27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 1857 citizens of the Commonwealth.
To the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Pre-school and after-school education facilities arc in urgent need within the Australian community. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join Hie work force.
In advanced countries pre-school and after-school education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to provide the necessary finance to enable State education departments and local government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 45 citizens of the Commonwealth.
To (he Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that a National Park as proposed by the planning team appointed by the Minister for the Interior in 1970 should be immediately established.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should call upon the Senate. Social Environment Committee to investigate the issue.
And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. In view of the police raids in Melbourne. Sydney and Geelong yesterday, allegedly seeking evidence of the operations of Ustashi terrorists, will the Attorney-General make a full statement on these raids and give the
Senate as much information as he can at this stage? Can he also explain whether these raids were instigated by him? If so, can he see any apparent conflict between this order and his statement last week that there was no evidence of any Ustashi terrorist groups in this country?
– The position as I have stated it for several weeks - that there is no credible evidence of any Croatian terrorist groups in Australia - still stands. The searches which were made yesterday by Commonwealth police officers, together with State police officers, were not directed towards obtaining any such evidence. I am awaiting a full report from the Commonwealth Police of the outcome of the searches which were made yesterday, and until I have received that information I am not prepared to indicate whether I will make a full statement to the Senate. I should state that the searches yesterday were made as part of a police investigation and were made without my knowledge.
– I direct to the Attorney-General a question which concerns the attempted violence that arose from the plumbers meeting in Sydney on Monday last. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the following reported statement of Mr John Ducker, the Assistant Secretary of the New South Wales State Labor Council-
President of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales.
– Yes, the President of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales, and his statement I now take to be the official policy of the ALP. I quote the reported statements of Mr Ducker:
This was a deliberate attempt of intimidation, a policy advocated by the Australian Communist Party. 1 am not one to kick the communist ‘can’ but 1 warn all unionists that communist inspired violence will continue unless they are vigilant. I know that the Communist Party is using these vigilantes as shock troops just as Hitler used storm troopers to gain power.
I therefore now ask the Minister: Firstly, is not this revelation a full confirmation of consistent Federal Government warnings over a number of years on the nature and dangers of industrial lawlessness and communist subversion? Secondly, is it not a total refutation of the Labor Party’s consistent denials that any such real threats exist? Thirdly, will the Minister consult with the States to ensure the maximum protection of individuals engaged in proper democratic processes?
– The honourable senator’s question has obviously touched members of the Opposition, who are interjecting, on a raw spot because one of their members has had the courage, at long last, to nail the blame for much of the industrial lawlessness in this country where it truly belongs, that is, with members of the Communist Party who have a calculated programme which is evidenced in their writings over a long period and which has been borne out by their actions. It is curious that the only occasion on which some spokesmen for the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Labor Party are prepared to allege communist activities is when one of their own members is hurt.
– You would see a communist under the bed of the Indian Ocean.
– I sense, from the noise, that there is a sensitivity about this subject, a sensitivity which the people of Australia should well acknowledge. I accept what Senator Carrick has said: That what the Federal Government has been saying for many years has been borne out by the violence which was offered to Mr Ducker earlier this week. The fact that this has occurred is, as Senator Carrick said, a complete refutation of what we hear from spokesmen of the Australian Labor Party in this chamber from time to time, that is, that all this talk about intimidation is nonsense. I say further that while the Labor Party has, as its policy, a programme which would exonerate from all civil consequences unions and unionists who engage in violence in the course of strikes, they can expect this sort of thing to happen. The Government is completely opposed to that sort of activity and believes that it has an obligation to make these facts known on as many occasions as can be mustered.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! Before we proceed any further I want to make it clear that when honourable sena tors ask questions they are entitled to be heard in silence. The reply given by the Minister should also be heard in silence. I ask honourable senators to pay due regard to that request, irrespective of how they personally may feel, because this is a democratic Parliament and I assert the right to ensure that that course is followed.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that a cheese factory in New South Wales was prevented by the Department of Health from manufacturing parmesan cheese, which is made from unpasteurised milk? As pasteurisation kills the bacteria necessary to curd this cheese, it follows that imported cheese could be equally dangerous to human health. Will the Minister inquire whether such cheese is imported into Australia and whether the countries from which the cheese comes have any incidence of foot and mouth disease? If the inquiry reveals that the product comes from infected areas, will the Commonwealth ban such imports in order to protect the health of the people and the future of the Australian dairy herds?
– The question seeks a good deal of information which, as the honourable senator realises, I as Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry would not have with me. But I shall seek the information if the honourable senator places his question on notice.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General as the Minister in charge of security. Is it a fact that the Yugoslav communist Embassy recently provided the Government with a list of names of Croatians who were alleged to have trained in terrorism in Australia and to have been killed in a raid in Yugoslavia? Was this information contained in a Yugoslav newspaper published in Sydney under the name of ‘Nova Boda’, which I understand means good news. Is it a fact that one of these names was that of Mr Andrija Lemic? Is it a fact that Mr Lemic is alive and well and living at Mount Gambier and that he dismisses the Embassy allegations as communist propaganda? Is this a fair sample of the credibility of reports emanating from the Yugoslav Embassy in Australia? I ask the Minister with reference to the ridiculous literature raids carried out by Commonwealth Police yesterday on Croatian homes, including a Catholic Presbytery, whether he will give- (Opposition senators interjecting.)
– I hear an honourable senator say that they probably went to confess. I do not see anything humorous in that.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I have asked for silence during the asking of questions.
– Mr Acting President, if I may resume my question: I ask the Minister whether in respect of these raids he will give an assurance that any necessary interpretation of documents seized will not be carried out by interpreters suggested by the Yugoslav Embassy or by one Jurgan Jurjevic or any communist agent. Is it not a fact that the bulk of the literature seized is freely available on book stalls in Melbourne and other capital cities?
– It is a fact that the Yugoslav Ambassador recently delivered to the Minister for Foreign Affairs a document which I think is described as an aide memoire, in which the Yugoslav Government made certain allegations about the conduct of the Australian Government apropos activities of terrorists in Yugoslavia and what were alleged to- be activities of terrorists in this country. That document is now being examined by the Commonwealth Police. I understand from a Press report that a Yugoslav newspaper based in Sydney, named ‘Nova Boda’, did make an allegation that a Mr Andrija Lemic had been killed in Yugoslavia during these terrorist raids. I have not seen that newspaper or had any translation of it given to me, but I am assured that Mr Lemic is a person living in South Australia and obviously is not the person referred to in the newspaper account. As to whether that represents a fair sample of the Yugoslav assertion, I am unable to give a final or a complete answer pending completion of the examination of the allegations which were made in the aide memoire.
With regard to the other aspect of the honourable senator’s question, I should say that in the searches carried out yesterday at a number of homes in Victoria and New South Wales a vast quantity of literature was seized. 1 am unable to say whether that literature is readily available in the bookstores because I have not received a report on the nature of that literature. But I should say that there have been Press reports, in particular in the Melbourne ‘Age’, on what occurred yesterday in the searches in Melbourne. Unfortunately that report is to be noted for its glaring inaccuracies. There was in fact no search of a church. There was a search of a presbytery. This was done after there had been consultation with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. A priest was present at all times while the search was being carried out by the police officers. State police officers as well as Commonwealth police officers were present at the time the searches were being made. The search was for documents and net, as the ‘Age’ alleged, for explosives.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that 100 butchers in Brisbane have closed their shops or gone broke in the last 3 years? Is the Minister aware also that a Commonwealth survey published on 8th August 1972 showed that meat was dearer in Brisbane than in any other capital city and that soon people will be unable to afford meat? Does the Minister agree that the situation in Queensland is an extraordinary one for the beef State of Australia with in excess of 10 million head of cattle? Will he urgently consider establishing a stabilisation committee for the meat industry to protect Australian consumers and the meat retail trade?
– The reputation of Queensland as a meat producing State is well known. As a primary producer, I know what a producer receives for meat on the hoof in comparison with the price that is realised in the butcher’s shop. I would think that this would be more of a State matter but I will discuss it with the Minister for Primary Industry and convey any information that I receive to the honourable senator. May I say that I would be glad of any information that the honourable senator can give to me on this matter before 1 go to the Minister for Primary Industry.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Has he seen Press statements by Mr Foster, the Federal member for Sturt in South Australia, criticising the Minister for Immigration for using a VIP aircraft in the course of the recent oil strike? Can the Minister say whether any member of the Australian Labor Party had the use of a VIP aircraft in the same period? If so, who was the member and what was the reason for the use of a VIP aircraft.
– I have had drawn to my attention the statement made by the honourable member referred to. I recall again to the Senate that approval for the use of VIP aircraft comes under 3 authorities, namely, the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Air. The rules governing use of VIP aircraft were detailed by me on and appear in Hansard of 30th September 1970. Those are the rules on which approval is based. As Minister for Air, I deal with applications from all Ministers, including the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as applications from the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. On 4th July 1 received an application from the Minister for Immigration who wanted to go to Ceduna and return by VIP aircraft on 3rd August. The application fell within the guidelines laid down and I confirmed that no commercial aircraft was available. Therefore I approved the use of a HS748 for the Minister to go to Ceduna. The ircraft travelled from Canberra to Edinburgh, Ceduna and Edinburgh and subsequently returned to Canberra. Under the existing cost of the trip was $1,379. The aircraft cost of the trip was $1,379. The aircraft carried the normal crew of 4, and also carried a navigator under training. The honourable senator asked me whether any member of the Australian Labor Party travelled in a VIP aircraft during the oil strike. There are 2 such men entitled to use VIP aircraft and one of them. Mr Barnard, travelled on a VIP aircraft on 2 occasions during that period.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of statements being publicised - for example in the editorial of World Agricultural Report’, an Australian publication - that because of failure to attack the problem of bovine brucellosis Australia by 1975 could be banned from her best overseas beef markets and the beef industry could be almost ruined? What truth is there in these reports and do they represent cause for alarm?
-BROCKMAN - - The disease referred to does cause considerable alarm to primary producers. This subject has been before the Australian Agricultural Council on a number of occasions. The mainland States have joined with the Commonwealth in a programme to combat it commencing January 1970. The Commonwealth makes a contribution to the States on a $1 for $1 basis totalling to date over $4m. Recently, because of the decision of the United States of America to prohibit the importation of meat of this type into that country, the Australian Meat Board made certain recommendations to the Commonwealth Governnent on what action it thought should be taken to try to step up the eradication of this disease. This matter was referred to the State Departments of Agriculture for further recommendation and it was discussed recently at a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council. A final decision has not been made because there are still some points that must be cleared up. However, the Commonwealth is keen to speed up the programme in an effort to eliminate this disease.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, refers to the National Labour Advisory Council Committee on Women’s Employment. After each meeting of the Committee I receive a news release from the Department of Labour and National Service setting out the matters which were considered. 1 ask the Minister: Is any information available to honourable senators on the views of the Committee, or is it an advisory committee which reports only to the Minister? As the range of subjects recently considered includes part time employment for women, family taxation systems and allowable deductions, and child care, I would appreciate any information which can be supplied from this Committee.
– I take notice of the honourable senator’s reference to these matters. I am not equipped with information readily at hand, but I shall refer the question and obtain the information for the honourable senator at the earliest opportunity.
– I ask the
Attorney-General: What Commonwealth department will provide the translators to process the material confiscated yesterday by Commonwealth and State police in raids on ultra-rightist elements of the Croatian community? After the material has been translated, will any honourable senator who has been referred to in libellous terms in such publications have access to them?
– I understand that there is a gentleman with linguistic ability within the Commonwealth Police who is able to perform an adequate task in the translation of a number of documents of this character. I imagine that his services will continue to be used. I also know that when there is a problem with translation use is made of officers of the Department of Immigration who have similar ability to translate. I imagine that in light of the vast amount of material which has accumulated that is the source from which translators will be drawn. As to the second part of the honourable senator’s question, at this stage I am unable to give any indication as to what course I might follow, lt will depend upon what is in the material when it is reported to me.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration aware of the statement made by Mr Tonkin, the Labor Premier of Western Australia, that his Government would encourage the Commonwealth Government specially to admit a number of Asian refugees from Uganda and that his Government would co-operate in settling them in Western Australia? Can the Commonwealth Government or any State government require an immigrant to Australia to settle in any particular State or, once admitted, can the settler go to whatever State he likes? Has Mr Tonkin indicated in his letter to the Commonwealth Government whether it is the intention of his Government to divert funds already allocated to the State for the relief of unemployment to the settlement of any such refugees? Has Mr Tonkin suggested that the Commonwealth should make additional funds available for that purpose instead of the further funds sought by him for the relief of unemployment in Western Australia?
– I have seen the report of a statement attributed to Mr Tonkin revealing an apparent willingness on his part to admit to Western Australia, apparently on an open door basis, persons who are being- (Opposition senators interjecting) -
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order!
– I am a little surprised at the outcry that statement has caused. That is my understanding of what Mr Tonkin said. If he has revealed himself with greater clarity to honourable senators opposite then I think that they have an obligation to inform everyone in Australia of Mr Tonkin’s view. But, as I said, he apparently would admit to Western Australia, on an open door basis, people who are not- (Opposition senators interjecting) -
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I have appealed for order before when questions were being asked and answers given. I want it to be understood that we must have silence when questions are asked and answers given. If we do not, what is the use of asking questions?
– I must say that I am a little nonplussed as to what is stirring the Opposition at the present time because, as I understand it, the statement which I have related is the statement which I saw attributed to Mr Tonkin.
– You did not see it.
– I assure the honourable senator of what I am saying. The point of what I am saying is that it is well known that the laws relating to who may come into this country are laws which are laid down by the Federal Government
It is not for a State government to determine that it shall admit as many or who it pleases into this country. That is a responsibility for the Federal Government and, until quite recently, it was a bipartisan policy. Only in recent times has the Australian Labor Party diverged from a policy which was satisfactory to both parties over a long period. 1 must say that I agree with what Senator Durack said - that it is curious that the leader of a government in a particular State, where I am led to believe the rate of unemployment is highest and where there is a greater outcry than in any other State that it is not getting a fair deal from the Commonwealth Government, which of course is nonsense, should nevertheless be prepared to accept a greater burden which would involve a greater use of money, which would involve a greater allocation of resources and, which presumably, would accentuate the unemployment problem. I can only suppose that there is a political element in the view which has been taken by Mr Tonkin.
– Is the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the annual report of the Commonwealth Auditor-General discloses that the United States of America has overcharged Australian Service departments at least Sim for defence equipment in the past 2 years? Did the Auditor-General state that the United States Government had agreed to return $252,000 and investigate other claims but that Australia could find it difficult to recover all the money because of the time lag? If so, will the Minister explain how such a large error occurred and what positive steps are being taken to rectify this costly mistake and to avoid a recurrence?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked a question relating to the whole of the defence group. I am aware of the reports that he mentioned, but at this stage I cannot give him details as to how the deficiencies that he outlined were arrived at. However, I can outline the situation in my own Department and I came into the Senate prepared to do that today. The deficiencies in the main are revealed by comparisons between American accounting and Australian accounting. The accounting in respect of purchases made by Australia is done in America. The information is fed into a computer where sometimes discrepancies are revealed. On other occasions the results have to be reconciled with what is shown by our computer figures. This is the general trend. 1 should like to examine the question asked by the honourable senator and supply him with additional detailed information.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Housing say whether any consideration has been given to establishing housing loans for low income families at extremely low interest rates which are more in line with the actual risk of the capital of the loans so that low income families can have some chance of eventually owning their own home? If not, will the Minister investigate the feasibility of such loans?
– I am quite sure that the question raised by the honourable senator has been under examination quite often throughout the existence of the Ministry for Housing. T ask the honourable senator to note that in the Budget Speech only last week it was announced that readier access to credit union funds would be available for this purpose. For the last 25 years the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement has provided for funds at the low interest rate of about 4i per cent or 3£ per cent. The funds should be passed on through State Government administration to both lessees and purchasers of homes. That Agreement was displaced last year by a formidable grant of finance. The main purpose of that finance to the States still is that the low income and moderate income earners who seek housing at the instance of the States should have the advantage of funds at the lower rate of interest.
My question is directed to the AttorneyGeneral. To date what steps have been taken, and if any steps have been taken what progress is being made, towards the establishment of a public lending right in order to give protection to Australian authors?
– The concept of a public lending right has been the subject of discussion between myself and a representative body. I am not quite sure of the name of the representative body with which I had the discussions but I think it. was the Australian Society of Authors. I have received from it a submission. That submission was given to me at my request because I desired to obtain the Society’s view about the cost of instituting a public lending right. I have also received submissions from the Libraries Association to ascertain its view about the cost because, broadly speaking, it would oppose the granting of a public lending right. I think questions of principle are necessarily involved in this matter of a public lending right because if one is to view it in terms of a right which is vested in the author, it partakes the character of copyright and it should be viewed as something which is inherently the author’s property. On the other hand, as I understand the Society of Authors, the main tenor of its approach is to seek some form of assistance or subsidy which would enable it to have funds as recompense for diminishing sales of books since libraries have been established. These matters raise important questions of cost as well as important questions of principle. At present I am having an assessment made of the submissions presented to me. I have indicated to the Society that after that assessment has been made a public statement will be made on the Government’s attitude.
– I am sure that the honourable senator appreciates that people have more frequent recourse to their doctors than they do to their lawyers. I do not think it is altogether appropriate to equate the need in the legal area to something approaching a national health scheme, but 1 do believe that justice should be available to everybody and that it should not be denied because of lack of means to assert rights before the courts. The question of whether legal aid should be made available is essentially a matter for the State governments because there is no head of Commonwealth power which may be utilised in the broad sense to permit a system of legal aid. I know that members of the legal profession in each State have co-operated to provide a comprehensive scheme of legal aid which from time to time requires adjustment, but that legal aid scheme is there and is available largely because of the voluntary services of the legal profession.
In the Australian Capital Territory, where the Commonwealth Government does have a responsibility, there was introduced earlier this year a legal aid scheme which, I think, is as good a legal aid scheme as any scheme in the Commonwealth. It also depends on the very willing co-operation of members of the legal profession. I recently had discussions with the Northern Territory Law Society and there is to be a discussion with that body as to some legal aid scheme for the Northern Territory. Of course, it should be appreciated that within the area of conciliation and arbitration there is a very generous scheme of legal aid to enable trade union members to assert their rights either against executives of the union who they allege are not doing their duty according to the rules or to ensure that the rules are observed. That is an avenue which has been usefully explored and utilised by unionists in recent times. I appreciate the honourable senator’s interest. I think the position is far better throughout the country than she would give the impression by the nature of her question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Will the Minister take action to ensure that low-flying jet fighter aircraft and helicopters engaged in Army exercises in the vicinity of Murray Bridge in South Australia are kept clear of areas where there is a large concentration of poultry farms because of the stress these low-flying aircraft are causing to intensively housed birds?
– In my own portfolio 1 receive this sort of request regularly. It is rather difficult to say where aircraft and helicopters are to fly. Certain air space is set aside as flying areas. I take it that Murray Bridge must be one set aside for the Army. But certain restrictions are put on the aircraft; that they fly during certain hours and at certain heights. I will certainly make the Minister of the Army aware of what the honourable senator says If he has any comments. I will convey them to the honourable senator.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the postmasterGeneral. Is the Minister aware that the Australian public may be deprived of television and radio coverage of the Olympic Games, starting on Saturday, as a result of a proposed union ban? Does he regard this irresponsible action by the union as a blatant misuse of power to achieve monetary gain and a complete disregard of the rights of the Australian people? What does the Government intend to do about it?
– I would think that if the Australian people are denied the opportunity of seeing on television the Olympic Games, as threatened by one industrial organisation, it would be one of the most shameful misuses of power that this country has seen in a long while. I feel that there is no necessity-
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I ask honourable senators to cease interjecting.
– I can say only that apparently there is no action of an industrial organisation or union which does not have the support of members of the Opposition if the noise by which they have responded is any indication of their feeling. As far as this union is concerned, it has the opportunity to have its claims arbitrated. It is not prepared to do so but simply to resort to direct action with a view to obtaining its results by creating the maximum of inconvenience and hoping that thereby it will be able to have the Public Service Board yield to its coercion. I hear Senator Withers say that it is blackmail. It certainly is tantamount to blackmail. I understand that the Public Service Arbitrator at a meeting yesterday told the union to lift the ban and told it that there would be no talks while the ban was on. Following the refusal yesterday to have that ban lifted this morning, the Overseas Telecommunications Commission obtained an order from the Arbitrator directing the Professional Radio Employees Institute of Australasia and members employed by OTC to cease conduct which constitutes the industrial dispute. That is, they are prohibited from engaging in industrial action which would deny telecasts of the Olympic Games. It directs them to do the work necessary and to cease conduct which encourages the continuation of the industrial situation. That order comes into operation as from tonight. Honourable senators will recall that the Public Service Arbitration Act was amended this year to give certain powers which enabled the Arbitrator to take that action. Of course, if the order is obeyed there will be no problem in the telecasting of the games. If it is disobeyed then, of course, honourable senators can refer to the Act to see what the consequences may be.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. 1 am sure that the Minister will recall that about 3 months ago during the last session I asked him whether any efforts were being made to assess a suitable replacement aircraft for the F27. I now ask the Minister:
Has any progress been made in finding a suitable aircraft which would be capable of using existing Australian airports currently being served by the F27 aircraft?
– The F28 or Fellowship twin jet aircraft which is made by the same company that produces the F27 has proved to be a suitable aircraft for replacement in certain circumstances. It is used widely and successfully in Western Australia. The F28 carries more passengers than does the F27, carrying capacity being of the order of 65 compared with 38. Therefore to some extent its economics depend upon the passenger load. In addition to the passenger traffic being available, there will be some need for airports to be upgraded. The Commonwealth recently announced assistance to upgrade certain country airports to jet standard. The question of a replacement is largely one for decision by the operators concerned. The Boeing 737 aircraft has some capcity to be useful. I would not want to go beyond that, except to say that the operators concerned really have to make the fundamental decision on the equipment they want, and then the Commonwealth must decide whether the infrastructure costs warrant that sort of aircraft being in use. But, as I have said, the F28 aircraft has been used successfully in Western Australia.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service noted a reported statement attributed to Mr Hawke, to whom some refer as the shadow Leader of the Opposition, deploring violence associated with strikes? Does this mean that the Australian Council of Trade Unions now condemns breaches of law and order in industrial disputes?
– I think that the honourable senator’s question is very appropriate to incidents in both England and Australia today. This is a gratifying piece of information to come from Mr Hawke after his debate with my colleague Senator Greenwood a fortnight ago on the issue of law and order. I feel that we can give to the Attorney-General part of the credit for persuading Mr Hawke that the principles of law and order should prevail even in industrial disputes. Today Mr Hawke has come out affirming that position, but only after the incident at the beginning of this week when Mr Ducker went on record, when he was assaulted at the plumbers meeting by members of the Builders Labourers Federation - why the members of that union were at this meeting one is left to guess - warning all unionists that communist inspired violence would continue unless unionists were vigilant. He went on to say that he knew that the Communist Party was using these vigilantes just as Hitler used storm troopers to gain power. Therefore we have a very welcome acknowledgment by the ACTU, in support of Mr Ducker after that most significant incident of violence, for once now condemning violent incidents in industrial matters.
– When did he support violence?
– The fact is that it comes to hand after 2 years or more of a virulent campaign on the part of the Builders Labourers Federation in Sydney where members of that union have been attacking buildings, and labourers and contractors who dare to continue work on a job that they have declared black. I do not want to rub salt into the wounds of the Opposition other than to say that this matter needs to be considered to realise the degree to which the assault is being made on the very fundamental principle of law and order. We have only to remind ourselves of the very vehement support that has come from the Labor Opposition advocating non-compliance with law in the various fields of legislation of this country.
The latest incident which should be brought to the attention of the Senate is that which occurred during the dockers’ strike in London last week. A Mr Jones, a prominent trade unionist, was so assaulted, and defamed and denigrated that he came out yesterday advocating strongly his view that people such as those who had assaulted him should be eradicated and expelled from the trade union movement. I cite these instances in the hope that the response from the Labor Opposition in this Senate will be overwhelmingly in support of the principles that condemn lawlessness and disorder in all these fields.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service or to the Attorney-General. I refer to their answers to questions relating to Mr John Ducker. I ask either Minister: Is he aware that Mr John Ducker is an influential member of the Australian Labor Party, a member of the Federal Executive of that Party, and the Secretary of the Labor Council of New South Wales which has consistently condemned acts of violence such as those that have been mentioned today and has taken decisions against them? Is the Minister aware also that most State Trade and Labor Councils have similarly criticised such violence? Does he now acknowledge that the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which is headed by Mr Hawke, who is also an influential member of the ALP, has condemned such acts and that that policy will be the policy of the Australian trade union movement?
– And binds the State Labor Councils.
– Yes, it does bind the State Labor Councils. I ask the Minister further whether he is saying, contrary to what has been said before, that the ACTU is not a responsible national trade union body. If so, why is it that over the years thi.s Government has collaborated with the ACTU on a number of matters including representation on the National Labor Advisory Committee?
– I have listened with interest to Senator Bishop’s rather argumentative type of question. J am aware of one prior incident of violence against trade union officials in New South Wales in respect of which the Labor Council did express its opposition. But I think that occasion and the recent statement by Mr Ducker stand out because of their exceptional character. I certainly do not accept that the view recently stated is the rule in the ACTU or in the Australian Labor Party. I should think that if one reflects on those matters to which my colleague Senator Wright just recently referred - the many instances in which there has been defacement and destruction of property and assault to individuals without apparent protest from the Australian Labor Party or the ACTU - one appreci ates that there has been a tolerance within the Australian Labor Party to these matters, because both the Labor Party and the trade union movement are unable to do anything about them.
