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Tuesday, 27 September 1949

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable member for Barker must cease interjecting. I warn him. for the last time.

Mr POLLARD - The Australian Wool Realization Commission, which is the authority set up in Australia to dispose of this wool, has, over the years since the stockpile was purchased, carried out its work in a highly efficient manner in co-operation with and in co-ordinating its work with the joint organization; so much so that practically the whole of the Australian carry-over wool has been sold, due largely to the effective feeding of the wool on to the market in an orderly manner. Wool prices have been sustained at a figure higher, possibly, than would otherwise have been the case, and, at the moment, there is in cash as Australia's share of the profits from those operations approximately £43,000,000. There are, in addition, at current values, approximately £22,000,000 worth of wool still on hand, approximately £2,500,000 in a contributory fund built up in connexion with the administration of the scheme, and other assets valued at approximately £4,000,000. But the Australian Government, although it had no moral or legal obligation-

Mr McDonald - Did the Minister say morals?

Mr POLLARD - I said no moral obligation. The honorable member may be a better judge of morals than I am. Although the Australian Government had no legal or other obligation to enact legislation to provide for the distribution of those profits, it introduced a bill which provided for the ultimate distribution of the profits on these huge transactions to the wool-growers of this country. The bill contained a proviso to the effect that an interim dividend might be paid when the financial position warranted it. Every wool-grower in this country is glad to know to-day that as the result of the Labour Government's vision and its initiation of, and participation in, this scheme, there will be paid a sum of £25,000,000 prior to the 30th November next at the rate of 6i per cent, on the total appraised value of all participating wool-growers' wools. That, in itself, is an indication of good sound government, and a realization of the fact that the welfare of this country and of its people is largely built up on the welfare and security of the man on the land.

The honorable member for Indi stressed most strongly the need for an increased volume of production, and he discounted the fact that to-day our prosperity was judged largely by its money value; hut I am able to say that not only are money values higher to-day in respect of production, but also the volume of production is substantially higher in this country than it was before the war. As that expression of opinion will bc contested, I shall read the report of ah address by the Vice-Chancellor of the National University, Professor Copland, to the Canberra branch of the Economic Society. The report appeared in the Age on the 5th April last. I do not know Professor Copland's political views, but I should not say that he is a Labour man. The report is as follows : -

Real output ]«r man in Australia has not fallen, but has increased by probably 12.5 per cent, since before the war.

Recurrent shortages and interruptions to production had given the impression that output per nian had fallen.

However, full employment and increased capital equipment in use should have given a higher output than had been achieved.

Further, increased output occurred largely in non-essential industries and output of basic industries had fallen far short of urgent demand and of long-term conditions of national prosperity.

Everybody knows that there is a catch, and it is this: because of the increased purchasing power of the people there has developed a great demand for what may be called semi-luxury goods. This "demand has drawn labour away from the heavy industries where production is so much needed. In some measure the Labour Government may be blamed for this occurrence, because its policy has resulted in a more equitable distribution of wealth among the people, leading to an increased demand for luxury and semi-luxury goods. It is sometimes said that the worker's extra income is of no use to him, but, increased incomes have resulted in a higher overall demand for such things as confectionery, ice cream, .beer and tobacco. When antiLabour governments were in power, the kiddies could not afford ice cream or chocolate, and it was not an uncommon thing to go into an hotel and see only one man drinking a solitary pot. Now, the workers can have many pots of beer if they are interested in it. More women are smoking now than ever before, and men and women between them are smoking more tobacco than has ever before been consumed in this country. All this is an indication of prosperity under the Labour Government. The honorable member for Indi cited taxation figures, but I think he must have taken the figures that applied to the war period, or certainly not later than 1946.

Mr McEwen - I cited figures from the documents tabled in this chamber with the budget.

