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Thursday, 9 March 1961

Mr KILLEN (Moreton") .- When my friend, the honorable member tor Scullin (Mr. Peters), quoted Sir Francis Bacon's reference to the biting tooth of usury I closed my eyes. Imagination is a wonderful thing. I came to the conclusion that if one closed one's eyes firmly enough one could picture the honorable member as a wild and thoroughly stirred-up dragon about to savage one. Then I opened my eyes; the illusion was shattered and I saw a thoroughly stirred-up political mouse. My friend has spoken with great modesty, but that is to be expected because he supported a case deserving of modesty. He supported a motion of no confidence in the Government proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). If one looks at the motion it not only is remarkable for what is in it but will be remembered for the remarkable way in which it was put to this House. Never was there a political leader so politically confused as to what he would do if given the reins of government to-morrow. When he stood at the despatch box this morning we saw a thoroughly confused Leader of the Opposition. I did not put down all the absurdities he indulged in but tried to cull those that had some amusement value.

He said, "When we went out of office in 1949, the economy of this country was soundly based". If that is basically the case, and it is based upon objective criteria and is not subjective nonsense, why did the Australian people vote so overwhelmingly against the government which, according to the immodest claims of the Leader of the Opposition, had put the Australian economy on a sound basis? Every one in this House and, I should imagine, many millions outside will recall the terrible mess into which the government of which he was a Minister, of sorts, got the affairs of this country.

Then he devoted himself to an attack upon controls. Surely to heaven human memory, imperfect as it may be, can at least recall the plethora of controls that were launched by a Labour government, cultivated by a Labour government and maintained by a Labour government in the very teeth of bitter opposition throughout Australia. Then the Leader of the Opposition turned to import controls and sneeringly stated that since we have been in office we have imposed import controls for, I think he said, six or seven years. No government - at least on our side of politics - maintains import controls needlessly. They are maintained because of the exigencies of the time. But then, after having criticized this Government's maintenance of import controls at a critical time, the honorable gentleman said that we must either increase exports or reduce imports and, in fact, that we must stop the flood of imports into this country. He demolished his own argument because if to-morrow, by some queer twist or some quirk of fate a Labour government were returned to office, import controls would be re-established; and not in any discriminatory way but with the full rein of savagery.

It is no use ignoring this. What the honorable gentleman ignored, and what has been ignored so far by every critic of the Government's policy is the phenomenal change in overseas prices on which this country depends. This morning the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) showed in clear and eloquent language the dramatic drop in overseas prices. No government has an instant control over this circumstance. Governments can negotiate and governments can resort to temporary devices, but what we earn depends upon the price that people overseas are prepared to pay for our exports. But not one of the critics has a thought in his mind. As a former Treasurer of the Commonwealth stated on one occasion, the Labour Party when in office held the economic destiny of this country in the collective hollow of its head.

Then to wind up his speech the Leader of the Opposition made a host of prophecies. Some of them, of course, were plainly stupid. Surely the country is accustomed to the honorable gentleman's flair for prophecy. One could quite accurately and, I believe, fairly describe him as the caretaker and the patron of a whole museum of prophecies. If you look at the prophecies that he has made you can only come to the conclusion that he is the perfect underwriter of gloom. If the honorable gentleman ever left politics there would be no doubt about his ability to get a job as a professional entertainer at a wake. Every prophecy that he makes has about it a touch of despondency and gloom. Let us look at the record. In 1949 the present Leader of the Opposition said -

Compulsory military training will shatter the Australian economy.

In 1950 he stated -

The Menzies Government probably will not last a year and a crisis will certainly come within eighteen months.

In the same year he prophesied -

That the Australian £1 will be revalued whether the Country Party likes it or not is quite certain.

It will take place after this season's wheat and wool crops have been sold.

Then in 1951 the honorable gentleman gave out this gem of advice -

Do not save money because the position will become desperate. A lot of people will not have any Christmas.

In March, 1951, he asserted in this Parliament that the Menzies Government would not want a double dissolution and would never face Parliament again as a government. Two days later the Prime Minister obtained a double dissolution from the

Governor-General and we came back to office. Again in 1951 he said -

The Defence Preparations Bill will be blownout when challenged in the High Court.

In 1952 he stated -

Australia is heading straight into a depression.

In the same year he predicted a 12s. rise in the basic wage, and the rise on that occasion was only 4s. In January, 1953, he asserted that within a year there would be six State Labour governments, and in July of that year he said that when the Korean armistice came there would be a drop of hundreds of millions of pounds in the following year's wool cheque. This is a remarkable record for the leader of a party that aspires to run the affairs of this country, and I believe that this record should be marked, not by some petty observance but at least in modest limerick form. Here it is -

From Melbourne a prophet and seer Makes predictions both doleful and dreer. He has plunged us in gloom With forecasts of doom And no Christmas pudding or cheer.

At politics our prophet has played " Depression " being his stock in trade. We've read Jeremiah And also Isaiah, But Arthur leaves them in the shade!

He says, "Bob will be taking the toss And I'll be Australia's new boss ". But the electors all know, And will certainly show, That Arthur's no prophet - butloss.

