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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1554

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) -I am pleased to be able to take part in the Budget debate. In fact, it is the seventh opportunity that I have had to take part in a Budget debate in this Federal Parliament.

Senator McAuliffe - I hope it will be better than the other six.

Senator JESSOP - I must say that this particular Budget is the worst that I have ever had to deal with in almost 7 years of experience in Federal politics. We are dealing with the second Budget that has been brought forward by this socialist government following 23 years of Liberal-Country Party administration. The people of Australia recognise just how significant has been the administration of this Labor Government.

I listened with interest to Senator Hall's contribution. It is the first occasion on which he has been able to take part in a Budget debate in this place. I find myself in some agreement with his criticisms. One would have thought that Senator Hall must have been looking at some of my notes because he touched on areas of concern which I share with him. I was a little disappointed that he criticised the Liberal Party for not being able to offer any solution to our current problems. I think that was unfortunate, because if we read all the statements that have been made by our economic spokesmen and if we read the policies that we put forward during the May election campaign, we very quickly recognise that we have some alternative proposals. If the Government took notice of those proposals, the economic situation of Australia might be quite different today.

I am glad to see that at least one suggestion put forward- that in respect of the reduction in personal income tax- was eventually taken notice of by the Treasurer (Mr Crean). However, we believe that he did not take sufficient notice of this and allowed a reduction of only some $430m. Considering that the Government is reaping a reward in excess of $3,000m in personal taxation, one would have thought that even the Labor Government would have recognised that it could afford to grant in excess of the $600m reduction in personal income tax that Mr Snedden promised during the election campaign.

I would like to comment on one or two points that Senator Hall raised. He touched on areas of concern that I have in South Australia.

Senator McAuliffe - He only touched on Mr Dunstan.

Senator JESSOP -Firstly, with Senator McAuliffe 's permission, I would like to refer to the Redcliffs petrochemical works that it is proposed to construct in South Australia. I think this is one of the greatest political scandals that South Australia has ever seen. During the last State election campaign Mr Dunstan made the great announcement that there would be a $300m petro-chemical works established in that area of South Australia. Today, we are still awaiting anxiously for this to happen. In fact, during that time, no doubt due to the pressures that have been placed on the economy and the costs that have been created by the Federal Labor Government, the estimated cost of this project has risen to no less than $600m. I was particularly concerned not only in relation to the establishment of this industry in South Australia but also in relation to the protection of the environment of the northern Spencer Gulf waters. We know that in South Australia the northern Spencer Gulf area is a spawning area for many varieties of fish. There is very prolific mangrove growth in that area. Nobody seems to know what damage will be done to the ecology of that part of South Australia if the petrochemical works are established. This has caused great concern for the fishing industry in that State.

I have had a little to do with environmental matters, particularly in recent years. As a member of the Joint Committee of Public Works, I can state that the Committee is concerned with environmental studies conducted in relation to any project that it is examining. I am glad to see that the Labor Party has recognised the importance of this matter. Therefore, I took some interest in the environmental studies associated with the petro-chemical works. I should correct that statement because no real effort has been made by the State Government to effect an environmental study in that area. I recall that when I was in the Philippines earlier this year on a tour to examine various matters in that country, I was fortunate enough to have talks with some experts in aquaculture. I raised this question of this petro-chemical industry with the chief aquaculturist at the university or academy that was dealing with this problem. He was conducting experiments in relation to the problem in the Philippines. He was horrified when he learnt that such an industry could be established in that area without proper environmental studies. He urged me to do all I could to influence the State Government in this regard. I thought that the appropriate thing to do would be to consult people that I had met in the United States of America when I visited that country as a member of a delegation in 1971. I was fortunate enough to be able to contact the director of the Southern California Water Project Authority. I think that is the name of the body concerned. By way of correspondence, he was able to put me on to an expert in this field in Puerto Rico. Recently I received some terms of reference that ought to be applied to a proper environmental study of this area of South Australia. I have handed this material to some environmental experts in South Australia who are currently assessing the terms of reference. 1 was glad to see that at last the Government in South Australia has recognised the importance of calling for a public inquiry into this aspect of the petro-chemical development in the northern part of South Australia. I share Senator Hall's concern that the time interval allowed for public inquiry into this matter is insufficient. At least 3 months ought to be given for adequate community response to such an inquiry.

