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Thursday, 16 March 1961

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- Mr. Deputy Speaker,in view of the rather amazing and misguided remarks just made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), I think that at the outset I should quote again the terms of the wantofconfidence motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). They are as follows: -

That because the Government's rapidly changing plans have failed to protect and develop the Australian economy and to safeguard our overseas funds and have caused grave confusion, dislocation and hardship to many sections of industry, both primary and secondary, and unnecessary suffering to many citizens, particularly those who have lost their employment, this Government does not possess the confidence of the Parliament or of the nation.

If we needed any indication of the weakness of the Government's answer to the Opposition's case, that indication was given in the speech made by the honorable member for Richmond who, almost at the conclusion of his address, stated -

.   . we are trying to fix up our own mess

How true that is. Since 1949, the Government which he supports, and which is a coalition of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party, has been in office with unlimited power in this chamber and in another place, lt is refreshing to find a Government supporter who represents a country electorate honestly admitting that the Government, after being so long in office, is endeavouring to clean up its own mess. We certainly agree that the mess is of its own making. Everything that is wrong with the economy as a result of the failure to implement policies of benefit to the people of Australia, and the implementation of policies which have led to unemployment, the closing of industries, the transferring of men and women to positions which do not suit them, and the like, is the responsibility of this Government which the honorable member for Richmond supports.

My time is limited, but I want to deal at some length with the honorable member. Let us not forget that he is a member of the Country Party. Members of that party, throughout its history, have never believed in anything but low wages and long working hours for the workers, and the highest possible profits for those who control the country's wealth. They believe in poor wages and bad conditions for the men and women who work in industry. Had it not been for the Australian Workers Union and the other great trade unions, some of the graziers in the electorate of Richmond who support the honorable member to-day would still be paying less than the basic wage to their employees, because they do not believe in a fair return for the man who sells his labour.

The honorable member stated that import restrictions were removed in order to bring down prices in the Australian community and that this Government has no time for imports control. This is what we hear from the honorable member for Richmond, who personally and through his family, and as the representative of the Richmond electorate, is closely associated with the banana industry, which shelters behind tariff protection against the importation of bananas from Fiji. This is what we hear from a member who is supposed to favour free enterprise. He is supposed to believe in competition and free enterprise. I do not complain about these tariff measures. In many respects, they are necessary. I am merely demonstrating the hypocrisy of the honorable member, who condemns imports control when it is used to protect the interests of people in the timber industry and other industries and says that he espouses the policy of free enterprise. The honorable member knows as well as I do that butter producers in his electorate are protected against competition by New Zealand butter by the tariff imposed on imported butter. Yet the honorable member says that he does not believe in this sort of thing. And what about the sugar industry? Our sugar industry lives under tariff protection and price-fixing, which are designed to protect the people in it.

The honorable member says that he does not believe in tariffs. He says that he is a free-enterprise man and that this Government favours a policy of free enterprise. He knows as well as I do that, since the Second World War, no government has introduced more measures restricting industrial and company activities than has this Government which he supports. Even some of the most bitter tories who usually support this Government have condemned it for breaking every promise on which it was elected and ignoring every policy proposal which it put before the people prior to its being elected to office. I think that the attitude of the honorable member r. Richmond towards these things should be shown up. Will he admit that since imports control was removed, the market for Australian timber has declined by more than one-third and that timber mills are closing in his constituency and all over the country? Will he say that he does not think that the people who own the timber industry and the men and women who work in it and depend on it are not entitled to a measure of tariff protection? If the honorable member were fair-minded in these matters, he would admit these things. But he prefers to see men and women in his electorate walking about unemployed. He has no time for the workers and he wants to bring to bear against them the most vicious weapon at the Government's disposal. He is rontent to see unemployment and want throughout his electorate. He condemns the wageearners and he supports the Government's action in appearing before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to oppose an increase in wages on the ground that the country could not afford it. Last year, we increased the salaries of judges, in one instance to £10,000 a year - about £200 a week.

