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Wednesday, 22 March 1961

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- I am pleased to have the opportunity to takepart in the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech that was delivered by the Administrator on the occasion of the opening of the third session of the Twenty-third Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. At the outset, I wish to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion - the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) and the honor- able member for Calare (Mr. England) respectively. These were their maiden speeches. Both honorable members spoke very well.

I have listened carefully to the debate and have also read the Administrator's Speech closely.I believe that Australia must continue to be strong in its membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations.I also favour, and have always supported strongly, our alliance with the United States of America. Our association with the United States has not always been supported by the Opposition, but I believe that, above all, we must have strong allies. It does not make much difference whether we have good crops, a strong economy or bountiful seasons if we cannot defend the country.If we came under the power of an invader all would be. lost. Therefore, I believe that our future lies in our adherence to strong allies.

Members of the Opposition are already beginning to interject. On many occasions they have criticized this Government's association with the United States. They have said that American influence on Australia is too strong. I believe that the British people have had much more influence on America from the very beginning than America could ever have on this country or on any British country. Therefore, I say to the Opposition: If you are not going to have as our allies the strong United States and also the British Commonwealth countries, who are you going to have? After all, the two world wars have shown us that we are a community of nations and we must look to each other for protection. I affirm to-day my strong support for Australia's close association with the United States and the free nations of the world.

Listening to this debate, I found many inaccuracies in speeches of members of the Opposition and I want to put them right at the outset. After reading the Administrator's Speech, I listened last night to the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue). The honorable member referred to the Governor-General, the late Lord Dunrossil, as a man who was loved by Australia. I liked to hear the honorable member say that. Lord Dunrossil was loved here just as he was loved overseas before he came to Australia. Referring to the Governor-General's Speech delivered on 8th March, 1960, the honorable member for West Sydney said that His Excellency read the Speech on behalf of the Government with the greatest sincerity. I heard the Speech and I know that is true. But the honorable member went on to say - but that was the end of it. No one word of it was carried into effect during the ensuing twelve months; and this Government stands condemned for having brought the country to its present condition.

I challenge the honorable member for West Sydney. Can he tell me one thing in Lord Dunrossil's Speech that has not been put into effect or is not in the course of being put into effect? I have read through the Speech, which is not very long and has not many vital passages.

Mr Kearney - The Governor-General did not write it.

Mr TURNBULL - It does not matter whether he wrote it or not. The honorable member for West Sydney said that nothing in the Speech had been carried out. I say that everything has been carried out or is in the course of being put into effect. The Governor-General said, for example -

My Government is willing to participate in the World Bank scheme for settlement of the Indus Waters question.

Action is being taken in that direction. The Governor-General referred to many other matters. He said -

My advisers have informed me that, whilst employment and production are high and increasing and all branches of trade are active, there are trends in the economy which have been causing them concern.

That is more than twelve months ago. His Excellency continued -

In particular, costs and prices have been rising at an increasing rate. My advisers believe that if these were allowed to continue it would bring needless hardship to a great many people and it would imperil the stability upon which Australia depends.

They have therefore decided upon certain courses of policy of which the broad aim is to counter these untoward tendencies, restore balance between demand and supply and bring the rise in costs and prices to an end.

The Opposition has been saying that the financial restrictions introduced by the Government only recently were unheralded. The honorable member for West Sydney has said that not one thing mentioned in the Governor-General's Speech last year has been put into effect. That is not a fact. The things that were mentioned in the Speech have been carried out. The restriction of credit was foreshadowed in the Speech last year yet members of the Labour Party have risen time and time again and have said that nobody had any idea that the Government would bring down these restrictions. They forget these things. I do not say they forget them deliberately, but they do come into this Parliament and unthinkingly make statements that have no foundation of truth. It is time some one rebutted such statements here. Many other things are said by honorable members which need clarification. Let me now turn to some of the things said by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) in order to illustrate how members of the Labour Party exaggerate. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, how can you believe speeches by members of the Labour Party when I can quote such glaring inaccuracies as appear in a statement which I am about to quote and which appeared in yesterday's " Hansard "? When the honorable member for Hunter was speaking about the plight of poultry-farmers in the Paterson electorate as the result of the lifting of certain import restrictions, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) interjected " Canned chickens! " Probably he was trying to prompt the honorable member for Hunter, who replied -

Yes, £3,000,000 worth of canned chickens has been brought into this country since the lifting of import restrictions!

Just fancy, £3,000,000 worth.

Mr James - Yes. That is right.

Mr TURNBULL - Now the honorable member says: "Yes. That is right". Canned chicken to the value of £3,000,000 was not brought into this country.

Mr James - Not 3,000,000 pounds in weight.

