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, 12 September 1973
Page: 901

Mr HANSEN (Wide Bay) - Perhaps it is time the Whip got cracking. I should like to say a few words about this Budget which has pushed members of the Opposition to the verge of hysteria. As I heard the remarks of my colleague, the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), I felt a little like the man who had been a feeding a dog on steak for a week and the first time he went to pat it, it bit off his fingers. Having agreed to allow more speakers from the Opposition and having agreed to stand down for them, I find that members opposite have treated this generosity as a weakness. Well, we can always amend this. .

I should like to comment on what was said by the honourable member for Wimmera. He spoke of meat and said that the meat industry had been doing very well on its own, without any assistance. I do not know that this is altogether correct because quite an amount of assistance has been given to the meat industry by this and previous governments. But when the honourable member said that if we place ties on people and on production, sure enough we will find that the people are going to want this food, my mind went back a little over . 12 months and I thought of those wheat quotas which were introduced and how people were told that they could not sell their wheat. We know what went on in black market dealings in wheat and we knew that before the season was out, people would be crying around the world, looking for wheat to sell. This is the position.

Mr Lloyd - Tell us about the' $40m dairy subsidy which you promised during the last election campaign.

Mr HANSEN - If the honourable member for Murray could show any proof that I promised $40m to any dairy industry I would be very happy to see it. I would remind him, when he is talking about dairy industries, that in the last Budget his Government reduced assistance to the dairy industry by $13m - not $9m - and it did not make any arrangements for any part of that money which was taken from the dairy industry to be used for readjustment purposes for the industry. No assistance at all was provided by the previous Government, and $13m was taken away from the industry. I do not remember too many cries coming from that corner of the House on that occasion, 12 months ago. Honourable members opposite should cast their minds back. The honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson) attended a meeting with me in Ipswich and he will tell honourable members opposite what I said. I referred to the phasing out of assistance to the industry and the way it is being done at the moment.

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You said you would fix it when you were in government, and what did you do?

Mr HANSEN - The honourable member for Cowper is in the chamber; he would know this and could verify what I have said. Someone at the meeting asked me whether the Labor Party would be phasing out assistance and I said yes.

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You did not; tell the truth!

Mr Willis - Mr Deputy Speaker, is it not about time honourable members opposite shut up and let the speaker have a bit of a chance?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!I think we might have a little more decorum.

Mr HANSEN - What some people do not seem to understand or will not admit is that this Budget was prepared to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The emphasis has been changed so that it assists those people in need. There is a reference in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) to broken promises. In this Budget - the first in 24 years by a Labor government - the first step has been taken in the alleviation of the means test. In 1949 the Liberal-Country Party Government promised to lift the means test and 24 years later, the first step has been taken by a Labor government. Value in the pound! Let us not talk about inflation; let us compare the 1949 pound to the $2 of today or, if you like, the $2 of 6 months ago. The facts are that the Labor Party in a little over 9 months in office has done more for the people of Australia in equating the distribution of assistance and wealth in Australia than the Liberal-Country Party Government did over a period of 23 years.

It is a time honoured tradition in Budget debates to go through the pages of the Budget with a fine comb and seek out and enlarge out of all proportion some new and daring measures that the Government proposes. There are new and daring measures. This Budget represents an altogether different approach. The easiest form of criticism is to paint a terrifying picture to the public of the immediate poverty facing them. Just a few moments ago I was speaking to the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and he told me that in the past month there was a record amount of overtime worked in Australia. What was the picture 9 months ago, just before the election? Over 120,000 people were looking for jobs and could not be placed in jobs. Under Labor these people have a job. Honourable members opposite can worry about inflation, but if we give people an honesty of purpose to allow them to work and to be able to pay their debts as they come around, it is more important than inflation. This is what has happened in this Budget.

We have kept our promise not to increase personal income tax. What has been the pattern over the last few years under a Liberal-Country Party government? Income tax has gone up by 2.5 per cent, down by 2.5 per cent and up by 2.5 per cent again. It has been up and down like a yo-yo, or, as it was described by one of my colleagues, like a toilet seat at a mixed party. This is what has been happening. It is true that there have been some changes and people have been asked to make some contributions in other respects. They have been asked to pay a little more for the spirits that they drink or for the cigarettes that they smoke. But it is in their hands to control how much tax they pay in that regard. It is up to the people to control their own excesses and determine how much tax they will pay. Perhaps petrol might be regarded as a necessity. But, as the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) said very rightly, the people associated with business can claim the cost of their petrol against their income tax. However, the wage earner cannot claim the petrol that he uses to go to work.

Mr King - Well, what about him?

Mr HANSEN - That is right; he cannot claim it, yet honourable members opposite say that the wage earner is being helped along while the people in other areas are being prejudiced. The wage earner can also control his consumption of petrol and he would be far better off paying a little extra excise on petrol than he would be paying an extra 2.5 per cent in income tax that may have been imposed by a Liberal-Country Party government. Income tax may even have been put up a little further by such a government. It is very seldom that it would be reduced.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Mr HANSEN - Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was referring to the benefits passed on by the Budget and how the emphasis has changed with the present Government. Under the former Government expenditure did not go to assist the people most in need and was not allocated with some sort of equity within the Australian society, but the emphasis has been changed by the Labor Government. I pointed out how people could, by controlling their excess desires, limit the amount of indirect taxation they would pay. I was referring to the purchase of cigarettes, tobacco and spirits, and to some extent also to the use of petrol. Revenue is obtained from excise not merely to annoy the public. It is used to carry out policies which the previous Government did not have the courage to introduce. It preferred to drift along, postponing social reforms that it may have deemed necessary but did not have the initiative to implement. It remained simply as a belief, without action being taken.