I return to the Budget itself. I was quite amused by the statements made by the Deputy Prime Minister (Dr J. F. Cairns)- he is the present Acting Prime Minister- on the television program 'Federal File' last Sunday. He said: We want the people to produce their way out of inflation'. He made statements such as: 'We are not going to allow people to be unemployed. We are going to encourage the economy to grow and to expand rather than enable it to be contracted. We are going to have flexible policies to help productivity, investment and incentives.' These statements were made in the wake of a Budget produced only a few days prior which will have the reverse effect to the statements that he made on the television program. The actual position is far from what the Deputy Prime Minister stated. The Government does not want the people in Australia to produce their way out of inflation. Rather it is discouraging this. It is applying disincentives wherever we look. I believe that perhaps this can be summed up fairly appropriately in the words of Mr Snedden when he replied to the Budget last week. He said:

In 2 years Government spending will have risen 59 per cent, total receipts will have risen 65 per cent and income taxes will have risen 95 per cent. Is it any wonder we are in a mess, with such structural strains imposed on the economy.

He went on to say:

The private sector has been squeezed and battered, unemployment has been created, the public sector will claim a rich slice of real resources, and the Labor Party hopes that it can take up unemployment by putting people on the public payroll. That is a dream that has already become a nightmare. But its victims are not the Government; its victims have been the people wanting to buy homes. Its victims have been people already thrown out of work and young Australians who will leave school in a few months time to face the biggest job shortage for more than a decade. Its victims are the small businesses which make up the major portion of industrial, manufacturing and commercial strength. Its victims include those people who make up the great rural and mining industries. For all of them, this is a Budget of illusion and delusion.

That just about sums up what I believe this Budget amounts to. It is a Budget of discouragement. It is a Budget of disaster so far as the people of Australia are concerned. After all, the only people who will profit by the inflationary spiral that has been created by this Labor Government will be big business which the Labor Party is helping, and the Government itself. The people who are suffering most are the workers, the small businessmen and those people in the private sector of the economy who have been deprived of the advantages of a free enterprise government. In fact, the Treasurer pointed out this very clearly in his Budget Speech as reported at page 1276 of Hansard, when he said:

The relatively subdued conditions in prospect on the private sector provide the first real opportunity we have had to transfer resources to the public sector.

If this is not a socialistic statement, I will go he for touchy. This Labor Government, as I have said before, is reaping the reward of inflation by collecting more and more surreptitious revenue in the form of taxation from the bread winners of Australia. Certainly the Treasurer took notice of what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has said and has made some tentative approach to reducing personal taxation. This applies only to people who have an income of up to $10,000 a year.

I should like now to talk a little about the problems associated with industrial unrest. Here, I must support the incredulous remarks of Senator Hall when he mentioned the statements reported to have been made by Senator Button. Senator Button is able to correct me if he wishes. In the 'Australian' of today, Senator Button is reported as saying that industrial unrest is a healthy sign.

Senator Button - I never said that.

Senator JESSOP -Then I beg the honourable senator's pardon but he had better make a statement about the matter because he has created some uncertainty in my mind. I thought that butter, or polyunsaturated oil would not melt in Senator Button's mouth because I thought he was a person who had some compassion for and interest in the people and the workers of Australia. I was rather disappointed when I read that particular report in the 'Australian' this morning which stated that Senator Button had said that he thought industrial unrest was a healthy sign. Senator Button was reported as advocating that the unions ought to elect the directors of companies and ought to behave as the people do in Yugoslavia.

I am concerned very much at the fact that the workers of Australia this year have had a record number of strikes under the Government which one would have thought would be able to control this sort of situation. As a result of strikes in the whole of last year workers lost $45.2m in wages. For the first 5 months of this year this sum has been exceeded quite substantially. Strikes this year have cost the workers no less than $75m in lost wages due to the particularly disgraceful state of affairs that is existing under the present Labor Government.

