Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 31 August 1960


Mr HAWORTH (Isaacs) .- I am very glad that the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) made some remarks about communism and industrial administration because I would like to join issue with him on those subjects later in my remarks. I want, now, to say something about the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure because this is the Budget session. It is traditionally the time at which the Government gives an account of its treasurership for the past twelve months. I think, too, that the taxpayers look to the Opposition, at this time, to see what financial proposals it would implement if it were in government. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has moved that these Estimates be reduced by £1 indicates his wish that, through a vote in this chamber, the Government should be compelled to stand down and allow the socialists to implement the policy which he announced in his speech on the Budget.

What did he suggest as Australia's fiscal policy for 1961? I think it can be summarized in three words - " Amend the Constitution ". According to the Leader of the Opposition, all our troubles begin with this Constitution of ours. According to him. altering the Constitution would be almost as simple as turning on and off the light. But he knows that that is not the case. He knows that, over a long period of time, it has been impossible to get the States to agree to alter the Constitution. That has been the experience of Labour and Liberal governments alike, and the position is not likely to alter in the future.

In truth, I thought that the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was most depressing. I suppose that that must be understood because he was so long associated with his predecessor, the recent honorable member for Hunter, that he cannot help being an apostle of pessimism. Indeed, I thought that he set the pattern for the speeches of the whole of the Opposition. We are becoming accustomed to these cries of woe but on this occasion, I think that the cry from the Opposition benches has become a little more muted and unconvincing. I think that the Opposition is clearly discomfited by the fact that the economic disaster which was foretold by the previous Leader of the Opposition on many occasions is very slow in arriving. It must be very disheartening for many members of the Opposition to see their new leader following the path which was travelled by Dr. Evatt and offering nothing new and nothing constructive in financial thinking for the country's future, but only a dismal dissertation on calamity!

At Budget time, we look naturally to the indexes and indicators and I think we tend to be concerned primarily with those things that we can measure. As the Opposition has made no reference to these, nor to the ever-serious rents in our social fabric, I propose to make some brief reference to them. I think that the document, " National Income and Expenditure 1959-60", better known as the " White Paper ", is a clear indication that we are enjoying more amenities to-day than we have ever enjoyed before. Those amenities are spread over a greater number of people than ever previously in the history of the Commonwealth. The White Paper shows that expenditure on electrical goods which includes television receivers has been a major factor in increases of personal consumption and that this expenditure has increased by a substantial 18 per cent. The gross private expenditure on fixed capital equipment during the last twelve months has been staggering. Expenditure on station wagons and cars has risen by 26 per cent. That figure is £56,000,000; and the number of new trucks registered increased by 15 per cent. Average earnings in the last financial year rose by 7 per cent, compared with those in the previous year and, in the latter part of the year, by 9 per cent., while total employment was about 3i per cent, higher for the year. You cannot just dismiss all those facts with a wave of the arm and say: " These things mean nothing. The country is in a deplorable mess and we do not enjoy prosperity." Such a statement would not be true. The question that the taxpayer must ask himself to-day when considering the proposals made by the Opposition compared with those of the Government as set out in its Budget is: " Can I live more securely under a government controlled by the Leader of the Opposition? Would I have more security under his control, or would I have more security under the present Government? "

Perhaps the most sobering thought that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) put forward during his speech came towards the end of his discourse, when he said, " Free enterprise will destroy this country ". I suppose I can add the sentence which he left to our own imaginations - " When I return I will replace the present system with my own doctrine of socialism, because I believe in socialism ". Strange as it may seem, outside the leading Communists of this country, those who wish to see this country completely socialized have never seen a completely socialized country at work. I hope to say something about that matter at a later stage. In the meantime, let me say that the White Paper from which I have just quoted is a most interesting document, lt clearly shows that we have more motor cars, television sets and refrigerators than ever before. We are spending more money than previously on tobacco, cigarettes, beer, food and housing. More housing has been erected in the last twelve months than ever before in our history.

