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Wednesday, 26 June 1946


Mr ADERMANN (Maranoa) .- T.t was interesting to hear the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Bryson) enumerate the disadvantages under which the Labour Government is supposed to be working. It has had five years in which to remove those disadvantages. He said that the workers were out to obtain more freedom; but I remind him that the workers have forfeited freedom by surrendering the democratic right to a ballot on whether they should strike work or not, and have let themselves be led by the nose by hot-heads. Democratic rule has given way to mob rule. In Queensland, we are witnessing one of the most disastrous strikes in the history of the State. Because four men were dismissed from a bacon factory the bacon-workers went on strike. Eventually all meatworkers, who were enjoying all the conditions that they desired, as they admitted, struck in sympathy. The State arbitration court ruled that they were outside the law and finally deregistered the union. Then the men went back to work. Now we have the farcical position of all the bacon-workers and meatworkers back at work in order to support their wives and families, and the coalminers and waterside workers on strike in sympathy with- them. Nothing could be more farcical in unionism. The bacon- workers and meat-workers got no sympathy from the arbitration court, and the coal-miners and railway men were warned not to allow themselves to be made the political footballs of their leaders. The position has become desperate, and to-night the Queensland government will declare a state of emergency. If after five years of federal Labour rule and a long and almost unbroken sequence of years of Labour rule in Queensland, the conditions complained about by the honorable member for Bourke exist, it is only because the unionists have sacrificed their democratic rights. It is high time that they took charge, of the men who pretend to lead them but are unworthy of their responsibility. I hope that the bona fide workers will rise and overthrow the men who, while claiming to represent them, are really the agents of a foreign power whose political ideology is not that which any sane Australian would like to have implanted in this country.

All party leaders agree on the need for production if we are to solve our problems. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has publicly appealed for greater production, and his statements have been echoed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden). During and since the war the primary producers have nobly responded to the call for increased output. They will do more if this Government co-operates with them.


Mr Fuller - It does.


Mr ADERMANN - Few primary producers would admit that. A conference of Queensland dairymen from an area embracing three State electorates has written to me saying that they would unanimously and readily respond to the appeal for increased output if the Government would only co-operate by providing them with such needs as tractors, wire, and galvanized iron. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission has replied to applications for tractors that it will distribute them as soon as the army declares them surplus. At any army dump in Queensland, one can see 70 or 80 tractors unused and deteriorating, and I suppose that could be duplicated in any other .State. The Government says that they cannot be released because they are lend-lease equipment, but apparently the Army will not declare them surplus, r blame the Army for delaying their distribution. Now that the lend-lease arrangement has been settled, the Government should expedite their distribution in order that they may bring about a greater flow of production from the land. Many farmers, including returned soldiers, cannot work their land because of their inability to get the tractors and other equipment that they need.

There is an aspect of wheat production that the Government ought to correct. Ex-servicemen who apply for licences to grow wheat are given temporary licences that can be withdrawn at any time. We do not expect that they will be withdrawn, but the licences are for only twelve months.


Mr Scully - How could a licence be granted for a longer period than that, when the whole stabilization plan and the National Security Act under which it was set up will expire at the end of the year ?


Mr ADERMANN - I am quite aware that the National Security Regulations will terminate at the end of this year. Nevertheless, the Government has announced its intention to incorporate some of the existing regulations in legislation .which will be permanent. The Government of Queensland has control of production, at the behest of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Scully), and there is no sense of .permanency. Consequently, ex-servicemen have asked me to raise this matter in this House.

An unlimited market exists in Australia for cotton and tobacco, but the Government has not effected stability in cither of those industries. Cotton has an unlimited market, perhaps more so than any other industry in Australia, and although the Tariff Board began to investigate the cotton industry thirteen months ago, the Government has not yet announced its policy regarding it. Most of the cotton is grown in the electorate of Capricornia, and last week I received two telegrams from residents asking me. to press the Government to make a definite announcement of policy. Growers should now be preparing their land for planting. We have no seed in Australia that we can crush for oil or fodder purposes, and the cotton industry is capable of not only remedying that deficiency, but also supplying the almost unlimited market for cotton. But how can we expect any cotton to be grown in Queensland if the Government refuses to declare, even at this late stage, its policy towards industry ? ' I urge the Government not to delay its announcement a moment longer.

