House of Representatives
29 May 1952

20th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. BEALE (Parramatta - Minister for Supply) [12.5 a.m.]. - I do not think that the powerful statement that was made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) requires much amplification. The Government was extremely reluctant to close Glen Davis, but circumstances made it inevitable. It is probable that, from an economic point of view, the plant should never have been at Glen Davis, but on the other side of the Capertee Valley where there are bigger deposits of shale. In 1935, it was estimated that for an expenditure of £600,000 Australia would be able to get 6,000,000 gallons of petrol and 16,000,000 gallons of fuel oil a year at market prices. Instead, this country has invested over £5,000,000 in the venture and petrol has been produced at the rate of less than 3,000,000 gallons a year at a cost of more than 5s. a gallon. So from an economic point of view the venture has been fantastic.

The key to the situation is the inability or unwillingness of the miners at Glen Davis to mine sufficient shale. If sufficient shale had been fed into the retorts the venture might have had an opportunity to pay its way. In 1949, Senator Ashley went to Glen Davis and warned the miners that they must increase the output of shale. At that time they were producing about 3 tons for each man-shift. Shortly after his visit the production rate fell to 2.8 tons a man-shift and it has been falling ever since. To a very substantial degree, the responsibility for the position at Glen Davis has to be laid at the door of those who have declined to produce sufficient shale to keep the retorts going at full blast. A proposal was made in relation to what is known as “ long wall “ mining, which might have assisted production. The suggestion was put to Senator Ashley, but he did not see fit to act on it because he knew that it would make no ultimate difference.

About £10,000 a week is being lost in the production of petrol at Glen Davis. In 1947, when the Labour Government was in office, the output of petrol from Glen Davis was 4,000,000 gallons; in 1948, it was 3,100,000 gallons; in 1949, 2,600,000 gallons; and in 1950, 2,400,000 gallons. By 1951 the annual production had fallen to 1,400,000 gallons. The petrol was costing over 5s. a gallon. The petrol produced in 1951 represented . 023 per cent, of Australia’s consumption, or less than a day’s supply. The Government realized that it would have to take certain action unless it was to accept the proposition that this disastrous and ruinous enterprise should be continued so that the townspeople would not be disturbed. The Government did not reach a decision on this matter wantonly or without thought for the welfare of the people concerned. I appreciate that the people in the district did not want their settlement to be broken up. For fifteen months the Government tried to interest other industries in the venture. It tried to interest the State Government of New South Wales. It tried to adapt the venture to suit the purpose of various government departments, but that was found to be impossible. Many private industries were invited to put forward propositions. All our efforts to keep the township going failed because people were not sufficiently interested. Certainly no one in the oil industry was interested because they knew what a disastrous economic proposition it had been. So, tenders were called. But not one tender was received for this venture as a going concern. The offer to establish it on a co-operative basis was also rejected. Now, fifteen months later, a further proposition is made to the House, but that proposition has only to be stated to be shown to be unacceptable. In those circumstances, no government, however reluctant it might be to injure the people at Glen Davis in their livelihood, dare, having regard to the public interest, to keep the works going. Consequently, at long last and reluctantly, the Government has decided to close the project down. Generous offers are being made to help those who live in the district, but, as the Minister for Labour and National Service has said, we expect to receive some co-operation from those persons, who, we hope, will not make of this matter a cause for industrial disturbance. Naturally, the Government’s readiness to be generous and helpful to them must be dependent upon the willingness with which they are prepared to co-operate with it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The following papers were presented : -

Elections - Statistical Returns in relation to the Senate Elections, and the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1949, for the several States and Terri- tories.

Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations - 1952 -

No. 37 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.

No. 38 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service. Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act-

Ordinance - 1 952 - No.6 - National Memorials.

Regulations - 1952 - No. 10 (Building and Services Ordinance).

House adjourned at 12.12 a.m. (Friday).

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The following answers to questions were circulated : -


Mr Anthony:
Postmaster-General · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The report is n earing completion. I am not, however, aware of the contents of the report and consequently cannot say at this stage what action will be taken with it.
Mr Anthony:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

The details requested are not available normally, but I shall endeavour to obtain the information and will furnish it to the honorable member.

