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Tuesday, 9 May 1961

Mr CHRESBY (Griffith) .- Mr. Deputy Speaker,as usual, the Opposition is riding its own hobby horse and attacking profits, interest and overseas investments. It still lives in the days of the Tolpuddle martyrs, if we are to judge by its political thinking.

Mr Cash - Where is Tolpuddle?

Mr CHRESBY - I suggest that the honorable member ask Dr. Evatt, the onetime Leader of the Opposition. He is always talking about the Tolpuddle martyrs.

I think it is time we examined a little of the background to the situation of the present day. Earlier to-day, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) reminded the House that to-day is the sixtieth anniversary of the first meeting of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, lt is interesting to note that on this sixtieth anniversary of our Parliament, we are in the process of considering an additional supply to Her Majesty the Queen of £57,143,000 as an addition to the Budget Estimates. A reading of the records of the First Parliament makes it obvious that the members of that Parliament would never have thought that within 60 years we would have been asked to approve so large an additional appropriation.

A lot of things have happened in the last 60 years, and I think it is well that we retrace the events of those years briefly in order that we may have a clear picture of what the future holds for us. This Parliament first met in what were known as the horse and buggy days. Aviation had not really begun. The Wright brothers had not got their first machine into the air. Jet aircraft, electronics and science generally were something that the people did not hear of then. Jets, of course, were not thought of in those days. Electronics was in its embryonic stage and people who mentioned it were laughed at and regarded as being fit to be inmates of an asylum. What has happened in the past 60 years since the first meeting of this Parliament that we celebrate to-day? Let us take the events one by one, because they are important as pointers to what will happen in the future.

First, there are the developments in aviation. We all know the story of aviation. We know that as late as the beginning of World War II. we were flying machines of types which we regarded as terribly modern. Then, with the war and the development of weapons of war, came jet aircraft. To-day, we ride through the skies in our international airliners at speeds of 600 miles an hour or more. We have progressed so far that two countries have put men into space and brought them back to earth safely. We have reached a stage at which we are achieving most amazing things in the field of medicine. When the first Commonwealth Parliament met, operations on the brain, heart and lungs, involving the opening of the cavities of the body and perhaps even removing those organs for a brief time and replacing them, and similar surgical procedures, were deemed to be utterly impossible. To-day, they are completely commonplace. The immediate future offers in the field of medicine and surgery the possibility of replacing wornout parts of the body. These developments open up new vistas to us, Sir, and not a future of gloom and doom as is being predicted by Opposition members.

Then we come to the field of electronics. What will happen there? Many of the honorable members who are now present in the chamber saw in this building last week a documentary film on electronics which, showed us what is possible in the present and the portents for the future. We saw depicted the present development of the electronic brains manufactured by the International Business Machines organization, some of which we already have in Australia. We saw demonstrated- a computer which can make more than 400.000 calculations in. two and one-half seconds. This is an extraordinary development. Great developments such as these in science and technology have a great impact on our fiscal policy.

Let us now consider the question of free enterprise. We on this side of the House have, said and believed that we favoured free enterprise, and we know that the Opposition, adopts as its principle, " More and more, nationalization". We do not seem to realize that in the development of free enterprise we have passed beyond, the stage at which we had purely privately owned monopolies to a stage at which we have monopolies constituted by publicly owned companies in which increasing numbers of the workers invest and receive financial benefit from the profits. More and more Australian workers are taking part in investment in this way and' deriving dividends. But this is not enough. This trend will increase, but the character of industry and private enterprise is changing. The reason, for the change is that up-to-date scientific and technological methods and developments in the field of production require the use of more and more kinds of machinery and equipment, the cost of which is so great that ordinary private firms could not possibly hope to meet it. Consequently, this machinery and equipment becomes more readily usable only under the control of big public companies. This can be demonstrated by reference to the mining industry. North Broken Hill Limited put down a 4,000-foot shaft on which it spent more than £4,500,000 before it obtained one ton of payable ore. No normal private company could possibly hope to amass the capital necessary to embark on undertakings on so great a scale. So the whole character of industry is changing.

