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Wednesday, 9 March 1966


Mr PETERS (Scullin) .- The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) went to some trouble to point out that he supports the legislation; then he went to a lot more trouble to point out that he is not in favour of purchasing the American aircraft, that he would prefer the aircraft made in Great Britain. Had he read the second reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), who introduced the Bill, he would have found the following remarks -

In general the loan agreement annexed to the Bill follows the form of the November 1964 agreement. Perhaps I should bring section 8 of the Agreement to the attention of honorable members. This contains an undertaking by the Commonwealth that the proceeds of the loan will be used for the purchase of property manufactured in the United States.

Of course, if we are going to run around the world in order to secure loans here, there and elsewhere when loan money is difficult to obtain and when people are beginning to think that we have exhausted the credit resources of other nations, then we have to carry out the obligations, no matter how onerous they may be, that are placed upon the borrower by the lender. One of the obligations placed upon Australia under this legislation is that it has to purchase aircraft manufactured in the United States of America. The honorable member for Mitchell, instead of supporting the legislation should have opposed it.

I do not intend to go to any great length In supporting the proposition that has been advanced by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), that we should endeavour to purchase goods overseas with money raised in this country by loan or out of Government revenue rather than from loans obtained overseas. We want to purchase the most up to date equipment for the air transport of this country, whether it be passenger or freight transport. But we do not believe that every opportunity should be taken to raise money in other countries. What did the Minister say? What reason did he give for seeking to raise money abroad? The only reason he gave was this -

In a growing economy such as ours it is inevitable that there will be a continuously increasing demand for imports of materials, capital equipment and other items which must be obtained from abroad. It is also inevitable that there will be periods such as the present when our foreign currency receipts from exports, capital inflow and so on wilt be insufficient to prevent some decline in our international reserves. The Government therefore believes that it should take advantage of whatever opportunities arise to borrow overseas at reasonable rates of interest in order to strengthen our reserves or to arrest the rate at which they are declining.

That, of course, is the argument that every spendthrift uses to justify his efforts to secure an additional loan. We say that we will not pay for these purchases out of our earnings but we will use to the limit our opportunities to secure the money of others to pay for the goods. That is the attitude adopted by the Government. But are there not other ways to prevent a decline in our overseas funds? Are there not other ways to secure aeroplanes? Oi" course, there are. One obvious way is to make a careful examination of our imports to ensure that we are not paying for unnecessary imports. Another way is to export more goods. We should not take the easy way. We should not say that we cannot earn enough now to pay for the goods we obtain from other countries. If we cannot pay for the absolutely necessary as well as the unnecessary imports with the receipts from our exports, we should at least prevent the importation of unnecessary commodities. By this means we would be able to meet the obligations we undertake when "we obtain goods from other parts of the world.

I know that people will say that this loan is different from other loans. It is different because Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., with its overseas operations, earns enough funds overseas to pay the instalments and the interest on the loan to overseas bond holders and still make a profit. If that is the position, there is nothing much wrong with Qantas obtaining the loan. But this argument does not apply to the internal transport arrangements in this country. Trans-Australia Airlines does not earn overseas funds. But even if the loan for Qantas can be justified on the basis that Qantas earns some overseas funds, it is still more desirable for this country to stand on its own two feet economically and to pay its way as it goes than to resort continually to the very easy and spendthrift proposition of obtaining loans because they are available, whether they be available in the United States of America or in other countries.







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