The honorable member for Richmond is prepared to allow unlimited profits to become the order of the day in this country. He says that the workers get too big a return for their labour. But he should have told the people that every increase in wages is rendered ineffective by those who control industry increasing their profit margins out of all proportion to what they are entitled to. It is quite clear that the honorable member does not believe in fair wages for men and women working in industry although those in control of industries are allowed to make unlimited profits. Would not one expect him, as a member of the Australian Country Party, to rise in this House and attack the shipping companies for charging exorbitant freights for the transport of primary products and other commodities? Would not one expect him to say something about the profits of £15,000,000 a year earned by General Motors-Holden's Limited and the huge profits of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other companies? How can the honorable member say that the workers of this country are not entitled to additional income when the balance-sheets published by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and General MotorsHolden's Limited show that these companies are able to make almost unlimited profits and, in one instance, transmit them to shareholders thousands of miles away from this country?

It is no wonder that this Government faces an economic crisis. It is a bigbusiness government, which believes only in monopoly control. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is not prepared to legislate against monopoly and restrictive trade practices as has been done in other countries, because practically every member on the Government side who was elected in 1949 owes his presence in this House to the expenditure of funds which came from the great monopolies and the private banks of this country. Those funds were contributed in order to defeat the Labour Government, which stood for the interests of the Australian people.

The honorable member for Richmond went on to say that the Government had had to face a series of crises. What is more, he was quite decent about it. He listed them all. The first crisis was when the Government was elected. That is true. Everybody was horrified, and the Government was also amazed when it was elected in the 1949 election. There was another crisis in 1952, he said, when the Government introduced the horror Budget. This is the statement of a Country Party member that I am repeating. The Government introduced the horror Budget in 1952, and everybody has had a nightmare since then. He went on to say that there had been another crisis in 1954, and another in 1956. To-day, we have still another crisis. One crisis after another. What more could one expect, he said, when we are endeavouring to save ourselves from ruin - ruin brought on us by the actions of this impossible and irresponsible Government. So, when the honorable member for Richmond stands in his place in this Parliament, let him remember that he shelters behind a tariff policy that gives protection to people in his electorate in many respects, although at the same time he opposes protection for other sections of industry which are well entitled to it, because they have been forced to meet difficult conditions and are in danger of being driven out of production by the flood of imports.

I think it is well to remind the Government of these matters. Many Government supporters are to-day speaking in a way which I know does not sincerely express their beliefs, because they are shuddering at the thought of what will inevitably happen at the next election. I was looking for some support for what I am saying from an honorable member who has just been elected to the Parliament - the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). He won what was regarded as a safe Liberal seat in Victoria, and he is lucky to be on the pay-roll in this Parliament to-day because he scraped home by a few hundred votes only, for the simple reason that the people in his electorate know that the Government has not carried out its stated policy. So, the electors are expressing their feelings at the ballot-box at every opportunity that is given to them, and showing that they have no confidence in the Government.

We do not need to go to the Labour Party's records in order to find support for our case against the Government. We can find support for it elsewhere. For instance, the Sydney " Daily Mirror ", of 22nd February, 1961, had something to say that I shall read to the House. I think that the man who wrote this leader in the Sydney " Daily Mirror " is entitled to a rise in pay for placing on record what is the real outlook of the Government. The editorial was headed, "Bewitched, bothered and bewildered ". Everybody is, and there is no doubt that the honorable member for Richmond is. The editorial states -

We confess to utter bewilderment at the latest snap decision out of the Federal " Government ".

Just before boarding his plane to play statesman overseas,-

He is not going so hot overseas, honorable members will agree. The editorial continues -

Mr. Menziesdrops the increased sales tax on cars and foreshadows modification of other recent controls.

Half frivolously, half contemptuously, he throws his Treasurer's policy overboard - within 24 hours of poor Mr. Holt's endorsement.

Talk about government by fits and starts! This is closer to government by poker machines.

Is that not right? It goes on -

It is not that Mr. Menzies' parting shot is necessarily a bad thing, in itself.

The savageness of the November curbs, especially on the motor industry, has been pressed on the Government from many sides.