The Labor Government has vastly increased expenditure on education, including the introduction of free tertiary education. This is surely an epoch making step which is unprecedented in the Western world. The community should reap enough benefits from that move alone to offset the measly few cents excise added to cigarettes, alcoholic drinks and petrol. In this country for ages we have been paying lip service to the maxim that Australia stands or falls by its education system, that only a high level of brain power will enable us to match the rest of the world in science, technology, and pure research. Now we have decided to move towards equality with the other developed countries and members of the Opposition are screaming their heads off about the cost. One could be led to believe that their platform, and their negative policies of the past are more appealing to the uneducated and the ignorant.

I notice that some Country Party members have come into the chamber. I would like to read to them from a report of the Country Party Conference which includes a reference to the presentation by a select committee of a 23-page document on ways of halting inflation. The report was released by Mr Mike Evans, the Queensland Secretary of the Country Party. He advocated the imposition of limits on the growth of Federal and State public services; elimination of deficit financing so that all governments would have to balance their budgets; and foreign investment to be confined to where it would result in an increase in production. That is a laugh.

He advocated that investment allowances be confined to areas leading to greater productivity and not to those likely to encourage non-productive capital works or speculation, and also that there be moves to discourage speculators in land and buildings in urban and rural areas. I do not think that that proposal would get much support from the Premier of Queensland in view of his reaction when the Queensland Minister for Lands and Forestry commendably co-operated with the Brisbane City Council to halt land speculation.

The Premier on his return to Queensland hastened to disclaim anything that Mr Rae, the Minister for Lands and Forestry, had said. He said that the move would interfere with the right of private enterprise to make profits. The Country Party also advocated a national review of tariffs to be speeded up as opposed to the ineffectual, arbitrary acrosstheboard reduction recently applied. That is after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party government.

The Budget also contains important housing provisions and I am pleased to note that the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) is now at the table. I congratulate him on what he has achieved in reducing the waiting time for homes and making homes available, particularly in areas where they are most needed and to people who in many cases are unable to purchase a home of their own. I also congratulate him on the action he has taken on interest rates. For the first time for many years the Minister for Housing has initiated a housing agreement with the States making available to them at 4 per cent over 5 years sums of money that have never been equalled in the past and which exceed previous allocations. In this Budget up to $2 18m is being allocated for housing and at a 4 per cent interest rate which is fixed for 4 or 5 years. Previous rates of interest in housing agreements between the Commonwealth and the States have been tied within 1 per cent of the bond rate. I congratulate the Minister for Housing for what he has done in this regard.

With experts assuring us that leisure time is certain to increase, possibly to 3 clear days a week soon, it would be irresponsible not to start catering for the recreation needs of our community. The allocation of $6.2m for recreation and sport is probably small when compared with the massive efforts of many other countries but I again proudly remind honourable members that it is the first time in the history of this Parliament that such a need has been acknowledged and moves to meet this demand have been started.

Tourism is yet another field where the Budget shows a more enterprising spirit than the so-called free enterprise Opposition ever did in its 23 years of power. Through various establishments and means, the Government will make grants and loans available to the tourist industry in the hope of revitalising it. Some honourable members may feel that tourism is a private matter better left to the individual. They may ask: Why bother about it? At this moment the Australian tourist industry is earning approximately $2,400m a year and it employs about one-tenth of the work force. This capacity must not only be maintained but should be stimulatively increased. This section of the work force employs a large number of unskilled female workers, particularly in many country towns. Through a number of measures the Government hopes also to attract more overseas tourists to Australia, thereby reducing the awesome travel gap that now stands at a deficit of about $220m a year. The aim will not be to restrict Australians in their overseas travel, but to lure more overseas travellers to Australia. From that, a' host of industries will benefit. I instance accommodation, service industries, airlines, manufacturers and so on.

The honourable member for Lang, .the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart), described this Budget as 'a very Australian Budget' and I agree with him. The Budget clearly puts Australia's interests ahead of any other interest. It hopes to make life better and happier for the majority of the people even if, in the process, some totally undeserved and unfair old privileges for a few have to be chucked overboard. I thank the Minister for Tourism.

I commend this Budget to the House. I realise that not everyone can be pleased with everything that the Government does. Some of the measures that have been introduced I perhaps would prefer to have seen introduced with a little more notice but I believe that Australia has a sympathetic government which recognises the problems of the people and realises that something must be done in certain spheres and it has acted. If the Opposition points out that all our election promises have not been carried out, I remind it that the Government has at least 2 more years in office. This Budget is the forerunner of many more Budgets that will be introduced by Mr Crean as the Federal Treasurer. I have much pleasure in supporting the Budget.

Suggest corrections