21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron > took the chair’ at 2.30 p>m:, and’ read?’ prayers.
Dr: EVATT.- Is- it the- intention of the Prime Minister to make a full statement of. the proposals under Seato in sofar as they affect. Australia! If so,, when does the right honorable gentleman- propose to- make such a statement?’
Mr. MENZIES.- I shall table theterms of the treaty to-morrow morning, and during the current sitting,. I shall introduce a bill for an act. to ratify the treaty, I. shall then,, of course, make a full statement and facilitate a full debateon the subject.
AUSTRALIAN MILITARY FORCES-
Mr. McCOLM. - I direct a. question, to the Minister for- the Army, but in doing so I should like to explain that I do not intend in any way to reflect, upon-, the efficiency of national service- training. Can the Minister inform the House of the percentage of national servicetrainees who;- on applying to join- theAustralian Army, are rejected oca medical grounds?
Mr. FRANCIS.- I regret that, offhand, it is nut possible for me to give the information for which the honorable; member has asked. I shall give attention to the matter which will involve obtaining information from the various Stated. However, I assure him that the percentage of trainees who are rejected on medical grounds” is low.
Mr. J. R. FRASER.- I seek from the Minister for the Army amplification of an answer that he gave to a question that I asked yesterday. I would say, by way of explanation, if I may do so, that during World War 11. the Army maintained in Sydney a unit known as a special, remedial wing at which recruits who- were found lo be suffering from minorphysical defects, such as varicose veins and fiat feet, were able to receive treatment to enable them to be medically classified by the Army as Al. I ask the Minister whether such a unit at present functions for the treatment either of national service trainees or of recruits to the Permanent Army and, if not, whether a unit of that kind will be established ?
Mr. FRANCIS- I clearly explained yesterday, in reply to the honorable member’s question, that such a unit is not at present part of the Army organization. We. are able to obtain all our requirements of national service trainees from call-ups by the Department of Labour and National Service, and the matter of young men keeping fit or becoming physically fit is a matter for themselves outside the Army. If young men are unfit and receiving invalid pensions, my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, has an organization which can adequately deal with them. At present I do not see any need to implement the suggestion made by the honorable member, but I shall give the matter further consideration.
– Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council say whether the report is correct that he recently attended a conference of State managers of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool as the representative of the Department of the Treasury? Is it a fact that he submitted to that conference a report dealing with the future activities of the pool? As this matter is of vital importance to the employees of the pool and also to the business people of Brisbane, will the right honorable gentleman state definitely > whether his report was in favour of the retention of the pool or in favour of disposing of it?
– I am afraid that the honorable member has his facts mixed. I did not attend any conference of the kind that he has mentioned, and r gave no directions in respect of such a matter. Possibly, the honorable member has in mind the Minister for Supply. [ do not know what the honorable memH’] has in mind.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health in relation to the statement that he made some time ago that he was eager to attract doctors to take up private practice in the Northern Territory and that, in order to encourage them to do so, he would allow them to use the facilities available at hospitals in the Territory. Has the policy succeeded in attracting any private doctors to set up practice in the Northern Territory, and has a subsidy been offered to doctors to induce them to do so?
– A special list of payments that will be made in relation to medical benefits has been gazetted as an ordinance for the Northern Territory. A notice has also been inserted in the various medical journals of Australia to the effect that doctors are being sought for the Territory.
– Will the Minister say why newgudine tablets have, been removed from the free medicine list? My reason for asking that question is that these tablets are consistently prescribed by doctors for aged people. Age pensioners have complained to me that a packet of 25 of these tablets costs lis., which is more than they can afford. In view of the high cost of the tablets, which are needed by age and invalid pensioners whose pension rates are low, will the Minister examine the matter in order to see whether he could have the tablets, which doctors consider necessary for aged people, restored to the free medicine list?
– I did not catch the name used by the honorable gentleman. Will he please spell it?
– It is spelt “Newgudine “.
– I should like the honorable gentleman to give me his question in. writing, because I think he has substituted a “ w “ for an “ m “ in the spelling of the name of the drug. I shall examine the position after he has given me his question in writing.