On many previous occasions in this House, I have referred to the position of the tobacco industry. Indeed, I have something in common with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture regarding it. The culprit is the tobacco combine which is dominating the whole " show ". The Government has granted at least three increases which would have met the needs regarding price, but I consider that the Government can do even more than that. When a conference was held in Sydney recently to discuss the conditions of the industry, the growers demanded a guaranteed price of 3s. for the average grade. The. Government did not concede it, but agreed to revise the table of limits which, it hoped, would mean an increase' of payment to the growers. But the growers have had an unfortunate experience of revised tables of limits. Whenever the table of limits was applied the grading was decreased. The representative of the tobacco combine grades or appraises the tobacco leaf, and in at least one instance the growers were threatened that the representative would not buy the loaf if he was not permitted to do the grading. The obvious retort should have been that the growers would not sell their leaf unless they appointed the grader. However, the solution is for the Government to appoint ,an independent appraiser to determine the grade. On the last occasion when I raised the matter in this House, I appealed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who occupied the chair, to appoint an independent appraiser.


Mr Lazzarini - In other matters the honorable member supports private enterprise, but on. this occasion he appeals to the Government to intervene in order to save the growers from private enterprise.


Mr ADERMANN - I am appealing not for funds, but for fair play, so that the industry shall get the correct grading and the guaranteed price will result if paid for on a correct basis. If the Minister desires the tobacco industry to prosper, he will not achieve that condition by allowing the combine to run the "show". If he is a shareholder in the combine and -looks for a share of its profit, of £1,000,000, we shall know where he stands; but I stand always for the interests of the growers. I demand again that the Government appoint an independent appraiser. Old history is now repeating itself. As the result of appraisals held in the north, the first prices paid for leaf were satisfactory, but-later prices declined. In fact, the growers told me that the combine purchases leaf for all the smaller tobacco companies, and the higher prices which it paid earlier were for the quantity of tobacco which it acquired for its competitors. Having fulfilled their orders, the combine gradually decreased prices for the tobacco for its own requirements. If we are prepared to accept, that position, the tobacco industry will not prosper in Australia. I shall be surprised if the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr. Lazzarini) defends such an iniquity.


Mr Lazzarini - No; if. is a thieves'' kitchen.


Mr ADERMANN - If those conditions continue, the increase of production which the Prime Minister urged will not be achieved.

The rehabilitation of ex-servicemen is not proceeding satisfactorily. The Agricultural Bani? in Queensland is making advances for the purchase of farm machinery, I assume, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. I hold in my hand particulars of an application from an ex-serviceman for an advance to purchase a Horwood Bagshaw fourteendisc Sundercut costing £106, and a ten-leaf McKay harrow costing £46 and to pay the balance owing on a twenty-run Shearer combine, namely, £80. On the fourteen-disc Sundercut, the bank advanced £71; on the ten-leaf McKay harrow, £31; and it agreed to pay the balance owing on the twenty-run Shearer combine, £80; making a total of £182. That advance, which represented 66$ per cent, of the total purchase price of the three implements, is most conservative. No one would describe it as liberal. But even granting that advancing money for the purchase of machinery may entail a greater risk than there is in lending money for the purchase of land, and that an advance of 66$ per cent, is satisfactory, we still find- that the conservative agricultural bank requires very solid security. Not satisfied with the security of the machinery that was purchased, the bank required security documents covering a bill of sale over the man's utility truck, which was not included in the purchase, and a lien over his crop of 400 acres of wheat. Surely the Government does not insist upon such iniquitous conditions, although I have no doubt that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) would support them. He is an automaton - a voting machine which always supports the Government. Can he justify that iniquity? Every honorable member must agree that when the bank advances only two-thirds of the purchase price of the machinery, the implements alone are ample security.