Notwithstanding the Press reports today of what was said by Mr Hawke this morning, and notwithstanding the encouragement that people who believe in the rule of law in this country can gain from the fact that the statements were made, it is very significant, when you read them, that they do not cast a very heavy obligation upon particular union members. Apparently, according to the report in the Sydney Morning Herald’, which seems to have the best report of the Australian Council of Trade Unions directive, people guilty of violence - I presume that means persons found guilty by the courts - should not thereafter be allowed to be members of the unions. Of course, one of the problems is that those persons who are set upon by unionists are unable to get the evidence, in many cases because those persons who can give evidence which would sheet home the blame fear intimidation. Apparently the Australian Labor Party is not prepared to take the sort of action that will enable people in union affairs to go about their jobs fearlessly and without risk of physical harm, and this situation is inherent in all that the unions have been putting over the last 2 years.
– 1 address to the AttorneyGeneral a question which follows the question asked by Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield and the Minister’s reply to that question. I also refer to the numerous questions on the subject which I have asked the Minister and his predecessors. I now ask whether the Minister will consider Commonwealth participation in the existing nationwide legal aid schemes by providing an appropriate contribution in respect of legal aid services arising under Commonwealth legslation, such as bankruptcy, matrimonial causes, immigration and customs cases, broadcasting and television, marketing schemes, Commonwealth employees compensation cases and the like, thereby enabling the legal aid means test to be raised to make it available to a wider section of the community. I ask further: Will he consider using section 96 of the Constitution, if his view is that there is no other head of Commonwealth power to enable such a contribution to be made?
– I think that Senator Rae will appreciate that in many of the areas to which he has referred legal aid is already provided under the State legal aid schemes to which I have referred. 1 know it is frequently said, particularly by members of the legal profession who participate in these schemes, that there is a case for Commonwealth financial assistance, especially in the matrimonial causes field. I have received representations from the Law Council of Australia with regard to Commonwealth provision of such assistance, and the submissions from the Law Council of Australia are currently under examination.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it would be possible for the Minister to obtain a copy of the address recently delivered by Mr G. Polites. Director of the Employers’ Federation Council Executive, to the Australian Capital Territory Industrial Society, wherein he is reported to have said: ‘Work hours would gradually decrease and wages gradually increase’. In view of the fact that Mr Polites is reported to have made other progressive statements in his address, will the Minister accede to the request to endeavour to obtain a copy of the address and table it for the information of honourable senators?
– Yes, most willingly.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs: With the current proposed expulsion of Asians from Uganda and the previous expulsion of many Asians from Zambia by devious means, will the Australian Government give support to any proposed United Nations sanctions against such blatant acts of racial discrimination?
– I shall content myself with saying only that these matters are the subject of current communications on an international basis between the Australian Government and other governments of allied purposes.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he knows that there are ‘ growing numbers of private cars being parked on nature strips and open space areas around Parliament House during the day and in the evenings. Is not this practice a breach of section 3, paragraph 3 of the Trespass on Commonwealth Land Ordinance 1972? In view of the Government’s adherence to law and order, will the Minister inform the Senate why the Commonwealth police have not yet acted with the same alacrity against, these offenders as they did. against those associated with the ‘Aboriginal embassy? ‘ ‘
– Like the honourable senator, I do not . care to see the natural, beautiful surroundings of Parliament House upset or destroyed in any way. I shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the responsible Minister.. .
– My question, is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service and essentially is supplementary, to the question I asked the Attorney-General, ls it a fact that physical violence and intimidation are considerably more evident in countries where collective bargaining rather than arbitration is used for the settlement of industrial disputes? Has not such violence been a growing characteristic of collective bargaining in countries such as Britain and the Linked States of America in recent times? Is not the growing violence in Australia stimulated by the Australian Labor Party’s policy of weakening and destroying arbitration, asserting collective bargaining, advocating the abolition of court penalties and advocating law breaking?
– I assert again that this question is most appropriate to the present circumstances. Senator Carrick brings to light ari inseparable relationship between the position of collective bargaining and the system of arbitration that we have in Australia. The psychology that is developed at mass meetings associated with collective bargaining has increased the tendency to violence and disorder in countries where that system is the predominant means of resolving industrial disputes. In fact, that was the crunch of the dockers meeting to which I referred earlier in question time. That meeting erupted in violence because a minority element of the dockers was attempting to assert immunity from the jurisdiction of the courts and the law of Great Britain, because that system is attempting to give the benefit of an ordered industrial system to, as well as to impose the responsibility on, the workers of Great Britain. As we have seen, the meeting was of such violence that respected and high members of the trade union movement who were giving advice in what they thought were the best interests of their own members were subjected to assault, turbulence and violence to the degree that Mr Jones has said that he would advocate that members who behaved in that way should be disciplined by expulsion.
The latter part of Senator Carrick’s question deserves to be underlined. We are seeing expressed now in the form of direct violence in the trade union movement in Australia the product of a campaign of urging and encouragement to lawlessness by the Australian Labor Party over the last 2 years–
– What do you think you are doing now? You are encouraging it.
– I am bringing to your notice and to the notice of one of the Houses of this Parliament, quite solemnly, a matter that should be considered calmly by those who have started out on a course advocating disorder and non-compliance with those laws of which unionists and others disapprove. We cannot have a system of law for one section of the community and a system of lawlessness and disorder for the other unless we have chaos. That is what is beginning in this country.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Is there any truth in reports that legislation establishing the proposed new monopolies commission is now unlikely to be brought before Parliament this session because Cabinet is re-examining the whole concept of the commission with a view to giving it power to inquire into and report upon foreign takeovers of Australian companies? If the report is not true, will the Attorney-General state categorically that the new legislation, including that dealing with the monopolies commission, will be brought into the Parliament before the Federal election?
-It has been stated, and to my knowledge the position has not changed, that the legislation to give effect to the proposals relating to restrictive trade practices and the monopolies commission, which I put forward towards the end of last session, will be introduced into the Parliament this session. I hope that the Parliament will pass it this session.
– I address my ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport; In view of the statement of the Minister for Shipping and Transport on 8th August concerning the dumping of industrial waste, I ask: Does the Minister realise that ships of the Australian National Line dump their garbage very close to the shores of Australia? Will the Minister investigate the, possibility of insisting that this dumping be stopped and that ANL garbage is disposed of in a much more modern manner?
– I know that the Minister is concerned about this matter, as is his Department which has been involved in international conventionson it. I believe that the Minister intends to bring legislation forward in conjunction with the States. I think the Minister has indicated also that he is pleased to receive reports from time to time, when incidents in the area of concern occur. There was a particular case involving the proposed dumping of tyres by a municipal council in Sydney. I accept the honourable senator’s comment. I will direct it to the responsible Ministerto see whether anything needs to be done about this matter.
– I direct my ques tion to the Minister for Works. Since he and the Attorney-General are so concerned about upholding the law and are so strongly against intimidation, can he, as a
Minister of the Government, explain how it was possible for a leading stockbroker, a Mr Dowling of Patrick Partners, to successfully intimidate the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales on the matter of a tax assessment? Is it not a fact that Patrick Partners received an assessment in respect of millions of dollars gained through a bond washing operation? Is it not a fact that Mr Dowling, when he received this assessment, told the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales that he would see the Prime Minister, and that he did make such an appointment? Is it not a further fact that, this having been made known to the Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner then contacted Mr Dowling and told him that the assessment would be withdrawn? I ask the Minister: If the Government is so strong for upholding the law and is so strong for supporting the proposition that the law should be upheld by all, what action does the Government intend to take to investigate the allegation 1 am now making - that there has been an attempt on the part of Mr Dowling, of Patrick Partners, to intimidate the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales, and that in fact he succeeded in doing so?
– I rise with a sense of pity in my spirit to think that there should be-
– How much did you get out of it?
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! Before we proceed any further I want to draw attention to the remark made by Senator Keeffe. He asked the Minister how much did he get out of it; did he get a drawback. I ask Senator Keeffe-
– He did not say that.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Yes, he did. I ask him to withdraw that remark.
– You do not even know that 1 was speaking to Senator Wright, Mr Acting President. As far as I am concerned the remark was not intended in that manner.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - I want you to know that I am sitting in this chair and I heard it very clearly. I know what you referred to and I ask you to withdraw that remark.
– What for?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Even if you meant any senator in this chamber-
– What remark? What remark? Mr Acting President, I am asking you to state to me what remark I must withdraw.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I have already stated the remark. I ask you to withdraw it.
– I am not going to withdraw something when you will not tell me what it is.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I have already mentioned the remark.
– What are the words?
– I rise to order. I wish to be heard to say that the honourable senator, as I rose, asked the question: ‘How much did he get out of it?’ That clearly implies participation in corruption. I rise to affirm that the honour of this chamber demands that the remark be withdrawn.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Senator Keeffe. 1 ask that the remark be withdrawn.
– I ask Senator Wright to prove that I was talking about him. I was not.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! It was clearly indicated whom you were talking about. I ask you to withdraw the remark.
– Mr Acting President and Mr Minister, if you have a guilty conscience in both cases I will withdraw. I was not referring to either of you.
– Could I be heard?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- No. I will not allow Senator Keeffe or any honourable senator to impute improper motives to the Minister, any honourable senator on either side of the chamber or myself. Senator Keeffe said that if Senator Wright and I felt guilty he would withdraw. His remark must be withdrawn unconditionally. That is the basis of withdrawal.
– In capital letters?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- It must be withdrawn unconditionally.
– In capital letters?
– Could I be heard?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I name Senator Keeffe.
– I was going to follow Senator Willesee, Mr Acting President, but now that you have named Senator Keeffe it is my responsibility to call on Senator Keeffe and ask him whether he has anything to say.
– I appreciate the intervention of the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate in a rumpus which need not have started at all. On numerous occasions interjections have been, cast across, this chamber from both sides. Mr Acting President, T am absolutely amazed at both yourself and Senator Wright taking this as something personal. I did not name anybody. I did not name the Minister and I did not name you, Sir. 1 thought that Senator Georges asked a very relevant question. Probably, in the enthusiasm of the moment, I made a comment. I think that this is a shocking state of affairs. Epithets have been cast from the Government side all afternoon. I am sorry about this. It has been a pretty disgusting state of affairs. I resent it deeply. I am ashamed to think that this has gone on. In response to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate I would like you, Mr Acting President, to restate the case. Under which standing order am I alleged to have offended? How have I offended? Then, with your permission, I will .make my reply.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I do not propose to restate the matter. I have already stated it.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted.
– Mr Acting President, I wanted to follow Senator Willesee but, as I said, you gave your ruling and now this matter can take only one course. It was my responsibility as Acting Leader of the Government to call upon the honourable senator so named to make an explanation. He has done that. The appropriate course just has to follow. We cannot go on making explanations with ali honourable senators joining in the debate.
Senator Keeffe has had an opportunity to give an explanation I regret .the incident very much.-
– Mr Acting President, 1 take it that this statement by the Acting Leader of the Government is final. May I ask the Acting’ Leader of the Government in the Senate that question through you?
– All I say is that the procedure is that if the Senate will not accept the honourable senator’s explanation he must be suspended from the sitting of the. Senate. That is: the procedure.
– I cannot hear. The Acting Leader of the Government is speaking too softly.
– -:The matter is now in the hands of the Senate-.
– Does, this’ mean that I now have no right to speak :to your ruling? ‘
– T am not giving a ruling. I am not in the chair. I was called upon as the Acting .Leader of the Government to ask Senator, Keeffe to make an explanation. He has made his explanation. I take it that he has finished his explanation. Now, the Senate is called upon to say whether it is satisfied with the explanation.
– I had :hot finished my explanation. As I sat down, Mr Acting President, I sought your permission to finish my explanation after the Minister had made his explanation. Where do I stand in this matter? I ask for your ruling. on that.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- The honourable senator has had an ‘Opportunity to make an explanation and to apologise and he has not done so. The matter is now in the hands of the Minister.
– I suggest that however you might look at this, from a narrow viewpoint, Senator Keeffe did ask a question and then resumed his seat. Standing Orders say that a senator may make an explanation; so I suggest that in all fairness he should be able, to make that explanation in his own way. Whatever decision is taken after that is another matter but I think that in all justice, if a person is put virtually before a court which may pronounce a penalty upon him, he should be allowed to make an explanation ‘in whatever way -he thinks fit. I know that you, Mr Acting President, will not want to do anything unfair in this chamber. So 1 suggest that you should allow Senator Keeffe to continue.
– If I may intervene again, Senator Keeffe was called on to make an explanation. I understand that one of the points mentioned by you, Mr Acting President, was that the honourable senator should make an apology without any conditions attached to it; otherwise he would be expelled from the Senate for the day. If the honourable senator wants to go on with his explanation and make a withdrawal we will decide at that point whether we should expel him or accept his withdrawal-
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Senator Keeffe may continue with his explanation.
– I thank the Minister. I said quite clearly, early in the piece, that if the Minister felt that there was any personal offence, 1 never intended it that way. What do I have te do?
– What do I do - withdraw the words?
– Senator Gair would not be able to run a hen house, let alone run the Senate. I am asking you, Mr Acting President, to give a ruling. I am not asking Senator Gair for a ruling. I am asking for a ruling from you, Mr Acting President, not from the rooster in the hen house.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I want the honourable senator to make a withdrawal with no attachments to it.
– Well, I withdraw.
– And apologise.
– Oh, shut up.
– Now that that interlude has been concluded I proceed to answer Senator George’s question. It conveyed an imputation so absolutely malicious and so absolutely unworthy of the Senate that I give him the assurance that it will be examined immediately. When I find that there is a member in the Senate whose mental processes can associate a request by a taxpayer to have his tax assessment reviewed, even if it is accompanied by an intimation that he will go to the court of appeal or see a member of the Government, with intimidation and acts threatening physical violence it shows how impotent is the capacity of some senators to understand the very fundamentals of the challenge-
– I rise to order. I object to the offensive words that the Minister is now using in a reply to a question properly placed before this chamber by my colleague. I suggest with due respect and deference that Senator Wright should be made to withdraw the offensive words.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- The point of order is not upheld.
– There is one law for one side and another law for the other.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator will resume his seat. Once again I remind Senator Keeffe that he must not reflect on the Chair as he did when he said there is one law for one side and another law for the other. That is not my intention. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition indicated that I try to be fair. I may not be perfect, but I try to do the best I can in the light of things as I see them. I want it to be understood that there is nothing on which the honourable senator can reflect in this regard. There must not be a reflection on the Chair.
– If I must be like a piston in an oil drill, I withdraw again.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation noted the methods used by the Government of the Republic of Ireland in successfully resisting the demands of United States airlines? Does he not think that the Irish Government’s policy of conducting such a battle in public could be emulated by both Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian Government in their revenue battle with the mammoth United States airlines?
– The situation in the Irish discussions with the United States is quite different from the situation between Australia and the United States. The Irish Government has a perfect right to adopt whatever process it cares to adopt in stating its views. We were dealing with the problem of over-capacity which we resolved most satisfactorily with the United States Government, achieving with it the first and only regulatory system that the United
States Government has ever engaged in with bilateral arrangements. This was evidenced recently by the withdrawal from the Pacific traffic of one frequency by American Airlines Inc., and the contemplation of withdrawal of another one, based upon the acceptance by both countries that the capacity was greater than the market would stand at present. The justification for the Australian point of view is that we have been proved to be correct. Our estimates of the traffic figures have been shown to be right and the regulatory system that we have engaged in with the United States has worked.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it not a fact that the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party last year at Townsville resolved that in the unlikely event of a Labor government, any trade union official using violence to damage property during or in furtherance of a strike should be immune from any action for damages? In view of the statement on a related matter - not an identical matter - this morning by Mr Hawke, I ask the Minister, from his knowledge of the ALP constitution-
– I rise to order. Senator Hannan has alleged that the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party very categorically said that it had passed a certain resolution. Always, even in respect of newspaper reports, Presidents of the Senate - particularly the President you are replacing at the moment - have asked that a senator verify and vouch for the accuracy of the report. In this case I should like the honourable senator, if he can, to produce the minutes of the meeting to show that what he alleges is true. I think we will get ourselves into a very difficult position - we have seen a fair example of it today - if we can base questions on sheer fantasy, if we are able to rise and say that this is what happened in the Liberal Party or this is what happened when the Prime Minister was discussing things with the Queensland Premier when there is no basis of fact for what is being said.
– I think the Prime Minister would be-
– Just a moment. Senator Wright would be the worst offender today. I hope and trust that, with his law degree behind him, he will examine tomorrow what he has said today and see some of the things that he did say. I suggest that we should carry on the tradition of requesting that people who make statements in the course of asking questions be able to verify the accuracy of those statements.
– I did not refer to a newspaper cutting.
– I did not say that you did. . ,..
– The ‘ honourable senator mentioned newspapers in his reference to the Acting President. This matter was referred to in the Hansard reports of the recent debate in this chamber on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill: :
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Hansard reports? . ,
– Yes. “
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I do not think the point of order, is sustained. If Senator Hannan is speaking of a Hansard report he is entitled to do that. ‘
– I take a point of order. I put to you, Mr Acting President, and to Senator Hannan that he is referring to comments by the Minister in respect of what he understood Labor Party policy to be. The point that Senator Willesee is making is that Senator Hannan . is using an alleged statement from the ^Federal Executive of the Labor Party when he cannot vouch for it or establish its; authenticity. In that case the point o£,i order raised by Senator Willesee is properly : taken. I suggest that the question should- not be allowed.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I think it is recognised that it is not ‘always possible for people who make statements to produce the minutes of meetings and so on to substantiate those statements.1 In this society in which we live we ‘find out in various ways certain things which are going on. I think it is reasonable to accept that, this matter having been brought into the chamber, debated in the chamber and published in Hansard, it is possible to speak to that matter again because’ apparently no objection was taken at the time it was mentioned originally and recorded in Hansard.
– Thank you, Mr Acting President. The Leader of the Opposition actually moved along those lines, recommending that we adopt the law as it stands in England.
– The Liberal Party must be short of election material.
– I do not know why the honourable senator is so sensitive about the matter. I now proceed with my question. Is it not a fact that last year at Townsville the Australian Labor Party resolved that in the unlikely event of a Labor government being in office any trade union official using violence to damage property during or in furtherance of a strike or industrial dispute should be immune from any action for damages? I ask the Minister whether, in view of the statement in this morning’s Press by Mr Hawke on a related matter, from his knowledge of the Australian Labor Party constitution Mr Hawke has the authority to cancel that plank of Labor’s platform.
– My information is that this matter was an item on the agenda put forward at the Australian Labor Party Executive meeting at Townsville in recent months.
– Was it the Slate Executive or the Federal Executive?
– It was the Federal Executive. The proposition was that trade unionists participating in any action in an industrial dispute should be immune from legal liability. My information is that that proposition did not obtain the acceptance of the majority. The astounding thing is that such a proposition could reach the status of an agenda item in the considerations of the Australian Labor Party Executive. The proposition was that just because there is an industrial dispute trade unionists should have complete freedom to ignore law which exists for the protection of property and other persons. This principle must be asserted strongly and it must be understood because it is the principle which the Labor Party unashamedly adopts when it claims immunity for trade unions in respect of breaches of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. For several years it has maintained a campaign defying the offence provisions of that Act, and it has asserted that it will never comply with those provisions. This instance, which was referred to as the Townsville claim, is entirely in the same direction as that claim which trade unionists assert in relation to immunity from penalties for offences under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
Acting President, question time has now occupied H hours. I have no authority to put an end to question time but I suggest that honourable senators consider the time and put further questions on notice.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Acting President. My request is a simple one. With your vast knowledge of Senate procedure, will you examine the text of a question asked today by Senator Hannan in which he referred to Mr Jurjevic in at least unflattering terms, and will you advise the Senator tomorrow whether this mode of conduct is to be the future norm with questions?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- All I can promise is that I will consider the matter to see what can be done.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that 41 ships now trading on the Australian coast are under provisional replacement and that some of these vessels have been operating for 8 years, which is far beyond the normal period of replacement? If so, will the Minister tell the Senate why the necessary controls have not been applied and what action he proposes to take to see that they are applied in future?
– The honourable senator gave information out of which he drew conclusions and made assumptions and then advanced propositions. I cannot respond in any sense at all to any of the conclusions, assumptions or propositions without having an accurate assessment of the situation in regard to his question. He would understand that I must direct it to the responsible Minister. I must check his claim about these facts and get accurate information for him.
Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that, as a result of collective bargaining procedures recently negotiated between employers of labour and the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia in regard to wages and working conditions on the Australian waterfront, processes were negotiated lawfully and without disorder, which processes resulted in Australian waterside workers being awarded a 35- hour week? Is it a fact that, despite the amicable and peaceful collective bargaining processes engaged in at that time between employer and employee, the Government tried to upset them by unsuccessfully opposing ratification of the agreement in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Will the Minister agree that this collective bargaining process was done to the satisfaction of employer and employee, despite the hostility of the present Government, and that the arbitration system not only encourages but recognises collective bargaining processes? Do I take it from the Minister’s earlier remarks that the Government opposes all collective bargaining arrangements between employers and union officials?
– Not at all. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act recognises that conciliation in industry is a desirable preliminary before arbitration. Of course, if conciliation produces an agreement which is registered under the system that is the most desirable way of settling a dispute. But there are conditions upon the registration of those agreements which, in the case of a publicly financed and publicly protected organism that exists upon the waterfront and which is paid moneys raised by taxation, represent now no less than SI per man-hour of waterside workers’ labours in class A ports. That is nearly $8 a man for every working day of 8 hours. It is imperative that the Government accept its responsibility to examine any bargain arrived at in those circumstances to see whether it conflicts with economic policy which has such an impact upon general industrial conditions. The Government did not intervene in the case referred to out of any hostility or out of any innate disapproval of bargaining processes. It intervened to obtain the Court’s examination of the proper applicability to that industry of the claim for a 35-hour working week and the wages that were agreed to. The Government submitted to arbitration. It did not assert that the processes of agreement should be opposed because they did not conflict with the principles outlawing violence and making for peace in industry. The intervention was on the basis of a pure economic issue as to whether the particular terms of that agreement were appropriate in the circumstances of the economy.
– I claim that I have been misrepresented by Senator Mulvihill in his question.
– 1 rise to order. Mr Acting President, the matter is sub judice. You are handling it and not the honourable senator.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable senator claims to have been misrepresented and I think that-
– Mr Acting President, you are to arbitrate on this matter tomorrow. I am relying on you, not him.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- J think that the honourable senator who claims to be misrepresented is entitled to be heard.
– I rise to order.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! A point of order has been raised and I am replying to it. 1 think that in view of the fact that the honourable senator has asked me something in relation to Senator Hannan’s question, in fairness, if Senator Hannan has something to say in that regard, I should hear it to enable me to make a fair assessment.
– Thank you, Mr Acting President. Under the Standing Orders, I have-
– I rise to order.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Georges has a further point of order.
– My point of order is different from the one that has been raised.
Senator Hannan is claiming misrepresentation. I think that he ought to do that when question time is completed, not during question time.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- All right; Senator Hannan can leave his explanation until after question time.
– Very well. I am sorry that honourable senators opposite are so sensitive about it.
The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! The point of order is upheld and Senator Hannan can make his presentation after question time.
– I have a further point of order which I make for my protection. Even if Senator Hannan makes some golden explanation of what he meant, I will not have the Hansard extract in front of me. That is the reason why I have halted any remarks I was going to make. Like yourself, Mr Acting President, after we have seen it in cold print tomorrow it will be much more effective in regard to how we evaluate what Senator Hannan might say he meant to say. I am not making this plea for myself. I am making it on behalf of Mr Jurjevic, a Melbourne citizen who does not sit in this place and be able to defend himself.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I think that there is a fair representation contained in the point of order which the honourable senator has taken. But at the same time I think that we should have Senator Hannan’s reply later if he wants to make it to enable me to make an assessment pertaining to the honourable senator. I call on Senator Georges to ask his question.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Works. I inform him that I ignored the word ‘malicious’ and similar words he used against me and that I will retaliate in due course. I take it that he intends to make an investigation of the charges I made. Will he further verify when he makes that investigation that, in fact, Mr Dowling did contact the Prime Minister and that it was at the Prime Minister’s direction that the assessment was withdrawn by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales?
– It was only on the most specious consideration of irrelevance that the question was addressed to me. I have nothing to do with taxation assessments and ordinarily I would have simply ignored the question. But inasmuch as Senator Georges took the weak understanding that there was an element of intimidation in the incident he referred to alike to that which we were discussing in industrial affairs, I assured him that the matter would be investigated. 1 can tell him that I have already sent a note to the Treasurer, within whose responsibility the matter comes, drawing his attention to what Senator Georges has said, lt is now in the province of the Treasurer and he will take, according to his responsibility, the proper course. It is none of my responsibility.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, lt follows his answer to the question by Senator Carrick in respect of collective bargaining. When asserting that Australian Labor Party policy and the idea of collective bargaining increased the incidence of industrial disorder, did the Minister have regard to the systems operating in the Scandinavian countries, including Sweden and also in the Republic of West Germany, where collective bargaining and national agreements are consummated between the unions and the employers and where the industrial record is one of the best in the world? If he did not have regard to these conditions which apply to a system of collective bargaining, will he take notice of the question and consider these when he is replying to questions or criticising ALP policy in the future?
– It would be false of me to claim that I have any real knowledge of the system of Sweden or Norway. But a.’so it would be unfair for Senator Bishop to imply that he has an exclusive knowledge of that system. I venture to assert that I have read as much on the system as has the honourable senator.
– He has been there.
– And he got back again, which is a very desirable detail. All I want to say is that, having regard to recent reviews of experience in important European countries, one can have no inclination but to think that collective bargaining is nothing other than a most primitive system.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the Minister aware that Dr Peter Pockley, the highly regarded Director of Science Programmes, Australian Broadcasting Commission, has been relieved from responsibility for the supervision, production and editorial control of all ABC television programmes in the broad area of science, medicine and technology? In what way would the Government see itself embarrassed by any television programmes dealing with science, medicine and technology? Finally, is this move part of the general harassment by the Government to reduce the effectiveness of ABC television and further the uncertainty that exists amongst all senior officers of the Commission?