– Last week the Treasurer, in answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, said that he did not think it would be possible to introduce legislation this session to deal with the gold-mining industry. In the absence of the Treasurer I now ask the Prime Minister whether he can give the House any indication of when that legislation may be brought down ?
– My attention has been drawn to this matter. I have examined it with the Treasury, and I am hopeful that the necessary bill will be introduced during these sittings.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Postmaster-General as a result of illness whether he is aware that the ban recently imposed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the broadcasting of interstate races has had the effect of penalizing country listeners in areas in which there is no reception of any programme other than the national programme. Metropolitan listeners still have the privilege of listening to interstate races over commercial stations, but this pleasure is denied to people who live in the out-back areas of Western Australia. Will the right honorable gentleman consider extending a similar privilege to country listeners as that enjoyed by metropolitan listeners ?
– I shall direct the honorable gentleman’s question to the attention of the Postmaster-General, without in any way subscribing to the words “ privilege “ and “ pleasure “, I myself being entirely devoted to the principle of listening to broadcasts of football and cricket matches.
– In answer to a question last week the Minister for Territories referred to the increased provision for education made in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Can he now indicate whether the Government has any clear plan for the further development of education for the natives in that Territory ?
– The Education Department of the Administration of
Papua and New Guinea has drawn up a plan for developing schools. It involves the provision, if my memory serves me correctly, of 600 primary schools, 45 schools that are described as “ superprimary “, three new technical schools, and three teacher-training schools. In addition to that, of course, we depend to a very large degree on the Christian missions for the maintenance of education among the native people of Papua and New Guinea, and our plans envisage assistance to, and further co-operation with, the missions so that they, too, may extend their work of education.
– The question that I direct to the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration concerns the case of a husband and wife who escaped from the terror in Europe with three of their children but left behind two teen-age children who had been captured. Since the parents are about to approach the naturalization ceremony in Australia, would it be possible to waive legal formalities so that the two adolescents in Europe could be naturalized also and restored to their parents by negotiation?
– From time to time we hear of cases of the sort mentioned by the honorable gentleman. They are very distressing _ because they involve the separation, sometimes apparently permanently, of parents and children. I do not know the circumstances of the case that the honorable gentleman has mentioned, hut, if he will give me the names and other details, I shall consider it sympathetically.
– Can the Prime Minister assure the House that the Government has abandoned its intention to dispose of the Commonwealth fleet of ships because of the importance of that fleet to all States, but especially to Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia?
– I have nothing to add to the last statement made on this matter.
– Does the Minister for Civil Aviation consider it to be possible that the new airport at West Beach in South Australia will be open for regular traffic by the end of this year? Has he been able to give consideration to a suggestion I made that the new airport be called the Melrose Airport?
– No, 1 should not like to give a guarantee that the West Beach airport will be open for regular commercial aviation schedules by the end of the year, but I am hoping that it will be open for certain schedules so that some of the faster and heavier aircraft that are coming into operation will be able to serve Adelaide. I can follow the honorable member’s reasoning in making the suggestion that the airport be called Melrose Airport. He wants to honour a South Australian who was a particularly fine airman and who, regrettably, lost his life. It is not possible to adopt the suggestion. The department has considered this proposition’ along with others, such as the suggestion that the Hobart airport be named after Abel Tasman. In fact, it has received suggestions for the naming of the principal airports in all States. However, with the growth of international air services, we must avoid confusion and it is much more precise and accurate for the name of the city to be attached to the airport that serves it. We make one exception in the case of the airport at Sydney, which is always referred to as “ Sydney Kingsford Smith “ airport for obvious reasons.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation examine the possibilities of diverting . commercial aircraft that fly between Tasmanian air-fields and Melbourne, so that they shall fly over Port Phillip Bay instead of over the crowded bay-side suburbs of Melbourne, where the noise from low-flying aircraft approaching Essendon airport, particularly from freight planes in the early hours of the morning, causes an annoyance?