Then the leader writer said -

With a reckless abandon typical of the man and his Cabinet, he has flown off once again leaving the nation bewitched, bewildered and bereft of any planning or policy on which to build in confidence.

Half in sadness, half in anger, the Mirror last week arked: Where the devil are we going?

All we can do to-day, with fading hopefulness, is to repeat our challenge.

Then, to show the fact that the Treasurer does not know what he is doing and what is going to be done, below this editorial the newspaper publishes an article under the heading " Cabinet shocked " which begins -

Prime Minister Menzies did not consult Treasurer Holt before asking Cabinet yesterday to reverse its policy on car sales tax.

Mr. Menzieshad very brief talks with some Cabinet members, but apart from that took no one into his confidence.

Of course, when you look at the Ministry you cannot blame him for that. The fact of the matter is that there is the Treasurer, supposed to be the man in control of financial policy, but when the Prime Minister is in the country - which, honor able members will agree, is only rarely - he does not even bother to consult the Treasurer on matters pertaining to the nation's economy. Is it any wonder that this newspaper said what it did?

And what do we get from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). The " Sydney Morning Herald " published an article by Ross Gollan, who is not exactly beloved by the Labour Party, but in days gone by, at least, he was the darling of the Liberals. After reading statements by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Labour and National Service, he wrote -

You pay your money and you take your pick - -Childe Harold or Sunny Bill.

Is not that so right? Their policy changes every hour of every day. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) this week asked the Acting Prime Minister whether it could be arranged that the Government's policy for the day would be bro- dcast over television stations along with the weather forecast so that people would know what the policy for the day was.

In November the Government brought in measures which, it said, were to stabilize the economy. Before we had debated these measures the Treasurer had left for Tokyo on a trip in the middle of the Budget session. The Government then increased the sales tax on motor cars to 40 per cent., and two Liberal members of the Government parties who believed in being independent decided that they would vote against this measure in another place. One would have thought that the Liberal Party would have been proud of having these men of independent mind in its ranks. But no! They were threatened with expulsion from the party, and their fellow party members would not speak to them. Members of the Country Party said that the sales tax on motor cars must be increased to 40 per cent. They were not concerned about the effect that that increase would have on costs to be met by the people whom they are supposed to represent in this Parliament. Then, almost before the ink was dry on the document signed by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister himself repealed that measure without even consulting the Treasurer. I wonder whether the people who blandly gave approval to the measure in the first instance realized its repercussions. It is impossible to run a family budget without knowing what expenditure is going to be. How can anybody expect to run a country, which has an annual Commonwealth Government expenditure of £1,600,000,000, by stops and starts so that nobody in business or industry, worker or employer, knows from day to day what the position is or will be?

The Government lifted import restrictions. It now says that they were unnecessary and should not have been imposed. I am one who believes that at a time when we expect people in industry to produce more and, as they should, pay more in wages and give good conditions to their employees, these people are entitled to a measure of protection from the Government. But just as the policy enunciated on sales tax on motor cars was changed, policies in regard to imports and other things have also changed. I cannot for the life of me see how we can tolerate economic measures that produce such things as Professor Copland mentioned when he said that 150,000 persons might lose their jobs before this thing is over.

We find these things happening day after day because of the changing policy of the Government. One can go down a long range of economic measures from the sales tax on motor cars to the threat to force life assurance companies to invest 30 per cent, of their investment money in government securities, and find the same stop and start policy. Pressures are brought to bear. The insurance companies are among the outside interests who support this Government, so what does the Government do? It announces that it may not proceed with this measure. Its masters have spoken. The proposed policy under which earnings from interest were not to be exempt from tax has been changed. The financial interests have told the Government what to do. General Motors-Holden's Limited and other companies quite rightly complained that they were having to put men off because of what the Government was doing, and they brought pressure on the Government with the result that the increased sales tax was removed. While I know that General Motors-Holden's Limited and Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited have the right to say that they cannot keep men on because of the Government's policy, I think that companies that earn £10,000,000 or £15,000,000 a year should not help to bring this country to a condition in which men are sacked overnight in order to keep up profits.

