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Tuesday, 31 May 1960


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - This is an appropriate occasion, at the end of the eleventh month of the financial year, for the Parliament to review the activities of the Government over the past year, to see how far its promises of last year have been justified and to examine its performance in the light of its promises. The Government came to power, unfortunately for the nation, in 1949. In 1950, after quite a number of protestations of his intention to do something about inflation, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) called a conference on inflation. Then, the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia issued a special pamphlet called, " The Threat of Inflation ". This pamphlet contained the text of two broadcasts made by the Prime Minister. As I have said it was almost ten years ago. In the first, he set out to explain the reasons for rising prices and in the second he outlined the Government's programme to deal with them. I shall not regale the House with all that the Prime Minister said at that time. I shall, however, remind honorable members of the Prime Minister's diagnosis of our economic troubles, and then of the remedies that he prescribed, none of which he has ever attempted to implement. He said -

The rise in prices is, of course, not peculiar to Australia. It is still substantially true of us that, in relation to our currency, prices in Australia are lower than in either the United States or Great Britain.

I interrupt myself at this stage to say that that was an implied tribute to the Curtin Government and to the Chifley Government, because the Menzies Government had been in power for less than nine months when this first broadcast was made. The position became very different later, and at the present time the comparison of prices between Australia on the one hand and the United States or Great Britain on the other is all to the advantage of the other two countries. The Prime Minister went on -

I should also point out that the rise in prices in Australia has been going on at about the same rate for at least the last three years.

Whatever the rise that had been taking place over the preceding three years, it is undeniably true that in 1949 the Australian £1 purchased as much as the equivalent currency of any other country purchased, and purchased more than most. The Prime Minister continued in his broadcast -

However, it is tremendously important to understand the causes of rising prices generally so that we can the better appreciate what remedies are available and estimate their effect.

After some other comments, the Prime Minister said this -

.   . we would be fooling ourselves if we did not realize that in some industries and on the part of many employers as well as employees there is now a carefree attitude which has led to the belief that you can safely produce as little as possible and charge as much as you can get for it.

That may have been true of certain employers, but there was no evidence adduced to prove the charge, and there was no attempt to establish that the workers of that period were " going slow ", as the Prime Minister suggested. In the second broadcast, headed " Rising Prices - the Answer ", the Prime Minister said -

If you have considered what I said last night you will agree that some of the factors in the price rise are outside the control of any Government, that some lend themselves to Government action, and that some depend upon the point of view of the individual and will not be cured unless most of us cure our own attitudes towards our jobs.

That was all that the Prime Minister had to say about the matter. No remedy was prescribed there. He merely uttered an exhortation to every one. to behave himself.

When it came to the question of remedies, the Prime Minister had this to say -

The conditions upon which we can slow down and ultimately arrest the rise in prices are -

(1)   That the quantity of goods of all sorts, including houses and plant, should be materially increased either by much more efficiency and extensive production in Australia, or by greatly increased importation, or both;

Again I break away from the Prime Minister's speech to point out that this country is still lacking in the number of houses required to enable young people to set up their homes and to start their married lives without having to wait a long while for accommodation, and certainly without having to wait a long while for financial accommodation. The third point made by the Prime Minister was -

That, in order to concentrate production upon vital and basic industries, means should be devised of encouraging employment in those industries and discouraging it in unnecessary or luxury trades;

Our charge is that for the last ten years - the ten years after that statement was made - the Government has done nothing to damp down the demand for luxury accommodation and has done everything to prevent young people and people on average incomes from obtaining the accommodation that they want. If it were otherwise, we would not have a £4,000,000 luxury hotel being built in Sydney, a £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 luxury hotel about to be commenced in Melbourne and luxury offices being built in Sydney and in Melbourne while young people cannot get the homes that they require. Later in his speech, the Prime Minister asked -

What are we now going to do . . .

He said -

Under this heading, I want to mention a number of matters which I do not necessarily place in any order of merit, because each in its own fashion is quite significant.

The first thing that the Prime Minister said he wanted to do was in this way -

As, in the period of inflation and rising prices, profits tend to rise and, in particular, there are certain businesses in which the acute scarcity of the commodity sold enables the sellers to obtain extravagant profits, we propose to present to Parliament a bill to impose an excess profits tax. This is a novelty, in time of peace.