Mr POLLARD - I propose to restate some of the figures relating to taxation paid by a man with a dependent wife and one child, in order to show that this taxpayer is better off now than he ever was before. If his income is £350 a year, he will pay in income tax and social services contributions after the 1st July of this year only £4 3s. In Victoria, in 1941, under a tory government, "that taxpayer would have paid in State and Commonwealth tax no less than £22 5s. In Queensland, he would have paid £27 6s., in South Australia £29 8s., in Western Australia £21 3s. and in Tasmania £28 ls. The honorable member tried to divert attention from the relief taxpayers had obtained by throwing in some " dead pig " about the amount of rebate allowed the taxpayer in respect of his wife. His submissions even on that point are arguable. The honorable member then went on to refer to the taxpayer with an income of £15,000 a year. According to the report of the Commissioner of Taxation, there are only five persons in Australia with incomes between £15,000 and £20,000 derived from personal exertion. Their total incomes amount to £81,577, on which they pay £69,423 in tax. If the party to which the honorable member for Indi belongs were in power, those taxpayers would pay no more than half that amount. There are only eight persons in Australia who receive incomes of between £15,000 and £20,000 derived solely from property. Their taxable incomes total £136,000, on which they pay £107,000. When the honorable member for Indi was a member of the previous government, such persons would have been required to pay less than half of that amount. To-day, a taxpayer receiving an income of £800, if he has a wife and dependent child, pays £62 9s. in income tax and social services contribution. In 1941, in Victoria, he would have paid State and Federal taxes amounting to £139. Under the present Government, a man on an income of £5,000 a year, pays £2,009 in tax, but in 1941, in Victoria, he would have paid £3,237, State and Commonwealth tax combined.

Thb honorably member spoke about indirect taxation, but the fact is that there has always been indirect taxation. Previous governments levied taxes on beer, tobacco, spirits, tea, &c. During the war, the present Government increased the rate of tax, and it remains fairly heavy, but what the honorable member did not point out was that if we were to reduce the rate of indirect tax, income tax would have to be increased, and the new burden might weigh more heavily upon the family man than does the present indirect tax on beer, tobacco, &c.

When the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was speaking last week, he declared that primary production had declined. He spoke either from ignorance, or from a desire to misrepresent the position. For instance, he said that the production of sugar had declined from 800,000 tons to 600,000 tons. But, according to the official organ published by the sugar producers themselves, sugar production in Queensland and New South Wales last year amounted to 910,000 tons. The honorable member also said that the production of butter had declined since before the war. The honorable member was deliberately trying to misrepresent the position. What are the facts? It is true that the rate of production of butter has decreased slightly since last year and is not as great as we should like it to be. But what are the counterbalancing influences? The honorable member made no reference to the tremendous increase of cheese production or, more important still as far as the nutritional standards of the people are concerned, to the increased consumption of whole milk. We cannot produce as much butter as we should like to have if the quantity of whole milk used by children and others increases considerably. Since 1939 the milk consumption of Sydney and Newcastle alone has increased by 26,000,000 gallons per annum. That volume would yield 1.3,000,000 lb. of butter fat. The honorable member for Indi will not challenge that. Allowing roughly 2,000 lb. to the ton, that quantity of butter fat would provide approximately 6,000 tons of butter. Thus, the increased consumption of milk in Sydney and Newcastle accounts for 6,000 tons of butter annually. That figure would be doubled if we took into consideration the increased consumption of milk in Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Launceston, Ballarat, Bendigo and other cities. That explains why butter production has not reached the high level that it would otherwise have reached.

I was rather disgusted to hear the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) refer rather contemptuously to Australia's association with the United Nations. Had Australia become associated with the United Nations through the activities of a Minister for External Affairs in an anti-Labour government, and in response to the promotion of an ideal conceived in the minds of Churchill and, I have no doubt that the honorable member would have praised it as a great association. The honorable member reflected unwarrantably upon the activities of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). Other honorable members opposite made derogatory remarks about the efforts of this Government to help the people of the United Kingdom. They asked, "Why not send more food instead of making a gift of £4.5,000,000 to the United Kingdom? It is only an entry in a book ". The fact is that the gift of £45,000,000 has reduced our claim against goods produced in the United Kingdom and has thus given that country the opportunity to sell goods worth that amount in dollar and other areas. Therefore it has assisted Great Britain in its dollar struggles.