– The problem raised by the honorable member is not an easy one to solve. I quite appreciate that the noise of aircraft is probably a nuisance to the people who live in the bay-side suburbs, and I can understand the honorable member’s concern about it. However, I am afraid that it is one of the prices that we have to pay for progress, and I believe that the noise nuisance as far as aircraft is concerned will increase rather than diminish as the days go by. There are two or three obvious matters that come to my mind about this particular subject. The solution does not lie in moving aircraft out across the bay. If that were done, aircraft would have to fly 40 to 45’ miles farther over water, which would be an extra hazard to that of the Bass Strait crossing. At present the blind flying navigational aids are stationed in positions where there is a minimum of interference with their operations. The present practice is designed to give aircraft the closest gliding distance to land in Bass Strait and up the bay. The variable altitude route traffic starts at Wonthaggi, and it must be appreciated that aircraft are losing altitude from Wonthaggi to Essendon. Although it may be that they could fly out over the bay in fair weather, when there is cloud and bad weather about, and a number of aircraft are stacked at 1,000-ft. intervals, it is not easy to move them away from the navigational aids. I believe that the bay-side residents will have to accept the position, although I am very sorry that it cannot he remedied.
– I refer to the standard civil aviation procedure of fastening air safety belts at the times of take-off, landing, and air turbulence. Will the Minister for Civil ‘Aviation consider consulting with civil airlines so that emphasis will be placed through the normal lighted warning system - that air safety belts should he firmly fastened? I emphasize the word “firmly”, as it is well known that a loose safety belt is almost as lethal as no safety belt at all in the event of an accident ?
– What the honorable member for Franklin has said about the importance of a tight safety belt is perfectly true. He, as an experienced airman, knows this better, perhaps, than the ordinary person. I shall direct the attention of the Department of Civil Aviation to the matter, and .see that it is enforced.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say. whether the Government has decided to build, at Pardoe Airport, near Devonport, another runway at an angle to the existing . runway, because of wind difficulties? If so, can he indicate when a start will be made on that project?
– Offhand, I cannot supply the information for which the honorable member has asked. Plans have been made for the work to which he has referred, but when it will be carried out I do not know. The works programme involved must be referred to the Minister for Works and, possibly, to the Public Works Committee. I shall obtain the information that the honorable member seeks and supply it to him as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether investigations overseas show that the installation of backward-facing seats in aircraft has contributed to the safety of passengers in crashes? Has there been passenger resistance to this innovation in seating arrangements in aircraft? Has this type of seating l:een considered by the civil aviation authorities and by private airlines in Australia?
– Many experiments have been carried out in respect of the matter that the honorable member has raised. It has been examined in both the United States of America and in England. There is no doubt that, in the event of a forced or heavy landing, or in the event of a crash-, the backward-f facing seat is to be prei erred. Airline companies in Australia as well as the department have found that the change-over to backwardfacing seats would involve major constructional alterations in aircraft, including the strengthening of the flooring and stanchions at different points in order to carry strains of up to 8G. Although theoretically, backward-facing seats are to be preferred, many objections have been raised to seats of that type. However, as forced landings in Australia have been so few, and as our accident rate is the lowest in the world, this matter has not assumed^ major importance up to date. The position is being kept in mind. In all such matters we keep up to date with the latest information throughout the world.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation use his good offices and extend the utmost co-operation to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration which is hearing a claim by airline pilots for a new award in order that the hearing, which, up to date, has been protracted, may be accelerated? There is an urgent need for the court to reach a decision in this matter because of the loss of the services of many trained aircraft pilots which may have the effect of reducing the efficiency of Australian air services.
– No; in my official capacity, I should take no steps whatsoever to interfere with any court.
– The question that J ask the Minister for the Interior refers to the announcement by the honorable gentleman of the proposal to establish cyclone warning radar stations in Queensland at Brisbane and Townsville and in the Rockhampton area. Is the search for a suitable site in the Rockhampton area to be confined to the city of Rockhampton, or will it be extended for some distance so that the most suitable and logical site can be chosen?
