27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 present from 200 citizens of the Commonwealth the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth: Whereas -
the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system.
a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all.
200,000 students from universities, colleges of advanced education and other tertiary institutions, and their parents suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968.
Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students.
Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses.
Increase in the maintenance allowance for students.
Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.
And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 present from 82 citizens of Victoria the following petition: To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully showeth:
That due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions, are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with the ACTU policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Pensioners’ Federation and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition; so that our citizens who are receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Lighthouses Act 1911-1966.
I also give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
Thai leave be given to introduce a Bill for un Act relating to charges in respect of Commonwealth air navigation facilities and services.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
With a view to the Standing Orders Committee being as representative as possible of the composition of the Senate at any time, the Senate resolves that:
Standing order 33 be amended by omitting the words ‘seven senators’ and inserting in lieu thereof the words ‘such other senators as may be appointed by the Senate’; and
Senator Gair be appointed a member of the Standing Orders Committee.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has R. W. Miller and Co. Pty Ltd made application to the Australian Shipbuilding Board to build three 60,000- ton tankers for the carriage of petroleum on the Australian coast, and has approval been given for the building of two? Why has the Government delayed approving of the building of a third tanker? Will the Government give an assurance that the application of this Australian owned company will not be prejudiced in order to meet the wishes of substantially foreign owned operators?
– I do not have any information from the Department of Shipping and Transport which allows me specifically to answer the question. However, 1 did read an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on this matter and what Senator Murphy has said is, I understand. correct. He said that application had been made to build three 60,000-ton tankers, principally for the carriage of Australian petroleum products. He also said that approval had been given to build two but that approval to build a third tanker had been delayed. All I can remember about the article, which was a lengthy one, is some reference in it to a feeling that there is an over-capacity in the tanker fleet which is available for the carriage of petroleum to and from Australia. This could have some bearing on the delay in giving approval to build a third tanker. I think Senator Murphy will agree with me that his question should go on notice in order that a considered reply can be obtained from the responsible Minister.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ls the Minister aware that a company calling itself Associated Products and Distribution Pty Ltd has taken up a large area of land in South Australia and installed irrigation facilities and, according to Press reports, proposes to install a $l.25m pea processing factory? Should this proposition go ahead as reported will it not short circuit the severe acreage quota restrictions - in some cases amounting to a 60 per cent reduction on last year’s acreages - imposed by pea processing factories throughout Australia on individual growers with a view to counterbalancng the tremendous over-production in Australia last year? In what way can this company be compelled to accept similar limits on its production to those imposed upon other primary producers of this product in the Commonwealth?
– I am not aware of any plans by Associated Products and Distribution Pty Ltd to expand. I understand that the company processes peas and other vegetables in Victoria. Any decision to engage in primary production in South Australia would, of course, be a matter of judgment for the company only. Because of the bountiful season in 1969 production of frozen peas exceeded the requirements of the domestic market although I understood exports increased in that period. In 1970 production was reduced because some stocks were carried over from the previous season but as is normal contracts were negotiated between the growers and the processors. 1 understand that in some areas acreages were reduced. The Commonwealth is not in a position to compel any processor to accept a limitation of production. From statements made in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 11th September I understand that the profits of Pict Ltd for the year ended June 1970 were down to $197,764 from $440,204, reducing the earning rate from 42.5 per cent to 16.3 per cent. I am informed that an orderly marketing plan for frozen peas has been proposed. The Government would welcome any plan if it could be agreed upon with all concerned in the production and marketing chain. Such a plan would bring stability to the producing and processing sections of the industry and at the same time protect consumers.
– Does the Minister for Air recall the statement by the Minister for Defence on 12th May this year that the use of the type D6ac steel in the Fill aircraft ‘overshadows all other problems at this time’? Is it not a fact that unless the metallurgical problems associated with this material are solved the whole FI 1 1 project will be a write-off? Are the present Fills in operational service with the United States Air Force still using this steel? If so, what is the current position regarding its use in the aircraft?
– I well recall the statement made by the Minister for Defence. I think I alluded to it yesterday. The programme for bringing the F111A back into service is proceeding in America and is being closely watched by our Australian representatives and engineers both here and in America. The same steel which was complained of and which was involved in the fatal crash in December last year is being used at the present time. There are 13 or 14 vital parts in the Fill which use D6ac steel. For the benefit of the Senate I have tried to trace out some of the processes that are used in bringing the aircraft back into service. For the record I will give that information. As a result of the crash the United States Air Force, in conjunction with the contractor, embarked upon a test programme with the purpose of proving the structural integrity of all aircraft in the F111A series which had been manufactured to that date - that is the date of the fatal crash. Honourable senators will recall that at that time all aircraft were grounded until they had been through this test.
The programme which they go through is commonly referred to as the ‘cold proof load test’ or the ‘torture test’ which describes the most dramatic part of the programme. In fact, what happens is that each aircraft is substantially disassembled and thoroughly inspected by various nondestructive inspection methods such as X-ray, magnetic particle and ultrasonic crack detection methods before being subject to the cold proof load test.
Senator Devitt Is this testing done in the envelope which the honourable senator used to talk about?
– I think the honourable senator should give me time to answer the question. Each aircraft is then cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and subjected to physical loads which produce the same stresses in the aircraft structure as would be experienced in flight. The cooling to 40 degrees Fahrenheit is necessary because at that temperature any flaws or cracks in the structure would be more likely to become evident than if the test was conducted at normal room temperature. The aircraft is then re-assembled, its various subsystems are checked on the ground and the aircraft is completely flight tested before being returned to United States Air Force service. This entire process requires about 45 days per aircraft of which only 1 day is taken up in the cold proof load testing. At this time over 120 aircraft have been tested successfully and are now in the process of being returned to United States Air Force service.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as the representative in this place of the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has his attention been directed to the plea made to the British Prime Minister by representatives of our fruit canning industry for safeguards for Australian canned fruits exports to the United Kingdom in the negotiations now under way for Britain’s entry into the European Common
Market? Is it a fact that the United Kingdom currently purchases canned fruits from us to the value of £stg 14m or $A30m a year, and that the loss of this market would be disastrous for our canned fruits industry? Is it a fact that European Common Market tariffs and duties would lift United Kingdom retail prices for Commonwealth canned fruits by 50 per cent, rendering our produce totally uncompetitive with European duty free canned fruits? Will the Government do all in its power to support the fruit canning interests in their efforts for removal of European Common Market tariffs against third countries as a reasonable compensation for the loss of present British preferences?
– Yes, I am aware that last week the Australian Canning Convention authorised the despatch of a message to the British Prime Minister pointing out the serious consequences for the Australian canned fruits industry if Britain joined the Common Market without modification to the present Common Market customs duty and other charges which apply to imports of canned fruits. In response to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, official export statistics for this year are of course not yet available but I understand that the value of shipments of canned fruits to Britain this year will be of the order of £stg14m or $A30m.
As to the third part of the question, the effect on retail prices of the loss of preference, and the imposition of the present Common Market duty of about 25 per cent and other charges, is a matter of judgment. There c;in be no doubt, however, that changes such as these must have very serious consequences in terms of either lost sales or reduced return or both. Finally, the Minister for Trade and Industry has returned only recently, as we know, from important talks in London and Brussels at which he emphasised the nature of the problem facing the canned fruits industry and indeed many other rural industries. The Senate may be assured that the Government will continue to press for reasonable terms of access to an enlarged Common Market, both directly and in the context of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen figures released by the United States Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on payments to America’s allies in Vietnam for the services of their troops? Did the United States pay about $l,000m for the South Koreans, $200ra for the Thais and $40m for the Filipinos to demonstrate that it had the support of those nations in the Vietnam war? Does this not show America’s failure to convince Asian nations to give military aid freely, and thus illustrate clearly to the world the real nature of the Vietnam tragedy?
It would be a very unwise person who would draw the conclusion the honourable senator has drawn in relation to what financial arrangements are made between the US Government and other countries. I suggest to him that he has made a completely wrong appreciation of the facts of the matter. There has never been any doubt about Australia’s attitude to assistance and what we are doing in Vietnam. Whilst the Opposition, including Senator Poke, may not agree with it or approve of it, the fact of the matter is that it is the policy of the Government and that it has had the-
– I am not asking about our policy.
The honourable senator likes to ask his question with some loaded angles to it, but he does not like receiving a reply that he feels is loaded against him.
– I am only trying to keep you on the rails.
The honourable senator should start keeping himself on the rails.
– I am well and truly on them and leading by a short nose.
Mr President, is this a diatribe or question time? The fact of the matter is that the honourable senator has read in a newspaper something written by some journalist in good faith; he has swallowed what he has read and he has chucked it up here as a loaded political question. Now he is getting a bit back on the straight line and he does not like it. The fact of the matter, as I read the article in the Press, was that certain countries, associated with their contribution in Vietnam, were receiving some revenue from the USA. The honourable senator has imported into his question an inference that they are doing what they are doing in Vietnam only because of the money. I suggest that that is a very wrong appreciation of the position.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, refers to a reported statement by the South Australian Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hall, that South Australia should be connected to the eastern States power grid rather than obtain an atomic reactor. Can the Minister say whether an atomic reactor, even of a smaller size, would be an economic proposition for a State such as South Australia? If not, what are the prospects of the Commonwealth initiating plans for the extension of the power grid system to South Australia?
– These questions of electrical capacity and distribution are highly technical ones. They involve the size of the plant, the length of the line to the point of consumption and the load factors at the end of the line as well as ones that are picked up on the way. I note the honourable senator’s reference to a statement by Mr Steele Hall, the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, to the effect that that State would do better to connect its system to the eastern States grid system than to have its own atomic power station. As I said earlier, the correctness of that view has to be assessed on the technical material. I cannot answer in detail, except to say that I think it is the practice throughout Australia now as far as possible to interconnect the whole system, no matter where the prime motive power comes from or how it is generated. I think that, with increasing numbers of power generating plants and the increasingly high voltage lines that are coming up, in general terms there is something to be said, in the light of the overall wise use of resources, for the greatest interconnection that can be achieved, consistent with the most economic power stations which ipso facto tend to be the largest capacity stations. 1 will direct the honourable senator’s question to the appropriate Minister and obtain an answer for him.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ls the Minister aware that there is considerable concern among persons interested in developing exports of a promising rural industry - plastic packs of frozen vegetables - who claim that the absence of satisfactory export regulations, such as exist for the export of other foods - for example, canned fruits - may cause variations- in quality which will cause this new industry to meet with problems from dissatisfied overseas buyers and possible discrimination against the Australian exporters? Will the Minister act to secure the industry’s future by ensuring satisfactory export regulations?
– I am not aware of the matter the honourable senator raises but I shall certainly take it up wilh the Minister for Primary Industry to see what information 1 can obtain. When I have the information I will let the honourable senator have it as soon as possible.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can the Minister tell the Senate why the former Minister for National Development and Prime Ministerial challenger, Mr David Fairbairn, has resigned from the Government committee to inquire into Communist influence and law and order - the committee known to the national Press as the ‘Kick the Communist Can Committee’? Did Mr Fairbairn leave the band wagon when the committee found nothing of importance to investigate because the Government’s law and order campaign is a phoney issue?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONAs to the first question the answer is no. In view of that answer the subsequent question has no relevance.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the interior. Will the Minister draw to the attention of the Minister for the Interior recommendations made by the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution in relation to the urgent action necessary to be taken in Commonwealth territories to control and reduce the problem of water pollution? Will the Minister ascertain whether any steps are being taken to implement any of those recommendations?
– Yes, I will.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. It refers to a report that during July Trans-Australia Airlines modified the engines of Boeing 727 aircraft to eliminate smoke trails and the incomplete combustion of fuel as a contribution to the reduction of air pollution. I ask the Minister: Are the modifications consistent with Department of Civil Aviation standards and objectives or is this simply a programme initiated by the airline itself? What is the target date for completion of this work on these engines and the engines of aircraft operated by other Australian airlines? Finally, is the Minister or the Government promoting a policy to modify engines other than Pratt and Whitney engines to reduce air pollution, as is being done by TAA?
– 1 have had information on this matter for some time and I have wondered why I was not questioned on it earlier. The information that 1 have is not complete in that 1 will have to get some extra information for the honourable senator, but it may be useful if I now give him the information I. have. With reference to the emission of smoke from jet aircraft, it is known that engine manufacturers are doing substantial research to design combustion systems to reduce the obvious smoke trails from jet aircraft and some research is also being carried out on fuel additives for the same purpose. The Pratt and Whitney company has developed a replacement combustion chamber that reduces the visible exhaust trail from the JT8D jet engine. The Pratt and Whitney JT8D engines are fitted to Boeing 727s and Douglas DC9s, amongst others, and the Australian operators of these aircraft propose to fit the smoke reducing combustors on a progressive basis. They anticipate complete retrofit by the end of 1972, which is the planned time scale being undertaken by overseas operators. It is anticipated that this action will lead to a reduction in the contribution of aircraft to pollution of the environment. “Pests carried out in Australia have shown conclusively that jet engines incorporating the latest modifications arc smokeless in all stages of flight. An analysis pf jet engine exhaust gases has shown . that unlike car engines, the toxic compounds, such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur, hydrogen sulphide and hexane are found at insiginificant levels. Aircraft would contribute less than 2 per cent of the pollution that takes place. The current state of retrofit for TAA engines modified is 5 out of 50 and for Ansett Airlines of Australia it is 4 out of 47. As I mentioned earlier the time scale is the end of 1972 which fits in with the world time scale. As to other aircraft I will obtain the information for the honourable senator. The honourable senator will understand that the Department of Civil Aviation has taken throughout this exercise a prominent part and a most interested view.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is it a fact that Mr Young, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party and now appointed to administer the Victorian branch of the ALP is a graduate of the Minto Marxist school controlled by the Communist Party of New South Wales?
– Mr President, I ask that you rule the question out of order, on 2 grounds. Firstly, this chamber is not to be used to defame people outside Parliament in that manner. Secondly, the matter is clearly not within the administration of the Minister and ought not to be answered.
– I will follow my usual practice and let it go through to the Minister. While I would agree with you, Senator Murphy, I will let the question go to the Minister.
– I do not know.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of the public and Press outcry about the failure of the Prime Minister to speak in the debate on the Budget? Is it not usual for the Prime Minister to speak in the Budget debate in another place? If so, did the immediate public outcry after Mr Bury’s horror budget cause Mr Gorton to think again about getting further publicity for budgetary measures so obviously unpopular with the electorate at large?
– As to the first part of the honourable senator’s question, 1 point out that traditionally the Budget is dealt with by the Treasurer. He leads for the Government in the debate. I do not think any conclusions can properly be drawn because the Prime Minister does not enter the debate. As to the second part of the question, since we are currently debating the Budget in the Senate I would have thought that the question was almost out of order. However, since it has been allowed to go through I would say that the proof of the pudding will bc in the eating so far as the Budget is concerned. The success of the Budget will be reflected in the many concessions that are given to various sections of the community, and the stable economy that will ensue as a result.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that the proposed postage rates will increase the postage account of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland by approximately $42,000 a year? Will the Minister investigate the possibility of classifying the Club’s journal as category A which would result in an increase in the club’s postage account of about 20 per cent and not over 100 per cent as it will be under the present proposals.
– I understand that representations by the Club concerned have been made to the Postmaster-General and that he has given the matter very deep consideration.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that a number of firms carrying on business on the Victorian side of the Murray River employ a large number of people who live in New South Wales, and that those people have deductions made from their wages for medical and hospital insurance at the contribution rate for New South Wales, which is about 75c a week instead of the Victorian rate of about 60c a week? ls the Minister also aware that if a person resident in Albury and working in Wodonga consults a medical practitioner on the Victorian side of the Murray River, that person receives from his medical benefit insurance fund a refund related to the Victorian common fee and not to the New South Wales common fee? Will the Minister investigate whether the refund entitlements of a number of people are being delayed pending determination of the matter by the Commonwealth Department of Health? Will she agree that if people are paying into a fund at a rate relevant to the most common fee charged for their State of residence they should be eligible to receive a refund related to that State’s most common fee and to their rate of health insurance contributions?
– The honourable senator has raised some very important points concerning contributions to medical benefit insurance funds, refunds, the common fee and a problem which arises for people who live in one State and work in another State. These points warrant a very detailed reply. I will certainly take up the honourable senator’s question with the Minister for Health. 1 was not aware of the matters he has raised. I will see whether the Minister for Health is aware of them and f will obtain a detailed reply for the honourable senator.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has permission been given for the establishment of a light aircraft terminal and maintenance centre at the Adelaide Airport? If so, will the development of this area extend the take-off and landing of aircraft closer to the residential area than is the case at present? From where did the request for the establishment in this area come? Where are these facilities provided at present and why are they now to be transferred to the Adelaide Airport? Has the Department of Civil Aviation given permission for this transfer? In view of the close proximity of the proposed landing and maintenance area to the residential area of Brooklyn Park, South Australia, and in view of the additional noise and nuisance to residents, will the present curfew for larger aircraft be extended to include light aircraft and will sound screens be provided around the area?
– 1 ask the honourable senator to put that question on notice. It requests quite a lot of detailed information that I do not have available at the moment. I will endeavour to obtain an answer for the honourable senator as soon as possible.
– I direct the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate to a statement in this morning’s newspapers that the Pope intends, and has issued instructions, to disband the Vatican armed forces, except the 600 soldiers in the Swiss guard. I ask the Minister whether this gesture by His Holiness, the Pope, will be wasted on this Government or whether the Government will take any notice of it.
I would not want to implicate His Holiness in politics in this place. Suffice it for me to say that whatever decision he has taken in relation to that locality will have been taken because of certain circumstances associated with it. I think it would be quite inappropriate and quite out of keeping for me to make any further comment.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a report in the London ‘Times’ of 15th September, which was republished in a Melbourne newspaper, that Russia will be the main naval power in the Indian Ocean within a few years? If the Minister’s attention has not been drawn to that report, will he ascertain the degree of truth in it, especially the section which alleges agreement with and support given to Russia by the United States of America? As the Government’s policy is directly opposed to Russian presence in the Indian Ocean, will he treat this investigation as urgent?
– A short time before I entered the Senate I saw a journalistic article which dealt with spheres of interest in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. I must admit that I put it aside to read in some detail later. It is a very dangerous practice to assume that what is written in an article purports to be foreign policy. I will have the honourable senator’s question directed to the Department of External Affairs for comment if it wishes to make a comment.
– Is the Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport now in a position to give me any information concerning 2 oil spillages, one at Kurnell and the other on the New South Wales -south coast in the Wollongong-Shellharbour region? What action has been taken by State and Commonwealth authorities to counter these spillages?
– 1 undertook yesterday to get this information for Senator Mulvihill as quickly as possible. I now have it and with your permission, Mr President, I would like to read it out to faim. It is in reply to his question of 27th August 1970, relating to the circumstances surrounding an oil spillage that had occurred in Botany Bay. This is the information that I have obtained for the honourable senator:
The spillage occurred at 5.15 p.m. on Monday 24th August The ship concerned was the ‘Caltex Port Kembla’, which lost between 50 and 200 gallons of high viscosity fuel oil during transfer operations, lt is understood that the discharge was due to a human error on the part of the ship’s crew.
The oil was of a persistent nature, and washed ashore near Kurnell. The Maritime Services Board, being the responsible authority in relation to this type of spill, arranged for the necessary clean up action to be taken and is examining the question of prosecution of the ship concerned. For the information of those honourable senators who are not aware of the position in New South Wales, the Maritime Services Board is an agency of the New South Wales Government.
It is extremely difficult to prevent minor spillages of this type occurring. However, the Department of Shipping and Transport is working in co-operation with the State marine authorities, both in relation to steps that can be taken to reduce the possibility of oil pollution and on the development of a national plan to deal with any major cases of oil pollution. In this connection, a meeting is to be held in Canberra later this month.
The second part of the question relates to the matter he raised on 1st September concerning an oil slick near Wollongong, reportedly menacing the penguin colony on Five Islands. So far as the Department of Shipping and Transport can ascertain, 2 penguins only have died and 44 have been affected in a minor way by oil. An examination of the oil scraped from the two dead penguins has indicated that it is a refined product, possibly lubricating oil. The oil could have come from any vessel recently in the area, including numerous small craft, and it is impossible to trace its origin.
The New South Wales Parks and Wild Life Service tried to trace the slick, two boats being used for a search and other craft alerted. However, no slick could be found, nor has any direct evidence been produced to the Department of Shipping and Transport that there has been a slick in the area. The incident was not reported to the New South Wales Maritime Services Board or to the Department of Shipping and Transport, which are of course the authorities responsible for oil pollution matters and which work in close liaison on these aspects. They are, however, aware that considerable quantities of dark coloured mud dredged up in connection with the Port Kembla Inner Harbour development is being dumped at sea at regular intervals and this discolouration of the ocean may have led some people to think that an oil slick exists off Wollongong.
The Department of Shipping and Transport is closely watching the position in respect of cleaning agents available so as to be able to ensure that the one most appropriate for a particular task is used. Poly Complex A- 11 is a new development of the Guardian Chemical Corporation of New York, having been patented this year. The Department has full information on the tests of this substance by overseas authorities. At present a stock of 264 gallons is held in Australia, which could be used for an emergency where considered appropriate.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of recent Press reports that student leaders in South Vietnam have been imprisoned and tortured following a demonstration in Saigon on 21st August against the massive increase in American aid money to be spent on what is called public security? Did the National Director of the World University Service, Mr Brendan O’Dwyer, claim in Canberra that 2 girl students had been kicked to death and hundreds of other students imprisoned outside Saigon in tiger cages? Will the Australian Government immediately ask the South Vietnamese Government or its representative here what is the South Vietnamese Government’s answer to these allegations? If the allegations have substance, will this Government make the strongest protest against a barbaric application of the spreading law and order syndrome?
The Leader of the Opposition asked me whether I had seen a report. Then he gave details of the report, as he had read it, and proceeded to draw his own conclusions. I have not seen the report. Therefore, I suggest that the question should be placed on notice and I will have it referred in the normal way.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. Can you inform the Senate whether the writers James and/or Maimie Dunn, who recently conducted a survey and wrote a story concerning the duties of persons employed at Parliament House, were told by you that they could question employees on any matter with the exception of wages and working conditions? If this is a fact, can you explain to the Parliament the reason for secrecy in these 2 very important fields?
– I cannot recall that I ‘told them exactly that, but I do not think it is the responsibility of newspaper reporters to come to Parliament House and discuss matters of wages with staff employed here. 1 have a very high regard for the unions which represent employees here. I do not think it is right for the newspaper people to come in over the heads of unions. I would much prefer these matters to be discussed with the unions themselves, not with representatives of the Press.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. What is the Government’s reaction to the resolution passed yesterday by the General Assembly of the Australian Presbyterian Church calling for the Commonwealth to give corporate ownership of all Aboriginal reserves in Australia to Aboriginals? Did the Assembly support the Gurindjis in their claim for 500 square miles of Wave Hill land and the general claims for Aboriginal land rights? Will the Government now take notice of the rising tide of public opinion in favour of restoration of land rights to the Aboriginals or will it continue to be steered by the Country Party rump which has its giant pastoral interests to protect?