As it becomes increasingly necessary to use more and more financial resources as a- result of the developments of science and technocracy, the conditions and hours of work and the use of workers change. I prefer to use the description " people working in industry " rather than the word " workers " as used by the Opposition. 1 have said in this chamber on one or two occasions previously, and I reiterate now, that, as Professor Soddy said in 1928, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays scientists are hard at work inventing new laboursaving devices to shift the burden of toil from men to machines, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays stupid politicians are trying to invent new ways of putting men back to work again. Whether we like it or not, we face the fact that completely full employment will become an utter scientific impossibility. And we are not studying the factors that we need to consider if we are to tackle successfully this situation which science has brought upon us.

We ought to recognize the fact that the whole genius of man has been directed to the production and distribution of goods and services with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of effort. The whole purpose has been to put more and more men out of employment. That has been the basis of scientific development and of man's ingenuity. Yet we hold up our hands in horror and say: " This is a dreadful thing. The nasty Menzies Government has been responsible for it all. It is putting people out of work." What complete and utter rot that. is. We- have reached a stage at which, with the impact of science and technology on employment, it will become increasingly difficult to find jobs for unskilled labour, because no unskilled jobs will- exist in industry.

Only recently I referred in the House to the problem posed by Australia's known water resources. I pointed out that with, out an. increase in our presently known water resources the. possibilities of industrial expansion in Australia are limited to only three areas - the Sydney area, the Melbourne area and perhaps the far north of Queensland in the 100-inch rainbelt. I pointed out that by 1970 unless South Aus. tralia can. find new supplies of water that State will face the terrific question of whether it wants to keep its secondary industry or its primary industry, because it will not have enough water supplies to feed both types of industry. I want to stress again that unless we spend more money on finding and developing water resources in

Australia the Opposition can preach till it is black in the face about Australian money going overseas, and unemployment and everything else, and it will not matter. We are faced with the twin facts that the developments of technocracy are impinging upon the degree of employment available in industry by making manual work less necessary and that we will have to concentrate our industries in two or three places along our coast. That is the real problem which faces this country, and I believe that the Opposition does a very grave disservice to its supporters - the members of the trade unions - when it indulges in a lot of idle talk about the Government's responsibility for unemployment, because its claim in that regard is not scientifically true.

Why are men being put out of work in industry? The simple answer is that for industry to remain solvent it must get back its costs. To do so it must sell its goods, and to sell its goods in competition with others it has to reduce prices. One of the major costs of production is the cost of labour so, in order to reduce costs of labour, industry has to introduce new methods of production. The whole trend of recent broadcast and other forums on technology and labour has been concerned with the problem of cutting down labour costs. Participants in such forums talk of the need to use science in order to do this. Unless Australian industry took advantage of the increased role of science Australia would go under. We must take advantage of every technical and scientific advance in order to develop this country. We must use science and technology to increase our water resources. I think that it is plain childish to use unemployment as a political football, in view of what is happening to industry in this age of technology.

We have also to consider seriously the need to review our whole concept of social services. I believe that it will not be long before we will have to face this issue, and we will have to apply a certain amount of ingenuity to solving the problem that will arise. I do not know how we shall proceed to do it, but I think that both sides of the Parliament .have to give very serious consideration, above .and beyond stupid party warfare, to the problem of social services. I say quite bluntly and definitely that we will have to face some day the need to institute some form of national retiring allowance for unemployable people because soon, with the development of science, a man of 60 or 70 years of age may still be so young as to be employable. Such people might object to being cast out of employment to make way for younger people, and claim that their experience should give them preference. We have all heard such claims before. The your.g people, on the other hand, with wives and families to keep, will take the opposite view. Because longevity is on the increase this is an issue that we will have to face some time. At the same time as longevity is increasing our employable work force science and technology are reducing the number of people needed in industry. We may overcome that problem temporarily, but temporarily only, by shortening hours; but a shortening of hours would mean an increase of costs. At a time when industry is forced to expend large sums of money in order to take advantage of the developments of science and technocracy the more we reduce working hours the more industry will have to reduce its costs in other directions in order to recover its total outlay. To do so it will have to reduce the number of people it employs. This is a vicious circle, as honorable members will realize.