But it is in the complacent atmosphere created by those thoughts that I want to strike a rather sour note, because all the amenities mentioned in that White Paper to which I have referred are what might be described as cash register standards. I concede that they are indicators of Australia's prosperity, and that the country is doing well; but it is our human standards which, I submit, are thoroughly out of balance. Matters such as these fall under no convenient heading at present for national discussion. It is hard to get any attention paid to these things to which I have referred, particularly at present when we live in prosperous times and people are considering the question of man's first flight into space and matters such as that. They are, of course, none the less vital, but I think budget time is the time to stop a moment and consider some of the human standards.

I want to refer particularly to some of the rents, as I call them, in our colourful fabric of to-day. I describe them as matters of very great moment. I wish to discuss them under two headings; the gullibility of labour and the apathy of management. I say that labour is gullible to-day because after all the direct experience that the trade unions have had in this country of the intention of the Communists to destroy, one would think they would have learnt something. But the fact of the matter is the unions have learnt nothing and because of this the Communists, in some important trade unions, are carrying on their corrosion with great effectiveness - an effectiveness greater than ever previously. This, to me, is a serious matter for Australia, because T believe that many of our economic problems to-day start right at that particular spot.

Never since the war, in all probability, have we had in this country fewer card- carrying Communists. Possibly never since the war. in this country, have these few people been so well placed to cause havoc in our community. The schism in the ranks of political Labour has resulted in thwarting the efforts of apparently the only force in the trade unions which had the means and the backbone and the will to stop Communism. In the meantime, one can appreciate the confidence that this has given to the Communists, who have changed their ways and their techniques, but not their objectives. Among the changes so noticeable to-day is a tendency to offer Peking as the workers' paradise rather than Moscow. There is a very marked reluctance these days to admit to any more identification than a unity ticket. One thing which is not changed is the clear and deliberate preference that Communists have for singling out the transport unions as their number one objective. It is most alarming that, once again, Australia, in a very critical time of our development, is beginning to have transport hold-ups cutting right across the whole course of industry and bringing quite a disproportionate burden of costs to our economy.

I say that this is at a critical time, because we have a great opportunity at this period in our history to make some progress in our export markets. Indeed, we must do so, if we are to overcome some of our difficulties with regard to overseas balances. We cannot rely on foreign capital to come to our relief all the time. I have in my hand some estimates made in the Department of Labour and National Service, which show that in the first six months of this year 295,000 man-days were lost through industrial stoppages. If we take it over the whole range of employment, the loss for the first six months of this year was equivalent to a loss of roughly threequarters of an hour working time per worker. The principal increases this year in lost man-days occurred in the stevedoring, rail, shipping and shipbuilding and repair industries.

Another thing which has not changed is the cynical Communist doctrine that the workers in the West - and of course that means Australia - must be deceived into working less and less, yet workers in Communist countries are dragooned into working more and more. That is the most amazing aspect of these tactics of trying to deceive the worker in Australia to-day into working less while we know definitely that in Communist countries the workers are dragooned into working more and more. I was in several of the industrial satellite countries in Europe last year - countries which are completely socialized and communized - and there was no nonsense there about a 35-hour week. There were no technical disputes about dirt money on a building job, or passionate claims for more and more leisure. None of those things operated in those countries. Communist Europe to-day is a 46-hour week, three shifts a day country - a labourer's paradise, if you like to call it that - where the unskilled worker works two full shifts to get the price of 1 lb. of butter. Do not forget that Communist Europe is a place where everyone works and, when I say " everyone " I mean everyone. In one Communist country married women with families worked. They must work, or else they do not eat. It is just as simple as that. The price that these people pay for their Communist mobilization is frightening. Their productive output is enormous and their ability to undercut the cost structure of this country, as I was reminded by a leading Communist, is no mere figment of the imagination. Make no mistake - the workers in these satellite countries get no benefit from this cheap production. It is used for other purposes. It is used to further propaganda in Western countries, including Australia. Yet, in spite of this, there are many areas in the Australian trade union movement where Australian workers, who already possess one of the finest living standards in the world, are being persuaded to envy those poor devils who sweat for a Communist boss. Day by day, publications of Australian trade unions are coming up with references to the great achievements of the people's democracies in the red countries, while achievements in this country go unremarked. That is putting into practice an old axiom - " Never advertise your opponents ".