– Senator Gietzelt^ question is obviously mischievous because it is based upon certain facts which, I will be very surprised if he does not know, are quite wrong. In the first place, if Dr Pockley has been moved - and I am unaware whether he has been or not - he would have been moved as a result of decisions made within the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Commission is made up of an independent set of commissioners who are not responsible to the Government and who are not susceptible to any Government direction in the way in which they administer the staffing matters of the Commission, Accordingly, any allegation which is inherent in Senator Gietzelt’s question that the Government in some way has been responsible for any move of Dr Pockley which may have been made lacks the very basis which is necessary to give it credence. 1 am sure from the debates which have taken place in this chamber over many years that it is known to every honourable senator here that staff matters within the ABC are matters for the Commission and not for the Government. So this is a paltry attempt, without any basis, to impute blame to Government where no blame can be imputed.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: In view of the recently completed sale of wheat to the value of $50m to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics followed by a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry that Australia could find itself in an embarrassing situation regarding wheat stocks, is it now the Government’s intention to review wheat quotas immediately?
– The wheat quota system was introduced some 3 seasons ago. It originated in the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. This body has made each year a recommendation to the Minister for Primary Industry. This year it made a recommendation that the quota throughout Australia be 407,000,000 bushels. It will be up to the industry itself to make recommendations to the Minister as to whether it wants that quota increased or decreased for next season. On present indications it looks as if at the end of November there will be a carryover of about 57,000,000 bushels of wheat.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has Mr Bruce Petty, the famous Australian cartoonist, been banned from making any appearance on the programme ‘This Day Tonight’? Will the Minister ascertain who issued the ban and what was the reason for it? If the ban is in writing, will the Minister produce a copy of the document for the Senate?
– I am unaware whether there is any such direction as Senator Douglas McClelland suggests. But I say to him, as I said earlier to Senator Gietzelt, that if there is any such direction it is a matter which is made internally - within the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I will convey to the-
– The Attorney-General is not responsible for anything so far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, is he?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! Senator Douglas McClelland has asked his question. I ask that the Attorney-General be allowed to answer it.
– Senator Douglas McCelland suggests that there is a responsibility. He knows full well that the Government has no responsibility in terms of who is to be employed in the Australian Broadcasting Commission. These are matters for the Commission itself and the honourable senator well knows that. I will convey to the Postmaster-General his request for information. Of course, the Postmaster-General will seek it from the Commission. I trust that we can get the information to the honourable senator as quickly as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air and it follows questions asked by Senator Willesee relating to the alarming disclosures by the Auditor-General and the newspapers in connection with overcharging of Australia by the United States Armed Forces to the extent of $1m. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that there had been an inadequate checking of billings by the Department of Air and other departments? Is it also a fact that a complete audit examination is likely to reveal more than the$1m overcharging? Has his attention been drawn to the Auditor-General’s statement that the Department of Air acknowledges that the only checks performed in Australia to date on such charges have related to ocean freight charges? If the Minister is not in a position to advise about this matter today, will he attach the questions I have raised to the questions asked by Senator Willesee?
– I was going to take the opportunity of making a statement later in regard to the situation as it affects the Department of Air. The statement would take about 2 minutes to read. Perhaps I could seek leave to read it now?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I have noted the Press reports indicating that the Australian Defence Services may have sustained possible overcharges amounting to $US900,000 in respect of supplies from the United States Government. Although it is not clear in the newspaper reports, these overchargesarose from the incorrect application by the United States agencies of percentage on costs known as accessorial charges. These charges cover such things as storage, packing, handling and freight. In my Department the , amount involved was $US33,485. I am pleased to say that all but $US4,720 has been financially adjusted our way by the United States Government. There were 3 cases involved and one of these is still under departmental examination. Following the disclosure of the incorrect charges my Department is examining in detail the nature and extent of the checking performed by Australian staff in the United States. Depending on the outcome of these inquiries it may be necessary to arrange for additional documentation to be sent to Australia or to provide additional staff in North America to undertake the task of checking.
Press reports on the Auditor-General’s report also referred to avery substantial number of potential discrepancies in EDP computer records. My Department is using computer processing to obtain a reconciliation between United States, . Government invoices and our own receipt vouchers. I believe this to be a logical computer application in view of the high volume of goods delivered from the United’ States Services. For example, over 100,00.0 types of equipment and spares apply to theF111C aircraft alone. The number of potential discrepancies disclosed by the . March 1972 computer produced reports was high. However investigation of such discrepancies in the meantime has revealedthat the majority of these can be attributed to teething problems associated with the conversion to the computer programming process.
During the last few days, for example, it was discovered that because of a malfunction in the input of data to the computer relating to credit billings, the number of discrepancies disclosed in March 1972 can be reduced by about 60 per cent. It must be appreciated that the United States Armed Services are alsomonitoring the purification of their computer records and without prompting from Australia, adjustments are automatically made to previous billings on the ascertainment of refined details. Nevertheless my Department is actively pursuing the matter and is confident that the situation is infinitely less serious than early computer reports indicated. As anomalies in the computer process are detected appropriate rectification is being effected and when the system is perfected the Department will reap the labour saving benefits it planned to achieve in departing from the tedious manual process, lt must be appreciated also that ‘discrepancies’ as reported by the AuditorGeneral means ‘under-billings’ as well as excess-billings’ and there is no evidence of deliberate overcharging by the United States Armed Services.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. On 16th August 1972 I put 3 very important and lengthy questions on the notice paper, all of them dealing with sales conducted by the Department of Supply at Darwin. These sales were advertised to take place on 2 1st June. I ask the Minister to tell me when I might receive details, as requested in the 3 questions, of articles declared surplus which were sold at those sales. If the information is not to be forthcoming, can the Minister advise me whether proper records of these sales are kept and whether they come eventually to his notice?
– I always endeavour to get questions off the notice paper as soon as possible, though this is not always practicable. However, I will make, inquiries about the honourable senator’s questions, and I will give him some information as soon as I can.
– Under standing order 410 I want to correct a misrepresentation which Senator Mulvihill made in respect of a question which 1 asked earlier this afternoon. Senator Mulvihill said that I had described Mr Jurjevic in my question. That is simply untrue. I referred to him by name without any description whatsoever, although at this stage I inform Senator Mulvihill that in the near future I may be compelled to describe the person with accuracy and at length.
– I take a point of order. Senator Hannan has quoted standing order 410; therefore, he has read it. The last 2 lines of that standing order read:
I suggest, is the personal explanation. The honourable senator has made it clear to the Senate how he feels he has been misrepresented. If he continues he is clearly in defiance of standing order 410, and I suggest, Mr Acting President, that you should rule accordingly.
– I am happy to withdraw the last sentence.
– I regret that I was not listening to the explanation because something was being presented to me by the Clerk. I just want to make it quite clear that it must be an explanation and not a debate.
– I am quite happy to withdraw the information tendered to Senator Mulvihill.
– Mr Acting President, have I leave to make a statement on this matter?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Very briefly, Mr Acting President, I only seek an assurance from you that, with all deference to Senator Hannan, you will have a look at the Hansard report of the proceedings and make a comment tomorrow on just what the text of the question was that Senator Hannan asked. I could be provocative, but
I will stop there in deference to yourself.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- I will do my best, but in view of the marathon question time that we have had today it will depend on whether I get some time. But I will do what I possibly can.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the report on the activities and development of the Department of Supply for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– ‘Pursuant to section 96m of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1971, I present the statement on Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1972-1973.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the “Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964-1966, I present the report of the Council of the Institute for the year ended 30th June 1972: together with the Institute’s financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman agreed to:
That Business of the Senate be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I move:
Honourable senators will recall that the Commonwealth introduced legislation in 1968 allocating $2.5m- to organisations in the States responsible for the training of pre-school teachers. The purpose of the grants was to enable the organisations to construct and equip the facilities necessary for them to double the capacity of existing pre-school teachers colleges. Last year the principal Act, which was due to expire on 30th June 1971, was amended so that the prescribed period during Which the Minister may make grants to .the States was extended to 3 1st December .1972. The purpose of this Bill is to amend further the prescribed period so that it will terminate on 31st December 1973, instead of 31st December 197.2. It has become necessary because the difficulties of the pre-school teachers colleges, for example:. in, acquiring land and obtaining planning permission, which led to the need for. the present extension, have not been overcome as quickly as hoped. Except in Tasmania, where the ‘ State Government accepts responsibility for the training pf pre-school teachers, the ‘ organisations in’ ‘ the States responsible for pre-school ‘ teacher training are private’ organisations. As” private organisations they do not have:’ the powers compulsorily to acquire land ‘necessary for their expansion.
Melbourne Kindergarten’ Teachers College has encountered difficulties ‘in acquiring land and in obtaining permits, from the local government authority to - use land already owned. As a result the trustees of the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College have been unable to start the approved project. They have” ‘just recently received advice from the local government authority that a building permit will be issued subject to certain conditions being met. The trustees have accepted the conditions. The Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College 1 will not be able; however, to complete its construction programme by 31st December 1972. The Sydney Day Nursery Association has been able to proceed with its approved project’ but has met difficulties in purchasing additional land necessary to meet the planning requirements of the local government authority. A statement has been made available to honourable senators setting out the progress on the various projects and the expected impact of the programme. The proposed extension of the prescribed period is necessary to enable the programme’ to achieve its full purpose. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 258), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bil] be now read a second time.
-We on this side of the House are in no way opposed to this Bill and we hope to give it a very speedy passage through this chamber. The Bill provides the sum of $2m to the State of Victoria to carry out the reticulation, via pipes, of water in the north west area of the State of Victoria. This area is generally known as the Millewa. Until now the reticulation of water in that area, as in many other areas in that State, has been carried via open channels. I suppose, like everything else, the channels become dated and become history. I think that they were a great achievement by the men who made them; the engineers who designed them; and the surveyors who surveyed them. There is little doubt that in their own time the channels were something of a marvel for the amount of work and time that were expended by men and horses to construct them. But the channels have been a very wasteful way of distributing water. According to my figures only one gallon in 20 of the total water released from the Murray River reaches its ultimate destination under this scheme.
The main deterrent to water flowing into such regions has been seepage and evaporation. Anyone living in a city or in a provincial town in this Commonwealth may look somewhat askance at the granting by the Government of a sum even as small as $2m to pipe water into an area known as the Mallee or the Millewa. But I can assure the Senate that to those people living in this area this grant will mean a great deal. Perhaps some of them for the first time in their lives will be able to use what we would call clean water for the purpose of washing clothes, bathing and showering instead of having to drag water from a dam. That water has always appeared to me to be muddy but the people who live in this area assure me that it is clean.
I see some slight difference between the provisions of the Bill and its Schedule. Reference is made in the Schedule to the actual construction work that has been done or is to be done. To the best of my knowledge, at the present time all of this work has been completed. Paragraph 4 of the Schedule provides:
The construction of a storage tank capable of storing approximately ISO acre feet of water, about 8 miles south-west of Werrimull.
That work has been completed. The tank was filled but it leaked and, subsequently, had to be drained. The leak was found and patched up. So, perhaps we are voting money for work that has been done already. But I do not think that there is any disagreement on the need for this work.
One other feature of this system of piping water is that it will mean a continuous supply of water to farms in the area where previously the dams on those farms under the open channel system were filled, I understand, once or at best twice a year. I suppose that, in effect, the people who live in this area will receive the benefits of this grant gratis, but each and every farm holder or householder in the area is responsible for the erection on his property of a 5,000 gallon storage tank as well as the necessary connections from the main to the tank. People in the area estimate that each and every land holder will pay approximately $3,000 for that work to be carried out.
I note in the explanatory memorandum provided by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who represents here the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz), that it is anticipated that an increase in stocking rates in this area could take place. An increase of up to 20 per cent in stock numbers is quoted. If this is feasible - I am not one who will say that this is not feasible; I suggest that it could be feasible - I believe that this increase of up to 20 per cent in stock numbers will be advantageous to those people who reside in the area. Particuarly would this have been so in recent years with such problems as wheat quotas and bad seasons for wheat growing. Any diversification that these people could make away from pure wheat to some form of animal production would be a welcome change, I am sure.
I said earlier that the Opposition has no intention to debate this matter at length. Frankly, I believe that this is a move for the better. I only hope that Commonwealth grants will continue to be provided to Victoria for the reticulation of water to other areas of that State and to do away with the present open channel system. I might mention that the open channel system in what is termed the dry land farms of north-west Victoria has been responsible for a great deal of salination of land and pastures there. I understand that, in the Millewa district, this is not the case to any great extent. As I have already mentioned, water flows there for a few weeks of the year only. Salination is a problem in other areas. Seepage contributes greatly to the lifting of the watertable and consequently the salination and destruction of pastures together with the virtual destruction of the soil itself. I only hope that, in years to come, money will be expended in these other areas to try to eliminate the terrific waste of water that occurs currently because of the open channel system of reticulating water throughout those areas.
– In my early life, prior to becoming a member of Federal Parliament, I always recalled the arguments that were put in another place by an early leader of my political Party. I refer to Sir Earle Page who, I think it could be noted, was one of the men who led the arguments in Australia for great water storages and for the benefits to be derived therefrom if this country was able to provide sufficiently for many of its productive areas through the introduction of adequate irrigation schemes.
I think that it is fitting that another outstanding Australian should achieve in some few months prior to his retirement from the Federal Parliament the adoption and introduction of a scheme which he has been sponsoring and has drawn to the attention of those responsible for our water resources development programme. That scheme will operate in his own electorate. I speak of Sir Winton Turnbull who is to retire at the end of this parliamentary term. Sir Winton is known for many things. His pronouncements in the other place on what was needed for the electorate which he represents are perhaps unique because there are very few areas in Australia where there is at least a scattering of a population that experience the dryness which has existed throughout the Mallee area of Victoria.
Politicians representing a specific area, by devotion and with perhaps some influence .in government, are able to derive benefits to bring to the people of their area schemes such as this one which I believe in future years will be a. monument and stand to the credit of Sir Winton Turnbull. I think that he will find no greater pleasure than knowing that the Millewa water scheme is now to have a piped water supply, as he has sought for many years. I know that the Senate will be interested that Sir Winton Turnbull will be succeeded in the other place - I speak confidently of this - by a young man, well known in the field of irrigation, and one who has a great interest in irrigation. His name is Peter Fisher. He will succeed Sir Winton in .the other place and again will bring experience in farm management knowledge field to the Parliament. This experience is so important in the northern part of Victoria and particularly in the Mallee electorate.
The scheme that is before the Senate for debate is a scheme for’ redevelopment and upgrading of an already existing irrigation water supply. The amount of money required is in the vicinity of $3m and this project is to serve an area of some 560,000 acres. On any basis of comparison with other irrigation schemes brought before the Senate in past years, - this scheme undoubtedly will benefit a very large number of people and will result in production at no mean rate coming off this wonderful country. The class of country in the Millewa area is variable, but some parts of it are highly productive provided . they get water and that is what the Commonwealth will enable to happen under this scheme.
The present channel scheme supplies about 455,000 acres of land and there is to be an upgrading of the system in order to cope with further areas. Inefficiencies have developed since the earlier years. The first scheme was installed iri 1923, nearly 50 years ago. However, now we have modern construction methods and can use 12-inch pipes. I imagine that concrete pipes will be used to distribute this water throughout the total area that I mentioned. Undoubtedly this is not the only open drain scheme that will be converted to a pipe system. There has been great development in many manufacturing industries, particularly the steel and concrete pipe industries, and with modern machinery it is now possible to manufacture reinforced spun concrete pipes. These modern developments bring great credit to some of the larger Australian manufacturers, lt may be of interest to honourable senators to know that people come from America to this country to try to learn of the great developments that have taken place here as- a result of research and development undertaken by many of the Australian based companies involved in the production of pipes. We will require 2.1 miles of pipe for this scheme. The inefficiency of the present system can be seen from the single fact that in a year 8,200 acre feet of water is pumped from the Murray River system but eventually only 420 acre feet is utilised on farm properties. When this scheme is complete the loss of water through evaporation will be minimal compared to what happens with the present open channel system.
The previous speaker, Senator Primmer, mentioned the increased stocking that will take place. Honourable senators should realise that when this scheme is completed not only will a greater acreage be serviced but also the people on properties will be able . to gain some benefit by increasing their stocking rates. This scheme will come to fruition through a joint CommonwealthState arrangement and the grant for it is being made under phase 2 of the national water resources development programme. Honourable senators who have been in this place for some time have seen this programme grow. It has been of great benefit in nearly every State of Australia. Under the programme the Commonwealth undertook to make $50m available but that sum has been doubled to the very sizable amount of $100m. All this money is being made available in order to develop our land. Victoria will receive the benefit of this particular scheme in the early stages of the programme.
Irrigation and piped water are essential to Victoria, but they are even more essential in other States. I believe there is little argument in the Senate for the view that this work should not proceed. The introduction of this Bill is evidence of the great volume of work that has been done’ on this programme. It gives me great pleasure to know that this type of insurance scheme is being provided for the people engaged in primary production in the Millewa area. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– Like other senators, I give full support to this Victoria Grant (Millewa Pipelines) Bill which has been brought into the Parliament. I do so knowing full well that this scheme will provide for the people in the Millewa area the water supply which they have been lacking in ‘years gone by due to .the evaporation .of, water in the open channels there. We of the Australian Labor Party are pleased that the Government saw Jit to make this amount’ of money available to Victoria. However, as a South Australian, I am. a little disappointed that, we are running into a lot of trouble in getting a similar grant for the problem that exists in my State. I am concerned about a passage in the second reading speech by the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) and a Press release he made on this1 ‘scheme in which’ there appears to be an inconsis tency. In ‘ his speech the Minister said that this money was to be made available to Victoria for this scheme and that it would be allocated from the $100m grant being made available for rural water conservation and supply works. In the memorandum distributed when the Bill was introduced the Minister. said:
The. main pastoral enterprise in . the area are wool growing and fat lamb production with a small amount of cattle grazing. Over the last decade a great amount of pasture improvement has been undertaken, mainly with Harbinger clover and lucerne. This has’ increased the potential carrying capacity of the country. However, stock numbers remain limited’ at present, due to the shortage of water and the large distances between dams.
We of the Labor Party fully agree with that statement and that is why this scheme is so sorely heeded. However,” further on in this memorandum the Minister said:
Construction of the pipeline is not expected to change greatly the existing pattern of production. However, an increase in the stocking rate is probable as water will be made available closer to improved pastures. Although it is difficult to determine the increase in stocking rate, it is considered that there could be an increase of up to 20 per cent in stock numbers.
This is the point that concerns the people in South Australia where there is a problem on the Eyre Peninsula over the Loch-Kimba pipeline. We have been trying for some considerable time, through the State Labor Government in South Australia, to get a grant similar to that being provided for Victoria. The Minister for National Development, in answering a question asked by a colleague of mine, the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis), recently said something completely contradictory to what he said in the memorandum on this Bill. I quote from Hansard what the Minister said:
The Premier of South Australia has now been informed that the Commonwealth is not prepared to consider financial asssitance for the LochKimba scheme at this ‘stage. Having regard to the uncertain situation in the wool industry it is deemed inappropriate to provide special assistance under the National Water Resources Development Programme to. support an expansion in the industry in one area, at the same time as the Government is involved hi measures to alleviate the economic problems of the industry generally.
This is the point that concerns us in South Australia, so much so that the State Labor Government recently made available $650,000 out of State funds to carry on some of the work on the Lock-Kimba pipeline in order to assist the. farmers in that area. I. express the wish here in the Senate tonight that the Commonwealth Government will give urgent consideration to the submissions made by the South Australian Labor Government and that in the not too distant future it also will share in the $100m which has been made available.
– J support the Victoria Grant (Millewa Pipelines) Bill. The Democratic Labor Party favours this type of development legislation. It would be a poor thing if we allowed these water irrigation schemes to run down and outlive their usefulness and did not modernise and replace them. Many benefits will accrue from this project. I am not an expert in this field and I do not know about the saving of two-thirds of the total quantity of water involved in this project. The water is drawn from the Murray River system and under this scheme it is to be piped rather than run in open drains. I do not know whether this will represent a serious contribution to the alleviation of the salination problem associated with the Murray River in its lower reaches, which reached almost crisis proportions only a year or so ago. There is no doubt that over the years as this scheme and others of. like character proceed they will ultimately make a very significant contribution. It is necessary that they should do so. For once it is very good to hear that a programme which, after ali, changes our environment has no opponents on the grounds of ecology or anything else. Everybody is. totally and completely in favour of the project. I, like some of my friends in the Senate and particularly Senator Cavanagh who expressed a point of view the other night,, agree that we have to watch this sudden enthusiasm for not changing the ecology and the environment. We have to see that preventing such changes does not go too far, After all, we live in a continent where,; had we not changed the environment, npt even the convicts who. were first sent here; and forced to stay would have been able to maintain themselves. i.
In this country it is necessary toremember always that it was –the changing of the natural environment as: it was when discovered by people who .came from Europe in the early days which, has made it possible for what was once almost a desert to bloom and blossom in small parts today and give us a satisfactory way of life. We must not turn ourselves against changing the environment merely for the purpose of being against it. If. we do we may go back to where bur predecessors began and that is with a. very difficult environment with which to cope. This Bill provides for the taking of. a very small step. It happens to occur in Victoria. Perhaps it can be inferred that there is some injustice between States. I do not know the procedure. F-do not know how these grants are worked out, whether they are worked on priorities of applications, urgent need, who gets in first, or whether it is fat lands or sheep for wool which one is grazing. If there is a deficiency in South Australia I hope that the Commonwealth coffers which have suddenly become a little larger in the last few weeks than we were led to believe they were will be big enough to provide South Australia with a workable scheme of a similar character which it may require.
This grant happens to go to the State’ which I represent. Not only as a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party do I express favour of this legislation but, also, as a senator from Victoria. No doubt the farmers in this area will feel great satisfaction that the Commonwealth has seen fit to include Victoria in a scheme such as this. We hope that it will be brought to fruition as quickly as possible.
– i have a few words to say in relation to this Victoria Grant (Millewa Pipelines) Bill. I warmly support the Victorian grant for the Millewa pipeline realising that in the rather drier areas water supply by reticulation is indeed basic to a reasonable expectation of making full use of given areas of land. I also warmly endorse the remarks of Senator McLaren in relation to the need in South Australia for the Loch-Kimba pipeline to be proceeded with expeditiously. Honourable senators from both sides of the chamber have sought to have the pipeline constructed. For many years with the producers in that area - this is a very important part of the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia - we have sought to have this water reticulation scheme provided to enable the full potentiality of that area to be realised, agriculturally. Through the years there have been very great outlays on the part of primary producers in carting water over long distances to maintain their stock in the region of the proposed Loch-Kimba pipeline. I support this Bill. .Again I endorse the remarks in relation to the need for urgent consideration and determination to be made in relation to the provision of the long sought after Loch-Kimba pipeline in South Australia.
– in reply - It is noted that the Senate accepts the Victoria Grant (Millewa. Pipelines) Bill. There is no opposition to it. It is regarded as a worthwhile measure bringing up to date the facilities which supply water to the Mallee area. Senator Primmer made a comment. I have one or two very brief answers for him. The tank referred to by the honourable senator has been built. However, over $2m worth of work still remains to be done on that project. Increased production will be due only to a more efficient use of existing improved pastures. Senator Webster also had some comments to make. I mention, for his sake, that perhaps there is a slight misunderstanding. This scheme is to provide a domestic and stock water supply. It does not provide water for irrigation. Therefore the expansion of production will come in the way I mentioned in the earlier comment which I made to Senator Primmer. Senator McLaren and Senator Laucke are both from South Australia. It is true that all honourable senators from South Australia have directed from time to time questions about the Loch-Kimba scheme in that State and the necessity for such a scheme. The main benefit of the Millewa scheme will be a saving in operating and maintenance costs. The increased stocking rate is effectively a valuable by-product. I point out to Senator McLaren and Senator Laucke that a new submission in relation to the ; Loch-Kimba pipeline scheme has recently been received.’ It is receiving active reassessment and consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time. .
– I shall ask 2 questions relating to the Schedule. Clause 4 states:
The construction of a storage tank capable of storing . approximately 150 , acre feet of water, about’ 8 miles south-west of Werrimull.
Is this to be an open, excavated earth storage tank? What are the particulars of this storage tank? My other question relates to clause 6 which states: 1 ‘
The’ acquisition of land that is’ required for the carrying out of any of the works referred to in the preceding paragraphs of this Schedule or may be affected by any of those works.
I would like to know whether the land which has to be acquired, will be replaced by freeing land which is already being used for the open drains and which will be given up?. Is .any sort of reconciliation being made between the land which is now used for drains and the .land, which will be acquired for the new pipeline?
– Clause 4 of the Schedule states:
The construction of a storage tank capable of storing approximately 150 .acre feet of water, about 8 miles south-west of Werrimull.
The tank referred to is an open tank but it is concrete. In regard to ; clause 6 which relates to the acquisition of. land, I am informed that this comes under the power of a Victorian Act. The Victorian Government will take the necessary steps to acquire land for any purpose incidental to the furtherance of the development of the scheme.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from15 August (vide page 42), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1972-73.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1973.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1973.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1973.
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1972.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Willesee speaking for one hour.
– I thank the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator DrakeBrockman) and the Senate for their courtesy. I think I can promise that I shall not take up the full time because I am one of those people who believe always that the length of a speech does not have anything to do with the wisdom of it. In fact I think that sometimes quite the reverse is true. If this is a minority view for a parliamentarian, at least minorities have their rights. Before beginning my remarks on the Budget I should like to apologise on behalf of Senator Murphy who normally would be the opening speaker for the Aus tralian Labor Party. He has succumbed to the wog which is taking a toll of so many senators. I suppose this is fairly understandable when we realise that probably the worst victim of all is the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), in respect of whom it is perhaps a case of the physician being unable to cure himself.