Nearly two-thirds of Queensland has been, stricken by drought. In the southwest portion of the State covering onehalf of my electorate, the people are beginning their fourth, successive year of drought. Although the Governments of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales have co-operated with the Commonwealth in advancing money on a, £1 for £1 basis in order to meet the needs of drought-stricken producers, no assistance has been given to the sufferers in Queensland by either the Commonwealth or the State. Queensland is the " Cinderella ". Some time a.go, I submitted an amendment to legislation providing relief for drought-stricken producers in States other than Queensland. My object was to include Queensland in the scheme; but the Government rejected my proposal. What the drought has not taken from primary producers, the Taxation Department grabs. I shall cite an instance which I hope the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) will examine.


Mr Scully - How can taxation worsen the plight of primary producers if they have no income?


Mr ADERMANN - If they are compelled to sell all their stock because of a drought, the Commissioner of Taxation has ruled that profits from live-stock sold in drought conditions are assessable income in the year of sale. The Minister will be interested to learn that a taxation specialist had to advise a client in a drought-stricken area that if he sold all his cattle and later re-stocked at a similar price, he would be much worse off, owing to the incidence of income tax, than if he had sold half of his stock, retained 25 per cent, and allowed the remaining 25 per cent, to die. One man owned 1,000 head of cattle, and in his previous years' returns, had valued them at 25s. a. head. His expenses for the year were £1,000, . He sold the cattle at £S a head making a total of £8,000. The drought compelled him to sell the stock. After expenses had been deducted, he had a so-called profit, according to the ruling of the Commissioner of Taxation, of £5,750. His profits were set down at that figure, and his average reduced the tax somewhat, but his taxation still was at the rate of 9s. 4kl. in the £1. Consequently, the tax payable amounted to £2,698, That left a balance of £3,052. If he later replaced the cattle at £8 a head, he could buy only 3S1 beasts.


Mr Scully - What made him include the capital value of his stock?


Mr ADERMANN - That was his usual figure.


Mr Scully - The cattle were sold for £S a head.


Mr ADERMANN - The figure was accepted by the Taxation Department over a period of years, and he cannot alter it.

M.t.Pollard. - That arrangement catches up with primary producers eventually. He had the option.


Mr ADERMANN - This man was advised that if he had sold half of his stock at £S a head, held 250 and allowed the remaining 250 to die, his profit would have been £2,652, and his tax £780, so that he would have been better off by £234. The facts are set out in detail in the following table: -

In the case of a cattle-breeder with a fiveyear average net income of £1,000 per annum -

 

As there would be no live-stock increase for sale during the next two years his tax would be nil, but his crown rents and working expenses would be estimated roughly at £600 per annum which would be losses to carry forward, but then only if he had sufficient capital or loans from financial houses to keep him going. But if he follows my advice the position is - ,

 

Honorable members can imagine how a larger breeder .would be affected. Let us suppose that his average income wa3 £4,000. He has 5,000 cattle valued in his tax returns at 25s. a head. He sells them at £8 a head, receiving £40,000. His expenses are £3,000, so that his profit is £30,750. His tax amounts to £28,199, so that he has left an amount of £2,551. That will enable him to re-purchase only 319 cattle at £8 a head. Obviously, this matter should be reviewed. In the first instance that I cited, the man did repurchase some cattle at £8 a head, but because they were bought in August, or six weeks after the 30th June,- the Commissioner of Taxation refused to allow him to offset it against the previous year's income. If that concession alone had been granted, his position would have been somewhat ameliorated.

The services in country post offices in Queensland appear to be getting worse than ever before. This is not the fault of those who administer the services, but is due to the conditions under which they work and the policy determined by the Government. The war being over, men are now available for telephone line construction and other, services supplied by the department. New construction does not require a large proportion of expert workmen. After the last war, a liberal constructional policy was implemented for a period, and the people in many country districts derived benefit from it. The condition laid down that would-be telephone subscribers must pay practically the whole of the cost of connexion before a new telephone service can be provided is unduly harsh. I cite the case of a person living 5 miles from an exchange in my electorate. Although the trunk line telephone poles pass his house, he had to pay £100 for the' erection of a telephone wire to his premises. I supported the protest made by this subscriber that the charge was iniquitous. In addition to the £100, he had to give a guarantee that he would remain a subscriber for seven years. Whilst I agree that a guarantee should be insisted upon, the charge of £100 is ridiculous. I was able to get a reduction in this case but why were these better terms offered in the first instance?