It will be a novelty in the history of this Parliament if the Prime Minister carries out the promise made ten years ago to make those who have made extravagant profits disgorge some of their ill-gotten wealth. His fourth point was -

We propose to reinstitute Capital Issues Control. We think this should be done so that the absorption of capital and, therefore, of labour and materials into industries of minor importance, at the expense of those of major importance, may be restrained.

We have waited for ten years and we have never had a bill to control capital issues presented to the Parliament. The Prime Minister has fallen down on those two promises - an excess profits tax and capital issues control. In his fifth point, he said -

We propose to institute a control over basic materials, our plan being that until certain grave shortages in Australia have been repaired vital materials, which many people now need for essential purposes, should not be allowed to be diverted to less important uses.

Over the past ten years, the very process which the Prime Minister condemned then, and which he promised to rectify, has continued, and people are still being denied those essential and vital materials which they need. While some people have been able to spend £21,000,000 in the past few years on building up Surfers Paradise on the south coast of Queensland, quite a lot of decent Australians elsewhere in the country have been unable to get homes, hospitals which were greatly needed have not been provided, necessary roads have remained unbuilt and the public sector of the economy has been neglected - all this so that the parasitic few can obtain profits which, in a decent system of society, they should never be allowed to obtain.

I quote the words of the Prime Minister again. Referring to the instituting of control over basic materials, he said -

Don't think for one moment that this means a sort of " government grab ". On the contrary, I want a fair deal for all, and not just a picnic for the man or company which gets in first.

Has not that been the position over the last ten years? Has it not been a picnic for the wealthy? Has it not been a picnic for the overseas investors? Has it not been a picnic for anybody with wealth who has been prepared to put his money into luxury goods while the ordinary people of Australia have had to pay heavily in interest charges in order to meet their commitments?


Mr Daly - What document has the honorable member been quoting from?


Mr CALWELL - My inquisitive friend from Grayndler, my very distinguished and much travelled friend from Grayndler, has asked me from what document 1 am quoting. I am quoting from " Current Politics ", which is issued by the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia. This is issue No. 7, dated 9th October, 1950, and it is a special issue containing two broadcasts by the Prime Minister on the threat of inflation, the evils that he had to deal with and the remedies that he was suggesting in order to deal with those evils.


Mr Harold Holt - Where did the Leader of the Opposition get his copy?


Mr CALWELL - I got it from the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party.


Mr Harold Holt - That shows how liberal we are.


Mr CALWELL - That is right. It shows, also, that I still have friends who will supply me with important information.

The Prime Minister went on to say -

.   . we propose to make substantial increases in the taxation upon articles of luxury.

The main means that the Government adopted in order to increase the tax on luxuries was the raising to 66$ per cent, of the sales tax on ladies' cosmetics and on shaving soap and razor blades. Those were the luxuries that the Government wished to dissuade the people from using.

Then we come to the twelfth point in a fourteen-point programme. The Prime Minister said -

We will . . . convene ... a conference of the Public Service Commissioners of the Commonwealth and of the States and of outside persons of administrative experience to find out to what extent there is avoidable overlapping between Commonwealth and State Departments, and to make recommendations for the elimination of this overlapping in the interests of economy.

The conference never met. It has not met once in ten years. All these pious platitudes and all this nonsense that the Prime Minister uttered in his two broadcasts of 1950 were meant to have a soporific effect and were never intended as a programme of action. If they were intended as a programme of action, why have we had all the inaction?

What has happened in the ten years that have elapsed since this Government took office? In 1949, Australia's currency was better than that of any other country in the Western world. What has happened since? Figures supplied to the Parliament by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) indicate that in the last ten years prices have risen 98 per cent, in Australia, 52 per cent, in Great Britain, 50 per cent, in Canada and only 18 per cent, in the United States of America. Any one who listened to the Government would believe that the battle against inflation had been fought and won. I recall the previous Treasurer saying triumphantly in this chamber in one Budget speech that inflation had been arrested. If it was ever arrested, it was never locked up. It escaped very soon afterwards and it has been at large ever since. I remember an occasion when my distinguished right honorable friend, the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in the enthusiasm of his oratorical efforts, said, " We now have permanent prosperity ". The Prime Minister, of course, being a little more moderate than was his younger colleague, contented himself with the observation that we were enjoying unparalleled prosperity.

