estimated to be $249,300,000. This is $4,200,000 less than expenditure in 1965-66 because of fewer pension pay-days this year.
The running expenses of Commonwealth Departments this year, other than in respect of immigration and education, are estimated to be $324,200,000, an increase of $45,000,000 over last year. The current expenditures of the business undertakings are estimated to be $362,200,000, an increase of $28,700,000 over 1965-66. Thus the total amount to be provided for these administrative and operational expenditures this year is $686,400,000, which is $74,000,000 above expenditure in 1965-66. These expenditures, it should be said, have been quite heavily affected by the recent decisions in the national wage cases and by other wage and salary increases as well.
There remains a variety of other expenditures for which we have to provide. They include debt charges and various other annual and special appropriations. All told they account for a total sum of $269,000,000 in our estimates.
Included amongst these are various items of interest for which we are making additional funds available this year. Details of these miscellaneous items are given in the appendix to this speech. With the concurrence of honorable senators I shall have this appendix incorporated in “ Hansard “ at the end of the report of my speech.
Here I may mention that, later in the sessional period, legislation will be introduced to revise the National Debt Sinking Fund Act. The main purpose will be to modernise and simplify some of the provisions of the Act which have applied since 1923. Such a change is long overdue and it will be an advantage to time it to coincide with the changeover to decimal currency.
The proposed change will affect transactions as between funds within the Public Account but the overall Budget result for the year will not be affected. For accounting reasons, the change will result in an apparent reduction of about $50,000,000 in the estimated increases in total receipts and total expenditures. This accounting adjustment needs to be kept in mind when the estimates of total receipts and expenditures are being compared with earlier years.
Much that I have said so far is directed to the fact that our expenditure this year will show a very large increase. By contrast, there will not be a large rise in revenue. The effects of drought and of cost increases on farm income will show up in reduced yields of income tax from primary producers. The income of many companies assessable for taxation this year will reflect the indifferent year those companies had in 1965-66.
No doubt, with rising employment and earnings, there will be a fairly strong increase in pay-as-you-earn collections and we can expect substantial increases from sales tax and customs and excise. These considerations however do not add up to the prospect of buoyant revenues. Regrettably, in the light of its heavy current and prospective expenditure commitments, the Government cannot propose any general tax reductions this year. It does propose a number of minor concessions, which I will outline presently. The cost of these to revenue will be $1,500,000 in 1966-67 and $3,700,000 in a full year. After taking account of these reductions we estimate that taxation revenue will increase this year by $274,000,000.
As a corollary to the increase in age pensions, it is proposed to raise the income level up to which the age allowance exemption is available to residents of Australia who meet the age qualification. The qualifying age is sixty years for women and sixty-five years for men. No tax is payable at present by an aged person whose net income does not exceed $988. In future, no tax will be payable by an aged person whose net income does not exceed $1,040. For a married person qualified by age, exemption from tax will be authorised where the combined net income of the husband and wife does not exceed $1,950, as compared with $1,872 at present. The cost to revenue of these adjustments to the age allowance will be $800,000 in a full year and $400,000 in 1966-67.
One proposal affecting primary producers relates to those woolgrowers who, because of the drought, advanced shearing dates during the 1965-66 income year. In these cases proceeds of two wool clips would be brought to account for taxation purposes in the one year. It is proposed that these woolgrowers will be able to elect to transfer the net proceeds of the second clip to the 1966-67 income year. This will extend to the 1965-66 income year a measure adopted to meet corresponding circumstances in the 1964-65 income year.
A second proposal relates to the forced sales of livestock in consequence of fire, drought or flood. At present, a primary producer may elect that the net proceeds of these sales be taxed over five income years if the proceeds are used principally to purchase replacement stock. It is proposed to extend this right of election to cases in which the proceeds are used principally to re-stock otherwise than by purchasing new stock, for example, by maintaining a breeding heard or flock. The extended right of election will apply to forced sales made during the 1965-66 income year and subsequent years.
A further proposal would remove the limit of seven years on the carry-forward period for deduction of prior year losses incurred in primary production. The limitation will not in future apply to a loss incurred in the 1957-58 income year or a subsequent year. It is also proposed to amend the averaging provisions applicable to primary producers by raising the income limits up to which the averaging provisions apply from $8,000 to $16,000. The provisions governing the right of taxpayers to withdraw from or re-enter the averaging system are also being reviewed. An announcement will be made on both these matters shortly. The final proposal affecting primary producers is the allowance of a deduction in the year in which it is incurred for the full cost of fences erected to combat soil erosion. The cost to revenue of these proposals is estimated to be $1,560,000 in a full year and $300,000 for 1966-67.