Last year in introducing what was his first Budget the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said:
Even more than usually the Government has this year found it necessary to shape its Budget to serve an overriding economic purpose.
This year in introducing what will be his last Budget Mr Snedden should have said: Even more than usually the Government has this year found it necessary to shape its Budget to serve an overriding electoral purpose.’ Let there be no mistake about it: This is a Budget designed to try to save the Government’s fortunes at the coming general election. Anyone who fails or refuses to face this obvious fact is in the kindergarten stage of politics or, indeed, of electoral responsibility. Considerations such as sound economic practice and the introduction of measures to advance the cause of genera) social welfare and equity have all been submerged beneath the paramount purpose of maintaining this tired, desperate and political bankrupt Government in office.
Looking at the Treasurer as he delivered his Budget this year we marvelled at his change of heart from last year. Here, indeed, was the miser turned profligate. A comparison of this year’s Budget with that of last year shows that Mr Snedden, on behalf of the Government, can expect to feature briefly in future history books as the traffic-light Treasurer. He has shown himself to be one of Australia’s leading exponents of stop-go economics, but without the concession or courtesy of an amber light. The Treasurer was anxious, perhaps as an election slogan, to give a brief portrayal of the Budget as he saw it. He said: Taxes down, pensions up and growth decisively strengthened.’ In the old days we always gave a name to the Budget but this one, so far, has not attracted a name. If I had the job of giving it a name I would call it a Band-Aid Budget because it has been hastily slapped on the unhealed wounds inflicted by his Budget of last year.
Let me now deal in some detail with various aspects of this politically motivated Budget. I deal first with unemployment. The day before the Budget was brought down the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) announced that during July unemployment had reached 2 per cent of the work force. In seasonally adjusted terms this meant that more than 112,000 members of the Australian work force were out of a job. Hard core unemployment, which is indicated by the number of workers on the dole, had risen to 43,000 - more than double the corresponding figure for the previous year. The other important employment statist tics - the number of registered job vacancies - fell to 31,000. The unemployment situation is extremely grim. When” Labour Party members and senators have drawn attention to the high rate of unemployment and the prospect of its worsening, Government spokesmen have been quick to accuse us of being latter day Jeremiahs. We have been accused of undermining business confidence. Worst of all, we have had the impudence to be correct.
The annual report of the Reserve Bank released last week indicates that unemployment cannot be expected to drop significantly in the near future. What does the Treasurer have to say about unemployment? He says:
The figure compares well with almost any other developed country today. But it is still too high for us and we are determined to reduce it.
When Ministers are replying to questions that they have written out for their back benchers relating to these comparisons, I wish they would be a little fair and point out that the way in which the Australian set-up numbers its unemployment is vastly different from the system used in other countries. Let me mention only one country. Canada. They count their Indians in their unemployed. We do not count our Aborigines as unemployed. In Canada they count youth labour in their unemployed. Many of the hotels at leading tourist attractions in Canada are run by school children, by which I mean people who attend universities and high schools. I am referring to places like Jasper which closes down during the snow period. For those honourable senators who cannot recall where Jasper is on the map, it is the place where Mr Gorton fell off his horse. If one goes to those places one sees that they are run entirely by youths, males and females. Canada has a system under which a person, with the very first pay packet he- draws, is given a social security number.. When he is back at the university or attending his latter days of high school he is still on the unemployed list. The moment that anyone goes out of work - on the very first day - he is counted as unemployed, whereas’ in Australia there is a delay. In addition to that, because of the very definite winters in Canada, with conditions which we do not have ‘ in’“‘this country, there is a distinct stopping of seasonal work. This has nothing to do’ with the way in which’ the unemployed are ‘ counted, but it is one “of the differences between that country and this.
Senator- Byrne - We have seasonal unemployment in Queensland. ., ‘ ,
– Yes, but when there is seasonal unemployment- in Australia a person can move.;from one place to another.- He is not completely pinned down. Once the snow falls on. the prairies of Canada, everything- ceases. I merely suggest that the Government, to be a little honest and not misleading when it is dealing :with ^comparisons between other countries and Australia,- should mention these things. I realise that. it. is almost impossible to draw parallel; lines in any comparison . between this : and another country. Mr Snedden said . that unemployment is still too high for us* and that he is determined, to reduce it-.. -.His professed determination is not matched by any proposed action discernable in - the Budget. The unemployed must pin their hopes on the bulk of the income tax cuts being quickly spent so as to boost demand and create employment.
The Treasurer this year- has thrown $432,m to the taxpayers and he hopes that they will spend it. Let us consider who will receive this money ‘before we decide whether it is likely that it will, be spent. He made great play of the fact that the tax scale has been restructured. On inspection we see that the restructuring affords only small relief to the bulk of taxpayers. In line with Liberal Party principles, the tax restructure still contrives to be .most generous to the rich. Dr Peter Sheehan of the
Australian National University has given an analysis of the income tax cuts. He said that despite the tax cuts over 1972-73 as a whole, the average taxpayer would pay a higher proportion of his income in tax than he did last year. From a welfare aspect he has estimated that more than half of the value of the proposed cuts would go to only the top 15 per cent of income earners.
The Treasurer’s typical family man - the average wage earner with a wife and 2 children - pays a higher proportion of his income in tax under the McMahon Government than under any government in our history. The number of cents in each dollar earned which must be paid in tax was 2.9 in the last year of the Chifley Government. It was 10.3c in the dollar in the last year of the Menzies Government, 11.4c in the dollar in the last year of the Holt Government and 13.9c in the dollar in the last year of the Gorton Government. In the first year of the McMahon Government the average income earner paid IS. 8c in the dollar. That rate topped them all. He will now pay 14.1c in the dollar. In the McMahon years - in this year’s Budget and in last year’s Budget - the Australian wage earner is paying tax at the highest rate ever levied by any government in our history. The relief which the Treasurer purported to produce last Tuesday is real only in terms of the excess for which he was responsible last year. The taxpayer will not pay less tax. His tax increase is a bit lower than it would have been if nothing had been done. As any child knows, the remaining money that goes to the people who have the responsibilities buys less under the McMahon Government than under any other government in our history.
The Treasurer spent much of his time talking about percentage tax cuts. Let us look at what is important - the absolute value in dollars and cents of these cuts to the taxpayer. I have assumed in these figures that the wage earner has a wife and 2 children. I intend to cite a few figures because of the falsehood that is going around about what is a middle class taxpayer, a high class taxpayer and a low class taxpayer. The figures are most revealing and almost unbelievable, but they are correct because they are taken from official documents. Forty-two per cent of taxpay ers get $64 or less a week. The wage earner on $64 a week will pay $1.45 a week less in tax. Fifty-one per cent of taxpayers get $74 or less a week. A man on that income will pay $1.80 a week less in tax. Sixty-eight per cent of taxpayers get $93 or less a week. A man on that income will pay $2.35 a week less in tax. Ninetyone per cent of taxpayers get $147 or less a week. A man on $147 a week will pay $4.05 a week less in tax. Ninety-seven per cent of taxpayers get $200 or less a week. A man on that income will pay $5.75 a week less in tax. A salary of $200 a week is the equivalent of about $10,000 a year. Honourable senators will remember when with much publicity the Gorton Government gave a flat rate tax cut and heralded to the world that it had improved conditions for the lower and middle income earners. The fact was that people were glibly talking about $10,000 a year as being the middle to lower income. In fact, 97 per cent of wage earners are receiving less than that. These figures show that the much vaunted restructuring amounts to little more than tinkering with an outdated tax scale.
I quote from a paper that was distributed by the Treasurer with the Budget Papers. It is headed ‘Income Tax on Individuals’. I take it that it seeks to emphasise his generosity. The first page shows the position of those people with an actual income of $67 a week. One of the 3 cases that is shown is a taxpayer with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children. He will receive a deduction, but the significant thing is that the same document shows that this person on $67 a week actual income with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children is still paying $4 a week into the Government coffers. Who would argue when I put forward the proposition that such an individual with those responsibilities should be paying nothing a week in taxation? The next page shows the case of a man on $67 a week with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children but with an additional expenditure of $500 a year which is shown in concessional deductions. That sum would not be for hospitalisation because most money spent in that way is paid back by hospital benefit funds, so it would be spent on things such as dentists, schooling and that type of thing. He is still paying $2.50 a week in tax. How can any government argue that a young man with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children going through the most expensive time of his life and having to pay another $500 unavoidable expenditure during the year because of misfortunes, should still be taxed at the rate of $2.50 a week? Obviously that is the sort of person who should be exempt completely. His time for paying tax is when the children are off his hands and when his responsibilities are not so great. These figures make it clear that the Budget is a rich man’s budget.
The increase in the dependant’s allowance of $52 a year is also a measure which favours the rich. Why should the wife of a rich man be much more valuable to him in terms of tax concessions than the wife of a poor man?. The man who is paying 65c in the dollar in tax will be relieved of paying 52 multiplied by 65c. The man paying only 10c in the dollar in tax will be relieved of paying 52 multiplied by 10c. If a man has had a period of unemployment during the year and if in that year he does not pay any taxation, the relief that the Government is giving him in 52 multiplied by nothing, which is still nothing. Having shown that a minority of taxpayers - the rich ones - receive the majority of the money which the Budget hands out, let us examine the claim of the Treasurer about his income tax cuts. He said: a reduction in personal income tax will put more money directly into the hands of consumers. Their take-home pay and their capacity to spend will be enhanced. There will be a real lift to community and business psychology. The Treasurer talks of the capacity to spend. He said nothing about the inclination to spend. On recent performance, those with above average incomes - remember that these are the people getting the lion’s share of the tax handouts - will bank their tax cuts. I refer to the higher income earner. Where is the stimulation that the economy needs. Where will be those extra jobs needed to combat unemployment? In economic terms the Treasurer has chosen the worst possible means to stimulate the economy.
A number of courses were open to him. He could have reduced the rates of sales tax, thereby reducing prices and making a significant assault on inflation. Honourable senators will remember that he did make one sales tax concession, that is, on works of art. If a person wants to buy a Rembrandt he will be relieved of paying sales tax on it, but if he wants to buy an exercise book he will have to pay sales tax on it. So the budding Rembrandts in the early stages of their development will be paying tax to learn their trade, as will any other cihld who wants to start learning any trade. It is most difficult to find why this concession was selected when such things as exercise books are still on sales tax lists.
The Treasurer could and should have announced a major programme of Commonwealth financed capital works to build desperately needed schools and. hospitals. Such a programme would have been a direct assault on the high level of unemployment and, incidentally, a contribution to those neglected twins - health and education. He could have, given a much larger portion of his handouts to the . recipients of social services. He need then not have worried about the money being held .out of circulation. It is notorious that, under this Government the aged, the invalid and the unemployed must spend their pensions immediately. They can hardly afford to accumulate large bank accounts. The Treasurer did none of these things. He chose the most inefficient -means of stimulating a sick economy. He made his income, tax cuts with no control, over whether the . money would be spent. Why? The answer is stark and clear. Because he believed that a large income tax cut would be electorally popular.
Before leaving the subject of unemployment let’ me say several things about one of the other factors which has considerable bearing on the number- of. people out of work. That factor is immigration. Last year 132,000 migrants came .to Australia. This figure compared with an original target of about 170,000. The level <of: migration was reduced during the year, ‘due to the high rate of unemployment. It was reduced sensibly and with no complaint from me. Now, with no real prospect of a decrease in the record number of unemployed the Treasurer tells us that the number1 of migrants to be brought in this year will rise to 140,000. I want to make it clear that to increase the number of migrants coming to Australia at a time of high unemployment is economic lunacy. Worse, it condemns migrants, who come to Australia with high hopes of life in a new land, to languish for an indefinite period on the dole. I believe, and the Australian Labor Party believes, that the first responsibility of the Government is to Australia’s citizens and to the migrants already arrived in Australia. Immigration at this time must not be increased. It should be significantly reduced.
The latest available figures show that of those migrants eligible to enter the work force 11 per cent of arrivals during the previous 12 months were unemployed. Is this a fair go for these migrants? Is it a fair go for the Australians who jostle with them in ever longer job queues? The answer is that the Government is not interested in migrants as people. It has become mesmerised by the numbers game of migration. More is better says the Government. If it believes that the more migrants unemployed the better then let it say so. The 1972-73 immigration target provides the best possible evidence that the Government has totally abandoned the policy of full employment. It is replacing this policy with one of maintaining a significant and permanent pool of unemployed. If a disproportionate number of those in the pool are migrants, reasons the Government, so much the better. They are less able to be vocal and do not have the vote. The high unemployment amongst migrants in fact encourages them to vote in the only way open to them. They vote with their feet. At present rates, one in every four migrants arriving in Australia will leave Australia permanently. This trend can only increase if present Government policy is pursued.
Let me now turn to the other area where the Treasurer was at his proudest. I refer to social services. The main provision was for the standard rate of pension to be increased by $1.75 to $20 a week. We welcome the rise. It is a move in the right direction - but it is not enough when compared to other things in Australia. The Government has retained the concept of pensions being arbitrarily fixed at the whim of the Government. In practice, this means bigger rises in election years and smaller rises at other times. Inevitably the pensioner under this system is the victim of inflation. His rises always lag behind price rises. The current high rate of inflation leaves most pensioners helpless.
The Australian Labor Party is pledged to tie social security payments to average weekly earnings. This allows pensioners automatically to receive increases either as productivity increases, as other factors increase - general prosperity - or as inflation occurs. The ALP would fix pensions at 25 per cent of the average weekly earnings which, at the present rate, would be $24.50 a week. Of course, as I have already explained the figure would be adjusted automatically. There is a hint in the Budget that at long last the government may be steeling itself to think about the unthinkable. I refer to a national superannuation scheme. There was also the promise to abolish the means test within 3 years. The Australian Labor Party has been campaigning since 1954 for the abolition of the means test. Until less than 6 weeks ago the Liberal Party was opposed to the abolition of the means test.
The Government now proposes, and I quote:
To appoint a committee of inquiry to examine and report on these matters and on how this proposal may be responsibly financed with particular reference to national superannuation.
After 23 years and a history going back to 1948 - at one stage, Mr Menzies resigned from a Ministry because of this subject - the Government has set up a committee to inquire into it. Thus the promise to abolish the means test is to rest on the report of an as yet unnamed, memberless and bud.getless committee. It is well to remember that the Australian Labor Party has moved in Parliament on no fewer than 5 separate occasions for the establishment of a committee to inquire into a national superannuation scheme. On every occasion the Government defeated the move. Is its sudden conversion the product of sincerity or panic?
What impact will the Budget make on poverty? The increase in pensions and the retapering of the means test may for a few dizzy months push some people temporarily above the poverty line. Just as surely, inflation will inexorably drag them back under that line. What of the people on unemployment benefit? These are the growing band of luckless poor deprived of the chance to earn a livelihood by Mr Snedden’s first Budget. Their base rate of benefit - the dole - stays fixed at $17 a week. Budget expenditure on this item is to increase from $44.7m last year to $57.6m this year which strongly implies that the Department of Social Services believes that hard-core unemployment will persist at its present record level.
The Government offers no plan to deal with poverty. It is accepted by the Government as a normal part of our society, just as the new permanent pool of unemployed is now to be accepted. Where is the assistance for large families on low incomes? Child endowment remains unaltered and therefore stands further eroded by inflation. Another measure which deserves comment is the liberalisation of gift duty which is another handout to the rich. One most welcome measure is the deductibility of expenditure by a taxpayer on his own education. This measure is long overdue - 23 years overdue - and the high importance that the Treasurer claims he attaches to this matter is hardly commensurate with the speed with which the measure has been introduced.
The levying of excise on liquefied petroleum or other gas used to propel road vehicles is a retrograde step and shows that the Government pays no more than the most hypocritical lip service to the problems of air pollution. The Ministers of the Environment in both South Australia and New South Wales have already protested about the imposition of this excise. It falls as a bitter blow on those enterprises which, in the interests of reducing exhaust pollution from their vehicles, have fitted them to burn liquid petroleum gas. I understand that a joint approach is to be made by certain State Ministers for the Federal Government to remove this excise and I trust the Minister will reconsider this matter. I urge him to do so.
The Government proposes to increase expenditure on defence from $1,21 7m last year to $ 1,323m this year. Included in that figure is the first instalment of $355m on 3 destroyers known as DDLs. If the past performance of this Government is any guide, orders for expensive and flashy defence hardware, placed immediately prior to an election, can lead to an extended financial hangover which persists long after the electoral purpose of the orders has been completed. There is reason to believe that the initials DDL may soon become as notorious as the designation Fill.
The greatest fault of the Budget is inherent in the fact that it is an instrument of political expedience. Expedience is concerned with short term measures and the short term in this case is the 3-month period - less, I hope - between now and the Federal election. There is no long term planning in this Budget. People have a right to expect more of a Treasurer than ad hockery and handouts. Planning is required to solve present crises and avoid future ones.
Where in this Budget is the long term plan to control inflation? The Reserve Bank believes that revaluation of the Australian dollar is necessary, but where is there a word of this, either for or against? The inflow of overseas capital continues unabated, and where is there word of government controls? Where is there any indication of any attempt to regulate prices? This Government has always believed in controls on wages, but even in this period of galloping inflation it refuses to admit that effective control of inflation requires some control over prices. The Treasurer’s view of inflation is simple - it is easy to understand; in fact it is simplistic. It is: Pressures for more frequent and everlarger increases in money wages remain. While they do the evils of inflation will persist’. There is no prescription here for a cure, only the implication that what is needed is an eternal wage freeze. Do that, according to the Treasurer, and inflation falls into place. Clearly a Treasurer with such an unreal view of inflation is unfit to manage our complex economy.
One great problem that the Budget leaves completely untouched is the needs of Australia’s cities and the commensurate need for decentralisation. This, of all problems, requires long term planning. As the countryside is steadily depopulated and the cities swell to choking point, the present Government is content to sit idly by, disclaiming responsibility. Yet only massive intervention on a scale that can be financed and directed by the Commonwealth will halt the present trend and arrest the deterioration of city environments and the worsening quality of life for their inhabitants. Regional development and the setting up of large, viable regional centres in the countryside, which must be the cornerstone of any realistic decentralisation policy, will also require Commonwealth assistance. This Budget says not one word about these matters. By its silence it delays an attack on these great problems for at least 6 months and perhaps a year. The cry has always been that we could not afford decentralisation. To be realistic, now we cannot afford not to have decentralisation. Surely no-one wants to pass on to those who follow us the type of life that has to be lived in cities such as Tokyo and New York. There is one thing that this generation can do more than any other - and that is to certainly cure some of these evils in the interests of the people who will follow us.
Where are the plans to control foreign investment and the takeover of Australian assets and companies? The Treasurer is apparently happy to ‘Sell off a bit of the farm, year by year’ as Sir John McEwen described the process. One can only wonder whether the Treasurer realises how much of the farm actually remains in our own hands for us to be able to sell. Where are the plans for a comprehensive scheme of rural reconstruction, with generous retraining schemes where necessary to end once and for all the debt-ridden, handtomouth existence which is the miserable lot of too many of our primary producers? The Australian Country Party tradition of ad hoc handouts, indiscriminate subsidies and hurried relief operations persists in this Budget and one looks in vain for considered planning and modern rural management policies.
Where is the review of health insurance in this Budget? With adherence by doctors to the common fee continually declining and with some of the large health funds accumulating reserves against the wish of the Government and beyond the control of their contributors, where are the proposals for a new and equitable health scheme that will bring medical and hospital treatment to the ordinary citizen at a reasonable cost? The Budget is silent. Fear of illness will still continue to haunt the average wage-earner. The Government parties have long posed as the guardians of stability and responsibility in economic management. Last year the Treasurer predicted an overall growth rate for the economy of 5 per cent; the result was an appallingly low 3 per cent. This year the Treasurer has again predicted a growth rate of 5 per cent, but there seems no guarantee that this year the performance will be closer to the promise than it was last year.
One of the quaintest and cleverest, but at the same time disturbingly accurate, descriptions of the Budget was ‘a preelection fireworks display - but with live ammunition’. Let us hope it does not blow up in our faces. Nothing in this Budget suggests that cost inflation will cool down. Prices totally unrelated to capital cost increases will keep rising. Rent and land, for instance - 2 major costs to the Treasurer’s ‘typical suburban family man’ - will continue to rise unchecked. The economy’s serious inflationary psychology will not disappear overnight - if at all - by waving a magic wand of false tax deductions. The Government cry of ‘taxes down, pensions up, and particular help to the family man’ is deliberate political deceit and economic dishonesty.
Earlier I said that there were a couple of areas of immediate gain to depressed sectors of our population in this Budget. I said that at the same time there were many crucial gaps in the Budget which pose serious questions. Let me ask them now. Where is there any review of the value of the Australian dollar or an indication of how exchange rates could be used as an instrument of economic policy? Where are the visible, workable stimuli to productivity? Where is there worthwhile policy on the ownership of national resources and their associated industries? What is the Government planning as a way to mop up our dangerously excessive foreign reserves? Where is there any indication of a new philosophy and approach to social welfare? Where is there any suggestion that the Government ever appreciates the need for a review of Federal-State financial relations? Where is the attack on rampant land prices?
I think that the people of Australia should beware of Treasurers so ostentatiously bearing gifts immediately prior to an election. They would be wise to ponder whether there was any deeper significance in the phrases which concluded the Budget Speech in which the Treasurer said:
Of course any Budget can only be framed on the basis of the Government’s best judgment at that time. What the future holds can always be only dimly seen. We shall review economic trends as the year goes on to eusure that the economy moves properly towards its sustainable growth path.
Later he went on to say:
I think it right to inject this cautionary note. But tonight I shall not dwell on it further.
In other words, enjoy the Treasurer’s gifts today for who knows what the Liberal Government might do tomorrow - that is, after the election. Certainly the Treasurer did not want to dwell on it on Budget night. What I suggest is that many Australians might dwell on it before election night. Their conclusion, I am sure, will be that it is time to dismiss the stop-go Treasurer and that it is time to bring purpose and planning into the management of the Australian economy. In other words, it is time to elect a Labor government.
– I was fascinated by the reflection of Senator Willesee, who just spoke on behalf of the Opposition, that this Government would be in office to implement further Budgets. I could not agree with him more. I think that this is most apparent. The Budget debate is not an occasion for solo flights, or for one man to try to cover the whole field of economic policy, economic strategy, concessions, broad designs and specific details. The last of all people who could hope to do that is Senator Keeffe who has a lot to say and nothing to say it with. However, I think it is proper for me to make some observations on the broad Budget situation and then perhaps to leave it to my colleagues to illuminate the scene. I will leave it to members of the Opposition to muddy the water as they are accustomed to do from time to time. As we have seen from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, they will do so in a state of considerable confusion.
Firstly, I think one is entitled to ask oneself: What is the Budget designed to do? The principal purpose of the Budget is to achieve social and economic goals of significance to all Australians and particularly to families. The Labor Party’s amendment is as it was to be expected. It is woolly and general - a sort of scatter gun operation, firing as many shots as one can and hoping to hit something. It is a little like the old pump gun principle of trying to shoot ducks on a dam. (Quorum formed.) Mr Acting President, I thank you and I thank honour able senators for the brief respite. This amendment does nothing for anybody; it merely confuses the scene and, as I have said, endeavours to scatter so much shot that those who moved it hope that something will be hit, that one duck at least will fall out of the sky. The one thing about the amendment that interests me is that we are not asked to reject the Budget, we are not asked to reduce the Budget by $1 in order to force a vote of want of confidence in the Government.
We are being asked to make the Budget an election issue. I believe we would all be extremely pleased to do so, for we regard the Budget as a good document. We would be very happy to go to the people in due course on the Budget and what it means for the people of Australia. In essence, as the Treasurer said - it is worth repeating - the Budget means this to the Australian people: Taxes are coming down, pensions and benefits are going up, and growth is to be strengthened. I believe that what a government has to do on these occasions is to try to eliminate confusion from the scene; and the confusion can be eliminated by looking at the Budget and saying to oneself: Taxes are coming down, pensions and benefits are going up, growth is to be strengthened, and the people’s confidence is to be reinforced’.
As was to be expected, there is a lot of Labor Party criticism. I shall deal with some of it but will leave other parts of it to be dealt with by my colleagues. Many days and nights are ahead of us for the debate on this measure. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place said that we have had contradictory Budgets in successive years; that is how I analysed one of his points from reading his speech. I thought he displayed a total lack of understanding of what economic management is all about. We ought to have Budgets that fluctuate in successive years. The aims should change, the impetus should alter; we should pass from a substantial deficit to a low deficit; we should pass into a surplus. Budgets must be mobile and flexible if we want to manage the country economically and sensibly.
Senator Willesee referred to the slow growth rate of 3 per cent. I shall deal with this point later. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place said the Budget displays no strategy. I suggest that anybody who has the time after this debate should read the Treasurer’s Budget Speech - and then read earlier Budget speeches. These will show that the strategy is quite clear, that it has been laid down and is explained. It is not difficult to see. I do not want to go through the Speech in total, but would suggest that only a little time for reading is required. For those who can read, 1 say read the document. The strategy is there, the consequences and the explanations are there. It is not a narrow and a limiting Budget, as was argued. It does not redefine the role of governments. Governments play a responsible and an important role in budgetary matters, and this Government has demonstrated its capacity for this role through the years.
I shall deal with one or two other observations that were made on the Budget and leave others for my colleagues to deal with. First, I refer to the impact on poverty. The Budget’s measures for increasing pensions and improved nursing home grants and the easing of the means test must be viewed against measures taken in April this year. The rate of increase in pensions in recent years far surpasses even the rapid rate of price increases in the economy, and this rapid rate of price increases is showing signs of moderating. Mention was made of the tax on liquefied petroleum gas for road users. Emission control standards have already been announced, and the tax on liquid petroleum gas will protect existing sources of revenue received from petrol and diesel oil. Those who have fitted liquid petroleum gas equipment have not been taxed out of using it.