The honourable senator has asked whether the Government has taken a decision in relation to a resolution which presumably was passed yesterday by the General Assembly of the Australian Presbyterian Church. Quite obviously governments do not make simultaneous judgments on resolutions carried by various bodies, however august those bodies might be. Some of these august bodies from time to time carry extraordinary resolutions, and I do. not exclude the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church when I make that statement. Any matter of Government policy is primarily within the responsibility of the Minister who administers the appropriate portfolio. Tn the natural course of events a Minister would observe with some interest any resolution which expressed a point of view and he would tend to equate that with Government policy. It would be just one more item that he would examine in relation to Government policy. We cannot accept Senator Georges’ proposition that because a body has carried a resolution that should be a determining factor in establishing Government policy. If we were to do so we would have some extraordinary results, in view of some resolutions that have been carried.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of a statement made in another place that meat used in canned pet food is not subject to the same standards of inspection as is meat used for human consumption? Will the Minister assure the Senate that all meat and by-products of meat which are used for human consumption are subject to strict standards of inspection and that no infected portions are used eventually for human consumption?
– The honourable senator has asked a question concerning meat for human consumption and meat used for pet food. I should like to get a detailed reply for him from the Minister for Health.
– I address a question to you. Mr President, arising out of the question asked by Senator Keeffe. Are facilities available to appropriate union organisers to visit and speak to Parliament House staff about union membership and employees’ wages and conditions?If not, in view of your high regard for these unions, will such facilities be made available?
-I think members of the House Committee will recall that this matter has been discussed. I understand that Senator Cavanagh is not a member of the House Committee. The relationships between the unions, Mr Speaker and myself are very happy and there is no question of any union representative being denied access to members of his union - none at all. There is no problem at present. I hope that no problems will develop in the future. At present union organisers are allowed access to Parliament House employees. They are entitled to see who they want to see. These organisers are highly respected by Mr Speaker and myself.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. The Minister will recall that yesterday I posed a question to him concerning the urgent replacement of the welfare sister in the Wattie Creek area who left her employment. The Minister promised to supply me with an answer today. Has the Minister been able to obtain the required information?
-I do not think that it is correct to say that 1 promised to supply the honourable senator with an answer today. I think it is correct to say that 1 said thatI would obtain one for him as soon as possible.I have not received an answer yet. I will again ask the responsible Minister to provideme with the information as soon as possible.
(Question No. 408)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What directions, if any, have been issued by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, during the last 12 months, to licensees of commercial broadcasting and television stations, in accordance with section 99 (2.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act.
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Directions were issued in regard to 5 cases of programme matter. One station, 4 stations, 4 stations, 1 station and 1 station were directly concerned respectively in each of the directions. The figures do not cover all the Board’s activity with stations in regard to the acceptability of matter broadcast or telecast because it does not all come within the scope of Section 99 (2).
(Question No. 525)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Will) the proposed Nuclear Power Station at Murray’s Beach, in the Jervis Bay region of New South Wales, require a causeway to he built across to Bowen Island; if so, what action will the Australian Atomic Energy Commission take to stop the influx of rats tothe island which has a thriving penguin rookery where the penguins’ eggs would be a prime target for rate.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Atomic Energy Commission is aware of the penguin rookery on Bowen Island and, as has been stated before, is anxious to preserve as far as possible the natural state of the environment. Whether or not there will be a requirement for a breakwater across the gap separating Bowen Island from the mainland will depend on the results of studies being carried out in connection with the location of the outfall for the condenser cooling water. The honourable senator may be assured that if a breakwater is found to be necessary, effective means will be employed to prevent rats from crossing to the island.
(Question No. 536)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Was Miss Robyn Archer, known professionally as Robyn Smith, banned from being a member of a concert party going to Vietnam; if so, what were the. reasons for such action.
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I understand that Miss Archer did not accompany the concert party which left recently for Vietnam. Selections for this concert party were made by the Australian Forces Overseas Fund Organisation, not by my Department and hence I am unable to comment on the reasons why she Was not included.
(Question No. 558)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
All goods exported from Australia having a value in excess of$250 are required by Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations to be covered by an export licence. The licence may be ordinary or special.
Ordinary licences permit the export of the specific goods covered and are used on a ‘one time basis’.
Special licences permit the export of the goods on a continuing basis, they have an indefinite validity and are not restricted by value or quantity.
A special licence to permit the export of liquid petroleum gas from Western Port, Victoria was issued in June 1970 to Esso Exploration and Production (Aust.) Pty Ltd. It does not contain details of the sale price per ton.
(Question No. 565)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONHere is a classic example where 7 questions are asked and 1 will give the 7 answers. But it is very difficult from a broadcasting point of view to connect the answers to the questions. The Minister for External Territories has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 588)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 593)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Isan apartment, owned by Misses E. and M. Westmore and situated at No. 1 Beekman Place,
New York, rented by the Department of External Affairs for the Australian Consul General. If so, what is the weekly rent of the apartment in Australian dollars.
– The answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
No. An apartment situated at No. 1 Beekman Place, New York, is owned by the Commonwealth having been acquired from the estate of E. M. West more in 1967.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 609)
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
These records were taken by officers of the Department in the course of their duties in connection with the operation of the telephone system; they were therefore within the terms of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act.
(Question No. 611)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 379)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
In view of the justifiable dissatisfaction being publicly expressed by nurses employed at the Canberra Community Hospital, will the Minister meet representatives of their organisation and objectively discuss their grievances, with a view to rewarding them with a decent standard of work- ing conditions and a wage that more adequately represents their undoubted worth to the community.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Prime Minister and I met with representatives of the nurses employed at the Canberra Community Hospital on Tuesday, 26th May 1970.
The Prime Minister informed the delegation that whereas the Government could and would, give consideration to plans to improve nursing education and other facets of nursing in the Australian Capital Territory, it could not interfere with the decision handed down by the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
Subsequently, on 8th July, my representatives and representatives of the Acting Minister for Labour and National Service and of the Canberra Community Hospital Management Board met with the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Federal Secretary of the Hospital Employees Federation of Australia. At this meeting it was agreed that the parties would jointly request the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to make available a Presidential Member of the Commission to chair a further conference of the parties and to arrive at such conclusions as that Presidential Member saw fit. The parties agreed to abide by such conclu- . sions.
Since then, wage increases as suggested by the Presidential Member for Sisters Grades 1, 2 and 3 have been implemented together with the flow-on of these increases to higher grades of nurses, and increases for nursing aides and student nurses. In all cases, the wage increases were awarded through the proper arbitration authority, namely the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
(Question No. 431)
Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 505)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
What is the total cost of research in nuclear science at the Australian National University, fromits inception to the present date.
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The cost of the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University from inception in1950 to 31 December 1969 has been:
Some costs of the Research School of Physical Sciences, of which the Department of Nuclear Physics is a part, are not dissected on a Departmental basis. Consequently, it has been necessary to estimate the proportions of those costs which might reasonably be ascribed to the Department or Nuclear Physics.
(Question No. 522)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Has the Minister conferred with State Education Ministers on the compulsory introduction into school curricula of fire prevention and fire behaviour education.
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answer to the honourable senators question: -
There has been no consultation between the Minister and the- State Ministers for Education on this matter. The introduction of new elements into school curricula is entirely a. matter forthe State education authorities.
(Question No. 528)
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Has the Postmaster-General conferred with the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the following proposal, that emanated from the 1969 Canberra Rural Fires Conference: ‘(vii) The A. B.C. be requested to allocate one minute extra time to T.V. weather forecasts, at perhaps weekly intervals during spring and summer, specifically to cover fire season severity appreciation and’ lire danger forecasts. This would need to be closely co-ordinated with the Bureau of Meteorology and State Fire Authorities.’
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have conferred with the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Mr T. S. Duckmanton about this proposal of the Canberra Rural Fires Conference and he advised me that the ABC is happy to allocate 1 minute extra time to its television weather forecasts at weekly intervals specifically to cover fire season severity appreciation and fire danger forecasts. He said that this service would be introduced this spring and summer on a separate Stale basis on Thursday evenings after consultation is had with the Bureau of Meteorology and State Fire Authorities.
(Question No. 529)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Postmaster-General’s Department place appropriate fire safety messages on the covers of the telephone directories, in conformity withthe decision of the 1969 Canberra Rural Fires Conference.
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
For some years now it has been the practice to show an attractive scene of general interest on the front covers of telephone directories and to feature some topical aspect of Post Office activity on the back covers. This system has been well received by the community and it is proposed to continue it. However, my Department would be pleased to give consideration to any request to use directories to publicise a subject of national importance such as that suggested by the honourable senator, perhaps utilising the spine for the purpose. No approach has been made to the Post Office by rural fire authorities to this end but 1 am arranging for them to be contacted in the matter.
(Question No. 556)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Is it a fact that in Queensland there is a delay of approximately 4 months before installation and connection of telephones to private homes can be effected, because of a lack of the necessary equipment; if so, what is the reason for such an apparently lengthy delay.
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In the majority of cases, recent experience in Queensland has been that telephone services have been provided within about four weeks. However, because demand for new services has risen sharply In that State, some temporary shortages of exchange equipment and line plant are occurring in particular areas. In these cases, unfortunately the Post Office is not able to provide services as quickly as it would like.
It is understood that the Honourable Senator may be particularly interested in the Everton Park area which is served by the Mitchelton exchange. There are no spare numbers on that exshange and it is not possible to proceed with connection of. new services pending an extension to the capacity of the exchange towards the end of this year. This work is in progress. At present more than 20C applicants are waiting for service on the Mitchelton exchange and by the time they can be satisfied, some will have waited more than six months.
(Question No, 610)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice: (1)Is it a fact that, on 29th August, successful street demonstrations were held in Sydney and other capital cities, sponsored by the Kangaroo Protection Committee, seeking bans on:
the export of all kangaroo products from Australia.
House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation or a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for fauna conservation laws to decide on common policy on this issue, immediate bans will be imposed on the kangaroo meat industry, as requested by the Kangaroo Protection Committee.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There are many sides to the question of export of kangaroo products. To act precipitately in this matter would not be in the best interests of all parties. These questions are matters within the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation and could be discussed at a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Fauna Conservation. Any recommendation of these meetings would receive early attention.
A meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers is being considered by the Minister for Education and Science.
Accordingly no assurance can be given that the bans requested by the Kangaroo Protection Committee will be introduced immediately.
(Question No. 614)
asked the Minis ter representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
In view of the brochure circulated by the Postmaster-General advising that mail posted prior to 6.10 a.m. in the Parliament House Post Office as priority mail will be delivered into private boxes in Perth at 2.15 p.m. the same day, and in view of the fact that I posted a letter ‘Priority Paid’ at 9.30 p.m. on 25th August and it was not delivered in Perth until 9 a.m. on 27th August - 19 hours late, will the Postmaster-General ensure that ‘Priority Paid’ mail, which carries a heavy surcharge, is delivered in Perth within the time limits stated.
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
With reference to the Question on Notice by Senator L. D. Wilkinson, Senate Paper No. 47, of the 3rd September, 1970, Question No. 614, I regret that the Priority Paid letter posted by the honourable senator at 9.30 p.m. on the 25th August at the Parliament House Post Office was not delivered into Private Box B58 at the General Post Office, Perth, by the advertised time of 2.15 p.m. on 26th August. A safeguarding feature of the Priority Paid Mail Service is that mails are despatched only on specified airline flights so that receipts are expected at set times. The early morning despatch from Canberra is due at Perth airport at 12.20 p.m., but in this instance, the mail was transferred by the conveying airline to a later flight, which did not. arrive until during the afternoon, and consequently the mail missed a transport connection to the Perth Mail Exchange. The honourable senator’s letter was placed in the private box in the evening of 26th August.
Despite the honourable senator’s experience on this occasion, the Priority Paid Mail Service is operating at a standard of reliability which is better than the major competing services that the Post Office has tested. In the case of Perth, some 7,000 articles have been received since the inception of the service and no more than 5 of these have been subjected to delays. The only feature causing concern is the standard of conveyance of Priority Paid despatches by the airlines and, for this reason, representatives of the two major airlines and the Post Office are currently examining this matter.
(Question No. 625)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Newspapers and periodicals registered at a General Post Office are eligible for Category ‘A’ classification if they come within one of the following groups:
Registered publications published by social, recreational or motorists organisations, organisations of employers or employees or of persons engagedin, or connected with business or a profession are not eligible for Category ‘A’ registration.
Can the Minister representing thePostmasterGeneral inform the Senate how soon the television transmitters at Hughenden, Julia Creek, Cloncurry and Mount Isa will be in operation in view of the fact that the microwave relay to Mount Isa is to. become operational in December next?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information, in reply:
It is expected that the national television stations authorised for Hughenden, Julia Creek, Cloncurty and Mount Isa wilt commence operations progressively in the early months of 1971.’ Announcements regarding their commencement will be made when more precise information is available.
Note: (a) The State housing authorities of Victoria and Western Australia do not build timber-framed dwellings in the metropolitan area,
Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware of the excessively and unreliably slow rate of delivery by the Postmaster-General’s Department of letters and packages - sometimes taking up to one week for interstate mail? By way of an example, I ask the Minister whether she knows that in order to ensure a letter posted at the Canberra Post Office before 9.30 a.m. will be delivered to a Sydney city address by the next day, an excess rate, in addition to the normal 5 cents airmail postage rate, of 20 cents is required? As, in this example, the hopeful recipient of such a letter is only 1 to 1 hour flying time away from Canberra, will the Minister take up with the Postmaster-General the possibility and urgency of eliminating such an iniquitous obligation on the taxpayer to pay a 25 cents postage rate before being guaranteed a 24 hour delivery service?
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Yesterday I asked the Minister to take up with the Postmaster-General the need to pay 25 cents to post a letter in Canberra before 9.30 a.m. for its delivery to be guaranteed within 24 hours for a journey to Sydney, which is one hour away. Has the Minister seen an article in today’s New South Wales morning press stating that a priority mail service costing 10 cents per letter was introduced on 10th July and already 10,000 articles a week are being handled successfully under this scheme? Anticipating that the Postmaster-General will tell the Senate of this scheme in answer to the question I asked yesterday concerning the 25 cents requirement, 1 ask: Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General whether he will ensure that members of the Post Office staff are fully informed of the various costs of the differing services available so that people will not be asked to pay25 cents for a service that can be provided for 10 cents and the staff will be able to explain that the 25 cents charge is for a personal messenger delivery at the city of destination?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
and (2) The honourable senator referred to a letter addressed to the Sydney city area posted before 9.30 a.m. at the Canberra Post Office. The -9.30 a.m. airmail closing time is an additional service which provides deliveryinto private boxes at the General Post Office, Sydney, early in the evening of the same day. An extra fee of 20 cents is payable, of course, if delivery by Messenger Delivery Service to a Sydney city street address is required. To obtain next day delivery, however, letters eligible for air conveyance may be posted up to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday at the Canberra Post Office, and no special fee is charged for this service.In addition, the Priority Paid Mail Service which is designed specifically to carry urgent inter-capital mail, permits articles to be posted up to 6.30pm. for delivery next morning in the Sydney metropolitan area. Similar arrangements apply at the Canberra City and Parliament House Post Offices, whilst at the Canberra Mail Exchange the closing time for Priority Paid articles is 7 p.m. The charges for Priority Paid Mail are double the normal rate of postage; for example, a letter of standard size weighing not more than 1 oz. requires postage of 10 cents.
All staff at those offices which are posting points for the Priority Paid Mail Service, both in Canberra and the other capital cities, have received special training in the postal rates payable for the various services and further training is currently being given to Canberra staff. Regarding the example quoted by the honourable senator, I can only assume from the details she gave that a misunderstanding occurred.
Concerning delays to interstate mail continual tests, together with surveys conducted in conjunction with some large users of the postal service, have shown that delays attributable to factors within the control of my Department are rarely experienced, except in New South Wales. The position in that State is receiving close attention, but except in isolated cases, mail is not delayed by more than one delivery. 1 might add that when complaints are investigated, the causes of delays are frequently found to be such factors as incorrect addressing, inadequate knowledge of published mail closing times, or air or surface transport failures. However, my Department is always willing to investigate any apparent cases of delay. The enquiries are greatly facilitated, of course, if the relevant envelopes are made available.
Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science been directed to a radio news bulletin this morningin which a Western Australian educationist, a Mr Schapper has criticised the established education programmes as beingunsuitable for Aboriginals. If so, has the Minister noted that educationist’s comment that mission schools should be abandoned and that special programmes should be devised to meet the particular education needs of Aboriginals? Will he confer with his colleague and ascertain details of any studies of education for Aboriginals and whether there is any merit in Mr Schapper’s claim?
The answer to the honourable senator’s questions is as follows:
The statement made by Dr Schapper shows that he sees a need for a type of schooling for Aboriginal children which is different from that provided for other childrenif the Aborigines are to achieve educational equality and integration. This is not a new thought, though it is one that has received a wider acceptance over recent years among educationists concerned - with all levels of Aboriginal education from pre-school to adult education.
Many studies of the special educational problems and requirements of Aboriginal children have been made, and are being made, some of them supported financially by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. The Australian Council for Educational Research, several universities and other organisations, including State authorities concerned with Aboriginal education, are engaged in this activity. I can supply details of the more important of these studies to the honourable senator should he desire them.
I could not support the suggestion that mission and settlement schools should be abandoned. Circumstances differ from place to place, giving rise to different educational ‘ problems, and solutions must be found which are consistent with those circumstances. No doubt the Government of Western Australia considers all such circumstances in the areas to which Dr Schapper refers.
The present situation is that Government and other bodies concerned with the education of Aboriginals are well aware of the special problems involved, and are concerned that the policies they implement, as well as being effective educationally, are acceptable to the Aboriginal people themselves.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - The President has received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy), Senator Byrne, the Whip of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and Senator Turnbull advising the names of senators appointed to standing committees and Estimates committees. The following statement of names, which has been circulated to all honourable senators, is incorporated in Hansard:
– by leave - Honourable senators will understand that in making this statement on behalf of the Minister for Trade and
Industry (Mr McEwen) when I use the first person singular pronoun it refers to the Minister.
I wish to inform the Senate that the Government intends to introduce amending legislation during the present session to permit it to pay a temporary additional bounty to local manufacturers currently producing bountiable tractors. This is an urgent short term measure, pending a review and report by the Tariff Board on the question of longer term assistance for the industry. Bounty assistance has been afforded the Australian tractor manufacturing industry since 1922. Assistance is currently given the production of agricultural tractors under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966 which was introduced following a Tariff Board report in September 1966.
The decision to introduce amending legislation followed an urgent review by the Government of the position of the Australian tractor industry. The Government received evidence from the 2 Australian manufacturers of tractors eligible for bounty, Chamberlain Industries Pty Ltd of Western Australia and International Harvester Co. of Victoria, which indicated that the industry was facing serious damage from import competition, and that this situation would continue unless urgent action was taken to assist the local industry. The investigations carried out by the Government indicated that there had been a substantial downturn in total sales of agricultural tractors in Australia, and that imports of tractors had significantly affected the local industry’s share of this reduced market. Normally when an industry faces serious and damaging competition from imports it would be referred to the Special Advisory Authority for consideration of temporary protection, pending report by the Tariff Board. However, the Special Advisory Authority is not empowered to recommend on bounties which, as indicated earlier, have been the traditional method of assistance for this industry.
The Government, in the light of the information before it, therefore proposes to provide short term additional assistance to the industry pending investigation and report by the Tariff Board. This will be done by payment of a temporary addi tional bounty on sales of tractors eligible for the existing bounty, equal to 100 per cent of the scale of bounty payments currently payable under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966. The cost of this additional assistance is estimated at $ 1.25m to the end of the 1970-71 financial year. Investigations indicated that this was the level of assistance which was required by the Australian tractor manufacturing industry in current circumstances. The level of the additional temporary bounty will be reviewed by the Government prior to the 1971-72 Budget.
The temporary additional bounty will be administered by the Minister for Customs and Excise, and will be payable on sales made of bountiable tractors on and from 1st July 1970. The additional assistance will be given only in respect of tractors manufactured at premises registered under the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Act 1966 as at 1st July 1970. Enabling legislation will be introduced in this session of Parliament, and a reference to the Tariff Board will be made shortly. It is proposed that the Act, when amended, be extended to 30th June 1972, subject to earlier termination by proclamation if appropriate.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONPursuant to section 22 of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1968 I present the sixteenth annual statement concerning the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30th June 1970.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONPursuant to section 33 of the Australian National University Act 1946-1967 I present the report of the Council of the Australian National University for the year ended 3 1st December 1969.
– Pursuant to section 24 of the National Capital Development Commission Act 1957-1960 I present the thirteenth annual report of the National Capital Development Commission for the year ended 30th June1970, together with financial statements and the AuditorGeneral’s report on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903-1970 I present the annual report on the Royal Military College of Australia for the period 1st February 1969 to 31st January 1970.
– Pursuant to section 8 o the Poultry Industry
Assistance Act 1965-1966 I present the fifth annual report on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the interim report of the Australian Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30th June 1970. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 28 of the Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924-1966 I present the forty-sixth annual report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1970.
Debate resumed from 15 September (vide page 579), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States. 1970-71.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1971.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30th June 1971.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1971.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1970.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add “, and the Senate condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to (a) standards of social service and war pensioners, (b) assistance to schools, hospital and urban authorities and (c) restructuring of stricken primary industries, and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature”.
– In my remarks on this Budget which I commenced last night 1 had reached the stage of referring to attempts that must be made to lift the prices for our primary products. While we may be able to do something about reducing the cost of production this must of necessity be. of a fairly minor nature. The only other means by which we can bridge the gap between prices and costs is to attempt to lift our productivity which in rural industry at the present time is extremely difficult because of unprofitability in at least some rural industries. Real profitability - which is essential - will come only when we receive better prices for the products which we produce. No industry can operate profitably for very long on any form of subsidy. In my opinion subsidies must be used only to cover periods of difficulty. We have to create a demand for our products.
Bearing in mind that we have to create this demand we must look to overseas markets, particularly in the developing countries which show, in my view, the best prospects of paying increased prices for Australian products. I am thinking particularly of the developing areas of South East Asia where there appears to he some prospect of our lifting prices and selling more of our products, I am aware, of course, that the Government and the rural producer boards are doing as much as they can but I think that we must place particular emphasis on the necessity to create demand in these areas. I know that it is the responsibility of an industry to promote sales of the goods produced within that industry, but any help that the Government can give by way of credit is of tremendous value particularly to our rural industries.
Faced wilh the possibility that the United Kingdom may enter the European Economic Community Australia will in the future have greater difficulties than it now has in disposing of its products. As I have already said, we must look to other overseas countries, such as Japan where there appears to be some prospect of increasing Our export meat quota. I refer particularly to our beef quota, which is comparatively low in that country, whose people are becoming more conscious of the importance of meat in their diet. Other countries that might be considered are those of Eastern Europe where there may be prospects of improved sales. In the past trade agreements, particularly with Japan, have played a very important part in Australia’s export trade. In an endeavour to increase the sales of our rural products we must place particular emphasis upon such trade agreements.
I want now to refer to aid to developing countries. At a time when we have difficulty in disposing of our lower grades of woo) it would appear to me to be worthwhile to determine the possibility of providing finance and facilities to those developing countries which might be able to process some of our lower grades of wool. I have noticed that recently some countries have been given assistance in the production of synthetics. Of course, in those countries wages are lower than those paid in Australia.