There is prosperity in Australia. We could not avoid it, because the Chifley Government laid the foundations for it. Any inflation that exists in this country to-day is the result of this Government's administration. What has it done in the way of creative effort. What scheme such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme has it started? What amendments of the Australian Constitution has it made in order to enable the Australian people to live better?


Mr Harold Holt - The honorable member did not talk about that in Queensland recently.


Mr CALWELL - The Treasurer reminds me that he and I were in Brisbane last week. I recall that he had an attendance of 32 at a meeting in Rockhampton which he addressed in company with the Queensland Premier and the now famous mayor of that city. Of course, it rained that night. I spoke there two nights later. I must admit that I had a few more in the audience, but not too many more.


Mr Hulme - Who won the election in Queensland?


Mr CALWELL - The Country-Liberal Government won under a gerrymandered electoral system. The electorates there are so gerrymandered that the Liberal Party and the Country Party, with only 45 per cent, of the votes, won the election. But they constitute a minority government. With only 45 per cent, of the votes, they won 43 seats. The Australian Labour Party received 42 per cent, of the votes and won 26 seats. Perhaps I may give members of the Liberal Party in this chamber who hail from Queensland another break-down of the figures by pointing out that the Country Party, with 10 per cent, fewer votes than the Liberal Party, won six more seats than the Liberal Party has. If members of the Liberal Party are satisfied with that kind of gerrymandering, they are easily satisfied. The Country-Liberal Government in Queensland will live for another three years, but not much longer. The tides are running out against capitalist governments everywhere.

The Treasurer had something to say in Queensland about the Deputy Leader of the Queensland Labour Party, who represented a minority party and who, if he were returned, would be one of very few representatives of that party. The Treasurer said that that gentleman was as helpless as was a beetle on its back. Is not that a fair description of the Treasurer's position to-day in the battle against inflation? Is he not as helpless as is a beetle on its back? What has he done over the last ten or eleven months? He has done nothing at all in his period as Treasurer .to correct -the swing towards inflation. He has, of course, exhorted people to spend less. He has asked his friends of the employing class - the big employers and monopolists - to make smaller profits. In Queensland, he said, " We told the Arbitration Commission that :at this time it should not grant an increase in the basic wage ". The operative words are " We told ".


Mr Harold Holt - Who said it?


Mr CALWELL - The Minister said it. He was reported to that effect in the daily press. Surely he will not try to tell me that the capitalist press misreports him.


Mr Harold Holt - We put a case to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission


Mr CALWELL - What the right honorable gentleman said was, "We told the Arbitration Commission . . ." Is that synonymous with a request or with an instruction?


Mr Harold Holt - We presented a case.


Mr CALWELL - I believe that the Government instructed the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to do what it did. That is not just my opinion. It is the opinion of quite a number of independent authorities.


Mr Harold Holt - The honorable member is thinking of his own party's tactics with the judiciary.


Mr CALWELL - Our tactics with the judiciary were never to pack the benches. That is what this Government has resorted to, and I have a pretty shrewd idea that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is working on some ideas to interfere further in the matter.


Mr Harold Holt - Your former leader would be interested in that.


Mr CALWELL - My distinguished former leader could have been a judge of the High Court of Australia if we had wished to appoint him. We could have passed a bill if we had wanted to do so; but this Government arranged with Sir Hayden Starke and Sir George Rich to defer their resignations from the High Court bench so that this Government could appoint to the bench persons of its own political kidney.


Mr Harold Holt - That is rubbish.


Mr CALWELL - It is true. The fight against inflation will never be finished until this Commonwealth Parliament has adequate powers to deal with the problem. I have said that time and time again. That is the opinion of the joint committee which was appointed by this Government to examine the Constitution. That committee sat for three years. It included some of the best men the Government could put on it from its own ranks, and in that committee's opinion at least 22 important alterations of the Constitution are vital and necessary if the Commonwealth Parliament is to be clothed with power to legislate for the peace, security and good government of the people pf Australia. Yet the Government does nothing about the matter. It merely issues exhortations to the people. It recites incantations. It appeals to the employees not to be troublesome and difficult, and it expects, when its oratory is finished, that the problems of the country will be all solved. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has been so bemused by the Government that he said in this Parliament as recently as 15th March -

.   . the principal solution to inflation lies in the Prime Minister's hands because of his great capacity for oratory . . .

