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Tuesday, 22 March 1966

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- Mr. Deputy Speaker,I am very happy this afternoon to be speaking in support of the statement made on 8th March by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). I listened to it very carefully, as did many people throughout Australia, I believe, for I received telegrams from primary producer organisations asking me to give support to the aid for primary industry. It was not necessary for those telegrams to be sent, because I intended anyway to support the statement. T replied to the telegrams saying: " You can depend on my continuing to support any measures that will be of financial advantage to primary producers ". I said this advisedly.

Often in this chamber I have said that Australia depends for its present stability and its future progress on primary industry. How often have I said that this nation has been built up by primary industry? How often have I said that the pastoral pioneers promoted population in country areas? In 1851, gold was struck and the influx of gold miners increased the Australian population considerably. When the gold petered out or became unprofitable to mine, those who were seeking it turned to something more stable. Mostly, they turned to primary industry, which, as 1 have just said, is the foundation of the stability, progress and prosperity of this nation. Therefore, we who belong to the Australian Country Party are greatly pleased with the Prime Minister's statement. We have continually advocated a better deal for the primary industries. We believe that a better 'deal for them is justified and that they warrant it. The statement now before us mentions measures that will provide a better deal for the primary industries.

I congratulate the Prime Minister on attaining that high office. I hope that he will for a long time successfully discharge the duties of that office. I can say without hesitation that he will have my support while he proposes measures such as were outlined in his recent statement which are designed to assist the primary industries. Let me briefly examine one or two of the salient points relating to the primary industries that were made by the right honorable gentleman. He said -

The Commonwealth will continue to assist the States to finance their drought relief measures as far as necessary and for as long as necessary.

That phrase " as far as necessary and for as long as necessary " is pretty comprehensive. The Prime Minister can depend on being kept up to that undertaking by those of us who sit in this corner of the House. He went on to say -

The need to sustain and increase rural production for domestic requirements and for exports is as important today as it has even been in our history.

I believe that it is perhaps even more important now because we arc trying to build up secondary industries. At present primary industries produce the goods that make up 80 per cent, of our exports. Without the earnings of those exports, we could not buy the raw materials which are unobtainable in Australia and which are needed by secondary industries. I have said this on countless occasions before but, after all, one cannot say something different on the same subject. all the time in this chamber. Because of the statements that I have just mentioned, as well as for other reasons, the Prime Minister's statement has firm support from members of the Australian Country Party. The right honorable gentleman stated also -

The Government believes it is desirable to provide the farmer with greater access to medium and long term capital for development purposes through his own private bank.

We agree wholeheartedly with that. Earlier this afternoon. I asked a question about finance for drought relief. Putting it briefly, I want primary producers who have suffered by the drought to be put into three categories. The first would cover those who can be lifted back into production only by a grant. What do I mean by that? Certain primary producers were only just managing to keep going even before they were hit by the drought. They had obtained loans to start them off in primary production and they cannot afford to enter into the commitment of additional loans. We have had experience of this kind of thing in the Mallee electorate in the dried fruits industry. Years ago, at a meeting held one night at Nyah, it was suggested that the government of the day make a loan. I said that a loan would be of no use to the men concerned, that they had to be lifted back into production. After much advocacy, the Treasurer of the day, Sir Arthur Fadden, announced that £300,000 would be made available as a grant to the dried fruits growers of Victoria. That grant helped them considerably. I believe that producers who have suffered in the present drought and who are not financially strong need a grant to give them the impetus that is required to get them back into full production. Today, I strongly advocate the making of such a grant.

The other two categories of primary producers referred to in my question would include those whose requirements can adequately be covered by a Ions term loan at a reasonable rate of interest and those who, although suffering loss by drought, do not require government financial assistance. This last category would include many people, some of them financially strong. Some of them would be people who own big stores in cities like Sydney and Brisbane and who have invested the profits from those stores in primary industries in areas that have been ravaged by the drought. Such people may be financially strong. They may not have a lot of cash, but, having assets, they can raise money. I do not believe that anyone who can satisfactorily raise money needs government assistance. The people about whom I am most concerned are those who are just on the dividing line between success and failure and who must be lifted back into production if they are to succeed. I believe that the kind of assistance that such people need is altogether apart from general developmental finance that should be provided under the terms of the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959 which sets out the charter under which the Commonwealth Development Bank operates and which was introduced by Sir Arthur Fadden. Section 73 (1.) of that Act provides -

In determining whether or not finance shall be provided for a person, the Development Bank shall have regard primarily to the prospects of the operations of that person becoming, or continuing to be, successful and shall not necessarily have regard to the value of the security available in respect of that finance.