Costs are particularly important to primary industries at present. Costs represent the other blade of the scissors in the costprice squeeze. As I said a few moments ago. it is difficult to reduce costs, but some attempt must be made to do so, particularly in view of the current importance of our export products. An annual increase in costs of between 2i per cent and 5 per cent is completely unrealistic, especially at a time when lower prices are being paid for our export commodities. Our growth rate over the last 2 or 3 years has probably been greater than we can afford, lt has placed an enormous strain on our financial and manpower resources and is an additional factor in the inflationary trend. I think the Government should set an example, particularly in public authority spending.
Treasury Bulletin No. 68 shows that public authority spending has reached very high levels. Expenditure by all public authorities - I take it that that would include Commonwealth, State and local government enterprises - increased from SI, 854m in 1964-65 to $2,535m in 1968-69, and there was a further increase of about 10 per cent to 30th June last. The prospects in this field do not appear to be much better in the coming year. This places a tremendous strain on our resources and the Government must be more selective in choosing the areas of growth that are most important to us.
I turn now to consider 2 areas in which 1 have been interested in recent years - our tariff and immigration policies. We are told that because of immigration our population increased last year by 185,000. For the coming year it is anticipated that about 180,000 migrants will come to Australia. Only a few years ago - I am not too sure how many- our annual intake through immigration was as low as 120,000. Leading economists say quite openly that our intake through immigration, added to our natural increase, while contributing to economic growth involves tremendous expenditure in the fields of education, housing, transport and health. Because of the high cost of bringing migrants to Australia and providing them with the necessary amenities it is questionable whether they are contributing to our economic growth, and whether we can afford economic growth of this nature.
On the subject of tariffs, while I do not say that they are a major factor in our cost structure, they are one factor and should be kept under constant review. I am very pleased that over the past, couple of years the procedures adopted by the Tariff Board have been greatly improved in respect of reviews and general protection. A couple of weeks ago Mr McEwen, the Minister for Trade and Industry, said that further industries would be reviewed in the near future. Recently the Tariff Board has employed additional staff to assist in that direction, but there is still a great deal of room for improvement. A couple of months ago I contacted the Tariff Board requesting an indication of the number of industries that had not been reviewed in the last 10 years. After the Tariff Board had conducted an investigation its Deputy Chairman sent me a reply which I will read to bring home the point. The Board arrived at its decision after taking various matters . into, consideration. The letter states:
You recently asked me if I could provide infor- mation about the number of industries whose tariff protection has not been reviewed by the Board for many years, lt is difficult to answer your question 1 in this form. This is partly because of the problems of definition, for example, how to define an industry, which would require a lengthy technical explanation which I expect you would prefer to avoid, and partly because the Board’s detailed examination of this and related questions is still incomplete. However, a preliminary estimate is that some 75 per cent of highly protected industries have not been the subject of a Tariff Board inquiry within the last 10 years. This -figure of 75 per cent is calculated on the value of output rather than on the number of industries. 1 do not have a corresponding figure for all protected industries since our examination has so far been, concentrated on the highly protected sector. A review of activities having low or medium levels of protection is less urgent than a review of those that are highly protected.
It seems to me to be rather disturbing that 75 per cent of our highly protected industries have not been reviewed for 10 years. I think it is high time that the Government took measures to see that the Tariff Board has a full complement of members and staff to carry out effective, reviews. The Tariff Board is empowered under the Act to initiate inquiries. It is not essential that references should be made to it by industries or people. I consider that a review of the type I have suggested is of major importance to ascertain whether the protection being given at present is justified. If it is justified, I will be perfectly happy, but only a review will determine whether it is. 1 have mentioned some of the areas in which the Government could bring some relief to the cost structure of primary industries without doing any harm to the national economy. I appreciate the increased contributions to rural industries totalling $71m made by the Government in the Budget. Included in this amount is the sum df $3 Om to be made available to wool growers. I am sure that this will be of great assistance to people in the wool industry worst affected by falling prices, particularly in drought affected areas. In many instances wool growers are facing a crisis. Worthwhile financial assistance is to be given to those people in rural areas who will be forced to update their telephone services. My Party has been working very hard towards this end for a number of years. I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) on bringing the matter to fruition. It Will be a tremendous help to people in country areas.
We must bear in mind that over the years the Government has continued to give assistance to primary industries. It has provided a superphosphate bounty, and has established a wool promotion and research scheme and a vast number of other projects which have been of great help to the industries and for which we are very grateful. Over the years the Government has had a tremendous record of providing assistance to the rural industries and to the national economy. If one contrasts that assistance with Labor’s efforts, one gets a picture that demonstrates the difference between the Government’s policy and the Labor Party’s policy for rural industries. Although I did not count the words somebody did. and 1 am told that the Leader of the Opposition iri the other place (Mr Whitlam) outlined Labor’s policy for rural industries in 68 words. Except in his amendment, I do not think Senator Murphy referred to rural industries. If he did, the reference was only of a minor nature. According to the Press, a few weeks ago the Labor Caucus was evenly divided 34-34 about moving in both Houses an urgency motion condemning the Government for its lack of concern at the plight of primary industries.
– Has the honourable senator seen our minutes? - Senator BULL - I said it was a Press report. I leave it at that. 1 did not say that I saw the minutes. One has to look only at the speech of the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) to have brought home to one the point which I make. In the Senate in recent years the Labor Party has not come forward with any constructive plan for primary industries. Its action has been completely destructive. One wonders how, if Labor came to office, it would implement a plan to assist primary industries in their present plight.
Another matter to which I shall refer but which I do not propose to make an issue is that of law and order. Over the last 8 or 9 months J have attended practically all the big rural meetings in New South Wales. Those who have attended these meetings have been particularly concerned, naturally, about the economic position of and prices in the rural industries. At the conclusion of those meetings many people whom I met for the first time referred to the disruption of industry brought about by strikes. Not only did they mention that but also they were concerned at the contempt of the strikers for the findings of the arbitration system. We cannot have it both ways. Either employer and employee have to accept the findings of arbitration or else the arbitration system will come to an end. That would be a bad thing for all sections of the community.
Another matter to which 1 refer - I am not referring to unionists here - is the complete contempt shown for our judiciary and the powers and functions given to the judiciary by the Parliament. One wonders how long this contempt can be allowed to continue. In Sydney only a few weeks ago we had the spectacle of some people who were being brought before a court marching in with arms raised as a sign of dissent, and disagreement. They said openly that they did not recognise the court and that it could not deal with them. I say most emphatically that we should not condone such contempt. If the community condones such contempt, this will be an attack on the institution of Parliament from which judicial powers stem and which we have long regarded as being part of our democratic way of life. Once people show an increased and continuing contempt for the institution of Parliament and for the judiciary, I am afraid we will be on the way to anarchy. Strikes and contempt for the rule of law strike a body blow at these 2 vital institutions in our system of democracy. Not only are the strikes causing a loss of profitability to industry; also they are affecting employees through loss of wages.
When there is a crisis at least in a vital section of industry - and I refer particularly to the rural sector - strikes, in the long term, have a serious impact on everybody. I am old enough to know. 1 know enough about the history of our industries to know that in many cases recessions or depressions or whatever they are called have begun because of a fall, recession or depression in the rural industries. The present situation is getting pretty close to that. 1 am not trying to create a fear complex but I know enough about the economy to know that the country is largely dependent for export income on rural industries. Almost 50 per cent of our export income comes from our rural industries. I know the effect that a recession in the rural industries will have on the economy. These matters are of national concern to everybody, irrespective of party and irrespective of government, State or Commonwealth. We should look at these matters very seriously in order that we might uphold those things which are dear to this country and which over the years have made a vital contribution to the economy and the welfare of the nation. 1 appeal to everybody to bear in mind those final words. I support the motion and oppose the amendment.
– I take the opportunity to reply to 2 points raised by Senator Bull. Firstly, he spoke about the lack of interest by the Australian Labor Party in rural issues. I remind Senator Bull that in the other place in recent months 4 urgency motions have been initiated by the Labor Party related to rural problems. In the Senate, Senator Murphy was refused the right to proceed with an urgency motion to deal with matters affecting the rural industries. Secondly, I inform Senator Bull that his information in respect of the Press statement to which he referred is wrong. He knows that as a result of the Labor Party Caucus decision the motion proposed by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) was put in the other place and that the Government voted against it. From reading yesterday’s Hansard and from listening to Senator Bull last evening, I notice that he talked about the problems facing rural industries but that he did not pose, nor does he acknowledge that the Government has posed, any remedies. At page 578 of Hansard he is reported as having said:
I am very glad that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) announced just recently that the Government is making a detailed study pf the rural position and the need for rural reconstruction.
How many times have we heard about studies? In this country we have had studies about everything - studies about rural problems, studies about standardisation of railways, a national study about education and studies on different subjects. But what has been done? The honourable senator continued:
From what I know, New South Wales is the only State that has available at the present time the machinery for rural reconstruction. If this assistance is to be given to these producers, I think it will be necessary for it to be done through the machinery that is available in New South Wales.
He talked, quite rightly, about the problems of local rural industries such as agricultural machinery manufacturers and small engineering works which, because of lack of sales, have had to retrench staff. This situation has been created by Government policies. Every year the Government sets out its economic policy through its Budget proposals. In every State industries have been forced to refashion their thinking and their expenditure. The industries have had to meet extra taxes and extra bills because of Government policies.
The Treasurer (Mr Bury) in introducing the Budget said that the economy is threatened by disruptive inflation. We have a situation in which every producer and every worker is threatening to strike - and Senator Bull should talk about workers who threaten to strike in order to obtain an increase in wages. Let me take the case of the pensioner who, when the Social Services Bill is passed by the Parliament, will receive a miserly increase of 50c a week. But at the same time the Government proposes to make a handout of S200m mainly to income earners, and it proposes to do this in 1 year, not in 3 years as was previously forecast by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton).
Although the Government is able to make this taxation concession to income earners, it cannot afford to grant a decent increase to pensioners. Pensioners have to face the problems which arise from rising inflation and increased costs caused by the Government’s policies. After all, pensioners have no organisation to press their claims before the arbitration court. They cannot take strike action as the workers can. All I say to Senator Bull who talked about the effrontery shown by the trade union movement towards the arbitration court is that everybody knows that this Government admits that the present penal powers are not appropriate and that they ought to be modified. The Government has put proposals to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. So we have a situation in which the Party to which Senator Bull belongs has proposed a modification of the penal powers of the arbitration court in order to make them more consistent with the aims of ordinary arbitration.
Reference has been made to mass demonstrations and to the law and order question. But what about all the farmers demonstrations? Do Senator Bull and other Government senators dissociate themselves from mass demonstrations which have been held by farmers in most States? I saw the great march in Adelaide which upset the whole of the community in the middle of the day. But the farmers were entitled to demonstrate, in the same way as the people who take part in the Moratorium are entitled to demonstrate. Many thousands, of farmers congregated at Elder Park. What were they doing? They were protesting against the Government’s policies and against its inability to suggest remedies for the present situation which faces farmers. lt is of no use trying to divert attention away from these matters by saying that it is a law and order issue in the community. We have to recognise the fact that in our society the economic policies which the Federal Government applies yearly, particularly at Budget time, establish the climate in which everybody has to live. It could happen that the Government’s policies create an economic climate which prejudices one State. This has happened with this Budget which has created difficulties for the motor car manufacturing industry and the wine industry in South Australia. When these things threaten a State, the State ought to be compensated for them because they arise from the Commonwealth Government’s policies.
– Outside of what you have said, from your own experience in the industrial field, do you not think that the maritime services guild unions have made your point?
– It is true, as Senator Mulvihill says, that it is not only what we used to call the blue collar workers who are now concerned about this problem. Everybody is concerned about it. Professional people are concerned about what is happening to salaries. I want to deal with wider issues, but I take time to remind Senator Bull that the sorts of things that are occurring in the community are the result of the intentional policies of the Government. We may have moved away from the stop and go Budgets of the 1950s, when the Government applied economic sanctions to stop an industry and to shut down factories, to the more sophisticated policies which pass the burden on to the ordinary people in the community to pay for mistakes in economic planning. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has moved a very pertinent amendment which ought to be supported by every honourable senator. It is in these terms: the Senate condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it faits to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to (a) standard of social service and war pensioners, (b) assistance to schools, hospital and urban authorities, and (c) restructuring of stricken primary industries, and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature.
Some honourable senators have referred to what the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) referred to what the Treasurer said when he concluded his Budget Speech. This is what the Treasurer said: . . we have made provisions which secure to the State Governments a larger and growing share of our gross national product. At the same time this Budget helps to achieve other great national objectives in important areas such as defence, social welfare and the economic welfare of industry - including our great woolgrowing industry that is currently beset by special problems.
On the question of the Budget helping to achieve objectives in important areas such as defence, what was the planning that went into the purchase of the Fill aircraft? This involves the expenditure of approximately $300m on aircraft which we have not received, and we are not sure when we will receive them. In the meantime, while we are waiting for the Fill aircraft, we have been forced to take another type of aircraft and the bill for those aircraft will be between $30m and $50m. Australia is not receiving a share of any work involved in the manufacture of these aircraft, which one would think any government would demand. No offset arrangements have been made for us to share in the work necessary for the supply of any parts of the aircraft. This matter has been canvassed in the Senate. Daily the question is raised about our continuing to import war supplies and munitions which this country should be manufacturing itself. I will refer later to the aircraft industry in Australia.
The same comment applies to the social objectives which the Budget seeks to achieve. When the present Prime Minister assumed office we used to hear talk about social welfare matters. We thought that the new Prime Minister would be a social welfare Prime Minister because he made a number of important statements on this matter. Let me refer to some of them. When he spoke during the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) in 1968, he said:
No nation can be great unless it seeks npt only materially to progress but also to take care of the weaker within it, the aged within it and the 31 within it*.
This, 1 believe, to be true, and my Government will make a continuing effort to achieve those ends.
– You must admit that this Government has done much in that regard.
– How can Senator Webster say that in the face of the 50c increase in pensions which is proposed by this Government? If the Government had cut back on expenditure on a number of national projects, or if it had budgeted for * deficit Budget as it has done previously, and given the pensioners a decent increase, there might be some substance in Senator Webster’s claim. 1 have often said in this Parliament that the Prime Minister made a number of important statements on social welfare, but 1 suggest that what has happened is that the conservative element in the Liberal Party is trying to stop him from doing what he wants to do. The Prime Minister said this - and it is in contrast to what is now proposed by the Government:
Our aim is that those who have no other means are provided with enough to live in a modest self respecting way without requiring any other assistance from outside the pension.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) made a long contribution to the Budget debate in the other place, in which he gave many figures in order to defend the Government’s policy. . He referred to the fringe benefits which are provided by many local authorities and other State services, and he included these benefits in the overall benefits which this Government is providing to pensioners. But the great objectives for which the Prime Minister stated he was aiming have not been achieved. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who in this chamber represents the Minister for Social Services, said, when introducing the Social Services Bill 1970:
In conformity with the United Nations principle just enunciated, the Government believes that the family is the cornerstone of our nation. We accept the responsibility of easing the economic and social pressures of modern day life. We will take what steps are necessary to promote the well being of the family.
I ask the Government to tell us what it has done. In this economic climate of which I have spoken, although the Government has modified the tax scales to assist the middle income earners, it has also thrust the burden of indirect taxation on all people in the community. As a result the prices of petro) and distillate have been increased, air fares have risen on 2 occasions quite recently, road transport costs in most States have increased, and company tax has gone up, or will go up, and will be passed on as usual.
The established wine industry, in which Senator Laucke is greatly interested and which . is just managing to get on its feet, will be imperilled by excise duty which the Government has decided to impose on wine. As a result of this, everybody in the wine industry has been complaining most strongly. Even the Liberal Party Opposition in the South Australian Parliament has moved that the South Australian Government should request the Commonwealth Government to remove the excise straight away. Postal charges are to be increased, and there is to be an increase in telegraph and telephone charges. There have been complaints about these increases, not only from people’ in industry but also from organisations such as the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures. I have just received a telegram which I suppose was sent also to other honourable Senators and which says that as a result of the new postal charges the mailing charges which will be paid by the Chamber for its registered publications will increase by 72 per cent.
– Judging from the length of the telegram the Chamber has plenty of money to spend.
– These are your people - not mine. This telegram was not from the trade unions but from the Chamber of Manufactures, an association of employers. Yet the honourable senator is always telling us how the Government looks after industry. But let me come back to what the Prime Minister said, after which perhaps Government supporters could tell us what the Government proposes to do about the situation. In a public address to the Western Australian Chamber of Manufactures in April 1970, the Prime Minister, referring to overseas investment, talked about the need to have some overseas capita) coming into Australia. I ask honourable senators to relate these remarks to the present rate of sales tax which is affecting the motor car industry in South Australia. The Prime Minister said:
Having said that, 1 still think that we should bear these things in mind. Our motor vehicle industry in Australia today, important to our economy as you would agree, is 90 per cent owned and controlled by overseas capital. Our chemical industry in Australia today is 75 per cent owned and controlled by overseas capital. Out electrical and” electronic industry which will play an even more important part in all branches of industry in the future, is over 50 per cent owned and controlled by overseas capital . . .
This could have been a statement made by a member of the Labor Party. He went on then to refer to factories and said:
And again, for background and to keep in our minds, the factories with under 50 employees are 26 per cent, only 26 per cent owned by overseas capital. Over 50 employees - 34 per cent by overseas capital. Over 100 employees - 37 per cent. Over 500 employees - 43 per cent.
What is the general position today? Despite the recognition of many of the claims made by the Australian Labor Party that Australia is getting into debt very quickly because of our inability to control ownership and overseas interests in this country, and in spite of the recognition obviously given to these matters by the Prime Minister, great burdens are being placed on the economy. Yet honourable senators opposite say that we- must accept this position and that because of the loads on the economy and our balance . of payments position the Government cannot afford to do the things which the Labor Party claims should be done. Among the loads on our economy are the purchase of the Fill, overseas ownership of many important industries, and the repatriation of profits to other countries. Australian defence industries, about which we have spoken in this place, have not really been started or been given the assistance which any government should give them.
There is also the exploitation of our great mineral wealth and the dovetailing arrangements with Japan to do many things which we ought to be able to do in Australia. Senator Mulvihill had occasion to mention recently that the metal trades unions and manufacturers in New South Wales had complained to the Government about the amount of railway rolling stock which was being brought into Australia while the railway workshops and private manufacturers of heavy equipment were not being employed to the extent that they should be employed. I have agitated and have made representations to get the maximum amount of work for the Australian aircraft industry and for our manufacturers of war materials, and I have sought also to have more offset production in Australia; but progress in these areas has been very slow. I am not the only one who has complained about this situation. Other honourable senators and people outside also have complained. The September bulletin published by the Australian Industries Development Association referred to the aircraft industry and said:
Despite occasional strong Ministerial statements, Government policy towards the industry seems to be one of scratching around for some defence work to keep the industry going. It certainly does not start with the positive intention that there will be a thriving and successful industry and that we will turn elsewhere only when the Australian industry genuinely, and for good reasons, cannot fit the bill.
The issue should not be sidetracked by the old gag of asking whether Australia is to launch into building Phantoms, Fills and 747s. The question of patently uneconomic projects cannot be entertained. However, our aircraft requirement outside of such highly sophisticated areas provides an ample base for a thriving industry.
We want to know why there are not some curbs on these things. I have drawn attention before to the great amount which is being spent and the great debt being created by Australia in purchasing various items overseas. These purchases provide part of the reason for the Government’s present economic thinking. In 1966-67 we imported into . Australia munitions and war stores to the value of $118m; in 1967-68 our imports in this area amounted to $125m; for 11 months of 1968^69 they amounted to $158m and for the full .12 months of 1968-69 they amounted to $163m; and for I of 1969-70 they amounted to $84m. I mentioned earlier the importation of aircraft but, to restate the position quickly, in 1967-68 Australia’s imports of aircraft amounted to $136m, in 1968-69 our imports were valued at $131m, and for 6 months of the current year their value has been $82m. The aircraft parts imported have been valued at almost $60m in each of those years. I have stated some of the reasons why the Government has decided to balance the Budget, using the sort of pro forma which it has decided that our economic policies require.
J want now to refer quickly to some other matters. One matter which is of particular concern to South Australia is the impact that the Government’s policies are having upon that State. Representations have been made to the Commonwealth Government about the serious position which is always occasioned when the Commonwealth Government applies savage charges in respect of articles produced by manufacturing industries in South Australia. It has been said that South Australia relies largely on markets in the eastern States - they are certainly national markets - to take the products which South Australia is most efficient in producing. 1 refer to motor vehicles, consumer durable goods, electrical goods, etc.
Every time that the Government increases sales tax on motor cars - it has done so at least 8 times during the last 19 years - its action represents a savage attack on South Australia. 1 have mentioned already the impact on the wine industry, but in South Australia we are most concerned about the increased sales tax on motor vehicles. The director of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Mr Daunt, has said that the increase in sales tax on motor vehicles made it one of the highest vehicle taxes in the world. South Australia has a great number of people dependent on the motor vehicle industry. In fact 21,000 workers are employed in the industry, that number representing 16.8 per cent of the manufacturing work force in South Australia. The value of production of the motor vehicle industry alone - not including the electrical or consumer goods industries - each year is worth $11 3m. Salaries paid in South Australia in respect of these industries amount to $62. 5m. As most honourable senators are aware, the salary bill of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd alone is about lima week.
The imposition of an excise duty on wine and the increase in the sales tax on certain goods are having an adverse effect on South Australia. The Opposition is very concerned about this matter. It is of the opinion that urgent action should be taken by the Government to rectify the position in South Australia. South Australian senators have been requested to raise these matters in the Parliament. In a letter to me dated 2 1st August 1970, the Speaker of the House of Assembly in South Australia, Mr Hurst, said:
On 19th and 20th August 1970, the House of Assembly passed the following resolution:
That this House calls on the members of the Federal Parliament representing South Australia to take action in the Federal Parliament to protect employment and development in South Australia from the impost on the sale of wines of 50c per gallon and from an increase of 2J per cent in sales tax on motor vehicles and electrical goods which are proposed in the Federal Budget and which will adversely affect South Australia far more than any other Stale.
I am also concerned about the failure of the Commonwealth Government to accede to the requests of consecutive South Australian governments - not only Labor governments but also Liberal governments - to honour the 1949 agreement in respect to rail standardisation. The South Australian Government has not received the agreement of the Commonwealth Government to the proposal to connect Adelaide to the standard gauge system. The recommendations of the consultants who were called in to examine the proposal have been considered by the Commonwealth and South Australian governments but no arrangement has been made in accordance with the 1949 agreement to standardise the South Australian railway system. Since the original agreement was agreed upon representations have been made over the years by South Australia in relation to this matter, including representations by Sir Thomas Playford when he was Premier. However, South Australia is still being bypassed by the Commonwealth Government in regard to the standardisation of its rail system. This has happened regardless of the fact that not only Labor governments but also Liberal governments in South Australia have been pushing for standardisation of the system. Strong resistance has been offered by the present Labor government in South Australia and by railways commissioners over the years to acceptance of a lesser deal than what is regarded as reasonable. I say this because in their report the consultants have* recommended simply a link between the capital itself and Port Pirie without making provision for any connections to industry itself in the metropolitan area or conversion of thenorthern railway system. Their proposals do not include undertaking the sort df work which was encompassed by the 1949 agreement.
