18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S.Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. O’CONNOR.- Can the Minister for the Navy say whether the appropriate British authority has completed its report on damage to the aircraft carrier, H.M.A.S. Sydney, and if so, whether the report indicates the nature and cause of the damage?
Mr. RIORDAN.- On the 9th December, 1948, while H.M.A.S. Sydney was still under construction, damage was discovered to the starboard main gearing. The ship was at that time known as H.M.S. Terrible, The aircraft carrier was about to be handed over to the Australian Government as H.M.A.S. Sydney, and the transfer took place on the 16th December. In accordance with normal practice on the discovery of damage, the Commander-in-Chief immediately ordered a board of inquiry, which carefully investigated the matter, and the report of this board is now being considered by the Admiralty. I might add that the ship was under dockyard control, and the machinery which had been installed by the main machinery contractor had not been finally accepted. At the time of the occurrence, the press announced that the damage was tho result of sabotage, but later advice indicated that this was not necessarily so. A number of persons who must necessarily have had access to the machinery would, despite all security precautions, he in a position to commit sabotage if they had a motive for doing so; but exhaustive inquiries have so far failed to reveal any direct connexion between the damage and the persons who might have had a possible motive for sabotage. I .am now advised “that the nature of the damage points to sabotage. Fortunately, the damage was only slight, and has been rectified.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question relating to the appointment of Mr. Sam Atyeo as chief Australian delegate to the United Nations Balkans Commission. “What special qualifications does Mr. Atyeo possess for this position, mid is the appointment of a temporary or permanent nature? Is Mr. Atyeo a permanent public servant? If not, did the Government, before appointing Mr. Atyeo, consider the qualifications of permanent employees of the Department of External Affairs for this high diplomatic post? If not, for what reason was the appointment made? Did any Commonwealth Public Service organizations protest to the Government against the appointment of Mr. Atyeo, and’ did they urge reform of the system of appointments to high positions in the service to eliminate any possibility of political patronage? If so, does the Government propose to give consideration to these protests, and to the representations made for reform ? What salary and allowances will Mr. Atyeo receive in his new post? When did he join the Commonwealth Public Service? Was he a temporary or permanent employee? In what capacities has he been employed, and what salary and allowances has he received since entry to the Service? How long was he employed in the Department of External Affairs prior to his present appointment, and what positions has he held in that department ?
– I think it was the honorable member himself who introduced the subject of Mr. Atyeo’s qualifications into this House. I should like to say at once that Mr. Atyeo has rendered excellent service to the Department of External Affairs for many years. The whole basis of the honorable member’s’ question is false. Mr. Atyeo has not been appointed to any new, post. He still occupies the post to which he was appointed by the Public Service Board. He is not a permanent officer but a temporary officer. All that has happened in relation to his duties in the Balkans is that, being assigned as an officer of the Department of External Affairs to the Australian Ambassador at Paris, he has simply been given a routine job in the Balkans. No new appointment whatever has been made and therefore the question of his salary does not arise. Whatever salary he got beforehand is now paid to him. Probably the Commonwealth is relieved of the payment of his salary. I understand that while he is working for the United Nations in the Balkans his salary is being borne by the United Nations organization and not by the Commonwealth. I shall clear up that point later. I should like to say broadly that a gentleman of Mr. Atyeo’s qualifications - he is skilful and expert in the French language, which is the one means of communication between all members of the Balkans Commission - is an asset to Australia. He has rendered excellent service to the various international conferences which he has attended. It is true that a Public Service union made some protest on the assumption that Mr. Atyeo had been appointed to a new post, an assumption which was absolutely incorrect. As 3 have said, he was not given a new appointment. Had such an appointment been made it would have required a certificate by the Public Service Board, and thai; question did not arise. The honorable member is merely putting in the form of questions statements which other persons have submitted as opinions. I make no complaint about that; it is perfectly proper. Mr. Atyeo has been one of our best servants at international conferences. He has an excellent working knowledge of the French language, without which it would be almost impossible to do efficiently the job assigned to him. He was second in charge, first under Colonel Hodgson and later under M.r. Hood. Colonel Hodgson is now Australian Ambassador in Paris and Mr. Hood is the Australian representative at. the United Nations. What is more natural than that the "”No. 2” man, of whom both had reported favorably, should be entrusted with these duties? He is familiar with conditions in Greece and in the Balkans. I think I have answered every aspect of the honorable member’s questions. I trust that there will be no more personal attacks on loyal public servants like Mr. Atyeo.
– Is it a fact that Dr. Usman, the representative of the Indonesian Republic regime in Australia, is a Communist, or the representative of a Communist-controlled regime, as alleged in this House yesterday? If it is not a fact, will the ‘Attorney-General take steps to repair the harm done to Dr. Usman by the slanderous attack made upon him yesterday in this House by an honorable member opposite under the cover of privilege ?
– To the best of my belief, the statement made in regard to Dr. Usman is quite unfounded. On the contrary he has been in active oppo sition to the Communist party. I shall look into the matter and give the honorable member a more specific and detailed answer.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a booklet published by Trans-Australia Airlines which depicts the inter-capital city air routes that its aircraft traverse? Can he inform me why Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is the only capital city that is not given a descriptive paragraph in the publication? As Perth is the terminal whence passengers commence air travel in Australia on their arrival from overseas, will he take action to give to Perth the same measure of publicity as other capital cities receive? If his publicity officer knows nothing of Perth, will the Minister arrange for him to make a trip to that city so that he may learn something of its history?
– I had not seen the booklet before yesterday, when the honorable member showed the outside cover to me and pointed to the fact that no reference had been made to Perth. The pamphlet is distributed to passengers who are travelling on the interstate air routes. If there is no reference to Perth, I consider that a grave injustice has been done to that city, but when the honorable gentlemen suggests that “ my “ publicity officer may do this, that or the other thing, he apparently fails to realize something which he should know, and that is that Trans-Australia Airlines is controlled by the Australian National Airlines Commission and its publicity officers are not my publicity officers. The position is quite clear. Commissions and boards such as the Australian Natonal Airlines Commission employ their own publicity officers, but if the publicity officers of TransAustralia Airlines have not done justice to the beautiful city of Perth, which I consider to be most attractive, I shall be happy to bring the matter to the notice of the organization with a view to remedying the defects.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that, as reported in yesterday’s issue of the Melbourne Sun New-Pictorial, the Commonwealth migration officer at Melbourne had interviewed Mrs. Annie O’Keefe about her plans to leave this country? Did that officer say that he felt embarrassed, as that newspaper has alleged?- Will the Minister indicate the nature of the report made by that officer, and the result of the interview ?
– The Commonwealth migration officer in Melbourne, Mr. A. H. Priest, interviewed Mrs. Annie O’Keefe last Tuesday and he has sent to me a brief report, as follows : -
In accordance with your request Mrs O’Keefe was asked by letter to visit this office i in mediately, and accompanied by her daughter, aged 1.0, she called at 3.30 p.m. to-day.
T asked her what arrangements she had made to leave Australia and she appeared reluctant to give a firm answer. When further questioned as to whether she had begun to puck in readiness for her departure, she admitted that she hud, but did not know where or when she was going.
At this stage, the daughter, who speaks perfect English and is obviously intelligent, intervened and suggested that her mother should not discuss the matter further. Miss Jacob further intimated that she worked at the Dutch Consulate and suggested I contact Mr. Zwalf. I advised her that I had no intention of taking such action, whereupon both she and the mother Showed no inclination tn give any further information.
It was obvious to me their case is being handled by the Consulate, and the O’Keefes are merely doing as they are told, which to this stage, is preliminary packing of their effects.
The story of the interview was given to the press immediately by some interested parties, and I presume by the Dutch Consul, Mr. Zwalf. In the report published by the Sim News-Pictorial, a statement was made by Mrs. O’Keefe that “Mr. Priest was very nice about it. He seemed a bit embarrassed.” Mr. Priest made the following statement in a short memorandum : -
Further to my report to you on this interview I think the alleged embarrassment refers to tuy reluctance to discuss the matter with the Consulate or in fact say much more after Miss Jacob’s challenge for me to ring The Consulate. I immediately sensed that she had been sent along to absorb all I had to say and pass it to the Consulate and Press. Having elicited -all they were prepared to tell as to their preparations for departure I was not inclined to do any further talking for them to misinterpret to other organizations upholding their cause.
That proves that these unfortunate people are being used as stooges by the Dutch Consulate in Melbourne.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral any information to give to the House regarding Mr. Ainslie St. Aubyn Kingsford? Is it a fact that Mr. Kingsford was employed in the Security Department of the Bank of New South Wales and, as a witness, produced documents on the 28rd January, 1948, concerning a safe deposit box belonging to the Minister for Transport? Has Mr. Kingsford been missing since the 28th January of that year, or for more than twelve months? What action, if any, has been taken by the Commonwealth and State authorities to solve the mystery created by the disappearance of this important witness? When was the latest report received on this matter by officers of the Attorney-General’s Department? Will the Government enlarge the terms of reference of the royal commission to include an inquiry into the disappearance of this witness?
– I have no personal knowledge of the facts of this case. I shall ascertain what they are and give the honorable member a complete answer.
” State of the Union “ Speech.
– Will the Minister for Information obtain a copy of President Truman’s recent “ State of the Union “ speech to the United States Congress, setting out what is known as the “ fair deal “ programme of advanced social reform for the American people 1 Will the Minister table the report of the speech and move that it be printed so that honorable members may benefit by a perusal of the speech and so that thi* Australian people may be made fully aware that the United States of America is moving in the same direction as th, Australian Labour party in its social welfare policy, its fight against monopolies and its desire to better the social conditions of the ordinary man and woman ?
– I have read that very splendid address by the great President of the United States of America, who was so recently elected to his high office by the vote of the American democracy. I shall obtain copies of it from our officers abroad and do as the honorable member suggests. I shall table the document in the House and move that it be printed so that honorable members may have an opportunity of expressing their views on this superb document, which breathes the spirit of the United Nations Charter and the contents of which are so close to the programme of the great Australian Labour party.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has carried out field experiments in the destruction of rabbits on Wardung Island by inoculating them with the virus of the disease myxomatosis? Have the research officers reported that the only satisfactory way to prove the efficacy of the disease is to release the virus in places where rabbits are in plague proportions? In view of the destruction caused by the rabbit plague that is now sweeping the Commonwealth, will the Minister confer with the State Ministers of Agriculture with regard to releasing the virus in an area where rabbits are in plague proportions in order to ha.ve a full test made of the efficacy of the disease? If the test proves to be effective, will he consider releasing the virus over large areas of the Commonwealth?
– The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research conducted a series of experiments in the inoculation of rabbits with a virus in an endeavour to find a method of dealing with the rabbit plague. The experiments were carried out on an island for the obvious reason that the virus might prove to be detrimental to domestic stock generally. The virus was successful in that when rabbits contracted the disease they died rapidly, but it was discovered that rabbits which contracted the disease isolated themselves from other rabbits in the rabbit community. Consequently, the inoculation of a. number of rabbits with the virus did not automatically spread the disease to all other rabbits in the locality. For that reason, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research came to the conclusion that this particular virus would be of no value whatever in combating the rabbit plague. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is continuing to conduct experiments on this matter along other lines. I cannot say at this stage that those experiments will be successful but I can assure the honorable member that the Council is doing its very utmost to discover some method of controlling the rabbit pest by this means.
– In view of the publicity given - and rightly given - to the case of Cardinal Mindszenty and other religious leaders in Hungary and central Europe where a vital freedom. “ freedom of worship “, is seriously threatened by the Communist regime, and in view of the efforts to be made by the Security Council to have the United Nations great plank of defence for such freedoms implemented there and throughout the world, I ask the Minister for External Affairs to say whether there is any way by which freedom of worship and expression may be achieved in Franco’s anti-democratic Spain where many religious leaders and believers of several faiths are languishing in prison because all faiths are not free to express themselves in that country? Or is Spain completely outside the jurisdiction of the Security Council and the United Nations ?
– The jurisdiction of the United Nations over Spain is exactly the same as its jurisdiction in relation to Hungary. Neither country is a member of the United Nations and therefore cannot be dealt with as a member, and the principle to which the honorable member refers is not limited to one country nor is it limited, as I tried to point out yesterday, to any one church. A characteristic feature of the recent event? in Hungary has been the apparent attempt to bring a number of leaders of churches under the operation of th, criminal law with a. view to suppressing religion. The question of freedom of religion cannot be limited to the case of Hungary, and it is quite possible that that aspect will be ventilated in the United Nations. The principle of freedom of worship must be applied universally and not to one country or in favour of any one religion.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior regarding eighteen half-caste children, all but one of whom the Minister recently ordered back to Alice Springs from Mulgoa near Sydney. Will the Minister say where it is intended that those children shall ultimately be sent? Is he aware that they have lived at Mulgoa for the last six or seven years in happy surroundings, that they have the interests and outlook of ordinary Australian children of white parentage, and are bitterly unhappy at being taken away? Is he also aware that grave complaints are being made by responsible persons about the conditions under which half-caste children are obliged to live in central and northern Australia? What is the Government prepared to do for such children to give them a fair chance in life and to absorb them into the Australian community?
– by leave - The honorable member’s question is long and involved, and in view of the publicity that has been given to the matter I am grateful for the permission given by the House to make a short statement on the facts, of the case. I anticipated this question and have martialled some facts that will explain to this Parliament and to the public of Australia all the aspects of the case. I desire to express my gratitude to the House for affording me the opportunity to make those facts available to the public. The protests against the transfer of these children are the result of a press-inspired campaign directed, not towards the welfare of the children, but towards embarrassing the Government politically. Press publicity has been responsible for inflaming the minds of many honorable citizens, who have been led to believe that a great injustice has been done. What are the facts? After the Curtin Labour Government came into office, my predecessor, Senator Collings, inaugurated a policy designed to raise the standard of living of half-castes in the Northern Territory. Arrangements had been made with three religious missions operating in the Northern Territory to undertake the maintenance and training of a number of halfcaste children. The missions concerned were the Methodist Missionary Society, the Roman Catholic Mission and the Church Missionary Society - a Church of England organization. Each mission was paid an amount to meet necessary capital expenditure on buildings and equipment, and continuing payments in respect of the salaries of staff, and for the maintenance of the children. This amount was subsequently supplemented by child endowment payments under social service legislation.
With the approval of the then Director of Native Affairs, the Church Missionary Society proposed to conduct its work in the interests of the half-castes in association with, but not as part of, its aboriginal welfare work on Groote Island. An amount of £3,700 was made available to the society for the erection of the necessary buildings on the island. Before the actual work of construction could begin, the war position with Japan had deteriorated to such an extent that it was found advisable, in the interests of the safety of the children, to evacuate them from the Territory. The children in the care of the Church Missionary Society and the Methodist Missionary Society were taken to Sydney, while those allotted to the Roman Catholic Mission were transferred to Melbourne.
Immediately after my appointment as Minister for the Interior, I visited the Northern Territory, and included in my itinerary a visit to the missions concerned. I was far from satisfied with what I saw, and after a number of conferences with the mission authorities, and the Director of Native Affairs, had no difficulty in influencing the Government to make additional money available to assist the missions in their work. A building at Alice Springs, known during the war as the Lady Gowrie Hostel for Servicewomen, was made available to the Australian Board of Missions on the understanding that additional facilities, estimated to cost £3,700, were provided, the Government to contribute £3,000 towards the cost with an additional £3.000 towards new buildings.
These have now been erected. In association with this home at Alice Springs, the Australian Board of Missions has another institution known as St. Francis’ House, situated at Semaphore, South Australia. This is intended primarily for the housing of the older boys. Both the Alice Springs home and St. Francis’ House are under the direction of one officer of the society. This officer, an ordained clergyman, has had years of experience in the Northern Territory. Fu addition to capital expenditure, the Government will make payments to the society for the maintenance of the children, and has agreed to pay up to £2,400 per annum for the salaries and wages of the staff to be employed at both homes. It was never intended that the children should remain in. the Southern States, as it would obviously interfere with long- range plans already indicated. Before it was decided to take the children back to South Australia and to Alice Springs, I convened a conference of missionary authorities, which included men who had spent their lives working for the welfare of the aborigines, and had taken the half-castes from the camps and put them into decent surroundings. They Advised me that it was in the interests of the children that they should be returned to the institutions which the Government had already provided for them. The system which we are now applying is entirely new, and if persisted in, promises to do much to improve the lot of these unfortunate persons. After T became Minister for the Interior, I attempted to make the care of aborigines a national matter. I believed that the aboriginal problem was not the concern of any one State, and I suggested that there should be a uniform national policy in regard to it. I placed my suggestion before a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers which, however, rejected it. I am not without experience in these matters. I have worked with aborigines on cattle and sheep stations, and I have seen something of the conditions provided for them by the wool kings and the cattle kings. Honoable members opposite do not like me to refer to these matters, but I am speaking the truth. I 6aw the aborigines brought in from the runs like cattle, when the time came for branding the calves or when shearing was to be done; but immediately the work was finished, they were turned bush again to find their own food. No one who has seen, the aborigines in such an environment could be unsympathetic towards them. When the conference of Ministers declined to accept my proposition that the welfare of aborigines should be a national matter, I called a meeting in Canberra of State officers associated with native affairs. It was presided over by Dr. Elkin, Professor of Anthropology in the University of Sydney, who has devoted a great deal of his time to promoting the welfare of the .aborigines. Many of the recommendations of that conference have already been give effect to I assure honorable members that, insofar as my department has control over the aborigines, the scheme which was inaugurated as a result of that conference will be pursued, so that half-castes may be trained to enable them to take their place in the community. It is better that we should do that for them than that they should be turned over to the wolves in New South Wales.
Reconstruction Training Scheme - Loans
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. In explanation, I draw attention to the fact that a limit of £60 has been set to the expenditure which may be incurred by the Government on behalf of an ex-service trainee undergoing parttime training. I am- told that all Vic- ‘torian technical college diploma courses take at least seven years’ night study, and that the allowance of £60 is insufficient to cover the cost of fees alone. I have a letter from a trainee who has now two years more study to complete his course, and only £11 remaining of the £60 - which will not be enough, even though he has been particularly careful, and had completed part of the course before he went to the war. Will the Minister look into this matter, and see if it may be possible to allow additional financial assistance where necessary, each case being considered on its merits?
– It is true that training given by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction to ex-servicemen is divided into two main categories, full-time and part-time. Certain conditions of eligibility are laid down in respect to the categories. These relate to the period of service of the person concerned, and the age at which he enlisted. It would not be possible for the Government to make full-time training benefits available to all ex-servicemen because of the very large number involved. Consequently, some limitation has to be placed on the extent to which part-time training will be permissible for each applicant, otherwise we should have to agree that all applicants should be similarly eligible for fulltime training. I have not received any complaints about points raised by the honorable member. None of the exservicemen’s associations have raised the matter with me. I believe that the scheme, as it is being carried out by the Commonwealth, is most generous. However, [ shall examine the points raised by the honorable member and ascertain whether anything can be done about them.
– Did the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction see the paragraph in the Sydney Morning Herald of Saturday last dealing with the £1,000 Commonwealth re-establishment loans, in which it was suggested that it takes about 30 years to obtain the loan? Will the Minister inform the House whether there is any substance in such a suggestion?
– I have seen the paragraph referred to by the honorable member. This paragraph quotes from the publication News and Views, issued by my department, in which it is stated that repayments of the £1,000 loan may be spread over a period of up to 30 years. The writer of the column goes on to suggest that it takes about 30 years to get the loan. I say at once that there is no foundation whatever for the suggestion that there is delay in obtaining these loans. As honorable members are aware, the £1,000 loan was made available by the Commonwealth to ex-servicemen seeking to re-establish themselves in agricultural occupations. To provide for the utmost expedition and efficiency in dealing with applications the Commonwealth delegated the detailed administration to
State rural and agricultural banks. These organizations were selected ‘as the Commonwealth’s agents because of their experience in rural credit and because they had ‘developed branch offices throughout the rural areas. Thus, exservicemen applicants are able to have their business dealt with at offices near their farms. These arrangements have been very successful, so much so that I have never had any criticism from members of the House, ex-servicemen’s organizations or individuals that there has been delay in handling the business. In the three years during which the scheme has been in operation, 15,274 .applications have been considered. Of these, 3,869 have been refused or withdrawn and 10,988 have been approved. At the beginning of this year, only 417 applications were under consideration throughout the Commonwealth. The loans approved total £7,890,000. The actual amount of accommodation taken up by borrowers is £5,820,000, of which £822,600 has already been repaid. The amount of funds actually written off is about £1,100, or less than 5d. on each £100 advanced. I regret that the Sydney Morning Herald columnist has been so anxious to discredit the achievements of the Government and that, in doing so, he has seen fit to make suggestions for which there is no foundation whatever in fact.
– As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is aware, the proposed marketing scheme for the 1949 apple and pear crop is to be handled by the Tasmanian Government with a Commonwealth financial guarantee, provided that an 80 per cent, vote of the growers is recorded. I ask the Minister whether those growers who did not sign agreements to join the scheme will be allowed to market their apples and, particularly pears, overseas without producing export licences?
– 1 gather that the honorable member refers to those growers in Tasmania who did not sign contract? with the State Government. They will be given an opportunity to participate in the United Kingdom export programme on the same terms and conditions as those growers who have signed contracts. It is ardently hoped that all growers will participate in the scheme this year. The United Kingdom Government was prepared to take 3,500,000 bushels of apples this year, but, owing to the bad season, it is doubtful whether 2,000,000 bushels will be available for shipment. Growers in Western Australia and Tasmania will adopt a very short-sighted policy if, for the purpose of securing a momentary price advantage, they decide not to ship their fruit to the United Kingdom. It is hoped that the growers will rally to the call and support the scheme by sending their crop to the United Kingdom.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to the action being taken in the Canadian Parliament to bring in a bill to abolish all appeals to the Privy Council, thus giving to the Canadian Supreme Court final jurisdiction in all matters ? In view- of the fact that this is in accordance with the policy of the Labour party, will the Government” take similar action in Australia? Will it give the matter early consideration, so that any decision it might reach on the subject will not be influenced in any way by any Privy Council decision in pending litigation before that body?