It is proposed to allow a deduction for gifts of $2 and upwards to the Australian Council of National Trusts, the Australian
Conservation Foundation, and prescribed collages of advanced education where the gift is for tertiary education activities of the college. As a supplementary measure, it is proposed to amend the estate duty law to exempt from estate duty gifts to the Australian Council of National Trusts and the National Trusts of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. Gifts to the national trusts of other States are already exempt from estate duty. The estimated cost to revenue for a full year is $70,000. No cost is expected in 1966-67.
To remove an anomaly it is proposed to reduce to 2i per cent, the rate of sales tax on air conditioners and electric fans if they are of a household type. These are now taxed at the rate of 121 per cent. It is also proposed to exempt from sales tax goods for use by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. The losses to revenue arising out of these proposals are estimated to be $1,000,000 in a full year and $800,000 in 1966-67.
Salaries and wages paid by privately run schools up to secondary education level conducted by organisations not carried on for the profit or gain of members will be exempt from payroll tax. This proposal will cost $60,000 in a full year and $40,000 in 1966-67. A further proposal relates to the payroll tax rebate available to exporters. In calculating the rebate, it is proposed that excise duty and sales tax be excluded from the gross receipts of an exporter, where these levies on particular goods are included in the price for which the goods are sold by him. This change will increase the rebate available to exporters liable to pay these levies. The changed formula will have effect in relation to exports made after 1st July 1 966. The cost to revenue is estimated to be $200,000 for a full year, but there will be no cost in 1966-67.
A general review of the export incentives provided by the income tax and payroll tax law is now being carried out. As already announced, incentives are to be continued after 30th June 1968, the date at present specified in the law for the termination of the present schemes.
Revenues from business undertakings are expected to total $495,000,000, which is $37,000,000 greater than last year. Apart from the effects of accounting changes, there will be a small increase in miscellaneous receipts. Included amongst the latter are the proceeds of air navigation charges which, in accordance with its standing policy of seeking full eventual recovery of the cost of commercial aviation facilities, the Government proposes to increase by a further 10 per cent. In all, therefore, we are reckoning on receipts from taxation, charges and similar sources of the order of $5,397,000,000. Accounting changes apart, this would represent an increase of about $318,000,000 over that of last year.
Thus, with total expenditures estimated at $5,930,394,000 and total revenue and other receipts of $5,397,249,000, there remains an amount of $533,145,000 to be covered by borrowing in various forms. The comparable amount in 1965-66 was $251,082,000.
Last year, although redemptions were fairly heavy, our net public borrowings were $252,000,000. We are unlikely to do nearly as well this year because capital for international investment is drying up and there is intense competition for what is available. Interest rates are very high and tending to rise further and both Great Britain and the United States have placed restraints on capital exports. Within Australia there is also strong competition for capital and public authority borrowing programmes are larger than ever. We also face the prospect of heavier redemptions this year than last, especially in respect of overseas debt.
Net loan raisings are always difficult to assess. In the Budget we have used a tentative figure of $150,000,000 which would be about $100,000,000 less than those of 1965-66. Besides these net loan raisings we have available, as I have mentioned earlier, credits to cover purchases of defence equipment in the United States, the amount to be provided this year being estimated at some $114,000,000. There would accordingly remain an amount of about $270,000,000 to be financed from temporary borrowings in Australia. Last year no such borrowings were necessary. A Bill will later be introduced to authorize the necessary borrowings.
In terms of cash receipts and outlays, therefore, this Budget will probably run fairly heavily into deficit. Such a deficit will increase monetary liquidity; on the other hand, this will bc offset to the extent that there is any decline in our overseas reserves. Earlier, when discussing the general outlook for the economy and, in particular, the likely trend of demand, I said that the Government expected the general effect of the Budget to be expansionary.
Within limits the Government wants the Budget to be expansionary. Indeed, if the Budget were not expansionary we would be taking other measures to ensure that expansion took place. We want to see full employment maintained and expansion go on as well in the private as in the public sector. We do want resources to be fully and effectively employed. This is not an easy task and requires both sensitive judgment and continued attention. We must always keep in mind the possibility of significant changes occurring both at home and abroad which could affect the prospect of achieving our goals. We do say that we will be ready to meet the changes and shall do our best to see that our objectives are achieved.
We regret that we cannot propose general reductions in taxation. The weight of our expenditure commitments, especially on the side of defence, precludes such a possibility even though the Government is very conscious that the burden of taxation has increased in recent years, particularly for the individual taxpayer. It is the price we pay for growth and for security; but it is also a warning that, as a nation of fewer than 12 million people with a continent to develop, we face strict limits on the commitments we can and should accept.