Mr White - I did not mention that subject.

Mr POLLARD - I made no accusation against the honorable member for Balaclava. The gift was criticized by other honorable members opposite. Not a word of approbation of the Government for its persistence with butter rationing in spite of strong protests from the dairying industry and other selfish interests was uttered by honorable members opposite. Not a word of approbation of the Government for its adherence to cream rationing was spoken by them. Yet the rationing of butter and cream has enabled us to provide 25,000 tons of butter annually for the hard-pressed people of the United Kingdom. Honorable members opposite have expressed no disgusttit the fact that the authority of the Government to continue the ban on the sale of cream has been challenged in the High Court of Australia on two occasions.

Mr McEwen - But Trans-Australia Airlines issues cream free on its aircraft.

Mr POLLARD - I throw the lie back in the honorable gentleman's teeth. The honorable member is so contemptible that he knowingly tells that untruth in this chamber. He knows that the " cream " that is issued by the Trans-Australia Airlines aviation service is a mock-cream, 22,000,000 gallons of which is sold every week in the City of Melbourne alone and which is manufactured in Newcastle from coco-nut oil and other products.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Sheehy - Order! The Minister's time has expired.

Mr McEwen - I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented. The Minister for Commerce and1 Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), in referring to me, used these words-

Mr Barnard - The honorable member cannot take it.

Mr Pollard - The honorable member called mc a liar, but I would not be bothered with him.

Mr McEwen - The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) was threatened with being named. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, referring to me, said, " The honorable gentleman knows what he says to be utterly false ". I claim that I have been misrepresented by the Minister because he used those words in referring to a statement that 1 made about the possible transference of men to work in remote parts of Australia. I made the statement cn the authority of a reported statement by the Prime Minister at a conference of trade unions in the Sydney Town Hall on thi 16th and 17th October, 1948.


Government members interjecting,

Mr McEwen - You cannot let it getout, can you?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member may make his personal explanation.

Mr Scully - He is not entitled to make a second-reading speech.

Mr McEwen - I nva defending myself.

Mr Pollard - I rise to order. The honorable gentleman is about to read a reported statement by the Prime Minister. That statement said, in effect, that in certain circumstances whole communities probably would be in a position where transfers would be effected. In effect, if the mines at Captain's Elat were to be shut down to-morrow-

Mr McEwen - "What is the Minister's point of order?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I want to make the situation perfectly clear. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has claimed that he has been misrepresented. He may state the point on which he has been misrepresented, but he must not engage in debate.

Mr McEwen - 1 do not desire to debate the issue. I am relying on you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to give me an opportunity to defend myself against an accusation that I knowingly uttered a falsehood. That is all that I desire to do. The subject of the charge made against mc by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was a statement that I made thu men might he transferred' to remote parts of Australia. That statement arose from a declaration made by the Prime Minister at a conference of trade unions, at which he said -

Ivo guarantee can be given to anybody that they can stay put in a particular industry. It is realized that there will have to be transfers of workers and, in many cases, transfers of whole communities to other forms of work. I am quite certain that everybody will not be able to stay at home. I am not going to fool any one in that regard.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable gentleman cannot continue quoting that statement. He can say how he has been misrepresented, but he is not at liberty to quote a statement.

Mr McEwen - Well, I have quoted it.

Mr Pollard - I rise to order. The honorable member has made an explanation in which I claim that he has deliberately misrepresented the Prime Minister because he has quoted a statement-

Mr Archie Cameron - I rise to order. The Minister is not entitled to make a personal explanation for the Prime Minister.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order! I inform the Minister that that is not a point of order.

Progress reported.

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