– The Attorney-General will answer the question.
– The Canadian position is as the honorable member has stated. There is a proposal before the Canadian Parliament to abolish appeals to the Privy Council. The Australian Parliament has always had power to do that, but one’s enthusiasm for that proposal in the abstract is qualified to some degree by any experience over many years, [n many cases of private law, and in some cases of constitutional law, the Privy Council has rendered great assistance in the administration of the law in Australia. I shall have the honorable member’s suggestion considered, but he may take it for certain that any action that might be taken - I emphasize the word “ might “ - will not affect any pending litigation before the Privy Council.
High Court Action Against R. E. Fitzpatrick
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. Some four years ago, the War Expenditure Committee of which I was a member, made a very adverse report on a man named Fitzpatrick and, as a result, an action was instituted against him in the High Court. The case has, I (believe, been before th<» court for a number of years. What is the position in regard to the case? What does the Government propose to do with regard to the matter? In view of the fact that people who have been unfortunate enough to break into a church and steal eighteen pence have been imprisoned for years, what does the Government propose to do about this individual?
– The honorable member was good enough to mention, this matter to me yesterday and I have been able to ascertain the position. As the result of the report of the War Expenditure Committee, litigation was instituted in the High Court, but it is litigation which has many difficulties in fact and in law. A number of decisions have .been given of a provisional character in the court. Instructions have been issued to the Crown Solicitor to obtain expedition in the hearing of the case, but the case is still pending. I can do no more than say that although the Government is pressing the matter to finality the control is necessarily in the hands of the court.
– These are civil proceedings?
– Yes, civil and not criminal proceedings.
– During the last few weeks, two British ships, Dorsetshire and Somersetshire, both of which were under contract, I understand, to the Australian Government, have left Australia without passengers or cargo. I should like the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to explain the reason for that occurrence. Will he take action to prevent a repetition of it? Does he not consider that in view of Great Britain’s dire need of food, the Government, as the charterer, should have found cargo for the ships if necessary at Australian ports other than those from which they departed, and passages should have been made available at reasonable rates for Australians and others desirous of travelling?
– As this is an immigration matter, I shall answer the question. I have arranged for the honorable member for Boothby to ask me a question on this matter to-morrow morning, and I shall then give a full reply.
– I have received from the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The urgent necessity for investigation, by a committee of this House, into the distribution of pro-Communist posters and literature by the Commonwealth Office of Education, in order to determine (a) the responsibility for such anti-Australian propaganda, (6) the channels of distribution, and (c) whether the expenditure thereon is constitutional.
– I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– The posters and the literature that I shall produce to the House in support of my motion are typical subversive Communist propaganda. They employ recognized Communist technique. They adopt the current Communist line. They idealize Communist leaders and cast doubt upon the good faith of this country and the Government of the, United States of America. They might well have been despatched by the Russian Foreign Office. The branch known as Agitprop, which is the Russian Bureau of Agitation and Propaganda, would be proud of the posters, but the point which I emphasize is that they have not been produced by Moscow. They are the work of the Commonwealth Office of Education situated in York-street, Sydney. They go out to the world as having the approval) of the, Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. These posters are official, and the Government must explain the reason why they have been issued.
I invite the House to look at provocative poster No. 8. If any honorable members have not seen it, I hope that their reactions, on looking at it now as I display it to the House, will be the same as mine are. In large type it flaunts the challenge, “ White Australia on Trial “. Is White Australia put on trial anywhere else in the world ? This poster, I emphasize, is published at the expense of the Australian taxpayers. We Australians will fight and die for the preservation of White Australia, but the enemy within this Government prints posters such as this, which proclaims that White Australia is on trial. That caption is the first thing that catches the eye if the poster is displayed anywhere. What justification is there for the statement that White Australia is on trial ? I ask : Who is placing White Australia on trial ? The question must be answered. Does the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia make the statement, or is it the Pan-Asian group of nations, or the Commonwealth Office of Education. We are entitled to have the answer.
Dominating the entire poster is a typical Communist combination of cartoon and photograph. Australia is distorted by cartoon, and the Asiatics are glamorized by photograph. White Australia is depicted as a criminal on trial. If honorable members will look closely at the poster, they will see that White Australia is in the dock, and has no head. By a distortion of the map, there is an obvious attempt to convey an impression that is detrimental to this country. If honorable members will again look closely into the distortion, they will find, not a map of Australia, but a Mongol face. Australia is a headless and brainless criminal on trial, and the jury, by contrast, is depicted by a composite of photographs of very superior coloured people. They are the Seven Wise Men of the East. They are to pass judgment on White Australia ; we are not to do so. They are a most impressive looking group. If the poster were not so effective and efficient, 1 would not be speaking in these terms to-day. However, the faces form a most impressive group. Of course, the Seven Wise Men of the East are not typical of the coloured people of Asia. They are not examples of the starving people who die in the streets. That is clever Communist propaganda.
I also invite attention to the caption, “Is it colour prejudice?” That suggestion was discounted a few days ago by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, and yesterday by the distinguished Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). But this poster is issued under the authority of the Government of Australia. Let the Government shed that responsibility if it can. The poster is produced under the authority of the Australian Government, and only by that authority can it be stopped. Is it not an old trick of the Communists to plant a question designed to create a wrong impression ? There are a few trite quotations for and against on the inside of the poster, but they do not amount to a substantial case either for or against. They are simply there to make up a background. Then the poster asks, and I pray for my country when I read it, “ Is there an alternative?”
– The honorable gentleman needs to pray for himself.
– The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) should remember his vicious words last night. If he is not the greatest hypocrite ever born, he should be supporting what I am saying now. The poster proceeds to answer the question by proposing a quota system for admitting Asiatics into Australia. The Minister for Immigration said last night that he would not allow any Asiatics into Australia. What has he to say when his own Government is saying, not that we should let Mrs. O’Keefe remain or put her out, but that we should allow quotas of coloured people to come into Australia? What authority has any government department to advance such a suggestion? Who suggested that quotas of coloured people from any part of the world should be allowed into this country? Has this soc’alled Labour Government already abandoned Labour’s traditional White Australia policy? Has it done it at this early stage? Everybody who takes an intelli- gent interest in the affairs of our country knows that the quota system has been peddled from door to door in Australia by almost every Communist. It would be bad enough if this poster were published by a private organization, but it is issued with the authority of the Australian Government, and paid for with the money of the Australian people. The poster speaks as the mouthpiece of the Australian Government. We know that the Communists are opposed to a White Australia, but could Sharkey, the head man of communism in Australia, have put the case with more deadly effect than this poster? What would be the effect of it if reproduced in Malaya, where Englishmen are fighting for their lives, in India, in China or in Indonesia ? Would it not be regarded as a Communist poster ? That is the real test. This is not a Labour poster. It is a Communist poster. Would it not fan racial resentment against this country? Let us look at the other provocative suggestion in it. It reads -
Instituted at the beginning of the century as u protection of the Australian worker against coloured labour, has the policy become merely a color bar?
What right has the Commonwealth Office of Education to make that suggestion? Who gave it the authority to do so? Who is responsible? To make that assertion i.«, at best, impudence. At worst, it is subversion in the worst possible degree.
Poster No. 16 is entitled, “ Yugoslavia to-day “. I wonder what the Government thinks it is doing with the people’s money.
– The honorable member for Reid is like a circus.
– The honorable member for Hume is like the clown in the circus.
– If any one can produce a clown like the honorable member for Hume he will be cleverer than the man who produced these posters. Poster No. 16 glamorizes two men who are, I say without fear of contradiction, Communist thugs. They are General Zhadanov and Marshal Tito, the Leader of the Cominform and the Communist dictator of Yugoslavia respectively. Why are we spending Commonwealth money, the money of the working people of Australia, on the printing of these posters? In the name of all that is good, what are we spending that money for? Where is the proof that the United States of America is attempting to dictate to or dominate Yugoslavia? The poster says that these beautiful men are being dictated toby the filthy, dreadful men of the United States of America ! Is that not just another extract from the current Communist party line? Why should this country spend its money in distributing that lie? Is it the job of the Commonwealth Office of Education to supply these posters to decorate, for the delight of all who go there, the walls of Marx House, the head-quarters of communism in Sydney? What justification can there be for spending Australian public funds to advertise communism throughout Europe and the world?
I refer also to poster No. 17 which parries the caption, “ Fire over Malaya “. The poster is printed in red ink as honorable members can see from the copy that I am now holding up. It is all red. The artist who drew it is red. The author of the reading matter on the poster asks this impertinent question -
Why is Britain’s policy in Malaya different fromher attitude in India and Burma where she has withdrawn and allowed the local inhabitants to assume control?
Did the Minister for External Affairs ask that question at the British Commonwealth conference? Is not that exactly the same question as that posed by the Communists? There is also the bald assertion, without qualification, that -
Friendship with the ultimate rulers of Malaya is vital to Australian security.
Note that it says, “ Friendship with the ultimate rulers of Malaya “, not the present rulers, the British.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) put -
That the honorable member forReid (Mr. Lang) be granted an extension of time.
– The Government is violating all the usual principles. The honorable member who submits a motion is al ways givenan extension of time.
-We did not call for a division, Mr. Speaker. We are satisfied with the vote on the voices.
– Two honorable members have called for a division.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I am sure the House has never heard a poorer case than that put forward by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). He spoke for twenty minutes and during that period I found it difficult to follow the argument he was placing before the House. In fact, one wonders whether the honorable member for Reid is in complete possession of his senses at the moment. Let us examine the terms and his intimation to Mr. Speaker. It reads -
I desire to inform you that I propose to move the adjournment of the House this day in order to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely: -
The urgent necessity for investigation, by a committee of this House, into the distribution of pro-Communist posters and literature by the Commonwealth Office of Education, in order to determine (a) the responsibility for such anti-Australian propaganda, (b) the channels of distribution, and (c) whether the expenditure thereon is constitutional.
The expenditure is constitutional because it was included in the Estimates, which were approved by the Parliament, and the money was appropriated by the Parliament. The honorable member did not raise any objections when the Estimates were under consideration, as he could easily have done. The next point referred to by the honorable member was the responsibility for what he described as such antiAustralian propaganda. First, I do not admit that it is anti-Australian, but there is no doubt about the responsibility. I am in charge of the Office of Education, and I accept responsibility for what it does. The next point with which I wish to deal is that which relates to channels of distribution of the literature issued by the Office of Education. I propose to go into this at some length, because I believe that the distribution list will prove that a very large number of persons, who have no sympathy with communism, are strongly in support of the Office of Education in the issuing of the posters. The motion asks for an investigation into the channels of distribution.
– Why are members of Parliament unable to get the posters?
– I am glad that the honorable member asked that question. During the last sessional period there was a discussion about certain of the posters issued by the Office of Education, particularly about one of them. I gave instructions that that particular poster should be withdrawn. The honorable member for Indi, who apparently wanted a copy, did not have the decency to come to me and ask for one, but he went behind my back to the officers of my department in an endeavour to get it.
– I did nothing of the kind. I wrote to the Director, and received a promise that I would be put on the list to receive copies, but I have never received one.
– About 27,000 copies of each issue of the Current Affairs Bulletin are distributed throughout Australia. The machinery of distribution is simple. Purchasers write to the Office of Education and place orders. The material is then posted regularly to them. Included among the subscribers taking large number of copies are commercial organizations, church bodies, adult education departments, the Workers Educational Association, and branches of the Labour and Liberal parties.
– Do they pay for them?
– Yes. The Liberal party evidently thinks that the literature is good enough to pay for, and has ordered a number of copies.
– Can the Minister tell me what branches of the Liberal party subscribe ?
– I shall get the information. Correspondence received by the Office of Education indicates that the Current Affairs Bulletin is used as educational material in secondary schools, teachers colleges, and universities throughout the Commonwealth. There are also about 1,000 individual subscribers. In the three and a half months since the last debate on discussion posters the circulation has increased by 25 per cent. That information about the distribution list shows that a great many people study the posters, and are glad to get them, although they have no sympathy with the Communist party. Obviously, they do not believe that the posters are pro-Communist. I have received a great many letters eulogizing the posters. One is from theRightReverend G. H. Cranswick, chairman of the Australian Board of Missions. I have another letter from a writer who says -
I have this day received from your department some of the finest material that I have ever seen come from any government department.
I have also a letter from the Reverend S. J. Hazlewood, of the Methodist parsonage, Reid, Canberra, expressing appreciation of the posters. This proves that those who receive the posters, and are glad to get them, do not believe that they are sympathetic towards the Communist party. The officers responsible for the preparation of the posters have excellent war service records. One is a warden of the New England College, at Armidale. When this subject was under discussion in the House on a previous occasion, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) had something to say about the posters. I challenge him to go into his own electorate and say about the gentleman concerned what >he said before. The question whether the three posters mentioned by the honorable member for Reid are pro-Communist in any way can be settled by an examination of the posters themselves. I have them here. It is not possible for me to describe them in detail, but I defy any one who has a reasonable outlook on the problems dealt with in the posters, .to say that they have a Communist slant. Each of them deals objectively with a particular subject. They put the case for a particular point of view, and they also put the case against it. The whole purpose of the discussion posters is to get the people of Australia to think on problems which, though they may not be urgent to-day, will confront Australia in the years to come. The idea i.= to keep the people fully informed.
The honorable member for Reid mentioned a poster on Yugoslavia. I have it here. Each poster is accompanied by a discussion brief. The honorable member said that the poster was pro-Communist. As a matter of fact, even if it could be said that the poster praised Tito and Yugoslavia, that would be an indication that it was anti-Communist, because Tito is in grave disrepute with the Communist authorities. However, the poster does not do so, and the honorable member has nothing to support his contention in regard to that particular poster. The discussion brief accompanying the poster is divided into three parts. The first part states what lies behind the conflict between Russia and Yugoslavia. Surely that phrase is itself anti-Communist. It emphasizes that there is a conflict between Russia, a Communist country, and Yugoslavia. The preface to this discussion brief shows clearly that, if anything, the poster is anti-Communist, rather than pro-Communist. The poster gives the story of Tito’s rise to power, and of the agreements entered into be- tween Yugoslavia and other countries on matters of trade. It discusses the question of sanctions, and of Yugoslavia’s interest in the Balkan situation. I defy any one who studies the poster to find in it anything indicating that it is pro- Communist. If anything, the posters are more anti-Communist than proCommunist.
The next poster mentioned by the honorable member for Reid deals with Malaya, and the same holds good of it as of the first one. In my opinion, it has an anti-Communist rather than a proCommunist bias. For example, in very big type at the top of the poster are the words “ Fire Over Malaya “. I cannot see anything wrong with that. Everybody knows that there is a. conflict of opinion in Malaya, and, indeed, that fighting is taking place there. Also, in large letters at the head of the poster are the words, “ Why Britain is standing firm “. Does any one suggest that that heading is proCommunist? It could be alleged that the poster was in fact, anti-Communist in character. The poster goes on to deal with the facts behind the crisis, the economic situation, and the racial and political position. Again in large type there is a heading, “ How do these Events Affect Australia? “ And then the following matters are listed: -
One thousand Australians live in Malaya and £7;000.000 of Australian money is invested there.
Singapore is a vital link in British Commonwealth defence.
Friendship with the ultimate ruler of Malaya is vital to Australian security.
A fall in British dollar income will hit us.
Can any one suggest that those statements are anything but anti-Communist in character? The poster represents an attempt to inform the people of the evils that would arise if the Communist forces in Malaya were successful. Therefore, in regard to the second poster also, thehonorable member for Reid has no case.
We come now to the third poster, and it can be said emphatically that it has nothing whatever to do with communism at all. If the honorable member had questioned whether it was advisable that the subject should be discussed, and thefacts stated as they are stated in the poster, he might have had some semblance of a case. I should have disputed h is contention even then, but he has no justification whatsoever for saying that the poster dealing with the White Australia policy is either pro-Communist or anti-Communist. It merely states the case for the White Australia policy, and the case against it. It says that this is a very important question upon which the people should be informed, and finally it asks, “Is there an alternative?” Dealing with the case for the White Australia policy, the poster quotes a statement by Dr. Evatt in a speech which he delivered in 1943. It is as follows: - . . the basis of all our population increase is the principle of White Australia, which is fully recognized by the United Nations as absolutely necessary.
The following quotation is from Mr. P. J. Clarey, president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions: -
Australia does not desire the coloured peoples of the world to be brought into this country to be hewers of wood and drawers of water . . . lower our living standards without improving the conditions of the Asiatic worker.
Another quotation is from Professor Agar who, speaking in 1948, said -
We do not know what would happen if there were a substantial mixture of Asiatic races with the population of Australia, but modern examples of inter-breeding are not encouraging. If we are forced to give way on this question we shall be swamped in a generation or so.
I think that is a very good statement of the case for the White Australia policy, but in order that people may be fully informed regarding the case against the policy, that case is also stated clearly.
– What is the Government’s case?
– It is not the purpose of these posters to put the Government’s case. Their purpose is to inform the people on subjects of the greatest importance to them.. The Government has clearly stated its policy in respect of the maintenance of a white Australia. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) made a statement on that matter only yesterday. There is no ambiguity about the Government’s stand on the White Australia policy. It is necessary that the people of Australia should be informed of the facts so that they may judge for themselves just how strong is the Government’s case for the continuance of that policy. As attempts are made by people of other countries to break down the White Australia policy it is essentia] that the people should be fully informed about it so that they will back the Government in taking the stand which it has taken.
– And back the Government on other things.
– It is true that in the past the people have backed this Government on other things; they will continue to do so in the future.I am glad to know that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) thinks as I do on that matter.
– The Government is not publishing this poster as an election poster ?
– No. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked whether the poster purported to submit the Government’s case. I have already said that these posters have nothing to do with the Government’s case. They are issued solely for the purpose of informing the people on matters of the greatest importance. The people cannot be expected to judge for themselves unless they are fully informed.
– Mr.R. G. Casey spent government money in publicizing the case of a government of which he was a member.
– As the Minister reminds me, when Mr. E. G. Casey was Treasurer of the Commonwealth, he expended government money on the issue of propaganda in connexion with certain proposals which the then Government had submitted to the Parliament.
– That is not true.
– The right honorable gentleman will have an opportunity to deny the accuracy of my statement in due course.
– It is quite irrelevant to this debate, but with great respect I remind the Minister that the legislation to which the so-called propaganda referred was on the statute-book at the time.
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition should set a better example to the members of his party by refraining from interjecting.
– The poster merely puts the case clearly to the people. In it the people are asked, “ Is there an alternative ? “ It gives the reasons for the institution of the White Australia policy in the first place. It says that the White Australia policy was instituted at the beginning of the century in order to protect the Australian worker against the competition of cheap coloured labour. The poster poses the question “ Has the policy merely become a colour bar ? “ I do not think that the Opposition has presented much of a case. In the early stages of our development, when the Labour party was endeavouring to prevent the importation of coloured labour and the consequent lowering of the standard of living of the workers of this country, the predecessors of honorable members opposite supported its endeavours.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. In reply to an interjection by me, the honorable gentleman said that I had crawled around the Minister’s back and that I did not have the decency to go to him or to approach the Director of Education. As every other honorable member knows, it is not always the custom of members of the Parliament to send their correspondence through a Minister. As one of these posters had, upon exposure, been regarded by the Government as so inimical to Australia’s reputation that it had to be withdrawn, I asked for a copy of it.
– Order ! The honorable member has asked for permission to make a personal explanation. He is not entitled to debate the matter which has given rise to his personal explanation. Other opportunities to do so will be afforded to him.
– I asked the Director of Education for a copy of the poster which the Government had withdrawn, but it was refused. I then asked to be furnished with copies of any posters subsequently issued by the Office of Education. I was informed that that would be done, but I have not succeeded in getting a copy of any of them.
.- The reply by the Minister on this subject still leaves us in grave doubt about the purposes for which these posters were issued. I do not intend to traverse the ground covered by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). There are posters other than that to which the honorable member referred which the Minister might like to attempt to justify. Indeed one is entitled to ask whether expenditure on the Office of Education is justified at all. The Minister has told us that expenditure on these posters is approved by clergymen here and there and by certain other individuals, but as far as one can gather they are used principally by members of Communist discussion groups throughout Australia. I have taken the trouble to look up some statistics relating to the Office of Education. For the financial year 1948-49 the sum of £216,000 has been provided for the Office of Education for the production of material such as these posters. Eightythree full-time employees ranging from a director at a salary of £2,000 a year, two assistant directors who between them receive £2,736, 21 education officers, an investigation officer and 5 senior assistants employed on the production of all this welter of material at a cost of £216,000, or approximately £4,000 a week. Provision is also made in the vote for the Office of Education for an assistant editor. Apparently no editor has been appointed. The salaries of these people amount in total to £67,000 per annum, in addition to which £24,000 is provided for temporary assistance. Thus, the total outlay in salaries alone for those associated with the production of this trash - and I characterize most of the posters as trash - is almost £100,000 per annum. The Minister has said that the Office of Education is justifiably engaged in disseminating important information to the public. The honorable member for Reid drew attention to the poster relating to the White Australia policy. I have here another poster which, on the basis of the figures I have cited, cost no less than £4,000 to produce. It is entitled, “Films we
Remember “. It shows a picture of a movie actor - he looks like Charles Boyer - holding a glamorous film star in his arms.
– What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with that, but how can the Minister justify the publication of such a poster? The poster seeks to ascertain what is the reader’s reaction to its contents. The reader is asked, “Do films have any effect upon you? Do they make you want to imitate your favorite film star ? “ I have no doubt that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has profited by reading the poster, for since he came back from Havana he has been the best dressed man in the House. Perhaps this poster may have some application on the silvery sands of Waikiki, but surely it has no application in Australia. Despite that, however, £4,000 was expended in its production. The Minister has said that the purpose of these posters is solely to present an objective picture. Here is another poster entitled, “ Zero hour in Italy “. If ever a covert attack was made on the Roman Catholic Church it was made in this poster, which contains a paragraph headed “ The Church and Communism “. Following a large question mark at the bottom of the poster - the last thing the reader is supposed to absorb - are these words -
Can the Italian Government reconcile the interests of its large landholders, including the church, with the urgently necessary land reforms ?