I should think that the ALP may well do everybody a great disservice if it attempts by confusing and misleading comment to undermine the confidence of the Australian people in their own country. This confidence is important if we wish to have a revival of growth rate and a revival of consumer spending. The Budget is an economic document. It is the job of a responsible government to produce an economic document, and this Government has done so. This Government has been a responsible government for 23 years; it has proved its responsibility and shown it, and the measure of progress of this country is the measure of what this Government has achieved. The Government has never claimed to be perfect; it has never claimed that it has never made a mistake. It has claimed in the broad situation, however, that its market-economy approach, and its ability to get people to respond to personal initiatives and the chance to become something more, have advanced the whole field of the economy and produced higher living standards and greater growth for everybody. It has therefore framed responsible Budgets in accordance with the year in which it was involved. It has done so before, it does so now and in the future - for the control of the country will certainly be in its hands - it will continue to do so.
Growth will quicken from now on. Under the influence of the Budget now and as a result of the earlier measures of expansion which have been referred to, the rate of growth in employment, productivity and the gross national product at constant prices will rise. To underwrite this improved growth the Budget aims ! to give stimulus to crucial areas for total economic performance - to consumer spending, because that is 60 per cent, of total demand. The Budget has also important indirect effects on large areas of - private investment spending. Subdued consumer spending has been the major cause of a slackening in growth rates and in rising unemployment. The major areas .of expansion in the Budget are the taxation concessions and the . social service benefits. Income tax relief will put additional money directly into the pockets of the consumer, and the social service benefits should be reflected in direct, spending immediately. That is a broad conspectus of the Budget. I give it rather than attempt to answer all the comments made by . the Opposition. One cannot spend one’s life opening these cans of red herrings; one would get very tired of doing so. But as time goes on, others may develop answers to particular points.
I should mention one or two other features of the Budget before reverting to the broad theme. Senator Willesee, observed that the Government is not interested in migrants as people. What an astonishing remark. After 23 years of sustained growth in immigration programmes which were carried on with great enthusiasm to build a greater Australia, to hear this remark at this late hour of the day by a dying Opposition is fascinating. The Government’s immigration programme for 1972-73 provides for 140,000 migrants, the number initially programmed for last year. We have introduced and stepped up migration education and welfare and integration programmes. The honourable senator’s remark is, to say the least of it, insulting to the intelligence of honourable senators.
It was stated that taxpayers will pay more. This is the sort of legerdemain and economic thought that occupies the minds of Opposition senators and which one can never fathom. The rise in tax payable is a consequence of the tremendous rise in the prosperity of the people. But the reduction in taxation must be taken as a constant line on the basis of constant prices. For example, the reduction in tax payable by a married man with 2 children who is earning $67 per week and claiming $500 a year as deductions is $67 a year. If he receives on the average a reduction of $126 a year, this is more than $2 a week or 25 per cent less tax that he has to pay.
It has been said that we have introduced an electioneering Budget. This is a complete misstatement of fact, for we are doing nothing of the kind. No government that is going back into office, as we are, to run this country for the 3 years after the end of this year - and this will happen - would do other than run an economic budget of economic consequence and responsibility. We have always done that every 3 years and we shall do it again. I shall refer to what other people have said on our behalf. The Melbourne ‘Sun’, which has not been notorious in the last few months for favouring the Government, said that it was ‘a vigorous Budget that steers an intelligent course between generosity and responsibility’. The ‘Australian’ said that it was ‘a many faceted Budget of some sophistication’. The ‘Age’ said that it was ‘a responsible Budget’. Those are not newspapers which have tended to be over-enthusiastic for us on this side of the chamber from time to time. Another comment said that the restructured tax scale was designed to benefit the rich. Eighty-three per cent of the tax reduction resulting from the restructuring of the scale accrues to persons with taxable incomes below $8,000, 91 per cent to persons with taxable incomes below $12,000 and 75 per cent to persons with taxable incomes below $6,500. Without doubt, it is a tax benefit situation or a tax reduction arrangement to look after people on middle and lower incomes, the people with responsibilities, the people with families - the thrifty and the provident who traditionally have been the hard core of this country and have made this country great and strong.
The Budget is based upon certain criteria. The growth rate of this country’s economy has, through a long span of years, run at a little better than 5 per cent at constant prices - I think at about 5.2 per cent. We are told by Senator Willesee that in 1971-72 we had a disastrous growth rate of 3 per cent. He implied that calamity had fallen upon us, that the shades were drawn down and that people were committing suicide all over the country. He implied that there was poverty, despair, famine, pestilence and drought. What really happened in that year was that the Budget design was to increase growth by the same rate. But we had a very severe international monetary crisis. That might have eluded the minds of honourable senators opposite. The whole world, including Australia, was put in a very severe monetary situation which had a marked effect upon this country and upon many other countries. That Budget was severely affected by the world monetary crisis. The crisis affected our major trading partners, the United States of America and Japan, and also ourselves. It led to uncertainties and to cuts in expansion and in our markets. We did remarkably well in this country to achieve the results we did under those circumstances.
The confidence which the world has in this country and in the way in which it manages its economy has been demonstrated by the willingness of other people in the world to send money to Australia for investment and growth potential. That is the best demonstration we can have. It is a better demonstration than that given by some honourable senators opposite who really have no clue as to what is going on. We did make interim adjustments. We demonstrated the flexibility and sensibility of this Government and its Treasury in economic management because, in the year after the monetary crisis was resolved and things had settled to the new levels, the Government made adjustments. We eased monetary conditions, as some honourable senators may recall. We altered the statutory reserve deposits position. We allowed a monetary expansion. There are tables which show the money supply available in Australia at the present time and what it was a few years ago. It has nearly doubled.
We reduced interest rates and we expanded public sector spending by giving substantial amounts of money to the States. We reduced income tax by 2i per cent. We did all those things to stimulate the economy, once the monetary conditions around the world had settled at their new levels. Despite the views of the wise people who know how to run the country but who never get a chance to do so - and who will not get a chance to do so - there are certain hard, inflexible problems in monetary and economic management in this country. They are the product of a country that has a great trading base, the percentage of whose production passing into the world trade is very high; a country remote from other parts of the world; a great trading nation, and a country that is subject to the vagaries of drought and has to sell its product on the free world market under competition and, in some cases, under economic and trading restraint. We always have to watch this three-legged stool: To manage wise and sensible growth rates, to maintain good sensible employment levels and to try to maintain price stability.
It has been well said in economic management in other parts of the world: It is very difficult to keep those 3 factors in balance and in perfect adjustment at the one time. This country is admired by observers in other parts of the world for its capacity to do just those things very well. Those honourable senators who do not believe me should take time off during the recess to go and talk to Treasuries and reserve bankers in other parts of the world in order to form some opinion about their own Treasury and their own Reserve Bank, to see what the rest of the world thinks about them. That is demonstrated by the confidence which the world has in this country and by the flow of money towards this country.
– All the vultures round the world - Caesar to Caesar.
– There we have a fascinating observation which is totally irrelevant and quite inaccurate. No doubt I will pass to it, given time. If I do not pass to it, given time, I shall pass my notes to my colleagues and they will take, great pleasure in giving the honourable senator a solid thump on that one. What, is the outcome of all this? Because of the things I have mentioned, in the present Budget context we do have some slight slackness in consumer spending. There has, been great growth in savings and capital availability, and there is a tendency for the price rises that have aggravated the system to begin to slow down. The economy is without doubt moving in the right direction. Demand is certainly growing, but it is npt growing as evenly as one would like. Confidence has improved substantially, and the stage is set for a sound economic, management policy situation in 1972-73, We should forget politics, which people find it difficult to do but which .ohe would hope fr.om .time to time in the Senate, where we do. give lengthy considerations of matters, we can do. I think that would be useful for the Australian people.
So in looking at economic management for this country in the next period of time, let us think what we should do. Obviously, in the present scene where we are strong in liquid resource, strong in internal saving and strong in infusion of overseas investment money and where there is a tendency for consumer spending to be not quite what we would like and where growth rates need to be lifted, we ought to stimulate growth in the economy, and that is what any responsible Treasurer would be doing at this point of time and what we are doing. But we would not want so to overdo it that it would lead again to another bout of inflation. So this is where the managerial problem comes in. We- want to continue our public sector expenditure patterns, but not excessively. The figures are available in the statistics on national income and expenditure that are appended to the Budget Speech. Honourable senators can see how the Government has stepped up public sector expenditure at a time when the private sector was tending to be a little on the slackish side. That is good economic management, and perhaps some honourable senators opposite might spare a moment to commend the Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the Government for having had a little foresight in economic management a little earlier.
In addition, the measures which have been chosen - and wisely chosen - in this Budget are designed to boost the private sector which has not been growing as fast as one would like. Equally and finally, as the fourth objective of the whole Budget conspectus and general view of what should be done, there has been the introduction of measures having merit on the ground of social welfare, justice and equity. Those honourable senators who care to look at the Budget Papers will find in the Budget a substantial series of tables going back to 1962-63 - about a 10-year run - showing a pattern of deficit years and a pattern of years of Budget surpluses, giving an idea of what has been happening in this country. We had a number of years of deficit budgeting in the total sense, apart from a domestic surplus or a domestic deficit. That was substantially in a phase or decade in this country when we had a huge public investment programme in order to build a great infrastructure for growth and development - and that has been achieved - and a great expansion of export earnings and a rise in living standards.
In the last 2 to 3 years - having been through a long phase of such expansion - we very properly and sensibly reverted to a substantial domestic surplus and almost balanced budgeting. The years when we had domestic surpluses are worth quoting now in the context of what this Budget seeks to do. We had a domestic surplus of $200m in 1968-69, $522m in 1969-70, $460m in 1970-71 and $387m in 1971-72. Those honourable senators who read the Budget Papers will note that we are looking at a Budget deficit in domestic terms of $60m, which is a very slight turnaround. The Australian people are noted for some particular characteristics. They have high initiative but they are astonishingly thrifty people. They have a very high saving rate and a very high investment rate. In fact, they have one of the highest saving rates and one of the highest investment rates in the free world. I think that Australia still finances approximately 81 per cent of the total investment programme with its own people’s savings and retained earnings. In the light of the years when we ran deficits, in the light of the big expansion in our infrastructure and in the light of the substantial domestic surpluses that Australia had in the last few years - 4 in all - this country now can substantially afford to run domestic expansion out of those high resources. In the process, we can afford to encourage, to aid and to reward the thrifty and the provident and to look after the family people who have made this country what it has become. That is what I would suggest to honourable senators is the relevant area of concern.
The Government is running a domestic expansion in this Budget. We can afford to do so because we have been thrifty and provident in the last few years. Who have been thrifty and provident? It is the Australian people and the Australian Government. That fact ought to be recognised. Our action can be well and truly justified. This Budget has reduced itself to a situation where, in a great number of areas, expenditures are being increased and benefits are being given. These matters will be developed in more detail and specifically by my colleagues who will take up various areas of Government proposals and expenditures and explain them precisely and in detail to the Australian people. Throughout this Budget there are great improvements, there are great benefits and there are great opportunities for a rise in living standards. There are some specific matters that I will mention briefly.
I suppose that the most significant event in the last 2 or 3 years in Commonwealth Budget financing and Commonwealth economic management has been the dramatic turnaround in the treatment of the States, in the area of Commonwealth-State relations and the financial management of that area. One ought properly to compliment the Prime Minister, the Honourable William McMahon, who has seen to it that relationships financially with our State colleagues have been put on a new. better and most enhanced level. Credit for that should go to him.
The old arguments of 3 or 4 years ago seem to have passed away. We seem to be operating in a spirit of co-operative federalism, of understanding each other’s problems and of working well together. 1 do not get now, as I used to get 2 or 3 years ago, anything like the problems, if any at all, concerning State deficiencies with respect to their own purposes. Perhaps there are some small ones, but this is not the subject for tonight’s debate. I can demonstrate on a later occasion that in the pattern of the last few years the growth of resources and of finance available to thi States in multiplication terms has been greater than the .availability of resources and finance to the Commonwealth. That is an important factor in a federal system such as ours where We want to see the dispersion of responsibility, the dispersion of power and a greater opportunity for all the people where we believe that expenditure is often more wisely promoted, encouraged and looked after, that is, closer to the grass roots level.
Various exercises are proposed in the Budget in relation to national highways. Our defence vote is being increased. Industry is being aided in a great number of ways. In the last few days, I have answered questions about shipbuilding. I note from the Budget that this financial year we are increasing our aid to shipbuilding by $20. 3m. Substantial aid is being provided to rural industry. We have not had to aid it as much as in the past because the wool industry has picked up substantially. Who remembers the criticism by the Opposition of the Government when we introduced our proposals to aid the wool industry? Who remembers that? Nobody. Who now is protesting about that action? Nobody. The Government put a floor under the wool industry that saved it. That fact ought to be remembered by all honourable senators. Opposition senators ought not to forget it. They should read their speeches of earlier days.
The Government is aiding rural lending with long term infusions of finance. We are aiding Qantas Airways Ltd, particularly and purposely, and the Australian National Airline’s Commission by the provision of more capital. We are aiding the Post Office by the provision of an additional $288m.
– What about the dismissals in Qantas?
– If ever the day came when the honourable senator had a responsibility in government - it will not, because that is not going to happen - the honourable senator would understand something that he does not understand now.
– The Minister has some reservations.
– I have no reservations. I just have a wish that honourable senators opposite could have a couple of days or a week in which they were the government. After that week, the learned gentlemen opposite, who are so wise, so smart and so clever, would be so many repentant figures shrinking back into the very dark corners that it would not even matter.
There are a great many other items of expenditure proposed by the Government. But I would wish to say briefly in passing that the feature of the Budget which has given me the most pleasure has been the improvement in the area of social welfare by way of increased benefits. .Particularly do I refer to the easing of the means test and I suppose, specifically, .the clear declaration by the Government pf. its firm intention to abolish the means test within 3 years. Then, belatedly, we had the, fascinating exercise by the Opposition, picking up the same idea a few days later, following along the path set by the Government, preaching economic management by the Government from day to day, having no new ideas of its own and adopting what it thought were good Government ideas. We now have the situation that, thanks to this Government, the means test will be abolished in 3 years. The Australian, people can count on this, and the Opposition now thinks that it is a good idea.
The revenue proposals will attract honourable senators. Modest increases occur in some dues. Looking at the propositions to raise revenue in effect for the’ purpose of providing the benefits that we are talking about, the Government has decided- very wisely so - that a reduction in sales tax did not offer the same opportunities or give the same benefits as would reductions in income tax. I observe also in passing - really, I think that we would all wish to observe this because the Senate has engaged itself on some study of the problem of estate duty and probate duty - that a substantial relaxation is proposed with respect to estate duty. Statutory exemptions have been doubled. This means a good deal to a great number of people and. 1 imagine, to all of us, to those to whom we are close and with whom we have close associations. Under these proposals, one-half of all estates now dutiable will no longer be dutiable.
A very substantial concession is granted in respect of gift duty which rises from $4,000 for 18 months to $10,000 for 18 months. What this means is that a man or a woman who wishes in his or her lifetime to make arrangements to pass his or her affairs on to his or her children, will be able to do so sensibly and wisely provided action is taken within a reasonable time. To me, this ls extremely important because I believe in the simple philosophy that this country is not to be run by the rich people. It ls a country in which any man can become rich by his own endeavours, his own efforts, his energies and his own abilities. That is what it ought to be like. In that way we can all become better, stronger, more powerful and more fortunate. I like to feel that a man who starts with nothing and carves his empire - we all know these people - would have the opportunity to see the results of his efforts go in succession to those whom he wishes to carry on after him in the same line of ownership with the same line of continuity. That, to me, is real. 1 turn to personal income tax. Honourable senators know the reason why it was necessary to look at this matter closely. First of all, personal income tax was becoming increasingly severe. Secondly, the family man was becoming affected to a greater degree. Thirdly, rising taxation was tending to reduce people’s incentives. If this country has one thing that matters, it is the incentive and the initiative of the Australian people. We do not wish to see incentive and initiative diminished. Fourthly, rising taxation was adding to pressure for increases in wages. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the Senate. The reduction in taxation will put more money in the hands of consumers. The minimum taxable income limit will increase from $417 to $1,041. That concession will remove 600,000 people from those eligible to pay income tax. A reduction of 10 per cent across1 the board in personal income tax is proposed. Personal taxation was reduced earlier- by 2i per cent. Taxation reductions range from 14 per cent in lower incomes to 6 per cent on higher incomes. The Government has firmly, decisively and positively leant on the side of those in the lower income scales and those with responsibilities.
The general position reached in this situation is that an overall Budget deficit is envisaged. As I mentioned earlier, this follows a run of years of Budget surpluses. This action has been considered appropriate. Any person who looks at the economic management of this country will agree that the time has come to pass some of the benefits of the years of thrift and endeavour to the people who have produced that endeavour and that thrift. It has been done in a sense of sound economic management and of wise provision for the future, and it should prove an incentive for the people of the future to be able both to consume and to invest in increasing quantities. .
I believed that the 1960s were years in which there was a substantial building of this country, in what I call a capital infrastructure sense, to produce growth ‘ in trading income and growth- ‘ iti mineral resources to supplant the export income of a declining primary industry. I equally believed - I believe it now- that’ the 1970s would be years of what I call ‘ domestic expansion when we would be able to do something more for the general well being of the people within this country in the fields of taxation, health, hospitals, housing, education, roads, railways1 - all those things that mean something to them. The Budget is designed to be stimulatory and to produce a situation for robust growth.
I do not think I need say a great deal more. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) summed up the position very well when he said:
This Budget serves the nation’s larger purposes. There are, of course, challenges ahead as well as rewards.
How could it be otherwise in a country such as this? It has always been so in this country and it always will be so. The real thing to do is to make it possible for those people who can perform to perform and for those people who are entitled to’ rewards to receive those rewards; to have a rising living standard and a growth in opportunity. Any earnest student of this country who likes to look at the economic figures demonstrated in the Budget can see the huge expansion in economic opportunity and growth during the years that we have managed this country in the market economy liberal philosophy fashion which has done a lot for this country and a lot for the people. It is a remarkable story of growth and progress, a remarkable story of opportunity. The years ahead are very bright for those who come after those who have been in charge of this country’s affairs in the earlier years. One could once again say, as the Treasurer very properly said, that the essence of this matter is this: Taxes have come down, and properly so; pensions have gone up, and we have helped people who have been thrifty and provident, and so we should; and growth is to be decisively strengthened and we should all play our part in thai
– The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who has just resumed his seat, had the unenviable task of opening the debate for the Government. As he spoke in generalities it was very difficult to isolate any points he made. I presume that later speakers from the Government side will be more specific and, I hope, more factual.
A Budget normally has 2 functions. Firstly, it appropriates public moneys in order to maintain or expand services provided by the government, consistent with the need to accelerate or decelerate the economy as circumstances demand. Secondly, it is, or should be, a device to ensure that the products of society are shared as far as is practicable by all the community on an equitable basis. By either standard this Budget is a monumental failure. I do not suggest that it is a Budget without merit. Those elements of it, such as the elimination of the means test by 1975, which have been lifted directly out of the platform of the Australian Labor Party will bring benefit to many people.
– You were 5 years behind the Democratic Labor Party.
– If such is the case, Senator Little, it is to your credit. The
Budget fails not only because it does not meet the 2 standards to which I have referred but also because it was conceived dishonestly and in the utmost expediency - and possibly that is more important. It is for those reasons and others that, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party,I move the following amendment:
At end of motion add - but the Senate condemns the Budget because it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia; and in particular because it provides no programme for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs and prices of goods and land, no framework for improving the standards of education, health, welfare and public transport and no national plan for our capital cities and regional centres’.
Let us trace for a few minutes the events which led up to the presentation of this Budget. During the 23 years of LiberalCountry Party rule in Australia the Government has lived in an atmosphere of self-perpetuating arrogance and complacency. With the exception of 1960-61 - the year of the great credit squeeze and the folly of the recession that followed - the Liberal-Country Party coalition was convinced that there was no alternative to a Liberal government in Australia and that the Australian Labor Party had no hope of ever becoming the government of this country. Election after election saw the return of Mr Menzies, as he then was, as Prime Minister, and thereafter his 3 successors. It became almost a ritual and those people who were in entrenched positions of power and influence could afford to be arrogant and complacent. Never before in the history of this country has it come so close to living proof that certain people had been born to rule.
At the same time the Australian Labor Party found itself confronted with decisions which were not popular at the time, such as our opposition to the Vietnam war. But time has proven us right and our principles then have become our strength now. No longer can this discredited Government, with its ‘how can we best win votes’ attitude to such major questions as war and peace, frighten the Australian electorate with its images of the great yellow peril or of Chinese hordes descending upon us, because they no longer wash in the eyes of Australians. The Australian people are fed up with elections fought on nonissues.
We of the Australian Labor Party have argued consistently that Australians want peace, not war. They also want to live decently and to see that their children are properly housed, fed, clothed and educated. But these great domestic issues have been neglected. Now 13 per cent of our people live in poverty and an increasing number of them are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. We have an education system, both government and non-government, which is creaking at the seams; health services which literally cause most people to fear the economic consequences of sickness; a pension scheme which ensures a poverty standard for a million of our elderly citizens; and a country being ravaged by overseas investors, as well as many other great issues.
After all these years this same government, a Liberal-Country Party Government, sees itself in danger of defeat for the first time. It sees all the privileges and the power to which its members have become so accustomed in danger of being lost. It sees itself led by a man who is simply unacceptable to the great majority of Australians. I do not mean that in any personal sense; but either one is made of the stuff of leaders or one is not, and the Australian electorate appears to be most emphatic on that point in respect of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon).
Thus, Mr Acting Deputy President, we see this Budget, this last desperate throw of the political dice, this complete about face on so many issues, this sudden throwing around of the taxpayers’ money which up until last year we were told would bring the nation to economic ruin if implemented. We all remember the famous cry of previous elections, particularly in 1963: Where is the money coming from?’ That was the cry whenever the Australian Labor Party suggested better social service payments, better pensions for deserted wives, better child endowment, abolition of the means test and national superannuation. Our 1963 election proposals were costed at £170m over a period of 3 years. We were told that those proposals were impossible. We were asked where the money was coming from. We all remember that. I recall an answer given by the Minister for Social
Services (Mr Wentworth), which appears in Hansard of 27th May 1969. He was asked by one of his colleagues:
What would be the cost of the abolition of the means test. . . .
The Minister stated:
I do not think that it is possible to answer this question absolutely exactly-
He did not add that that was because he had not done his homework anyway - because, as the House will know, there is no such thing at the present moment as an accepted minimum wage. But, looking at this in the order of 538 to $40 per week, one would say in round terms that, if the present pension were raised to one-half of that amount, the direct cost to the Budget would be approximately $200m a year and, if the means test were removed entirely, at that higher rate of pension the cost would be a little less than $500m a year in addition. So the cost of these 2 items together would be about $700m a year, irrespective of the fringe benefits.
The Minister calculated that these would cost another$150m a year. So, back in 1969 he was talking in terms of a cost of $850m. Today the things which the Government says it is going to do’ would have wrecked the economy had the Labor Party made the suggestion. Again on the matter of national superannuation the Labor Party was derided. It was told that this was impossible. I refer to a statement made by the then Federal Treasurer, Mr McMahon, who is now Prime Minister; on 15th October 1969. The report in the Melbourne ‘Age’ states:
The costs of a national superannuation scheme were so punitive that no government would dare introduce it, the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said at Frankston last night.
Mr McMahon said that when he was Minister for Social Services he was keen to introduce a national superannuation scheme but successive Ministers had found it impossible.”.
Here is an interesting quotation:
The Federal Government hadsolved the superannuation problem by introducing tapered means tests which allowed couples to earn up to $80 before losing the pension.
Mr Whitlam had ‘made a botch’ of estimating his election promises.
According to the Prime Minister-
His figures are absurd. He would squander the nation’s wealth .
Of course the position is different today when the Liberal Government, in a state of desperation, is compelled to take measures which will attempt to ensure its survival. All the things which were said 3 years ago and which are prudent, according to their policies, have suddenly been thrown overboard. Of course the suggested abolition of the means test has caused some bitter division within the Liberal Party. But, with all the resources available, the Liberal Party has never initiated a move to cost a national superannuation scheme. Only now, in this desperate situation when it needs every vote it can get, does national superannuation suddenly become respectable and an attractive proposition to the Prime Minister. But let us look more closely at the greatest deficiency in this Budget, namely, its disregard of the need for greater equity in the distribution of national wealth. For many years in this country there has been an increasing disparity between those on higher incomes and those on lower incomes.
This has been a continuing trend and one which the Government has failed or refused to recognise. At the end of the 10- year period from 1959-60 to 1969-70 the 40 per cent of wage earners who represented the lowest income earners received less of the national income than they did at the beginning. It is true that it was only marginally less - 1 per cent - but nevertheless those with the greatest need belonged to the group which actually received less of the national income. Consistent with those figures which I have just quoted it is interesting to consider that for the 5 years ending with the financial year 1968-69 persons who were receiving incomes in excess of $7,000 a year obtained an additional $660m of the national income. In 1965 a person on $7,000 a year was on a big income. Even at 30th June 1969 he was on a big income. Probably it would be the equivalent of $9,000 today. Yet in those 5 years people in that income group received an additional $660m. In fact, for the financial year ended 30th June 1969 - the last year for which I have had figures given me - the increase totalled $274m. That is the sort of justice which the Liberal Government has allowed to continue throughout the whole time it has been in power.
