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Thursday, 16 March 1961

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! I suggest to the honorable member that he does not follow that line any further.

Mr UREN - Maybe honorable members opposite do not like a bit of honest talking or a bit of honest criticism about them and their actions. This country that we love, this country that belongs to us Australians, has to be developed in the best interests of Australians, but this Government is doing nothing about it. Only the people on this side of the House will govern Australia in its own best interests. We are the only people who will make sure that wealth is distributed more equally. The people who have the wealth will have to distribute it amongst their fellow men. In a speech last year I disclosed that between 1954 and 1960 the Myer family in Melbourne, by means of bonus shares, watering down of stock and capital appreciation, gave itself a further £20,000,000, tax free. Just imagine that! One family has increased its wealth by £20,000,000 while this Government has been in office. But the wage-earners cannot get wage justice. The railway workers, the postal workers and other people working under federal awards have been refused wage justice although great wealth is being handed out to certain sections of the community.

I have said time and time again that this Government is a 5 per cent, government - it represents the top 5 per cent, of the wealthy section of the community. The farmers - the hay-seeds - in the corner on my left are interjecting, so I shall deal with them. Let us analyse the wealth that the farmers have accrued while this Government has been in office. In the last year of the Chifley Administration farm income was £321,000,000 and company income - the income of the monopolies to which I have referred- was £214,000,000. And yet we find that under the Menzies Administration to-day farm income is £466,000,000, an increase of a little over £100,000,000 in a period of eleven years. But we find that in the same period monopolistic companies have increased their profits to £672,000,000 from £214,000,000, an increase of nearly £500,000,000. That is the record, and I say to the hayseeds in the corner who claim to represent the farmers of this country, although most of them are auctioneers or salesmen of some description who do not understand the basis of the farmers' requirements, that only a Labour government is capable of representing the interests of the farmers and of all Australians.

Two policy decisions brought down by the Government on 15th November reflect some progressive thought. One of them was to restrict the large public companies and great financial interests which I have mentioned from raising money through debenture channels. If we examine the way in which capitalism has manoeuvred unrestricted under this Government we find that debenture raising in June, 1955, amounted to only £27,000,000 and share capital amounted to £59,000,000. To honorable members who are not aware of the fact - and the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) was not aware of it, because when I mentioned it during the Budget session last year he contradicted me - I point out that the pattern changed because by the end of June, 1960, share capital amounted to £48,000,000, and debenture capital had risen to £193,000,000. We pointed out that as company tax was increased to 8s. in the £1 in the last Budget, the fact that interest on debentures was paid before company tax meant a saving of at least 8s. in the £1 to these organizations which, consequently, raised capital by the issue of debentures instead of shares.

On the morning of 15th November last I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) a question. That was the day on which he brought down the restrictions in respect of debenture capital. On that day I asked the Treasurer - 1 preface a question to the Treasurer by directing the right honorable gentleman's attention to the increase of 6d. in the £1 made in company taxation last year, bringing the maximum rate of company tax to 8s. in the £1. This has given great assistance to companies which raise money by the issue of debentures, in order to evade company tax, because, as the Treasurer knows, such companies pay interest on the debentures before paying company tax. Does the Government intend to take action against this type of capital raising?

These matters have been raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) over the past two years. We have warned the Government of this position and of the actions of this speculative section of the community which, in fact, was diverting money into land speculation and luxury building instead of the building of homes for the people. Even the banks, the insurance companies and commercial enterprises were erecting luxury buildings when there was insufficient money for the building of homes, schools or hospitals. That is the way in which money was being diverted, and this is the issue of priorities which we must face.

This Government has imposed certain restrictions, but we say it has been too long in taking this action and that it has not gone far enough, because even now these organizations can borrow up to the amount available to them as at 15th November last, namely £200,000,000 a year. In the few minutes remaining to me I want to give some thought to what we, in this country, have to do to face the issue of priorities. T was interested to note in the " Sydney Morning Herald", of 27th September last, a report of an interview with Mr. Khrushchev at the United Nations, and I think we can learn a lesson from what it says. The reporter asked Mr. Khrushchev how he could say that by 1970 the Soviet Union would have a standard of living equal to that in America when last year America produced 7,000,000 motor cars and Russia produced only 30,000. Mr. Khrushchev replied, " We could do it to-morrow, but it means freezing our capital. You go ahead and do all that foolishness. It's to our benefit." If my hayseed friends who are interjecting will quieten down I will explain the position to them, because this is our country and we want to develop it as we think best. The United States has sufficient steel to build its motor cars and sufficient petrol to run them, as well as sufficient rubber for tires, but with all that Mr. Khrushchev's statement about priorities is correct. In Australia, the motor car industry has been eating the heart out of our steel industry, and every time a car goes down the street it eats the heart and soul out of our export earnings. We have no synthetic rubber for motor tires-

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