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Tuesday, 21 March 1972
Page: 733


Senator McMANUS (Victoria) - The Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the Bill and will vote against the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition. We have examined the amendment. We feel that it merely proposes to withdraw the Bill and offers no alternative. If offers nothing which would replace the stimulus to the economy and the business world which undoubtedly will come from the Bill. We feel that the words in the amendment 'unselective in its approach* and no consideration to balanced economic development', do not offer anything constructive. We do not see anything which would induce us to change our attitude in a time such as this, when Opposition parties are complaining about the malaise in the business world. We see no reason why the Opposition should oppose a Bill such as this which, it is generally agreed by people in the business and manufacturing world, will be a great impetus and a great assistance to those progressive manufacturers who desire to make their businesses efficient and to keep their equipment up to date.

Admittedly, the reintroduction of the allowance is a rather humiliating reversal of form for the Government. It reminds me of an occasion about 10 years ago when, in similar circumstances, the Government announced that in order to keep the economy on a good business footing it was necessary to increase sales tax on motor cars by a considerable percentage. We had advanced to us by the Treasury the most powerful argument as to why this could and should be done. A few months later, when Cbe damaging effect of that increase, what it would do to the car industry and what it would do to employment, were suddenly realised overnight, without any preparation the Government reversed its stand and removed the increased sales tax on cars. I can well remember one member of the Liberal Party complaining to me with some bitterness that he had been at his Liberal Party branch meeting and had explained at considerable length why it was necessary to increase the sales tax on motor cars. He loyally backed, everything that the Government had done on that issue. When he had finished and when questions were asked for, the first question was: 'If it is so good why did Sir Robert Menzies announce on the air at 7 p.m. that it is to be cut out?' The Treasury or the Government made a mistake. 1 suppose we all make mistakes. The Government is now reversing the process in relation to the investment allowance.

The regrettable thing is that this kind of assistance cannot be turned on and off like a tap. I hope that if anything along these lines is being considered in the years to come, the Government will give consideration to the fact that there always will be business firms which, in planning reequipment, plan to pay for that equipment over a period of years and to phase it in over a period of years. While some consideration was given in the Bill to that fact, I doubt whether enough consideration was given to it. Once a government starts fiddling around with something like a development allowance or an. investment allowance it leads to a state of uncertainty in industry which is bad for everybody. Therefore I hope that in future the Government, if it proposes to examine this kind of allowance again, will give consideration to the long term possibilities. I believe that if it does so we probably will not be placed in the situation that we are in now of reversing our processes.

The removal of the investment allowance caused great consternation in the business world. I, like other members, was approached by representatives of business and manufacturing organisations who pointed out the serioussness of what was proposed and what it might do to the business world. One thing I said to many of them - I repeat it - was that to a degree it is the fault of the business and the manufacturing community that this kind of action is taken because, in my belief, the business and manufacturing community has failed to contribute its quota of experienced people to the Parliament and to the Cabinet. When we received our new handbook recently I listed the occupations of members of the Cabinet. It was interesting to find that 16 of the 27 came from the legal fraternity or from the rural community. When one looked in the list of the Cabinet for people who belonged to the business community, who had experience in manufacturing or- in administering large organisations, one found that one would be lucky to find perhaps two people who could claim to have had that experience.

I believe that a parliament and a cabinet to a degree should be a cross-section of the community. I believe, therefore, that the Parliament and the Government suffer from the fact that the business community has not contributed its quota in those sectors. I had the amazing experience of one organisation of manufacturers saying to me: 'Just before this happened there Was only one man in the Cabinet whom we felt we could approach with confidence on matters of concern to the manufacturing industry and, in particular, in regard to tariffs - only one.' I said: 'Who was that?' I received the amazing reply: 'Sir John McEwen, the Leader of the Country Party.' I asked whether they were serious and they assure rae that' that was the position. I said: 'To a degree it is your own fault. If you people in the business and manufacturing fields feel that you are not represented in the Government, that there are not the people in the Parliament to- put your case, why not set to work and choose from your own ranks people of experience and ability who have a liking for a political career?'


Senator Gair - And a desire to serve.


Senator McMANUS - Yes. I said: 'Why do you not persuade these young men to put themselves at the service of their country?' The answer I received - honourable senators can probably anticipate what it was - was that it is not possible to get a young executive of ability and drive, the sort of man who ought to be in the Government of this country, to stand for parliament because the salary is such that he would not be able to afford to live and to educate a family on what he would receive as a member of parliament. That is the whole crux of the situation. When members of the business and manufacturing community complain to me, as they frequently do, that they cannot get their case put, that they are unable to have adequate consideration given to their views, my answer to them is that perhaps the community is getting value. I say straight out that I believe that the business and manufacturing community have let the side down by not playing their part in the legislative and representative sphere. I believe that they have been too concerned with their own industries and too concerned to retain the best men from their own organisations. They have neglected completely their obligation to provide their quota, the same as other organisations in the community. The trade union movement offers its people. Law obviously offers plenty of people, as also does the rural sector of the economy when we find something like 8 out of 27 are from the legal field and another 8 are from rural communities.


Senator Wright - Do you think that shows low earnings in the law?


Senator McMANUS - No, but it might. I saw the other day that a prominent legal gentleman, who has been selected by the

Australian Labor Party as a candidate, said that he was making a very real sacrifice in standing for Parliament because as a law? yer he would make the equivalent of the parliamentary salary between Christmas and Easter. The situation is, therefore, that in present salary circumstances Parliament is being deprived of the services of a large number of men of ability who are unable to accept a position here simply because they feel that they could not live on the salary and because the financial opportunities outside parliament are much better.

There have been suggestions of late that the bureaucracy - officialdom - is taking over in our governmental sphere. The salary of a member of parliament is about the same as, or possibly lower than, that of the lowest member of the Second Division in the Public Service. In 'the Civil Service, salary determines seniority. Why should the bureaucrat take any notice of us when, in the eyes of the Government, we are inferior? I believe that one of the reasons for the failures of this Government is that it has lacked the proportion that it should have of people with business and administrative experience in big organisations. When a government lacks the necessary admixture of that type of person the tendency is for the bureaucrat to take over and to make decisions as a bureaucrat, rather than for the decisions to be made by a person who has to answer to the rest of the community. 1 agree with this legislation. Although the Government has reversed its former decision, I think it has been very wise to make this decision. I believe that this will be a good thing for the business community. In my. view it will help the Australian manufacturer who often has to compete with well-heeled organisations from outside. In that respect I believe this will be a good thing and that it will provide extra employment for the Australian worker. But I say again to the business community and the manufacturing community: If you expect to have your interests reasonably regarded, it is necessary for you to provide a quota from your area for the Parliament, rather than think, perhaps, that because you make a donation at election time your interests will be safeguarded.

Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8 p.m.







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