The Church does not need the Office of Education to put its case. It is quite capable of stating its own case.
– The Church would certainly not dream of asking the honorable member for Richmond to write its case.
– It has not asked the Office of Education to write its case, and at least it has the right to expect that the Office of Education would present the case fairly. If this poster is not written from the Communist “ slant “, without directly indulging in Communist propaganda, it is difficult to assess what the Communist “ slant “ is.
Here is another poster dealing with Polish politics. As we all know, Poland was one of the countries of the world which was over-run by the Russians. Honorable members know that the members of the Government of Poland at the time of its conquest and the peasant leader of the Polish people were forced to flee the country. Other public men in Poland were imprisoned or cast into exile. None of the statements in this poster can be regarded as presenting an objective case. Only one point of view is presented in it. The poster reads; -
The pre-war right-wing dictatorship has been exchanged for a Socialist-Communist regime for which the extent of popular support cannot be assessed - effective opposition having been silenced. The Government is strengthened by these factors -
The overwhelming force of Russia:
Fears of a revived Germany makeRussian friendship seem desirable;
Determined handling of the reconstruction problems ;
Land distribution to the peasant and nationalization of all substantial industries have won workers’ support.
These are the last telling phrases in it. If they are not in line with the propaganda issued by the Kremlin and emanating from Marx House, Sydney, one has no conception of what Communist propaganda is. The Minister has said that these posters are produced solely for the purpose of presenting an objective story so that the people may have both sides of a question placed fairly and squarely before them. If that were done, there would be less criticism of the posters, although it is always dangerous for a government to meddle with propaganda and to try to educate the people on matters of foreign politics and at the same time to keep itself free from the charge of bias, or of attempting to guide public opinion to its own viewpoint. When those matters are considered, it is evident that the expenditure of £200,000 a year on this department is largely for the purpose of publicizing government policy throughout the country. I have a poster which the Commonwealth Office of Education has issued dealing with the coal-miner. It is supposed to present the case objectively, and to give both points of view. However, the poster states that on the coal-fields, “ social and economical conditions are poor and there is little alternative employment “. I strongly question whether there is little alternative employment to-day. The poster also states that “ boys must become miners or leave home “, and it asks, “ What employment is open to girls on the coal-fields ? “ lt says that coal towns are isolated communities. I ask whether that statement is true to-day? The poster also states that “ cultural opportunities are limited, and early marriage without financial stability is common “.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) negatived -
That the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) be granted an extension of time.
– The de facto leader of the Opposition, who has introduced this motion, has drawn the old red bogy across the trail, and has accused the Commonwealth Office of Education of indulging in Communist propaganda to the disparagement of the United States of America and the harm of the Australian people. A considerable number of discussion posters have been issued. The first discussion poster appeared in January, 1948, and more than 50 topics have since been treated. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) dealt with the discussion poster on the White Australia policy. He did not point out that on the other side of the sheet there was another discussion poster on the black market, which would have very great influence upon those who wanted to discuss the question of making ends meet. There is no Communist propaganda in that poster, or in discussion poster No. 17, which deals with Australia’s iron town at Whyalla, and tells a story of the great water line which has been constructed from Morgan on the river Murray to Whyalla on the shore of Spencer Gulf. No reference has been made to the discussion poster entitled “ Eire over Malaya “.
– Yes, there has.
– Not to-day.
– The honorable member for Reid has referred to that subject.
– I cannot listen to everything that the honorable member for Reid says. If he did discuss that poster, he failed badly, because events in Malaya are treated in such a way, that no charge can be sustained that the poster is pro-Communist. As a matter of fact, the reading matter in the poster begins as follows : -
Among the dense jungles of Malaya there is terror and tension, but with firm determination, the Government has undertaken, to stamp out both the Communist uprising and bandit gangs hiding behind a nationalist front.
There is nothing wrong with that statement. Honorable members opposite cannot accuse the Commonwealth Office of Education of doing anything other than what it sets out to do, and that is to form discussion groups and endeavour to get people interested in the topics of the day. Generally, the posters issued by the Commonwealth Office of Education have accompanied Current Affairs Bulletins. The Current Affairs Bulletin has been appearing since the end of September, 1947, and more than 30 topics have been treated. Do honor able members opposite object to any subject being discussed? What the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has said about the coal town poster is absurd. Most Australians will agree that everything which he has read from the coal town poster is perfectly true. The social and other conditions of the coal-miners have been disgraceful. There is a legacy of hate in the mining world for which all Australia is suffering to-day. That particular poster is designed to interest and educate the- Australian people about coal, which is a most important problem in Australia’s development and survival.
The Commonwealth Office of Education has developed out of the War Education Service, which was started by the Menzies Government. Colonel Madgwick, who was placed in charge of adult education in the Army, became the first director of our post-war work, and now Professor Mills has that responsibility. All the people concerned in the publication of the posters have their own political views. Most of them, I believe, have not any affiliation with the Australian Labour party. None of them, certainly so far as I know, has the slightest association with the Communist party. As the honorable member for Reid has spoken about Communist activity and Communist infiltration, I desire to remind him that he once wrote a book. It is dangerous to write books, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) well knows to his cost, because he wrote a book entitled Forgotten People, and I was able to quote extracts from it to him during the debate on the banking legislation. The right honorable member for North Sydney . (Mr. Hughes) wrote a book entitled, Bond or Free. The book which the honorable member for Reid wrote is entitled, Why I Fight! A more suitable title would be, “ Why I never fought “, or “ Why I do not fight “. In that book, he devoted a chapter to the “ red “ bogy. He stated -
To ignore the mighty experiment being carried out in the Soviet Union in a survey of modern economic tendencies would he akin to presenting Hamlet without the melancholy Prince. There are those in the community, of course who develop hysteria at the very mention of the word “ Lenin “, and there are also the astute politicians who regard the development of that hysteria as their passport to a parliamentary seat, and who are prepared to sacrifice national interests to the maintenance of that hysteria.
The honorable member for Reid wrote that excerpt. This afternoon, he has endeavoured to create hysteria over the maintenance of the White Australia policy. Yesterday, we had a division in the House of those for White Australia and those for black Australia. Honorable members opposite voted for a black Australia. They do not believe in a White Australia policy. They only say that they do. There is no repudiation of the sentiments which the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) expressed about admitting Mack, brown and br indle.
– Order !
– I rise to order.
– Order ! There is no point of order. The Minister is not entitled to refer to a debate which has already taken place.
– I desire to take a point of order on another matter. Referring to a division in the House yesterday, the Minister said that honorable members on this side of the chamber had voted for a black Australia.
– Hear, hear!
– I take strong exception to that remark, and ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to request the Minister to withdraw it, because you, sir, know that the subject under discussion had nothing to do with that matter.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) was not in the chamber when the Minister was making his speech. He was outside smoking his pipe.
– Order! The Minister has made a reflection on a vote of the House and must withdraw it.
– I do not agree that I have made a reflection on a vote of the House. I made a comment on the attitude of members of the Opposition.
– I have taken exception to that comment. It is offensive to me.
– I am sorry, but the Chair did not hear the actual phrase as stated by the honorable member for Wentworth. I ask the Minister to state whether he made that remark. If he did and the honorable member for Wentworth objects to it, the Minister must withdraw it.
– I said that we had a division in the House yesterday on the question of a White Australia, and members of the Opposition voted for a black Australia. They voted in favour of” breaking down our White Australia laws.
– That statement is offensive to me. The division was taken on a different subject.
– I rise to order. The subject upon which the division was taken appears in the record of yesterday’s proceedings. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to request the Minister to withdraw his remarks, because quite clearly we did not divide upon such an issue as a black Australia. The Minister must know that.
– It is a matter of opinion.
– The Standing Orders provide that an honorable member may not reflect on a vote of the House. The Minister must withdraw his remark.
– In deference to your wishes, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I withdraw anything that you may regard as offensive, but surely I am entitled to put my own interpretation upon the views of other people when I think that they favour a black Australia.
– Order !
– I was dealing with the “ red “ bogy, which the honorable member for Reid has mentioned in his book, Why I Fight! The extract which I was reading earlier, continues -
Admittedly there is a Russian menace. It is not a menace to the peace and good government of the Commonwealth of Australia, however, but a very real meance to the stability and good conduct of Australian trade. The “Red “ bogey is not a matter of politics, but it is a real bogey in the field of economics, and in the development of that bogey to the detriment of Australian exporters of wheat, meat, wool, dairy produce and other articles British statesmen are sitting side by side with the conventional “ whiskered Bolsheviks “…
– Order ! The Minister has exhausted his time.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Chambers) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve the placing of the Territory of New Guinea under the International Trusteeship System, to provide for the Government of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea, and for other purposes.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, the following proposed work be re-submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, namely : - “ The erection of Batman Automatic Telephone Exchange, Flinders-lane, Melbourne.”
The proposal was referred to the Public Works Committee in 1946, and received parliamentary approval on the 7th August, 1946. In its report on the project the committee recommended that, owing to the great variations in building costs which were taking place, a special review of the estimates should be made before substantial commitments were made for the work. Such a review has been made and, due mainly to rises in costs of materials and labour, the estimate for the building and services is now £441,095. The proposal is substantially as previously approved, except for the addition of a sub-basement. It is, therefore, necessary that the proposal be referred again to the committee for further consideration. Apart from general rises in costs, factors contributing to the increased estimate are, first, office subdivision on upper floors, and secondly, the provision of a subbasement and the strengthening of the structure to provide for civil defence r equirements.
– Will the Minister inform the House whether it is necessary for the committee to go over the whole of the evidence that it has already taken, or whether it will confine itself only to a consideration of the additions and alterations that have been suggested? The recommendation regarding a special review of the estimates does not make it imperative that the whole matter should be referred back to the committee. If the Minister feels that the proposed alterations and additions are important enough to entail the taking of evidence with regard to them, I suggest that the committee be instructed to do only that.
– in reply - There is much logic in what has been said by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison). The matter, however canbe left to the good sense of the committee. Under the terms of the act, it is for the committee to decide what evidence it will call. I presume that the only additional evidence that the committee will desire to call will be that with regard to the strengthening of the foundations to provide for civil defence requirements and the office subdivision on the upper floors. The committee would be entitled to call other evidence, but I am sure that that will be the main evidence that it will call.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Com mittee on Public Works for investigation and report, namely: - “Sewerage installation at Alice Springs “.
The present sewerage facilities at Alice Springs consist of pans which are collected regularly of which the contents are disposed of outside the township. There are comparatively few septic tanks. The proposal is for a complete water-borne sewerage scheme for Alice Springs and the eastern extension, together with the settlement between the main township and Heavitree Gap, with treatment of the sewage at a point south of the gap. The estimated capital cost of the project is £115,000, with an estimated annual charge of £7,300. The Commonwealth may be required to contribute towards the cost of house connexions, £20,000, and the house fittings, £18,000, which are normally borne by the individual householder, but, as there are a number of small salaried householders at Alice Springs, such expenses may be beyond their capacity. The plans of the proposal are tabled herewith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
lossof Airliner “ Lutana “ : Report of Air Court of Inquiry.
Debate resumed from 24th November, 1948 (vide page 3416), on motion by Mr. Drakeford -
That the following papers be printed: -
Loss of airliner Lutana, 2nd September, 1948 - Report of Air Court of Inquiry, and
Ministerial statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation regarding the report.
– At the outset I make a strong protest at the delay in bringing this matter bef ore the House for general debate. We were given to understand that it would be debated during last session, but it was not. I believe that a major reason for that delay was a political one, and it is to be deplored.
I propose to give a brief outline of the story. The airliner VH-ANK, known as the Lutana, departed from Brisbane for Sydney on the 2nd September, 1948. Alter two and a half hours it crashed into Crawney Pass, about 130 miles off track. Subsequent to that the Government appointed Mr. Justice Simpson to conduct an inquiry into the matter. I believe that Mr. Justice Simpson showed great care and attention to detail and that he did his job extremely well. I believe further that he sifted all the information very carefully. He had at his disposal two of the most distinguished men connected with civil aviation in Australia. The first was Dr. Bowen, who has after his name the letters O.B.E., M.Sc. and Ph.D. Dr. Bowen is not only probably the outstanding scientist in his field in Australia, but also one of the outstanding radar scientists in the world. Jointly with Sir Watson Watt, he was one of the first persons in the world really to develop radar. He was later sent to America to show the Americans how radar bad progressed in England and to give them technical advice upon it. The other distinguished man was Captain Diprose, who has an extremely high reputation in flying circles in this country. He is a most experienced pilot, and no airline and no one connected with civil aviation would have one word to say against him. Therefore, it must be said that the judge had available the best possible advice that could have been made available to him.
In the Senate recently Senator O’Byrne made some statements relative to the Lutana report. He said -
I consider that Mr. Justice Simpson failed to comply with the terms of reference. Should an opportunity arise at some future date, I propose to move that the matter be again referred to an air court of inquiry, presided over by a more practical man with a closer knowledge of aviation, so that the report may be of some value for reference purposes in the future.
He said further -
I deplore the attacks that have been made on the Department of Civil Aviation and I am quite positive, that if the facts were made known, many of the insinuations that have been made about the department would bc withdrawn.
I have already stated that, in my opinion, the judge did a very competent job. If what the honorable senator termed a “ practical man “ is to be appointed, he must be drawn from the field of civil aviation, from an airline company or from some interested body. If that were done, the impartiality of the inquiry would be lost. Mr. Justice Simpson had two excellent advisers. I believe that to be a much sounder system than the appointment of some person who might tend to fall over backward in favour of one section. Senator O’Byrne further said -
According to the terms of reference, Mr. Justice Simpson should first of all have determined facts on which to base any judgment that he intended to .make. He did not do that. He should have established the facts leading up to, and connected with, the accident. He did not stress in his report that the radio range receiver in Lutana was not functioning efficiently on the trip from Mackay to Archerfield and that, upon arrival at the latter airport, Captain Drummond had the unit removed from the aircraft. That radio range receiver was later tested on the ground and found to be completely serviceable.
I shall say something about that in a few moments. Senator O’Byrne also indicated that evidence which might have been wanted was not called. Any accusation of that kind must be reconciled with the fact that Mr. A. M. Fraser was counsel for the Director-General of Civil Aviation and that he could have brought before the inquiry any matter that he considered to be relevant. I believe that the reasons for the crash will never really be known. I believe that it is foolish for any person to say adamantly that any particular reason is exactly the reason for the crash. Therefore, I do not propose to propound any particular theories of my own on the subject, but I shall refer to certain facts that were brought to light in the report and which require, I believe, the attention of this Parliament.
I consider that the only finding that could have been arrived at in the light of all the evidence, which I have fully read in the transcript, was that the crash was caused by a navigational error for which the pilot could not be held culpable and which was in no way wilful on his part. There is abundant evidence, both in the transcript and in the judge’s report, to show that the pilot was a thoroughly competent and conscientious pilot, and therefore I say that no blame can be laid upon him, because whatever blame is put upon him can rest only upon assumption and not on any real proof. I believe that there are contributing factors towards the crash, but I do not hold an entirely adamant view upon that aspect. One factor was the range of reception of the radio range itself. The crash occurred in particularly bad weather, and naturally the range of the radio range would be considerably cut down by the weather.
Now I wish to turn to something which I believe is very important indeed. I refer to a statement made in the ministerial document tabled on the 24th November from which I quote the following paragraphs: -
A further suggestion that the radio range receiver on the aircraft may have been out of action is found from the fact that when theLutana landed at Brisbane on its flight from Northern Queensland, the captain reported that the radio range receiver was not working properly. The instrument then fitted was removed and another substituted.
That which was removed was subsequently found on test to have no fault. The new one installed in the Lutana for its flight to Sydney was tested on the ground and found tobe working correctly. In other words, both receivers when tested on the ground functioned correctly, but the first when in the air failed to do so.
The failure of a receiver of this kind is not necessarily limited to the receiving set, and there isa strong suggestion in this case that as the receiver itself revealed no fault its failure to receive signals on the journey to Brisbane was to be found in the wiring, and other fixtures fitted permanently into the aircraft . . .
On that point, I wish to say that the transcript of evidence itself must have been available to whoever correlated the statement read by the Minister. Evidence of this point is given on page 564 to page 573 of the transcript. Setting the facts out briefly, the evidence was that the receiver was serial No. 64 and was removed from the aircraft ANK on the 2nd September. It was bench-tested O.K. and fitted to ANJ on or about the 10th September. It had to be removed because of weak and faulty signals. On removal, it was again bench-tested O.K. and fitted to ANQ, from which again it had to be removed because of faulty signals. It was again bench-tested O.K., and no fault was found and then placed in ANT, but was again removed because of faulty signals. It was then placed in the test-room, where it worked satisfactorily. It was then given a complete overhaul and installed in EAO, from which it had to be removed because of faulty signals. The fault has eventually been diagnosed as a fault in the crystalholders and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited have been doing an intensive investigation into these items, as a result of which they are modifying all range receivers to the later type of holder.
– Then that summary is misleading ?
– It definitely is.
– Did the Minister know that?
– I wish to know why, when that transcript of evidence was available, such a statement was used in the ministerial statement.
– I shall have something to say on that matter later.
– There are one or two points that I think are worth explaining. There has been an occasion when Perth on-course signals have been heard near Townsville, in Queensland, so that any suggestion that the pilot could not be receiving the on-course signal at Tamworth is unjustifiable, because with the precipitate static, he would have difficulty in deciphering an identification signal and might well have received the dash signal in the Tamworth area and have flown in an easterly direction to intercept the on-course leg. According to the transcript of evidence, Mr. Cowan, the chief navigator of Qantas Airways, was asked -
Are you still of the opinion that he felt he was on the range?
He replied -
I think there is no shadow of doubt that he felt that he was in that area.
I believe that the contributory factors - and they are only contributory factors - to this crash are to be found in the inadequacy of navigational aids in bad weather conditions. I believe that there could certainly be laid at the door of the Department of Civil Aviation some definite blame on their form of flight checking, a point which I propose to develop later. I say that that, in itself, apart from the hour at which the crash occurred, has a very close relationship to the kind of crash in which the airliner Kyeema was involved, and that many of the lessons that were then brought to the forefront have not been adequately understood and have not produced the measures to ensure an avoidance of such crashes. On the question of flight control, I say that the fundamental essential is to know exactly the position of an aircraft. There are two means of doing that. One is by ground-controlled radar and the other is by aircraft radar or radio. The report shows first the lack of direction, and secondly the confusion regarding delegation of responsibility. I quote now from the report of Mr. Justice Simpson, page 17, paragraph 79, which states -
These two Area Control Officers differ in their belief as to whose duty it was to follow up missing reports and to keep the Flight Checking Officer informed.
That in itself is a tragic state of affairs to say the least of it. I do not attach any personal element of blame in this matter. It is a question of policy and must be properly examined. To me it is fantastic that two men should differ about whose function it was to take overdue action. I believe there has been a tendency in flight control to believe in estimates of positions made on the ground rather than in actual positions. The identification ought to be a positive identification by the pilot or by some ground means. There is no real exactitude in that direction.
The department appears to have a fetish for the prevention of collisions, or the separation of aircraft. That is not a bad fetish to have. But statistics show that crashes caused by aircraft flying into hills far exceed the casualty rate of any collisions anywhere in the world under any system, and the lack of concentration on this question of flight checking must be investigated thoroughly. I quote on that point from page. 18 of Mr. Justice Simpson’s report an extract of the evidence given by Mr. Pape. The questions and answers are as follows: -
The intention was, I presume, that its ground calculations showed the aircraft to have positioned itself in a place where it could not or should not, or might not have been, steps were to be taken to make quite sure of the aircraft’s position ? - Yes.
Am I to take it from your evidence that the department has since decided to do away with that branch of its activities altogether? - Yes, T think that is the position.
The reason for this emphasis upon the separation of aircraft, is, I believe, based specifically on the type of equipment which requires the use by all aircraft of one narrow track and with the radio range equipment in use at present and that now being installed, that will continue to be the case until the pilots have the choice of a multiple-track system, and, will also undoubtedly continue to be the policy of the department.
Turning to the equipment at present in use by the Department of Civil Aviation there is, first, the 33-megacycle system, which is sometimes known in other countries as the standard blind approach and which is a continuous wave system. In itself it is good, provided that it is properly monitored and maintained, but its limitation is that it has a short range and is subject to moderate interference, which also applies to the two other aids that I shall mention. Secondly, there are homing beacons. These are far too low in power and in some cases there are badly designed aerials on ground stations. Thirdly, there i9 the radio compass, which is used in conjunction with the homing beacon. This is not sufficiently reliable in any but perfect reception conditions because of the low power of the homing beacon. It has also a dawn and dusk effect and it is only really efficient at comparatively short range. The equipment which is proposed to be installed in the near future is, first the 112-megacycle V.H.F. four-course range. This has a direct limitation in that it cannot he bent sufficiently to be alined with air routes except where the routes are straight or very nearly straight - that is to say, where there is a sharp dogleg in the air route it is impossible to bend the beam sufficiently to aline it with the next route. This in itself will perpetuate the problem of separation df aircraft, as all aircraft will have to enter along the same track. There may have been some justification for the installation of this type of gear six years ago when it was available in this country. Difficulties are being experienced in its installation now in many countries, mainly due to topography. Another form of radio aid to be introduced is what is known as distancemeasuring equipment, or D.M.E. It has been ordered for installation in two years’ time, and could have been used three years ago. This actually perpetuates the separation problem when used in conjunction with a four-course range. Seventy-five megocycle markers are also being used as route-markers. All this shows the lack of a cohesive policy by the department. In actual control, the first necessity is that a pilot shall know with precision where .he is. I believe that equipment based on the continuous wave system has one hig fault - the effect of terrain, which induces inaccuracy known as course-splitting or bending. In the United States of America, an omni-range has been set up, and because of topographical conditions in one area, it was found necessary to hulldoze the country for 3 miles around the station in order to cut down the effects of terrain. I believe very strongly that all equipment used foi’ civil aviation purposes in Australia ought to ‘be based on the pulse system, or radar, which is not subject to topographical errors. Great Britain, which is certainly streets ahead of any other country in the development of aids to aerial navigation, has increasingly concentrated upon this type of navigational aid. It is, indeed, the basis of the whole British system. Types based on the pulse system of radar are “ Rebecca “, “ Loran “ - which is now being superseded by “Consol” - and “ Gee “. In Australia, there is the D.M.E., to be used in conjunction with a multiple-track record. At a meeting of civil aviation officials in 1946, strong opinions were expressed by Mr. Brown that the four-course range was obsolete, and that the pulse system should be adopted. That view was supported by Mr. Burgman and Dr. Bowen. The departmental view was that it would take three years to install the system, and that safety could not wait three years. More than three years have elapsed since the meeting, and four-course ranges have not been installed, and M.T.R. has not been ordered. There is in Australia, as I have said, what is probably the most outstanding system of navigational aid in the world. I refer to D.M.E., used in conjunction with M.T.K. It has been developed by Dr. Bowen in Australia, and has received very high praise in other countries.
