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Wednesday, 8 March 1961


Mr ENGLAND (Calare) .- Mr. Speaker,I realize and fully appreciate the honour and the privilege that have been extended to me in being called upon to second the motion which has been proposed so ably by the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). The people of Calare whom I represent in this House want me to identify them closely with the expressions of loyalty and goodwill which have been addressed to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II., and to express to Viscountess Dunrossil their sympathy at the passing of the late Governor-General, Viscount Dunrossil. At this stage suffice it to say that I feel that the finest epitaph came from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Gilroy, who referred to the late Viscount Dunrossil as the very essence of graciousness and a perfect Christian gentleman.

The Administrator's Speech covered a wide variety of matters of national importance, but I intend to confine my remarks to what I believe to be probably the most important of all - the decrease in our overseas balances. We all know that we have been living beyond our means internationally. To correct that state of affairs we must spend less or earn more, or do both. It is very pleasing, therefore, to learn from the Administrator's Speech that the Government intends to tackle this problem. Its present financial policy, with which with some reservations I agree, and its proposed policies, which have been foreshadowed for debate in the House, are intended to restore a better balance between supply and demand, and consequently to put a brake on inflation. Economic measures apply certain pressures. " Pressure " is an ordinary word, but we should realize that the pressures of anti-inflation measures are felt particularly by some people and very often cause hurt. I hope that the Government will always keep that aspect in mind. Adjustments are necessary as we go along to counteract those pressures.

I should like to refer to 'the timber industry, particularly that portion of it which deals with our own indigenous hardwoods. The industry is in trouble. I do not know whether the trouble has been caused by the Government's financial policy, the lifting of import restrictions or the modern scientific approach to the use of wall-boards and so on, but this is an acute problem which the Government must face and tackle realistically in an endeavour to find a solution. Here is an industry that the Australian Country Party has fought for years to preserve. It is just what we want - a decentralized industry with the forests in the country, the mills in the country and the work force in the country. That is where we want to keep them.

I do not belittle the seriousness of the situation or the importance of the steps that already have been taken, nor do I belittle the hurts that some people have suffered as a result of the necessary policies which have been adopted. Nevertheless, the Government's corrective measures are only shortterm ones, and I believe that in a few months the problem will be resolved.

I am more encouraged by the reference in the Speech to the Government's plans to overcome the big problems of the future, among which is the problem of how we, as a nation, can earn more than we have in the past. The Government intends to take practical steps towards the development of export industries and my electorate, itself a big exporter of wheat and wool, must be happy to see that the Government's plans cover both primary and secondary industries. I have been given the great responsibility of representing about 80,000 men, women and children in the electorate of Calare - a magnificent tract of country stretching both ways from the Lachlan River and with the north-eastern portion centering on the city of Orange. We depend largely on pastoral and agricultural pursuits, but we are very proud of the secondary industries in the area which are headed by the Emmco factory, woollen mills, clothing factories, engineering works, canneries, flour-mills and so on. But we need more secondary industries to balance our economy and to stabilize employment. One of the great policy differences in this country is in the emphasis that is placed on the importance of either primary or secondary industry. The correct answer to the problem is that we should have a balanced economy. The only matter of difference is where the point of balance lies. I bring to the House the view of my constituents that we must have more decentralized secondary industries, but we are bound to keep in mind that at the same time there is both a great need and a great opportunity in the face of a rapidly expanding world population, to develop to the fullest both the variety and the volume of production of our primary industries.

When we talk of increasing primary production we must get down to fundamentals. Three things are necessary - warmth, fertile soil and moisture. In this country we have warmth in abundance, and generally we have fertile soils, although over the years experience has shown that rn some parts the application of fertilizers is essential to bring the soil to the desired standard of fertility. That this is realized by the people who work the land is adequately borne out by the fact that the use of superphosphate has doubled in the last fifteen years and over £20,000,000 is spent each year on it. But notwithstanding this, only one acre in six is now being treated in any way with superphosphate. Surely there is a terrific potential for increasing our primary production. Big money is involved. To spread at an average rate dictated by normal circumstances out there it is estimated that an amount of £450 and £600 per living area is involved. The limiting factor is, of course, predominantly finance. While welcoming the Government's proposals to increase production, I would like to see its thinking directed towards some scheme to make finance available for this purpose. As a man on the land, I say that we do not ask for finance by way of a grant or hand-out; but we ask for finance to be made available by way of an advance at ruling rates of interest, to be returned as results are shown. I believe that would he one of the greatest and most spectacular ways to increase production from the land in this country. I suggest it would be a true business venture on the part of the Government, and one which I say from experience is sure to succeed in greatly increasing production.