Books, Magazines and Comic Strips

Mr Fitzgerald:

ald asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What amount was provided from the dollar pool during each of the last five years for - (a) comic strips used by daily, Sunday, and weekly papers; (6) comic books reprinted under licence; (c) magazines reprintedunder licence; (d) fiction and art material syndicated through Australian periodicals; and (e) hard-bound books reprinted in Australia under licence?
  2. What steps are being taken to control books and magazines coming into Australia in direct infringement of the ban placed on certain imported material in 1940?
  3. How many comic books were printed in Australiain each of the years 1939 to 1951, and how many of these were of foreign origin?
  4. What steps are being taken to stop the use of “True Police Comics”, “Justice” and similar “ comics “ which are evading the ban on true detective-type magazines?
  5. What amount of newsprint was consumed in the printing of comic books reproduced under licence?
  6. What is the number of Commonwealth reconstruction trainees who are studying or have studied commercial art and how many are actually in employment as commercial artists?
  7. Who was the responsible authority who . gave permission for the reproduction of magazines under licence?
  8. Who gave authority for the expenditure of hard currency on all the publications referred to ?

– The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -

  1. During the last five years dollar exchange has not been provided for comic strips whether imported or reprinted in Australia under licence. Therefore, during that period the dollar pool has not been drawn on in respect of (a) and (6). Generally speaking, Australian newspaper companies and publishers who acquire and publish this type of material clear their commitments against payment in Australian currency to blocked accounts in Australia in the name of American owners. Statistical records are not maintained for the various categories of expenditure covered by (c), (<i) and (e).
  2. Single copies of newspapers and magazines addressed to individuals are admitted but import licences are not being issued for the importation of comic strips and similar material of United States origin.

The information the honorable member seeks is not available.

  1. The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations provide a basis for declaring certain publications of this type prohibited imports. Many comics including numerous true detective types, have already been prohibited under the regulations. However, a number of comics enter the country as first-class mail matter in the form of tear sheets, pulls, proofs and newspaper cuttings. As the detection of those goods entering in such a manner would involve censorship of mail, I am unable to agree to this course of action. In addition, single copies of overseas newspapers which arrive by post are also used for reproducing in Australia this kind of material. The physical difficulties of examining every newspaper received by post are insurmountable.

In this regard it is pointed out that the Com monwealth Government has no jurisdiction over the reproduction of this material in Australia and the only means of preventing its publication and sale is by concerted legislation by the various States.

  1. The information the honorable member seeks is not available.
  2. One hundred and eighty , persons have received full-time reconstruction training in commercial art in which the trainee is trained to 40 per cent, proficiency and then placed in employment. His salary is subsidized by the Government up to the point when he reaches 100 per cent, efficiency.
  3. If the nature of the licence, agreement, or contract required consent under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations, then this would be a matter for the Exchange Control as the authority for administering this requirement. Numerous imported strips are re-drawn by Australian artists from material received through the post. Without postal censorship it would be impossible to exclude entirely the inflow of this reproduction material from abroad.
  4. Applications for foreign exchange to cover payments on publications referred to in (c), (a) and (e) of part 1 of the question are dealt with by the Exchange Control. As mentioned in the answer to part 1 dollar exchange is not provided in respect of the publication of comic strips.

Postal Department

Mr Duthie:

e asked the the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Have tenders been received for the erection of eight line depot buildings in Tasmania at Deloraine, Oatlands, St. Marys, Sheffield, Cygnet, Scottsdale, Wynyard and Huonville?
  2. What was the contract price submitted in each instance?
  3. Were all tenders accepted; if not, what was the reason?
  4. Will the work commence soon?
  5. When is it expected the depots will be completed by (a) contract, or (6) other means if they are decided upon?
Mr Anthony:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -

Tenders are under consideration by Department of Works and Housing and questions concerning tenders and completion dates have been referred to that department for reply. It is expected that a reply to the honorable member will be furnished by the Minister for Works and Housing.


Mr Calwell:

l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

What progress has been made on the problem of double taxation as a result of the recent visit of American taxation experts?

Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -

At the discussions which recently took place between United States and Australian officials, draft clauses for incorporation in any agreement which may be reached between Australia and the United States in respect of income tax, estate duty and gift duty were prepared. The Commissioner of Taxation has furnished a report of the discussions, including the draft clauses mentioned. The report is receiving consideration and it is expected that au early decision will be made.


Mr Peters:

s asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -

  1. What was the quantity and value of textile fabrics and yarns respectively purchased by the Department of Supply during the twelve months ended the 30th April, 1052?
  2. What was the quantity and value of these goods - (a) imported from overseas, and (b) obtained from local manufacturers?
Mr Beale:
Minister for Supply · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The following are the details of textiles, fabrics and yarns purchased by the Department of Supply during the twelve months ended the 30th April, 1952: -
  1. The following are the quantity and value (based on landed cost in Australian currency) of the above goods: -

Note. - Concerning imported cotton matetrials; in late 1951 at conferences and by correspondence the Australian manufacturers were informed of total requirements, and were invited to indicate the quantities they could manufacture and supply during 1952. Overseas orders were not placed until Australian manufacturers had been allotted the maximum quantities which at that stage they were prepared to offer to the Commonwealth. Some cotton materials are not manufactured in Australia at all.