– Is it being used in Australia now?
-. - It is not being used in its proper form at all. The two systems are not being used in conjunction. The Picao conference of 1946 deferred acceptance of the system. The reasons advanced against it were stated mostly by the United States of America Aviation Department, which knew very little about the pulse system, because, at that time, it had not been advised by the three services in the United States of America about the advances that had been made in radar. It is well known that even to-day Great Britain is far ahead of the United States of America in the production of radar equipment. At the Picao conference, Great Britain reserved the right to use “ Consol “ equipment, and it is interesting to note that this system is cheaper to install than “ Loran “. It has the same cover, but involves no extra equipment in the aircraft. The “ Gee “ system is in use in Europe. I believe that we should settle our policy in respect to radar. The Department of Civil Aviation should get down to the business of using radar in conjunction with the Royal Australian Air Force as a defence measure. In that way, the cost could be shared by the Department of Air and the Department of Civil Aviation. At page 10 of the ministerial statement the following passage occurs : -
The closest approach to a system which, in effect, is a three-dimensional display of aircraft as suggested by the court at paragraph 92 was that developed iri the United Kingdom for the air defence of Great Britain.
This is a system designed for bringing our own aircraft into a position to attack hostile aircraft. It involves a most elaborate system of radar stations with communications therefrom to a central point, and the employment of large numbers of people.
It has been tried in London, since the cessation of hostilities, in handling civil air transport traffic there: but our latest information is that it is being abandoned.
That method has been abandoned, but they are expanding the pulse system. From April of this year, all aircraft coming into Great Britain will be under constant radar surveillance, which will provide a most efficient system of aircraft control. The authorities will know to a matter of yards exactly where every aircraft is. While they are using various kinds of equipment in Great Britain, we have in Australia a system which is as good as anything in the world, provided it is used in the right way. Radar is being used extensively on the continent of Europe, and it is now being used both in the United Kingdom and on the Continent in conjunction with V.H.F.D.F., or very high frequency direction finding. As a matter of fact, 50 of these sets were available in Australia at the end of the war from the Royal Australian Air Force, and the vital components were sold at a very low price at disposals sales. In this way a valuable opportunity was missed to obtain equipment of vital importance for air navigational purposes.
I wish now to make some suggestions. I believe that the Aviation Radio Research Committee should be reconstituted. I am not sure, whether it was ever actually disbanded, but I understand that it has not met for two years. It had on it representatives of the Department of Civil Aviation, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the airline companies, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Postmaster-General’s Department. It should be a most effective body, capable of co-ordinating the activities of all interested parties. Dr. Bowen was a member. I believe him to be a brilliant man, whose brilliance has not been properly recognized in Australia. I understand that “ Loran “ is being used on the Tasman service.
– Who is going to operate “ Loran “ - the pilot ?
– And pilot the aircraft, too?
– If a pilot could not learn to operate “ Loran “ in six weeks, he would not be very bright. I understand that the University of Queensland is doing extensive work in the seismographic forecasting of weather, and this is a field in which the Australian Government might help - by making a money grant, if necessary. I do not wish it to be thought that Australia is an unsafe country in which to fly. I have offered certain criticisms and suggestions to effect improvements, and particularly to ensure that we achieve the ultimate in safety. It is interesting to note that
Mr. Peter Masefield, the DirectorGeneral of Planning and Development in the United States of America, says that more people in that country are kicked to death each year by donkeys than are killed in the course of air transport. That, I hope, will leave the impression which I wish to leave. It is undoubtedly very safe to fly, but I believe that real improvements can be made in Australia.
.- Honorable members have listened with rapt attention to a pronouncement of views concerning the latest radio aids to air navigation from an honorable member who had a distinguished war record, and who was familiar with the operation of the ranges and devices and systems about which he spoke. Very little, however, was said by him regarding the subject of the debate, which is whether the. aircraft Lutana crashed on the 2nd September last in circumstances in which any blame is attachable to any person, or group of persons, or any government department. We heard from the honorable member the story of the commencement of a journey by the aircraft from the Archerfield aerodrome, but beyond saying that two and a half hours later it crashed at Crawney Pass, he gave no further particulars of the flight as revealed in the evidence given before the air court of inquiry. I do not share the honorable member’s views regarding the adequacy of the report furnished to the Parliament by Mr. Justice Simpson. I believe that Mr. Justice Simpson, through incompetence or ignorance, overlooked some vital factors which were occupying the mind of the captain of the aircraft on the flight before the crash took place. I propose to show that important evidence either was not put before the court or, when it was put forward was ignored by the judge when he prepared his report. I should not like honorable members opposite to press me to say that the mind of the judge may not have been weighed by considerations that might have classified as extra curial. I propose to deal with the statement of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) that if any report could have been furnished regarding the fate of the Lutana it should have been, and I use his own words, “ that it was caused by a navigational error for which the pilot could not be held culpable and which was in no way wilful on his part “.
– I said, with respect, tha t that was my own opinion.
– I accept the statement with all the qualifications that the honorable member has hedged about it. 1. say that the fact that the honorable member has drawn the attention of the House to the important question of a navigational error will appeal at once to all honorable members who have road the judge’s report, for nowhere in the report is reference made to a navigational error. A navigational assessment of where the Lutana was from the time it took off from Archerfield has never been made.
– Such an assessment could not be made.
– Let us consider the facts. After take-off and climb, and following the usua.1 port diversion, the pilot gave a position. The first reported position was given at 18.07 hours or, in our language, at seven minutes past 6 p.m. Its position then was a definite fix, because it was reported that the aircraft was over Kyogle and that Kyogle had been sighted visually. This tragedy happened in the springtime. It was quite light when Kyogle was sighted. As I shall show a little later, some minutes after that the aircraft was seen from the ground following a definite course. At any rate, at seven minutes past 6 p.m. the aircraft could be definitely fixed. It was radioed by the captain of the aircraft because he had sighted Kyogle. What happened to the aircraft after that, as I hope to show to the Parliament, was the result of an accumulation of errors for which no person other than the captain of the aircraft could be held responsible. Let me make this point at once. Irrespective of the obligations of the Department of Civil Aviation or of any individual, the safe control of an aircraft in flight from one aerodrome to another is solely the responsibility of the captain of that aircraft. The whole discussion in the court related to the adequacy of radio aid to navigation; but responsibility for navigating the aircraft was solely that of the captain. I think I can speak with some authority on these matters. My friend, the honorable member for Franklin, was a navigator-
– The honorable member for Watson was in gaol most of the time he was a member of the Air Force.
– That is an improper remark to make in this House.
– Sitting not more than three yards behind the honorable member who interjected is a gentleman who was my squadron commander during my operational service in the Air Force who would speak for me.
– Order ! The honorable member must not make a reference to a person outside the bounds of the chamber.
– Nobody doubted the evidence given before the Air Court of Inquiry that Captain Drummond was a capable pilot. He could handle an aircraft in a competent fashion in all kinds of conditions, by day and by night, asymmetrically and by instrument flying. That was never doubted. It was not doubted that he was a competent radio telegraphist. He knew something about wireless operation and in the course of his duties he was obliged to make use of the aids to navigation provided by the Department of Civil Aviation. But Captain Drummond was not a navigator. Unless he had had navigational experience he could quite easily have made errors which even many navigators had made. I am sure that the honorable member for Franklin will agree that many navigators, after having received direction-finding bearings, wrongly applied them. In fact, they applied them from the direction from which the bearing had been given and not from the heading of the aircraft as they should have done. Possibly, that may be the reason why the Lutana crashed at the place where the tragedy occurred. I suggest that the possibility that a compass bearing was wrongly applied was not canvassed by the judge. It was not mentioned.
– The honorable member will find a reference to that in the transcript of the proceedings.
– It is not beyond the bounds of probability that a wrong compass variation waa applied in setting the course and, as a result, a wrong course was flown. Indeed, it appears from the matters reported by the judge that there is a very strong likelihood that that actually happened. The honorable member told us that the radio range receiver had been removed from the aircraft at Archerfield. I shall leave to the Minister any contest regarding the evidence given on that point. There is no doubt - indeed there can be no doubt - on the facts established before the air court of inquiry that had the radio range receiver installed in the aircraft at Archerfield been operative the course flown by the aircraft would never have been followed. I hold in my hand a copy of a map which forms an appendix to the judge’s report. It shows the field of the Archerfield range and also the fields of Kempsey and Mascot ranges. It shows that there are beacons at Evans Head, Coffs Harbour and Williamtown. It shows also that Kyogle, where a visual report of the aircraft’s position was given, is on the range of Archerfield. The mysterious thing is that a southwesterly course was flown from Kyogle. Such a course must have been flown, for evidence was given by witnesses before the court that the aircraft was seen at a place called Mallanganee shortly after it had been seen at Kyogle. Accordingly, it must have altered course at or near Kyogle. There seems to be no doubt that the pilot was then following a southwesterly course. If that be so, I shall prove to the House that the finding of the judge in regard to the serviceability of the magnetic compass in the aircraft was entirely inadequate. Setting aside the serviceability of the radio compass, why did not the captain of the aircraft, using a serviceable magnetic compass, fly a course which would have . brought the aircraft safely to Mascot?
– The judge said that electrical storms could have put the compass out of order.
– In my three years’ flying experience, I have never heard, nor have any pilots that I have known heard, of a compass being rendered un serviceable by electrical storms. It is true that we have read of such happenings in text-books, and accordingly there is a remote possibility that that may have taken place. I shall show that the only report of an electrical storm was from the Mallanganee district, which was on the altered course set by the pilot, but the aircraft was still flying on a southwesterly heading and was some 150 miles away from Mallanganee by then. The aircraft had no serviceable automatic pilot. It was being hand flown.
– A good thing, too.
– Flying by manual control may be a good thing, but it becomes tiring after a while. At any rate, the aircraft had no serviceable automatic pilot. It was flying on a south-westerly heading on which the compass is more likely to be unsteady than on a northerly heading. In bad weather it would be subjected to at least moderate turbulence. If the compass was unserviceable its unserviceability was probably due to an accumulation of conditions under which the aircraft was flying and the aircraft was being flown by hand. Despite these difficulties it was sighted from the ground, as was proved in the court. It was not always in cloud. It continued its course on a south-westerly heading. That, I think, disposes completely of the contention of the judge that the magnetic compass was unserviceable. It is true that his honour said that he only thought that the magnetic compass was unserviceable. The deviation card was not called for. As a navigator the honorable member for Franklin knows very well that in the type of compass used in the Lutana - the B16 compass - there is always a great difference between swinging the compass on the ground and swinging it in the air. I myself have found a deviation of up to 5 degrees between the ground and air readings. No evidence was called relating to the unserviceability of the magnetic compass, which is the only instrument upon which a pilot may rely when flying, either by day or by night. It is for that reason that I say that the report is inadequate. The judge discarded the possibility of the magnetic compass being serviceable, whilst at the same time he said that the radio aids were inadequate or were not functioning properly. He passed over the fact that it is possible that the radio receiver installed at Archerfield was unserviceable.
– What is the honorable member trying to prove?
– In a discussion of this nature, it becomes difficult to give lucid explanations of situations unless honorable members have read the report which is being debated.
– And understand it.
– I accept that addendum.
– I can understand what Captain Diprose and Dr. Bowen conveyed, but I cannot understand what the honorable member is trying to convey.
– I donot want to take up time in an aside discussion with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). I heard and appreciated the views put by the honorable member for Franklin, who spoke with some authority, because he has operated the radio aids. The point which I want to make before I leave the subject of the radio range receiver is that the Department of Civil Aviation requires the captain of an aircraft who discovers that his receiver is unserviceable when he is less than 30 minutes out from his aerodrome of origin, to put back to that airport. But let us put ourselves in the position of Captain Drummond. He was a highly qualified pilot, who held the first-class certificate of a radio operator. He had flown the route not once but hundreds of times, and had many thousands of flying hours to his credit. He fixes himself at Kyogle. He knows that he must be on the beam. He must be receiving “ on course “ signals unless his receiver is “ on the ice “. Therefore, he says, “ I am not going back to Archerfield. I know my way to Sydney blindfold, and irrespective of any other matter, I shall plot a course and fly that course until I can pick up the Kempsey range or the Williamtown beacon or even the Mascot range or beacon, and I shall home ‘ on that “. That has been done hundreds of times. It is being done now a hundred times. I flew from the north with a very experienced pilot, whose only navigation, when he took off from Morotai, was to set a course which he believed would bring him near Darwin. He “ homed “ on the Darwin beacon. It is done hundreds of times by captains of civil aircraft. I think that perhaps Captain Drummond was in no way more negligent than any other captain of aircraft, and certainly I would not have blamed him for doing that. Possibly, I would have done the same. If the pilot of an aircraft had said, in similar circumstances, to the honorable member for Franklin, “What about it?” he would have said, “ Certainly, we shall not put back just because the receiver is on the ice ‘ “.
Having decided to set a course, Captain Drummond set the course, and I am entitled to draw the inference - no reference is made to it by the court, although I have accepted the certainty that the fundamental fault or cause was navigational error - that the courses were incorrect, having regard to the magnetic variation and compass deviations and also to the meteorological information available. It was proved in evidence that the meteorological report received by the pilot at Archerfield was reasonably confirmed by captains of aircraft who flew that route about the same time. Therefore, the possibility is that, in setting the course, he wrongly applied his variation or perhaps he had an incorrect deviation on his compass card. He then proceeded to dead-reckon himself at Coff’s Harbour. A dead-reckoning report consists of fixing position by plotting on the map, and there is no evidence that he had a map. Most of these pilots who fly between Sydney and Brisbane and Sydney and Melbourne have not a map. I was in an aircraft a few days ago, and asked to have a look at the map. I wanted to make sure about a town, but there was not a map in the aircraft.
– That would be very exceptional.
– Not at all !
– Are captains of aircraft supposed to carry maps?
– I do not know whether a special instruction is issued. Perhaps the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) can tell us whether captains of aircraft are supposed to carry maps. Obviously, a map is handy if the pilot needs to plot his position. The Captain of the Lutana had to plot his course and ascertain his position as he gave it by radio at about 1859 hours on the night of the 2nd September. He reported that he did ascertain his position, and gave it as being at Coff’s Harbour. It is obvious that the pilot could not have positioned himself at Coff’s Harbour, and been flying a course proper to .’bring the aircraft over Coff’s Harbour. If he had, he could not have failed to see the coast. Even on the darkest night, although at times he might have been in the cloud, he would have known that he was over the coast. A land mass stands out at night and can be seen without any difficulty. The coastline, unless the aircraft is approaching it and the pilot is getting a false impression from a bank of clouds, can be easily seen. When you are over the coastline, you cannot fail to be aware of it. The captain of the Lutana could not have given that position, had he been flying, in fact, the course which he was plotting. I submit that the true situation was that he was always flying a south-westerly course or making good a south-westerly track.
– The court reached that conclusion.
– Yes. The aircraft could not have been in that area. The captain gave his position as being at Coff’s Harbour. He could not have been there if he were flying the correct course, having regard to the winds which were prevailing, and which were confirmed by pilots of aircraft flying at that time. The setting of the course, whether it was done in error or otherwise, was one of the causes of the loss of the aircraft on the 2nd September and the death of ten passengers and the crew of three. It appears that the whole trouble could have begun at Kyogle, because that is where the course was taken, or near where the course was taken, which brought the aircraft down into the area where it crashed. Some two hours later, the pilot twice positioned himself on the Williamtown beacon, although he gave different times on each of -the two occasions to aeradio and approach control at Mascot. He then decided that he must be a very long way from where he ought to be, had he been
Hying the courses which he thought were the proper ones. So he made a turn in an easterly direction. Having got an 090 degree bearing on his port beam from Williamtown, he may quite easily have done what has been done perhaps countless times and accepted that as the course to be flown. Because it was a bearing, it would be a true course, and the magnetic variation would have been applied to it. He flew the magnetic course, which, the court found, was the course on which he was heading at the time the aircraft crashed. With a magnetic variation of 10 degrees east, he would be headed on a magnetic course of 0.S0.
– He would have had to be pretty dumb if he did that.
– That may be so, but he thought that he was lost. There is evidence that, he flew in circles around Bundella, and also in the” Tamworth area in order to position himself. Then he decided to continue on his course. Evidence was given to that effect. No reference was made to that matter by His Honour in his finding, and, therefore, I say that the report was entirely inadequate. The court heard evidence regarding the pilot’s flying ability and pro.ciency in wireless telegraphy, but did not take evidence regarding the navigational error. There could have been at least two navigational errors. I have referred to the 0.90 bearing as being the proper course which had to be flown in order to “ home “ on Williamtown. It could be that there were extraordinary conditions, as the honorable member for Franklin has explained. Perhaps the weather was bad. Perhaps the pilot was receiving false signals from the Williamtown beacon. Perhaps the signals could have put him 30 degrees or 40 degrees out of what he thought was the correct bearing which he had to follow in order to get to Williamtown. But the. fact of the matter is that he flew a course somewhere about 0.90 true from the point where he positioned himself on Williamtown.
I have now shown that the report of His Honour is inadequate in two respects. The first is the serviceability of the magnetic compass. No evidence was taken about that matter. The second is the possibility of navigational error. I now propose to show that there were other matters which the court did not consider in order to fix the blame in this particular matter or to arrive at more certain conclusions about what really did occur on the evening of the 2nd September. One of the matters to which reference was made in the evidence was the fact that the pilot radioed his position at 1956 hours. He informed Mascot aeradio that he was atWilliamtown by radio compass. A few minutes later, he radioed Mascot approach control, informing . a different operator that at 1953 hours he was at Williamtown. That was three minutes before he “ fixed “ himself in his previous message. The court admitted that the message “ Williamtown by radio compass “ did not mean that he was over Williamtown, but that Williamtown was somewhere on his beam. I desire to say, and the honorable member for Franklin will appreciate this point, that he must have been a long way from Williamtown, and realized it, because he travelled a considerable distance without getting any alteration in the hearing of the radio compass. He probably travelled 7 or8 miles in that period. If a pilot has travelled8 miles and is still getting no deviation in the radio compass, he must have travelled through only 1 or 2 degrees. In such circumstances, that would place the Lutana at a long distance from Williamtown. Realizing that, the captain then made an alteration of course in order to try to “ home “ on Williamtown.
– Why did he descend to 4,000 feet?
– I shall come to that, because that is another matter upon which His Honour did not comment. I am surprised that he did not do so. Having radioed that he was at Williamtown at a certain time, he asked for permission to descend. Such approval must be obtained, otherwise there is always a possibility of a collision in midair. He received a message from Mascot that it was “OK” for him to descend on the range. He then proceeded to let down from 6,000 to 4,000 feet, and it was while he was doing so that the aircraft crashed. By no means could it be sug gested that he was on the range when he commenced his descent.
– He might have thought that he was.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I was referring to the portion of Mr. Justice Simpson’s report that relates to the descent for which permission was given by Mascot air control to the captain of the aircraft, during which descent the aircraft came to its fatal rest. It is singularly strange that the only reference to this descent, which ended in the crash on the mountain-side, is made in a reference to the duties of the approach control officer, which appears in the report at paragraph 73, in which Mr. Justice Simpson says -
Apart from authorizing the aircraft to descend to” 4,000 feet on the radio range “ in answer to a request in the first message, the Approach Controller took no part in Lutana affairs and no criticism of any action on his part would be justified.
Mr.Falkinder. - These aids are not accurate at great distances.