While this increasing discrimination against the low income earners has continued over that period we find that Australians have to pay a greater proportion of their income in taxation. The figures supplied to me by the Legislative Research
Service of the Parliamentary Library show that in 1953-54 a married man with a wife and 2 children paid 3.9 per cent of his total income in taxation. This year - that is 1972-73 - he will pay 11.4 per cent, nearly 3 times as much. In 1954 he worked for 2.1 weeks to pay his taxation. This year he will work for 6 weeks. Another very important consideration is the degree to which family taxation concessions have fallen as a percentage of average income. In 1960-61 when the average weekly earnings were $46, family concessional deductions, based on a man, wife and 2 children, totalled $598. Those deductions, as a proportion of income, were 25 per cent. This year that percentage will have fallen to 15.7 per cent. It is obvious that the Government has allowed these acts of discrimination to continue. It is amazing to think that only a few moments ago a Minister of this Government was on his feet extolling the virtues of liberalism and claiming that the Government had helped the low income earner.
Let us consider the official figures which were given to us by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) with the Budget Papers. We find that a man with an income of $67 a week will receive a reduction of $82 a year. A man receiving $98 a week will obtain a reduction of $143 a year. A man on $7,000 a year with a wife and 2 children obtains a reduction of $193. So we can go on. A man with an income of $12,000 a year will receive a reduction of $374. If he has an income of $20,000 a year he obtains a reduction of $667.
– It is a rich man’s Budget.
– A rich man’s Budget, indeed. Where is the justice in these so-called taxation deductions? Is it not true that the low income earners in this country are the people who should have been given first consideration? Why is it that we have to change an income tax system in order to perpetuate the increasing affluence of the rich? Why does not the Government recognise this fact? Here was a golden opportunity, not to reduce the tax on people with high incomes, but at least to hold it at the present level. If it was able to give these taxation benefits across the board, it should have given more to people on lower incomes.
Honourable senators are aware that another matter which has been of great interest to me since I came here is that of public transport. This is a study in itself. It needs to be said that the increasing congestion in our cities could be alleviated to a marked degree by providing public transport systems that people will use. I accept the fact and I was heartened to learn that the Government is prepared to provide some assistance to the States to enable unemployed people to get to and from a place where work may be available without the additional cost of fares. Yet it is strange that that is the only reference to unemployment in the whole Budget. This Government prefers to keep the unfortunate people who are unemployed on the breadline, but at the same time it gives to a man on an income of $12,000 a reduction in taxation of $374 a year. I point out that one of the most dangerous .tendencies developing in this country - it was referred to by Senator Willesee - is for a permanent pool of unemployed to be in our midst. The Americans call it structural unemployment. It is built into the system. The Americans do not seem to be able to get it out of their system and I am afraid that we have reached the. stage where we also will have it permanently with us, particularly if we have a continuation of Liberal government.
One of the Budget papers, ‘Commonwealth Authorities 1971-72, Bulletin No. 10’, at page 52 sets out figures for Commonwealth unemployment and shows that at 30th June this year 41,581 persons were in receipt of the benefit. But the more significant figure is that which appears on the left hand side of the table where we find that the number of persons admitted to the unemployment benefit during the year was no less than 255,417. This is the real barometer of the number of people who are affected by unemployment. It is true, of course, that the figure I have just mentioned includes multiple figures, that is, people who might have applied for the benefit 4 or 5 times during the 12 months; but the fact is that there are many more people who suffer some period of unemployment during the 12 months than the figures at any one time would suggest. It is tragic to think that we are now in a situation where we have a government which is not prepared to do more for, this most unfortunate section of the community, these people who become bitter and frustrated. ,
In closing let me return to where I began. This is indeed a Budget brought down in desperation, a Budget designed to fool the Australian electorate. From information I received today I am led to the opinion that it has not succeeded. I am confident that the Australian- people are looking towards new concepts under a Labor government to replace,, the worn out policies of the Liberal Government. It is time; it is certainly time.
– Senator Wriedt ended on a note about a worn-put government,, ;but I would say that nothing could be less; true of the situation instanced by this Budget. I believe that the Budget which is now before the .Senate has been designed, most accurately to achieve a purpose for the 1972-73 financial year. The. proposals outlined in the Budget Papers, which are being debated by -the Senate indicate a situation in which the Government over- a period of years, through propriety in spending and through encouragement of the” community generally to save and an encouragement to companies in their business formulations, has been able to bring in a Budget which can be considered to be, as’ the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has described it, most revolutionary. It is not a Budget put up by a government which is tired Or worn out, as the honourable senator has suggested. It is my view that it contains a set of recommendations which, without doubt, are the most outstanding that we have seen in the past 20 years during which this coalition has governed Australia,
– Would the honourable senator mind repeating the last sentence?
– The honourable senator must have been asleep or thinking of something else. The Budget sets out with a certain aim. I believe that it has been accepted by the community generally and that it will assist in achieving the social and economic goals which are of significance to Australia and Australian families. The Budget provides for taxation reductions. Prices undoubtedly will decrease in some areas and the growth of this country will be strengthened by the present measures.
– What prices will decrease?
– The honourable senator might have noticed that the price of eggs has decreased a lot more than it should have over a period. Senator McLaren is a poultry expert; I thought he would know that the price of eggs had decreased during this Government’s term. I thought he would be pleased about that.
– In this Government’s term they have decreased.
– -That is what I am saying. It was significant that the news media, which seldom these days or in past years have been very complimentary of the Government, in the main found themselves supporting the Budget. In most instances they were very congratulatory of the Government for the proposed measures. The news media were justified in praising this Budget, particularly in those areas where it provides aid to those who we may consider are the less fortunate in this community.
During my time in the Senate I have listened to a number of Budgets being presented. It has been my experience that at every Budget time the Labor Opposition has been in an uproar demanding what should have been provided in the Budget proposals. In this instance the experience was unique m that throughout the delivery of the Budget Speech in the Senate - and in the House of Representatives, where I listened to most of it - there was a stilled quiet from the Opposition.
– The honourable senator could not have been in both places at the same time.
– No, but no doubt the honourable senator could with his mental capacity.
– The honourable senator said that he was listening here and in the House of Representatives.
- Senator Wheeldon frequently goes into flights of fancy. I take the point that the Opposition listened to the Budget in this place in stilled silence and that honourable senators opposite were absolutely amazed at the revolutionary suggestions which were made. Senator Wil.lesee’s comments, with which I shall deal a little later, certainly emphasised this point. The Budget proposals are unique and they are revolutionary. They will assist most significantly those people in the Australian community who now will be able to see the prospect of a future upgrading of their everyday living conditions. The many benefits granted by this Budget undoubtedly have been due to the sound management of progressive coalitions of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party over past years.
I listened to the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). I think he will not mind my saying that as he read his speech, which is usual for a Leader of the Opposition in the Senate at Budget time so that he may put his speech down accurately, I felt that it was very much a duplication of what had been stated by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr Whitlam). The main point made by Senator Willesee and repeated by Senator Wriedt was that this is a rich man’s Budget. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is completely negative to say that the benefits that have been granted in so many areas to pensioners and to those on lower incomes, the benefits that will be conferred through the various social service measures or through an easing of the means test, through the repatriation benefits that are proposed, the child care benefits that we see before us and, indeed, the increase in the home savings grant that will be payable to the younger people in the community, are areas of influence designed to encourage a vote from the rich men in this community, if that is what the Opposition is attempting to say. I would suggest that, if it is said that at election time a Liberal style of government would normally use some of its influence to encourage business, there is very little encouragement in this Budget for the business community generally. I would think that that is one area in which encouragement should take place wisely.
Senator Willesee spoke generally on the electoral issues in an attempt, I believe, to tie this Budget to what it may do to encourage people to return the Government. I feel that this Budget is a logical continuation of the Budgets that the coalition has introduced during the past 20 years. This Budget, in the early 1970s, sets out to achieve an upgrading of the conditions of people in less fortunate circumstances. Senator Willesee criticised the fact that works of art were to be exempt from sales tax. He went to the extreme and said that people who purchased Rembrandts would get some benefit. He took no notice of the small, struggling artists who at times put on typical shows in the States to prove that we have a quality of art in our community. That thought did not enter Senator Willesee’s head, and it is of no interest to members of the Labor Party generally. But that thought is of interest to the class of government that is in power at present.
Senator Willesee made an interesting comment that migration should be reduced significantly. I am in agreement with him on that point. I find great difficulty in lining up what is Labor philosophy when Mr Tonkin in Western Australia and the Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, are attempting to throw open the gates in those 2 States to immigration. Labor is in control in those 2 States, and the level of unemployment there is the highest in Australia. The Premiers say: ‘Let us bring more people into this country’. That ridiculous statement was made by those Labor Premiers. Senator Willesee made another comment to which I wish to refer. I do not know whether it is Labor policy but it was spelt out by the Deputy Leader that he believed that the pension should be 25 per cent of the average weekly wage. I think that was his point. I do not know, but I believe that that proposal is a recent innovation by the Labor Party.
– It is not at all new.
– I am pleased to hear that it is not new, but anything that the Labor Party suggested in the last 10 minutes could be new. I think that that proposal was made up in the last 10 minutes. The Opposition is suggesting that the pension should be $24 a week. That amount is not very much above the amount that the Government has set by this Budget. My recollection was that previously members of the Labor Party were crying out for more and that the pension should be 50 per cent of the average weekly wage. That is my recollection of what the Opposition has been saying.
Senator Willesee moved an amendment which is of great significance to a member of the Country Party because his amendment contains not one mention of what the Labor Party would do for rural people. The amendment is typical of what the Opposition puts forward in this place. The Opposition emphasises its interest. I would not read out the proposition that is contained in the Labor Party’s amendment purely to advertise it, but it contains nothing that would be of interest to any person who lives beyond the bounds of the great metropolitan areas. Senator Willesee made no mention of the rural economy. He made no mention of the great Australian export industries. He is not concerned with those people who provide the raw materials for the industries in this country. He mentioned another important matter when he referred to the ad hoc handout policies of the Government. Such policies show great wisdom. I wonder how the Labor Party would have faced the great ad hoc problems which have beset the rural community during these past years. How would it have handled the droughts? How would it have handled the effects of movements in Overseas currencies - the position in regard to the American dollar and the devaluation of the British pound? The Government had to make decisions at a minute’s notice. Thank heaven we had a government that Was prepared to listen and to make quick decisions such as those that have been set’ out clearly in the Budget papers.
Senator Wriedt was no more encouraging than was bis Deputy Leader in this place. He spoke about the ravages caused by overseas investors. He is not present at the moment.
– He was driven out of the chamber by this speech.
– He may have been driven out, but there were as few people in the chamber when he was speaking as there were when honourable senators opposite called a quorum previously. He spoke about the ravages caused by overseas investors. What was the first thing that Labor did when it attained office in Western Australia and South Australia? Both
Premiers took a quick trip to Japan to see whether they could gain overseas investment for their States. Let the Opposition deny that that is Labor’s attitude to overseas investment in this country. Honourable senators opposite speak lies. That is the impression one gets from the comments made by the 2 Labor Party speakers in this place.
The most prominent light in this Budget is the benefits which must flow, as a direct result from proposed Budget measures, to the working man and to his family, to those who rely on the community for financial assistance to gain regular income and, to a minor extent, to the business community. The Budget proposals will mean more money in the pay packet of most working Australians. That is the first key. We heard no applause from the Opposition for the reduction in taxation by an average of 10 per cent, which will mean that low income earners will get the greatest benefit. It was spelt out in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech that those in the lower income group will benefit by a taxation reduction of about 15 per cent and that high income earners will benefit by a taxation reduction of about 6 per cent. Does the Opposition believe that the Budget is a rich man’s budget? It is a budget designed to put more money into the pay packet of the average working man. The Budget proposals will do just that.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place said that there was no planning in the Budget. I think that that statement was repeated by the Deputy Leader in this place and by Senator Wriedt. I suppose that in the last 20 years there has been no greater measure of a revolutionary type than the commencement of the abolition of the means test. I doubt whether we have given sufficient thought to the great benefits that will flow from the abolition of the means test. It is not correct, as was said by Mr Whitlam, that the abolition of the means test was a projected matter which was not contained in this Budget. There is a very important commencement in that general exemption on the amount that a person can earn before his pension entitlement cuts out is increased significantly. It is interesting to note that the full income accruing to a single pensioner - that is, his pension and his own earnings - can now reach $40 a week before the pension will be eliminated. For a married pensioner couple that combined figure of earnings and pensions can be $69 a week.
I think that that represents a significant contribution to people who perhaps have not been able to provide anything for themselves during their working lives. The eligibility for a part pension - this is an important matter - which can be achieved from this country will not cease until a single person’s income reaches $60 a week and married couples income reaches $103.50. That is a most significant contribution. I make the point that this general proposal for the abolition of the means is of wide ambit. I instance what it may mean for the comfort and assistance of people in rural areas with whom I am mainly concerned. They are people who perhaps have had small holdings and who wish to get them into the hands of their sons or families. In the near future, they will be able to achieve the assistance from the granting of financial aid by the people of Australia for the work which they have put in for this country. It is a most important measure and one for which this Government can be congratulated.
Repatriation pensions are all to be increased. This is warmly accepted by all. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) is to give a full list of the pensions and the way in which they will be approved finally. But the general rate war pension is now to be $14 a week, the special rate $48 a week and the intermediate rate $34 a week. Most significantly, this Budget provides a $20m increase for repatriation pensioners in a full year. I challenge the Opposition to state that this is really a rich man’s budget. This Budget contains a revolutionary innovation in child care. I and a number of honourable senators have been most anxious to see something done in this regard. As stated in the Budget Speech, it is to benefit children from low income and other special need families. It is not a proposition to assist those who are affluent. The statement of the Treasurer is: to benefit children from low income and other special need families.
That is certainly a move for which we would all applaud the Government.
Is the home savings grant a measure to assist the rich? The amount of $750 will be granted by the Australian community. It is not this Government that will give the money. It is the Australian community which will give $750 to young people who may, on saving $2,250, wish to invest in their first home. We have before us a most significant measure at the present time. It is an encouragement for the youth of the community. I would advocate to any young person, no matter how young he may be, to commence immediately a bank account in the name of a home savings account so that he can achieve this benefit granted by the people of Australia to the extent of $750. It will help him greatly when he comes to purchase his first home.
Many financial measures of support are provided in this Budget. Assistance is given to the performing arts, to the national fitness organisations, to the Australian Conservation Foundation, which would be so close to the heart of Senator Mulvihill, who is attempting to interject. The National Council of Women is to receive some grant, and road safety is to be supported further. I note that in regard to industrial training, assistance is to be provided for the fares of unemployed people in order to help them to seek employment in other areas, ls this a Budget designed to help the rich man? Not a word has been heard from the members of the Opposition about the great benefits that will accrue. They should be attempting to say that these are the types of measures that they would wish to see implemented if they had formed the government, which they have not for the last 23 years. In relation to external aid Australians can feel proud of the contribution that they make to other less fortunate countries. The amount provided for external aid this financial year will be $220m. I congratulate the Government for achieving a situation in which Australia is reckoned to be, on a basis of per head contribution, amongst the leaders in this field. Generally, Australia is said to rank third in the world in relation to the benefit that it conveys to people in other countries.
I believe that the Committee of Action for World Development - all honourable senators have received information from that Committee - must be pleased and heartened by the Government’s action in this Budget. The greatest impact made by this Budget is in relation to estate duty, gift duty and personal income tax. How can one complain? How can one find an argument when the Government not only reduced personal income tax by 2b per cent some few months ago but also has again realised that it is able in this Budget to lower certain taxes by an average of 10 per cent. It is the lower income earners who will receive the greatest benefit from this measure. A number of honourable senators have over the years fought for a lowering or abolition of Commonwealth estate duties. It is very difficult to bring about the complete abolition of estate duties, because while the State governments are levying probate duties, obviously, the Australian Capital Territory would become a home for people who wished to avoid altogether the incidence of this tax. As was mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) when he presented the Budget in this chamber, half of all the dutiable estates at the present time will become exempt under the proposed measures. This is a most important measure, particularly for people in rural areas. It has been the interest of my Party, the Country Party, to see that great benefits follow.
I seek the permission of the Senate to incorporate in the Hansard record 2 schedules, one which indicates the amounts of estate duty payable at present and as proposed, and another which relates to the rebate of duty payable on primary producers’ estates. These figures have been produced by the Treasurer and are readily available to all honourable senators.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Withers) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
Statutory exemptions are deducted from the net value of an estate to arrive al the value for duty. The net value of an estate is for this purpose the value of the assessable estate less all allowable deductions except the statutory exemption.
For estates arising from deaths on or after 16 August 1972 the outright statutory exemption from duty will be $40,000 where the estate passes wholly to close relatives (spouse, children or grandchildren) and $20,000 for estates no part of which so passes. These exemptions will shade out at the rate of $2 for every $8 by which the net value of the estate exceeds the exemption limits with the complete shade out points being reached at estate values of $200,000 and $100,000 respectively. The statutory exemption is calculated on a proportionate basis where the estate passes partly to close relatives and partly to others.
The outright statutory exemptions applying to primary producer estates arising from deaths on or after 16 August 1972 will be 20 per cent higher than those for ordinary estates. In the case of an estate passing to a close relative, the exemption will be $48,000 and for estates passing to others $24,000. These exemptions will shade out at the same rate as the exemptions, for ordinary estates, the complete shade out points being reached at estate values of $240,000 and $120,000 respectively. The statutory exemption is calculated on a proportionate basis where the estate passes partly to close relatives and partly to others. A primary producer estate is one in which -
The rates of duty which apply in the assessment of duty payable on both ordinary estates and primary production estates, are -
Rebate of duty payable on Primary Producer Estates
A rebate of part of the duty attributable to rural property is allowable in assessment of primary producer estates where the value of the estate is less than $230,000. The rebate is 50 per cent if the value of the estate before deduction of the statutory exemption is $140,000 or less, reducing by 0.1 per cent for each $220 by which the value of the estate exceeds $140,000. Some examples of the rebate rates are as follows -
Exemption from gift duty is providedby the declaration of a NIL rate of duty on a gift where the value of that gift, together with the value of all other gifts made by a person within an aggregation period of three years, does not exceed a specified amount. The aggregation period comprises the 18 months prior to and the 18 months subsequent to the date of the gift. Gifts made on or after 16 August 1972 are to be exempt from gift duty if the value of all gifts within the statutory three year period does not exceed $10,000.
The rates of duty which are applied to the value for duty of an estate for estate duty purposes apply also in the assessment of gift duty. The rate of duty applicable to a dutiable gift is the rate which would apply for estate duty purposes if the value of all gifts for the relevant period was the value for duty of the estate.
Where the value of all gifts in the relevant period in relation to a gift does not exceed $10,638 the duty payable on that gift will be limited to an amount equal to half the excess over $10,000 or, if there is more than one gift in the period, to a proportion of the amount so calculated.
The table which follows compares the gift duty payable at present with the duty payable after the proposed increase in exemption takes effect and the value of all gifts in the statutory aggregation period is $20,000 or less.
Where the value of all gifts in the statutory period exceeds $10,638 the amount of duty payable will not change.
– Of main interest to primary producers in regard to this measure is the fact that:
A rebate of part of the duty attributable to rural properties is allowable in assessment of primary producer estates where the value of the estate is less than $250,000. The rebate is 50 per cent if the value of the estate before deduction of the statutory exemption is$140,000 or less, reducing by 0.1 per cent for each $220 by which the value of the estate exceeds $140,000.
Some examples are given. This is a most important matter and one which should, as other honourable senators have pointed out, lead to an encouragement for the people in the community to attempt to provide in the future estates to leave to their families which will not be all taken by way of taxation at the point of death. Again, gift duty is reduced and the exemption is now increased so that over a period of 3 years the amount of $10,000 can be gifted to one’s relatives without any taxation being payable. Proper estate and financial planning throughout one’s lifetime should enable one to hand on the benefits of one’s working lifetime. Surely we all wish to encourage thrift in the community.
I challenge the Opposition to prove that this is a rich man’s budget. It is a Budget which has been designed to assist to the greatest degree those people in the lower income group. I mentioned at the outset the benefit which might flow to private industry and said that it might be light. The only way in which I can see industry being assisted is by the increased purchases which will directly take place as the year proceeds. I would have wished to see some encouragement given by way of taxation relief to producing companies, but the Government in this instance thought it was not wise to do this. However, I believe that a demand will be generated which may encourage manufacturers to produce more or produce articles for sale at a lower price. Lower taxation and higher pensions, which have been emphasised, will immediately bring about increased expenditure.
Private industry has had a very, very difficult time. Members of the Opposition have mentioned the incidence of unemployment in our community. Unemployment is running at about 2 per cent of the working population at the present time. Of course, members of the Opposition do not go on to say that there are a group of people in the number of unemployed for whom it would be very very difficult to find employment anyway. Alsoit should be pointed out that the percentage of unemployment in Australia is certainly not as great as that in any comparable country. Certainly, we cannot obtain unemployment figures from communist countries in order to enable us to make a comparison. But compared with any similar Western country, Australia has an outstanding record in this field. I believe that our record will continue in the future. However, unemployment has not been caused by Government measures in the past; it has been caused by the great demand for increased wages.
The business community has found great difficulty, I believe, in remaining profitable, and that is the only reason it stays in business. Also, businessmen have found it difficult to hold the level of unemployment. This has been due to the very high incidence of rises in earnings. An honourable senator asked me whether I could cite any item that had decreased in price. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table from the Statistical Service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library which indicates average weekly earnings and prices.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Withers) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– This table indicates that between the June quarter of 1967 and the June quarter of 1972 average weekly earnings in New South Wales per male unit increased by 53.2 per cent. If one takes the average food group index one finds that the price of food increased by 11.1 per cent during that period. If we take the weighted 6-State capitals we find that the average increase on food items, a number of which are included in this table, was only 10.2 per cent. I reiterate - a 10.2 per cent rise in average food prices compared with a 53.2 per cent rise in salaries. The interests of the working man under the type of coalition Government that has existed in Australia for the past 20 years have been well served because he has had more money in his pocket and certainly the prices of goods have been lower.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The honourable , senator’s time has expired.
– Another Budget is before us. We meet here in August each year for the purpose of discussing the Budget prepared by the Government. I have been here for 10 years and unfortunately the Budget has been presented in each of them by the one Government. We are told with monotonous regularity what the Government proposes to do in the financial year. Each year we hear Senator Webster make a contribution to the Budget debate. Each year the honourable senator justifies everything in the Budget and tries to prove that things would be much worse if there were an alternative government. Every year he makes a strong plea for the primary producers. He shows how the Budget will benefit t’-.em, yet they become poorer than before. Apparently, this group in the community is not benefiting from the annual increases that are given to it. Therefore it seems there is justification for the case of the primary producers to be raised every time a budget is presented. (Quorum formed) I want very much to thank you, Senator Buttfield, for ensuring that I have an audience because I think that the contributions I make fully deserve one. For a long time there has existed a friendship between Senator Buttfield and myself and 1 am sure that she desired to assist me and tried to make restitution after the efforts of Senator Webster, who had driven everyone from the chamber. I am very appreciative of her assistance in this regard. I do not accept the suggestion that the quorum was called for the purpose of reducing the time available to me. I know that Senator Buttfield acted with the best intentions to ensure that 1 had an audience deserving of the speech which 1 intend to make.
I was drawing attention to the regularity with which Senator Webster points out the benefits that Budgets confer on primary producers. He then proceeds to indicate how the benefits given to them have been reduced. Senator Webster has made such a contribution tonight.
There is another benefit to be conferred by the Budget. It will be possible for a married couple, on reaching the age of retirement, to earn up to $40 a week without affecting their pension. Therefore one must consider their ability to earn $40 a week. This money plus the dual pension of husband and wife will be a pretty good income for elderly people in retirement. But surely when they reach the age of 65 they have earned their retirement and are deserving of retirement benefits. They should not be put in the position where, in order to have an adequate income, it is essential for them to continue in industry. There are 2 matters which should be considered here. First, where does one get a position that will attract a rate of $40 a week in what must be essentially a part time industry? Does the Department of Labour and National Service have such positions available? Secondly, what about the individual who is unable to work after the age of 65? While it may be possible for an individual to continue working after 65 years that person will soon reach an age at which industry will not employ him.
Government supporters seek to justify the unemployment situation in Australia today - and we hear this attempt at justification at every question time - by saying that the level of unemployment is not as severe in Australia as it is in other Western or developed nations. But the level of unemployment is more severe today than we have been accustomed to since the pre-war days, other than for a period in 1961. But someone finds consolation in the fact that we have not yet reached the rate of 6 per cent which applies in the United Kingdom or 8 per cent which applies in the United States, arguing that we should not squeal until we have reached such rates. Obviously these are the goals for which this Government aims. Senator Webster today finds satisfaction in the fact that we do not know the unemployment position in communist countries and argues therefore that we should not criticise unemployment in Australia. He said, in effect, we do not know whether unemployment figures in communist countries may be greater than our own. We must face the fact that a level of 2 per cent of unemployment is a level which we have not been used to in postwar years.
Over the years I have highly praised the competency and accuracy of Treasury officials in the preparation of the many White Papers and Budget Papers that we have received from them. Those papers have shown the intentions of Budgets to affect the economy in various ways from time to time in accordance with Government policy. The fact that the Opposition is expected to oppose the Budget from year to year is no reflection upon the accuracy of the White Papers those Treasury officials produce; rather it is a condemnation of the policies and priorities adopted by the Government. We have seen from time to time, following the presentation of the statistics, an overspending in one direction or another - in the public sector or in the private sector - and inflation and unemployment. The Government has sought by budgetary means, to rectify those situations and I would say has brought about the results which the Budgets sought to achieve. But if the policy a government is pursuing is incorrect, there must come a day of reckoning when the results of that incorrect policy would be beyond control and out of hand.
It could be said that this Government has ridden on the buoyancy of the econ. omy and has gloried in it, particularly following the 6 years of war when there was either no production or very little. This was a period of post-war rehabilitation during which there were acute shortages of goods in Australia, and any government that won election in 1949 was assured .of being returned because it was basking in the glory and the efficiency of a buoyant economy. This Government has accepted that glory and the praise which has followed, because the economy has moved satisfactorily for the entire community.