As my time is nearly up 1 shall not read at length, but I would refer honourable senators and the Government to the agreement which was made in 1949. which was to the effect that the northern lines of South Australia be converted as well as the construction of a link between Adelaide and the newly standardised system. If this link is not constructed the huge expense associated with the break in the gauge will continue. If a 2-gauge system is to operate in South Australia there is a possibility that a lot of business will be lost to private enterprise and the road transport services. The complicated and expensive method of having bogey exchanges should not be considered. When is the Commonwealth Government going to meet its commitments? Instead of criticising the South Australian Government’s rail standardisation proposals the Commonwealth Government should sit down and work out with South Australia what should be done. Rail standardisation is vital to South Australia. However, I am pleased to note that Labor senators are not the only ones who are pushing this matter in this chamber. Senator Laucke, who is the occupant of the chair at the moment, has also advocated an early connection to the standard gauge system.
The Commonwealth Government has attempted to suggest that the delay has been caused by the South Australian Government. The reasons for the delay are as I have explained. They are based on the objectives set out in the 1949 agreement concerning the railway system in South Australia. In fact, the south eastern division - the 5 feet 3 inches line - was converted under the 1949 arrangement. The only part of the State left out of the arrangement was, of course. Eyre Peninsula. Now we have a shandygaff consultants’ report which says: ‘We will give you this because it is the only deal which the Commonwealth Government is prepared to support’. The South Australian Railways Commissioner has rejected the proposals outlined in the consultants’ report on the grounds that the Commonwealth Government should do more to meet its obligations under the rail standardisation agreement. I conclude by saying that I believe that the amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) is worthy of the support of all honourable senators.
(5.0) - I think I should make it abundantly clear to honourable senators that in rising to speak to the amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) I am not closing the debate. Because I am speaking to the amendment, I am not in a position to reply to some of the arguments which were raised by Senator Bishop, although I may deal with one aspect if time permits because reference is made to it in the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition moved his amendment and then spoke to it. If one examines his remarks one sees that there is no relationship between them and the terms of his amendment. His speech was destructive. It did not make any positive contribution to the debate on the Budget. He failed to make any constructive suggestions as to the economic structure of the Budget. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition said nothing which would take the people of Australia anywhere in an economic sense. If his remarks were intended to be the authentic views of the alternative government then they hold grim prospects for the people of Australia.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I would suggest to you that right at the outset you should ask Senator Georges, who is attempting to interject, to keep out of the arena. I am entitled to speak for an hour, but I am going to try to confine my remarks to half an hour in consideration of other honourable senators. In a 27 minute burst from the Leader of the Opposition we heard only what the Australian Labor Party would oppose. We did not hear anything of a constructive nature nor did he apply his mind to justifying his opposition to the Budget proposals. I wish to make a few comments about what the Leader of the Opposition said in his remarks in justification of the terms of his amendment. His amendment refers to the failure of the Government to meet the needs to restructure stricken primary industry. In fact, not a single word was said in his speech about primary industry. The only thing I can find about primary industry is in the wording of the amendment. To talk about the need to restructure stricken primary industry and then to offer no constructive suggestion, as tha
Leader of the Opposition has done, is an extraordinary way to approach a Budget debate.
On the contrary, the Budget Speech deals in a significant and positive way with the problems of primary industry. For instance, to mention just a few, it is estimated that $215m will be expended on rural industries, which is $77m more than last year. A payment of $30.5m will be made in respect of exports from the 1968-69 wheat crop. Bounties on dairy products are estimated to cost $45m in 1970-71, which is $17.5m more than in 1969-70. Quite a significant reference is made in the Budget to the fact that those people who are dependent on wool for their income are to be assisted by a oneyear scheme of emergency relief to the order of $30m. Provision is also made in the Budget for Commonwealth expenditure of $2.9m in 1970-71 towards the costs of (handling and brokers’ administration charges in relation to the price averaging plan. These are positive proposals. On the other hand, Senator Murphy in his amendment referred to primary industries but in his speech he does not make any reference to primary industries at all beyond saying that the Government has done nothing about primary industry. I suggest to the (honourable senator that in fact the Government has recognised the problems of the industry and is making a constructive contribution towards solving the problem.
The next example I want to deal with in the amendment is characteristic, if I may say so without disrespect, of . a hit-run effort. The honourable senator said that the Budget failed to meet the needs of assistance to schools. Under that head Senator Murphy used 70 words, as I counted them, most of which related not to the Australian scene but to the scene in Japan and the United States. Obviously the honourable senator was attempting to draw an analogy. Contrary to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate the Budget deals quite significantly with education. Under the new arrangements at the Premiers conference level the States have been given considerably greater assistance in terms of allocation and, as a consequence, the States In their own sovereignty will be able to make significant additional contributions to the field of education. I. have in front of me a copy of the ‘Australian’ of 14th September. Although the Premier of New South Wales has not yet made his Budget speech a journalist has written a story. in which it is suggested that New South Wales is going to make a significant increase in its allocation for education this financial year. The heading states: ‘Budget allots record sum on education.’ Underneath this heading the report states:
The new Commonwealth-State financial agreement reached in Canberra in fane will enable Mr Askin to spend much more on health and hospital services as well as on eduction. .
The article then goes on to portray the significant increases which will be made in education as a result of the Commonwealth’s special recognition at the Premiers conference level of the needs of the States. The Budget under this head deals with Commonwealth expenditure relating ~ to education for special purposes. Specific purpose payments to the States this year are expected to rise by 29 per cent from $148m to about $191m. I know we are living in a world where we are reaching astronomical figures but when one starts talking in terms of a 29 per cent increase in one financial year one is really talking in very high percentages. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) in the Budget speech states:
The expenditure extends right through the education field. I suggest this contribution has to be looked at across the board in terms of education. One cannot take one figure out in isolation and say that in that field the increase has not been significant therefore nothing has been done in the educational field. The story of Commonwealth intervention in education is a dramatic story and it demonstrates that this Government, above all else in the field of education, has made mammoth contributions whereas a decade ago there was practically no Commonwealth subvention in the field of education other than through the normal channel of the Premiers conference and contributions to the States in that way. In relation to Commonwealth scholarships the Treasurer in the Budget speech stated: . . this year there are 61,000 students holding these awards in tertiary, technical and secondary institutions. For 1971 the number of openentrance university scholarships will be increased by 1,000 to 8,500 … In 1971, the number of post-graduate awards for research training will be increased by 50 to 700 and a new category of post-graduate awards for course work leading to masters degrees will be created; there will be 100 of these new awards in 1971.
I want to make it clear that this year Commonwealth expenditure specifically related to education is expected to be in excess of $3 12m which will be an increase of $63m or approximately 25 per cent in its totality. Another point I want to refer to in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is in relation to Vietnam. About one-third of the contribution by the Leader of the Opposition was about Vietnam. Strangely enough if one reads the amendment there is no reference to Vietnam. This represents a reverse. Previously the Leader of the Opposition put subjects in his amendment and did not speak about them. In this case he has put Vietnam in his speech but he has not put it in his amendment. In this situation it is very difficult to. debate and follow the direction of the attack by the Leader of the Opposition. I make it abundantly clear that I do not, 1 know the Government does not and I am sure the overwhelming majority of Australians do not accept and indeed reject the implication - if it is an implication - contained in the honourable senator’s speech. He “referred to: ‘our association with this evil war against the Vietnamese people.’
– Am I allowed to interject now?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe honourable senator has shown great forbearance and I commend him for it. I give him top marks. Senator Georges has been most constrained in his natural inclination to get . into this. But I push on because I do not want to go over a certain time. I say loudly and clearly that we. in Australia - it is the policy of the Government - are in association with our allies to help the free , people of South Vietnam to preserve their freedom against the cruel and wicked invaders from North Vietnam who are being aided, .supported and for the most part directed by Communist China. . I accept and I am sure all on this side of the Parliament, at any rate, accept that the
Communist purpose is to subjugate South Vietnam. I just ask this simple question: Does anybody really imagine that it would stop there? Does anybody really imagine that if this war were negotiated and everybody withdrew and left the South Vietnamese to themselves and they did not have the capacity finally to defend themselves that it would stop there? Surely our national security demands that we should have firm allies. It demands that we, along with those allies, have a contribution to make to preserve the ultimate peace of this Pacific region. I suggest that this is not done by letting Communist aggression overrun South Vietnam. Are the lessons of Korea and Malaya so quickly forgotten? Does the Australian Labor Party want to put Australia in a state of isolation? If that is their policy it’ is certainly not the Gov.ernment’s policy and it is not the policy which the people of Australia expect and recognise while this Government remains in power.
The honourable senator’s amendment also refers to social services. Senator Bishop spoke along the same lines as Senator Murphy. The Opposition seems to think that when one is talking about social services one is merely talking about the base rate old age pension. If the old age pension is increased 50c - as it was - and it is inadequate therefore the whole social service structure is inadequate. I suppose one could go on to argue in the form ‘ of logic used by the Opposition that if it had been increased by a dollar all would have been happy in relation to social services. But the fact of the matter is that the social service benefits and improvements which have been made have , to be. looked at in the light of the whole structure of the social service provision and what the Government has been able to do. If one goes back over the years and looks at the various things that have been done by way of improvement in social services - I have the figures here - the argument put forward by. the Opposition has no relationship to what has been done in respect of the tapered means test. It has no relationship to dependent children, to special .aid, to mothers and guardians allowances or to such things as are in this Budget in relation to the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Act which will provide a capital cost subsidy for accommodation. It has no relationship to the delivery of meals on wheels which is provided for in this Budget. It has no relation to the personal care subsidy scheme which also is provided for in the Budget. It is wrong and narrow in approach simply to make a judgment in relation to one head of social services. The history of the past 5 years, particularly of the Gorton Government, shows a continuing review of social services in the broad. Our welfare assistance has been directed to the areas where it is felt that there is an immediate or a very pressing need. It is wrong, as Senator Murphy and Senator Bishop have done, to concentrate on one aspect and to say that an increase of 50c in the base rate pension is not adequate and therefore the Government has failed in the field of social services. One has to look at the whole record, which is there for all to see, to recognise the great assistance that this Government has given in that field.
In his amendment Senator Murphy referred to increased taxes and described them as regressive, inequitable and so on, but let me say in fairness to him that he also argued on those lines in his speech. He attacked the principle of indirect taxation and said that his Party was opposed to it. Let me say that we in Australia are trailing behind other countries in the application of the principle of indirect taxation, having regard to the fact that every government has to budget to raise revenue. As Senator Cotton said yesterday, you do not set out in a Budget to give handouts. A Budget is an economic instrument. It is the instrument by which you control the destiny and the fiscal policy of the Government for the ensuing 12 months. Governments are moving increasingly towards the application of the principle of indirect taxation. As I have said, we in Australia have tended to drop behind in that way. After all, indirect taxation has the virtue of personal choice whereas income tax. is compulsory. As I read the facts, countries like Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the United States of America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France have shown a tendency, in the gathering of revenue, to move towards the principle of indirect taxation, the principle of the user paying the tax.
Senator Murphy spoke about inflation. This Budget is shaped deliberately to be anti-inflationary. It is shaped so that, In terms of the structure of the Budget, we will end the fiscal year with almost a line ball - a modest surplus. One Is entitled to ask this question: What is the alternative? ff one reads Senator Murphy’s speech and makes an evaluation of his amendment, one comes to the conclusion that the Labor Party either would need a mammoth increase in taxation, direct or indirect, or it envisages as a principle a very high deficit Budget. That, if carried to its logical conclusion and used for any great length of time, is the surest way to create an inflationary tendency. The harder you go with a deficit Budget and the more money you pour into the community, the more you tend to let loose the reins on inflation.
The Budget sets out to give income tax relief to the middle and lower income groups in the community. Here again I believe there has been complete misunderstanding on the part of the Opposition which has tried to denigrate the proposal; but that is politics, is it not? In truth not less than 4,950,000 taxpayers will receive a benefit from the Government’s proposal. What is more, it is well to remember that in relation to those who will reap the benefit of the reduction in income tax less than 1 per cent of taxpayers have a taxable income of over $10,000 a year.
There has been a tendency on the part of Labor senators to say in the debate that only the middle income group will benefit. It is interesting to find where the middle income group starts and finishes. I want everyone to realise that of the people in the community who pay income tax approximately 4,950,000 will get a benefit under these proposals.
– Those who need the most get the least.
– It is interesting to see that when we put the weight in we get the interjections. As I was saying, only 1 per cent of taxpayers have a taxable income of over $10,000 a year.
– Well, they must be getting a tremendous amount.
– Just wait for it. Let me give a few simple examples of the scope of the benefit. The average weekly male earning in New South
Wales in the June quarter this year was $77. SO. I am the first to recognise that that would not be the taxable income, so we need to deduct such things as the allowances for children and for education.
– How much do they get for each $1?
Please allow me to do this in my own way. Assuming that the nian earning $77. SO a week has a wife and 2 children and receives deductions for dependants, rates and taxes and the other things that are reasonably accepted as deductible, his deductions could quite easily total $500 or $600. On a taxable income of $3,170 such a man paid $5.10 in 1969-70 but for the year 1970-71 after we have passed the legislation relating to the new rates of taxation, he will pay $459.17, a reduction of $50.83.
Let me take the case of a single man earning $77.80 a week, say $4,046 a year. Being single, he obviously would not have as many deductions as would a married man but let us allow him $146 a year for insurance, medical fees and so on. His tax will drop from $738 under the old scale to $664.71, a saving of $73.70. 1 take another simple example of a man with a taxable income of $5,200 a year, which is $100 a week net. That is not unknown. He does not have to be in the collar and tie class to earn that, does be? He will save $121.36 a year in income” tax.
Because my time is running out, I want to move quickly to examine the Labor Party’s arguments regarding living costs and wages. In this regard there is a constant lack of appreciation of the position. Contrary to what Senator Murphy said, I point out that in truth it can be demonstrated that the community is enjoying the rewards of improved living standards. The consumer price index increased by 23.7 per cent between 1959-60 and 1968-69. Over the same period the rise in average weekly earnings was $25 or 56.9 per cent. Between 1967-68 and 1968-69- that is narrowing it down to a year - the rise in the consumer price index was 2.6 per cent and the rise, in average weekly earnings was 7.2 per cent. Details of these series since 1.959-60 are shown in a table which, with the concurrence of honourable senators, 1 incorporate in Hansard.
I said that I wanted to speak only in response to the amendment and to speak for only about half an hour, if I could. I put it to the Senate that a Budget is not to be judged simply by turning over the pages - I actually saw honourable senators doing this on the night the Budget was presented - in order to see, out of human interest, what are the variations in social service benefits or repatriation benefits. The point 1 want to make is that a Budget is an instrument by which a country will either live and prosper or perish. If a government just says: ‘We will make up our Budget of all the conceivable handouts known to man’, it will not be very long before the country will go to the wall. A Budget has to be calculated to give help in the field of social services to the extent to which the economy can stand it and to the extent to which productivity will allow it. The whole structure of a country depends upon its capacity for productivity.
But members of the Labor Party seem to fail to grasp that. They seem to think in isolation of what a particular item gives in terms of social services, for example. If a country proceeded on the basis of their thinking it in fact would destroy those it wanted to help because it would immediately start down the slippery slide of depreciating the value of what it gave. The greatest thing that can be given to the working man - in Australia we are overwhelmingly working people - is security* We have to give the working man security in terms of his employment and we have to give him national security. This Budget, above all else and if it does nothing else and contrary to the amendment which was just a destructive proposal, gives security to the people of Australia. It gives them security of employment. It gives them security as a nation. It gives them a prospect for the future.
A few moments ago I referred to the fact that whilst we are living in an era of increasing costs we are also living in an era of increasing incomes. The increasing incomes are almost twice as much as the increasing costs. This does not come by chance; it comes by good government and by understanding that we must produce. We are a primary producing and manufacturing country. We must produce and we must be able to sell. Productivity is the keynote. As long as we have good productivity, good trade relations and external security, Australia’s future is assured; and it can best be assured in the hands of this Government.
– I listened with considerable interest to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in his attack on the amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I would have liked to have spent a considerable amount of time in referring one by one to the points he raised; but I want to make my own contribution to the Budget debate, so I will refer to only a couple of them. I believe that they should be taken up right now, when we have just heard his speech.
He was emphatic that the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech, made no constructive proposals with regard to the. way in which the Budget should be amended. But that is not the function of the Leader of the Opposition or the Opposition itself when dealing with a . Budget brought forward by the Government. The Opposition, in its discussion of the Budget proposals, shows where it believes the Government is falling short of meeting the needs of the community. By implication this means that the Opposition, were it the Government, would take effective measures to meet those points on which it offers criticism. 1 believe that this is perfectly reasonable.
Let me look at the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition and take just some of the points Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson raised. First of all. Senator Murphy criticised the Budget because it will ‘seek to impose unjust taxes on the people’. That is a very positive statement. This is a situation which, 1 assume, we ourselves, if we were the Government, would endeavour to ameliorate. This would be our policy. This is a positive approach. A little later Senator Murphy referred to pensioners and said:
They are entitled to justice, but get none; they are entitled to security, but get none.
It is reasonable to assume from that statement that Senator Murphy was saying that, were we the Government, we would see that the pensioners- received more justice and more security. This would be bur policy.
– You did not succeed in doing that when you were the Government
– Yes, we did. A little later Senator Murphy referred to child endowment, which was last increased in 1967. Senator Murphy pointed that out. The. implication in that is that, were we the Government, we would see that an alteration was made to child endowment. He also referred to interest rates. There is no indication in the Budget that we can look forward to any variation in interest rates, which are at an all time high at the present time. Senator Murphy mentioned that he had asked the Government questions on this subject, to which the Leader of the Government in this place had given no answer. The point of the questions was that interest rates of which people had never dreamt when they entered into contracts to build houses and so on are now their responsibility.
Senator Murphy also, mentioned the taxation scales. This is a matter that we have mentioned from time to time over many years now. The taxation scales are still the same as they were when we were the Government. There has been only a slight variation of the rates. There has been no material lifting of the point at which taxation becomes payable. I believe that a person on the basic wage should be free of income tax. At one stage this was practically the position. If we think back to the time when the Labor Party was in office as the Government in 1949 we recall that a man on the basic wage was paying taxation on only about £50 of his income and with deductions his tax payment almost disappeared. Another point I wish to raise in relation to taxation concerns education. Senator Murphy said: _ No attempt is made in the Budget to provide the finance necessary to give our children the opportunity for education to which they are entitled as a basic human right. Our children will continue to have fewer educational opportunities than those of other industrialised countries. In/the United States and Japan a significantly higher percentage of children enter and complete secondary school courses, more receive a university education and more undergo technical training than in Australia.
Does not this mean that if the Labor Party was in office as the Government it would see that this situation was reversed? Of course it does. This is a positive proposal. The Minister made great play of the fact that some 4,950,000 taxpayers will receive reductions in personal income tax. This taxation relief is very commendable. The taxpayers of Australia as a whole will receive relief of $228m. Assuming that everybody pays the same amount of tax - which of course is quite wrong as Senator Georges indicated by interjection when the Minister was speaking - on a pro rata basis the relief they would receive would be $57 each per annum which is just over $1 a week. But this relief is applied right across the board and there are many taxpayers who pay small amounts of tax. They are not financially involved in paying more tax but this is a breadline problem as far as they are concerned. They will receive only a very small return under this taxation relief provision.
Statistical figures are trotted out at every opportunity to point out how well the Government is dealing with the situation but when one looks at the amount of taxation relief of $228m, this amount goes right across the board and is given to people on the basic wage and to all those other people who are within the bracket in which this relief is to be given. My argument also applies to the average weekly wage of $77.80. This amount of $77.80 is calculated right across the board. It is based on wages received by accountants and business managers as well as persons on the basic wage. It does not include professional workers but it includes practically everybody else. It includes persons who are in receipt of yearly incomes of $15,000, $17,500 and $20,000. This $77.80 is an average. Therefore when one attempts to work out how much particular people will receive by way of taxation relief the figure obtained is only a fictitious one. I would like to have dealt with other matters referred to by the Minister in bis speech on the Budget but 1 have not sufficient time.
I want to come back to subjects in the Budget about which I am interested. Yesterday afternoon we saw the spectacle of the Government having no speakers to carry on with the debate. Senator Georges followed Senator Wriedt because there was no Government senator on the President’s list to carry on with the debate. That was a shocking situation. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber assumed that the Government did not intend to do anything more about it. Those of us who had our name on the list said that we would not be prepared to move on until the Government showed that it was willing to continue with the debate. Senator Milliner continued the debate, followed by Senator Cotton. At that point we on this side were still not sure what the Government was going to do and then there were 2 more speakers from the Government side which practically evened up the numbers of speakers on both sides. That is why I then put my name back on the list, as did Senator Bishop. I was very concerned at the interjections made by Senator Marriott and also the speech given to us by Senator Withers when they said that members of the Opposition had made no contribution in this debate in regard to primary industry and that the only mention of primary industry was. a statement made by Senator Murphy when moving his amendment. I went to the trouble of having a look at the Hansard record of the speeches made in this debate so far.
I think that honourable senators will find these facts very interesting. The first speaker on our side was Senator Willesee. He did not make any reference to primary production at all. He did make a very good speech about a lot of other matters which were of extreme importance but there was no reference to primary industry. Senator Devitt then followed from our side and he did refer to primary industry in Tasmania. Senator Cavanagh, who is not an exponent of the problems of primary industry, followed Senator Devitt. If one looks at page 346 of the Senate Hansard one will find that Senator Cavanagh dealt with primary industry quite considerably. Senator Mulvihill then followed and at page 360 he also spoke about primary industry. He was followed by Senator Donald Cameron who spoke on primary industry at page 366. We then had Senator Toohey who gave his last speech in this House on a Budget. He made the sort of speech in which we would hardly have expected him to include an attack on the Government with regard to primary industry, and he did not mention the subject. Senator Keeffe followed him and if one looks at page 416 it will be found that Senator Keeffe spoke on primary industry. Senator McClelland at page 424 also spoke on primary industry.
Senator Drury, who had proposed to speak about the wine industry in South Australia, had been preceded by Senator Cavanagh who dealt with the wine industry fairly considerably, made only a fairly short reference to the wine industry, but he did mention it at page 439. Senator Wriedt followed and he did not speak on primary industry. Senator Georges who followed Senator Wriedt did refer to primary industry and this appears at page 550. Out of 12 speakers there were 9 who included the subject of primary industry in their addresses. Up to that point of time there had been 11 speakers from the Government side, 9 of whom spoke on primary industry. This is quite understandable because Senators Lawrie, Young, Maunsell, Webster and Lillico would obviously be speaking on primary industry. I think our batting average on the opposition side on the subject of primary industry was very good up to that point. I do not think I need go any further than that because at that point attention had been drawn to the situation and if everybody had spoken on primary industry after that point of time I could not, of course, use that as an argument.