My friend, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) has said that the honorable gentleman could not tip a winner. I say to the House that if the Leader of the Opposition attended a country picnic race meeting and there was a walkover he would take a tote ticket on the horse ridden by the clerk of the course.

It is a matter of profound regret that the Opposition cannot look seriously at what has happened in Australia during the last ten years and that it cannot examine critically and, above all, honestly the basic issue of development. Development has become an article of faith of this Government and, I should imagine, of the majority of Australians. Of course, there are two approaches to the question of development. We can proceed at a comfortable rate not overtaxing our resources in any way. We can bring in 60,000 or 80,000 people a year to this country, or we can have a rapid rate of development and bring in 100,000 or 125,000 people a year. Very broadly, the goal is a greater Australia and we all should see that that goal does not become the great delusion.

It is essential, not only for this Parliament but also for every person outside, to realize the connexion between this pace of development and the economy of the country. My friend the honorable member for Wentworth spoke about that aspect this afternoon. This country needs a rapid rate of development, not because of some defence consideration because modern weapons of war have rendered that quite nugatory. The personal motto of Lord Baden Powell, one of the great humanitarians that this world has known, was " Look wide ". Now is the time for the Parliament and for the people of Australia to look wide to see what is happening in the world and then to decide what our course of action should be in relation to the world's problems.

The growth in world population can only be described as startling. In the centuries from the time of Christ to the death of Elizabeth I., the world's population doubled. Between 1960 and the end of this century, the world's population will double - in a mere 40 years! One-quarter of the world's people to-day eat more than half of the world's food. Whereas here in Australia our standards of living have been rising consistently, the standard of living of many millions of people has been dropping perceptibly over the last ten years. All this cannot be added up in any neat, economic contention. It comes back to a basic moral obligation, because this country cannot escape its geography, and no country to-day can live in social and economic isolation. Those countries - and Australia is one of them - with industrial knowledge and potential must use that knowledge and must exhaust that potential.

Sir, Ibelieve with, I would hope, understandable conviction, that this cause is not resting upon some political idea. I believe that it rests upon a very firm and broad principle of fundamental morality. If you look at the effort that has been displayed by the Australian people since the end of World War II., you see a consciousness of the sort of thing I have been talking about, because we have brought to Australia, since the end of World War II., more than 1,000,000 people. It is obvious, surely, that you cannot bring into a country 1,000,000 people without imposing on that country great strain and a host of burdens. We have not got unlimited resources. If you take the burdens that have been put upon us, if you take the dislocations that have occurred here and there and put them together, they represent something quite trifling compared with what has gone on in most countries since the end of the war. Tn the last ten years development in this country has been phenomenal. I am not speaking of production of golf balls, as one newspaper, I regret to say, did. It seems to have a pathological affection for rooting out some miserable little thing and playing it up as the be-all of the problem. I am talking about basic development in Australia, and basic industries.

I shall give the House some figures. I am sorry if I weary honorable members with them, but I believe that they deserve to be ventilated. In 1949, we produced 14,483,000 tons of black coal; in 1960, we produced 20,400,000 tons. In 1949, we produced a little over 1,000,000 tons of pig iron, and in 1960 we produced 2,600,000 tons. Ingot steel production in 1949 was 1,178,000 tons, and in 1960 it had risen to 3,500,000 tons. Production of steel blooms and billets in 1949 was a little over 1,000,000 tons, and last year it was 3,100,000 tons. In 1949, we produced 9,000,000.000 kilowatt hours of electricity, and in 1960, 23,300,000,000 kilowatt hours. In 1949, we produced 1,100,000 tons of superphosphate, and last year we produced 2,380,000 tons. This is typical of the evidence that you find if you make an inquiry into what has happened in Australia.

The position is very similar in relation to consumer goods. In 1949, this country produced 145,600 refrigerators, and last year it produced 241,000. In 1949 we produced 65,700 vacuum cleaners; last year the figure was 95,700. The total production of washing machines in 1949 was 6,500, and last year it was 200,000. The standard of living in Australia has improved tremendously. It has improved not only in terms of consumption of consumer goods, but also in a variety of other ways.

I hope that the House will be patient for a moment or two so that I may give a further illustration of this. In 1949, the number of persons per dwelling unit in Australia was 4.1. To-day, even though we have brought to Australia 1,000,000 people, the number of persons per dwelling unit in Australia is down to 3.5. In 1949, there was one telephone for every 10.7 people, but in June of 1960 there was one telephone for every 4.75 people. You could go right down through television receivers and motor vehicles generally and find the same picture. Whereas in Australia to-day we have some people, who I do not necessarily criticize, who will take part in go-kart exhibitions and will spend money, time and effort in producing go-karts, it is useful to recall that not very far away from this country there are millions of people who are having for their week's food what we would consider to be a daily ration.

The statistical record shows that Australia's performance over the last ten years has been remarkable. It is a performance of which any government could be proud, and of which the whole of Australia can be proud. I heard some criticism about housing this afternoon. Bless my heart and soul, look at the record again! It speaks for itself. The position regarding war service homes is an illustration of what has been done. In the 31 years for which the war service homes scheme has operated, 62,900 people were helped with housing in Australia, and this year 147,000-

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