Here I return to what Dr Cairns blithely said on the television program 'Federal File'. He said that this Government would not tolerate unemployment. But the figures in the last report of the Department of Labor and Immigration led us quite clearly to realise that the unemployment situation is increasing and has, in fact, increased by 13,555 in August to 107,140. It seems to me that while we have this Government in control of the affairs of this nation, that sort of situation will become worse. I am concerned that in South Australia, only last Friday, 150 people in top jobs at Chrysler Australia Limited were given an ultimatum- they were told they would have to work on the production line or leave the company.

The Chrysler people are very concerned at the procrastination of the Government in establishing some guidelines for this very important industry. I hope that the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) will take note of this and recognise its grave significance for South Australia, in particular. This particular industry must receive clear guidelines from the Government as to what direction it will take in the future. I heard on the grapevine that the Chrysler company is considering reducing production by a very substantial amount. This causes me concern. I am sure that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) who is from South Australia must share my concern. I hope that he will take some action to prevent what I believe will be a disastrous situation in the motor car industry which is so important to South Australia. The Government must take a lead in this particular area. Of course, other industries have suffered largely because of the irresponsible action of the Labor Government in reducing tariffs across the board by 25 per cent. I do not know much about economics- let us face it. I do know a little about other matters -

Senator Durack - The honourable senator knows more than the Prime Minister.

Senator JESSOP -Yes, I believe I do. Even my simple economic mind recognises that one cannot cut tariffs by 25 per cent across the board. Some areas might need to be reduced by more than that and others might need to be increased in order to help the industries get over their particular problems. I believe that is where the trouble in South Australia started. We find in South Australia Philips Industries, for example, which is an electronics industry. It employs a collection of expert people who are, I believe, desperately needed to remain in South Australia. Their jobs have been jeopardised because of the actions of this Government. If we are not careful we will find those experts drifting overseas. They can produce their products more cheaply in Singapore. They can go to South America or Mexico to establish businesses and still provide themselves with opportunities to invest their capital.

I believe that we have got to take a look at this matter. I think that the electronics industry in South Australia is about to crumble if we are not very careful. So, that is another challenge that I throw out to the Government: Do something about the electronics industry in this country. The textile industry, of course, is perhaps not quite so significant in South Australia but nevertheless South Australia is faced with retrenchments in the industry. I heard recently a spokesman for the textile industry say that very shortly 15,000 people will be out of work and before long- within a few months- it is quite likely that this number could rise to 40,000.

This Budget has raised several matters that are of particular interest to me. I should like to refer now to the expenditure that has been allocated for the establishment of a Pipeline Authority. An amount of $75m has been provided for advances to the Pipeline Authority for expenditure on the Moomba-Sydney natural gas pipeline and spur pipelines. This, of course, is an area where the Liberal Party and the Country Party do not believe it is in the public interest to spend public money. We believe that it is more proper to allow expenditure in this area to be undertaken by private industry. But that is just by the way. I want to ask the Government- here again I find myself in some agreement with Senator Hall- whether in the course of constructing these pipelines it is possible to see that the jointing is sufficiently secure for the future transportation of hydrogen. In my view in the long term solar energy will be the saviour of this country and could well be the saving grace of the whole world. I can envisage Australia becoming the solar energy centre of the world's supply.

Senator Cavanagh - Why do we not export solar energy? What are you talking about?

Senator JESSOP -Export it, yes. What an incredible statement we have had, and how accurate it is, from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. He obviously does not recognise how important the statement is.

Senator Cavanagh - I do not accept you as the expert on these matters.

Senator JESSOP - I know a little more about physics than perhaps Senator Cavanagh does. I have support for my belief because I have had a lot of discussions with one of the heads of the experimental establishment at Flinders University,

Professor John Bockris. He has told me that it is quite feasible- and it could eventuate- for Australia to transport solar energy overseas. This is done by liquefying hydrogen, transporting the liquefied hydrogen in cryogenic tankers overseas and, when it reaches the source of consumption, transforming it to normal electrical energy which will energise lights such as we have in this chamber. It is quite significant because it is clear that the price of fossil fuels will simply go on rising and there is no plateau in sight. These rises are more than the inflation rate and that is quite incredible.