Let me come to the Budget itself. I was very concerned when I first read this Budget. I am very pleased to have the opportunity - and I will have the opportunity later by voting on this amendment - of supporting the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I think that this is extremely important at this stage when we have a Budget which seems to me to be nothing more or less than a continuation of the budgets that we have from year to year. There is no variation in the type of budget. All that is being done is taking away a little bit here, making things a little bit easier at one point and adding something somewhere else.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had begun to deal with the provisions of the Budget, after analysing the criticisms made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I said that in my opinion this is another Budget of the type we have year after year, lt contains nothing very new or dramatic. In support of my contention I had begun to analyse the Budget and to put it into a simple form in order to ascertain what is being done by the Treasurer (Mr Bury) this year. It was anticipated that provided the same rates of taxation were maintained, receipts would increase by $840m to make available to the Government a total of $7,922m.
With the reductions in income tax that are to become effective, receipts from taxation are to fall by $228m, reducing the amount available to the Government to $7,694m. However, the Treasurer estimated that he would require $7,883m in order to meet his commitments. It is therefore necessary to make up the difference. A study of the method adopted to make up the difference discloses some important features. Receipts from customs duty and excise on tobacco, wine and petrol, plus sales tax will account for Si 18m. In the main those charges fall directly on individuals in the community. Public and private company taxation will account for an increase of $79m, while the miscellaneous charges referred to by Senator Cotton, such as light dues and air navigation charges, will account for $ 1.75m. Those items total $ 198.75m. On my figures an amount of $7,892m will be available to the Government. As the Treasurer had calculated the figure as $7,887m the difference is only $5m. As I have made my calculations in round figures the difference may well be due to minor variation inincome tax and possibly age allowances.
How will the increased revenue of about $800m be spent? Defence will take $34m and social welfare $157m. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson quite correctly said that the increases in social service payments cover more than just the base rate pension and are spread around the community. That is (rue enough. This will account for $60.3m instead of $22m, which is all that is required for the increase in the base rate pension. The point I am concerned with at this stage is the increase in the base rate pension. Education will take an extra $63m. Externa! aid, both multilateral and bilateral, and aid to Papua and New Guinea will account for $2 1.2m. Assistance to industry - rural, manufactures, mining and transport - will take $80. 6m. An additional $7 8m is required for capital purposes, for Qantas Airways Ltd, TransAustralia Airlines, and so on. The Post Office will account for S7m and other capital works and services will require $54m. Payments to the States are to be increased by $286m. The items I have named account in total for about $800m.
I have rapidly analysed the Budget to show that it contains the same sorts of provisions that appear in Budgets from year to year. It does not contain any progressive ideas or any methods by which to improve the economy. The Budget is not a policy making exercise but it does reflect the Government’s policy. I was hopeful of finding a provision which would indicate that the Government, was taking considerable ‘ note of the problems facing primary producers.
I come now to the burden of my speech. I. believe that we are continuously moving through a period of change, yet. we try to meet change through the same policies that have been used for a considerable time. At one time the horse and buggy was used to travel around Australia. When more sophisticated methods of transport were produced people were not put out of. work. We changed over and eventually we produced other methods of communication. That philosophy can be applied to all sorts of progress. But let us look at what has happened in primary industry. At the end of World War IT the Labor Government in office introduced expansion in primary industry and offered encouragement to primary producers with the object of building up overseas credits. This policy was highly successful.
Growing wheat for export, is a very quick way of obtaining overseas credits when you are short of them. The policy was so successful that it has been continued over the years, in spite of the fact that the situation was obviously changing. For the last 5 years the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has been pointing out to primary producer organisations that we would be in for a bad time. But the Government has done very little about it, other than point out that we would be in difficulties. More action than that was necessary. The situation should have been analysed to see what could be done to improve the position of our farmers. Over the last 5 years or so primary products have been our biggest exports and still are. Exports of primary products have increased each year, with the exception of 1967-68. I have a copy of ‘Overseas Trading’ of 4th September in which are set out details of exports from 1965-66 to 1969.-70. In 1965-66 farm products accounted for 69 per cent of our exports. Manufactures accounted for only 15 per cent. Farm products valued at Si, 829m were exported, while the value of manufactures was only $384m.
Exports of both farm products and manufactures have been increasing, but exports of manufactures have been increasing at a much faster rate. Exports of mining products are also growing very rapidly. For 1969-70 farm products are estimated to represent 53 per cent of our total exports, whereas manufactures are expected to rise to 18 per cent. Mining products have risen from 11 per cent in 1965-66 to an estimated 24 per cent for the present year, lt seems to me that we have to look very seriously at the situation. If the Opposition were’ in government it would be prepared to look at the situation very much more seriously than the Government is, The Government is dealing with the problems as they arise from crisis to crisis and in a way which is giving some assistance but is not doing sufficient to plan for the removal of the causes.
The front page of the ‘West Australian’ of last Friday, l1th September, reported, under the following heading, the tragedy which confronts that State: ‘3,000 WA farmers may be forced off the land’. The article in question took up the whole page and continued on an inside page. It. showed that the situation is very serious. Anybody who has been in the farming areas of Western Australia knows that this is true. Today’s ‘West Australian’ contains an article about a meeting at Esperance of over 100 farmers who are in difficulties and who claimed that in their area farmers are unable to raise finance to buy food. The article also stated that children were being forced to leave schools and colleges. The meeting carried requests, in the form of a resolution, for immediate aid. What has the Government done to solve the problem? The Government has given assistance’ through the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Bill. Only a week ago the Minister for Primary Industry stated that the Government proposes to assist with rural debt adjustments. This is locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.
It would be much better to look at the situation to see what can be done. Two things can be done. One is a short term solution, the other is a long term solution. On a number of occasions here I have mentioned the short term solution of negative income tax or reverse income tax, as it is called sometimes. This is one way in which the farmers who are in difficulties could be assisted immediately. In the United States of America for some considerable time Dr Friedman, to whom I have referred previously, has been advocating reverse income tax. This is one of his pet subjects. It is interesting to note that in America this year a form of reverse income tax has been introduced. ‘Newsweek’ of 18th May of this year contains an article written by Milton Friedman who claims that there is a difficulty in the implementation of this type of negative income tax or reverse income tax. There are many .types of such taxes. He said that the one that is being introduced there is not a good type. I believe that we have to look at reverse income tax and analyse it carefully in the light of what important and knowledgeable world economists have to say on this matter. We. have to find some way of assisting our producers at this moment. They are in serious difficulties.
The long term solution is quite a different matter. We have to look at the needs of the world for the coming years. I have an extract from a Press release issued by the Second World Food Congress held in Rome in May of this year by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. It points out that the world will be short of proteins in the next 5 years, to the extent that there will be under-nourishment in all parts of the globe. It suggests that we should be starting to produce proteins. As my time is practically completed I will leave the Senate with this point: We have to produce proteins. Research should be carried out into methods that we might adopt to introduce protein production into our farming areas so that we can bridge part of the tremendous gap between production and consumption in the coming years. This would be one way in which we could help to solve the difficulties of our farming community. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Much has been said and written about the Budget which is at present under discussion. That is not unusual and it is understandable why the national Budget, which is a statement of the financial position of the nation, should attract the interest that it does from our Press media and from the public generally. If we consider just what the Budget is and if we do so responsibly, we will recognise the difficulties associated with government and particularly the difficulty of the Treasurer and his officers in making an estimate of revenue and an estimate of our anticipated expenditure. The Budget also contains an account of the expenditure for the past year. Tt is a statement of how money appropriated in the previous year has been expended.
Tonight I rise particularly to speak against the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). I do so particularly because of the criticism that has been levelled against the Government for the Budget which it has presented to Parliament and because of the failure of the amendment to be more positive and more constructive than it is. I believe that if we criticise the Budget-and later on I will express my views in that connection - we have a responsibility to put constructive ideas and suggestions as to what the Government could have done or should have done in the light of our financial position. Senator Murphy’s amendment is nothing more than a pious resolution. It condemns the Budget and it enumerates the grounds on which the condemnation is based. But in no part of his amendment has Senator Murphy made any constructive suggestion or given any ideas as to what should have been done. It is very easy for anyone to say: ‘This should have been done and that should have been .done’, when he does not have the responsibility to see that those things are done and when he does not say from where the money should come to permit all those things to be done.
As 1 say, the Budget is an account of the expenditure of money appropriated in the previous year and a statement of anticipated revenue and anticipated expenditure for the ensuing year. Where does any government get the funds to carry on the affairs of the nation or of the State as the case might be? Where does any government get the funds to carry out the administration of the various departments of State? In the main the funds come from income tax, customs duty, company tax, excise and sales tax.
– Out of the pockets of the people.
– Indisputably the funds come from ‘he pockets of the people, and that is why I say that when we talk about doing things we must be conscious of the fact that we have to have the funds to do them, and the funds have to be extracted from the public. Honourable senators have heard me repeatedly say that you cannot get more out of a pint pot than a pint.
– This Government keeps on trying, though.
– If it is trying to get more out of a pint pot than a pint, it is evidence that it is at least trying to stretch what it has over a wider field. As responsible citizens we budget domestically, and if we find that our income is not equal to what we propose to spend on food, clothing, rent, education and everything else, what do we do? We have to adopt one of two courses. One is to live above our means and owe everybody, traders and others, for the goods that they supply to us. The other course is to go to a bank, get an overdraft and go into debt in that fashion. Any responsible government will avoid, if at all possible, going into deficit Any responsible government will endeavour to balance its budget and show at least some surplus at the end of the financial year. By doing that the government shows that it is responsible and that it is endeavouring to live within its means. Although few of us have had the ultimate responsibility of governing, the fact remains that as members of this chamber or of any other chamber of parliament we should at all times endeavour to adopt a responsible attitude in this regard.
The fault 1 find with the Budget as presented on this occasion relates in the main to the distribution of what is or should have been available to the Government. No-one with any realism at all could have hoped that a government which can surrender $228m taxation revenue for the balance of this financial year, and S280m for a full financial year, would be in a position to be generous in fields in which we would have liked it to be generous. That is the crux of my condemnation or criticism of the Budget, and I will deal with it in more detail shortly. Of course, pensions always concern anyone who has any spark of humanity in him. But the fact remains that the pensioners have always been the forgotten section of the people, irrespective of what political party has been in power. A review of figures will show that in 1948-49 - the last year of office of a Labor government - the percentage of the base rate of pay represented by the pension was not very much different from what it is today.
– Could you not be more specific? It was better than it is today.
– Not much. But in addition, we must be fair and concede that a pensioner today is in receipt of fringe benefits that were not available in 1948-49. The value of these benefits cannot be underestimated. Pharmaceutical and medical benefits are invaluable to aged people at the time in their lives when they are in the greatest need of medical advice and pharmaceutical preparations. The major feature of the 1970-71 Budget is the reduction in income tax on taxable incomes up to the $32,000 mark. As t said previously, this has been estimated to cost the Government $289m in a full financial year. Why did not the Government cut out the tax reduction at a figure much lower than $32,000? Why it undertook to make the reduction in one swoop I can understand to- some degree. If it had done it over 3 years the amount of the reduction in each year would have gone unnoticed and there would have been little political advantage gained. That is the only part of the Budget to disclose any political acumen.
No-one could suggest for one moment that the present Budget was a windowdressing Budget. No-one could suggest against the Government that this is a Budget aimed at winning some political advantage. The only evidence in support of that is the fact that the Government very easily could have halted the tax reduction at a taxable income much lower than $32,000. Had this been done the Government would have been in a position to give the age pensioner an extra 50c and it would not have been subjected to the same amount of criticism as it has been since 18th August when the Budget statement was delivered by the Treasurer. It might have been in a position to give the family man something more than he has been given in this Budget. While I have been in this place I have seen submitted to the Parliament Budgets that provide nothing at all for pensioners. I believe that has happened on at least two occasions and perhaps on three occasions.
– In how many years?
– In 1965 I graced this place with my presence.
– The pensioners have been badly treated, have they not?
– Yes, and they have been badly treated over the years, as I shall prove to the Senate in a moment. With such massive reductions in revenue the Government has handicapped itself and rendered itself unable to provide more for those areas of poverty and inequality that exist in Australia. Those organisations which were so vociferous about tax cuts prior to the Budget should ponder the simple fact that they pressured the Government into making tax reductions. Like all other honourable senators no doubt, I have received letters from Public Service unions, teachers unions, bank officers organisations and others suggesting that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was trying to avoid the promise that he made in October of last year. They had forgotten, or did not know, that the only appropriate time at which the Prime Minister could do anything with regard to a remission of taxation was at Budget time, that is, now.
I, and I am sure many more people in Australia, would have been prepared to forgo tax cuts if something realistic had been done in the social services field, particularly with regard to the age pensioner and the family man who has always been the concern of the Party which I am privileged to lead. Let us consider the case of a family man who has a wife and 4 children and receives $60 per week. For him the tax cut means a reduction in tax of only 40c per week - the price of a packet of cigarettes or a couple of pots of beer. Compare the plight of this person with the situation of a man who has a wife and only 1 child and who earns $160 per week. The tax cut means a saving of $4.30 per week for him. But it is the first family man who requires more assistance, the family man with 4 or 5 children who is on a low income.
Mr Justice Nimmo, in opening Salvation Army week last July, pointed out that during the health insurance inquiry of 1968 he had discovered that, apart from pensioners, 250,000 low income families, representing 1 million persons, were living below a miserably low poverty line. These statistics prove the need for some improvement in child endowment payments on the lines advocated by the Democratic Labor Party because only increased child endowment will assist these persons. Tax cuts represent very little to them. I believe that the Commissioner of Taxation in assessing the returns submitted by these people should grant greater rebates for each of the children dependent upon them.
There has been no child endowment increase since 1967 - prior to the last Senate election - and the previous increase was in 1964, which also was a Senate election year. On that basis I had hoped that child endowment would be increased this year. Let us hope that the Government will realise its reponsibility to this big section of our people. This year being a Senate election year, I hope that we will again see an increase in child endowment payments. But it is a pretty poor show if the only time they are increased is when there is an election. We should do away with this auction room approach to social service payments, particularly age pensions. This system is so obnoxious that it must be humiliating to the recipients of social service benefits to have their income debated from the hustings every election time and a bidding process engaged in, with one candidate saying: ff we are elected we will give you so much’ and the other fellow saying: ‘If we are elected we will give you more.’
– There is only I year in 3 when there is not an election.
– It does not matter if there is an election every week; the principle does not change. That is why as a party we have advocated and moved on innumerable occasions that social service payments should be taken out of the field of political football. This responsibility should be entrusted to a tribunal of experts who would investigate all aspects and phases of the question, including matters such as wage increases which have taken place since the last increase in social services, cost of living increases and all the relevant factors, and then make a determination at regular intervals as to what the allowances should be.
– What would you do if the tribunal did not do as well for them as has already been done for them by the Government?
– ‘That would be a matter for the tribunal. What do we do for them?
– They should be able to go to an arbitration court.
– We have an arbitration court, which Labor parties have fought for for years and years, to determine the working conditions, wages and salaries of those employed in industry. In spite of what some people might say, it can be said with safety that the arbitration system has been a great success. The only alternative that I see to arbitration is the law of the jungle. Conditions today might cause some union leaders to believe that now is a very propitious time to engage in some alternative scheme, but if the day comes when full employment does not obtain they will seek refuge in the arbitration court where they can hope to receive reasonable justice. It is for that reason that we keep plugging for arbitration. It surprises me that our proposal does not receive the support of members of the Senate, particularly those who are on my right but who are normally on my left. I feel that my colleagues in the Senate share my view that age pensioners should be assured of a better deal and should not have to come begging prior to elections or on the eve of a Budget being delivered. If my proposals were adopted the demonstrating and protesting by pensioners before a Budget is brought down would be eliminated and these people would not be subjected to such ignominy and humiliation. I put forward these proposals soon after I came into this chamber, but they were not accepted. I came to the conclusion that the Australian Labor Party was not sincere about its regard for the welfare of pensioners and that all its talk about them was pious waffle. The Labor Party was not prepared to support this genuine move by the Democratic Labor Party to take pension rates out of the field of politics.
– Why can the honourable senator not do it again?
– 1 will do it again if I can get a guarantee from the honourable senator and his colleagues that they will support my proposals so that they will be carried and the Government will have to give effect to them. It is needless for me to say that I. in common with my colleagues, was disappointed with the miserly 50c increase which was granted to pensioners, having regard to the increase which is taking place in the cost of living. The Government would be well advised to review this matter. There are no impediments to the Government making a further addition to the age pension. This would show the Government’s good faith and its appreciation of the position. The 50c increase will hardly cover the increase in the price of consumer goods since the last increase in the age pension. Pensioners are about as badly off today under the present Liberal-Country Party Government as they were under a Labor government In 1947-48 - and I make only a passing reference to this - the single age pension represented 24 per cent of the average weekly earnings whereas today, according to my calculations, it represents 19.1 per cent.
– Compare it to the purchasing power of money.
– That is covered because it is related to wages. Wages are determined to a great measure on the cost of living. If the honourable senator intends to interject he should bc logical and give me something to answer. What is the Government doing about the age pension rate? Although today it represents 19.1 per cent of the average weekly earnings a number of fringe benefits are provided now which were not provided by a Labor government. This makes age pensioners about as badly off under the present Liberal-Country Party Government as they were under a Labor government. They are still in a most unsatisfactory position. Why is it that the pensioners are always the ones who are forgotten, irrespective of who is in power? For the sake of emphasis 1 shall repeat that there is only one solution to the problem and it is the one which has been recommended by the Democratic Labor Party. 1 refer to the setting up of a tribunal to determine pension rates at regular periods.
– The tribunal would be subject to Treasury pressurisation, would it not?
– One could go on suspecting until the end of time everything which is done by governments. Surely we have some faith in governments? Surely we have some faith in the integrity of the men whom we consider to be suitably qualified to put on a tribunal of this kind? Does anyone suggest for a moment that the men who are appointed to our judiciary are subjected to influences from outside sources? 1 know of governments which have been threatened because they refused to submit to outside pressures as to when legislation should be introduced and what it should do. The Government was expected to throw overboard all regard for the economy of the state and any responsible conduct just to answer the dictates and the directions of the people in control of trade unions and a political party. Is it any wonder that the honourable senator would suspect that a Treasury officer would suborn the gentlemen appointed to a tribunal? I suppose it is suggested from time to time that judges in the civil cases which come before our judiciary are got at by somebody or another. 1 turn now to defence. As most people will be aware, the Democratic Labor Party gives first priority to defence and foreign affairs. I have stated on many occasions that social and domestic policies - no matter how just or progressive - are not worth the paper on which they are written unless this country is guided by a realistic foreign policy and has adequate defences. Consequently, I am extremely disappointed by the likely fall in the defence expenditure from 4.6 per cent of the gross national product in 1967-68 to an estimated 3.3 per cent in 1970-71. The monetary increase in the proposed defence expenditure this year over the expenditure of last year does not disguise the fact that we will be spending a lesser percentage of the gross national product on defence.
There has been a big fall in expenditure on naval construction - from $33.1 m in 1969-70 to $14.2m in 1970-71- at a time when we should be increasing our naval strength, particularly in view of the growing Russian activity in the Indian Ocean. One way to increase our naval strength is to lease an aircraft carrier from Great Britain, as I have suggested publicly on previous occasions. The London ‘Economist’ has spoken favourably of the Democratic Labor Party’s proposal for the Australian Government to lease a British aircraft carrier for service in the Indian Ocean. If we cannot provide sufficient trained personnel to man the carrier we should consider taking over the British crew. In my opinion the Australian Government should give consideration to this proposal without delay.
As I said in my original statement on the Budget, the rural crisis will not be alleviated by a relatively small measure of relief for wool growers and the promise of a look at the debts of farmers. I could not imagine that anyone in this chamber would begrudge anything the Government did in this Budget or at any other time to relieve the position facing primary producers today. Never in my memory have primary industries been in a worse position than they are in now. If one can take any notice of the authorities who paint a dismal picture of the future of our primary industries, with the exception of beef, it is very necessary that the Government keep a close watch on this matter. Indeed, it could with advantage adopt the proposal made some months ago by my Party, through my deputy, Senator McManus, to appoint a commission - a royal commission or any other commission - of qualified people to examine the position of our primary industries with a view to determining what is the best way for governments. State and Commonwealth, to assist them. The Democratic Labor Party contends that a complete and immediate examination is required of the whole field of rural industry. That is why we put forward our proposal. Any approach to this problem in a piecemeal fashion will get us nowhere. It would be only a palliative and we could not afford to carry on for very long in that manner. For many decades this country has depended on the wool industry and other primary industries. This dependence will continue in spite of the opinion of some people who believe that because there is a boom in the mineral field the plight of the primary industries should be disregarded. The position of many of these people because of drought, lack of markets kets and a fall in prices is, to say the least, tragic. In many cases they have been compelled to walk off their properties seeking employment in coastal towns and provincial cities. They have very little hope of ever going back to their properties because of the debt which is hanging around their necks.
– This is after 20 years of Liberal rule.
– It is just too silly to suggest that any government is the cause of the plight. It is just plain silly because an elementary examination of the position will show the difficulties associated with primary industries. As announced by Senator McManus the Democratic Labor Party was surprised at the Government’s announced attempt to reintroduce the receipts duty legislation. Senator McManus in his speech during my absence has indicated that the DLP does not propose to support a Bill similar to that which was defeated in this place on 18th June - as recently as that. The Treasurer has said that the receipts duty is embodied or embraced in the Budget. Some State Treasurers and particularly Mr Chalk the Liberal Treasurer for Queensland has said that he cannot understand the attitude of the DLP in opposing the Commonwealth legislation on receipt tax. Never have I been one to block a State from receiving more money from the Commonwealth. Indeed, for many years I had to fight to obtain as much money as I did, and that was inadequate.
I urn not opposed to the Commonwealth’s giving the States financial aid but I and my colleagues are opposed to aid being given by the method provided in the States receipts duty proposal. Queensland is in a unique position. Under the State receipts tax legislation it was receiving just over $2.2m per annum. The legislation provided for an exemption from duty of amounts up to $20 and then 2c for every $100 or part thereof. Under the proposed tax there is no exemption and the duty will be 10c in every $100 or part thereof. That is 5 times as much tax as is being collected today. Mr Chalk, very naturally, is a Treasurer and he has his greedy hands out looking for that additional income just as he greedily had his hands out for the Comalco shares. He is not concerned about the effect this tax will have on the struggling farmer, the grazier and other people. I am sure he has not examined the proposed tax because my advisers tell me that it will mean at least an additional 50c per week to the average family in increased cost of living.
Mr Chalk has said he cannot understand why the DLP is opposed to the duty. If he examined the legislation he would know why. When the other States were introducing this iniquitous, cumulative inflationary legislation he was asked whether there was to be any increase in taxation. He said: No. Queensland is prosperous because of the great boom in the mineral world.’ In a few years he finds himself in need of this duty so he is pretty hard to follow. He is not concerned about the effect this will have on the general public, particularly those who are not in a position to pay. The DLP has indicated through Senator McManus that it is prepared to vote for a Bill validating the collection of this tax up to 1st October. The DLP has been criticised by certain sections of the Press as being inconsistent for saying that. Let me assure yOu, Mr Acting Deputy President, that this is not any inconsistency on our part. This represents a proper realisation of what is involved. A lot of this money has been collected. The States collected it in good faith until the High Court declared that it was ultra vires their powers.