– I spoke figuratively when I said “a great distance”. In fact, that distance was measured on the map and was shown to be about 100 miles. Whether the beacon, with its low power, was accurate at 100 miles cannot be determined now, but at least the judge said that the radio compass from which a bearing was taken was at all times functioning properly. It is strange that the judge did not mention the fatal descent made by the captain of the aircraft, beyond giving it a few words in the report to the effect that the message from Mascot had been that the descent must be made on the range. I consider that I have demonstrated the great possibility of the magnetic compass being serviceable. I have stated that the aircraft was flying on a south-westerly heading and that appears to be made certain by the reports of ground observers taken in evidence. Having altered his course to the bearing of the homing beacon rather than off-setting his course to the heading of the aircraft, the pilot began to make a descent when he should not have done so - unless, perhaps, as the honorable member for Franklin suggests, he was, in fact, receiving oncourse signals. My point, however, is that if his magnetic compass was serviceable then he was acutely aware that the aircraft heading was easterly, while he always knew that the only range or beam that he could have picked up, that is, the Kempsey radio range, was directed in the direction of 354 degrees magnetic, which is in a northerly direction, and 196 degrees magnetic in a southerly direction. If we are to believe some of the evidence put before the court, it is true that that particular range and its reciprocal could have been bent had there been some fault in the transmission, but in any case could not have been bent more than from 6 to 8 degrees. But if the aircraft’s magnetic compass was serviceable, and even if the aircraft’s radio receiver was functioning properly and the pilot was receiving on-course signals falsely, there could have been no doubt whatever in the mind of the captain that he could not have been on any range, because the heading of the aircraft was easterly, and the direction of both ranges in the vicinity, the Mascot and Kempsey ranges, was in a north-south direction. That is a matter which indicates the general failure of the court to deal with possibilities which have a real bearing on what actually happened on the night of the crash. While I am on this point of navigational error and the serviceability of the compass, I should like to inform honorable members that if they care to look at the map which is appended to the report, thev will see that had the aircraft followed the course generally, and been in the area which is marked on the map as being the area in which it was definitely observed from the ground it was beyond the range of the Kempsey beam except for a very few miles of its observed flight. As the judge has said in his report, it is a common practice for pilots not to listen in to the range all the time when flying a course, but to listen only a part of the time for the purpose of taking identification signals and making sure they do not get off the beam too much to the one side or the other. Therefore, it would seem that while the judge has based his report almost entirely on the fact that the Kempsey range was not functioning properly on that night, although evidence was given by two pilots - Captain J. W. Benton of Flight 496 and Captain E. J. Smith of the aircraft VH-ANM, who were flying over the range while the Lutana was within the presumed area of the range, recorded in their flight reports that the range was functioning normally. The extraordinary bias in the court, report is in the fact that the whole basis of it is that the Kempsey range was not functioning, whereas all the facts put before the court indicate that whether the Kempsey range was functioning normally or abnormally would not have concerned the captain of the Lutana on that night, because the track he was making was nowhere, except for possibly a very short time, within the field of the Kempsey range.
– It would be impossible to be sure of that.
– I am sure of it to the extent that here is a map that the judge says, from the evidence taken before him, is a map of the area in which the aircraft was observed on that evening up to just a few minutes before the crash. I only desire to say in connexion with this particular matter that there was on the part of the captain a definite disobedience of an instruction to descend on the range. He must have known that he was not on the range when he made that descent. That descent was the directly attributable cause of the crash, because the crash took place at Crawney Pass at an altitude of about 4,500 feet while the pilot was descending in accordance with an instruction to descend on thi> range from an altitude of 6,000 feet to 4,000 feet. The extraordinary thing is that had the aircraft’s compass or range receiver been unserviceable the pilot always had an opportunity of obtaining his position from Mascot air control, but the very last message sent to the aircraft, three minutes before the crash was “ Are you calling us ? Do you want any information? “ and the reply was “ No. Answer negative “. It seems, therefore, that the captain of the aircraft must have been quite satisfied that he was navigating the aircraft in a safe manner that did not endanger the lives of his passengers or crew.
– Would not that have been the case if his instruments were out of order and he thought he was flying true ?
– No, for this reason, that, having been given a message to descend from 6,000 to 4,000 feet, he was quite satisfied to accept the report from Mascot air control that he did not want any help, and having then descended he must certainly have failed to make observations which it was quite competent for him to have made from data which was available within the aircraft cockpit. 1. only want to mention one other aspect as indicating the general failure of the the judge to report on matters that are relevant. I refer to the flight checking by Mascot and its rigid insistence upon the maintenance of definite altitude in flight. There is a very great danger of collision unless the altitudes described are observed by aircraft flying on north-south headings. The honorable member for Franklin would be the first to say that, especially in cloud, the crew of aircraft are most anxious to ensure that collision does not. occur. The last matters that I desire to mention are those to which the honorable member for Franklin made reference. He referred to the use in other countries of V.H.F.D.F. - very high frequency direction-finding devices - of 132 megacycles range, and the multi-track range and distance-measuring equipment. Despite the fact that some of these devices are in use in other countries, there is still a higher accident rate in those countries than in Australia. In conclusion, I want to say only that Australia has more accident-free flying hours than any other country in the world. While that is largely because of the superior ability of our pilots, much credit is also due to the fact that the Department of Civil Aviation has laid down strict flying standards and has given close supervision to every flight from its commencement to its finishing point.
.- All honorable members deplore thy Lutana tragedy and the loss of valuable lives. Aircraft accidents, I am sure, are as inevitable as road accidents, but they can be minimized. In my opinion the honorable member who has just spoken has not been fair. Perhaps he has not acted wilfully, hut he has fallen into the error that was so prevalent a few years ago. Then, when an accident happened, people blamed the pilot. In some measure, that could be done in those days, when navigation did not matter, and an accident was often either the pilot’s fault, or was due to some fault in the aircraft. Now, however, since aircraft have been so greatly improved, and are able to fly greater distances, navigation comes to the aid of the pilot, and it is a criminal thing that we have not in Australia the best navigation aids. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein, who was himself a pilot, put forward a string of suppositions about what the pilot of the Lutana was thinking during the flight, what he did and what compass adjustments he made. Let us face facts. This tragic accident happened on a night of phenomenal weather when a great gale was blowing and when, according to the messages sent out by the pilot, his plane was heavily iced, and he sought permission to descend. Yet, despite the conditions which prevailed at the time, the honorable member for Watson seeks to pinpoint the place from which the pilot made his request. Any one who has been a flyer must know that a pilot would not think of coming down unless he was in a safe position, or unless his passengers’ lives were in danger because of icing. The honorable member made a very long speech which contained a string of suppositions, and he cast an unwarranted slur upon the pilot of the aircraft. I took down his words, and this is what he said -
The safe control of an aircraft in (light Mom one aerodrome to another is solely the responsibility of the captain of that aircraft.
It is a sorry thing, that after an inquiry has been held by a learned judge into an accident, an honorable member should get up in this House and say that the accident was due to a pilot’s error, to use the old phrase. We must try to find out the cause when an accident occurs. Of course, if there has been a flying error, and the pilot survives the accident, he must take his punishment; but if he is dead, and the passengers have died with him, it is wrong to make suppositions and then to base upon them the assertion that it was through the pilot’s error that the people died. Let me say something about the pilot. The facts are all recorded in the transcript of evidence given for the inquiry. The honorable member for Watson apparently did not read the evidence.
– Yes, I read it.
– Then why should the honorable member attack the pilot? I thought he might have done so unwittingly because he had not read the evidence. Pilot Drummond, the captain of the aircraft, underwent a routine check on the 24th August, a few days before the crash. A check was made by Commander Shersbey, who himself had over 13,000 hours flying. He was tested on all aspects of flying, including range, radio compass, dead reckoning and so on, yet the honorable member for Watson said that Captain Drummond was a pilot, not a navigator. If he was a first-class pilot, he must have been a navigator also. This evidence appears at pages 529 to 539 of the transcript. The examining officer stresses his belief that Captain Drummond was an expert flying man. Captain Drummond had been previously checked on the 12th March by Commander Gethings, who had had 10,000 hours flying experience. His evidence appears at page 522 of the transcript.
– That is not in dispute. I said, however, that he was not a navigator.
– The honorable member also suggested that he was not a first-rate pilot. The gravamen of his speech was that the pilot was to blame for the accident. I say that the accident might not have happened if we had had better equipment. Other opinions of the qualifications of Captain Drummond were given hy Captain Spence, another senior commander, and by Captain Greentree, an outside officer who had flown with Drummond, and had confidence in him. It is wrong that a certain twist should be given to this debate. It has become very technical. Let us sweep away technicalities. The flight was from Archerfield to Mascot. The pilot was to proceed on the seaward side of the radio range until he intercepted the radio range south of Casino. Then he was to fly along the range to Mascot. It is evident that a navigational error was made. He was off his course when he flew into a mountain side after obtaining permission to come down. How the error was made no one will know. We can only surmise, and it is our duty to be fair. The Government ordered the holding of an inquiry after being subjected to a certain amount of public and parliamentary pressure.
– That is nonsense!
– The Minister denies my assertion, but he knows that several references to the matter have been made in this House. I believe that a public inquiry should be held into every major air accident, and that proposal has the support of every member of the Opposition. Mr. Justice Simpson was appointed to conduct the inquiry, but the honorable member for Watson would brush his findings aside. At the inquiry, more than 100 witnesses were called, and the transcript of evidence runs into over 1,000 pages. It was a very thorough inquiry, but how did the Government treat it? The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford), instead of allowing Mr. Justice Simpson’s report to be discussed before the recollection of events had faded, saw that no opportunity was provided for debating it during the last sessional period. He had the temerity to bring down a report from himself setting forth what he, or what his department, thought of the matter. Then, a day or two later, the report of the inquiry was put into the hands of honorable members, but no debate has been permitted until now, several months after the accident happened. The official report presented by the Minister rejects the findings of the learned judge. That is the same as if, in regard to another inquiry now being held by a royal commission, the Government were to refuse to accept the findings of the commission, and were to have the matter determined by a departmental committee. In the course of his statement, the Minister, no doubt advised by his department, said -
I am now advised by the Director-General of Civil Avation that with the further evidence now available to him as the result of the Court Inquiry, he can only find one sot of conditions which would logically account for the course taken by the Lutana and the action and reports of its Captain on the night of the 2nd September. That set of conditions is that not only was the magnetic compass in the aircraft out of adjustment but that the radio range receiver was also out of action and that the captain of the aircraft was without its aid throughout the flight.
Thus, it would appear that, in the opinion of the Minister, all the defects were up in the aeroplane that night. Of course, every one is entitled to his opinion, and we shall never know the real cause of the accident. The fact is that the plane was off its course on a wild night. Here, however, is what Mr. J Justice Simpson said -
There is a strong possibility that Kempsey radio station was sending out false or deceptive signals.
I am completely satisfied that a fault could occur in the Kempsey range which would result in the “ on course “ signal being received by the pilot from any course of the compass.
Some may refute that. It is submitted in the Minister’s report that there are technical defects in the judge’s finding, but any one who knows anything of radio ranges knows, that under certain atmospheric conditions, strange things occur. For instance, distant signals from the United States are picked up in Australia, and signals from the west coast of the United States are heard in Miami. Our stations set up in Australia in 1935, and completed in 1938, were intended to have a twenty-mile beam only, but by extend ing the length of the poles the range was increased to 100 miles. On the radio range from Archerfield south to Kyogle, there is a gap of about 50 miles before picking up the range from Kempsey £o Grafton. The pilot’s course was to proceed to the eastward of range, and if, as the evidence shows, he flew south-west to Bundella, it is obvious that he passed through the gap between the two ranges. I checked this point with technical experts. This is a matter with which very few people can be really familiar. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) was a Pathfinder navigator during the war, and he is acquainted with modern navigational aids. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that the pilot passed through the gap in the range on that night of very bad storm, when the aircraft was icing, and took a southwesterly direction. He was then right out of touch with the range, and that fits in with the belief of the learned judge, who heard the evidence, that the Kempsey range might have been sending out signals east-west instead of north-south. Believing that he was flying south, the pilot flew right into the side of Crawney Pass. That is lamentable, but it happened. It is no use trying to put the entire blame on to the pilot or on to any individual. However, we must be resolved not to let it happen again, and we must get the right equipment. The Government has been niggardly in many directions. It squanders millions of pounds on fantastic socialization schemes but it takes a miserable attitude in connexion with navigational and other aids to civil aviation. I have already referred to the Lorenz 33- cycle radio range, of German make, which the Government commenced to install in 1935. It has a range of 100 miles at 10.000 feet, but as I have said it is subject to interference under certain atmospheric conditions. Radio beacons are used in conjunction with the Lorenz range, but these have insufficient power and are likely to mislead when radio compass readings are made, because they are underpowered. It is no use some ground official saying that an aircraft crashed because the pilot’s magnetic compass was out of order when the very beacons from which the pilot had to take his bearings are under-powered. Pilots flying aircraft in Australia to-day cannot communicate with, their own. principals on this matter. They have to take all instructions when in flight from the Department of Civil Aviation. If other countries pilots operating aircraft have contacts outside mere government departments. I admit that the Department of Civil Aviation has done good work in many ways in controlling aviation in Australia, but for some time it has been lagging behind and living in the past. The department is now installing 112-niegacycle, 4-course radio ranges, which the Minister says are very costly hut which will make flying much safer. It is true that the installation of that equipment will make flying safer, but it is also true that equipment of that type was already out of date in 1942. Some of the equipment has been in Australia awaiting installation for the last sis years. In his report, Mr. Justice Simpson said that the department is not using modern scientific aids which were discovered and used during the war. He was referring to radar and cathode ray direction finding equipment. This is not a party matter. Let us install the best equipment that is available. I am reliably informed, that, within the next few years, the United States of America proposes to expend £A.318,000,000 on the installation of air navigation and safety aids and that the programme of installation will be completed by 1960. In Australia we have to be content with equipment which was already out of date in 1942. To ‘ those who say, “ Blame the pilot “, I say that the tragic accident which we are now considering might not have happened had there been installed in Australia air navigation equipment which was operated in Great Britain during the war when thousands of bombers went over enemy territory every night and were able to return to a base pin-pointed on a tiny island.
– Ask the honorable member for Franklin how many aircraft crashed into mountain sides during the war.
– I know something about that, and we know that Bomber Command lost as many as 34 aircraft a night as a result of enemy action. Bomb ing aircraft frequently could not be flown on a straight course. They flew in good weather and bad. Only rarely were air operations called off. Many aircraft attacked by fighters or crippled by antiaircraft fire, may have damaged their instruments, but nevertheless were able to reach their home base. About 5 per cent, were lost in action, but only about 1 per cent, or 2 per cent, were lost in take-off or landing or in crashes not directly resulting from enemy action. Very few pilots lost their way and were not able to bring their aircraft back to its base. Yet in Australia, however, three years after the war has ended, and despite the fact that we enjoy the best flying conditions in the world, tragic air accidents are occurring. The honorable member for Watson may claim that there are fewer air accidents in Australia than in other countries. Has the honorable member ever flown between England and the Continent in fog? Has he flown in the adverse weather conditions so often exexperienced in the United Kingdom and in the United ‘States of America? In Australia we do no have to face the storms and other weather hazards that are a commonplace in other countries. There in this sunny land we have few high mountain ranges so that flying hazards are reduced to a minimum.
– The aircraft in which the Duke of Kent was killed flew into a mountain side.
– That is true, but the accident was not caused through the lack of flying aids. The Duke of Kent was killed in a Sunderland flying boat which was not travelling on such a flight as was the Lutana. In Australia we have some of the best electronic experts in the world. In Dr. Bowen we have one of genius. A prophet, however, rarely finds favour in his own country. Dr. Bowen has helped to devise a multiple touch range with distancemeasuring equipment which should be put into immediate operation. During the proceedings of the Air Court of Inquiry reference was made to a meeting held in January, 1946, which was attended by civil aviation authorities, including senior navigational men from the Department of Civil Aviation where this equipment was mentioned. Mr. Pape, who was questioning Mr. Wiggins, a senior officer of the department, is reported to have said to him -
You have said you have never had any doubt as to the safety of the 33 megacycle range or its suitability as a radio navigation aid. I want to refresh your memory by referring to something you yourself said, according to the minutes of this meeting. Referring to you, the minutes say - “ The radio physics laboratory had produced an equipment which was better tuan any other at present available. He (you) felt it would be wrong to suggest this equipment should be put on one side. At the same time, he could not see how the Department of Civil Aviation could go ahead to install MTB equipment throughout Australia. In the first place, the equipment was not available and in the second place full-scale trials had not been undertaken. At present the Department had VHF radio range equipment available, and, if it had the necessary staff, this equipment could be put into operation in the near future. If MTR equipment were selected, it would be three years before the first stations were operating and, from the safety point of view, the Department could not wait three years.”
Could not wait for three years for the new equipment ! Yet equipment which has been here for the last six years has not yet been installed. Equipment of the kind upon which Dr. Bowen ? working is standard equipment in Great Britain and in many parts of Europe. It consists of a multiple track range with distance-measuring equipment. On dials in the aircraft the pilot is able to see on which track he is and the distance of the aircraft from the control station. Instead of having merely the north-south track, as is shown on the radio range in use to-day, he has a multiplicity of tracks and is able to ascertain on which track he is flying and the distance of the aircraft from the control. The installation of safety aids of that kind would find favour with all pilots and should be made standard. If the accident to the Lutana had not occurred, the installation of such equipment may not have been considered for many years. Indeed, no promise has been given that the equipment will now be installed. Very high frequency directionfinding equipment permits the ground, staff to let the pilot know on which track he is proceeding and the distance of his aircraft from the control station. Much has been said by the Minister for Civil Aviation about the standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Orga nization. It is regrettable that the equipment which the International Civil Aviation Organization has approved has not yet been installed in Australia. Australia should not lag behind in these matters. Our pilots are equal to the best in the world. Their lives and also those of the passengers for whom they are responsible are dependent upon the provision of the most up to date safety devices which can be installed and installed only by the Department of Civil Aviation which is also responsible for prescribing regulations governing civil aviation generally. The Minister should give a definite promise that equipment of the most modern type will be installed. Those of us who are interested in aviation know that the aim of everybody connected with aviation is to ensure that flying is made more and more safe. The better the air navigation aids installed, the better it will be for Australia. It is wrong for the Minister to discard a judicial report of the nature of that issued by Mr. Justice Simpson. The learned judge tackled his task with great, thoroughness and has eminent authority to back it. Certain improvements should be immediately put in hand.
First, I suggest that the most modern radio aids by which a pilot may at all times know the exact location of bis aircraft should be immediately installed. Secondly, T believe that the Department of Civil Aviation should be overhauled. I admit that in the department there are many very efficient men who have done a great deal for the development of civil aviation in Australia, but I contend we could profit very greatly from the example set by other countries, particularly the United States of America. It is not fair to the officials in the department for the Government to ignore -the reports of judicial inquiries of the kind conducted by Mr. Justice Simpson. The accident investigation activities of the department must be divorced from its purely control activities from the Minister. Those responsible for the investigation of air accidents should be free and independent and at all times be able to advise the Minister fully and frankly.
An inquiry should be made into the whole of the ramifications of the control of civil aviation by an expert committee presided over by a world authority. I have in mind Air Vice-Marshal Bennett, an Australian, who originally was an airlines pilot and who accepted a shortterm commission in the Royal Australian Air Force and went to England. He is the man who founded the Pathfinders and who was declared by Air Marshall Harris of Bomber Command to be the most efficient airman in the world. Although still holding the rank of air vice-marshal he is flying on the air lift to Berlin, helping to feed the Germans which his own command helped to batter to defeat during the war. Let us do something definite now. Let us not regard this as a party matter. Let us agree that what has happened in the past is past history. Let us establish a competent and authoritative body to ensure that tragic accidents of the type we are considering will not occur again. Let us invite a world expert to help us investigate the whole matter of civil aviation and make the necessary changes. Then we shall have a civil aviation administration of which we can be as proud as we are of our airmen.
– All of us regret the tragic accident to the aircraft Lutana which resulted in the loss of valuable lives. It is well that this Parliament should have an opportunity to debate the report of the Air Court of Inquiry which sat on the Lutana disaster. I should not have participated in this debate but for the fact that mention was made of Dr. Bowen, a member of the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, who was appointed as assessor to assist the presiding judge. I want to make it perfectly clear at the outset, because I think that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) is under a misapprehension in this regard, that Dr. Bowen, who was appointed as an assessor, did not sign the report and was merely there as an adviser. In fact, he need not have been consulted by the judge about the report which His Honour himself eventually issued.
– What rot.
– I am making the point, and I think that it is a strong point, that Dr. Bowen was there only as an assessor and adviser.
– Is the Minister trying to imply that Dr. Bowen would not have signed the report ?
– I say that there is no justification for stating that he would have signed the report.
– He was there entirely as an assessor and an adviser. He did not sign the report, and, in fact, I do not know whether the judge actually consulted him about the report or not.
– The Minister has not even read the report.
– There was no obligation on the judge to consult Dr. Bowen on that matter, so that the findings of the court are not necessarily the opinions of Dr. Bowen.
– The Minister is conveying the impression that Dr. Bowen would not have signed the report.
– I am not conveying an impression at all.
– The Minister is in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, where Dr. Bowen is employed.
– I am not conveying any impression at all.
– That is the implication.
– I am not conveying any implication. I am making a plain statement of fact.
– The honorable gentleman is the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and there is a fair implication.
– I am Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I have asked Dr. Bowen to provide me with certain notes on this particular issue, and with a full knowledge of the responsibility I am taking in making this statement, I say that there is no justification for believing that Dr. Bowen would have signed the report.
– In other words, he would not.
– I am not saying that he would not have signed the report. I am saying that there is no justification for putting forward the argument that he necessarily would have signed it. He might or he might not have signed it. The plain fact is that the report is entirely the responsibility of the judge.
– Why, then, was Dr. Bowen appointed to assist the judge?
– Since this is a technical matter and since I have been provided with notes by Dr. Bowen relating to it, it is necessary for me to keep fairly closely to them.
– The notes are confidential, of course !
– Order! The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) will have an opportunity to speak later if he desires to do so.
– Not all that I am saying is based on the notes provided to me. I have read the report, and, quite naturally, I shall quote from the report given to me by Dr. Bowen. I have studied the report and studied the notes that have been provided for me, and I have come to my own conclusions about the matter. From a study of the transcript and the criticism levelled at the Department of Civil Aviation by the court that it is not using modern scientific aids which were discovered and used during the war, one received the impression that the Department of Civil Aviation and the Radio Physics Laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, of whose activities I am. fully aware, have been idle in the matter of adopting war-time aids for civil aviation. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has referred to this subject. That contention is far from true. The evidence given at the inquiry suggested that radar aids were developed during the war, that they were capable of immediate application in civil aviation and that the department had refused to make any use of them. That is quite a wrong conclusion to draw. From the war time developments of radar, there did not emerge equipment of a kind suitable for the purposes of civil aviation.
– Who said that !
– It is nonsense.
– I am saying it. The honorable member for Franklin has had his say, and I am quite entitled to have my say. I am stating that from the war-time developments of radar, there did not emerge equipment which was suitable for civil aviation purposes for reasons which I shall now give. Airborne equipment used in connexion with service radar was heavy and cumbersome and usually required the services of a navigator. In addition, the ground installations required many persons to operate them, a condition quite acceptable in war-time but untenable on economic grounds in peace-time.