In Australia the time at which the Bass Strait oil will run out will be in the region of 10 years and this will leave us with only the Middle East for supplies. We will be at the tender mercies of the Arabs and their prices. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has already spoken about this in the United Nations General Assembly only recently. I can see a time when the price of petrol, perhaps in 10 years, will be above $1 a gallon. Progress in atomic energy engineering is such that we will not be ready in 10 years to take over with atomic energy, but if we went solar, particularly in the house hold needs area, we would have some chance of taking up to 25 per cent of our fossil fuel requirements. Professor Bockris has told me that he feels downhearted because for more than 18 months he and his colleagues have been working towards this obviously Australian activity. Why spend $ 18m on atomic energy which we do not need and only $0.2m on solar energy?

America has recognised the importance of solar heat and recently in a Press statement issued in Detroit I read the following:

Solar energy could provide at least a fifth of the United States' total fuel needs by the year 2020, the US Government Solar Energy Panel reported here today. With an investment of $77m over the next 10 years on development of inexpensive thermal collectors, storage devices, and air conditioners, one per cent of US buildings could have solar heat and cooling by 1985, 10 per cent by 2000, and 30 per cent by 2020.

The group, consisting of 40 scientists and engineers, submitted its recommendations on the world 's fuel needs for the next 30 years.

Solar heating and cooling systems could be put on a commercial basis within five to 10 years, the panel said.

A few American houses already have solar energy collection systems.

A flat plate traps the thermal energy beneath glass plates and the energy is usually stored in insulated tanks.

I am talking, of course, about solar energy and its importance to Australia. Australia is far more suitable for the use of solar energy than even the United States and I might tell even Senator Sim a little about that in a moment. I am hoping that there is some intelligence on the opposite side and that someone there might take up this challenge as well. On 19 September this year the following news item appeared:

The United States Senate today passed a Bill to double the US Government 's funds for solar energy research.

The measure was sent to the House of Representatives where a similar measure is due to be taken up tomorrow.

The Senate Bill authorises US$ 100m ($67m) for solar energy research in the year that starts next July 1- double the amount budgeted for the current year.

It also creates a US Solar Energy Research Institute. The Senate interior committee said in approving the Bill that it would cost up to US$ 1 billion over five years to make solar energy commercially viable.

This is where we have to be moving- in an area that is obviously scientifically possible. I have asked the Government to provide funds for the Flinders University- in fact for any university or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation- to ensure that the energy supplies for the future of Australia are assured. Professor Bockris has said: . . why is it that one hears always about the developments of atomic energy in the United States and Europe, rather than of solar power? One answer to the question is that these countries are much less richly endowed with the beneficence of the sun than is Australia.

I am going through this really for the benefit of Senator Sim but am hoping that Government senators will recognise the significance of this scientist's assessment of Australia's potential.

Senator Durack - Have you tried to put this up to Mr Connor?

Senator JESSOP - Mr Connoris a man who is dogmatically concerned with coal mining and this sort of thing, which of course is important, but I do not think that Mr Connor has the capacity to look further forward than about a year or so by which time he will be out of government and will have left us with the problem of dealing with the future energy supplies of Australia. Thank heavens that the Liberal and Country Parties have recognised the significance of solar energy and have written that into their energy platforms. It now enjoys a significant place in that platform. Professor Bockris went on to say:

There are no technologically advanced countries which can be compared with Australia in respect to the amount of solar energy she receives- and could collect and convert to electricity.

Professor Bockris is a physical scientist and one who knows a considerable amount about this subject. He continued:

It is therefore a much more attractive proposition for Australia to look at solar energy than for America or Europe to do so.

What about honourable senators on the other side getting involved in this matter and providing the universities and the CSIRO with a lot more money so that they can further their experiments? In 10 years solar energy could become a viable proposition for Australia and, as Senator Cavanagh has said, there is no reason why Australia in the future could not be the solar energy source for the world and transport its energy to other countries which will be desperately needing that within the next decade or so.

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