Referring still to that portion of the Administrator's Speech which dealt with increased export income, I wish to discuss the third of the matters which I have mentioned - water. In my opinion, here lie the big work and the big future for this country. The experience of America has shown that her big success is directly tied to her harnessing of her water resources. I refer, of course, to the use of water for irrigation purposes. While I do not attempt to enter into any discussion or give any opinion on the relative cost of water power as against thermal power, or to comment on the prospects of the use of nuclear power in the future on a commercial basis, I do refer to the harnessing of our water supplies as a valuable adjunct to our existing power supplies.

I realize that in this country there is the limiting factor of a lower rainfall. In that regard we cannot compete with the rainfall which occurs in some overseas countries, but I do not think we should rest until we have controlled what we already have at our disposal. I also realize that under our Constitution it is generally the responsibility of the States to carry out these works and I believe that the Snowy Mountains scheme has shown the way. Here is an undertaking which has placed us in world class. It is an undertaking of which every government which has had anything to do with its commencement or subsequent prosecution can well be proud. It is an undertaking of which every contracting firm, every workman and every taxpayer who has contributed to it can well be proud. But already we see that some of the contracts and sub-contracts are terminating and, in fact, the Administrator stated in his Speech yesterday that the Upper Tumut development is close to completion. I wonder what is to happen to these teams of workmen with their brains, experience, specialized equipment and teamwork. I suggest that the Commonwealth should retain the lead in this great problem of water conservation and I am sure that it can be done within the bounds of the present Constitution.

I suggest that the first task is an Australiawide survey of our water resources, to be carried out by Commonwealth authorities. The second task is to lay down Commonwealth priorities. The third and final task of the Commonwealth is to allot funds ear-marked for this priority work. This can be done under section 96 of the Constitution, and, in fact, I refer to a statement issued by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) on 26th February last, that the Commonwealth is prepared, where necessary, to devise special financial arrangements to encourage projects on which export depends, and especially where those projects are of such a size as to place them beyond the resources of a single State. All this does not preclude any one State from carrying out whatever work of water conservation it decides upon.

I realize that my time is short, but I was pleased to-day to hear the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) give notice of his intention to submit a motion on the subject of decentralization and the honorable member for Higinbotham mention the same problem. I do not wish to speak at any great length on this national problem of the evil of overconcentration of our population and industries on the coast. There are many good business and social reasons why the movement has taken place in that direction, but I suggest it is time that the movement was reversed. I say it should be reversed in the interests of the well-being and safety of this country. I very much regret that in the Administrator's Speech there was no detailed reference giving us any hope of the possibility of a quick reversal of that movement.

It is held, in the main, that the States are responsible for the distribution of their own populations but, with the Commonwealth charged by the Constitution with the responsibility for defence, there should be some positive thought given to this dangerous and growing problem. The three main Services were mentioned in the Speech, but I regret that it contained no mention at all of what is now called the fourth arm of defence - civil defence. From my own small experience of civil defence, as a volunteer, I know there are many people and a number of States waiting for a lead from the Common- wealth in the appointment of a Commonwealth director of civil defence - a position which, to the best of my knowledge, has been vacant for some time. We are looking forward to seeing that position filled. There is one powerful means by which the Commonwealth can give weight to this movement of population away from the coast, and that is through the power of uniform taxation. I would like to see thought given, perhaps in the preparation of the next Budget, to some building-up of a zoning principle in taxing, with the possibility of bringing about some more equitable distribution of population.

Finally, the Administrator's Speech gives promise of long-range constructive legislation to be debated in the coming session - legislation which I, as a Country Party member and a supporter of the coalition Government am anxious, in general, to support and which, more importantly, I feel sure my electorate will require me to support. I am sure, also, that what I voice by way of suggestions for the building-up of income from primary production is what is sought in my own electorate. Here lies the long-range but certain answer to many of our problems: Greater emphasis on water conservation for the purposes of irrigation and flood mitigation, together with its use as a valuable adjunct to water power. This, tied in with State cooperation in soil conservation and reafforestation, will provide the grand answer to the future of this country.

Here, I suggest, lies boosted production for both primary and secondary industry. Here lies closer settlement, with more men and women with that great gift of their own piece of land. Here lies the longrange answer to the question of decentralization and of wealth and prosperity in this great country of ours which we must strive to develop at all costs before somebody else does it for us.

I have pleasure in seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.







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