So have the economies of all nations of the Western world. Indeed, there has been extended prosperity even in countries which cannot be classified as part of the Western world. Those years were such that the economies were buoyant and full employment prevailed in more affluent societies. This state continued until 1961 - an election year when there were 135,000 unemployed in Australia. At that time the Government came within one seat of not being returned; in fact, 15 votes against the Government would have made the difference to its continuation in office. The Government realised therefore that it could not continue in this way. In 1963, however, the Government was saved by the United States of America entering the Vietnam war. Australia prepared for entry into the Vietnam war with the necessity of supplying war materials including those which are destroyed and must be replaced by further production. As a result we saw increased production, and this Government had the safeguard of a buoyant economy which reflected our military activities overseas.
We can see now that both this Government and this system have a vested interest in such policies. They argue , that if Australia is to have full employment, we must engage in war as a result of which the country can produce commodities which will be destroyed and must .be replaced. It is of no wonder that we . hear honourable senators mouthing patriotic’ platitudes about the purposes of war. They have a vested interest in continued conflict. It is of no wonder that we hear of their desire to keep forces in Singapore and Malaysia. They want some of the energy of production in Australia to be utilised ,to supply our troops in those areas but without Australia actually being engaged .in a war and using the munitions of war. The situation today is that without war ‘the .Government cannot continue in officer lt cannot continue because the buoyant /economy is no longer with us. Sound ‘ economic policies are the only policies which justify the existence of any government in office. ‘
In its 1970-71 Budget the Government recognised that while things - were going somewhat smoothly in the employment field, it had to curb spiralling inflation. Treasury officials worked’ out how this could be done in accordance with Government policy. As a result, they produced last year’s Budget. The purpose of this Budget was to curb what has been described as the wage demand upon industry. The method of stopping the wage demand on industry was to create a pool of unemployment - to implement a supply of labour greater than the demand. As a result of the curtailments imposed by the Budget in 19.70-71, no-one .was . surprised that in December 1971 the pool of unemployment increased to about 90,000. Noone was surprised either that there was no significant reduction in the inflationary trend. We saw an increase in the unemployment, figures of such an extent that the Treasurer in December last year was reported in the ‘Australian’ as saying of the increase: ‘This is what we. set out to do in the Budget’. Thus unemployment today is a deliberate result of Government planning. The figures rose to such an extent that in April this year the Government sought to rectify them, knowing full well that defeat was imminent unless it did rectify them. The Government introduced proposals for the release of credit, grants to the States, increases in benefits and remission of the 2i per cent taxation surcharge. Of course, normally it should have increased the spending capacity of the public and have reduced unemployment.
But we had the position where there was no war in which the commodities which we produced could be used. We had the position where we could put money into the hands of the impoverished people so that they could buy foodstuffs and other essentials which, because of mechanisation, do not require a great deal of manpower to manufacture. We had the position where there was a lack of confidence by the public in the Government’s .activities, and this resulted in the fact that people, instead of spending money, banked it, and there are record savings bank deposits at the present time. The Government never retrieved the position. Unemployment has grown until today there are 100,000 people - and possibly more - unemployed throughout Australia.
Of course, on this occasion the Government - assisted by the Treasury - introduced a Budget with 2 objectives in mind. It was a Budget designed to restore the economy and solve the unemployment position and to win an election. T think that was the desire. Despite what might be said. I do not think anyone disputes the fact that the general public believes that it is a Budget designed to win an election. In order to win an election there have been handouts to every section of the community. We must remember that possibly less than 10 per cent of the electors decide an election. One can say confidently that 80 per cent of electors vote according to their party allegiance or loyalties and that some 10 or 20 per cent of electors might change their voting pattern from time to time. The people comprising this percentage have not been identified, But whoever those people are, the Government was determined that they would get a handout, so there was an across the board handout, which resulted in the situation which 1 think Senator Wriedt described tonight.
Will the Budget have the effect which the Government desires? As I have said previously and as I will do in another exercise, because time will not permit me to do it tonight, I can produce figures to show that the increased production of essential goods, such as foodstuffs, clothing and shelter that we need in Australia, does not require additional employees under the technology that operates in Australia and other countries today. We find increased employment in the mining and minerals field and possibly in the production of machinery which is used to reduce the manpower required for the production of food and power.
– I cannot understand that, senator. Would you mind repeating what you said? I could not quite follow what you were getting at.
– If the honourable senator would like to look at the 1971 Year Book*-
– I have read that, but I could not quite understand what you were talking about.
– I know that the honourable senator would have read it. I do not doubt that he would read any publication that is put out by the Government. Whether he could understand it could well be another matter.
– I can understand it by reading it, but I cannot understand your interpretation of it.
– The 1971 ‘Year Book’ gives the figures relating to factory operations in Australia from 1964 until 1968. which is only a short period. The figures do not cover the period prior to 1964. But although they relate to a period of only 4 years, they show that the number of factories in Australia has decreased. Between 1930 and 1970 the number of factories in Australia has decreased, but factory employment has increased. The number of factories engaged in manufacturing foodstuffs, clothing and power has decreased over those 4 years, although there was a slight increase of 7.8 per cent in the number of people employed in those factories. There has been an increase of from 14 to 18 per cent in the number of people employed in areas such as mines and minerals, land agency and salesmanship. Therefore, in order to maintain full employment we have to put men into occupations in big selling staffs for the purpose of selling to the community the factory production of goods which the public does not need.
The increased pensions provided in the Budget will allow pensioners to buy bread, butter and jam. They will have a decent diet, which they were not able to have before the increases were granted, but it will not solve the unemployment problem. The other section of the people who will receive increased aid from the Budget and who previously had sufficient money to increase savings bank deposits will still continue to increase their savings bank deposits unless confidence is restored in the public mind, and that confidence can be restored only by leadership from a government which the people respects, and we do not have that today.
The Government is also giving aid to the wealthy section of the community which has no use for the extra money other than to invest it in further production that is not needed. This is the effect of trying to sell production that is not required in Australia. As we have no war in which to use the commodities which people could be employed in manufacturing and as we have no effective policy for allowing the public, rather than the Government, to decide how the money should be spent, we are not doing much for the employment position.
Turning to the question of the Budget winning votes, if the unemployment position was markedly reduced by the time of the election some people might accept the fact that the Government knew what it was doing. But no-one who has a knowledge of the employment trends today, noone who looks up the situations vacant columns in the newspapers and sees the increase in the number of people seeking employment opportunities, believes that there has been or will be any alteration in the employment position. There should be no unemployment in Australia at a time when we lack sufficient schools, hospitals and adequate roads and when we do not have proper public transport throughout Australia. So much in our urban development needs to be done. There is clearing and rebuilding. There is so much to be done in Australia that there should be full employment in Australia for many years to come. I say that this can be done only by directing public spending.
But if we spend money on schools and other buildings it does not give direct aid to the individual whom the Government hopes will vote for it. If it was essential to budget for a heavy deficit this year it was essential to budget for deficits in previous years in order to meet the shortcomings of previous Budgets.
As I said at the commencement of my speech, one expects the Opposition to oppose the Budget, to condemn it and to put up alternative proposals. It can readily be seen, as I have pointed out, that this whole system by which the Government offers protection to the wealthy of Australia cannot be sustained although it occurs in time of war when the economy is buoyant, but I am sure that everyone hopes that the war does not come. .. .
Now is the time for a public rethinking. One cannot deny the fact that a budget which hands out concessions to everyone must have some effect on the electoral thinking of the public. One cannot escape the fact that the Budget must have some beneficial effect, but one cannot get away from the fact that the prestige of this Government as shown by the Gallup polls - I believe that in the recent Gallup poll since the introduction of the Budget the Government’s popularity has increased by 1 per cent - is so low that the public today is preparing for a change, and that industry today is preparing for a change.
– Say it quietly; you are wishing it fervently.
– I would say that the wish for the change is heard more loudly than the preparation for it. There is a recognition that now is the time for change. Confidence is not demonstrated even on the Government benches because of the Government’s present leadership, its muddling of the economy and the panic Budget that it has introduced on this occasion. As our Leader, Mr. Whitlam, said last night: ‘Do not think’ that the Labor Party is inconvenienced by the prospect of an early election’. The sooner the election is held, the sooner the electors of Australia will express their judgment on the Budget. Their judgment will be more solid and more resounding than anything that I could say in a Budget debate.
– In a Budget designed to be an expansionary influence on our economy, many achievements of social and economic goals have been included. Many speeches will be made in this session on both sides of the Senate opposing and upholding the goals which have been set as priorities. Economic circumstances at present demanded an expansionary Budget. But I would like to think that in our Party social conscience and community concern for the welfare of the individual have dictated the priorities which are included. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) earlier this evening talked in economic terms of the effect of this Budget, of its aims and of the possibilities which it will provide to develop the economic climate which we consider desirable for Australia. Members on this side of the Senate have been rewarded for their strenuous efforts by the inclusion of a proposal for the abolition of the means test in this Budget.
– The promise of it.
– There is a promise that the means test will be abolished within a 3-year period. Perhaps the honourable senator acknowledges and understands that the Prime Minister is already on record publicly as having said that thai does not mean that it will take 3 years to implement this proposal. The inclusion of this policy for the abolition of the means test is something which is rewarding to those members of the Government members’ committees who have strenuously pushed this as a means of providing social security for the Australian people at. a certain age group. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) termed this as an historical decision and a major social advance. I believe both have been acknowledged throughout our community. I would term it also as a decision which has been demanded by the people of Australia for a long time, and it is a measure of social security which we now consider desirable. Of course, it does have considerable financial implications. This is acknowledged. But a decision has been taken to institute an advisory committee which will design ways and means of implementing this proposal. I would hope that that committee would look also to the means of financing in a responsible way the introduction of a national superannuation scheme. 1 feel that, at this stage, we have broken through those last cobwebs in our thinking with regard to this measure of social security.
I felt that 1 should mention that aspect of the Budget’s proposals in isolation and point to the total of approximately Sl,460m which has been budgeted for social service measures in general. This appropriation shows an increase of $250m in excess of that which was provided in last year’s Budget. The appropriation does provide many measures for age and invalid pensions, for widows pensions, for child endowment and for all those other areas of social services which have been part of our Budgets for many years. The increases in pensions have been noted already. The easing of the means test is also something which we commend. We do hope that the abolition of the means test as a future proposal will be something seen as a social advance. The increases in. pensions have been documented by the Treasurer. They will be spoken about at the introduction of the appropriate Bills. I do not propose to list them in detail at this stage because I wish to talk in a little, more general way on our attitude to the matter .of social welfare and our social conscience. .
To do this, I refer also to the decision to institute an inquiry into poverty. This is a Government decision which has been taken in recent days. The decision of the Government to establish this committee of inquiry is one which I welcome. I would hope that this inquiry will not simply be a body which will determine and point to what are levels of subsistence so that we may reach those and salve the national conscience. I would hope that the committee of inquiry into poverty or social distress would be one which would be sensitive enough to show us ways of escaping from the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty which does seem to be limited to some family groups. I would hope that the way to escape in the future from this cycle of poverty from one generation to another will be pointed to us through this committee of inquiry in the broadest possible terms arid that the Government will grasp it and interpret it as a social matter and in many ways introduce initiatives and new opportunities for that sector of the community which has this self-perpetuating poverty cycle. I feel that if we could give greater self-confidence to this group of people and if greater opportunities could be provided to them in the future, there might be some measure of attainment of the national goals which we seek.
– You could pay them more.
– I was saying that 1 feel that that is not the way in which the problem should be approached. I would like to think that we did not determine a level of subsistence and that we did not say that that was enough and that people could live on that even in meagre dignity, but that we would say that we would seek new initiatives and new opportunities for these people so that they might escape from this cycle in which they have been placed. I wish to say as a further thought that I would not want to see this done simply by feeling that if we suppressed the top level we could automatically raise those at the bottom of the scale. I would like to think that we would attempt to raise the lower level by using as a leverage that initiative that branches to the top. If we have the sort of inquiry into poverty which I envisage, there may be opportunities for these new social initiatives which. I feel, would create a greater opportunity to achieve an ideal society in Australia and certainly the attainment of the national goals which I would hold.
This Budget introduces many concepts with respect to new care for the aged and the sick. I would like to think that other groups who experience hardships would have the same opportunities and that they would not be overlooked in future proposals. I am thinking of single parent families and in particular of the special difficulties experienced by widowers with young children. I feel that there is a gap in our social welfare programme and that attention should be given to the particular hardships surrounding the widower with young pre-school age children and the many difficulties he has to face. I am sure that this gap will be pointed to by the commit tee that will inquire into poverty because quite unusual strains are faced by people in that situation.
The social welfare aspects in general will be amplified by many subsequent speakers, as I said earlier, and I want to talk for a short time about some of the health pro-, posals in this Budget. This Budget contains new initiatives in health matters, in particular in connection with the nursing home benefits. Comprehensive proposals were outlined in the Budget. There is( a proposal to spend some $592m on health services, which is an increase of almost $66m over what was provided at this time last year. It seems to me that not enough information is flowing out to the community at the present time on the new proposals. If the right sort of publicity were given to these new proposals they would be grasped eagerly by the people of Australia. These health proposals give many new comforts to aged people who are receiving care permanently in nursing homes. They also will assist in alleviating the hardship and strain which the families of those people have had to bear as a result of the perpetual cost of paying for nursing home care for an aged parent. Costs seem to be every rising. . They are creating a ‘ bigger gap between a pension and a. supplementary allowance and the cost in a moderate nursing home.
– Is there any way we can keep down, the costs in these hospitals and thus prevent the need, to subsidise them continually?
– If the honourable senator will listen 1 shall speak briefly on that aspect. The statement of the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) on 16th August gave the Senate many details of the Treasurer’s announcement of the new proposals. ;They deserve loud acclaim in our community because many areas of personal hardship will be alleviated. I think we should define some of these areas. The provision of nursing care has been comprehensively reviewed. The Minister for Health had a personal concern about this matter for many months prior to the formulation of the Budget.
There is to be a new measure of assistance in the area of domiciliary nursing care benefit. I know, from moving about the community, just how widely this measure 0t Government assistance has been sought A rate of $14 a week is to be granted as a payment to persons who are willing and able to care in their own homes for aged persons who otherwise would qualify for the nursing home benefit. This is an imaginative step forward. The Government recognises that sometimes the atmosphere in a home is more desirable for the care of an aged person than that of the somewhat impersonal atmosphere of a nursing home service and this is to receive Government assistance in the form of payment of $14 a week. This is to be commended as a very personalised service and will be of assistance to people in that age group.
Another measure which I think will be of great assistance is the payment of additional subsidy in the area of home care services - that is, nursing care which is provided in the home. Honourable senators will remember that the Treasurer stated that there will be an increase in the subsidy payable to eligible home nursing care organisations. Two different rates have been payable. In those homes and services established prior to the introduction of the present scheme in 1957 the subsidies payable will be increased from $3,200 to $4,300 per annum for each additional nurse employed on home nursing. For those organisations established since 1956 the rate will be increased from $1,600 to $2,150 for each nurse employed. This home care service also is a supplementary assistance designed to help those people to remain in their own homes and in their own family circles as long as that is practicable.
Perhaps the really good news is for nursing home patients. In this field there has been the hardship, which I mentioned earlier, of the gap between what can be received by a pensioner patient and what has to be paid by that person to a moderately priced nursing home. It will be recalled that not so many months ago the Government raised the rates payable to patients in registered nursing homes to a level of $24.50 a week for people who received ordinary care and $45.50 for those who required intensive nursing care. These payments were made without the patient being required to register as a health insurance contributor. It is noteworthy that 80 per cent of patients in reg istered nursing homes are pensioners. However, this left a gap of about $30 a week between the nursing home benefit entitlement of $45.50 plus the pensions paid by the Government to a single pensioner and the cost in what would be regarded as a moderately priced nursing home. The Government now recognises this gap.
– The point I am making is that most of these hospitals immediately put up their prices. Therefore what the Government endeavoured to achieve was lost immediately.
– If the honourable senator did not have the opportunity to hear the Minister’s statement he should listen and I will explain to him how the Government has approached this problem and what assistance will be given to ensure that nursing home costs and fees charged to patients receive a measure of Government supervision. This will meet the point he just made.
– A couple of hospitals in Brisbane raised their prices immediately.
– -This proposal has not yet taken effect. The decision announced in this Budget means that three-quarters of a single pensioner’s pension and allowance will bV the patient’s participation in the scheme. That will be the sum that the patient will, have to pay to the registered nursing home. The amount involved is $18 a week. This will leave $6 in the hands of the pensioner for personal needs. Surely it is a sensitive and humanitarian attitude on the part of the Government not to deprive a pensioner of his entire income and to apply it to nursing home costs. Three-quarters of the pension will be applied to those costs and $6 will be left for the pensioner’s personal needs.
The Commonwealth now has determined the rate of the new benefits needed to meet the costs of nursing homes. The Commonwealth will provide the following differing rates for each State: In New South Wales the amount will be $10.50 per week per patient; in Victoria it will be $22.40; in Queensland it will be $10.50; in South Australia it will be $14; in Western Australia it will be $11.20; and in. Tasmania it will be $10.50. These benefit rates will be reviewed to reflect changes in the prevailing fee levels.
I turn now to the question of patients in nursing homes who are not pensioners. New provisions have been announced to cover these people. The same benefits per week - they are the figures I just mentioned for the various States - will be provided by the Government as assistance to those patients in nursing homes who are not pensioners. The patient benefits from hospital insurance funds will be exactly the same as the benefits for pensioners, namely $18 a week. Initally these benefits will be financed by the registered hospital benefit organisations out of their reserves and no adjustment to hospital fund contributions is necessary at present. This is a very desirable feature of the scheme to cover the cost to those people who qualify by age for registered nursing home care but do not qualify for pension assistance in other ways. Apart from the new benefits which I have mentioned $78m is provided to meet the existing benefits. A further $9m is provided to cover these new benefits, which I have outlined, for the remainder of this year and an expected amount of $22m will be needed for a full year of these new proposals.
Now this covers the point raised by Senator Georges. It is proposed to establish an independent nursing homes fees review committee to review the appeals of nursing home proprietors with the Department of Health when new fees are established. This nursing homes fees review committee will be the sort of body which will negotiate between the nursing homes and the Commonwealth Department of Health to ensure that there is not simply a handing on of an increase either in a pension or in a health benefit to a nursing home proprietor without some review being undertaken by a responsible body. There will be negotiation between the nursing homes and that body in the Department. I rather feel that this feature of the proposed scheme will ensure the best opportunity for co-operation on the matter of costs. It will provide to the Government a means of justifying increases in costs which may be proposed by nursing home proprietors. I feel that that is a very desirable feature.
Two other measures have not made very much impact on the minds of people, perhaps because of a delayed announcement of some of the Budget proposals through the media. I am sure that they will be acknowledged by the community when some of the details unfold. I refer particularly to hostel type accommodation for aged persons. In this area it is proposed to double the personal care subsidy, from $5 to $10. This applies to persons over the age of 80 years who are in nonprofit hostel accommodation. Approximately half the people in these institutions are over the age of 80 years. The second proposal relates to aged persons homes. This is perhaps the most magnificent social welfare proposal in the Budget. As I have moved throughout the community and as organisations have contacted me I have established firmly in my mind that this hostel type accommodation has been in short supply in many States. The opportunity is now given to institutions which are already established and functioning with this type of accommodation to match running costs a little easier, because there will be a rise in the pension as we have already noted. There will be a rise in supplementary assistance. Now there is an opportunity to offer an increase in capital support.
The new provisions will give support for a 3-year period to organisations which are already eligible under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I understand that there are some 7,500 beds in this category in Australia at present. Organisations which are willing to build will be granted the cost of 2 hostel beds for every one unsubsidised bed which they hold at present or one bed for 2 beds where the hostel was previously built under the Aged Persons Homes Act on a $1 for $1 basis. There is a condition which is important and that is that the beds are to be allocated without donation and to persons with the greatest need. This is another gap which I feel is being filled through this present Budget. These institutions are being given the opportunity to expand to 3 times their present size under this new provision without an outlay of capital. At this stage surely this is the best way in which we can treble the amount of hostel type accommodation which is available for the aged people in Australia. The cost of the measures in relation to nursing homes, home nursing and aged persons homes which I have mentioned is estimated at $ 16.9m for this year and $43 .9m in a full year.
In all these instances I have quoted figures. But 1 do not think that we are simply talking about money. I rather think that we are talking about measures which are very close to the people of Australia. They have been provided in a responsible way by departments which have had responsible reviews undertaken. They have worked closely with those organisations in the community which are conducting many of our social services. In this year’s Budget we have established a programme of assistance which will be an enrichment to the aged and- sick in our community. It will be of great benefit to us in matters of social concern. This is a Budget with many aspects. It is a Budget on which the Government could well go to the people of Australia. It is acknowledged that there will be honourable senators on the other side of this chamber who hold other views about how a Budget should be constructed at this time. But I do not feel that this Government needs to make any apology for the priorities which it has established. In economic terms it has provided an expansionary Budget. In sensitive terms it has provided many new initiatives in social welfare and health proposals. Other honourable senators will talk of many of the expansions in our education programme and many of the decisions taken with the regard to the defence priorities of Australia, national development projects, communications systems which we are developing and all those other things which are part of a great national programme. I feel that this is a Budget well suited for an approach to the people of Australia because it shows responsible economic understanding and personal priorities in matters of welfare and all those other things which the people of Australia have demanded from governments for so many years in the past. I commend the Budget to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise to speak thortly on a matter. Last even ing an honourable senator opposite spoke in condemnation of a motor.- vehicle manufacturer in Australia. I think .that generally his speech, was directed at criticism of the production methods of most- -vehicle manufacturers, in Australia. There may have been some .reasons for his; criticism. We who have owned vehicles often hav.e reasons to complain, but I thought that his attack was pretty unfair in relation to the vehicle manufactured by the : Ford Motor Company’ of Australia Ltd. -I think that was the significant part of .his argument. It was in relation to the Cortina, motor car.
– I hope the’ honourable senator is .not going to -take as long to reply as the honourable senator who made the speech.
– No. ‘Senator Gair will be home very shortly. The point which I took from the honourable senator’s comments was that he did not .In’ actual fact necessarily attack the motor company. What he did was to make ari ‘attack upon the employees who had the1 responsibility of completing “and putting” the machine together. 1 do not know whether he meant his speech to be viewed ici that light. We have iri the Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd something which .we should applaud. I think it combines many things, as perhaps do General 1 Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and other motor manufacturing companies which have come -‘to Australia, set up plant and offered a great deal of benefit to .this country. I. understand that the Ford Motor Company employs about 11,500 Australians. It is rather significant to get up and attack a company which has that level of ..employment and say that it is inefficient. It is not the company which happens to be inefficient. The honourable senator was attacking the technicians and craftsmen who did not carry but their daily toil. That is the crux of the matter which was put forward.
Honourable senators may recall that as the honourable senator spoke it was I who asked him to disclose several things. One of the first things about which he spoke was the use of some investigatory company. I think it :was a crowd called Expert Investigation Service. I believe that Expert Investigation Service is expert in investigating divorce but its ability to investigate problems relating to motor - vehicles may
Adjournment not be quite as great. The honourable senator did not actually say that this was the case. 1 asked the honourable senator whether he was speaking from personal experience. He was sufficiently honest to say no. he was not. It was on that point that I wished to make some comment. The honourable senator mentioned a Valiant motor car and raised some argument against that vehicle. For the price at which car manufacturers put an ordinary working man’s car on the road, in the context of providing a cheap car, they do a really wonderful job.
Because of the travelling I have been required to do since becoming a member of the Senate I have purchased about 6 Valiants and I have not had one problem with them in the whole of that time. I know that this applies to many vehicles that are produced in Australia. Honourable senators who read the Hansard report of the remarks made last night by Senator Primmer will see that a vehicle which was due for its 1,000 mile service was taken in at 1,400 miles and there was found to be some problem. I know of a perfect example of this kind where a fellow bought a new Holden which his wife used. She continued to use it until it ran out of oil about 1.500 miles and he then complained to the company that the motor was no good. All these things are not as clear as they should be.
– Why did it run out of oil? There would be a free service at 1,000 mites, so why should it run out of oil at 1,500 miles? It must have been a crook car.
– Perhaps the honourable senator has some facts that he can add to what I have said. I believe that Senator Primmer, who is not here to listen to my comments, is one of the fortunate members of this place who has a vehicle-
– Did you not let him know that you were going to say these things? As a matter of decency you should have done so. .
– I see Senator Primmer coming into the chamber. There are one or two points that I wish to make in relation to his comments last night. The honourable senator mentioned a company
known as Expert Investigation Service, but there were one or two things that he did not say. Information has been provided to me to show that the person who made the original complaint about the Ford Cortina and the Ford Motor Co. - I know the name of the individual - is at present in the process of buying a Ford Falcon. This shows the hollowness of the argument of a man who complains about a manufacturer. The individual by whom this matter was raised really -had no argument with the company and is anxious to have another vehicle manufactured by that same company. Senator Primmer mentioned that his personal experience with vehicles did not support what he said. There is a unique situation in respect of Labor Party members of Parliament, and perhaps there is a unique situation in respect of this honourable senator. I merely mention to the Senate that I have heard that the honourable senator owns a Mercedes. Have I been misinformed.
– What has that to do with a complaint from one of his constituents?