Mr TURNBULL - I have said nothing about weight. The honorable member said that £3,000,000 worth had been brought in. I heard him say that, and the " Hansard " report is accurate on the point. It states that he said £3,000,000 worth was brought in. I questioned the Department of Trade to ascertain the facts and I learn that much less than £300,000 worth of canned chicken was imported. When an honorable member makes a statement like that, one is led to wonder whether the rest of his speech contains any truth. I notice that the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) is laughing. He knows that what I say is true. He knows that my proposition is a fair one. The honorable member for Hunter is a very good chap, and I think it only right to suggest that he should obtain the correct figure and then admit in this House that he had mis-stated the position when he spoke last night.

Mr James - A member of the Country Party supplied the information.

Mr TURNBULL - All I can say in reply to that is that the honorable member must have more faith in the Country Party than he says he has, and that the Country Party man must have been wrong on this occasion. But even if somebody did give the honorable member wrong information, is it not time for him to admit that his information was wrong? I think it is. I do not want to be continually attacking members of the Labour Party because, although I do not agree with their policies, generally speaking, they are personal friends of mine. As I have said on many occasions, I do not attack persons; I attack policies, and I have ample scope for attacking the policy of the Labour Party.

Much has been said about the Country Party. I notice that the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) is smiling. I remind him that he said last night that in the electorates of Calare and Richmond, and a number of other country areas in which he had participated in by-election campaigns, he found things to be not as they should be. He also said -

Country Party leaders generally are traitors to the interests of the primary producers.

The honorable member for Cunningham helped in the by-election campaign in the electorate of Calare, an area represented by my esteemed friend who sits behind me in this House now. During that campaign, the honorable member for Cunningham said that the leaders of the Country Party generally were traitors to the country people. What happened. He was supporting a Labour candidate, and that Labour candidate suffered an ignominious defeat. The new honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) is a member of the Country Party, and we are proud of him. He has already made his mark in this House. He is representing the country people and the many town-dwellers of rural areas in a way in which no member of the Labour Party, who is restricted so greatly by executive control, could hope to do.

I think the member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) is somewhere about.

Mr J R Fraser - The honorable member for Bass.

Mr TURNBULL - 1 am pleased to call him the " honorable member ", for he is quite a good fellow. The honorable member became quite annoyed while the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) was speaking, and when he rose to follow the honorable member for La Trobe in the debate he said this -

Let me inform him-

That is, the honorable member for La Trobe - that every member on this side of the House, if he wishes to do so, or if he has reason to do so, is entitled to criticize both the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Let me make that point for the 'benefit of the honorable member for Lilley also, because he knows only too well that if the honorable member for La Trobe criticizes his Leader or Deputy Leader he will be where the honorable member for Lilley is now and will remain there.

I was in the House when the honorable member for Bass made his speech, and I looked across the chamber and saw the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) sitting in his accustomed place. He was smiling. He seemed to be quite happy and satisfied. From looking at him, I could not see that any dire fate had befallen him. My memory went back to a colleague in this Parliament, a member of the Labour Party and a friend of mine, Mr. Chambers, who represented the electorate of Adelaide. I also remembered Mr. Vic Johnson, from Kalgoorlie. Both of those gentlemen criticized the Leader of the Labour Party, and where are they now? Are they sitting in this House, like the honorable member for Lilley is doing? Or have they been banned from the Parliament because they dared to say something against their leader? The important point is that they were put out of the Parliament because they dared to question the party leadership. If any member of the Labour Party dares to say anything at all about his leader he will lose his endorsement.

Another person who is considered to be a prominent member of the Labour Party, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), also spoke recently. He said -

For some years, many people throughout Australia thought that this country was prosperous. Unemployment seemed to be gone forever. The worker could get overtime or a second job and the businessman could rely on untaxed capital appreciation to keep him well ahead of inflation.

The worker could get overtime! Does not every member of this Parliament know that many unions have banned overtime? Does not this Federal Parliament know that railway stations in Victoria are still not manned at night time because the worker is not allowed to work overtime?

Mr Kearney - Overtime is not banned. It is an award condition.

Mr TURNBULL - Does not this Parliament know that a strike occurred in Victoria because the Labour organizations, the unions, which are supported by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, opposed the working of overtime? Of course the workers could not get overtime; it was not allowed!