What is the position now? If the collection is not validated the money will have to be refunded. Just imagine the amount that would be involved up to 1st October.
Just imagine the paper work and the cost which would be involved in trying to refund this money to those who have paid. Others, guided by the High Court, have just refused to pay. It is a regrettable position but as practical people we should not prevent the validation of what has been done up to now. If some of those Press men who wrote the articles to which I have referred had had any experience of administration they might appreciate what is involved. It would require a staff of a few hundred people. Their experience of administration of the clerical and financial side would not give them any great knowledge of what would be involved in a matter like this which is nationwide. If we were to agree to this receipts tax. as far as Queensland is concerned it would mean at least a 400 per cent increase in duty. In the field of taxation it would take in a greater number of people. It would mean that every cash transaction would have to be receipted. If one went to a doctor and paid him S3. 1.0 for a visit there and then he would have to give a stamped receipt.
– He has to give a receipt now.
– But it is not stamped. That is the thing. A doctor can give a hundred receipts but this does not matter until they have to be stamped. Now honourable senators can understand why the DLP is opposed to the duty. If Mr Chalk is listening perhaps he might understand too. lt is apparent to me that he has only 1 mind on this and that is to obtain a 400 per cent increase in his income by this means behind the skirts of the Commonwealth. He himself did not see fit to increase the lax. I am not saying he should have - not at all. But he now hopes to receive the increase and then could easily say: ‘Well, I had to take it because the Commonwealth was collecting it and it had to treat each State similarly under the Commonwealth Constitution.’ If Mr Chalk thinks he is pulling any wool over my eyes he has another think coming. I think I have made it clear why we oppose the proposal and why we will support a Bill validating the tax to 1st October. Senator McManus has already foreshadowed the general terms of an amendment which we will propose because, as 1 have said, we are not satisfied with the amendment sub mitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy).
– Lay your cards on the table.
– I always lay my cards on the table. There is nothing underground about me.
– You never win.
– Never win? I must win; 1 am here. Anything that I have won I have won democratically, honestly and decently, and that is something to be able to claim. I trust that the amendment which I will submit after Senator Murphy’s amendment has been disposed of will be supported by the Australian Labor Party. That is unlikely but in these days of surprises anything can happen. From what we have been reading in the newspapers of recent weeks a lot of changes seem to be taking place with people changing foot and changing ground.
– A lot of people are worried too.
– I should imagine that a lot of people are worrying about it, no-one more than those who are perpetrating it. I conclude by saying that no-one has been happy with this dull, unattractive and disappointing Budget. Those who are least happy are the pensioners and the family man. By making massive cuts in taxation the Government has handicapped itself in the provision of real relief where relief is needed. Those pressure merchants who conducted the tax cut campaign prior to the presentation of the Budget should pause a while to consider whether by their actions they have severely disadvantaged many who are less fortunate than themselves. Some of those who wrote letters and distributed circulars seeking a reduction in taxes are now writing to us saying how unhappy and dissatisfied they are with the treatment that has been meted out to the pensioners and at the fact that insufficient funds have been made available for education and other purposes. Let them be realistic and remember that irrespective of the political colour of the government in office, it can only get a pint out of a pint pot and it can distribute only what it collects. If it wants any more there is only one way in which it can get it and that is by increased taxes. Surely none of us wants that.
– I rise with some trepidation to enter this debate because in the past day or two I have heard some honourable senators say that they thought this debate was dead. Maybe one of the penalties of coming late into a debate is that you are talking to a dead debate. When honourable senators have referred to the debate as being dead, I hope that they have meant that the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) no longer holds any interest. I say that because on many occasions in the past day or two I have seen very few honourable senators on the Opposition side even taking an interest in the amendment which was proposed by their leader.
Although I may be repeating what has been said before I should tike to deal with the purposes of budgeting. From listening to some honourable senators opposite it seems to me that they have a very hazy idea of what budgeting means. Perhaps we need to look at the origin of the word budget’. It comes from the French word budget’ which means a little bag. It is of no use thinking that you can put your hand into the little bag and pull out all sorts of goodies unless you remember that you first must put something into the bag. Budget time in the national context is not a time when you simply hand out goodies to everyone. You first must put something into the little bag. I have heard it said that the Budget is the instrument by which the country’s economic situation is controlled or regulated after an annual survey. I am firmly in agreement with that. We must look at the national situation and decide whether we can give out more or whether we have to control certain economic trends which are appearing. We accept that there are inflationary trends in Australia, and in this Budget the Government rightly has endeavoured to do its best for as many people as possible while controlling those inflationary trends.
I regret that the Budget is produced on an annual basis because that tends towards short sighted planning. We tend to disregard the longer term look at the nation’s development and stability. I should like to see a plan adopted for a longer period and then merely adjust it from year to year at Budget time if inflationary trends are increasing or diminishing. I believe that the individual needs some guidelines as he looks to the Government’s survey at Budget time and decides how he should plan his own spending. Sometimes action by the Government comes a little late because it has to wait until Budget time. I believe that action relating to the motor car industry - I am referring here to the increase in sales tax - was a little late. 1 know that in my own State of South Australia the motor car industry was a little on the downturn before the Budget was presented. Therefore we may find that the increase in sales tax will have a very adverse effect on that industry which may have to go through a very difficult period because the Government has forced this impost upon it. I am watching very closely what is happening in this regard. At this stage I am not prepared to criticise the Government’s policy and say that it is wrong. I merely say that its action may have been a little late.
I am also rather sceptical on occasions at Budget time about our federal system because I believe it to be inherently wasteful. It tends to enforce unplanned growth because State governments have a responsibility only to spend. They do not have a responsibility to collect taxes. I should like to see an extension of the Premiers Conference and the Australian Loan Council meeting which are held well after the Budget period. I should tike the State governments to meet with the Treasurer during the weeks when the Budget is being prepared so that they not only join in the cutting of the cake but also play their part in the measuring of the ingredients and the mixing and baking of the cake. I. think that would stop the football game that goes on continually between the Commonwealth and the States in which the ball is kicked backwards and forwards. If the State governments could be incorporated into, say, a council to help plan the next Budget I think the whole thing would be on a better basis and the State governments would have a more responsible attitude and have longer term planning in their minds.
Sometimes 1 wonder whether, when Budgets are being planned in either the State sphere or the Federal sphere, people consider those who deserve attention most. Maybe we will all have different opinions as to those who should be given the best cut of the cake. Quite frankly, I believe that the doctors and nurses should probably come among the first. I would also like to see the agricultural workers, the teachers and certainly the pensioners come very high up in the list. But I know very well who, in the opinion of the public, would be the last to be considered. They would be the members of parliament. In company with them would be those on high incomes.
T have heard from the Opposition remarks to the effect that those who need relief most are receiving the lowest cut of the taxation relief that is being granted. In my view, such remarks are quite unrealistic. If somebody is paying more into the tax pool, obviously he is the one who will receive the biggest amount of money in the form of relief. We have to be realistic. People will receive relief in proportion to what they put into the tax pool. I certainly will not be supporting, as Senator Gair said, the pious resolution represented in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. It seems to me that Senator Murphy is looking negatively at the Budget; whereas I believe that it is a positive and responsible Budget. I do not think I need to waste many words on his amendment because it is quite unrealistic.
I am more interested in the projected amendment to be moved by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I would be inclined to support some of the 9 clauses of that amendment. Although I may not be in accord with my Party, I would like to see pensions considered outside of politics - that is one of the 9 clauses - because of this everlasting auction room approach, as Senator Gair described it. This is dreadful for the people who are on pensions. Pensions should be considered in a completely non-political atmosphere. I would support any move to make increases in pensions less objectionable for those who are on them.
In looking at the Budget, I certainly agree that we must hold the inflationary trend. Many groups of people have been considered in framing this Budget. I am very pleased that those people have received the consideration of the Government. I commend the Government for that. I have said that the Budget is a responsible one. It aims to benefit everyone. I have not yet heard anyone on the Opposition side try to produce some ideas that would benefit all sections of the community. Members of the Opposition harp mostly on one or two sections.
– Were you not listening to Senator Wilkinson?
– Yes, I was. I have not heard any suggestion that benefits everyone. There is always a sectional basis for any suggestion. There will always be some who contribute more to the national coffers than do others. Members of the Opposition always want it to be the other fellow, never themselves. They are not prepared to contribute a little more in order to have more distributed. Their attitude is: Let the other fellow pay, not me’.
We must always watch what can be put into the national coffers, but we must leave room for the encouragement of initiative, enterprise and responsibility. We all know that in Australia it is very difficult to find enough people to shoulder responsibility and to take on the arduous job of leading enterprises so that they, in their turn, can support the Government’s policy of full employment. I believe that if we find more and more leaders they must be allowed to retain as large a portion of the fruits of their labours as is possible, commensurate with the need to share their earnings with the less fortunate people in the community. It is no good biting the hand that feeds you. If people are less fortunate than others, they need to respect those who are taking the responsibility and to be thankful that somebody is willing to take it.
– Oh, no!
– Yes, indeed. Would the honourable senator be willing to take all the responsibility that some of the people on higher incomes take?
– No, I would not.
– Of course you would not. That is the point. We need more of these people. We are trying to obtain them through immigration because not enough Australians are willing to shoulder responsibility. We have to respect just what the sleepless nights and ulcers of people who are taking responsibility mean. Very little thought is given to just what a person with responsibility suffers. He gives his brains and his brawn in dreaming up new ideas and ways and means of maintaining the economic status and success of the various businesses in which he is involved.
– He gets the sack at 45 years of age.
– He may. J am glad to hear somebody from the Opposition recognising the difficulties of the man who takes responsibility. It is extraordinary that in the United States people are delighted to work for somebody who takes responsibility and whose business is prosperous and paying big dividends. The worker is glad to be employed in such an industry because he knows that his job is secure. But unfortunately in Australia, more often than not, the worker is jealous of the profits that the business in which he works is making. I do not say that he thinks of this himself. He is stirred up to this by his trade union. He is made to think that he is being exploited because the business is showing a profit. Surely, if the business is showing a profit it indicates good management, security and continuing stability for this country.
In my opinion it is a great pity that some unions - T am not saying that all of them do thU - discourage this sort of prosperity in Australia. When I refer to the unions I mean the people who make them tick because, as far as I can see, all they can understand is that if they stir up strife they will hold their own jobs in the unions, regardless of the prosperity of the country. We only have to look at the newspapers and see what is happening in regard to strikes to understand that.
– You are a member of the housewives union, are you not?
– Yes, 1 am. 1 applaud the Government for its efforts in giving consideration to every section of the community.
– What about going on to primary production?
– 1 will. We have to understand that one of the first groups of people who have been considered by this Government are the taxpayers. As inflation has increased, they have paid more and more into the national coffers. They have borne their responsibility quietly and without making a fuss. But they are the ones who are providing the resources in the little budget of which I spoke earlier, for distribution throughout the community in the form of economic and social wellbeing.
Let us look at another of the benefiting groups. I refer to the States. Nobody is more pleased than I am that they have received a very substantial increase in the grants made to them from the national coffers. An increase of $29 lm has been made in the amount to be granted to the States, bringing the total of $2,708m. An enormous proportion of the national resources is being paid back to the States. This is very good. The State governments are the ones who are close to the people in their respective States. They are the ones who should be handling these payments.
If I may be parochial for a moment, let me say that I am very distressed to find the Premier of South Australia saying through the mass media that our State received a lousy deal from the Commonwealth, it did not receive a lousy deal.
– That is what the electors thought, too.
– It is very easy to convince people that they received a lousy deal. One only has to tell them that they have, and they will believe it. But you have to give them a few more facts than that. We should not forget that under the arrangement now in operation South Australia receives a 12.9 per cent increase over last year while Western Australia has an increase of 15 per cent. This sounds very unfair if the figures are not analysed.
– Victoria has only 1 1 per cent.
– We will not go into that one now. The one the Premier of South Australia made a fuss about was the allocation to Western Australia in comparison to South Australia, but what has been ignored is the fact that the formula on which the State allocation is made is based on population increase. During last year the population increase in South Australia was down to 1.7 per cent, mainly due to recessions that State has been suffering from over the last 2 or 3 years due to the Labor Government’s bad management. Pockets, are empty and it is taking a long time to pick up from the recessions which South Australia has endured. During the same period Western Australia has had an increase in population of 3.9 per cent, compared with 1.7 per cent in South Australia. Therefore the financial distribution is not a lousy deal. If one is going to say that the Commonwealth has given a State a lousy deal one must produce some supporting argument to back up the assertion. So far I have seen no such argument from the Premier of South Australia.
– Why did South Australia get a greater allocation from the Grants Commission?
– 1 am glad the honourable senator has reminded me of this, ls not this an indication of the wisdom of the present Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, in saying to the Premier of South Australia: ‘If you want more, apply to the Grants Commission and see what you can get.’ This is exactly what has happened. Whereas the State of. South Australia asked through its Premier for a $3m increase, the Grants Commission has now given it S5m. I think that this is a perfect indication that the Prime Minister of Australia knew better than the Premier of South Australia what was a just amount to give to that State, not under the allocation from direct tax reimbursement but under a different allocation.
I will pass very quickly through the defence allocation of Si, 137m. Although J am pleased with this allocation I do hope that in the very near future more young people will be brought into the present national service scheme. In fact, I would like to see compulsory national service for 2 years for all young people. If all young people had 2 years of Service discipline the unpleasant situation which is developing with regard to the abuse of drugs might be avoided. To my mind it is the lack of discipline among the young people which causes them to engage upon this extraordinary pursuit. I do feel that compulsory national service would be a solution to this problem and I hope that at some stage all young people will do national service.
I want to say a few words about the assistance granted to sheltered workshops for the physically and mentally handicapped. 1 am delighted that this section of the community has been considered by the Government in this Budget. Obviously the people in sheltered workshops need more facilities for supervision and training by people such as doctors, social workers, counsellors and others. It is very pleasing to note that the Government has made some provision for a $1 for Si grant towards salaries paid to these people. I can foresee some difficulties because I do not know how the Department of Social Services will be able to determine what is required over the normal requirements of industry. I hope that the Government will be able to say: ‘We accept the requirements of an approved sheltered workshop’, and so allow these organisations to go ahead and engage staff. Until this happens these workshops will be in a difficult position because they have not the resources to engage the staff that they need. The productivity of the people in sheltered workshops is very low. The workshops do not have the resources and they will need to know that they will be able to claim the $1 for $1 grant to engage the staff they need. It is also very pleasing that sheltered workshops are being encouraged to enable handicapped people to return to industry. This encouragement is given by a $500 grant to be made for every person returned to industry.
– Do you not think that the sheltered workshops buildings are of a very low standard?
– The provisions in this Budget will help the workshops towards improved standards. It is only in the last 2 or 3 years that there has been any sort of grant for hostels associated with sheltered workshops. We should not forget that there are only 50 approved sheltered workshops in the whole of Australia to cater for some 5.000 people. There are about 100 workshops which are not approved. For these workshops to be approved at least 51 per cent of the people employed therein must be earning more than $4 a week. When one realises the degree of the incapacity of these people one understands that it is not easy to find a workshop in which 51 per cent of its people can earn over $4 a week. I hope that this section of the community will be considered more and more and that the $2 for $1 granted for hostel equipment will be extended to cover recreational facilities for people not only in the hostels but also in the sheltered workshops, if these people are to be returned to industry - and this is what we certainly hope for, for more reasons than one - they must be built up as a whole person. At present the Government allows for a hostel 1 acre of land for every 12 people, so that a hostel with 40 people would cover about 3+ acres. Recreational facilities are as essential for those in a workshop as for those in a hostel. For those reasons I. would like to see this grant extended to cover recreational facilities for hostels and workshops. 1 have listened to many honourable senators opposite saying that the family man has not had a fair deal from this Budget. To me this statement is extraordinary because in the first place the family man is surely the man who will benefit from the taxation relief. He is the man in the lower or middle income group. This is a direct benefit to the family man. Earlier this evening Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson announced in some detail the increased benefits in education through (he additional amounts being granted to the States. This will be direct expenditure on schools and teacher training facilities. But there is also direct Commonwealth expenditure which exceeds $3l2m this year over and above what is being granted to the States. The specific payments to the States show an increase of $42m. But in Commonwealth benefits the universities will gain by $78m, the colleges of advanced education by S35m, the unmatched grants to the States by $48m and the per capita grants for independent schools by $24m. These are all benefits to the family man. I do not think I need repeat the benefits under the scholarship scheme. There are 61,000 students in tertiary, technical and secondary schools already benefiting by scholarships and there is a list of new scholarships to be granted by the Commonwealth. Again these are benefits to the family man.
The family man will also benefit by the assistance being given to primary and secondary industries. Our primary industry needs special attention at the present time and I am glad that the Government has given it the special attention that it has. I deplore the attitude which is growing up particularly amongst a lot of people living in the cities who say: ‘Why should primary industry get all this? Primary industry is always getting something. Why do not we get something?’ Too few people think of the difficulties faced by the man on the land. He is affected by fire, drought, flood and the exigencies of the weather. He suffers in his everyday life from heat and cold and too much water. People tend to forget that the position of the man on the land is greatly influenced by a fall in overseas prices over which he has no control. He is affected by tariff protection for secondary industries, which benefits people in the cities but means that the man on the land pays more for his purchases. Disadvantages for the man on the land include fewer job opportunities when he is forced to take a job outside his farm, as most must do nowadays. They are forced to take other employment in order to keep their farms going. Let us hope that they can keep their farms going.
Senator Bull reminded us that at least 50 per cent of our export income is earned by our primary products so obviously we need to keep our primary producers going. The man on the land has Fewer social and recreational opportunities and a lack of access to tertiary education for his children. They are only 3 areas in which the man on the land fares worse than a city dweller. I hope to goodness that shortly the man in the city will have more sympathy for the man on the land and will support the Government in its efforts to help primary industrialists back on to their feet. They arc in need of assistance. [ want to say a few words about the wine industry. As some South Australian senators have said, we in South Australia are very disturbed that an impost has had to be placed on wine. The Premier of South Australia has jumped to the conclusion that the excise payable on wine will have adverse effects on employment and development in South Australia, but he did not put forward any reasons for that view. Over the last few years the demand for Australian wine has been increasing. As the demand has increased the sellers have increased their prices. That has not checked the demand. I do not believe that there will be any significant curtailment in the demand for Australian wine because of the imposition of excise. I shall be watching the position very closely. If it appears that the demand is reduced I will be the first to say that relief is needed for the wine industry, because it is a very significant part of the South Australian economy.
– lt is suggested thai sales of wine will be cut back by 20 per cent.
– It is suggested, but so far there has been no evidence of it. I repeat that increases in the price of wine in the last few years have not cut back the demand.
– The Government is testing it further by again increasing the price.
– This is another increase and I hope that it will not curtail the demand. I do not think it will. There has been no sign of a cutback as yet. I and other senators will be watching the position. I do not believe that the growers of wine grapes will be adversely affected. In the last few years there has been a big increase in the production of wine grapes in South Australia. From an average annual production of 156,000 tons in the period from 1955 to 1959, production increased to about 295,000 tons in 1965. Many new plantings have been made. I applaud this development because the wine industry can be built up. However, the industry must be watched very closely to see that increased plantings and production are not curtailed. I do not believe they will be, but I shall be watching the position very closely.
– The honourable senator would be popular at Waikerie.
– I think the people of Waikerie will be perfectly happy so long as we watch results and see that there are no signs of a recession. I think they will agree that we are doing a reasonable job for our State.
– After you have been watching for 10 years all we have got is a wine tax.
– We have been watching for 10 years. I repeat that demand and production have increased. Prices of wine have been increased and there has been no check on the demand. I will not waste my time by answering the honourable senator again. I wish now to refer to pensions. I have heard a great deal from honourable senators opposite to the effect that the pensioners have not had a fair deal. Some of us in this chamber do not engage in politically biased and emotionally overloaded talk about the inadequacy of pensions. Because we do not, there tends to develop a belief that we are not in sympathy with the pensioners. I am very much in sympathy with pensioners and I will not engage in emotional talk which leads them to believe that they are getting an unfair deal. I do not think they are.
– They do not want your sympathy, they want your money.
– Exactly. I think there are quite a few people who would like a lot more money but we have to provide logical reasons why it is not always wise to give it to them. I agree that some pensioners need assistance, but 1 do not believe that all pensioners do. I would like to see pensioners classified into groups. For example, in the invalid pensioner group, is it reasonable that a 16-year-old invalid pensioner would need the same pension as an invalid man with a family? This has to be considered. If pensioners could be classified into groups, the needs of each group could be examined separately on a more realistic basis. Some people need a greater pension, but not all pensioners need an increase.
My time is up. I want very quickly to say that we need to remember that there are people who are providing for their old age. If a person is prepared to save and to invest so that he does not need a pension, on the basis of the present pension he would need to save $19,000 and invest it at 4i per cent, or if he could find a safe investment at 8 per cent he would need to invest $10,000. He would receive no adjustments in his income as pensioners do and he would not be able to claim that he is being ill treated, but he is the one who is saving the national coffers. Tn providing for himself I think he is doing a good job.
– I wish to thank Senator Buttfield for the little bil of humour she gave us in the early part of her speech, so late in the debate on the Budget. 1 agree with Senator Buttfield that it is rather late in this debate to find something to say that is different from what has already been said. The honourable senator was rather humorous in her references to her little bag and I thank her for that light relief. I am entering this debate at a late stage. I was not particularly anxious to enter into the debate on the Budget because it is a terribly dull Budget and one for which one could not raise enthusiasm in any circumstances, lt is the fifteenth Budget that has been introduced since 1 have been a senator and 1 think I can fairly claim that it is the worst of them all. 1 have entered the debate only because of comments made by 3 fellow Tasmanians. I refer to Senator Lillico, Senator Marriott and Dr Solomon in another place. I will deal with their comments at a later stage because, before doing so, I wish to turn to a matter that is very close to my heart. I refer to the zone allowance as it affects Tasmanians. Honourable senators will recall that in recent months Tasmanian shipping freight rates were increased by !2£ per cent. This has put Tasmania at a very distinct cost disadvantage. The Budget also will increase prices. This is inevitable. Prices will increase as a result of the higher sales tax. This will mean dearer motor cars, television sets and a number of other items. The price of petrol will increase. It has increased once already and another increase is pending. Air fares have increased and are to increase again. These increases disadvantage Tasmania more than they disadvantage other States.
The point which I make is that Tasmania is dependent almost entirely on shipping. Increased shipping freight rates impose a tremendous burden on Tasmania. How can the situation be eased? It appears quite evident that the Federal Government will not give Tasmania any freight rate concessions. Apparently the Government will not give any subsidy for shipping. So. we have to look at ways and means of obtaining some financial assistance for Tasmanians. I suggest quite seriously to the Government that it should have a look at the zone allowance, which is a disability allowance. There are 2 zones. The northern part of Australia constitutes zone A. Certain other parts of Australia constitute zone B. Included in zone B is a certain area on the west coast of Tasmania. Over a number of years we have endeavoured to prevail upon the Government to provide the people with relief because of the very bad working and climatic conditions that they have to endure on that part of the island. ‘ My suggestion to the Government is that it would be helpful if the Government were to raise that part of Tasmania which falls in zone B to zone A and to classify the balance of Tasmania as zone B.