– What officer expressed that opinion?
– I am saying it.
– The Minister said that he had notes supplied to him.
– I rise to order. The Minister is either reading his speech or quoting from information which has been supplied to him. I ask you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, whether he is reading a quotation, or his speech. If he is reading his speech, I submit that under the Standing Orders he is not permitted to do so.
– Order! The Minister has every right to quote from copious notes.
– But are they the Minister’s notes or somebody else’s notes?
– The Radio Physics Laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research made a very substantial contribution to the war-time development of radar under the leadership of Dr. Bowen himself. In this development, the closest possible liaison was effected and maintained between the Radio Physics Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Civil Aviation. Constant meetings have taken place between the engineers and operational personnel of the respective departments. Some results have been achieved, and one can say that the Radar Physics Laboratory has been as successful in this field as any other research laboratory in the world has been. Radar distance measuring equipment, with which the Minister for Civil Aviation will no doubt deal in detail, meeting the specifications outlined earlier, has been developed, approved and adopted for use on all Commonwealth air routes. At present this equipment is being manufactured in this country. No other country in the world is so far advanced in this field either with design or manufacture. Air traffic control radar surveillance equipment for use in busy terminal areas has been developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and adopted by the department. The photo-type of this equipment was developed and operationally tested at Mascot in close co-operation with the department.
– How long ago?
– I am giving this information so as to make it quite clear that there is the closest liaison and cooperation between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which has done magnificent work in the development of radar equipment, and the Department of Civil Aviation. I deny any suggestion that there has not been the utmost co-operation between the Radio Physics Laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Civil Aviation. If there had not been such co-operation, the Radio Physics Laboratory would not have been able to achieve the outstanding results which it undoubtedly has achieved. This inquiry, by highlighting the question of the multi-track range, has overlooked the other equipments which have been developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in co-operation with the Department of Civil Aviation.
– Will the Minister explain what a multi-track range is?
– I have not the time to explain what it means, and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has not the intelligence to understand such an explanation. Regarding the short distance aid, the department has an international responsibility through the International Civil Aviation Organization, and the stand that it has taken in installing the International Civil Aviation Organization 112-mega- cycle range, while the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was experimenting with its own aid, is consistent with its responsibility to the international organization. Moreover, it does not preclude the installation of any short distance aids which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research may ultimately develop to the stage where they can be adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organization as a world standard.
I now propose to read extracts from an article published in Aircraft, which is the journal connected with the aircraft industry and air transport generally.
– It has nothing to do with the industry.
– I shall read a passage from the first page of the magazine in order to show the organizations which the journal does represent.
– Where is it published?
– It is published in Melbourne, I understand. The honorable member for Balaclava has said that Aircraft has nothing to do with the aircraft industry. The journal states that it is the official organ of the following bodies : -
The Royal Aeronautical Society, with which is incorporated the Institution of Aeronautical Engineers, Australasian Branch; the Associated Australian Aero Clubs, the Australian Aircraft Traders’ Association, the British Science Guild (Aerial Development Section), Tasmanian Aero Club,. Model Aero Clubs of Victoria, Model Flying Club of Australia, Newcastle Aero Club, Gliding Club of Victoria, and the Guild of Aeronautical Engineers of Australia (Incorporated) .
That is not the complete list, but I have read sufficient to show quite clearly that the journal represents not only the aircraft industry, but also air transport generally. Obviously, it is a journal that is not necessarily biased in favour of this Government. In fact, one would gather from those who are represented in the list which I have just read that, if anything, it would be very much biased against this Government. That fact adds greater emphasis to the quotations whichI shall read from an article in the journal entitled “ Lutana Inquiry “ The article states -
The Air Court of Inquiry constitutedto investigate the first disaster over a twoandahalfyear period of concentrated airline operation ‘has delivered its judgment. A precis of the Court’s findings and some of its recommendations are examined in this feature . . . The judgment of Mr. Justice Simpson, who presided at the prolonged hearing, has now been given. It has laid down a line of probability concerning the route followed by the plane, and suggested a theory to account for a mystery.
It is quite clear that the journal considers that the report has suggested a theory. There cannot be a positive finding about these matters. What actually happened is a matter of conjecture. Therefore, the article makes it clear that what the court has put forward is merely a theory - a conjecture - upon its part. Regarding that theory and conjecture, the journal makes the following remarks: -
With theory advanced and this opinion, and in consideration of the full weight of the evidence, the department has a justifiable right to disagree, though it admits some loopholes were found in its armour. A considerable section of aviation opinion will support it in its disagreement with some of the sweeping assertions, and, indeed, go to the further extent of suggesting that theLutana inquiry proved the presentmachinery for public investigation of air accidents is unsatisfactory.
After outlining the evidence about radio aids, the article states -
In certain areas where the very large number of courses obtained with the VHF omnidirectional range is not required, and a more accurately defined airlane is necessary, the use of a two-course VHF facility is recommended.
In the same journal there is an article entitled, “ Some Comments by the Australian Air Pilots Association “. Again, that organization is a body which certainly is not biased in favour of the Government, and, indeed, if anything, would be prejudiced against the Government. This is what the Australian Air Pilots Association had to say about the matter -
Australia was the first to embrace Picao licensing standards combined with flying hours restrictions, and in this regard led other countries by some eighteen months. The standard of pilot qualification in this country is extremely high. Pilots are highly skilled in their professions’ and their heavy responsibility, covering the safety of passengers and aircraft, is recognized in salaries paid. Captains, according to route and seniority, are paida salary ranging from £1,000 to £2.050 per annum. The General Secretary of the association commented that it was regrettable that the inquiry, though it had gone to considerable pains to probe every aspect of the accident, had failed in arriving at a clear-cut decision on the cause of the accident. The association and individual members had done everything possible to assist the court to this end. In the ultimate, the pilot had to make his own decisions, based on the flying conditions appertaining, and no mechanical or other aid on the ground could alter this state of affairs.
I submit that those quotations all go to prove that in relation to a number of points the findings of the court of inquiry are merely matters of conjecture and that there is no definite evidence to prove that the theory put forward by the court is in fact the correct theory.
To emphasize the argument that I am putting forward I shall quote from an article that appeared in the Melbourne Herald of Saturday, the 20th November, 1948. No one will say that the Melbourne Herald is biased in favour of this Government. That is a classical example of understatement. At any rate, that newspaper would certainly not say anything in favour of this Government if it could possibly avoid it. The Melbourne Herald article was headed -
Air navigation methods here as good as any.
The article was contributed by Mr. W. G. D. Robertson, the editor of Aircraft, the journal from which I have recently quoted. In the article Mr. Robertson said -
Public apprehension about adequacy of our radio facilities is pardonable - but unwarranted. Letus examine the radio system now operative and see how it compares with overseas installations.
Then the article proceeds to examine the radio system that is now operative and to compare it with overseas installations. It then goes on–
– What are these aids ?
– If the honorable gentleman would like me to read the whole of the article, I shall do so. I was endeavouring to save the House the trouble of listening to the explanation, but if the honorable gentleman wishes it, I shall, with the permission of the Chair, read it. It is as follows: -
The prime radio aid on main air routes is known as the 33 megacycle radio range. This system, through a number of ground stations erected along the routes, transmits combinations of signals which clearly tell the pilot whether he is flying along the correct track and “on the beam”. Then he will receive a constant high-pitched whine through his earphones; if he deviates to the coastal side of the beam, the transmission changes to dashes; and if on the inland side, to dots.
This same aid operates an instrument with a vertical pointer which moves to the right or left according to the direction the aircraft flies in relation to the beam. This gives the pilot a visual check on his course.
What might be termed the second radio aid is the radio compass, or automatic direction finder, which the pilot uses as a position check. This device may be tuned in to broadcast stations or special ground transmitters, generally known as homer beacons, passed en route.
The com pass shows the direction of the beacon from the aircraft and, in addition, the beacons serve as check points for ensuring longitudinal separation of aircraft on routes on which many planes are flying.
These aids are augmented at Brisbane and Sydney, on a full-time basis, with a highfrequency direction-finding service which can provide the pilot with a bearing to enable him to fly or “ home “ to an aerodrome and, in certain instances, can fix his position. This service is also available at other locations on a restricted basis.
– I rise to order. It is quite obvious that the Minister is reading his speech, that it has been prepared for him by somebody else and that he does not understand it. I ask that the Standing Orders be applied and that the honorable gentleman be prevented from further reading the speech. “What are we here for?
– Order! Ihave listened closely to the whole of this debate. The Minister read an extract from the article that he is now reading and he was asked by honorable members opposite to read the whole of it. That is what the honorable gentleman is doing now, at the request of the Opposition.
– The honorable gentleman has not stopped reading the whole time.
– Order! It appears to me that there is organized interjection. I shall name the next honorable member who interjects.
– The article in the Melbourne Herald continues as folows : -
So much for a brief outline of the main installations of our present system. The important question is what our airline pilots - the people most concerned - think of it. All pilotsI have questioned - and most of them have had experience on the services to London, America and Canada - agree that it is reliable and comparable to any installation overseas in use.
The last paragraph of the article, referring to the 112 megacycle radio range system, reads as follows: -
There is no suggestion that this system in conjunction with DME and the landing system will not meet the requirements of safe, efficient flying in this country for many years. In these circumstances ideas of scrapping existing assets cannot be justified.
That article was written by a man who should be an expert on these matters. He is the editor of a journal which is the official organ of a large number of organizations dealing with civil aviation and the aircraft industry generally.
I turn now to another portion of the notes provided for me by Dr. Bowen of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Mr.White. -We shall take them as read.
– I can outdo the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) in patience at any time. I have said that some of the findings of the court were findings of fact and that other matters dealt with by it and published in its report are matters entirely of conjecture. Paragraphs 7, 8, 9, 11, 18 and 20 contain what might be termed positive findings, that is to say, findings of fact. I do not think that anybody would dispute them. Paragraph 7 contains the finding that the Lutana was safe and airworthy and was operating within the prescribed limits of aircraft laws. That is the type of finding to which I refer as a positive finding, which nobody disputes. On the other hand, there are a number of findings which, as I have already said, are purely matters of conjecture. I refer to paragraphs 34, 57 and 58 of the report. In paragraph 34 the court makes the finding that the pilot of the Lutana could not have followed the course that he in fact followed without at least two of the aids available having misled him. That is purely a matter of conjecture. Paragraph 57 of the report states that there was a possibility that Kempsey radio range station was temporarily sending out false signals. The use of the word “ possibility “ in that paragraph makes it perfectly clear that that is only a matter of conjecture. Paragraph 58 states that there must have been some additional factor, the judge being “ inclined to the view that the magnetic compass was not functioning effectively “ or that, for some reason the pilot discarded reliance on his magnetic compass. That is a very vague finding. How far was the judge inclined to the view or how little was he inclined to the view? Being conjectural, these findings will always be a matter for debate. Therefore, I feel that no inference should be drawn from the report that is based on mere conjecture by the court.
I turn now from the. findings of the court to its recommendations. In addition to inquiring into the causes of the disaster, the court was empowered to inquire into all matters leading up to the accident and to make recommendations appertaining to them. This was done. The report contains a considerable number of recommendations concerned with civil aviation matters in general. These are given on page 29. Perhaps a convenient way of dividing them up for comment is to classify them as recommendations upon which the Department of Civil Aviation is already taking action and those to which consideration is now being given. Under the heading of the recommendations up which the Department of Civil Aviation is taking action, comes monitoring of the radio range, which is dealt with in paragraph 53 of the report. It was recommended in relation to the 33 megacycle radio range that a monitoring system be immediately installed which gives a positive alarm when a fault occurs, particularly when a fault occurs which causes the range to bend or circumscribe the station.
– I again rise to order. A short time ago I asked you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, whether the. Minister was reading his speech or making a quotation. You ruled then that he was making a quotation. I ask you again, sir, whether the honorable gentleman is reading his speech or making a quotation. You are, of course, aware that he is not allowed to read his speech. I suspect that in answer to the well-informed and reasoned speech that was delivered by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) the Minister is simply reading something which has been prepared for him by experts who are in the House at the present time to back him up. I put it to you, sir, that the purpose of the debate is not that the Minister should rise and, without understanding a thing about what he is reading, put over something–
– Order ! The honorable member is not allowed to debate his point of order.
– I was not doing so.
– Order ! Those who occupy this chair can see plainly what goes on in this chamber.
– Do you rule, sir, that the Minister is reading his speech or quoting?
– Order! I rule that the Minister is quoting from copious notes. If the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) interjects again I shall name him.
– I also rise to a point of order. I object strongly to the statement of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to the effect that I am reading something that I do not understand. The statement is entirely objectionable to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The Minister has taken exception to the statement made by the honorable member for Henty, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– I rise to order.
– Order ! There is no point of order involved.
– I have not finished yet.
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) must resume his seat.
– I shall make my point of order later.
– In the circumstances I withdraw the statement. It is obvious that the Minister understands every word of what he is reading, but I certainly suggest that he should express his opinions without referring to his copious notes.
– I am reading from the notes provided for me by Dr. Bowen, of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and, I think, the honorable member for Henty himself said that this gentleman was a very famous expert on these matters, and was in fact one of the leading experts in the world.
– I rise to order. The Minister has just acknowledged the fact that he is reading from notes prepared for him -by an officer of his department outside this House. I put it to you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that the standing Orders make it perfectly clear that a debate must be carried on in the Minister’s own words and not by his reading during the debate matter supplied to him by one of his officers.
– The Minister has stated that he is quoting from information supplied from an officer of his department.
– I ask you, Mr. Acting Deputy .Speaker, to have reference made to the Hansard record. The Minister has said that he was reading from notes supplied to him by Dr. Bowen.
– Order ! I call on the Minister to continue, his speech.
– I make it quite clear that I am quoting from a report provided for me by Dr. Bowen, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. 1 recommence where I left off. I was dealing with the recommendations of the court. In addition to inquiring into the causes of the disaster, the court was empowered to inquire into all matters leading up to the accident and to make recommendations pertaining thereto. This was clone .and the report contains a considerable number of recommendations concerned with civil aviation matters in general. These are given in title on page 29 of the report. Perhaps a convenient way of dividing them up for comment is to classify them as recommendations upon which the Department of Civil Aviation is already taking, action, those which are under consideration by the depart ment, and those upon which I personally can make no comment.
In paragraph 53 of the report it was recommended in relation to the 33 megacycles radio range that a monitoring system be immediately installed which gives a positive alarm when a fault occurs, particularly when a fault occurs which causes the range to bend or circumscribe the station.
This recommendation arose following the investigations made by the court of the known failure of the Kempsey range on 15th September and its possible failure on the night of the accident. These investigations showed that a serious fault could occur in the radio range transmitter which would mislead aircraft making use of it. The fact that this fault could occur was not previously known to officers of the department. In addition it was found that the monitoring system at Kempsey, and therefore presumably at all other radio range stations, was not adequate to reveal possible faults. It is believed that the Department of Civil Aviation has placed new monitoring equipment in hand, along the lines of the recommendation.
Paragraph SO of the report states that the investigation revealed deficiencies in the traffic control operations at Mascot control tower. They were not considered to be contributory factors to the accident but clearly could be improved. The recommendation was that a new and better control system ‘be installed immediately. I understand that some changes have already been made and that others are in hand. The great bulk of recommendations of the court related to air traffic control matters. It is understood that these are under discussion by the department.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The Chair should have said that Dr. Bowen’s time has expired.
-9.201.- I am not one of those who believes that when an accident such as that to the aircraft Lutana has happened it is the function of the Opposition to lay tht blame upon a Minister, nor do I believe that it is the Opposition’s function automatically to lay the blame upon the department concerned. What I do say is that if imperfection is discovered, then it is culpable of the Government to defend that imperfection. If the trend of this debate from the Government side evidences a willingness to defend exposed imperfection in civil aviation control, then the Government is guilty of remissness. I shall have something to say about that presently. But there was a more understandable spokesman from the government side who spoke before the Minister did. L refer to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), an experienced pilot of the Royal Australian Air Force who, I am bound to presume, was stating the point of view of the Government. If be did not state the Government’s point of view, then the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford), who has just spoken, has not dissociated the Government from the remarks of the honorable member for Watson. We are dealing with the report of an air court of inquiry presided over by a judge chosen by the Government and armed with all the technical advice that could be mustered in Australia. If there is one thing that is crystal clear in the whole of the report, it is His Honour’s finding that no blame is attachable to the air company that owned the aircraft or to the captain of the aircraft itself. Whatever else may be arguable in the report, these things stand out as undisputable. Of course, it is competent for the Government or a supporter of the Government, or any member of this House to say, “ Well, to billyoh with the report of the court. Although it is on a subject extremely technical I take no notice of it. I form my own conclusions and here they are . . .” It is not very useful for any one to take that view, but that is apparently the line that has been taken by the honorable member for Watson. In his speech he placed the whole of the blame for this tragedy upon the unfortunate captain of the aircraft.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) is drawing the long bow now.
– What I say is true. A perusal of the speech of the honor able member for Watson will reveal that, and I am bound to say, in view of the unequivocal findings of the court, that that attitude is a contemptible method to attempt to escape from whatever responsibility may rest on any one else’s shoulders. I am not going to attempt to deal with this subject in technicalities, because I am not competent to do so, which I admit freely and promptly. After all, that is not the function of parliamentary debates. There are but few honorable members here who are competent to discuss this matter on the basis of technicalities, and I rise only to discuss it on the basis of the simple findings and the simple and understandable recommendations of the Government’s own court of inquiry, and then to discuss finally what the Government ought to do in these circumstances. But before proceeding I desire to read a paragraph from the court’s finding. Paragraph 25 states -
I am confirmed in my view that it was by inadvertence that he was not flying the radio range course because I am satisfied from the evidence that the late Captain Drummond was, as one witness expressed it, “ a confirmed radio range flyer “. He was a pilot of more than ordinary ability, a strict disciplinarian, and a man who was normally very careful to obey all the correct procedures and to make the utmost use of his navigational aids, thu principal one of which of course is the radio range.
That is a testimonial to the captain of the aircraft from Mr. Justice Simpson after he had made a very lengthy and exploratory examination of the personnel concerned. Yet the honorable member for Watson came into this House and said it was quite clear from certain deductions he pretended to have made that Captain Drummond was incompetent, careless, and negligent, and that it was by reason of that fact that the accident occurred. He said, in short, that when Captain Drummond had reported that he was over or passing Williamtown that did not necessarily mean that he was passing, it nearby but could have been passing it far off on a long radius. Then the honorable member for Watson proceeded to deduce, from the time between two signals, that the captain of the aircraft ought to have known that he was not only opposite Williamtown but was a long way from it. I understand from the honorable member’s description that if a man were walking past a lamp post nearby he would pass it very quickly, but if the lamp post were a mile away it would be apparently opposite to him for quite a long time. Drawing on a time-table, the honorable member for Watson said that if Captain Drummond had been competent he would have known that he was far from the Williamtown homing beacon, that in fact the captain did know that he was far from it, that he knew he was 100 miles from it, as in fact he apparently was, and that at that moment, in these circumstances, he asked leave to lose height from 6,000 feet to 4,000 feet. Captain Drummond, or any other navigator using that route, would know that .100 miles west of Williamtown would bring him into the midst of mountain ranges with peaks up to 5,000 feet high. Therefore, the honorable member for Watson has reasoned that the. captain knew he was 100 miles out in the, mountains, which rose to a height of 5,000 feet, and, knowing this, sought permission to bring his aircraft to a height of 4,000 feet. If that be the truth-
– He would be a maniac.
– As the honorable member says, he would be a maniac, and responsibility for the death of his passengers would rest upon him. However, every bit of the reasoning of the honorable member for Watson is directly against the findings of the court of inquiry. It was a contemptible thing for the honorable member for Watson to try to save his Government from some responsibility.
– It does not need saving.
– I have not said that it needs saving, but I say that it was contemptible for the honorable member for Watson to try to save the Government by seeking to place the responsibility for the accident upon Captain Drummond. I pass on now to the honorable member for Watson, who is apparently on his way out, anyway.
– He sees no homing beacon !
– I have no vivid recollection of the circumstances associated with the Kyeema disaster, but I have a vivid recollection of the Labour party blaming my colleague, Mr. Thorby, as being personally responsible for the death of those who lost their lives in that crash. The Labour party tried to make the public believe that the Minister for Civil Aviation of that day was personally responsible. Well, the Opposition is not following that course now. It may be discovered that the Government has been negligent. I think that the conclusion might be formed, from a perusal of the evidence before the court of inquiry, that there, has been some negligence, but the real responsibility will fall on the Government if, in the face of the judge’s report, it attempts to show that there is nothing which needs doing, and nothing which ought to have been done. In a technical service such as civil aviation, in which development is rapid, it is almost inevitable that there will sometimes be a lag in the provision of the latest equipment. We must discover, not whether there was provided on the day of the accident something which had been invented the day before but. whether, on the day of the accident, it was found that there was lacking from the available navigation aids something that had been discovered ten years before, or whether there was a failure to take note of a lesson provided by events of ten years earlier. If either of those points can be proved, then a definite responsibility falls upon the Department of Civil Aviation. A few quotations from the report of the court of inquiry will soon show whether there was lacking in the equipment provided something that was available for years before - in one instance, as long as seven years before - and whether the lesson of the Kyeema disaster of ten years earlier had been completely forgotten. It will also show whether some of the equipment in use was faulty. The judge, who presided over the inquiry, quoted extensively from the evidence of Captain Davis, who said that, when thirteen days after the accident he was flying over the route followed by the Lutana he found that the Kempsey radio range was not functioning. Indeed, it was worse than that, because the range was functioning in a way which misled him completely in the navigation of his aircraft. That evidence is set forth in paragraph 41 of the report. Captain Davis stated that he was following the radio range from Kempsey, only to discover, when there came a break in the clouds, that he was many miles off the course. The imperfections of some of the radio range equipment, which is automatic in its operation, was discovered years ago. In order to maintain a check on instruments not manually operated there was installed a monitoring system, which was to reveal by a moving hand and the flashing of a green light whether the radio range was working properly. The judge found that the green light system had not been working for twenty months at Kempsey, and that the moving hand was not in itself a perfect check. In paragraph 52 of his findings, Mr. Justice Simpson says - 1 have to report that the monitoring of the radio range at Kempsey was hopelessly inadequate - and there seems strong grounds for believing that it must be inadequate wherever the present system and monitoring appliances arc in use.