Departmentof Supply.

Mr.Ward asked the Minister for

Supply, upon notice -

What was the number of employees attached to the transport services operated by his department at the time the present Government took office ?

What is the number at present employed?

Will he furnish information regarding the cost of engaging private hire transport services, showing particularly the annual mileage run and the cost per mile in each year since the Government took office in 1949?

Mr Beale:

e. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

In the Department of Supply, transport and stores services are combined under one management, and common administrative and accounts staffs serve both sections. It is not possible to divide these staffs accurately between “Transport” and “Stores”, and, accordingly, the total employment figures for the Stores and Transport Branch are given. In December, 1949, when the present Government took office, a total of 2,541 persons was employed, including 874 drivers. The number at present employed is 2,481, including 792 drivers. Statistics are not maintained of the annual mileage, and the cost per mile for private hire transport services. However, the total costs of hiring these services were as follows:- 1950, £236,200; 1951, £218,621.

Government Loans and Finance.

Mr.Ward asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Will he furnish details regarding loans raised during the terms of office of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments, including the amount realized in each instance?

Will he furnish similar details in regard to loans raised since the present Government took office in 1949?

Sir Arthur Fadden:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

Import Restrictions.

Sir Arthur Fadden:

– On the 20th May the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) asked the following question : -

Can the Treasurer say why the Government, in implementing its import restriction policy, decided to honour letters of credit issued before the commencement date of the restrictions although no actual orders for physical goods had been placed, but to prevent the fulfilling of actual orders placed before that date without financial transactions having been carried out, although in some instances the goods had already been manufactured and the British manufacturers faced heavy loss through the termination of the contracts? As the Government’s precipitate action in curtailing imports has caused a national crisis and a weakening of the entire British economy, when docs the Treasurer envisage the restrictions being removed and what action is the Government taking to ensure that it will not be necessary to re-impose them?

The answer to the honorable member’s question is that the Government has taken no decision to recognize for import licensing purposes letters of credit established before the 8th March last but against which no actual orders had been placed at that date. What the Government did decide was to permit the importation of all goods which had been ordered and for which provision had been made for payment under irrevocable letters of credit opened by an Australian importer in favour of a supplier in another country. The honorable member will understand that in such cases the supplier can automatically receive payment for the goods on fulfilling the conditions of the irrevocable letter of credit and there is, therefore, no point in refusing to permit the importation of goods covered by such credits.

The honorable member for Fremantle also asked me when I envisaged the restriction being removed and what action was the Government taking to ensure thatit will not he necessary to reimpose them. The Government -will review and relax the restrictions as soon as it considers that Australia’s international reserves permit such action but on this point I would refer the honorable member to my recent financial statement in which I covered the matter more fully.


Mr.Riordan asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -

Has the Government entered into an agreement with a gold-mining company to exploit the timber resources of a certain area in New Guinea?

If so, what is the name of the company?

Who are the principal shareholders of this company and where do they reside?

Will this company pay income tax on the profits made from the timber undertaking?

Is it proposed to manufacture plywood as well as producesawn timber?

If plywood is to be manufactured, will the plywood and sawn timber be sold on the Australian market; if so, what will be the effect on the production of plywood in Australian ‘ plywood mills ? 7.Is plywood in short supply in Australia?

How will the wages to be paid to the workers employed by this New Guinea enterprise compare with the wages paid to workers employed in similar work in Australia?

Mr Hasluck:
Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

k. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The answer is contained in a bill before the House.

  1. It is understood that the principal shareholders of Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited and their places of residence are -

Guinea Gold No Liability, Brookman Building, Grenfell-street, Adelaide, South Australia.

Robert S. Fox, 708 Joshua Green Building, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.

The Gold Fields American Development Company Limited, 70 Pine-street, New York City, United States of America.

Oroville Dredging Company Limited, Lloyds Bank Building, 55-61 Moorgate, London, England.

Placer Development Limited, 675 West Hastings-street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Gold Fields American Development Company Limited, c/o New Consolidated Goldfields Limited, 49 Moorgate, London, England.

  1. The question of liability for income tax is a matter between the company and the Commissioner of Taxation.
  2. Yes.
  3. The marketing policy will be decided by the board of directors, on which the Commonwealth Government will be represented, and will be shaped with full regard to the interests of the mainland forests, the mainland miller and merchant and the needs of the mainland consumer.
  4. It is understood that there is at present a temporary over supply of plywood in Australia, owing to recent overseas importations, particularly from Japan.
  5. For workers of equivalent skill, ability and experience, wages paid in New Guinea would probably be higher than wages paid in Australia.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 May 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.