In many country centres the revenue is sufficient to entitle the inhabitants to a continuous telephone service, but frequently the provision of this service is refused because the officials decline to employ the necessary staff. I do not know exactly what extra payment a local postmaster would be allowed for giving a continuous service, but it would be only £50 or £60 a year. If a local post-office now closes at .1 p.m. on Saturdays, the postmaster would be disinclined to provide staff to give a continuous telephone service covering every night and on Saturdays and Sundays for the trifling sum of- £60 a year, even if he could obtain the services of a junior employee for that purpose. Even if the employee took charge of the exchange every night, the postmaster would have to be willing to work on Saturday afternoons and Sundays and accept the added responsibility without extra remuneration. If I were a postmaster I would not agree to provide a continuous service under those conditions. The PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) should grant a satisfactory allowance to enable postmasters to employ the staff necessary to provide continuous services. When there is likely to be. a deficiency in the revenue from a telephone service, and the department asks that the balance be supplied by the citizens, the latter should be able to get the service required, provided a guarantee is forthcoming. The postal department is the most profitable business undertaking of the Government, and the employees of the department look forward to an increase of their salaries in the immediate future to which they are entitled.

Post offices are not being constructed at present in country districts. . When the present Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) was PostmasterGeneral, he visited Kingaroy and saw 32 persons at work at the local post-office, in a room measuring about 25 feet by 30 feet. The revenue derived there would surprise honorable members. Kingaroy has a population of from 4,500 to 5,000, and the surrounding districts are closely settled. On the occasion of the Minister's visit- he said that obviously the provision of additional accommodation at. Kingaroy could not be delayed until the conclusion of the war. Dalby is in a similar position with regard to postal facilities, and its population is about the same as that of Kingaroy. The erection of a new post-office there was commenced during the war, but the work has been left unfinished. Some of the £4,100,000 set aside for the Postmaster-General's Department in the last budget should be made available in the new budget for the construction of post-offices in country districts. Throughout Queensland there is an urgent demand for additional post-office accommodation. The necessary labour is available, as most, of the ex-servicemen have returned to their home districts and would be pleased to have their services utilized.

Recently I asked the Acting Minister for Air (Mr. Makin) a question regarding the Government's policy in respect of country aerodromes. Some of the Government-owned aerodromes purchased during the war are suitable for practically all types of 'planes: There are also those aerodromes which were constructed or partly constructed by local authorities. Does the Government intend to retain all of those which it has purchased? As most of them are in use, what is intended regarding their maintenance? Some of the aerodromes are of an excellent type, but they will not always be useful if they are not regularly maintained. At my home town, Kingaroy, there is an excellent aerodrome, but nobody seems responsible for its upkeep. The local council provided a motor truck and assisted the officer in charge to plant hundreds of trees on the property; these grew well and beautified the aerodrome, but recently an irresponsible person set fire to the grass, and half the trees were destroyed. These costly aerodromes should have responsible persons in charge of them until the Government has framed a. policy with regard to their permanent upkeep.

Country towns such as Nanango, Dalby, Chincilla, Roma, St. George and Goondiwindi have populations of from 1,000 to 5,000 and also have aerodromes. A policy should be laid down by the Government under which subsidies will be paid to assist the local authorities to make the aerodromes capable of use by up-to-date aeroplanes, so that country services may be initiated and continued. There is no better way of inducing people to remain in country districts than by providing them with good postal services, air transport and similar amenities. Unfortunately, the drift of country folk to the cities continues. The chairman of the Shire of Murweh, which surrounds Charleville, recently informed me that LS per cent, of the population has left the district and gone to the coast. When E asked him what proportion of those people was likely to return, he replied, "If 1 per cent, return we shall be fortunate ". They were sick and tired of being without adequate water supplies and postal facilities, and remaining where the living conditions generally were not worthwhile. If Australia is to progress and experience the increased production that is appealed for by the member.? of. all political parties, a national policy under which such pro- duction can be achieved must be implemented. Obviously country people must have facilities that will encourage them to remain in the rural areas.







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