– I think the point might well be made that some honourable senators in this place have the ability to purchase very high class vehicles but not all of us are in a position to do so. But perhaps there is some importance, when buying vehicles and other products, in attempting to see that we are buying Australianmade products. Honourable senators opposite are ready to criticise overseas companies, but here is an instance where I suggest that we should all be anxious to support companies which although they are not Australian based are at least seeking to reinvest in their Australian company. The company which the honourable senator criticises provides employment for 11,500 men, pays an enormous amount in taxation, which undoubtedly enables the Government to do that which it has done in relation to pensions and other benefits, and pays an enormous amount in sales tax and excise duties on the goods that it imports. Yet we have a complaint from a senator who considers it wisest to purchase a fully imported car. I say that the argument of the honourable senator last night was quite hollow. 23 August 1972 Adjournment
– I do not think the remarks made by Senator Webster should go unchallenged. Last night an honourable senator saw fit to mention in this place what he thought were unsafe practices by a vehicle manufacturer in the interests of making profits. There has been no attempt to deny the accusations made last night. If the accusations were truthful - I think we have good evidence to show that they were truthful - they reveal an alarming situation in Australia. Because this situation has been brought to the notice of the public Senator Webster chooses to defend the car manufacturers. I do not know what interest Senator Webster has in car manufacturers, but in order to condemn someone who acted in the best interests of the safety of the Australian motoring community and without disproving anything that was said last night the honourable senator has sought to ridicule Senator Primmer who made these statements by mentioning that he owns an imported car which is not one of the cars referred to last night. In view of the knowledge that Senator Primmer has of these cars, could he be blamed for buying a different make of car?
My only worry now is that I am one member of the Australian Labor Party who does not have an imported car. Within the last 3 months I have bought a new Holden Premier. Within a fortnight of buying the car the bolt holding the clutch pedal to the supporting arm had fallen out I came out one morning and found that the clutch in the car could not be operated. I secured the clutch pedal with a i-inch bolt so that I could travel to the city to have the matter rectified. The vehicle was repaired. It cannot be said that this fault was not due to incompetence on the part of the manufacturer. The car went quite well until it rained, and then I found that it was a fine weather car and that one would get wetter inside the cabin than outside. I took the car back and the windscreen had to be resealed. These are faults that do occur in cars.
If I mentioned these matters in the Senate it is no answer for someone to say that I have since bought a Mercedes, if on the next occasion I choose to buy that make of car. I do not think people should have to put up with the defects that we experi ence in cars. The matter that was raised last night did not involve the possibility of there being no clutch and of the driver getting wet; it was a question of potential danger caused through sloppy manufacture. The evidence that we heard last night indicated that there had been sloppy manufacture. It does not do credit to any honourable senator for him- to attempt to ridicule another honourable senator, who is trying to preserve life, by mentioning that he uses a car which is superior. I think Senator Webster should be condemned for his attack on Senator Primmer tonight. Senator Primmer was acting in the best interests of road safety and.. human life when he made his remarks last night.
– I do not want to detain the Senate for very long. I support what Senator Webster said this evening because I believe that the attack on Australian workers employed by the Ford Motor Co. of Australia and other companies has been irresponsible and unfair. I do not think it should have been raised in this chamber.
– Does ‘the honourable senator have shares in motor companies?
– I will answer Senator Cavanagh, but ‘ I do not need his help. I intend to deal very carefully with what he said. I think he said something about sloppy ‘ manufacture and I believe he implied that the workers could be blamed.
– I did not say that.
– I am sorry. I can aflord to drive only a Ford motor car. I have had a Cortina for. a’ lengthy period and I have had no trouble < with it. I believe that the words that Senator Primmer used last night were, irresponsible. I support what Senator Webster said and I draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that the Ford Motor Co. employs in Victoria 10,600 people, in New South Wales 700 people and in Queensland- 570 people, a total of 11,940 people. Its annual wage and salary bill is $55m; In “1971 its purchases in Australia amounted to $206.2m. It paid tax, including sales tax, duties and income tax, amounting to not less than $89m. Tonight we have heard a member of the Australian Labor Party condemning workers in ‘that company’s ; factories for faulty workmanship. I believe that such an attack by people on the other side of the chamber is irresponsible and inexcusable.
– Where did the honourable senator get the figures?
– The figures are irrefutable. They are from statistical sources which 1 believe are irrefutable.
– I want to check them. Where did the honourable senator get them?
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I draw the attention of Opposition senators to the fact that each speech from their side has been listened to with attention by honourable senators on my right. When a speaker on my right has spoken there has been a continuous run of interjections. As occupant of the Chair it is my duty to listen to all speeches. I think that as members of the Opposition are given a fair go it is only right that they should reciprocate. This running commentary must cease. Last night 1 had to listen to all the aches and pains associated with owning a motor car. I know nothing about that subject because I am a push bike cyclist but I still had to listen. I want honourable senators on my left to understand that they in turn have to listen to speakers on my right.
– Mr Acting President, I appreciate what you have said. I was in America recently and I was given a pamphlet that read: ‘If You Want to Stop Pollution Ride a Horse’. I have this pamphlet on the back of my Cortina can If we followed your example, Mr Acting President, it might be a good thing for Australia generally. That statement indicates that I am not defending motor cars. Faults do occur in the manufacture of any commodity, whether h be refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners or motor cars. I have a very affluent medical practitioner friend who is able to acord a Mercedes Benz. My friend Senator Primmer is reputed to be able to afford a Mercedes Benz. This medical practitioner had to have the differential in his car replaced 3 times, so faults can occur in a motor car which is essentially an imported vehicle. I believe that it is fair to suggest that in mass production minor faults will occur. I speak only from personal experience, having owned several Ford motor cars and several GMH motor cars. I have had minor problems with my motor vehicles but the faults have always been rectified by the people who sold the cars to me. I am sure that the Ford Motor Co. and others, as my colleagues Senator Webster suggested, sell motor cars in good faith and do everything they can to ensure the safety of those people who purchase the cars. I believe that the attack of the Labor Party on these motor vehicles is an attack on the workers who produce them. I believe that the attack is irresponsible and that it should be recorded in this place as an act of irresponsibility and a lack of faith in Australian workers.
– Both Senator Webster and Senator Jessop have tried-
– What car does the honourable senator drive?
– I drive a Ford, when it is going. Recently in Canberra there was a strike by drivers of the Ford ministerial cars. They are shockingly expensive cars but they cannot keep the rain out. The drivers had to go on strike to get an extra part fitted so that the rain would not come in the window. That is only part of the story. Honourable senators should hear what I think of my car. Senator Webster spoke about a working man’s car. Mine is not a working man’s car. The cars that are available today for a working man cost in the vicinity of $2,500 to $3,000 but by the time he goes to Senator Webster’s friends and borrows money at an interest rate of 16 per cent flat, his car costs him $3,500 before he has paid for it. But that situation is part of the setup that Senator Webster is trying to protect. The motor vehicle industry in Australia could be classified, as it was by Ralph Nader, as an industry needing thorough investigation.
– Who is Ralph Nader?
– He is a better man than you are, Gunga Din. He has stated that the automobile industry in the Western world is building in obsolescence. Senator Webster said that he has driven 6 Valiants. He looks only a relatively young man. I do not know how long it took him to wear out the 6 Valiants, but I presume that he paid $3,500 for each Valiant. If he has had 6 Valiants, that is an illustration of the poor quality of the Valiants. He emphasised that he lost $500 to $700 a year in depreciation, that is robbery. It is all right for him to lose that kind of money because he is a wealthy man but he spoke of the Valiant as a worker’s car. But the honourable senator spoke of it as being the worker’s car. The worker is being robbed by the car companies immediately he walks out of the showroom. Senator Primmer did not mention the workers last night. He said that in Melbourne some months ago a businessman purchased a Ford Cortina motor car. Because of the multiple faults, the poor pre-delivery service, the poor after sales service he said that he was visiting the service station which retailed the article to him so frequently that he felt like a full-time employee. This is because he spent so much time trying to protect his equity in his car. These are a few of the faults. When I heard these faults they sounded quite familiar to me. They reminded me of my monthly bill from the Ford Motor Co. which manufactured the vehicle that I drive. To quote Senator Primmer: . . the doors will not close and/or open and/or lock; front end, vibration; oil consumption high to excessive; water entering car through windscreen surrounds, the boot and under the dash; headlamps not properly focussed; high oil losses from engine and gearbox; master brake cylinder leaking oil; faults in electrical wiring, such as ignition turned on by headlamp switch; faulty paint work; internal trims fall off; rear vision mirror falls off; spare parts supply extremely poor, causing long delays.
I can add to that that the mudguards are like tissue paper and cost about $40 to replace when dented when the car in front is reversed into in the carpark. The bumper bars just fold up. They are not bumper bars; they are just ornaments. They do not protect. Honourable senators may have seen a picture in a newspaper yesterday showing a semi-trailer that pushed a car against a lamp post. The car folded up like a tinder box or match box. These are the sorts of things that Senator Webster and Senator Jessop are protecting here when the public of Australia is being absolutely robbed. I do not know why these 2 senators would want to stick their necks out as they have. The automobile industry cannot be defended, because there is inbuilt obsolescence. The industry wants cars to wear out, rust out or just drop out. This is the situation with the automobile industry. It does not want to give service to the public. The position in the spare parts industry in Australia is scandalous. If the components of a Ford motor car were to be replaced with spare parts piece by piece, it would cost about $6,000, plus the cost of assembly.
– If you want a gasket for a water pump, you have to buy the whole water pump.
– Yes, and this is the position. This is the sort of thing that Senator Webster and Senator Jessop were protecting when attacking my colleague because he has raised a genuine case of the public being exploited.
– The honourable senator should drive a Mercedes.
– Possibly it would be wise to drive a Mercedes. There is a little quality of workmanship in a Mercedes Benz. I have been the victim of our automibile industry. Recently I was driving along a country road at midnight returning from a meeting when my lights failed. I staggered the car home in fits and starts. When I took the vehicle to an electrical engineer he found an inbuilt fault that is in all these Falcon motor cars which allows the headlights to fail. He said that if I replaced it I would receive good service but that the one built into the Falcon, Fairmont and Fairlane models is inadequate. I was absolutely astounded to hear that the vehicles contain built-in death. If 1 had been travelling at any speed I could have run off the road and honourable senators would not have had the pleasure of my being here tonight.
– Why do you not buy a horse if you have so much worry?
– I had a horse once and I could not afford to feed him. Senator Webster spoke of pollution. I ask whether he has ever ridden in a i inker. The horse was not all that perfect. But I rose to congratulate Senator Primmer for raising this matter. There is no authority in Australia to which these Cortina owners could go to receive justice. They must approach members of Parliament. This investigation agency - I do not know whether it specialises in divorces or what - at least placed an advertisement in a newspaper to see whether it could obtain some verification of the case that had been put before it by the Cortina owner. The fact that so many replies were received shows that the people have been sold a pig in the poke in the Cortina. They sign up for it, buy it and are left carrying the Cortina. Therefore, Senator Primmer has done a good job as an ombudsman in regard to motor cars. He is someone who has enough courage to whom these people can appeal. He is not influenced by interests or whatever other reasons the honourable senators opposite who attacked him tonight may have. He did not make an attack on the workers of the car companies, lt is the technique of inbuilt obsolescence carried out by these companies that needs deep investigation. I think that it would do the Senate more good to set up a committee to investigate, through the advice of experts, the standard of quality of these motor cars. The committee could also investigate the chain system of working, that is. the speed, the clocks, the closed television circuit and the man with the mirror looking down on the workers all the time to see that they are passing the cars out through the sausage machine. That is what should be investigated. It is not the fault of the workers; it is the fault of the system under which they work.
Some months ago a fellow was showing me a comparison between a Japanese motor car and an Australian motor car. Under the boot, one vehicle was finished off and on the other vehicle daubs of paid covered up the faults that had been caused by it being hit as it passes along the chain of production. It was not finished as thoroughly as a car in that price range should be. This is a part of the speed, the timing and the clock system. When the vehicle gets to the end of the line, it is pushed into the hands of the salesmen. I refer to all the money that is spent on advertising which comes out of the pocket of the working man to pay for the newspaper advertisements and all the other gimmicks. Then the salesmen put over their gimmicks. By the time the motor car is purchased and driven out the front door of the salesroom it has depreciated by $300 or $400 even if it were to be resold within an hour of purchase. These are the things that honourable senators opposite ought to be speaking about and not criticising Senator Primmer for exposing what is to me a disgraceful situation. Trie same thing is happening in the United States of America. Senator Primmer quoted from a book written by Ralph Nader showing that this is part of the whole technique of the automobile industry. The purchaser receives the least possible value for the highest possible price.
– Firstly, I make some claim to have been misrepresented. I defy either Senator Webster or Senator Jessop to find in the speech I made in the adjournment debate last night any attack whatsoever on the workers.
– It was the principle
– Just be quiet for a moment and allow me to make my speech. 1 declined to infringe on the benefit that was the honourable senators; so just shut up for a moment, please.
The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! It is essential that all honourable senators have an opportunity to speak in silence. I ask you, Senator Primmer, not to i>.*e the phrase ‘shut up’ in the Senate.
– Thank you, Mr Acting President. I was so disturbed about any repercussions that might flow from any speech I made on this matter in the Senate that I deemed it my duty before I spoke to make known to representatives of the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia in Victoria what I intended to say. I wondered why Senator Webster did not speak after me in the debate last night. Perhaps he did not have sufficient ammunition, or the type of ammunition that I had. Senator Webster appears to me to be typical of the smallminded Country Party representation that is exhibited throughout the Parliaments of this nation. If he wants to attack me personally away from this place he is quite at liberty to do so. But I will stand up to him man to man at any time or in any place. I made no attack whatsoever on craftsmen or technicians in the motor building industry. My attack was purely upon the assembly line - the system that evolves these types of cars. My attack was on the Ford company itself.
Senator Webster made his attack upon me when I was absent from this place. He made no effort to warn me that he was going to raise this matter, I understand from notes I received on what he said that he made some reference to the company that had carried out investigations into this matter. He suggested that the company had a great deal to do with the investigation of divorces. I happen to have the business card of the company concerned and I notice that amongst the work it does is commercial and industrial investigation and insurance and workers compensation investigation. I understand that it acts in a certain capacity for a semi-government department in Victoria. So, irrespective of what one might like to think about its activities in the field of divorce investigations, it is quite a reputable firm.
A great deal of stress seemed to have been laid by both honourable senators from the other side of the chamber who spoke on this matter on the type of vehicle that 1 drive. I do not know what that has to do with it. I do not think it matters whether I drive a draught horse or a Rolls Royce. I came into the Senate last night to do what I believe was the right thing by some of my constituents in Victoria. Whether I drive a Mercedes or whatever it might be is totally irrelevant to this argument. If sufficient people came to me with complaints about the Mercedes Benz I would be just as capable of and just as vocal in this chamber at tipping the can on that company as I have done to other companies within the last 24 hours. Just let me say that currently I am on speaking terms with the General Manager of Ford who rang me today.
– I bet that you are not now.
– I am, as a matter of fact.
– You are not on commission terms.
– No. I find it very hard to understand the reasons behind the attack made upon me. I believe that it almost reached the level of a personal attack. In my short time in this Senate I do not think anyone can point the finger at me and say that I have made personal attacks on anyone on the other side of the chamber. In my 15 years of municipal experience this was something upon which I frowned very seriously. I am quite pre pared to talk with any person at any time, but I draw the line when personal vindictiveness is introduced. However, if that is the way honourable senators opposite like to have it I believe that they not only demean themselves but they demean the status of this chamber.
I think that I have said all I want to say on motor cars. We will see how this matter develops. I am only sorry at this point of time that I have not been contacted by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon). He was the one person from whom I expected to have a telephone call today. I have received several calls from the news media and from people from both sides of this chamber who have complimented me for what I had to say last night. Furthermore, people have come to me with further complaints about motor cars. This has totally convinced me that what I said last night was very close to the mark.
– It is not my practice to speak on the question that the Senate adjourn, but I have been very interested in the debate that has taken place tonight because members of the Opposition have been denigrating basically the Australian motor car industry. The companies of Ford, General Motors-Holden’s and Chrysler have been mentioned tonight. One honourable senator said quite frankly that it appears that these companies go out to produce the cheapest or lowest standard product that they possibly can which they sell at the highest price they can get. However, we should bear in mind that if the motor car industry was to leave Australia, Australian workers would be out of employment. The way in which the Opposition denigrated Australian production would make wonderful ammunition for overseas companies to promote their cars against the Australian product. I think there are ways and means of pointing out to companies various faults rather than washing these matters completely in public to the extent which has been done tonight.
Comment was passed about the Ford car. It was said that this was an expensive car which is not even capable of keeping the rain out. The reason that the transport drivers went out on strike was that when the window of the cars they were driving were let down the weather was let in. lt is true that these cars needed a weather shield. I do not disagree with this; I know that this happens. I know that this was pointed out on 2 occasions by a couple of transport drivers. I invited both of these gentlemen to see me or write to me so that I could take up this matter with the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). The next I heard of this matter was that the drivers had gone out on strike. They approached me at the beginning of the last session about this. As I said, the next I heard was when they had gone out on strike. I agree that the cars need weather shields. But I made it clear to the 2 drivers that if they came to see me I would take this matter up with the Minister. However, unfortunately this did not happen.
That is all I want to say because one could speak for some time on this matter. However, I find it surprising tonight during the course of debate that some members of the Opposition have gone to extremes in denigrating an Australian product which is of such good value to us, not only on a dollar and cents basis but also for the livelihood of so many Australian workers. I hope that in the future we will go out and promote our products, not denigrate them.
– Like Senator Wright, I do not usually talk on the motion that the Senate adjourn.
– You mean Senator Young.
– I am sorry; Senator Young. Senator Wright will reply shortly I hope. I rise only to say that I listened to what Senator Primmer said last night and I think that any honourable senator who listened to Senator Primmer will acknowledge that all he was talking about was a number of faults in vehicles. The honourable senator talked about reports made to him by constituents. He talked of matters about which we all know. These are matters that have been brought to the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) in this Parliament. If one reads the Hansard of the other place one will see the record of where Liberal members, including Mr Donald Cameron, have raised with the Minister the question of safety standards of motor vehicles and have mentioned defects in motor vehicles. As we know, the automobile associations of the various States have most recently been very active to get proper workmanship in the manufacture of motor vehicles. Senator Primmer certainly did not criticise the workers who produce ‘the cars. He said that the fault was in the management, the manufacture and in the system of production.
– But who manufactures the vehicles?
– The whole motor vehicle plant manufactures the vehicle. However, I would know more about it than does the honourable senator because I have lived in the industry; I have seen the industry throughout the world. There is no doubt that it . is the responsibility of management and supervision to see that a good car is turned out.
If one reads the evidence in Hansard one will see that a lot of Liberal supporters believe, as we do, that cars ‘ are not being produced, as they should -be. :This is the basis of what Senator Primmer .is talking about. However, it is quite unfair for honourable senators opposite to . put- forward an argument with a political twist in it. Of course, that is to be expected. Honourable senators opposite should read, what their Minister had to say about this. He said that a co-operative body in the. manufacturing group provides a design standards organisation that is partly composed, of manufacturers and partly by people nominated by the government. Their job is to ensure that the safety features of motor vehicles are kept on the highest plane.
– Is the trade union movement represented on it?
– No, it is not.
– Why not?
– It consists only of representatives of the manufacturers.
– You ought to see that it is. That would protect the , manufacturers - the workers.
– If the honourable senator will listen to me, I will tell him that the Government has approved the design standards body, as has the automobile industry. That design body meets from year to year to ensure that cars are- made safer and closer to perfect. The Australian
Transport Advisory Council, which consists of representatives of this Government and of State governments, checks the extent to which safety of motor vehicles can be improved. That is the kind of mission which Senator Primmer spoke of. That is all we are saying, that there is a need to maintain the highest standards in motor vehicle manufacture. Nobody disputes that the same kind of fault may be found in some imported cars. I find it very strange that both Senator Webster and Senator Jessop should suggest that Senator Primmer had criticised the workers. He did not.
Next, 1 should like to speak to the subject Senator Young raised - the strike by our own transport drivers. I know what happened. The drivers had complained about a fault, a lack of safety, in the vehicles, as Senator Young well knows.
– I admitted this.
– I offered to take it up for them. That is the point I made.
– Let me tell the honourable senator what really happened. I was advised by the 6 drivers who began the campaign to have the windshields supplied that they had had tentative verbal approval from the Minister for the windshields to be fitted. The shields were not fitted; so the drivers approached their supervisors. The supervisors came down and inspected the cars and said the windshields were not necessary and would not be fitted. As a consequence the drivers struck, and within 2 hours of course the matter was reported through the supervisors to the Minister. The Minister gave instructions immediately that the shields were to be fixed. The failure there was lack of communication.
– That could have been done.
– It was not the drivers’ fault.
– Of course it was: It was stupidity on the part of the drivers concerned.
– It was not the fault of the drivers.
– Of course it was.
– What I am telling the honourable senator is what happened. The Minister had agreed, and I was told that Senator Young too had agreed, that the shields should be fitted. The drivers were refused the shields by the supervisors of the Department, who had inspected the cars. The supervisors got into the cars with the drivers, the cars fogged up and the rain came in, but the supervisors still said the shields were not to be fitted. The drivers decided that the only way to get the shields fitted was to stop work. They did so, and got approval from the Minister within 2 hours. What is the purpose of this sort of canvassing? Every time we talk about matters such as these, it seems that a number of Liberal senators attack the workers. They say the workers stop work. Mr Acting President, I rise only to point out these facts because I am aware of the problem about the shields. Everybody now acknowledges that it was an unsafe practice which should have been corrected quickly.
– We agree.
– Right. It has been fixed up but it should have been fixed up much more quickly.
– Of course.
– If your supervisory personnel were better trained, the stoppage would not have occurred. The only other point I want to make- and there has been plenty of comment about it - is that the Department of Labour and National Service now says there is a case for training government personnel to ensure that they are more adept at locating these faults and ensuring that there shall be no stoppages over simple questions of safety.
I want to say quite clearly that I understood Senator Primmer’s contribution simply as being a contribution to current safety campaigns. Not only senators on our side of this chamber but many other people, including members of the automobile associations, intend to see that when motor cars are produced they will be in good condition and safe to drive on the roads. We ought to respect Senator Primmer’s contribution. If we want to criticise it, let us criticise the cases he has cited and try to fault the evidence he has produced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
(Question No. 1857)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The reduction of 0.5 per cent in the maximum trading bank overdraft rate will have a direct effect on the cost of housing finance (including bridging finance) provided by the trading banks. Savings bank interest rates on housing loans in excess of their normal first mortgate limit - for which the maximum overdraft rate can be charged - will also be reduced by, 0.5 per cent. Savings bank interest rates on housing loans are in any case still very low in the interest rate spectrum and contain a considerable concessional element.
In addition to these particular reductions the easier stance of monetary policy has resulted in a substantially increased supply of loanable funds in the private sector generally and consequent downward pressure on private interest rates, including lending rates for housing. Permanent building societies in Queensland have reduced their maximum lending rates from 8 per cent to 7.25 per cent per annum and permanent building societies in Western Australia have announced reductions of 0.5 per cent in their lending and borrowing rates of interest. As the effects of the easier monetary stance are transmitted throughout the financial system in coming months, other lenders for housing can also be expected to reduce their lending rates. Moreover, the very liquid positions of the banks and building societies should considerably reduce the need for home buyers to seek higher cost finance from other sources. Aside from these considerations, the new Commonwealth/State housing arrangements have allowed the States to provide housing finance at lower rates of interest than would have been possible had the previous Commonwealth Housing Agreement continued. Borrowers have benefited from a reduction in interest rates on their loans from either the State housing authorities or from building societies which make use of money made available to them from Home Builders’ Account.
(Question No. 2177)
asked the Minister representing the Treas urer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The general provisions of the New Zealand overseas takeover regulations are as follows:
Ministerial approval under the’ overseas takeovers regulations is only required when a foreign company plans to takeover 25 per cent or more of the voting power.
However, prior Reserve Bank approval for any agreement involving the remittance of funds must be obtained under the exchange control regulations.
The Bank must be notified under the exchange control regulations if the offer involves less than 25 per cent of the company.
(Question No. 2183)
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 2218)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
How many scholarships were awarded to students at (a) State, and (b) private schools in which students sat for examinations in the State of Victoria during the years 1970 and 1971.
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The extent of the information which the honourable senatoris seeking is not clear. However, the following details relate to Commonwealth Secondary scholarships and Commonwealth Technical scholarships:
– Yesterday Senator O’Byrne asked me a question in which he indicated that the Budget papers stated that over $3 6m in increased payments is expected to be made on the F111 aircraft and medium lift helicopters.
He asked me whether the cost of the F111 had increased. In my reply I informed the Senate that the estimated total cost of the F111C project remained at $US344m. This is the same amount announced jointly by the Minister for Defence and myself in December 1971.
The increased expenditure is a comparative increase in expenditure from the previous financial year. We expect to meet claims during the year from the United States Air Force for expenditure already incurred in the F111C project and for spares and other equipment already delivered to the order of $A30m. This amount will mean that at the end of the current financial year we will have paid $A240m against the estimated total project cost of $A302m, that is, $US344m.
Regarding the medium lift helicopters, as senators are aware, it is expected that we will be taking delivery of these helicopters in 1973 and progress payments in respect of this project are expected to be to the order of $A15.7m this financial year. The total expenditure for aircraft purchases in the Air vote for 1972-73 is estimated at $62.8m.
– On 26th May Senator Bishop asked me about offset orders won by Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd. The answer is: Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd has won offset orders from the Boeing Corporation to the value of approximately $5.2m up to 8th August 1972. Details of these orders are as follows: For Boeing 747 aircraft - packboards; for CH47 (Chinook) helicopters - landing gear, dynamic absorbers and machined parts; for Boeing 727 aircraft - rudders and ribs, elevators; and for 707/27 aircraft - spares. In addition the company has received offset orders from Hawker Siddeley Aviation, United Kingdom, valued at approximately $19,000.
(Question No. 2227)
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer the following question, upon notice:
I might say that this question was asked on 25th May. It continues:
I want to make it clear, as the proceedings are being broadcast, that the Mr Adermann referred to is not the gentleman who sits in the House of Representatives. The final part of my question is:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: _
The hearing was not adjourned. The committal proceedings were concluded and the defendants have been committed for trial at a hearing set down for 20th June 1972.
Senate adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720823_senate_27_s53/>.