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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1485

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I have listened tonight with great attention to what the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) said. I must say that his speech tonight is not the best contribution he has made to debates in this Parliament. The honourable member spoke about Napoleonic wars and about Neville Chamberlain, Lord Byron and others. In my view the wars he spoke of were virtually fought with balloons on sticks when one considers the devastating weapons which the major powers in the world have available today. Anyone knowing little about politics who listened to the honourable member for Mallee may have been impressed by his remarks, but I believe the value of his contribution to this debate lies in what he did not say. The honourable member made no reference to the Pentagon papers. He made no reference to the fact that the United States was on the verge of using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.

Mr Turnbull - You are making the reference.

Mr JAMES - I will make a reference and I will quote from the Pentagon papers. The extract reads:

The materials published by the New York Times contain few references to this problem. But some additional facts are cited in an article carried by the New York Journal National Review. These indicate that in 1954 the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed to Secretary of Defence, Charles E. Wilson, that:

A high altitude nuclear bomb be exploded 'by way of demonstration' in the area of the North

Vietnamese port of Haiphong.

In 1962 the Pentagon was working on a nuclear demonstration' on a larger scale, namely, the use of bombs and other nuclear weapons against military targets of major importance.

That article goes on to say:

Secretary McNamara then went on to say that the possibility of major ground action also led to a serious question of having to use nuclear weapons at some point'.

Admiral Felt responded emphatically that 'it was essential that the commanders be given freedom to use these as had been assumed under various plans'.

That information came from the secret documents of the Pentagon. This was a move by the United States war office to destroy the very fabric of the earth. Every member of this Parliament knows that China has now developed a nuclear bomb but that country does not have the skill to deliver it to a target more than 3,000 miles away. What a catastrophe it would have been for the world if the United States had gone ahead with its war hawk attitude of using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.

Mr Turnbull - Too many ifs andbuts.

Mr JAMES - The honourable member has a conscience, and my remarks have hurt him considerably because I have spoken the truth. In every man, even though he be evil to some degree, there is always some spark of decency. The honourable member for Mallee said that he had never heard any member of this Parliament come back from overseas and not praise the high standard of living of the Australian people. Later in his remarks he spoke about the plight of the rural people in Australia. He emphasised their plight On the one hand he praises the high standard of living of the Australian people while on the other hand he criticises it.

Before I get on to my general remarks I want to make some reference to the new Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). I do not believe he will be a member of this House after the next federal election. Yesterday afternoon when I was sitting in my office doing some research work I heard, through the public address system, the Minister speaking in his Budget speech. He said, and this is recorded at page 1132 of Hansard:

A Labor government would apply a means test-

He was talking about the proposed 36c a lb guaranteed price for wool - with every wool grower having to submit bis returns, his confidential records, to the official of some department or other to show cause that he was needy; going cap in hand as it were, pleading that he was a more needy bloke than his neighbour.

What a shocking thing. The wool growers want hand-outs without any query. What about the poor old pensioners? They are required to state their assets to the Social Services Department. This is something which has been emphasised time and again in this House by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). But no, says the Minister, we cannot do this to the wool growers; they should not have to show their records; they are confidential records. What impertinence it is for anyone to suggest that the wool growers should not have to show their records. It is my belief that every person in a responsible position - and the only man whom I have heard refer to this was the former honourable member for Scullin, Mr Peters - whether he toe a parliamentarian, a judge or some other person in a position of trust where he is susceptible to graft, should have to declare his assets to the nation. Every parliamentarian should have to declare his assets when he first comes into Parliament. Whenever he is called upon to declare his assets he should do so. Some shocking scandals would be revealed, particularly involving members of the Government, if that were made a legal requirement.

The honourable member for Mallee spoke about the sale of wheat to China. Let me refer to the May issue of the Catholic Worker' which reads:

As the world gets set for a rush on the China market, Australia looks like being left behind, which is about all she deserves.

I will now refer to the 'Far Eastern Economic Review' which quotes the attitude of the new Australian Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, in relation to Australia's recognition of China. This is a conservative journal printed for businessmen in Hong Kong. The issue of 8th May 1971 says at page 4:

Premier William McMahon said Peking must first meet certain obligations before Australia could extend diplomatic recognition to China: These include not trying to achieve political objectives by, force, not using insurgency and guerilla tactics in neighbouring countries, and letting those countries determine their own futures. 1 will bet that when Chou-en Lai read that, he said 'McMahon? Never heard of him.' What impertinence on the part of our Prime Minister, representing a country of 1 2i million people, to speak in that way to a man representing a quarter of the world's population. What damned imperti nence. I think that the Australian Country Party has recognised its error. Only a short time ago the honourable member for Mallee said how proud he was to have Mr Ian Sinclair address 4 meetings in the electorate of Mallee. He has the jitters. It was a confession: 'I am in trouble. My people have woken up. They will not accept my integrity any more'. The honourable member will want the Minister in his electorate another 44 times to save his political life in Mallee. His people are not altogether dumb. They have accepted his integrity as I have done. For a long while I have regarded him as a man of integrity. I did not think I was easily deceived, particularly in view of my previous profession. But he deceived me. He, a man of integrity, needs the Minister for Primary Industry in his electorate.