Management in Australia actively helps Communists in some cases. This is where I come to the second portion of my remarks, in which I referred to the apathy of management. I do not think those in management help Communists willingly. However, it only highlights the seriousness of the breach when they do it in ignorance.

The Victorian branch of the red-lining Australian Builder-Labourers Federation was recently able to send its members its fine new monthly magazine called " Unity ", complete with two special feature pictures, the only ones in the publication except for a couple of portraits. One showed a union official in Moscow, and the other showed a new auditorium built in Peking. The Communist-line propaganda running through the magazine ranges from the fairly subtle to the frankly crude. But this is the staggering thing: This well-prepared 68- page publication printed to the greater glory of communism would never have been possible if it were not for the fact that no fewer than approximately 100 different advertisements, paid for at a very handsome rate, carry some names that are the very embodiment of Australian capitalism. This prompts me to ask: Are the managers of the companies and firms concerned so sure that the Communist influence in this union is harmless? Are they so careless of their money that they do not bother to check where it goes? Or are they so concerned to have peace at any price that they pay up and shut up and let their money be used to glorify the work of the Chinese reds?

To the Australian workers I suggest that this is the time to stop being gullible. There is work to be done here in Australia, make no mistake about that - work to be done in improving still further the standards that already make us the envy of the world. If they think that the healthy state of the economy is good background to a Communist plea for shorter hours, they are making a most dangerous mistake. The fact is that countries everywhere, and particularly those that I visited, are pushing up production at a faster rate than we are, and if the reds can. by propaganda, slow us down, they will bring us much faster to the day when liberty and still more liberty will be lost in this country. To Australian management I suggest that apathy has crept into some surprising places. Wherever management is supine in allowing Communist propaganda to make a lodgment it is doing a disservice to Australia.

Now I would like to say something briefly about our export trade from another angle, because we are all anxious to see our European, and perhaps particularly our South-East Asian, markets develop to a greater extent than they have in the past, since this type of business can help our overseas balances which can do such a lot towards reducing inflation. I am sure that the Australian trade ship to visit SouthEast Asian markets in March, 1961, will enjoy the blessing and carry the good wishes of all honorable members, but it will require more than just good shop windows and good salesmen to sell our products and build up goodwill in the East. It will require bold and vigorous methods in regard to enterprise.

The management in this country that waxes fat and stagnant by seeing nothing else but the home market, and ignores the challenge of exports, does Australia a very great disservice. In the past industrial management, generally speaking, in this country has not been export-minded. Those in management want export business when the home market is quiet, but are prepared to ignore and treat the overseas customer with scant courtesy when the home market is good. The Department of Trade, as we know, is spending large sums every year in bringing overseas buyer and Australian seller together. Too often the seller becomes indifferent to following up the contact, and so another potential customer is lost to Australia. There is a challenge in these days right here at our doorstep. It is an economic and political challenge.

I urge the Parliament to get to grips with the problem of expansion on a sound foundation. It is a matter of regret to me that the Treasurer found it necessary to limit funds for a number of projects, in spite of existing agreements with the States. I am sorry he has not been able to implement fully the Hume report on depreciation for income tax purposes, because anything that will help industry to meet, more favorably, our overseas competition, should be encouraged by the Government and the Treasury. Time will not permit me to develop that argument, but I think honorable members will agree that anything that will tend to retard inflation, build up our export markets and reduce costs, such as automation and the use of better knowhow, is all to the good.

Finally, I urge the Parliament to get our problems of expansion into sound perspective. We live in a world which is thrusting forward at a spectacular rate, and we must keep abreast of that pace. Millions of people just north of us are losing more of their liberty every day in the interests of greater production and greater development - something we have to learn more about. Capitalism and democracy are being seriously challenged by hard-working Communist countries. If we heeded the arguments of honorable members opposite we would not believe that that is the position. We cannot remain here in a South Seas paradise indefinitely with a rate of national expansion below that of so much of the world, and still retain our present living standards. The plea that I make is that we do more with our natural resources and make more of our national purpose. All that labour and management can do towards bringing about a happier state of affairs should be done, and I believe that both labour and management should take a greater interest in the affairs of the unions and of industry. I support the Budget because I believe it is a good budget that will improve present conditions.







Suggest corrections