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Wednesday, 9 March 1966


Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- I have listened very carefully to the debate on this Bill. I listened to the second reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and to the honorable member of Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who moved an amendment. The amendment suggests that the honorable member generally agrees with the Bill. If is in these terms -

This House, whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, is of opinion that the financing of the purchase of aircraft by the Australian National Airlines Commission and Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. should be met from revenue and not from a loan raised overseas.

The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) spoke in the debate. I have heard him on many occasions speak in the same vein, and I have not agreed with him. If Australia were not a young, developing country, his argument might have some force. I made a note of some of his remarks as he said them and I want to refer to them very briefly. I do not want to delay the House for very long. The honorable member said that, in raising loans overseas, the Australian Government is adopting the attitude of a spendthrift who tries to obtain an additional loan. I do not think that the analogy can be taken seriously, because Australia is not like a spendthrift. The money that Australia has raised overseas in the past has brought into this country the big earthmoving equipment and other pieces of modern equipment that have been used to build roads, increase primary production and aid in the general development of Australia. The honorable member always says that we must examine carefully the goods we import and we must export more goods. The area that he represents - that is, the secondary industries sector of the community - has priced itself out of world markets. Australia is now almost solely dependent on the export of primary products to build up and maintain its overseas balances. Surely honorable members realise that no nation can hope always to sell and never buy. The honorable member for Scullin may be right in saying that we could do without some of the goods that we import, but we buy them as part of our reciprocal trade. Generally the balance of trade in this respect is in our favour. This is the position with Japan. The balance with Japan is very much in our favour. But if we did not buy some goods from other countries, they probably would not buy our goods.

Our overseas balances are still very substantial and we should try to keep them that way. We are a young, developing country. The financial operations of our airways are satisfactory. If they cannot pay reasonable interest on a loan that is obtained to keep them in operation, there is something wrong with their administration. But the balance sheets I have seen would suggest1 that the administration of the airlines is sound.

Australia has been in the throes of a great drought. No man's mind can envisage what will happen in the future. We do not know whether we will have further droughts or a return to the good seasons that we have enjoyed. These remarks are directed to the Bill and to the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. It will be necessary for us to draw more on our overseas balances if we cannot maintain the output of our primary industries at the level that they have reached over the past five years. Some 80 per cent, of our exports are primary products. The export of primary products has been the chief means by which we have built up the overseas balances to which the honorable member for Scullin referred.


Mr Peters - It has not.


Mr TURNBULL - The. honorable member for Scullin says that it has not. I leave it to the Australian people to decide the matter. We know that our primary industries have been the main factor in the satisfactory balances that we have had and still have overseas.

I shall sum up my reasons for rejecting the amendment and supporting the Bill. We must keep our overseas balances strong in case an emergency arises when we will require them. If we are not able to pay reasonable interest on overseas loans for aircraft and for other productive and developmental equipment then something is wrong with the administration and I believe this is not so. I believe that to obtain capital funds overseas as is proposed in this Bill is sound and that the proposed finance is necessary in the best interests of the safe and economic operation of Australian airlines and is for the benefit of the Commonwealth of Australia.







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