They support the Government which has imposed crippling credit restrictions on all sections of industry. At a time when importers and others in a genuine way of business cannot obtain credit to buy the materials they need why does not the Treasurer answer a charge, made in this Parliament, that touches a matter verging on a public scandal? The other day, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) raised the question of a loan of £1,000,000 from the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund to David Jones Limited of Sydney. No doubt this money will be used to pay for more imports. The matter was also raised by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). This should be repeated again and again because the press of this country, paid off by the Government with television licences, has failed to publicize this matter. I am informed that under caveat 8737960, signed on 29th January, 1961, David Jones Limited was granted a loan of £1,000,000 by the Commonwealth Superannuation Board. As security, the firm has given its Market-street and Castlereaghstreet property.

Why does the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) tolerate £1,000,000 being loaned to David Jones Limited by the Commonwealth Superannuation Board to subsidize the importation of frog legs, chicken and other commodities which will put workers out of work? Why does he refuse to answer questions on this subject? If this is not a scandal, why is the press playing it down? The newspapers know that there is a lot behind it, yet they refuse to ventilate the matter. They have been paid off, and so they will not publish opinions expressed in this Parliament or requests by the Opposition for a full inquiry. There is no money for farms, no money for industries, no money for men and women to build homes, no money for re-employment, and no money for schools, hospitals, and local government works. The Government sits idly by while £1,000,000 is invested in David Jones Limited by the Superannuation Board and other people are denied money to carry on essential industry.

Is it not nearly time that some of the senior members of this Government stayed in the country long enough to administer the affairs of the country? The disastrous excursions of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his role as a fall guy in various international conferences has almost become a public joke abroad. The Prime Minister went abroad on the occasion of the Suez crisis and made a laughing-stock of himself by his intervention with Nasser. Last year, he went to the United Nations and Australia, unfortunately, in the eyes of Asian nations and others was humiliated by his actions. Now he has mediated in the South African crisis and the South Africans have left the Commonwealth of Nations. Is it not time that the prestige that we are losing abroad by these excursions of the Prime Minister was retrieved and this Government tossed out of office and replaced by a Labour administration?

Honorable members opposite, who are interjecting, may whistle in the dark as much as they like, but I notice that the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) is not laughing his head off. He is a terribly lucky man. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) will not be in this House much longer. His electorate is in Victoria, like Higinbotham, in which the Government's majority of 9,000 was reduced to 700 at the recent by-election. He has reason to be worried. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) will need more than a mystic fire to save him when the next elections take place. We have heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) say that the Government is pursuing a dynamic policy. It may be pursuing such a policy, but it is a long way behind it, because, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has said, the Government is endeavouring to clean up its own mess which has resulted from its incompetence and inability.

I am sorry that time does not permit me to go further into the activities of this Government. I summarize by saying that the Government's record should never be forgotten. Since 1949, it has repudiated every pledge on which it was elected. At a time at which this country should be expanding and developing, rising prices, inflation, unlimited profits, and the growth of mono polies have become the order of the day. In addition, imports are unlimited, and you can bring into the country anything except " Lady Chatterley's Lover ". People are going out of business. Industries are being destroyed and men and women are being paid off by the thousands throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Why, therefore, should this Government not have a censure motion moved against it? No member opposite, whether a Minister or a back-bencher, has put forward a case to show that the Government has the confidence of the country. Australia should be expanding and developing. A great future lies before this young nation, and our progress should be at a rate at which we will lead the world. Yet we have dropped back more than a decade or so because of the incompetence of the Government and its downright inability to govern.

The Government has failed everybody from the pensioners to the men and women in industry. In the field of social services, and in the economic structure generally, the Government has destroyed the things that this country had achieved and to which it was entitled. No government in the last 20 or 30 years has ever deserved the censure of the Parliament, and of the people, more than does the present Administration. With complete confidence and sincerity, I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, because the Government has demonstrated in every possible way, by its actions, its incompetence, its inactivity and its downright failure to honour the pledges on which it was elected, that it no longer possesses the confidence of the people of this country.

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