Those are strong words. However, the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) who was in charge of a most technical service, has just read a report prepared by one of the officers of his department, setting forth a long story written by somebody for the Melbourne Herald. In effect, be tore up the report of the court of inquiry appointed by his own Government, and threw it in the waste paper basket. Then picking up the Melbourne Herald, he said, “Here are the facts”. Mr. Justice Simpson found that there was no fault on the part of the operating company, that the aircraft itself was structurally sound and in perfect condition, and that the engines were functioning properly. He gave an expansive testimonial to the captain of the aircraft. His finding then revealed imperfections in the civil aviation control system. For instance, in paragraph 57, he stated -
The evidence does not justify me, therefore, in saying more in relation to this than that there is a strong possibility that the radio range at Kempsey was temporarily sending out an on-course signal which led Captain Drummond to follow the track he did.
When electrical equipment ceases to function in a case of this kind, it is impossible to reconstruct the situation. However, the judge who presided over the inquiry had a barrister to assist him, and he had the benefit of the evidence of technical witnesses and he declared that there was a strong possibility that the radio range was temporarily sending out an on-course signal which led the pilot to take the course he did. If the honorable member for Watson read the findings of Mr. Justice Simpson, and I presume he did, it was a terrible thing for him to try to make out that Captain Drummond was culpably negligent. There has been reference to the magnetic compass, one of the navigation aids. Most of us understand pretty well what a magnetic compass is. There was also on the aircraft a radio compass. Perhaps we do not know so well what that is, in a technical sense, but we understand that it enables a pilot to get a bearing on a particular station. The pilot knows whether he is on the right or the left of the beam. The honorable member for Watson said that the magnetic compass has never been known to get out of order. I do not know whether it has or not, but no one will dispute the experience and bona fides of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), and he says that the honorable member’s statement is nonsense and that magnetic compasses have been known to get out of order. He told me that he had personal experience of that happening. After receiving competent technical advice on the subject, and after acquainting himself with the meteorological conditions of the flight, Mr. Justice Simpson found, as stated in paragraph 59 of his report -
For this reason I am inclined to the view that his magnetic compass was not functioning effectively.
It is beyond dispute that there were electrical storms that nigtht, and that this aircraft flew around them, as, indeed, did all other aircraft that were flying the same “route that night. The judge also said -
I am inclined to the view that this magnetic compass was not functioning effectively.
If that were so, the pilot was driven completely back to his radio compass and the radio range. I point out that the same radio range has already been revealed as having definitely misled the captain of an aircraft thirteen days later. The judge quoted from a mass of evidence, fortified by the advice of his technical assistants, that the radio range was out of order on the night of the accident. I am bound to recall the opening remarks of the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The honorable gentleman said that he had a report from Dr. Bowen, a noted physicist who, I am reliably informed, is accepted as one of the leading authorities on this subject in the world. At least Dr. Bowen was one of the first scientists to utilize the discovery of radar. In his opening remarks, the Minister used words that I cannot recall, but they were recorded. They were definitely calculated to leave the impression, which was immediately challenged by honorable members on this side of the House, that Dr. Bowen did not agree with the report of His Honour, Mr. Justice Simpson.
– I do not think that that is a justifiable inference to make from the Minister’s remarks.
– The Minister’s words were of such a character that they were instantly challenged by a dozen honorable members on this side of the House, and he did not deny them. A careful perusal of His Honour’s report will reveal that time after time, he used words, “ Having consulted my assessor, Dr. Bowen “. The Minister is well aware that His Honour used those words, yet, notwithstanding the fact that he is the Ministerial head of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research with which Dr. Bowen is associated, he used words which were undoubtedly intended to convey the impression that Dr. Bowen did not accept the findings of the court. I am afraid that I should get a little red in the face if I attempted to express my contempt for tactics of that kind. In paragraph 78, His Honour says -
In the case of the Lutana, it is now known that the Lutana failed to report at Kempsey and at Wingham, and the Area Control Officer responsible for the records on that night, failed to notice that it had not so reported and accordingly failed to inform the flight checking officer.
No reference was made to that statement by the honorable member for Watson. No reference was made by the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to the revelation in this inquiry that the Lutana had failed to report at two points, and that no notice had been taken by the flight checking officer at Mascot of its failure to do so. No acknowledgment has been made of the fact that this statement reveals some imperfection - that is the most generous word I can think of - in the set up and control of civil aviation. But there is noescape for the poor pilot! In pointing out that fact, the court found that, at Mascot, the responsible officials should have noticed that the pilot had failed to report at two points, but that was disregarded. An attack was made on the pilot. That statement reveals some imperfection. I do not expect perfection in the control and administration of our railways, civil airways or any other government instrumentality. The records prove that civil aviation in Australia is well conducted. The records, of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett Airways Limited, and the various other airlines operating in Australia are superb. I hope that this debate will not shake public confidence in civil aviation in Australia. It is certainly not my purpose to do that. If the Opposition is to discharge its functions, however, it must turn the spotlight on discovered weakenesses and it is for the Government to say frankly “ We do not accept this as a weakness and we will not alter the present arrangements “, or “ We accept this as a weakness and shall attend to it “. If the Government takes the latter view, it will go a long way towards satisfying the people; but it will not explain why this debate relating to the safety of flying is taking place in February and not during the middle of November, when the report of the inquiry was presented to the Minister. In paragraph 84 His Honour states -
Putting this more specifically, it appeared to me from the evidence that the over-riding fear in the minds of traffic control officers of the Department of Civil Aviation is that a collision will occur in the air and accordingly the whole of the present system is being operated in an attempt to avoid any such occurrence, and that the lessons learnt from the Kyeema inquiry have been forgotten.
I f there was a body of men who screamed to high heaven for the Kyeema inquiry, it was the Labour Party. A Labour government has been in office for 8 years, and a court of its own choosing has said that the lessons learnt from the Kyeema inquiry have been forgotten. It is obvious that the minds of the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation are preoccupied elsewhere. At paragraph 88, His Honour has said - lt appears to me that a criticism that can be justly levelled against the department is that it is not using the modern scientific aids which were discovered and used during the war, that they are requiring information from the pilot which should be known to them or which could be obtained by them accurately and instantaneously from the ground without choking the communication channels. I have in mind such modem scientific aids as radar, and automatic position fixing by cathode-Tay direction finders.
That is a telling statement. I have been informed on authority which I do not think will be disputed, that certain radar direction finding -and fixing equipment was developed during the war. [Extension of time granted.’] It is known by queer names. One is called “Rebecca”, another is “ Ran a third is “ Consol “ and still another is “ Gee “. They were not only used during the war in Great Britain, but also are being used to-day for civil aviation purposes in that country. That seems to me to relate specifically to the court’s view that the department is not using modern scientific aids which were discovered and used during the war. At paragraph 104, the judge says -
The evidence discloses that some 7 years ago the Department of Civil Aviation decided to substitute for the present 33 megacycle radio range the 1 12 megacycle four-course range, and these are now being installed in some places. The evidence also disclosed that they are of American origin and are now being displaced in America by the omni-directional range.
We have to accept that statement at its face value. It reveals that a delay of seven years has taken place from the time of the decision to instal this equipment to the time of its actual installation. It is being installed notwithstanding the fact that it is regarded in America as being out of date, and is being replaced by equipment of a modified design. In paragraph 108, dealing with the subject of maps, the judge says -
With reference to the question of maps, evidence was given which satisfied rae that there are peaks on the air route from Mascot to Tamworth whose altitude is not properly shown. In this regard there was evidence from the General Manager, the Secretary and the Chief Pilot of Bast-West Airlines Ltd. that a letter had been sent to the Department of Civil Aviation drawing their attention to the inaccuracies and offering to provide an aircraft for the purposes of a survey; that an answer had been received from the Department acknowledging the letter and declining the offer. Unfortunately the company was unable to produce either the carbon copy or their alleged reply, and the department through its witnesses denied having received the letter or written a reply. The department produced to the court the appropriate files in support of their denial. I can see no reason to doubt the oath of three witnesses, none of whom were shaken in cross-examination, and I am satisfied that a letter was written and a reply sent. It was admitted that the chief pilot had discussed the matter with an aircraft surveyor of the department and with the chief clerk of one of the department’s branches at Mascot and Mr. Williams gave evidence that an inspection of a map in the department’s custody in the tower at Mascot showed the correction pencilled in. I am left with the feeling that the mattei was not looked upon as of sufficient importance to demand immediate action.
That report about inaccuracies in the department’s maps regarding the altitude of certain mountains on the route that its aircraft traversed was made by an operating company. His Honour felt bound to draw attention to another point. He stated in paragraph 109 -
During the course of the case Mr. E. V. Read, an airways surveyor employed hy the Department of Civil Aviation gave evidence of certain tests he had made, inter alia, as to the distance over which the Kempsey range could be heard. In support of this evidence a report prepared and signed by Mr. . Read was tendered in evidence. Later, by what I think might aptly be described as chance, it became apparent that Mr. Read had made some other checks on the Kempsey range and that these checks were to see if the Kempsey transmitter could send an on-course signal which could be received at abnormal places. Mr. Read was recalled and admitted that he had omitted any mention of the second checks deliberately. I quote page 811 of the transcript -
Mr. Shand. ; You did not give any information about the tests made on Eight Hour Day and later days on instructions? You were told not to give any information about tests you made on Eight Hour Day this year? ; I was instructed to omit any reference. tie was instructed to omit any reference to the fact that he had made tests which disclosed that this particular transmitter could send out an “ on-course “ signal which could he received at abnormal places. Group Captain Wiggins, a technical officer in the Department of Civil Aviation, stated in evidence -
I will say this, that I was guided to some extent by the fact that at that time evidence had been given by pilots using the facilities at or about the same time as ANK, and showing that they had noticed nothing unusual.
To Air. Shand. - You realize you were depriving the court of certain information which may or may not have been relevant? - Yes”, sir.
A Minister and a government supporter, who have spoken in this debate, have studiously avoided making any reference to those inefficiencies, discrepancies and deliberate omissions in evidence. One of those speakers has attempted to place on the pilot the blame for the accident, but in paragraph 114’ of the report His Honour has stated -
It. would appear that there is an official known as the Chief Inspector of Accidents, and that where an accident occurs it is the custom lo appoint a committee under the powers believed to exist under the above quoted regulation. It seems to me that a Departmental Committee is not the most suitable body to investigate accidents which may possibly be attributed in whole or in part to some failure in the Department. I would recommend that provision be made for an Air Accidents Investigation Committee to be presided over by a u officer of another Department, although I recommend that members be officers of the Department appointed by the Director-General. lt seems to me it would be most appropriate to appoint as Chairman an officer of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
That recommendation impresses me as being very sound. It seems to me to be utterly wrong in the interests of safe flying, to rely upon the reports by junior officers to their superiors.
– That is not right. They report, not to their immediate superiors, but to the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
– Very well, they must report to the Director-General of Civil Aviation. But if any serious fault is revealed, he is the person who must be held blameworthy. That system seems to me to be utterly wrong. However, I shall not labour that point. I am satis fied to allow this unhappy incident to teach us a lesson. For me, it is not sufficient that the report of the air accidents committee should be made to the senior officer of the Department of Civil Aviation, who has to shoulder the responsibility for any failures, mistakes or inadequacies that have been revealed in the conduct of that department. The honorable member for Franklin, in a reasoned and informative speech, has recommended the re-establishment of the Aviation Research Committee, which would be able to tender invaluable advice to the Government. Aviation is not a form of transport like the railways, which has reached a comparatively static condition. lt is tremendously dynamic. What is practicable to-day may be completely out of date six months or twelve months hence. We should equip ourselves with the best technical advice that we can obtain. This country has had many renowned aviators such as Hawker, Hinkler and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, and some of the best physicists in the world, such as Dr. Madison and Dr. Bowen. We are utterly mad if we do not avail ourselves of the services of men of their calibre. I shall not say that the Minister for Civil Aviation is responsible for the position. That would be a silly attitude for any person to adopt. I shall not say that civil aviation in Australia is dangerous because the whole record of civil aviation in this country would belie such a statement. Our record of safety is magnificient. But we do not want accidents that can be avoided, and all the evidence in the report of the court shows that there were circumstances existing at the time of the Lutana disaster which, if we are prepared to learn them instead of merely defending the powersthatbe, would teach us how to make civil aviation even safer than it has been in the past. I hope that the Government and the department have that objective.
– I do not propose to speak at great length at this late hour about the report of the Air Court of Inquiry into the Lutana disaster, because the subject has been fully dealt with by previous speakers on this side of the House, and also by some honorable members opposite. However, there are certain points which have emerged from the inquiry that I desire to emphasize, and in addition, I shall direct attention to other matters. The first point that impresses any person about the report is the extraordinary action of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) in delaying its release from the 17th November until the 24th November. He then presented it to the House, but before honorable members had an opportunity to read it, lie released a report that had been prepared by officers of his department on the subject. Apparently they compiled that document in the interval of seven days. An extraordinary feature is that they must have been very hasty in their work, because their submissions are not consistent with certain established facts which are brought out in the court’s report and which they have dismissed very lightly indeed. I shall direct attention to several matters which the Minister mentioned when he laid the court’s report upon the table of the House. Referring to the Kempsey radio range, he said that it had been reported on the 15th September that trouble had occurred and that the beam was being sent out in a wrong direction. He said later that the suggestion by the court that this particular fault had developed about the 2nd September could only be logically accepted -
I direct attention to the evidence of Captain Davies about the breakdown of the radio range at Kempsey on the 15th September. He communicated with the Kempsey radio station and reported a fault on the radio range. The station replied that no other complaints had been received. According to the finding of the court -
Kempsey replied that no other complaints had been received, but on looking into the matter discovered that there was in fact a fault in the range transmitter which was then corrected. From that time onwards Captain Davies reported receiving the correct radic range signals from Kempsey.
Why could not precisely the same fault have developed on the night of the 2nd September, when the Lutana was lost near
Crawney Pass in the vicinity of Nundle? Obviously, the same fault could have occurred, but the Minister dismissed the idea in the lightest possible manner in order to water down the effect that the report of the court would have. Referring again to the monitoring system at Kempsey radio range, the Minister said -
The lights referred to were fitted in the design of the original equipment for purposes to which it is not applied in Australia and were never intended to indicate the correct operation of the apparatus under the conditions dealt with in this report . . . The only means of noting correct operation is by observation of the milliampmeter built into that portion of the set designed for the special purpose of monitoring.
But His Honour said that -
The monitoring system consists of a clock faced dial which is situated about four feet away from the aeradio operator who is required twice every hour to check that the system is working correctly. He should have two aids in this -
I ) A green electric light of small candle power which flashes on and off in rhythm with the keying mechanism of the transmitter.
That reference is apparently to the lights which, according to the Minister, were never intended to function. In paragraph 49 of his report, His Honour stated -
It is sufficent to say of the electric globe that at Kempsey it had not been functioning for at least the past 20 months. An unsatisfactory explanation was offered mc that the globes were of German origin and that they were unobtainable. This explanation is completely unsatisfactory when it is observed that when the inspection was made by my assessors the local technician had installed a temporary and effective substitute in a very short time.
The officers who were operating the monitoring system at Kempsey did not mention that the lights were not effective, and that they were not needed for the purpose for which they believed the lights were required, but the Minister has stated that the lights were never intended to indicate the correct operation of the apparatus under the conditions outlined in the report. That shows a weakness, because the staff at the Kempsey radio station did not realize that the lights did not show whether the apparatus was operating or not. In paragraph 50 of the report His Honour stated -
The information given by the clock-faced dial is likewise completely unsatisfactory.
He has given reasons for that view. That is the milliampmeter which the Minister says is the only reliable means of observing whether the station is functioning properly or not. Throughout the whole of his speech the Minister for Civil Aviation attempted to belittle or water down the report of the court. The only other Minister who has taken part in this debate so far, the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman), did everything he could to convince the people of Australia that the report was the report of the ‘judge himself and that the judge was not necessarily assisted by his assessors. The honorable gentleman pointed out that Dr. Bowen did not sign the report, which is perfectly true. He further said that there was no obligation on the judge to consult Dr. Bowen, and that the findings of the court were not necessarily those of Dr. Bowen. Paragraph 46 of the report reads as follows: -
Certain experiments were carried out under the supervision of my two assessors. Dr. Bowen proceeded to Kempsey and there caused artificially a fault to occur in the transmitting apparatus . . . Captain Diprose flew in an aeroplane and received the signals sent out by the transmitter.
The judge went on to say in paragraph 46-‘
I am completely satisfied that a fault could occur in the Kempsey range which would result In the on-course signal being received by a pilot from any point of the compass. This conclusion involves the understanding of some highly technical details, and I am encouraged to express this view because my assessor, Dr. Bowen, advises me that he is in complete agreement with the conclusions I have arrived at.
That paragraph shows that the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research entirely misconstrued the attitude of the judge towards the assessors, and underrated the assistance which, quite obviously, he was demanding from them with regard to the technical details on which he reported. The Minister went on to say that there was no justification for assuming that Dr. Bowen would have signed the report. There is every reason to believe that, in respect of the technical details which are dealt with in the report, the judge consulted his technical advisers and was very largely guided by the advice that they gave him as well as by the evidence that was put before him. The Minister also said that many of the findings of the court were merely matters of conjecture. That was a very dangerous statement to make. Paragraph 39 of the report reads as follows :-
I am also satisfied that the on-course signals in certain circumstances may be transmitted throughout the whole coverage area. By this I mean that a fault can occur at the Kempsey range which would result in the on-course signal being received for a distance of approximately 100 miles in all directions around the compass.
That was not a matter of conjecture. It was proved by Dr. Bowen and Captain Diprose, after a report had been received from Captain Warlow-Davies, not only to be possible but actually to have occurred.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) spoke as the technical authority of the Government on the flying and navigation of aircraft. Consequently, he must be taken to have been expressing the views of the Government and reinforcing them with his own technical knowledge. Everything that the judge said, and presumably the assessors agreed with it, concerning the ability of Captain Drummond, his care in flying, the fact that he always flew the beam when he could, and the great success that he had had in flying these routes for many years, was dismissed lightly by the honorable member for Watson, who put forward an entirely new thesis, which was not subscribed to by the judge or his assessors. It was not put forward by the numerous witnesses who gave evidence before the court, nor was it supported by the investigations that were made in the Quirindi district by the judge and the assessors, who examined witnesses who had heard the noise of the Lutana’s engines at night, and, in some instances, had seen the lights of the aircraft when it was flying around. The conclusions drawn from that evidence were dismissed by the honorable gentleman who put forward a thesis that the disaster was due to an error by the pilot in flying a wrong compass course from Kyogle until he crashed at Crawney Pass. The honorable gentleman had no grounds for making that statement, but anything possible is now being used by the Government in an attempt to escape from the implications of this report. In paragraph 46 the judge, with the agreement of his two assessors, stated that the on-course signal could be received by a pilot from any point of the compass. In paragraph 47 he said that the oncourse signal could be given throughout the whole 360 degrees pf the compass and that a pilot flying on the radio compass would believe, if his magnetic compass was out of order, that he was travelling north to south on his proper course. An examination of the map to which reference was made frequently by the honorable member for Watson shows that the range of the Kempsey station is 100 miles. The perimeter of a circle with a radius of 100 miles and with Kempsey as its centre would pass approximately due east of Glen Innes until it struck Tamworth, on the southern end of the route over which the Lutana is supposed to have flown from Kyogle to Bundella. Consequently, for a great distance of the route which the aircraft flew the pilot must have believed that he was on the Kempsey beam and that he was flying due south towards Kempsey. After leaving Tamworth he was reported at Bundella. lt would seem that at that point he found he was not on the beam and that he flew east to come on to it and pick up his route south once more. When the honorable member for Watson was asked to explain, why the pilot requested permission to descend to 4,000 feet, he said that the pilot had disobeyed his instructions because he was not on the beam. The pilot must have believed that he was on the Kempsey beam until shortly before that. A pilot who knew the terrain of that district, knowing that the Mount Royal Ranges were to the south and that the Great Dividing Range was to the east, would never have turned east at a height of 4,000 feet unless he believed he was on the Kempsey beam and that he was right in towards the coast. It was very wrong of the honorable member for Watson to say what he did say, and it was also wrong of the Government to support him against a man who is. not able to defend himself because he perished in this disaster. Captain Drummond has, however, been defended by the evidence that was given by technical men before the court and by the opinion of the judge, supported by his assessors. ;
Sad though it is that this gallant nightcaptain, his ten passengers, his hostess and his co-pilot perished in this accident,. I believe that good will eventually come from it. I do not want to say anything derogatory to the safety of flying in Australia. This country is blessed by the fact that it does not have the terrific snow-storms and tempestuous conditions that are encountered by flyers in the northern hemisphere. Nevertheless, we must ensure that we have the best possible navigational and flying aids. Even if we do not have the best aids possible, there must be no repetition by the Department of Civil Aviation of some of the actions to which the judge referred in the report, particularly with regard to the monitoring at Kempsey and the failure to notify Mascot from Kempsey that the Lutana had not reported there. Those are matters of discipline, and the enforcement of regulations. It is no credit to the department and its officers, or to the Minister, that the regulations were not properly observed. If Kempsey station had reported that the Lutana had not reported to it, Mascot aerodrome would possibly have got in touch with the pilot, asked what was his reason for not reporting and inquired whether he was certain that he was in fact on the course on which he believed he was. Lives might have been saved if that action had been taken.