These are real problems which are not being properly dealt with in the debates in this .House. What we hear in this chamber are accusations and claims about who is politically right and who is politically wrong, but we are ignoring the basic problems of the nation. Year after year more and more children are leaving school and seeking employment. Nowadays we are gradually recognizing that the future lies with the trained and skilled worker and, where possible, the university graduate. So we face the position that within the next ten years, at the most, with minor exceptions the employment market will be open only to highly trained men. This means that we have to spend a tremendous amount of money on education, and also a tremendous amount on social services. Where are we going to get all this money? The Opposition suggests that we hit the big man for more money. Honorable members opposite are living away back in the days of the Tolpuddle martyrs and the so-called capitalists. Do they not realize that there are more little capitalists now than there ever were? Most men and women in Australia - and, I bet, many members of the Opposition - invest a little money in shares. Unit trusts and such facilities open the way for this kind of investment by little people, and the money invested goes into various types of industry and development. So even members of the Labour Party and the trade union movement, whom honorable members opposite claim to represent, are capitalists these days.

We have to face the problems I have mentioned, right now or in the very near future, and in doing so we have to give serious thought to several factors. We must consider having some form of national retiring allowance payable to people at an age that we shall decide upon. This will be necessary as more and more people become unemployed because we have reached the stage where machines are making machines which will make goods, with no manual labour required in the process. Recently in this building we saw a documentary film dealing with electronics. I ask honorable members to study the wonders of electronics, to go into the factories and see what electronics can do, and to think of the future effect of electronics on the people who work in those factories. What could happen if the green light were given to industry to go straight ahead, without restrictions, producing the maximum with a minimum of cost and utilizing every piece of electronic equipment available?

Mr Cope - What about-

Mr CHRESBY - Never mind about " what about ". We have enough of that on the street corners at election time. If the course that I have mentioned were adopted the unemployment problem would be so terrific that no government, whether Labour, Liberal or Country Party, could survive it. Therefore I say that we have to have another look at these developments.

One of our first worries, if we are to develop this country, must be, not so much how much money we owe overseas, but how we can increase our water resources so that we can spread our industries and people and open up this vast land. Our immigration programme cannot be effective eventually if we have not a sufficient water supply. I have emphasized that and I shall continue to emphasize it because, although it may be a dry subject to some honorable members opposite who are interjecting, it is not a dry subject to those who are faced with the responsibility of having to develop Australia where there is insufficient water. I have dealt with health, and I have said that science will surely destroy private enterprise as far as the small man is concerned. This has nothing to do with politics. Science and technology will do it.

Unless we give our water supply a priority over everything else, tremendous problems will face us. If the Opposition is returned to office its members will not be happy about being in government when the water situation finally hits us because they will receive the kicks and be thrown out. Unless Australia's water resources are greatly improved by 1970 we shall be in a terrible position. We will not be able to expand and develop rapidly despite all our theories.

The concentration of industry in relatively few areas brings with it attendant problems. When we find that industry cannot provide employment for all because it has not developed as we hoped, we shall be faced with great unemployment and social service problems in industrial areas. More and more people are continuing to congregate in these localities, with the result that there is less building space in which to construct more homes. Let us have a little more realism about these things. Let us try to make up our minds that we will deal with these issues on their merits, not in their political context.

I shall close on this note, dry as it may seem: You may make all the rosy plans you wish; you may develop all the lovely policies you like; you may hold out to the electors all the rosiest dreams of what they will get; but they will not get anything unless we take full cognizance of the impact of science and technology on industry, on employment and on the future of the children leaving our schools, and if we do not take full cognizance of the dire and dreadful situation that we are facing in regard to national water resources.

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