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Tuesday, 6 December 1960


Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay (BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA)

Order! I think that the honorable member is getting away from the scope of the bill.


Mr CREAN - I have used this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to point out that we have been obliged to seek the loan to which the bill relates because our proper international machinery is not functioning as it should. I believe that in the long run a country should pay for its capital imports from current earnings, just as it does for commodities that can be consumed almost as soon as they are bought. We do not oppose this loan, because at least it can be seen that the benefit of the loan will attach to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which is owned by the Australian Government. The loan is to be for a limited period and has not attendant on it the evil that dividends must be paid to somebody else. Undistributed profits, if they should be made, belong to the Australian people and to nobody else. Those are the reasons for our support of the bill.

I contrast those considerations with the general situation that faces the economy. I suggest that the general economic position is a most alarming one for Australia, particularly when we appreciate that over the last six or seven years British, Canadian and American ownership of industry in Australia has amounted in the aggregate to nearly £1,000,000,000. That ownership represents a fairly significant part of our industrial activity, and it is continuing to increase.


Mr Harold Holt - It is about 10 per cent, of our own capacity.


Mr CREAN - Well, 10 per cent, is quite a significant proportion. But I suggest that it is more than 10 per cent, relatively of new investment over the last several years. That is the kind of trend to which the Government should occasionally pay some attention. Instead, all that it seems to worry about is whether the level of our London funds is a little higher or lower at the end of .Tune of one year than it was at the end of June of the previous year. To look at the matter in that way and not to examine the figures systematically is to ignore the real trends in the economy at the moment.

I suggest that we in Australia are now going through the same phase as that which alarmed the people of Canada about four years ago. As usual, the Government has looked too late. Much damage has been done. However, Mr. Speaker, I feel that perhaps I have made my point. I ask the Government to give serious consideration to the kind of problem that I have mentioned, and also to provide a more reasonable opportunity for debate of measures such as this. Often, when the House commences its sittings at the beginning of a sessional period, we fill in time by debating at length matters that are not of much consequence, but at the end of the period we rush legislation through and sometimes ignore matters that are very significant. The bill now before the House is an example of a significant matter in respect of which there has not been a fair opportunity to air the considerations involved m it. As T have said, I shall continue to take whatever opportunities are available to discuss such matters. I repeat that I function better after lunch than after supper.







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