The Government has recently reviewed the schemes of Commonwealth assistance for flying training and has decided to increase the extent of this assistance. The Commonwealth flying scholarship scheme will be continued for a further five years on the basis of a flat Commonwealth contribution of $100,000 a year plus a further amount of up to $75,000 a year on a $ for $ basis with contributions by the airlines. We also propose to establish a revolving Bund to finance the purchase of training aircraft for leasing to country aero clubs. An appropriation of $40,000 is proposed for this purpose in 1966-67, and further appropriations will be made to the fund over the next few years within an overall limit of $200,000. In addition, we have decided to increase the Commonwealth grants to the Aero Club Federation and the Association of Commercial Flying Organizations to $18,000 and $3,000 respectively in 1966-67, and to increase to $15,000 the annual grant to the Gliding Federation for each of the next five years.
Provision has been made in the Budget for a grant-in-aid to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust of $600,000 in 1966-67, which is $80,000 more than was provided in respect of 1965-66.
We have decided to increase the Commonwealth’s annual allocation for national fitness activities from $200,000 to $300,000. In addition, we propose offering the States assistance of one third of the cost of capital projects associated with the national fitness movement, within an overall Commonwealth provision of $200,000 for this purpose over a period of three years.
Road safety is, of course, predominantly a matter for the States. The Commonwealth has for some time, however, been contributing to the cost of road safety publicity and we have decided to increase the Commonwealth contribution for this purpose in 1966-67 from $300,000 to $350,000.
At present, the Commonwealth is providing $852,000 a year for medical research sponsored by the National Health and Medical Research Council. We propose to increase the level of this assistance by 25 per cent., so that as from 1st January 1967 it will be provided at an annual rate of $1,065,000.
The Government has decided to increase its financial assistance to the work of the Industrial Design Council. Compared with a Commonwealth grant of $90,000 in 1965- 66, the Council will be eligible in 1966- 67 for a grant of $99,000, comprising a base payment of $50,000 and a payment of up to $49,000 to match, on a $ for $ basis, the Council’s receipts from other sources.
The pensions payable under the Superannuation Act 1922-1965, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1965 and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948-1965 to children who have lost both their parents will be based, iri future, on the father’s pension entitlement, but the present pension of $10 per week will remain as a minimum.
Subject to formal concurrence of the United Kingdom authorities, it is proposed to pay decoration allowances payable to certain disabled ex-servicemen who have received awards for gallantry at a uniform amount of $1 per week in lieu of the several rates at present in force. For most this will mean an increased rate of allowance; special provision will be made to ensure that the small number at present receiving more than $1 per week will have their existing rate maintained. This proposal will be given effect by amendment to the Repatriation regulations.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
– Mr. President, I should like to draw the attention of the Senate at this juncture to a noteworthy date that passed while Parliament was in recess. On 24th June of this year, you, Mr. President, achieved a record term of office as President of the Senate, having then served for 12 years, nine months and 17 days. Thus, you had surpassed the previous longest term achieved by Senator the Honorable Thomas Givens of Queensland from 1913 to 1926.
As honorable senators will know already, Sir Alister became President on 8th September 1953, some 2i years after his election as a senator. During his record term of office, he has done a great deal towards promoting and encouraging throughout Australia a better understanding of the Senate and of its importance in the government of this country. In his rulings in this chamber, the President has not allowed discussion and debate to be stifled by a didactic interpretation of the rules of procedure. We have all felt more free in our deliberations because of this. During his term of office, he has ably represented Australia many times at overseas meetings and ceremonies. He has served on many committees and has brought his calm and reasoned counsel to bear on many matters affecting the Senate and Parliament.
In wishing you well on this memorable and record achievement, Mr. President, I know that I am joined by my colleagues on both sides of the Senate who desire to offer you their warm and hearty congratulations.
– Mr. President, on behalf of the members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate, I join with the Leader of the Government in cordially congratulating you on having served a record term as President of the Senate. It would be difficult to imagine the Senate without you in the Chair. The fact that you have remained in office so long is the clearest evidence that you enjoy the well deserved confidence of your colleagues of the Government Parties and of the members of the Democratic Labour Party also. A record that you may feel disposed to consider more remarkable, and may be more meritorious, than the one mentioned by the Leader of the Government is the fact that throughout your tenure of the office, you have had the confidence and respect of members of the Opposition. We respect you for the fairness you have displayed and admire your judicious blending of firmness and tolerance.
You have contributed much to the good tone and dignity that prevail in proceedings of the Senate. We have always been happy in the knowledge that on the many occasions when you are obliged to visit overseas countries, the prestige of the Senate, the Parliament and of Australia, is in safe and worthy hands. I express appreciation of your readiness at all times to smooth the paths of individual senators regardless of their party affiliations. In particular, I take the opportunity to thank you for the many courtesies that you have shown me as Leader of the Opposition. We trust that good health and happiness will attend you during your continuance in office.