It is important to note that finance is required not just for persons who are already engaged in primary production but also for those who wish to go on the land. We need to encourage men to go into primary production. Therefore, I consider that money should not be lent just on the basis of the security that a man can offer. If this test were to be applied, many young men who would mate excellent primary producers would never get into primary production. I stress that aspect of the problem because it is tremendously important.

Time moves very quickly and I must pass on to other matters. I want to mention one or two things that have been said by Opposition speakers in what I describe as contradictory statements. Let me take the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) first. The Leader of the Opposition Party, after all, is the member of that party who is in the news most of the time. We hear frequent reports about what the Leader of the Australian Labour Party said in Sydney, Brisbane, or somewhere else, and even at Canberra. Earlier in this debate, the honorable gentleman said that the economy was in dire condition and that activity on the stock exchanges was dull. He said that big companies were not making profits as great as they had made previously and that he could produce five or six stock exchange operators of high reputation to support his statement. That statement, however, was a complete contradiction of the views that he and members of the Labour Party generally had been stating for a long time. They had been saying that share prices were too high and that big companies were absolutely booming and that such a situation was not in the interests of our economic welfare. However, when share prices and company profits are not perhaps as high as they were, the Leader of the Opposition finds fault with that situation. It is very hard to follow the thinking of a man who adopts such contradictory utterances.

Let me now move on to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who also said that big companies were not doing well and that this could be proved by the statements of the heads of big organisations such as the Myer Emporium Ltd., the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. and G. J. Coles and Co. Ltd. According to the honorable member, the heads of those companies have been saying that, the economy is not as strong as it might be. He then uttered these historic words: " These are responsible people ". I point out that these are the sort of men with whom members of the Labour Party have been finding fault all the time, saying that they are completely irresponsible in their disregard of the future stability of this country and that they want only to get all they can for themselves. If it suits honorable members opposite in the political circumstances of the day to change their views, they are quite happy to do so. In my opinion the gem of the whole debate so far was a statement made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). I heard it when it was uttered, made a note of it and then looked it up in " Hansard ", where it is reported at page 300. He spoke about the new member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) and congratulated him. Of course, I join in the congratulations. Any new member has my congratulations and, my goodwill. If I can be of any assistance to him, I will, and I hope that, if he can be of any assistance to me, he will. We co-operate without introducing politics. That is the general idea. Whether Opposition members believe this is beside the point, but most members of the Australian Labour Party must admit that I have now and again given a practical example of what I have said. The honorable member for Hughes said -

I congratulate the new member for Dawson. It is refreshing to know that in Labour's ranks there is now an effective voice for national development in this Parliament.

But what about all the other members of the Australian Labour Party who, for all these years, have been saying that they are the effective voice for national development. The honorable members for Scullin (Mr. Peters), Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) have said that they have been a very effective voice for national development. But the honorable member for Hughes said -

It is refreshing (o know that in Labour's ranks there is* now an effective voice for national development in this Parliament.

Air. Mortimer. - Read on further. He added " representing the area ".

Mr TURNBULL - Very well, I will read on further. The honorable member said -

The clear fact is that those who sit opposite have become a leaderless legion. The hand of the master has gone.

The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer) said that the honorable member for Hughes used the words " representing the area ". If he can find the passage in which the honorable member for Hughes used those words and hands it to me before ] finish my speech, I will be glad to read it. 1 cannot find such a passage. The honorable member for Grey has the opportunity to find it in " Hansard " and bring it to me. 1 will then read it, because if I want anything in this Parliament, I want truth. If I make a mistake, I apologise immediately. But honorable members opposite should not, by interjection, suggest that 1 am misrepresenting the position. The honorable member who interjected cannot back up his claim, because the honorable member for Hughes did not use those v-dsL I do not stand for that kind of conduct

The honorable member for Dawson is probably quite a good fellow, but a member of the Parliament must meet certain requirements. First, he must be a .man of good character, as I understand the honorable member for Dawson is. He must be able to put his case. The honorable member can do this. He must have a knowledge of his electorate and of Australia. I give the honorable member that, too. But he must be a member of a party that will give him a chance to put his ideas forward and to carry them to a fruitful conclusion. This is where the honorable member will fall down. As soon as he raises matters of national development in rural areas, he will come up against the members of this Party who represent consumers in the city. He will find in the party room where all decisions are made that his voice is not very strong and the electorate he represents will lose because of the party to which he belongs.

