Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 20 May 1957

Mr HAMILTON (Canning) .- The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), in concluding his speech, endeavoured to get onto the bandwagon by referring to the subject of tea. It is rather strange, however, that although the honorable member has known of this matter which has now been adjusted, ever since it was brought to the notice of the Government by an honorable member who supports the Government, the honorable member for Macquarie has not lifted a finger or uttered a word in this House to try to get the position rectified. It is a great habit of honorable members opposite to jump on the bandwagon, if they can, particularly at this time of the year.

Mr Peters - Get on with it!

Mr HAMILTON - I shall deal with the honorable member for Scullin later. The honorable member for Macquarie also criticized the Government about its defence programme, claiming that no information on that subject had been transmitted to honorable members, who had to reply on what they read in the newspapers. I can recall very well that the honorable gentleman was sitting in this Parliament on the night on which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made his recent statement on defence, in the course of which the right honorable gentleman said -

It is for this reason that, as I will point out, we have decided, both in aircraft, in artillery and in small arms, to fit ourselves for close co-operation with the United States in the South-East Asian area.

I remember very clearly, as do other honorable members who are present, that the right honorable gentleman addressed the honorable member for Macquarie directly and said, in effect, "The honorable member for Macquarie will appreciate the fact that we are going to manufacture the F.N. rifle in his electorate".

Mr Luchetti - In 1960!

Mr HAMILTON - That may be so, but I thought that the honorable gentleman had all the answers to these matters. If he thinks that engineers - and I agree with him that Australian engineers are as good as any in the world - could start to-morrow to manufacture a rifle of any type without the blue-prints and a period of tooling up, he is not as smart as he would like the House to believe he is. I think that we can well ignore what the honorable gentleman has said in respect of defence.

The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Acting Leader of the Opposition, led for his party this afternoon. He charged the Government with being stale, stolid and stubborn. He referred to our immigration policy and said that in three and a half years' time we should have a population of 15,000,000. I do not disagree with that ideal. I have never refrained, in this Parliament or anywhere else in Australia, from giving due credit to the honorable member for Melbourne for his part in the immigration programme, but I think that every member of this Parliament, as well as every citizen of Australia, will be most disappointed to know that on 20th March last, in this House, the honorable member seconded a proposal, moved by his leader, which amounted to a censure motion, to curtail the immigration intake. It is of no use the honorable gentlemen, for whom I have a lot of respect, doing that kind of thing and then coming into the Parliament afterwards and endeavouring to criticize the Government for its immigration policy.

Mr J R FRASER - Would the honorable member read the terms of that resolution?

Mr HAMILTON - The honorable member may read them for himself if he cares to look at the votes and proceedings of the House for 20th March last. I am not going to waste my time in doing so. The legislation before the House is a vehicle which may be used by honorable members to bring their fancy ideas to the notice of the Parliament, or the Opposition may use it to criticize the activities of the Government as much as it likes. I do not object to honorable members opposite doing that, but I do expect them at least to be truthful in these matters.

Mr Bowden - That is too much to expect!

Mr HAMILTON - If that is the true position, then it is too bad. The honorable member for Melbourne said that, in the 1949 policy speech of the Government parties, it was stated that, if elected, they would find £200,000,000 for development, and that that money was to come from the petrol tax. I give the deliberate lie to that statement, and for the benefit of those members of the Opposition who might feel disposed to support their acting leader, I propose to read from the policy speech of the Prime Minister. At page 17, he said -

Over a period of five years we shall raise loans totalling £250 millions, the interest and sinking fund on which will be provided out of the petrol tax.

He did not say that £200,000,000 was to be raised out of the petrol tax for developmental purposes. What is the story in regard to development?. By 1954, this Government had raised approximately £760,000,000 for development. By now, the figure will be well over £1,000,000,000. Yet, the Acting Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members opposite have criticized the Government for not having a planned programme to carry out! That is not the fault of this Government, because in 1954 the Prime Minister appealed to the States in the following words, which appear on page 6 of the printed copy of his policy speech for the 1954 general election: -

We will therefore ask the States to co-operate in the creation of a small advisory body of highly expert persons to serve as a National Development Commission, acting in association with the Department of National Development to report to both the Commonwealth and the States upon the economics and relative importance of particular proposals. This will not only influence public opinion and Government action, but will produce authoritative reports upon particular projects, irrigation, power, land settlement, which may well attract private enterprise, both local and overseas.

What is the position? Has one State Premier been prepared to co-operate with this Government in setting up such a body? I well recall being present in this chamber at the Premiers conference of 1950-51, when the Prime Minister made the same suggestion to the Premiers. When they returned to Canberra after a short period of three or six months the first Premier to pour cold water on the idea was none other than the then Premier of New South Wales. Never since this Government has been in office has it been able to get the States to co-operate on a matter such as this, to get some system of priorities - first things first - and work on a plan of development for this country.