The section of the report dealing with aeronautical maps contains some severe comments. It is to be regretted that the aeronautical maps of this country are not in a better condition than they are. I know the story that is told by the Government ad nauseum about the difficulty of getting anything done in wartime, but I remind the Minister for Civil Aviation that the war has now been over nearly four years. That period should have been ample in which to prepare better maps than the ones to which the judge referred in paragraphs 106. 107 and 108 of -his report. It appears that there has been a great lack of attention to reports sent in to the Department of Civil Aviation drawing attention to the inaccuracies of the maps, particularly on the route from Mascot to Tamworth, where the altitude of peaks is not properly shown and where, in many instances, the nomenclature does not show to which peaks the figures refer. It is mountainous and dangerous country, and I hope that the Minister will take care to have those maps redrawn with extra details so that pilots may know the heights of the peaks of the various ranges that they are flying over. I hope that as a result of this debate the Minister and the department will take great heed of what has been said, that the Minister will not endeavour to whitewash the department and that Government spokesmen will not endeavour to say that “ God’s in his heaven all’s right with the world “, but will realize that much reform is needed in the Department of Civil Aviation. It has been stated in this debate that the lessons of the Kyeema disaster have not been remembered, and it has been pointed out that the gentleman who advised a witness in the Lutana inquiry not to give certain evidence did exactly the same thing with another witness at the time of the Kyeema inquiry. That was pointed out in the press, and I hope that if there is another disaster, the Minister will tell this gentleman to leave the witnesses alone so that they may tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
– Who interfered with the witnesses?
– If the Minister reads the report he will see that for himself.
– The report does not indicate that witnesses were interfered with.
– It does. In conclusion, therefore, I trust that we shall see the recommendations of the court carried out to the greatest possible extent to ensure that the very safe flying conditions of Australia are made even safer.
– I do not propose to address myself to this question on the basis of the technicality involved, because I believe that that is not the question before the House, at the present, moment. Nor do I propose to try to fix the blame for this disaster upon any individual, because I believe that a competent court has already made a report regarding that matter. I propose, however, to say something about the unethical conduct of the Government in this matter. The Government spokesman, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), who is the only flying man on the Government side of the House, and was chosen specifically by the Minister to put the case for the Government, has so far departed from the court’s report as to charge Captain Drummond with being the direct cause of the disaster. He did not say so in so many words, but that inference could be drawn from everything that the honorable member said in his speech. Let us look at what happened. The disaster occurred and the Opposition demanded a publicinquiry. It was in my responsible post as Acting Leader of the Opposition that I demanded an inquiry from the Minister for Civil Aviation, and the Minister assured me that such an inquiry would be held. The Minister appointed Mr. Justice Simpson to inquire into the tragedy and said that it would be a full and open inquiry.
– Was it not?
– Of course it was. But the Minister is now in the position that, after having appointed a referee and received his report, he is not prepared to accept the report because it is not in conformity with what the Minister required
– The Minister asked his department to examine the report closely, after closely examining the report, and before this House was given the opportunity to debate the report, the Minister made a departmental report to the House controverting all, or most of, the strictures of a damaging nature against the Department of Civil Aviation which were contained in the referees report. Is there any precedent for that in this Parliament? I know of none. A royal commission is engaged at the present moment upon on inquiry with which a Minister is closely associated.
Are we to understand that, if that royal commissioner does not bring in a report acceptable to this Government-
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Burke). - The honorable gentleman must not refer to the royal commission now sitting.
– Then I shall ask whether if any royal commission returns a report that does not satisfy the Government, are we to understand that the Govern ment will call in a departmental officer to closely examine the report, controvert its finding and give them to the House as being the true position before it will table the official report of the commissioner? I say that the Government’s action is decidely unethical, that there is no precedent for it, and that the Minister has exceeded his authority in presenting his own report to this House. We have also had another report this evening. The Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industial Research (Mr. Dedman) has said to us, “I have a report from Dr. Bowen that I propose to read to the House “. So the House now has before it the report of the court of inquiry, a report from the Department of Civil Aviation, and a report from Dr. Bowen. All we need now to confuse the picture completely is a report on the reports.
– I think that the honorable member is entirely wrong. The Minister did not say anything about a report. He said that he had been furnished with notes.
– He used the word report and if the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) will refresh his mind by reading Hansard to-morrow morning, he will find that I am right. We. have already had a denial of something that was alleged to have been said in this chamber earlier to-day. The only people upon whom we can rely for the truth in this matter are the officers of Barnard. The situation is becoming Gilbertian. Report after report is being submitted to the House. The Minister successfully clouded the issue to-night with a maze of technicalities into which T do not propose to follow him.
– Which Minister?
– The spokesman for the Government.
– I am the spokesman for the Government, and I have not spoken to-day.
– I am referring to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), who obviously expressed the views of the Government when he placed the blame for the disaster squarely on Captain Drummond. His conclusion seemed to me to be quite wrong. Three minutes before the crash occurred, Mascot established contact with the Lutana and asked the pilot whether he had called. The pilot’s reply was “ No “. Mascot asked if he required any help and he again replied in the negative. Quite obviously Captain Drummond was flying on his instruments and believed them to be correct. Had he not been flying on his instruments obviously he would have sought help from Mascot. Flying on his instruments he crashed. That is obviously the logical deduction. A maze of technicalities has been introduced into the debate in an endeavour to pin the blame for the tragedy on one man, regardless of the strictures made against the Department of Civil Aviation- strictures that appear to me to be sufficient to rock any government. The Government has been forced to resort to the device of piling report upon report. I believe that the strictures made by the court of inquiry are well founded, and that in adopt* ing its present tactics, the Government is showing evidence of complete panic. As I have said, Mr. Justice Simpson’s report criticizes the department for not providing more navigational aids. I shall not go into the technicalities of that matter. I do not know what could be regarded as adequate navigational aids, but I do believe that a special court of inquiry clothed with specific powers, and given the advice of one of Australia’s foremost physicists and other experts, must surely be competent to say whether navigational aids to aircraft in this country are adequate and efficient. What is the use of the Minister for Civil Aviation shilly-shallying with departmental reports in an endeavour to prove the findings of the court of inquiry wrong? The inquiry was open, and anyone could give evidence. The department had an opportunity to state its views and to counter any assumptions by Mr. Justice .Simpson which it considered incorrect. If the department did attempt to do that, it failed miserably, but now, through its representative in this chamber, it seeks to brush aside the report of the court of inquiry by placing technical matters before honorable members who have no technical knowledge and no means of determining the accuracy of the department’s submission. The Minister says, “ Here is the report of my officers “. The report, of course, safeguards the interests of those officers, and of the Minister. Members of this chamber have no power to call witnesses to determine the accuracy of the department’s claims. How can the truth be ascertained ? Only by the means adopted by the Government, namely the appointment of a special court of inquiry. That court, I remind the House, was appointed by the Government and not by the Opposition. The court had power to take evidence from all witnesses including the officers of the department who have compiled the report for the Minister. The court made a most adverse and scathing report on the department, including officers who gave evidence on behalf of the department. That is the matter that should have been debated in this chamber to-day. We are not concerned with the technicalities. We are concerned with the unethical conduct of this Government in endeavouring to hide behind a veil of secrecy the mal-administration and inefficiency of one of its own departments. The investigations made by Mr. Justice Simpson were very thorough. Expert assistance was made available to him. The department had ample opportunity to justify its methods and to bring out all the facts associated with the tragedy. Its officers gave evidence but, like small boys, they had to have a second shot after the court had listened to their views and assessed their value. Then they came back like small boys thumbing their noses, and surreptitiously gave further information to the Minister, who placed it before the House. The Minister was not qualified to assess the value or truth of the statements placed before him by the officers of his department, but he produced in this House his own report. He disputed the finding of the court of inquiry, and on page two if his own report said that he directed that Mr. Justice Simpson’s finding should be closely examined. In other words, he said “ These charges are levelled against you, and against me as the Minister in charge of the department. They are scathing and damaging. Examine them closely, and if you can find some way of controverting them, let me know.” The mere fact that he asked his officers to examine the report closely proves conclusively that he disputed the findings of the judge. It seems to me that this was very strange procedure to be followed by any Minister. If the Government had no confidence in Mr. Justice Simpson as an investigator, why did it appoint him in the first place to conduct the inquiry? Did the Government think that it had in Mr. Justice Simpson a “ stooge “ who was prepared to white-wash the Department of Civil Aviation by bringing in a suitable report? The learned judge had the interests of the travelling public at heart, and his finding exposed the weaknesses of the Department of Civil Aviation. Hence, the running to and fro, the compiling of special reports, and all the other nonsense that has been associated with the matter.
Having appointed Mr. Justice Simpson to conduct the inquiry, why did the Government, through the Minister for Civil Aviation, present concurrently with the report of the court of inquiry a whitewashing report of its own to offset the effect of the official finding? Surely, the correct procedure would have been to have the report of the court of inquiry debated in the House, and then for the Minister to defend his administration and his department in the course of an explanation. No one could have found fault with the Minister if that had been done. He should have said, “ Here is the report of the judge; we shall debate it.” Then, in the course of the debate, he could say, “ My department points out this and this and this.” Had that been done one could not find fault with the Minister, but it was most unethical for kim to present his own report concurrently with the report of the court of inquiry. Such action should not have been countenanced by the House.
The reason for the presentation of the Minister’s report is quite clear. Obviously, the Government wanted to defend the short-comings of the Department of Civil Aviation, and it was prepared to do so at the expense of the personal safety of all who travel by air, because the safety of air travellers depends largely upon the provision of modern mechanical aids to guide the aircraft in which they fly. The mechanical aids at present in use came under severe criticism from Mr. Justice Simpson. In paragraph 80 of his finding, Mr. Justice Simpson said -
It appears to me that a criticism that can be justly levelled against the department is that it is not using the modern scientific aids which were discovered and used during the war, that they are requiring information from the pilot which should he known to them or which could he obtained by them accurately and instantaneously from the ground without choking the com muni cation channels. I have in mind such modern scientific aids as radar, and automatic position fixing by cathode ray direction finders.
To this the Minister replied on page 5 of his own report, and again I call attention to his unethical behaviour. He did not make his statement in the course of debate, but in a report superimposed on a report. He said -
To install these aids to cover the extensive airways network in Australia, would involve expenditure .and man-power of such magnitude as to make it impossible for any nation of 7,500,000 people to consider.
Australia, favoured as she is with good flying weather, would hardly find justification to be the first to install aids such as are referred to - no other nation has yet attempted to do so.
The Minister, in effect, admits that the department could do better, and that if it installed suitable devices flying could be made almost completely safe, but hegoes on to say thai; the Government cannot do that because it cannot afford the cost. However, honorable members opposite have frequently said that governments can always find millions of pounds for war, so why cannot they find money for peace?
This Government is wasting millions oi pounds on things that do not matter., but it is jeopardizing the safety of the public by failing to provide proper navigational aids. A Government spokesman sought to put the blame for the accident on Captain Drummond, but the report of Mr. Justice Simpson exonerates the pilot, and makes it clear that, in the opinion of the judge, the pilot was misled by two of his mechanical aids. The honorable member for Watson, as Government spokesman, controverted that finding, and relied upon the statement placed before the House by the Minister. He echoed the opinions of the Minister, and tried to fix the blame on the pilot, rather than on the Department of Civil Aviation. However, he cannot evade the decision of the referee, no matter what subterfuge the Minister adopts. The finding of the court stands. Mr. Justice Simpson is a man of reputation, and has no political bias. Incidentally, he paid a great tribute, to the pilot. In paragraph 25 of his finding he said -
I am confirmed in my view that it was by inadvertence that he was not flying the radio range course because I am satisfied from the evidence that the late Captain Drummond was, as one witness expressed it: “ a confirmed radio range flier “.
In other words he flew on the range all the time. The report continues -
He was a pilot of more than ordinary ability, a strict disciplinarian, and a mau who was normally very careful to obey all the correct procedures and to make the utmost use of his navigational aids, the principal one of which is of course the radio range.
In paragraph 85 of the report, Mr. Justice Simpson says -
He Mew this course because at least two of Ins instruments misled him, but the evidence does not justify me in saying more than that there is a strong probability that a fault iti the radio range was one of the causes.
That is very important, because, if there was a fault in the radio range, that brings the matter .right home to the Department of Civil Aviation, and the attempt by the Government spokesman to divert the blame from the department to the pilot was utterly contemptible. Paragraph 25 nf the judge’s report states - f have no hesitation in reporting that in my judgment ho did not fly the course he did deliberately.
Obviously, the judge held the view that there was something wrong with the aircraft’s instruments. In paragraph 34 of his report, the judge made this damning statement -
For reasons that I express hereafter I am satisfied that the pilot of the Lutana could not have got on the course that he did without at least two of the aids available to him having misled him.
Yet the whole of the Minister’s statement was in defence of the department that was under such strictures. The whole of the statement was intended to divert suspicion from the Department of Civil Aviation and fasten it upon somebody. Unfortunately, the Government chose somebody who cannot rise to defend himself against its charges. The Minister stated that he had been advised that the Director-General of Civil Aviation could find only one set of conditions which could logically account for the course taken by the Lutana and the action and the reports of its captain on the night of the 2nd September. The Minister added -
That set of conditions is that not only wan the magnetic compass in the aircraft out of adjustment but that the radio range receiver was also out of action and that the captain of the aircraft was without its aid throughout the flight.
But two sentences further on, he stated -
The radio range receiver is fitted in the aircraft and it is not possible to say from thu parts recovered whether it was working.
Why was that attempt made to fix the blame upon an airlines officer and disguise a departmental defection? The answer is obvious. The report which the Minister criticized was not made by a person without authority. It was the report of a justice of the Commonwealth of Australia, a man accustomed to sifting evidence, drawing conclusions from it, and giving judgments. It seems to me to be obvious that there was a certain amount of confusion in the flight control office at Mascot airport. One cannot fail to reach that conclusion after studying His Honour’s report.
During the inquiry evidence was taken from the Assistant Director-General of Civil Aviation, the Director of Airway* Operations, the Superintendent of Airways Operations at Mascot, the Senior Air Traffic Control Officer at Mascot, the Duty Air Traffic Control Officer at Mascot, and two assistant control officers who were on duty at Mascot on the night of the crash. Not one of those officers was able to define in specific terms the duties of the various officers on watch in the traffic control office that night. That is an extraordinary circumstance. Where is the discipline within the Department of Civil Aviation? Where is the system of administrative control? Those facts would not have been made known to the general public, of course, had they not been elicited in the course of the inquiry. It was also established that no duties were laid down in writing for those officers. But surely, before the organization of the Department of Civil Aviation was expanded, the duties of various officers must have been defined if for no other reason than to justify whatever salary ranges were approved by the Public Service Board. The officers had to be placed in various categories. The Public ‘Service Board could not have just labelled the men without knowing what duties they were required to perform. Yet no duties were set out in writing, and none of those officers could define these duties!
The inquiry centred on organization at Mascot only. To what extent the remainder of the department is in a similar state of disorganization can only be a matter of conjecture. It seems to me that the haste with which the Minister jumped to the defence of the department generally indicates that there must be something to hide. Otherwise the Minister would not have panicked so easily. One point of interest in the evidence is worthy of special note. The Supervisor of Airways Operations, the man responsible for the supervision of air traffic control, flight procedure, airport control, aeradio service and, in fact, all aspects of the control of operations, had had no experience, or education in any aspect of aviation other than radio operation from the ground. That was rather a serious disclosure. Can the Minister controvert it? If that man had no experience in the matters to which I have referred it appears to me that he had insufficient experience to be in complete control of all those operations. An examination shows that all supervisors of airways operations attained their positions by promotion from the position of radio operator. Is the Minister satisfied, in the light of the strictures passed by the court of inquiry, with the efficiency of the civil aviation officers at Mascot who were unable to define their duties? If he admits that the supervisor had had no experience in aviation, I want to know why that officer was ap pointed to such a responsible position. The safety of the travelling public demands that officers who control air operations should possess the utmost skill and efficiency. It seems to me that the Minister panicked very easily in seeking to divert attention from one of the most damaging reports ever made against a department. He was over-hasty in his effort to divert suspicion regarding the cause of the tragedy into channels other than those to which the court of inquiry directed the attention of the Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Drakeford) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Holloway) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- At question time to-day, I addressed a question to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) regarding the whereabouts of a person named Ainslie St. Aubyn Kingsford, who is, or was until the time of his disappearance, an officer employed in the Security Department of the head office of the Bank of New South Wales. His last recorded appearance was on the evening of the 28th January, 1 948, when he was seen leaving a ferry at Manly. A friend who saw him, knowing that he lived at Mosman, expressed some curiosity, and Kingsford is alleged to have replied that he “sometimes did the round trip “. In ordinary circumstances, the disappearance of a member of the community might be a matter of minor significance. But, having regard to the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of this man, the matter becomes one, certainly ofconsiderable mystery, and perhaps of very great significance. On the 23rd January, 1948, Mr. Kingsford gave evidence as a. witness in New South Wales. In the preliminary hearing in the New Guinea timber lease case he produced certain documents concerning a safe deposit box.
– Order ! The honorable member may not refer to that case.
– I propose to confine this matter in a way which I am quite satisfied will bring my remarks within the Standing Orders. I submit that I am entitled to show the circumstances in which this man disappeared.
– The Chair will inform the honorable member how far he may go. If he is concerned only about the man’s disappearance, he may proceed, but he cannot link up that matter with the royal commission.
– As I have said the man gave evidence on the 23rd January. On the day preceding his disappearance reference was made to his responsibility as an officer in charge of the section of the bank in which he worked, and an intimation was given that an inspection was to be made of the safe deposit boxes in that section. It was following that intimation that the man disappeared. I do not propose to place any construction on his disappearance. Many constructions could be placed upon it, but I feel that for me to place a construction on his disappearance at this time might be unjust and mischievous and, in the circumstances, mightinterfere with in quiries proceeding at the present time. The Government has a responsibility to inform the Parliament of the whereabouts of a man who, if he were in the community at the present time, would undoubtedly be regarded as an important witness in an inquiry now proceeding.
– The honorable member knows that he may not proceed along those lines.
– By your comment, Mr. Speaker, I take it that you are implying that the question of the whereabouts of this man is a matter which is sub judice.
– I did not say that. The honorable member is definitely connecting the disappearance of a certain man with a royal commission which is now sitting. The Chair will not permit him to do so.
– May I take it, then, that the question of the whereabouts of this man is a proper matter for inquiry by the royal commission? If it is not a proper matter for inquiry by the royal commission, there can be no substance in the ruling that my canvassing of the whereabouts of the man is a matter coming within the scope of that inquiry.
– I am not seeking to prevent the honorable member from ascertaining, if hecan, the whereabouts of the man. The only restriction relates to a matter which is now sub judice.
– I desire to abide by your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I say that the disappearance of this man cannot be dissociated from the matters now being inquired into by the royal commission.
– Order ! If the honorable member continues along those lines I shall have no alternative but to ask him to resume his seat. If he is concerned about the whereabouts of somebody who has disappeared, he is entitled to explore all the avenues available to him to discover the whereabouts of the missing person, but he isnot entitled to refer to the royal commission.
– I contend that the terms of the royal commission might properly be extended.
– The honorable member is not in order in so doing.
– Do you rule, Mr. Speaker, that in this Parliament honorable members are not permitted to make requests or recommendations that the terms of a royal commission in process should be extended? I am certain that in the history of this Parliament you will find innumerable instances of such requests having been made.
– I have examined that position and I assure the honorable member that his contention is not correct. Suggestions for the alteration of the terms of reference of royal commissions have been made before the commissions have commenced their inquiries, but not afterwards.
– Only yesterday the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) made such a suggestion in connexion with the New Guinea timber lease case.
– I very carefully perused the question asked by the honorable member for Reid on that matter.
– The honorable member for Reid requested that the terms of reference of the royal commission be widened. If he were in order in so doing, surely I am in order in requesting that the investigations of the royal commission should cover a matter which is closely associated with its inquiries. The question of the whereabouts of a man who was formerly a witness in these proceedings is one which should properly be investigated by the royal commissioner. The Parliament is entitled to a statement from the Government indicating whether it has any knowledge of the whereabouts of this man. In replies given to questions asked on this subject early last year, we were told that officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Service had joined in the search for the missing man. I understand that no statement has been made in this Parliament of the result of those inquiries since last March. To-day, I asked the AttorneyGeneral what information the Government had in regard to the man. I was astonished to be told that the right honorable gentleman had no personal knowledge of the matter. It may be that he has been away from Australia so long that some of the details of this case have escaped his notice; but it seems remarkable that he should not be aware of this most significant development. The Parliament is entitled at the earliest possible moment to a full statement from the Government of the result of the inquiries that have been instituted in order to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing man. Honorable members should be told whether those inquiries have proved fruitless. If no trace of the man can be found, the Government must accept some responsibility. If it does not believe that the terms of reference of the royal commission are already sufficiently wide to enable it to direct the royal commission to investigate and report upon the whereabouts of Mr. Ainslie Auburn Kingsford it should take steps to extend them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Tha following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. - In answer to a question asked by the honor able member for Reid (Mr. Lang) on the 7th December, 1948, regarding the transfer of shares in four Tasmanian broadcasting stations and station 2HD Newcastle, I undertook to have inquiries made into the matter. I now inform the honorable member as follows : -
The position is that the Australian Broadcasting Act provides that no person is permitted to exercise control either directly or indirectly, of more than - (a) one metropolitan commercial broadcasting station in any State; (i>) four metropolitan commercial broadcasting stations in Australia; (c) four commercial broadcasting stations in any one State; or (d) eight commercial broadcasting stations in Australia. The act also provides that a licence may not be transferred from one company to another without the authority of the Postmaster-General. As the latter provision could be circumvented simply hy the sale of shares in the company holding the licence, it has been necessary to impose some further control over share transactions involving broadcasting stations. Accordingly the practice is to notify each licensee that the licence in question (or renewal thereof) is granted to the company as constituted according to the list of shareholders supplied to the Postmaster-General’s Department on
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 February 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19490210_reps_18_201/>.