You can talk your way out of anything, according to supporters of the Government. The Government has had ten years in which to grapple with the problem of inflation and it has done nothing about it. When he was in Queensland last week, the Commonwealth Treasurer said -

We have done two things by which we hope to win the battle of inflation. We have told the Arbitration Commission not to increase the wages of the workers and we have lifted import restrictions.


Mr Harold Holt - The workers' wages have doubled under this Government.


Mr CALWELL - And the cost of living has more than doubled to the average person. Even the lifting of import restrictions is not going to be helpful to all workers. There are dangers inherent in that action. The people who are employed in the electrical trade, the boot and shoe trade, the clothing trade, in the production of textiles and in the toy trade are all badly affected by what is happening since the lifting of import restrictions. In the city of Ballarat, in Victoria, 40 employees in the process department of one big company, the Villiers Engineering Company, were retrenched a week ago. The managing director of Victa Consolidated Industries Proprietary Limited received a letter from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is also the Acting Prime Minister, in which the right honorable gentleman said, after examining the position affecting the company -

These considerations lead me to the conclusion that emergency action against imports of American engines is not warranted. I would, however, be prepared to re-examine the matter on production of evidence of serious damage to the local industry or evidence that serious damage will occur.

Having said that he would not consider the matter at all, the Acting Prime Minister, as Minister for Trade, did examine it, and now the matter goes to the Tariff Board. This Government's policy regarding import restrictions is one of catch-as-catch-can. That is the sort of thing the Australian people do not approve. The Government has no real policy to deal with inflation or the unemployment that is created by inflation. Workers are being thrown out of the ordnance works in Bendigo today.


Mr Hulme - They are not.


Mr CALWELL - They are. Difficulty has arisen at Mulwala, and I addressed a question to the Acting Prime Minister on Bendigo and Williamstown last week. The right honorable gentleman courteously replied that he would consider the matter, but he gave a warning that the Government could not maintain in employment all people who are engaged on government projects. As I said, I spoke about the people who were thrown out of work at the naval dockyards at Williamstown, and again we were promised that consideration would be given to steps that could be taken to help them. Workers are being thrown out of the aircraft production establishment in Fairfield, Victoria. Some are being dispensed with entirely. Some are to be absorbed. The Treasurer asked us why we do not talk about inflation or supply. These are the products of inflation and the inflationary policies that this Government is practising.

Now, Sir, I want to refer to a few other victims of the Government as a result of uncontrolled inflation. Ever since this Government has been in power, we have become inured to inflation of one sort or another. Some days it is galloping inflation and some days it is creeping inflation, but it is always inflation. It is always with us. There are other victims of inflation about whom the Government cares nothing. There are the people on fixed incomes who want the means test eliminated or progressively eased. In that connexion, I refer to another document of the Liberal Party which was scattered among its friends and supporters, a document which was published in 1951. On the front page, the publishers have superimposed the photogenic features of the Prime Minister. It is unmistakably a true Liberal Party document. In it the Prime Minister stated - we understand the difficult problem of the pensioners in a period in which prices are rising.

Then in thick type, heavy enough to trip a tramcar, the Prime Minister's statement continues -

We may be relied upon to do full justice to their needs, as we have done before. Meanwhile we are, as we promised, working on the important problem of providing national retiring allowances on a basis which will not discourage thrift.

That was ten years ago. The Government was working on a programme then and it is still working on a programme; but it has never produced a programme to provide a national insurance scheme. I have a letter from the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in which he said it would cost £130,000,000 to abolish the means test. He said there were 650,000 pensioners in Australia to-day and there were 650,000 more of pensionable age who are debarred from receiving the pension because of a means test. But the Government proposes to do nothing at all about any section of those people. We in the Australian Labour Party believe in progressively easing the means test. We stated that during the last general election campaign. Had we received the preference of a splinter group which believed in the policy we enunciated because its leaders said precisely the same thing, we would have been the government of Australia to-day in place of these people opposite. They were elected to office by a section of the community that believes the Government's economic and social policy is entirely wrong and disadvantageous to the interests of Australia.