The honorable member for Scullin attempted to support the Acting Leader of the Opposition. I remind the House and the country that that honorable gentleman said that he is not a supporter of the primary producers. That confirms what he said some years ago to the effect that this country could only be built on a sound secondary industry policy. He fails to realize that the food he eats and the clothes he wears come from the primary producers. He fails to realize that the big bulk of the employment in this country, in secondary industry particularly, is made possible by the fact that primary producers produce the wealth which enables Australia to earn overseas currencies to finance imports of the materials needed by secondary industry. He said that the Treasurer had said that the Labour party had laid the foundations for the great development that is going on in this country. Where? I tried, by interjection, to get the honorable member for Scullin to tell me where I could dig up that statement of the Treasurer in " Hansard ".

Mr Peters - It was made in 1950.

Mr HAMILTON - If the honorable member will give me the page number and volume number, I will look it up. All I can remember the Treasurer saying is that the story that the Labour government had left £600,000,000 of developmental projects behind it was only a story, because when this Government came into office we found nothing whatever.

Mr Bowden - We found an empty Treasury.

Mr HAMILTON - That is so. The honorable member for Scullin talked about land settlement. How many men had been settled on the land when this Government took office?

Mr Duthie - The scheme had only just started to operate.

Mr HAMILTON - The honorable member says that it had just started. I recall the honorable member being told in this Parliament to get back into the tin when he was talking about rabbits and land settlement. The scheme was started in 1946, and there were very few men settled on the land by the time we took office. Similar remarks apply to the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. The first sod had been turned, but very little work had been done. The bulk of the work on the Snowy Mountains project has been made possible by money made available by this Government - a very creditable performance and a very fine prospect of which the men and women of Australia will be very proud in the future.

The honorable member also referred to land tax. What has been the picture in respect to land tax? No sooner had this Government taken off the imposts of land tax and entertainment tax than the State governments re-imposed those taxes with even greater impact than before. Consequently, the Labour party in this House has no justification to talk about the abolition of the land tax.

The honorable member for Scullin went on to say that we endeavoured, by the use of the private trading banks, to strangle the Commonwealth Bank. That is to-day's funny story. Honorable members opposite just have to use something with which to bolster up their case. Finally, the honorable member came out with the amazing piece of information that this Government is doing nothing but protecting the interests of manufacturing industry. Well, the policy speech of the Leader of the Labour party, at the last two general elections, contained, a pledge to re-institute the 40 per cent, depreciation allowance in respect of industry. What would manufacturing industry get out of such a proposal if it were implemented?

To my mind, the Opposition's case to-night, in which it challenges the Government's performance, is very weak indeed. Honorable members opposite could be blown out of the water, as the naval saying goes, at any tick of the clock, because in the years when they had the opportunity to do something they did precisely nothing. They talk about pensions. It was the present Labour Opposition which, when in office, refused to give age pensioners any increase of pension in 1949. It was the same gentlemen, who sat in government between 1946 and 1949 and refused to accept a war widow as a suitable risk for the purchase of a war service home. The same gentlemen also refused to remove the means test on war pensions. Those gentlemen, and others of the same party political kith here to-day, now accuse the Government of failure to act, but all the things that I have mentioned, I am glad to say, have been attended to since the two parties now in office were elected to power.

A suggestion made by the Speaker of this House and the President of the Senate for the building of a new Parliament House was published in the press recently. Somebody says that it is completely unnecessary.

I completely disagree, because I think that we all realize that modern buildings cannot be erected in a matter of minutes. They have to be planned well in advance, and building must be started long before they are needed. We are hoping to increase the population of this country as quickly as possible, and an increase of population of 2,000,000 people in the next five or ten years would mean that the representation in the Parliament would have to be increased, and that more accommodation for members of Parliament would be necessary. This chamber would have to be enlarged to hold the increased number of members of this House. Some very big structural changes would have to be made to it. For that reason, and knowing full well that it will take at least ten or fifteen years before the new Parliament House could be completed, I think this is the time when the plans should be made. Now is the time when we should be calling for applications all over the world from people able to design such a building. That cannot be done in five minutes. This building would not go to waste after a new Parliament House had been built. It would be eminently suitable to house the High Court, for instance. None of it will go to waste.

Mr J R FRASER - It would do for the National Library.

Mr HAMILTON - It could be used for the National Library. I do not care what it is used for, but there is no fear that it will not be used to the full. Some government must make up its mind on this matter and at least set the wheels in motion, or I am afraid this country will find itself without a suitable building in which to house members of its Parliament.

I am surprised by the comments of a gentleman in another place, who has been a member of this Parliament for a long time and who will be retiring very shortly. Because of the report that I have mentioned regarding the suggestion by the Speaker and the President of the Senate, this gentleman took the opportunity to criticize-


Order! The honorable member may not refer to what happened in another place.

Mr HAMILTON - Well, I was going to refer to the futility of it. I saw something in the Sydney " Truth " on Sunday. It had to do with the same sort of thing that I have been talking about. This newspaper reported that an individual in Canberra had said that certain people were over-paid, under-worked and over-fed.

Mr Curtin - Are you?

Mr HAMILTON - Well, I do not look it, but, my word, you do!


Suggest corrections