This Budget debate is drawing to a close. I am, as it were, the last bat - the last Opposition speaker. I intend to carry my bat. During this debate much ground has been traversed and trammelled. I agree entirely with much of what has been said and I support wholeheartedly the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I believe our duty requires that what we see praiseworthy in others we should imitate carefully but what we see defective we should try to amend. This is the objective of a true Opposition in the parliamentary democracy in which we live. Labor's policy on wool subsidies is designed to aid the poor wool grower. Recently when I was in Brewarrina I discussed the wool problem with wool growers. They did not agree with the overall subsidy. They said that the wealthy wool grower, who did not need help, would benefit from it. This aspect has been effectively put to the Parliament by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in recent debates. It is a pity that public money should be handled so recklessly by the Government. Expenditure of public money should be carefully scrutinised. One appreciates that the man on the land has made a great contribution to Australia's economy over the years. In the main primary producers are citizens of integrity. However it is true that if one examines annual reports of the Taxation Office it can be seen that many graziers default in compiling their taxation returns.

They get their figures mixed up. Admittedly such graziers are in the minority.

This Budget deserves the criticism that has been levelled against it by the Opposition and the Australian mass media. It is designed allegedly to reduce inflation. Public opinion and economic experts are of the positive opinion that the Budget will increase inflation and unemployment. The Prime Minister already has indicated - if one can accept with some degree of faith reports in the national newspapers - that a mini Budget probably will be brought down next February or March.

Mr Pettitt - You do not believe them, Bert.

Mr JAMES - 1 would not believe in anything that this Government does. By sacking Ministers and Prime Ministers it has shown that h is unstable. Experience in the United Kingdom and the United States of America in recent years indicates that inflation and unemployment gallop along together. The United Kingdom Government took drastic steps some months ago to stimulate the economy after dampening it down. Its action was followed a few weeks later by the United States Government which took more drastic action - steps involving it in virtual blackmail of an international monetary nature to force the world to accept devaluation of the United States dollar.

One feature of the Budget is the failure of the Prime Minister to carry out his promise, which has been referred to on numerous occasions by Opposition members, to review the plight of pensioners when he gave them a miserly 50c last February. He has failed to honour that promise and has lost the faith of the pensioner organisations throughout Australia. On 15th March, in his first speech to this House as Prime Minister, he said:

We will follow this immediate increase in pension rates with a fundamental review of social services and related pensions.

This review resulted in this Budget in a lousy $1.25 increase in the base age pension rate and $1 each for a married pensioner couple. These increases are an insult, in my view. They will not enable Our pensioners to catch up with rising costs of living since the last 50c increase. We have learned that between 150,000 and 170,000 pensioners who have small private incomes or small superannuation receipts will not get any increase at all. The increase from 50c to $1 for pharmaceutical prescriptions has been criticised severely by pensioner organisations. Mrs Ellis, who represents pensioners nationally, has expressed such criticism in documents which have been sent to all members of the Parliament.

The increased petrol tax will yield $43 m to the Government. Its effect on costs in every section of industry will be ruinous and will have a detrimental effect on the economy. As 1 have said, the effects of the Budget will result in increased prices and unemployment will soar. The Leader of the Opposition has estimated that there will be 100,000 unemployed within the immediate future. I believe his estimate is conservative and that by March - and only time will tell - the figure will soar to 150,000 to 200,000, despite the manipulation of unemployment figures by certain Government departments. One thing of which I am fairly sure is that this is the last Budget of the Treasurer, the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden). He will not survive as the late Mr Harold Holt did because of the stranglehold that Sir Robert Menzies had on the Liberal Party machine.

The Budget fails to meet the critical situation existing in our education system in public and private schools. Teachers are leaving the profession faster than they can be recruited. I venture to suggest that this situation has never arisen before in Austtalia. Evidence given to a 5-man Senate committee of inquiry on education reveals, amongst other things, that 9,000 to 12,000 new teachers are available each year but that the resignation rate from within the ranks of practising teachers alone is between 14,000 and 19,000 annually. Mr Hughes stated this in sworn evidence before that Senate committee. There was evidence of a substantial wastage of potential teachers during training. The committee was told also that the New South Wales Government has recently set up a committee to investigate the high teacher wastage rate in that State. In Australian schools there are about 115.000 teachers and there are 35,000 students in training undertaking courses of from 2 to 4 years. In the main, teachers are leaving the profession because of the inducement of higher salaries in other professions and because promotion by seniority is something with which many are disgruntled. Teachers are being recruited from abroad. This is an indictment of the national Government. In my view married women teachers should be given special treatment to encourage them to remain in the profession. They should be provided with kindergartens for their children and domestic assistance in the home rather than that their talents should be lost. To me it is somewhat ridiculous that the Government should subsidise the training of teachers and that after 2 years or 3 years teaching their teaching talents are lost to the education system when they marry. The Government should take some action in this regard.

The private school system is in a similar chaotic state. I have here a letter signed by E. T. Carroll who is the secretary of the Federal Catholic Schools' Committee of 175 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. It is accompanied by a statement from Roman Catholic bishops. These documents point out the plight of Roman Catholic schools. The statement by the Roman Catholic bishops says, in part:

The Bishops are deeply concerned at the increasing financial burdens . . .

If time were available to do so, I would have liked to relate to the Parliament the criticism by certain Roman Catholic educationists in relation to persevering with the Roman Catholic education system. Father Kung has been outspoken on this subject. Time will not permit me to refer to an article by Father Kung that I have here. I hope that at a later stage in the debate on this Bill I will be able to impart to the Parliament all of this information including, for the benefit of the parliamentary records, the criticism by Roman Catholics themselves of their perseverance with their private school system, particularly in the primary sector. This criticism shows that this perseverance is not justified. The continuation of this system cannot be justified. I believe that the Parliament should know these things. Time will not permit me to refer to all of these documents which I consider should be read by honourable members. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam's amendment) stand part of the question.

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