There is not the slightest doubt that the pensioners of Australia are worse off now than they have been at any time in the past ten years. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who, without any justification whatever, has gone on a jaunt to Geneva, have both said that the pensioners of Australia have never had it so good. I ask honorable members whether they could find among all the pensioners one who would say that he is better off under the Menzies Government than he was under the Chifley Government. Every one of them would say that he or she was worse off. But Government supporters cook the figures. They base their claims on the C series index. The Opposition bases its claims on the basic wage as determined by the court over the last ten years, and the Court has added prosperity loadings to the basic wage. Are pensioners not just as entitled to share in prosperity as are the basic wage earners? If they are, they should be getting a higher pension.

All around Australia to-day, people are demanding more Commonwealth assistance for education. Not one State says that it has enough money with which to deal with its educational problems. In Labour's policy speech which the former Leader of this party delivered in 1958, we went on record as stating -

.   . a three-fold crisis exists, shortage of teachers, a tidal wave of students and insatiable demands for school accommodation beyond the resources of the States. . . . We are equally determined that the children shall receive full educational facilities and opportunities.

We promised that if a Labour government were elected we would make an immediate and urgent examination of primary, secondary and technical education. We said -

The Murray Report shows clearly that there will never be full and adequate university education unless primary, secondary and technical education are also advanced.

Then followed our promise to appoint a commission to inquire into all forms of primary, secondary and technical education on the same lines as the Murray committee which reported on university education. We challenge this Government, now, to appoint such a commission. If it does not, it is indifferent to the educational needs of the Australian people. Surely we are not indifferent to what is happening in our country in the field of education! The United States of America is doing much more than we are doing. England is doing much more than we are doing. Russia is doing much more than we are doing.

The gross national product in Russia, according to a professor of Harvard University whose statement is reported in the current issue of the " Economic Record ", is increasing by 10 per cent, annually; in the United States of America the gross national product is increasing by from 3 to 5 per cent, annually; and in Australia by from 2 to 3 per cent, annually. Russia does not need to go to war to conquer the world. Russia need only concentrate on its trade possibilities and it can outsell us in all the uncommitted markets of the world and sway neutral Asian countries towards its cause. We have nothing to offer. We are not producing enough, anywhere near enough, scientists or technicians to develop this country. None of us can be smug about the matter.

I would like to remind members of the Australian Country Party who sit in the corner of the chamber that the American carry-over of wheat every year exceeds all the wheat that Australia produces in eight years. Canada's surplus is ten times that of Australia. The United States now holds accumulated surpluses of food to the value of £3,000,000,000. Every year it is spending tens of thousands of dollars in providing more accommodation in which to dump more surpluses which it cannot sell overseas. The United States either undersells us or gives its food away. So the future looks dim for the Australian wheatgrower.

In wool production, upon which we depend largely for the funds that we need in London to finance the importation of essential capital and consumer goods, Russia will soon be outclassing us. But the Government goes complacently along and says, " There is nothing much to worry about. Everything will be all right provided the Menzies Government is kept in office." We of the Labour Party keep reminding this Government of how disastrous the situation in Australia might become. Recently, the Treasurer closed a loan for £25,000,000 which was undersubscribed, I think, by £3,500,000. He cannot attract money for essential State works. Not enough money is available to finance the public sector of the economy, to provide roads, schools,- bridges and everything else without which the private sector of the economy cannot function. But a gentleman named L. J. Hooker, who has an investment corporation the chairman of which is Sir Arthur Fadden, the former Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and the vice-chairman of which is Senator Sir Neil O'sullivan, closed his issue of £500,000 at 8 per cent, with an over-subscription of £2,000,000. There is plenty of money where 8 per cent, is offered; there is not enough money where 4 or 5 per cent, is offered.

The Government does nothing to restrain the rapacity of those people who offer 8 per cent, and who lend the money out to unfortunate victims at 8 per cent, flat, which is the equivalent of 16 per cent, per annum. The history of this country and of every country shows that exorbitant interest rates ultimately bring about a crash. But when we ask the Government to do something about it, Ministers wash their hands, Pontius Pilate fashion, and say, " It is not our responsibility. We have not the power." Let them seek the power, and we will help them to get it. We can answer for 43 per cent, of the people. I know that the Government's influence is dwindling, but it has to persuade only another 8 per cent, of Australians to carry this proposal into law and this Parliament will then have the power that it needs for the nation, not merely to survive, but to progress.