It is very noticeable that at the moment only 3 Government members are in the Senate. This shows the interest of Government senators in the debate. Senator Davidson is counting how many Government members are present. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, Senator DrakeBrockman, who is the only Minister present, and Senator Davidson are the only 3 Government senators here. Two more have just walked in; we are doing well. We are getting some of them in.
– We have not been here only because the honourable senator is too boring to listen to.
– This may be so, but a number of people are boring. I give the honourable senator top marks for that. Over a period of time I have raised the issue of zone allowances. Going through some of my old notes I find that I raised this issue when we were in the pounds, shillings and pence era. A considerable time has elapsed since this issue was first raised on behalf of Tasmanians. Having another look around the Senate, I see that the Government has increased its numbers by 100 per cent. Now 6 Government members are present, but one of them is leaving.
Another matter on which I take issue with the Government is the non-allowance of fares to and from work as a taxation deduction. I do not intend to weary the Senate at this time by reading a long list of letters which I have received or which have been received by other members of the Labor Party in both the State and Federal spheres. To indicate to the Government the feeling that exists in our State, I intend to read one letter which was written on 6th August of this year. It was addressed to the Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Eric Reece. It is in the following terms:
I am writing inquiring about our income tax. As I pay S3 a week travelling allowance, I wonder why we cannot claim for this each year as we all from Storeys Creek pay $150 a year.
There isn’t enough houses al Storeys Creek to accommodate all who work there as the district covers those from St Helens, Scamander, St Marys, Fingal and Avoca. 1 would like your opinion on this as 1 and my workmates seem to think it isn’t fair to all concerned,
Hoping to hear from you,
Honourable senators will note that that man is not the best scholar in the world but he has put the point of view that exists throughout the State, which is something to which the Government could well have regard.
Earlier 1 said that 1 would touch on some matters raised by Senator Lillico and Senator Marriott. Firstly, Senator Lillico spoke in this debate on Wednesday night, 2nd September, before the Senate rose for its 1 week recess. Consequently be continued when the debate resumed yesterday. He made a number of remarks. I have heard similar remarks ever since I was a boy of about 8 or 9 years of age. His speech was a typical farmer’s speech. I do not blame him for this. Senator Lillico has been associated with primary production all his life. One could quite understand why he would make a speech of this description. I do not always agree with the way in which he advances his argument, but at least I give him credit for having the interests of primary producers at heart. He gave a long dissertation about the costs incurred by primary producers. He gave certain reasons why these costs were high. During his speech he made mention of increased wages. He said:
I have a publication by the Secretary of the Productivity Groups Advisory Council in which he speaks of obsolete methods indulged in by the management of some of our industries in Australia. He speaks of factories running at about half their capacity and mentions many other factors which, he claims, militate against cheap production. He ends with a statement that appeals to me very greatly and should appeal to the Opposition.
That remark is directed at the Party which 1 represent. He continued:
He says that getting a better return from the same resources enables the nation to spend more on education and social services without having to short-change investment in the future and provisions for defence to do so. The truth of that remark is perfectly obvious.
His speech reminded me. as I said earlier, of remarks that I have heard made by people such as Senator Lillico ever since J was a boy of 8 or 9. I can look back on conditions that existed 50 or 55 years ago when some primary producers paid their employees the magnificent sum of about £2 a week and they paid their employees every 13 weeks.
– When was this?
– The honourable senator asks: ‘When was this?’ I realise that the honourable senator cannot remember back that far, but perhaps he can look up the records. If he does, he will find that these conditions existed in 1910, 1912 and up to 1914. I am sorry that he cannot remember back that far so as to check me on that point. Some of the employers in that industry decided that in order to make good fellows of themselves they would pay their employees once a month. This meant that the employees were paid 12 times a year. They were paid on the 15th, 16th or 18th of the month - whatever the case was. But the employers gained by making 12 payments per year instead of 4 payments per year. The worker was £8 per year worse off being paid by the calendar month instead of by the quarter.
– Did the position change when power driven tractors came in?
– 1 do not think that the honourable senator should address questions to me because when he interjected previously he indicated how boring I was. If I am so boring I would suggest that the honourable senator do not ask mc questions because I will only bore him more. I do not think it is worthwhile replying to him because I do not want to bore him. Senator Lillico referred to strikes. Of course there are strikes. Why should there not be strikes? I have participated in strikes because we could not get the pay to which we were entitled. Is a strike for that reason justified? In my opinion it is. I have participated in strikes because when we were paid by cheque the cheque bounced and we wanted to be paid by cash. Is there anything wrong with that?
Over a period the workers have learned that it pays to strike. This has been brought about, to a very large extent, by the attitude of the employers. That attitude has been supported by this Government, and I make no apologies for saying that. 1 have appeared in the arbitration court on behalf of my industrial organisation. The employers’ representative has opposed the employees’ application, and he has been supported by a representative of this Government. The Government has offered evidence against the employees so that they will not receive an increase in wages, lt is quite evident that workers will strike when they take exception to the conditions with which they are faced. The blue collar and white collar workers have learned today that they have gained as a result of taking industrial action. They are more inclined to take industrial action or to cause some stoppage in order to make employers meet, their demands.
I will tell honourable senators what happened on one occasion when I appeared before the arbitration court. 1 will not. go into all the details, but at that time there were 3 award classifications in which 1 was interested. The employers were agreeable to pay to those 3 classifications 5s. per week more than was paid under the metal trades award. We had to go to the arbitration court to get a Commissioner to ratify the agreement with the employers. But he said: ‘We cannot have this because it would be more than is paid under the metal trades award. If I were to give a 5s. per week increase to these 3 classifications I will have an application from all those employed under the metal trades award and the whole of the classifications would receive a rise.’ This is one of the reasons why workers today resort to strikes. They know that as a result of strikes they will make some gain in their pay or working conditions.
I briefly want to touch on something that Senator Marriott said last night. He became rather agitated, I thought, when he attacked the Australian Labor Party. He told us how we could reform the Party, how much better we could make the Party and all these kinds of things. He made one statement with which I agree. He said: ‘1 believe that we should be proud of the Australian worker.’ I do not merely believe that; I am sure of it. lt is rather significant to note that Senator Marriott never took this line until quite recently when he attended a meeting at the Hobart Trades Hall. At that meeting were Senator Marriott, the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), a few other Govern ment, supporters from both the State and federal Parliaments, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Manufactures, and other people. I think it did Senator Marriott good to go along there and see the cooperation that existed between employees and management. I think that probably since then Senator Marriott has realised that the Australian worker is quite a good type of chap.
As I said, last night Senator Marriott told us how to organise the Labor Party. He told us of many things that are wrong with the Labor Party. Of course, it is nothing new to hear not only Senator Marriott but also the Press saying this. For donkey’s years the Press has been saying: What is wrong with the Labor Party’?’ Some sections of the Press want the Labor Party organised along the lines which they suggest. Employers, the Liberal Party, the Australian Democratic Labor Party, the Nationalists and even the Commos have told us how to run the Labor Party. University professors and academics of every description have told us how to run the Labor Party. In short, all the experts have told us how to run the Labor Party, but I cannot call the latest one - Senator Marriott - an expert. lt is rather peculiar that when one looks at the situation one finds that the Labor Party, which is the only major political party which can form an alternative government, is the only party which has not changed its name. Senator Greenwood is trying to interject. Perhaps he can recall the time prior to the formation of the Liberal Party, when there was the United Australia Party. He might recall the time when there was the Nationalist Party. He might even be able to remember back a little further in history when there was an earlier Liberal Party. He cannot say that there is any party in this Parliament, other than the Labor Party, which can form an alternative government. Neither can he say that there is any parly in this Parliament, other than the Labor Party, which has not changed its name. I felt that Senator Marriott paid me quite a personal compliment when he was talking about a split which had arisen within the Party in Tasmania. He said that one section went one way and the other section went another way, that there was a right wing and a Poke wing. I have heard of all sorts of wings within the framework or structure of the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party - is there still a Liberal Party? I think there is. There are all sorts of wings within all sorts of parties, but I did not know that a section of the trade union movement or of a political party followed exclusively my line of thinking.
– Perhaps he meant the Pope.
– No, he said Poke, unless there is a misprint in Hansard. We do not find many misprints there. The honourable senator has paid me a great tribute. After some 55 years in the trade union movement I find suddenly that a wing of the Labor Party supports my views exclusively.
– You are a leader and do not know it.
– Apparently 1 am. 1 have been promoted by Senator Marriott to the position of leader and I am very happy to have his word that I have attained that position. There was much that I wanted to say about the Budget, but it appears that the old enemy, the dock on the wall, will defeat me. Although it is not often that Senator Gair and I agree, there was one point that he made with which I do agree.
– I think that really you agree often but do not say so.
– I agree wholeheartedly with him in what he said about the Government’s approach to the family man. I give the honourable senator credit for having pointed out that there has not been an increase throughout a whole range of social service benefits which are the responsibility of this Government. I refer first to age pensions where an increase of approximately 3 per cent was granted. That increase does not keep pace even with the inflation which has continued at the rate of 5 per cent over the past 12 months. As a result of inflation, notwithstanding the increase of 50c, age pensions have dropped in value by 2 per cent over the last 12 months. Goodness knows what the rate of inflation will be over the next 12 months.
The Budget provides no increase in child endowment. Senator Gair pointed out that child endowment has not been increased since 1967 and said that the previous increase was in 1964. The tax reductions granted by the Government to wage earners are cruel. 1 can find no other expression than to say that the reductions provided for by the 1970 Budget show a cruel, hard, callous disregard of the rights of those in the lower income bracket. If I may refer to some of the decreases in tax payable by referring only to unmarried taxpayers, a man who earns $3,200 per annum, which is approximately $62 per week, will receive the benefit of a tax reduction of $1 per week. One would expect that in order to get the benefit of a reduction of $2 in income tax one would have to earn $124 per week, but this is not the case. The tax scale shows that in order to qualify for a $2 per week decrease in tax one has to earn only $4,800 per annum or $92 per week.
As we look further through the scale we find that the man who earns $6,000 per annum, which is $115 per week, benefits by a reduction of $3 in the tax payable and that the man who earns $10,000 per annum, which is approximately $192 per week, benefits by a reduction of $6 per week. 1 would have liked to develop this aspect a bit more, but I find that I am running short of time. Consequently, with the concurrence of honourable senators, 1 incorporate in Hansard a Press cutting showing the scale of tax cuts.
I should like now to touch very briefly on the statement made in another place by the honourable member for Denison. I do not want to do him an injustice by misquoting him. so I shall read what he said. He stated: it appears that in this affluent society young marrieds regard collecting of cars, radios, washing machines, floor polishers and the like as a substitute for parental care, leaving the Government to pick up the tab for the care of the aged.
I do not know whether this represents the feeling of the Government, but I draw particular attention to these words, to pick up the tab for the care of the aged.
I do not know how the people in the division of Denison will react to a statement of that type, but as one who lives in the constituency which is represented by Dr SolomonI am thoroughly disgusted to know that a person would make a statement such as this.I would have liked to touch on many other subjects because one could develop the shortcomings of the Budget over a long period, but 1 conclude by saying that I support wholeheartedly the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, Senator Murphy.
– It was only in the dying stages of what Senator Poke said that one could really appreciate that the point of his getting up to speak was to indicate that he was supporting Senator Murphy’s amendment. I thought there was some tragedy in the way that Senator Poke approached this Budget debate, particularly because much of his argument seemed to revolve around occurrences of some 60 or 70 years ago. We have moved a long way from the events of 1910. There was some tragedy also in the fact that he was prepared to say in this day and age that it pays to strike, to advocate strike action and to seek to justify it as a weapon of social policy. I know as a fact that some strikes have paid off for those persons who have gone on strike, but I think it is regrettable that this situation should exist.
We no longer live in the era when workmen had to endure suffering by striking in order to achieve a reasonable wage. We are long past that stage, and for a person to advocate striking as a weapon of policy because it is a weapon which pays off is, I think, regrettable. It is all the more regrettable when it comes from Senator Poke who is one of the 17 people who rule the
Australian Labor Party, he being one of the Party’s Federal Executive. One can only suppose that if he holds to the views that he hits expressed tonight he will be likely to adhere to those views in the unlikely event that the Federal Executive will be able to tell the government of the day what to do.
I would challenge one claim which Senator Poke specifically made, bie said that the pension increase granted in the Budget really represented a 2 per cent decrease having regard to what he described as the growth of inflation in the past 12 months. This is one of the common expressions which are used by way of criticism of the increase in the pension rate. However, it is false. If one examines the increase in the consumer price index in the past 12 months one will fmd that, by translating the index figures into monetary terms, exactly a 49c increase is required in the single rate age pension and a 56c increase in the married rate age pension.
– ls that at constant values?
– That is at constant prices. Therefore, in approximate terms the increase in the age pension which has been granted by the Government maintains its real value as at last year.
– Is that good enough?
– If the Gov eminent is proceeding to consolidate other gains, to offer other social welfare provisions, and it can maintain the real value of the pension, I believe, taking into account the other obligations of the Government, its actions ought to be regarded by a discerning, discriminating electorate as justified. But that is not the only aspect upon which the Government’s actions should be judged. If one were to examine the growth in the pension rate over the last 20 years one would find that, at constant prices, the real value of the age pension has increased approximately 100 per cent. Taken at today’s figures, the pension in 1949 would be equal to $10. Of course, in 1970 it is $15.50. This represents a real growth over 20 years. If one takes as the period of comparison the last 5 years one will note that the pension has risen in money terms by S3.50. The consumer price index rose $2 between 1965 and 1970. Therefore, there has been in fact a growth in the real value of the age pension over this 5-year period. If one looks at the position during the period of the Gorton Government, which I think is a fair period of comparison, one will see that there was an increase of $1 in the pension in 1968, a further increase of SI in 1969 and an increase of 50c this year. In short, there has been an increase of 19 per cent in the pension. In the same period the consumer price index has risen by just under 8 per cent. So there has been a real growth in the last 21 years and the growth which was evident 12 months ago has been maintained in this Budget.
Accordingly. 1 can only suggest that these are relevant facts to be taken into account and considered by anybody who thinks that the pension increase ought to have been greater. A $1 a week increase in the age pension involves an additional $60m a year expenditure by the Government. Therefore, the Government must determine which of the competing considerations it shall give priority to. As far as I can see, an examination of the Budget in the light of the various welfare provisions and the expenditure involved in giving effect to, for example, the tapered means test introduced last year and the new health scheme which came in earlier this year reveals very real progress in the field of social welfare.
I turn to the context in which this Budget was presented. It should be recognised that Australia is a developing, affluent community which expects from its Government an extensive and growing range of public services. There is a general belief, justified by all the evidence of wealth and affluence, that if a public service is required government should provide it. There is also general acceptance of the belief that government has the money to provide these services. Undoubtedly government has, by the services it has been able to provide, transformed the face of Australia over the past 20 or 25 years. But these services increased in cost as the years go by and their maintenance is necessary. Not only their cost but also their range and quantum increase. Take, for example, the field of education. I would think that the pressure upon the Commonwealth Government today to provide educational facilities which were not part of public consciousness 10 or 15 years ago is indicative of the everyday political pressures which are being applied. In this Budget the Government has increased its expenditure on education by some 25 per cent over what was provided last year, lt has done this in response to pressure and it could scarcely have done less.
Let us consider the state of our federation. The States have for many years been the mendicants of the Commonwealth. They have depended upon Commonwealth grants for 50 per cent or more of their budgets. The pressures which have been growing within the States for further money from the Commonwealth and the recognition by the electorate at large of the relative impecuniosity of the States have obliged the Commonwealth to do something to enable the States to sustain the range of public services for which they are responsible.
Though 1 propose to develop my argument at greater length in due course, I think it is important to remember that, as Senator Buttfield pointed out earlier, the sum of $2,708m which the Commonwealth Government will grant to the States this year represents one-third of the total expenditure of the Commonwealth, lt also represents an increase of $29 lm on the grants last year. Lel us consider the pressures which have developed and the obligations which the Government must meet in the field of social welfare. An amount of $ 1,820m has been provided for an increasing range of social services. This is a 9 per cent increase on the amount provided last year. Of course, the Government has obligations with regard to defence. Defence is one of the paramount obligations of the Government. Apparently the Government recognises this fact because it has provided more than SI, 100m for defence, which represents a 3 per cent increase on the amount provided last year. These instances are but illustrations of the type of pressures to which the Government must respond. Any appreciation of the Budget must acknowledge the demands which are made on the Government.
An electorate which is inclined to be critical has to acknowledge that it is the body which has put these pressures upon the Government. There must be recognition of the fact that in any budget itpresents the Government must make accommodation for the pressures which are placed upon it by the electorate. Equally, and I think this point has been stressed by a number of speakers on the Government side- of the chamber during the course of this debate, if these demands are to be made there must be the wherewithal to pay for them. The electorate cannot demand and expect to get a widening range of government facilities, unless revenue is derived in the form of taxation to finance these facilites. As I see it, that was the prime condition which the Government had to take into consideration when preparing its Budget; but it was not the only condition, lt had to decide its expenditure and its taxation requirements in the light of the condition of the economy. We have an economy in which there has been maintained over the 20 years of this Government a situation of full employment, but in the last 12 months we have had a period where consumer spending has been rising at the rate of 9.6 per cent. Over the past 12 months the average weekly earnings have been increasing between 7 per cent and 8 per cent. In the last 3 months of this quarter there has been a rise in prices as disclosed in the index of approximately 5 per cent.
– What is causing that?
– A variety of factors have caused that as I am sure Senator Murphy acknowledges. One of the factors is the very obvious and evident factor that there is a general availability of money and an excessive consumer spending which is competing for a relatively limited supply of goods and services. In that situation there is incipient inflation which any government must be concerned to acknowledge and be prepared to take steps to control in the budgetary provisions which it makes.
– What about the failure of the State governments to introduce complementary legislation to the Trade Practices Act? ls that not serious?
– Senator Murphy is inviting me to go into what I think is an attractive field. I appreciate it has some relevance but it is taking me away from what I am prepared to say. I agree and I gain the impression from reading the Trade Practices Commissioner’s report that he senses his abilities are limited because there is no complementary legislation from the States. This is part of the problem of our Federal system at the present time. In due course I hope we will have joint action in these fields because it is only by joint action in the field of trade practices legislation and other fields that many of these inflationary pressures can be withstood.
– Why does not the honourable senator use his great influence with Sir Henry Bolte to get him to bring in those laws for the protection of the people?
– As Senator Murphy knows, in some areas where one is supposed to have influence one is seldom able to exercise that influence successfully. I think Senator Murphy has some appreciation of problems in Victoria. But I was dealing with the condition of the economy. I have suggested that in the conditions of mild but growing and possibly dangerous inflation the Government has an obligation to be responsible in terms of the expenditures it permitted in the Budget. It was equally faced with the obligation that as far as it was able its taxation policies should be such that it did not put into the consumers hands such an abundance of money competing for limited supplies of goods and services that the inflationary trends would be developed. One of the consequences of tax relief would be that there would be approximately $228m in the course of the next 9 months put into consumers hands. This would tend to develop excessive consumer spending. I think that is quite obvious.
The Government therefore was faced with the necessity by taxation of cutting down the avenues in which this consumer spending would find expression. Basically I believe that that is the reason why the indirect taxes were imposed. I think it is a wise and prudent step for the Government to move into the field of indirect taxation for the purpose of controlling inflation. I know it is a vogue in some writings overseas to contrast the efficacy of fiscal control with monetary control with a view to preventing or controlling cyclical fluctuations. But I think insufficient use has been made of fiscal control by indirect taxes because it has a flexibility and a use which can be applied far more readily than some aspects of monetary control. Nevertheless in expressing those views which are not deeply researched but merely an expression of opinion which one hears I think the Government did acknowledge the condition of the economy and recognise that it was one of the backgrounds in respect of which its Budget had to be implemented.
I think the third factor - I have touched on this in part - which was a determining factor in the Budget was the need to offer some taxation relief. In October 1969 the Government fought an election on the clear promise that, over a period of 3 years, it would give taxation relief in an amount of $200m. In the months preceding the Budget pressures of enormous weight were felt from many of the sources which are now, in varying degrees, critical of the Budget. It was suggested the Government was, in some way, not going to honour its promise. The Government had a promise to honour and it did honour that promise. It seems strange when one reads the remarks made by Mr Whitlam and when one listens to what Senator Murphy has said in this chamber that they now find in some way that what the Government has done is reprehensible. This should not be forgotten. Far too much of this contradictory policy is being followed by the Opposition. After having said one thing it does another thing. Its attitude with regard to this Budget exemplifies this contradictory policy. Only in the last election Mr Whitlam was saying that he too would offer tax relief and people could be assured that the Labor Party would be more generous with its tax relief than the Government would be. Yet now, as T understand what is being said by the Opposition, this type of tax relief which has been offered by the Government is in some way reprehensible.
– No. It does not go far enough.
– Let me develop my argument. I have read what has been said by Senator Murphy who is the spokesman for the Opposition in this chamber and I have read what Mr Whitlam has said. I think the whole approach of the Opposition is characterised by a negative, criticising opposition without any practical proposal involved in anything which has been said. It has often been said that the approach of the Opposition is negative and there is nothing constructive in it.
– Is the Opposition’s approach consistent?
– The Opposition is entitled to take the view that, if it can find holes in what the Government is doing, and point to them it can be as critical as it likes. But if it poses as an alternative Government and seeks to create in the public mind that the Labor Party can do better, then it carries the obligation to say how it will carry out things which it says the Government should not have carried out.
– What about the $300m or $400m which would be saved if Australia got out of the Vietnam war? How does the honourable senator answer that?
– Senator Murphy in his 27 minutes discourse on the Budget criticsed the Government because it did not make provision for increasing expenditure. He said the Government had failed to provide for the needs of the people in terms of provision for schools, hospitals and urban authorities and that in a variety of ways Government expenditure should have been increased. Yet there was no practical suggestion as to how these expenses were to be provided for because there was a criticism of the introduction and the increase in taxes.
– I told the honourable senator: Get out of the Vietnam war.
– The honourable senator is suggesting that more money should be spent. At the same time he is saying that taxes should not have been introduced or should not have been increased. Where does the money come from to meet those expenses? One of these days the Labor Party will be able to tell us. At the present time that appears to be where they are falling down, lt would be very interesting to see if they could tell us. Senator Murphy did say: ‘Get out of the Vietnam war.’ He was not able to say how much would be gained by getting out of the war.
– I suggest the honourable senator read my speech. I told the
Senate point by point what the war was costing every year, lt is about §300m or S400m a year.
– I know what Senator Murphy put up and I am sure he would not use those figures or that argument in any place where he wanted those figures to carry conviction. 1 thought it was a strange thesis to put forward that one could project from what was expended in 1962 what Australia might have saved if it had not gone into the Vietnam war. There are so many fallacies in the proposition that I am surprised Senator Murphy put it up in this chamber. Basically my point is that even if Australia were to be out of Vietnam there is no indication of how much money would be saved. Furthermore, if that is the approach of the Labor Party and if it is prepared to say: We will cut down on our defence requirements. We will cut down on our defence expenditure and we will promote various forms of social expenditure,’ then let the people of Australia know that because I think that is a clear issue which can be fought.