The honorable member for Yarra also said that a man could have two jobs. He is approving of a man's having two jobs! Is it not a fact that in the past the Labour Party's policy was one man one job? Has that gone by the board now? Does the Labour Party say now that a man can have as many jobs as he likes? It would seem that it does because the honorable member for Yarra has objected to the fact that a man now cannot get two jobs. 1 could go on and on referring to things said by various members of the Labour Party. For instance, the other night the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who sits near me in this chamber, referred to the fact that a number of men who were unemployed went to Mildura, in my electorate, to pick grapes. I interjected, " Yes, and 72 of them were in gaol at the week-end " He replied, " What a reflection on the workers for the honorable member for Mallee to say that!" I agree that it was a reflection on the workers. Of course all the workers who went to Mildura were not of that class. Many of the men and women who go there to pick grapes are excellent types and efficient workers, but I venture the opinion that before long the Labour Party will be adding to the number of unemployed these 72 workers who were in gaol and who had to queue up for about two hours while the watchhouse keeper was booking them in. When they get out of gaol and leave Mildura, these 72 workers, who are undesirables, will apply for work and will be added to the number of unemployed. Even the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) will include them in his figures relating to the number of people who are out of work. This sort of thing is happening all the time.

I should like now to refer to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who spoke about the wool industry. Fancy the honorable member for Wills speaking about the wool industry! He said - and this is worth noting -

What is the use of running a wool-promotion campaign when we sell all the wool we produce? Every fibre of wool produced is sold already, and there is no carry-over.

What an incredible statement for an honorable member to make. If ten blocks of land were to be sold in Canberra, they could perhaps be sold without any advertising, which is really only sales promotion; but if they were offered for sale after some publicity had been given to them, they could bring £200 or £300 more than they otherwise would. The same argument applies with the sale of livestock. The price of cattle, sheep and lambs sold at, say, Homebush or Newmarket fluctuates up and down; it does not remain constant. But when the demand is strong, the price goes up. Therefore, I say that whether you have a reserve price for wool within the auction system or not a buoyant demand is essential to satisfactory marketing. The only way to have a buoyant demand is to advertise the product, and advertising means the promotion of wool all over the world. This will induce more buyers to come to the sales. If a reserve price within the auction system is good, let us have it; but after all it is the buoyant demand for wool that will keep competition strong and the price high.

Much has been said about various industries. When the wheat stabilization plan was being discussed about 1948, before most honorable members came here - I do not mean the honorable member for Brisban (Mr. Lawson) - he was here long before I was - I pointed out that near the top of Flinders-street Station in Melbourne there was a neon sign calling for youth employees for the railways at £12 to £13 a week. At the same time, the wheat-grower, who was an owner-operator, was allowed £361 8s. per annum for his work in the computation of the cost of production. This was not much more than half the amount offered to young railway employees. With Australian Country Party agitation and the cooperation of the Government, the allowance to wheat-growers has been increased to £1,079, and this has meant a tremendous difference for primary producers.

Mr Failes - How many hours a week would that represent?

Mr TURNBULL - I could not say, long hours but they vary. I asked a question yesterday about the sale of wheat to mainland China. My question was -

Are recent sales of Australian wheat to mainland China in any way restricting our sales of this product in traditional markets, or are these sales of wheat to mainland China only assisting in reducing Australia's wheat surplus?

I knew what the answer of the Minister for Primary Industry would be; I asked the question because I wanted to give some publicity to this matter. The Minister said that these sales were not restricting the sale of wheat in traditional markets, but would help to reduce our surplus. The Minister has announced that this year we will have 250,000,000 bushels of wheat for sale. Australia takes about 60,000,000 bushels for home consumption and of the remaining 190,000,000 bushels, 100,000,000 bushels are guaranteed at the cost of production under the stabilzation plan. This leaves 90,000,000 bushels for sale on the open market. To hear members of the Australian Labour Party speak, one would think the Government owned this wheat and sells it. The Australian Wheat Board sells the wheat for the growers and if the wheat is not sold overseas the growers are the losers. As our traditional markets are not being affected by the sale to mainland China and as we are only selling our surplus, I agree that the sale to mainland China should be made.

I have very little time left in which to speak and I should like to deal with the Government's present policy. Surely no one believes that the primary producer could continue to sell most of his products overseas and at the same time purchase what he needs in Australia's high cost economy. Of course he could not, and something had to be done. The Government abandoned import licensing and has now brought in restrictions to slow down the amount of imports. I believe its policy will be successful and this will do away with the unbalance that has existed between primary production and secondary production. On many occasions in this House I have advocated that our secondary industries should be built up, but that we should not do this at the expense of primary production. After all, this country is still dependent, above all else, on the products of the soil and if the primary producer cannot produce in this economy and sell his goods overseas satisfactorily, his production will not continue at its present level. This will mean that the amount available for the purchase of raw materials overseas will be reduced and that our secondary industries will not be able to import sufficient raw materials for their requirements. Unemployment will then reach a point that has never been known in this country before.

Therefore, 1 support the Government's policy. Although we have some unemployment now - and I regret this - the Government is safeguarding the employment position for the future. Any thinking man must know that this country could not continue as it was with secondary industries unable to export because of the high cost of production, and primary producers unable to afford the purchase of the goods that would enable them to continue and expand production, and export to world markets the products that are the life-blood of the Australian economy.

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