I was not very pleased with the reference made by the honorable member for Dawson to the former representative of the Austraiian Country Party, the late George Shaw. I think the honorable member spoilt a good speech by referring to him. He gave the impression that Mr. Shaw had not been given a chance to speak in this House for the sugar industry. " Hansard " will show thai he had plenty of opportunities and that he spoke with force, wisdom and knowledge. He supported the Leader of the Australian Country Party and the Premier of Queensland who went overseas but were not successful in having the price of sugar increased, However, he knew they represented the Australian sugar industry in the best possible way. As Whip of the Australian Country Party in this House, I resent the attempt of the honorable member for Dawson to give the impression that Mr. Shaw did not have a chance to speak for the sugar industry. I can say that never on any occasion that he asked to speak was he refused and that whenever he spoke he delivered a telling speech about an industry with which he was well acquainted.

I want to say a few words about Vietnam. The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) recited a little poem to the effect that, after the war is over and everyone is at peace, what have we gained? This is a little like the old story of the lady who asked the Duke of Wellington what a great victory was like. The Iron Duke said: " It is the greatest calamity, excepting a great defeat ". But what are we to do if tyrants still attempt to enslave us? Should we say: " Come in and take us over "? Every time Australians have gone overseas to fight, they have played their part in ridding the world of would be tyrants. This has happened in two world wars, in Korea and in other places. Labour is not very consistent. It has said that we should negotiate, but I have not heard that suggestion lately. It has been brought home very forcibly, even to opposition members, that the Vietcong will not negotiate. The President of the United States of America has said that he will go anywhere and do anything for negotiation, but the other side will not negotiate. Labour's suggestion has always been that we should negotiate. But if we get right down to the very base of this suggestion, apart from the trimmings that have been brought into it, what is it suggested that we should do? I should like to ask the Opposition these questions: Should Australia have troops in Vietnam? Furthermore, should the Americans be there? Should we not have tried to stop the cold war, even making it into a hot war by saying: " So far and no further"? Should we not have tried to stop the Communists from creeping across Asia right to our door? What should we do now? Should we withdraw our troops, despite our treaties with America? These are the questions that must be answered.

While we have troops in Vietnam, we must support them and we should bring them home every now and then. Of course, during the last two world wars troops were not brought home, as the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who will follow me in this debate, knows very well. He was not brought home after 12 months service during the Second World War. But this is a good way to treat our troops and I welcome it. No-one wants war. Goodness knows, we have had enough experience of war. The honorable member for Reid has seen the horrors of war. He does not want any further wars, nor do I. Peace is desired, but, as I have said often, although Australians are a peaceful people they do not want peace at any price. So the war in Vietnam goes on and no-one knows just when it will end. But I know that Australia must play its part. Negotiation was tried in Korea. The United Nations decided to send a force to Korea. But what happened to Labour after negotiations had been tried? lt collapsed completely. Labour would not take a part in recruiting the men who would form the Australian portion of the United Nations force that went to Korea. Labour collapsed in every possible way and I do not think that it takes these things very seriously.

The economy of Australia, according to Opposition members, is in dire straits. But we often hear them refer to the gross national product. This expression is getting a bit hackneyed now. Opposition members suggest that we should send a percentage of our gross national product to India. I would be very happy to know that Australia was helping India and would support any reasonable increase in that help. Honorable members ask: How much of our gross national product do we spend on defence and how much are we sending to India? But I have not heard anyone say that the gross national product is inadequate. Everyone knows that Australia is more prosperous and more stable than it has ever been. We have a larger population and our people are better off than they were years ago. But do not think for one moment that I mean everyone is better off. It is our aim in this Parliament to help people who are on low pensions, single pensioners and others in receipt of low fixed incomes. It is our place in this Parliament to advocate that they get a better deal. When we return after Easter, the Supply Bills will be before the House. This will give us an opportunity to tell the Government what we want in the next Budget.

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