I did desire to say something about what I feel is one of the distinctive features of this Budget, namely, the enhanced provision for the States. We have developing in Australia in our constitutional framework a situation which 1 think bodes ill for the nation unless action is taken to consider the stage that we have reached and the remedial action that should be taken. It is unfortunate that after 70 years of federation there have been some 25 efforts to amend the Constitution and only 5 have been successful. We find on all sides rh difficulties which are brought about because of a division of powers and the lack of a financial structure which will permit a responsibility in government in the States and an autonomy which will enable the States to enact what they consider to be best for their local area. This, of course, was never the intention of the founders of the Constitution. It is something which has developed over the years as a result of wartime exigencies, decisions of the High Court of Australia and ingenious and unintended applications of powers by the Commonwealth Government.
At present the Commonwealth Government is responsible almost entirely for the raising of governmental revenues in this country. T appreciate that the States do have a limited residual revenue raising power but it is not capable of extension or flexibility as the requirements of a State government may demand. I appreciate also that within the local government area there is a certain power of revenue raising but it is not of the character which is necessary to sustain the kinds of expenditure which local governments these days are contemplating. In these circumstances, as I see the position, there is a need for the powers which are exercised by the Commonwealth Government and the powers which are exercised by the State governments to be considered wilh a view to determining whether they are the appropriate heads of power in 1970. It seems extraordinary that there should be a suggestion, without more, that because it was good enough in 1900 when the Constitution was founded it must be good enough in 1970. I would have thought that without anything else there could be at least an inquiry, an investigation in some depth, with a view to determining whether some of the powers of the States should not be properly transferred to the Commonwealth and. indeed, whether some of the powers of the Commonwealth could not be properly exercised by the States.
It is destructive of what is best in government when we have a situation such as exists at present when the Commonwealth has a virtual responsibility for almost every governmental service provided by it and by the States. That is not as it should be. That situation exists because in respect of whatever the States would like to do and find they are unable to do they can attribute their inability to the reluctance of the Commonwealth to provide the money. One can take an easy illustration in the field of education. We know that in the last election campaign and beyond there was a great campaign centred upon the expression ‘Federal aid for state schools’. The implication was that the Federal Government should provide money for schools which were the responsibility of the State governments. The Commonwealth has no responsibility whatsoever under the Constitution in regard to education, whether it be independent school education or State school education. Such activity as the Commonwealth has developed in this area, and such further activities as some want the Commonwealth to develop in this area, derive from the fact that there is a power to make financial grants to the States and, as a condition of those grants, there can be imposed a requirement as to bow the money is to be expended.
The result is that whenever there is a demand for education or for any other social service which normally would be a State responsibility, the pressures upon the Commonwealth to respond in that area are pressures to which no government can fail to respond. When that situation exists it ceases to be so much a matter of the areas in which the Government can work: it becomes a matter of what money the central government is to provide. This to me is fundamental in any assessment of the existing Commonwealth and State relationship.
This Budget of the Gorton Government recognises the need for further finance by the State governments. In February of this year the Premiers Conference at which the States had expected to have their State income tax powers restored to them, or at least where they made an appeal for those powers to be restored to them, was concluded with an assurance by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) that consultations between State and Commonwealth Treasury officials would provide some means of resolving this position by the time the June conference of Premiers took place. What the Prime Minister promised did take place. At the Premiers Conference in June the States in fact were given an increase in their base grant, the amounts which they were to receive each year were increased, the question of their debts was acknowledged by the assurance that over a 5-year period $ 1,000m would be provided interest free and, in addition, over a 5-year period approximately $ 1,000m of the existing State debt would be taken over.
In this Budget, as I have said, the States have been granted an amount which represents one-third of Commonwealth expenditure and, for the States, a 12 per cent increase on the amounts that they had received in other years. That, in a very real way, alleviates some of the more pressing parts of the problems they have experienced. It does not go anywhere near the whole way towards giving the States autonomy in areas where they should have autonomy, but I do not believe that in the financial field a situation is likely to be reached in which there will be satisfaction in the sense that the States will have a degree of autonomy and the Commonwealth will be able to say: There are no responsibilities of ours in this area’. I hope that arising from this Budget there will be some further consideration of the position of the States in the light of the Australian constitutional situation, and that sooner rather than later we can have some convention or, if not a convention, some investigation, some inquiry in depth, into whether the existing situation is satisfactory. i am happy to recognise the responsibility which is inherent in the Budget. I think that the criticism that it is negative and deceptive is borne out neither by a critical examination of the Budget nor by anything which the Opposition has said to support its amendment.
- Senator Greenwood has established himself in the Senate as the consistent apologist for and rationaliser of Government policy, but during the course of his remarks tonight on the Budget he failed completely to do what is expected of a Government member, that is, to give some indication of how the Budget would lead Australia into the 1970s and what it would do to give some faith and hope to the people of Australia to believe that this Government was not heading towards bankruptcy, not only in the financial sense but also in the moral sense. The people of Australia are listening to what spokesmen for the Government are saying to see whether there is some glimmer of hope in the situation into which this country is heading. I am afraid that listening tonight to every word that fell from Senator Greenwood one would have heard only a rehash of the hotch-potch that comprises this Budget.
We have proposed an amendment which I believe suras up the Budget in the minds of the people of Australia. We have condemned it as a deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to standards of social service and war pensioners, assistance to schools, hospitals and urban authorities and restructuring of stricken primary industries, and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature. Senator Greenwood, in his speech, did everything but touch on these very vital matters that affect the ordinary people of this country.
I also listened to Senator Gair. If ever we heard a cover-up by the leader of a rump party, we heard it from him. He was trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the electors for the purpose of seeing through the time until the coming Senate election. He condemned one of the Ministers in his State for waiting to receive the plums of the receipts duty tax. We know very well that eventually we will see him cross over to the Government side and support that tax. We know very well that he is sparring for time. He is not fooling anyone.
– What time?
– The time of the Senate election. Senator Gair has given the Government an undertaking that he will support the validation of this State tax which has been imposed illegally. The High Court of Australia has ruled against this tax being imposed by the States. Senator Gair knows full well that it is an illegal tax.
– Only part of it.
– Whether or not only part of it is illegal, it is (ike the curate’s egg; the bad part overrules the good part. The point I am making is that Senator Gair knows very well that the High Court has given its decision on this tax, namely, that it is an illegal tax. lt is not allowed to be imposed on the people of the States by the State governments. But, with the assistance of Senator Gair, it is being validated-
– lt does not apply in Queensland.
– No. That is the point. That is where the cover-up comes. The honourable senator is protecting Queensland.
– Does it apply in Tasmania?
– Yes. It is being imposed illegally in Tasmania, the same as anywhere else. The Premier of Tasmania has said openly: ‘We will continue to collect it until someone challenges us’. What sort of an attitude is it when the leader of a State or the leader of any community imposes taxes and challenges individuals in the community to take legal action to prove their invalidity, as has been done in Western Australia?
We know very well that the validation until October is for the purpose of allowing Senator Gair time to go to the Queensland people and say what he has done. But we also know very well that when the whips are cracked he will cross over and vote on the side of the Government. So much for all the crocodile tears that he shed tonight in talking about his interest in the people of Queensland or the people of Australia.
– What do you propose to do about that part of the tax which is valid?
– We believe that the part of the tax which is valid should be imposed by the Commonwealth and that the Commonwealth should meet its responsibility to the States. Today we are seeing one of the greatest confidence tricks ever played on the States by the Commonwealth, namely, its immigration policy. The Commonwealth is sending migrants to the various States after encouraging them to come here and work in industry, thus imposing on local government authorities the responsibility of supplying the various facilities and amenities required in the community.
Not only are people having to pay the extra charges that are imposed by this Budget in the form of extra postal charges, extra excise duty and extra sales tax - in every field their indirect taxes are increasing - and not only are they having to meet the extra freight rates imposed on them, but they are finding that the rates that they have to pay to their local government authorities are increasing every year. This is a direct result of the action of the Federal Government in adopting a policy without providing local government authorities with the assistance that they should receive to help them to finance the consequences of that policy. This is an evasion by the Commonwealth Government of its responsibilities to both the State governments and the local government authorities.
Great play has been made on the concessions that have been given to the lower and middle income earners. If ever a thim ble and pea trick was put over the people, this is it. The concessions mean that a man on $60 a week, which is called the average wage, receives $1 a week. But if anyone cares to go into the details of the effects of indirect taxation he will find that much more than that $1 a week will be eaten up by the increases in indirect taxation that have been imposed under this Budget.
Senator Greenwood spoke about the developing affluent society. But this affluent society about which so many people on the Government side talk is very thinly spread. The ordinary wage earner today is in a state of turmoil because he is finding it practically impossible to meet his commitments. The young married person, who is starting off in life today and who wants finance for a home, finds that the exorbitant and usurious rate of interest that is charged - 81 per cent - is just too much for him to bear. Yet speakers on behalf of the Government try to justify a policy that brings about that state of affairs.
– Your Government would not let people be home owners. It did not want them to be little capitalists.
– When we were offering home ownership to people through the Commonwealth Bank the rate of interest was 31 per cent - the rate that applied to war service homes. But I will not go into that matter because it is a thing of the past and we should be dealing with the present and the future. We are supposed to be legislating for the new era of the 1970s. At this time the whole of the country is in a state of crisis and there is dissatisfaction throughout the whole community with the inflationary spiral that exists. An attempt is made to place the blame for it on the man working in industry. He goes to the arbitration court to try to prove that he is entitled to higher wages. But by the time the decision is brought down the inflationary process has eaten up any gain he makes. Is it any wonder that the whole community is disturbed?
I believe that the situation in Australia today - this Budget does nothing to alleviate it - is that we are part of the whole Western economic system which is breaking down, and the further this Government goes the more it proves to the people its inability to cope with the inherent weaknesses in the system we are following, under which the incomes of people on superannuation or other fixed incomes are being eroded without the Government giving any consideration to the consequences of its policy on inflation. As a consequence, we are seeing a general breakdown in the institutions, the ideals and the prospects of the society in which we live.
It all amounts to this: We are involved in a war in Vietnam which is taking a certain proportion of the revenue of this country. We are skimming off about $300m a year directly, apart from the indirect charges that we have to meet, for a war which is unjust and immoral. We are breaking down our international reputation, which we have built up over the years, by being participants in a war in which many of the things which are happening qualify as war crimes, lt has been a debacle in Vietnam. People have lost faith in our cause for the simple reason that war was never declared and it was a civil war in which we should never have become involved. Yet the Government has been stubborn and intransigent. It has tried to keep up the pressure on the people to say that we are justified in being there.
Not only have our young people become involved in the war in Vietnam and not only have we suffered loss of life, but this very expensive commitment is depriving this nation of a share of the affluence to which Senator Greenwood referred. The war machine is blocking our commitments in this country to proper housing and slum abolition, a proper allocation for education, a proper attitude towards health responsibilities and hospitals and proper safety precautions on our roads. We have slaughter on our roads as a result of bad engineering and a lack of funds with which to widen the highways and provide the other facilities that should be provided by a government that is looking after its people. Many other requirements involving human welfare are not being provided because too much of our funds are being thrown into the war in Vietnam. The inflationary process that is continuing reacts most heavily on the lower and middle income earners. Their capacity to meet their commitments is being reduced at a much more rapid rate than will be admitted by any Government spokesman.
I want to have a few words to say about the future of this country’s overseas mar kets. The Government has been deceptive in the extreme in failing to advise not only our primary producers but all other people in the country of the consequences of the loss of our traditional markets in the United Kingdom after the inevitable entry of that country into the European Common Market. No alternative markets exist for our primary products. This applies in all fields, it applies to our wool, wheat, dairy products and all other primary products. In every direction we see a very grim future. What has the Government done about alternative markets? We have- the ridiculous situation in which for pure party political purposes the Government refuses to take a realistic attitude towards our near neighbours, geographically speaking, in Asia where there arc markets available. The Japanese are not missing their opportunities in this direction. There are markets available in Mainland China. We have been particularly stubborn in failing to realise the potential markets in China for many of our primary products. We can build up markets in that country for many products just as we have done in respect of wheat. In building a market we would also provide ourselves with better security for the future than we are providing at present. The Government is practising deception in its foreign policy in apparently believing that the people we are backing in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other places will be of any use to us in future. All we are doing is increasing enmity towards us amongst the people who are the potential consumers in South East Asia of our products. The Government is being deceptive in saying that it believes that the Thieus and the Kys are defending the freedom of their people for our future benefit.
Another section of our foreign policy in which there is large scale deception is that which involves Chiang Kai Shek and the Republic of China. This country has received our support. It is my view that the recognition of this country and the influence that it has been allowed to wield in the United Nations has been one of the main causes of the weakening of that organisation as a power for peace throughout the world and as a power for international co-operation. It appears thai the Liberal Government of this country does not even yet realise the consequences of its policy, but as long as this deception continues so that this country retains a seat in the Security Council, which it was given originally - and this is my confirmed view - to weaken that body, the United Nations will be unable to function as it should. We have observed this lying attitude by governments at the very top level, designed to sustain a country which has no right to be included amongst the 5 large nations of the world. If a more realistic attitude were adopted there would be better prospects for peace throughout the world.
Many countries are facing crises. The United Kingdom is an example. In that country there has been a period of internal disruption. The inflationary process has continued and the situation in the UK is becoming serious. There are crises also in the United States of America. We have tried to emulate that country. We have followed its line of foreign policy but the US is having its own internal dissention on such a scale that it is practically impossible to cope with. In Australia our economic system is in a critical condition. The Government cannot control galloping inflation. The people who have to carry the burden are those least able to do so.
It is my view that the Government will never be able to resolve this problem as long as it continues to allow international financiers to dominate our economic policy. Our recently discovered natural resources of iron ore, bauxite and other minerals are falling more and more into the hands of overseas monopolists, who are being aided and abetted by this Government. They are being allowed to skim the cream of returns from these discoveries of natural resources. The Government does nothing to restrain them. The Government has failed to take advantage of these important discoveries. It has failed to reap the profits and turn them back into Australia’s development. These huge profits are being inevitably siphoned off as a result of overseas investment in this country on a scale which has frustrated and sickened so many Australian people. This Government has reached the stage at which it is completely negative. There is no doubt, as Senator Cant has just said by interjection, that at the first chance available to them the people will show their disgust at the ballot box. The Government will get the shock of its life.
The worst feature of current developments, as I see it, is that while young people in the community are growing up believing that they should have some useful, purposeful future, this is being denied them. This Government is giving no lead to the young people of Australia. Authoritarianism and repression are widespread here today and civil liberties are being eroded. When the youth of our country are looking for some lead, or some inspiration for the future, the Government will have to learn that it cannot control them by repressive legislation. In every institution and in every age when those with more power have met those with less power there has occurred a crisis of law and order. This is the crux of the big problem that we have to face today. How are we going to give our youth inspiration for the future? The Government, in my view, is adopting a completely wrong attitude in believing that it can achieve results by force, by the club or by the gun. This has been tried in other countries and has failed. Inevitably it will fail here. You cannot force young people to believe in a system that offers them no encouragement for the future. The taking over of industry by monopolists to satisfy stock exchange investors and such people is a negative development that does not meet with the approval of those in the community who have a responsibility for the future.
As I said when I commenced, we are entering an era in the 1970s and beyond when science and technology can solve many of man’s problems. If these great forces are directed in the proper way we can have an affluent society in this country but the policy of this Government is so negative and so encourages inflation and deprives the underprivileged people of the community that it just cannot be tolerated.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Seriate do now adjourn.
– 1 wish to take a few minutes to raise a matter which is concerning some investors in South Australia. Possibly it warrants an inquiry by the Treasury or the Attorney-General’s Department. While it concerns a company, which is normally a matter covered by State laws, as the company is offering to investors a tax free investment I think it could well need the scrutiny of the Treasury at Canberra. I seek an inquiry into the activities of one Keith Washington to determine whether he is as honest as his namesake George of American fame.
– Is it a company?
– Keith Washington is the representative of the Mutual Development Fund of Australia. It has its office at 14 Thorpe Road, Burnside, South Australia, at which address the office of Wiener and Dale, land agents, is also located. Keith Washington is visiting various work places and factories and speaking to employees. He seeks a deposit of $25 in an investment company, to be followed by weekly payments of $2.30 for a period of 4 years. At the end of 4 years Keith Washington guarantees a tax-free lump sum repayment of $2,000. As the investor in the period of 4 years has paid a total of only $503.40, he receives a profit of $1,496.60. The investors become parties to a company that purchased land in Tasmania around the site on which it is proposed to build a casino.
Keith Washington has in his office many attractive brochures explaining details of the scheme. When asked for a brochure he said that be could not give them out to any client as they are numbered and he had to keep them in the office.
– Can the honourable senator give any more detail about the land that Washington says he has bought about the casino site?
– I cannot give details of the land but f can give some details of the publicity campaign. In Washington’s office are many pages from Tasmanian newspapers, covered by cellophane, setting out the activities of the company He has on display certificates of land titles and aerial photographs of the area in Tasmania where the casino is to be built. He has various maps. Anyone investing with him signs a Transworld Travel agreement. Washington states that the Federal Government accepts that his clients are investing in a world trip and profits from the investment can be written off as travelling expenses. The profits of $1,496.60 can be written off as travelling expenses and will not be subject to taxation, it is claimed. Further, a life insurance policy for a period of 4 years is given. Should a client lose his job or die, on default in payment the life insurance policy will take over and make up the payments.
– This is really El Dorado stuff.
– Yes. The client signs a document and the money is paid into the ES&A Bank of Australia. A person who was approached at that person’s place of employment went to the office in Thorpe Road to find out more details. That person has supplied me with some information. On asking how long the Mutual Development Fund of Australia had been in operation, the reply was: Really 4 years, but actually I year.’ When asked the name of the executive Washington replied: ‘Tt is on the front of the brochure.’ The brochure shows the executive as the Mutual Development Fund of Australia. The guarantors are the Mutual Trustee Company and the underwriters are Treble Co-operative Society and Transworld Travel. The bank is the ES&A Bank in King William Street, Adelaide. Directors are shown as Wolf Gunnarsson Wiener and Elfriede Briget Gunnarsson Wiener, The administrator is shown as Joseph J. Hinora and the secretary is F. W. Thompson of 14-16 Thorpe Road, Burnside, his residence being at 70 Eliza Place, Panorama. The auditor is J. H. Pilkington, solicitors are Fisher and Jefferies and the representative is Keith Washington.
When asked whether the scheme really works Washington’s response was to refer the questioner to a folder and to show a map of part of an industrial area in Tasmania near the casino site. Another map of Tasmania was also produced showing 4 large areas representing the area in which the client would be interested if he invested for a return of $2,000. My informant asked: ‘Do you own any of this land freehold?’ The reply was yes, and a large area near the casino site was indicated. The next question was: ‘What did your managing director do before this scheme came into operation?’ Mr Washington replied: ‘I really don’t know. I’ve never bothered to find out.’ But the manager is a partner in the firm of Wiener and Dale, land agents, whose office is at the same address.
When asked how the scheme got started Washington said: The Government is really encouraging the promotion of our co-operative so that the small man can participate in the big land deals now that overseas interests are buying up Australian land.’ It was then said by Mr Washington that the idea was to invest money in buying and promoting an area, and then selling it. So much would be paid to investors, and in the questioner’s case it would be $2,000. Mr Washington said that that was exactly the position. He was then asked whether he had a certified balance sheet available for inspection. He said that it was in the brochure. It showed about $2,000 in the ES&A Bank, plus a couple of options on land amounting to less than $1,000. Mr Washington then proceeded to show my informant the names, addresses and titles of people supposed to be subscribers to the scheme. He pointed out that investors included police officers and bank managers.
If it is a bona fide scheme I think Mr Washington needs encouragement and advertising. If it is correct that a profit of $1,486.60 can be made on an investment of $503.40, the public should know about it. Otherwise the false pretences of the organisation should be exposed. I think that the Commonwealth is vitally interested in the scheme as a tax free profit is offered. I do not accept that the Commonwealth Government has entered into an agreement to waive taxation so that the small man can get something which overseas investors are getting at present. I trust that the appropriate department will investigate the matter for the protection of the people concerned.
About 10 minutes ago I realised I would have to raise this next matter. I do not know whether it concerns the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) or possibly you, Mr President. I make a strong criticism of the service supplied to us by the Parliamentary Library. We rely on it for certain assistance in carrying out our task as senators representing States. As a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee I have been trying to raise a point about a particular regulation before the Committee.
I sought to fortify my case by some reference that I knew existed in the South Australian Industrial Law Reports. My previous experience was with the South Australian industrial tribunals. I was an industrial advocate for 16 years. I had a good knowledge of the Industrial Law Reports. Generally I could refer quickly to a judgment that was given in a particular court. Previously I could go to the basement and search through the Law Reports to get any judgment that had a bearing on a point that I wanted to put.
On this occasion I knew there was a judgment that would assist me in my advocacy before this Committee. This evening I asked whether I could get this judgment. I was told that the State Reports had been shifted from Parliament House to the National Library. The girl obligingly said that she would obtain the report for me. After waiting 11 hours I returned and I was told that they had not succeeded in getting the report; they could not find the reference. I said that T could find it in 10 minutes if they would let me get among the books. They then found that they had a reference to the report in an industrial journal. I had said the case was about 10 years old. The Library produced a law report of 1930, which is 40 years old. I rang the National Library. I had been given the wrong book. The National Library agreed to send over the appropriate book, which was Volume 28 of the South Australian Industrial Law Reports.
I agreed to return. I returned at 10 to
II only to find that the National Library has lost its copy. I was relying on the Par.lamentary Library to supply me with the report so that I could fulfil my function. I have been unable to obtain a copy of a judgment that I could obtain in any State public library, most country public libraries, any State parliamentary library and a lot of other libraries. If that is the standard of ability to supply reports to honourable senators, I think it needs some investigation. We should get something better than this from the Parliamentary Library. If 1 had known earlier I could have made application and possibly got the gist of the judgment from any of the State law reports that our National Library has. It has let go astray somewhere an important document containing reports of the law courts of a particular State. I make those 2 complaints in the hope that notice will be taken of them and that some rectification will be made.
– (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) (11.14) - I urn quite certain that in due course you, Mr President, will have some examination made of the last matter raised by the honourable senator and that you will convey the result to him. The honourable senator gave us some information about an organisation in South Australia and then referred to a tax-free concession which is being offered. I think that reference was particularly relevant. In that context, I think it is very proper and 1 should wait till tomorrow to read his speech in Hansard and refer the matter to the Treasury. The Treasury may very well say that certain aspects are not within the responsibility of the Commonwealth but rather are within the responsibility of the State.I am sure that Treasury will have an immediate examination made of the reference to the tax-free allowances. Then I will be in a position to reply to the honourable senator or to obtain an answer for him. Perhaps it would be wrong for me in my position here to comment about what is being offered. However, we will certainly have an examination made of that part of it in which the Commonwealth has a responsibility.
– I appreciate Senator Cavanagh drawing attention to the report he sought. I will of course have it cleared up in the morning without any trouble at all.I am rather surprised that it has happened because the Library has been favourably commented on by members for the tremendous service it is giving. Obviously, this is one weakness. I shall ascertain just what has gone wrong and whether it can be rectified. It will have to be rectified much more quickly than that. I will see to that in the morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Senate adjourned at 11.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700916_senate_27_s45/>.