The Treasurer has told us, on occasion, that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has told the private trading banks that they must restrict credit. But the private banks merely laugh at the Government and pass their money over to their hire-purchase companies which extend credit for them. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) raised this matter by way of a question a short time ago. Since that time several private banks have increased the holdings of their hire-purchase subsidiaries.


Mr Fox - They use shareholders' funds.


Mr CALWELL - If the honorable member for Henty is fooled as easily as that, he is the only member of this Parliament who is likely to fall into that predicament. While the average worker in Australia is struggling to meet the cost of living, while the Arbitration Commission refuses to give the basic wage worker an increase in the basic wage commensurate with the prosperity about which the Government talks so much, big companies are making enormous profits - greater profits than they have ever made before. The Consolidated Zinc Corporation Limited made £2,600,000 last year as against £1,000,000 the year before, an increase of 154 per cent. Industrial Sales and Service (New South Wales) Proprietary Limited doubled its previous year's profit. James

Hardie Asbestos Limited increased its profit by 35.6 per cent. Patons and Baldwins (Australia) Limited increased its profit by 51.4 per cent. Brick Industries Limited increased its profit by 30 per cent. Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited doubled its previous year's profit and most of the companies that could be cited in this connexion deal in household construction materials. Brick kilns, timber companies, electrical companies and all these other people are having a feast, a glorious time while this Government lasts, but the great mass of the people are making a very heavy sacrifice.


Mr Anderson - What notes is the honorable member speaking from?


Mr CALWELL - I am speaking from the stock exchange report. If the honorable member for Hume in the few months that he has left as a member of this Parliament would only read the " Sydney Morning Herald " which he once read with such avidity, particularly the issue of 2nd March last, he would at least begin to understand the problems with which the nation is confronted. Referring to the Prime Minister's speech, the " Sydney Morning Herald " said this, editorially -

It was delivered with astonishing frankness to the address of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission-

And I draw particular attention to the next statement - whose members must already be feeling a little punch drunk from the rain of blows that has lately fallen on their normally well-insulated heads.

That is the opinion of one of my favourite newspapers. This Government has to take notice of the fact that its policy is not winning support among the people nor is it winning support overseas. Even the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank had this to say -

For the future, we must rely increasingly on our capacity to reduce real costs of production by increasing productivity through better technology and our ability to keep the movement of our internal money costs favourable compared with those in competitive countries.

We have not done it, we are not doing it and while this Government lasts, we will not be able to do it. This Government is relying almost entirely upon the inflow of overseas capital to bridge the gap between exports and imports. If that money ever dries up and we cannot get enough money' from Switzerland, France, America or England and we cannot borrow from theJapanese or possibly the Russian Communists or the Chinese Communists, then therewill be a halt to the country's expansion. The Governor of the Bank of Canada had this to say -

There is no reason in principle why Canada could not make great progress without drawing on the savings of foreigners on a huge scale to finance our capital expenditures or consumption.

That gentleman spoke from a wealth of experience because Canada's policy of allowing any go-getter to invest in Canadian securities has resulted in the situation where 60 per cent, of Canadian shares are owned in some American city or other. Surely the Treasurer does not want to place us in a position where we are almost completely owned by overseas interests. We ought to be able to do what other countries have done, but we have not done it.

Now for the benefit of the members of the Australian Country Party, who seem to have sold their souls to this Government, let me remind them that the number of persons engaged on rural holdings in the last year that Labour was in power was 400,772 but the figure in 1958 was 393,853 despite the fact that the Australian population had increased from 7,500,000 to 10,250,000 in the meantime. Let me tell them, too, that the average farm income in 1949-50 was £448 but in 1958-59 it had dropped to an estimated £408. In the year 1948-49 the total of personal incomes in Australia was £1,917,000,000 but in 1958-59 it was £4,778,000,000. All through those years the farmers' incomes have been falling. People have been moving off the land and the primary producers of Australia can no longer look to members of the Country Party and the rich young squatters of the Liberal Party to protect them in their plight. Australia must return a Labour Government at the next election, and Australia will do so.







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