– On behalf of the coalition Party - the Country Party in this chamber - I wish to offer you, Mr. President, my congratulations at this time. As most honorable senators will be aware, I had the opportunity of working very closely with you during a period of little over two years when I was your Deputy President and also Chairman of Committees. I wish to draw attention to the very valuable work that you have performed in keeping closely woven and, indeed, drawing even closer together the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the InterParliamentary Union. This work has been very valuable indeed from the point of view of the Commonwealth.
I wish to pay a tribute to the fairness that I have seen you show always to all members of the Senate. You have exhibited patience time and time again when I know that I would have run out of it and, in fact, did run out of it on occasions. I wish to say also how much I appreciate the very many personal kindnesses shown to me and the advice given to me during the terms that I have just mentioned. My good wishes go to you with those from the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. I express the wish that you will stay here for a long while yet.
– Mr. President, on behalf of my colleague, Senator McManus, and on my own behalf, I wish to join with the previous speakers in tendering to you our congratulations of having created a record of occupancy of the office of President of the Senate. This is no mean achievement and I am sure that had you not been qualified and had you not discharged your duties in the able manner in which you have done you would not have created this record. Your task is not an easy one. I am inclined to believe that members of Parliament all too frequently think they have a licence to destroy the prestige of Parliament and to create a wrong impression of our parliamentary system of government. That is a very serious and destructive attitude for parliamentarians to adopt. They have the grave responsibility of maintaining the prestige of our parliamentary system of government, and by doing so they are preserving our democracy for themselves and for future generations in this country. You, Sir, as President of this chamber have the grave obligation of seeing that those among us who are inclined to depart from the decorum which is expected of us observe the rules and the Standing Orders of this chamber. I have been here for only 12 months, but I have had experience in another Parliament and have occupied the position of Chairman of Committees in a State Parliament and know just what are the duties of a presiding officer of Parliament. I commend you, Sir, for the very impartial and courteous manner in which you have discharged your duties since I have been here.
It is good to hear the Leader of the Opposition compliment you, Mr. President, because in most cases members of the Opposition think that the Presiding Officer of the House of Parliament, whether President or Speaker, cannot be impartial but must be opposed to them. That is not so. It is possible for men who occupy these positions to be fair and impartial in the discharge of their duties. In the 12 years during which you have occupied this position, Mr. President, evidently you have won many friends and the admiration of all who have served under your jurisdiction. I want to say that I acknowledge very readily your qualifications and your impartiality during the 12 months I have been here and I thank you for the courtesy you have extended to me in that period.
– I would like to join with other speakers, Mr. President, in offering to you my congratulations on your record term as Presiding Officer of what is the Upper House of the Australian Parliament. I heartily support the remarks of other speakers and have very little to add, except to say that 1 want to take this opportunity of thanking you personally for all the courtesies you have extended to me as a Temporary Chairman of Committees and more recently as Chairman of Committees of this Senate. Your advice and assistance have at all times been most appreciated by me. All of us in this chamber know that you have seen the inadequacy of these parliamentary buildings and we are conscious of your efforts, over a great number of years, to do something about the matter and give a lead in overcoming the limitations of the buildings. To my mind it was -fitting that on the appointment of the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House you were made Chairman of that Committee. I warmly congratulate you and extend to you my best wishes for a happy and fruitful association in the remaining period of service in your high and important office.
- Mr. President, I desire to join with my parliamentary colleagues in paying you this very well earned tribute. You have been most gracious to me. 1 have never known any other President in this chamber as you were elected President on the day that I was sworn in. My reason for rising is to say that you have been more than kind to me. Unfortunately, at times I possibly take a little longer in speaking than others do. Some may think I am not entitled to do so but, with the warm friendship that you display, you have always made me very much at home. In 28 years in politics, both State and Federal, only once have I been hurt owing to an impediment that I have. I have always been most grateful to you for the great help and kindness that you have shown in allowing me the extra time that I have taken. I wish both you and Lady McMullin everything that you wish yourselves. May you both have the greatest of all gifts, good health.
– Honorable senators, and particularly those who have spoken of my service in this chamber, it is with great humility that I look back over those 12 years, knowing full well that had it not been for your loyalty and readiness to assist and your genuine appreciation of the institution of Parliament I would never have been able to preside as I have in this chamber. It is with great humility that I remember my association with you, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate. If 1 have rendered a service it has been possible only because of the assistance and loyalty I have had from you collectively as senators in this chamber. I thank you very sincerely and I shall always remember your very kind words spoken here tonight. They will be much cherished by me.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until
Wednesday, 24th August, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 9.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 August 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660816_senate_25_s32/>.