– Investigations are still being carried out in order to determine the most suitable site in the Rockhampton area. Gladstone is included in that area for the purposes of the proposed radar station. In fact. I think investigations are being carried on there at present. No final decision has been made. The experts are continuing their search for the. most suitable site for .such a station in that area.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that an officer of the Children’s Film Foundation is visiting Australia under the sponsorship of the British Council and at the invitation of the Victorian Council for Children’s Films and Television? I understand that the films distributed by the foundation have been produced as a possible means of combating child delinquency. Will the right honorable gentleman consider instituting further investigations with a view to securing copies of those films for inclusion in the National Library collection so that they can be made available to interested organizations ?
– I shall consider the suggestion made by the honorable member.
Mc. LUCHETTI. - I direct a question to. the. Prime Minister, as head of the Australian Government. In view of the fact that members of the miners’ federation are now engaged in the hazardous operation of removing pillar coal by mechanical means, will the right honorable gentleman confer with the Minister for National Development with the object of assuring continuity of employment to the men engaged in the industry ? Is the Prime Minister in a position to state that there will be no further closing of mines throughout Australia, and U he able also to make a statement that will give comfort and confidence to mining communities?
– I shall convey the suggestion made by the honorable member to the Minister for National Development. I want, respectfully, to take exception to the: word “ hazardous “. The whole question of removing pillars- by mechanical means has been under discussion for many years-, and every expert who- has been asked to advise on the matter has stated that there is no. threat to. safety in this operation. Therefore, in the result, the miners’ federation ifr self has, I think very sensibly, agreed to work- mechanical extraction.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether it is the intention of the Government to base jet bombers and Sabre jet fighters in north Queensland. If so,, can the Minister intimate when these- aircraft are Likely to be stationed in the far north, and at which Royal Australian Air Force stations they will be based?
– The question is obviously one of policy, and I would not answer it at question time.
– My question to the Minister for Air concerns the statement, which he made last week-end that certain aerodromes in the north, including Momote, on Manus Island, were to be rebuilt for use by the Royal Australian Air Force. Does the Minister intend to restore the other aerodromes on Manus, namely, Mokerang, Ponam and Pityilu Island, which were developed by. the Americans, but whose use by them was prevented by the Australian Government at the conclusion of the last war ?
– No, it is not intended at this stage to develop the air strips which the honorable memberfor Farrer has mentioned. We haveextended, sealed and widened the stripon Momote, but it must be appreciated, that Manus is not an air’ base. It isregarded just as a refuelling spot. We can put our aircraft down there, and refuel and service them. The ordinary courier service which travels from Manus through Iwo Jima to Japan, uses this forward base for refuelling and servicing but it is not an air base in the accepted sense. The only strip in which we have a great interest at the present time is Momote.
– I desire to address, a question to the Minister for the Interior. As the Australian Government provides the money for waT service land settlement and is responsible for the repatriadon of ex-servicemen, and as thousands of qualified ex-servicemen who want to become farmers will be refused the opportunity to obtain land under the existing State war service land settlement schemes, will the Minister take the initiative in convening a conference between representatives of the Commonwealth and the States to plan effective schemes of settlement?
– The honorable member is under a misapprehension. The Commonwealth does not find the. money for war service land settlement..
– It should do so !
– Evidently the honorable member for Watson wishes to answer the question.
– I rise to order.
– Order ! The honorable member may not take a point of order. It is for the Minister to decide whether or not he will answer questions.
– As the Minister for the Interior has now had ample time to think over the question which I asked him,’ does he feel disposed to complete his answer?
– Yes; I understood that the honorable member for Watson, who was sitting next to the honorable member for Burke, was answering the question, and that is why .1” sat down.
– I did not think that the Minister knew the answer to the question.
– If the honorable member for Watson wishes to answer the question, I shall sit down again.
– Answer the question.
– Order! The honorable member for Watson must not interject.
– The Australian Government has not found the money for war service’ land settlement since the beginning of the scheme for the principal States, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The money is included in the loan programmes by the State Premiers when they attend a meeting of the Australian Loan Council. When the loan funds have been allotted, the Premiers of the three principal States make their allocations of funds for war service land settlement. I think that Victoria has allocated more than the other two principal States put together, and has done a very big job in this sphere. We recently convened a conference in an effort to speed up war service land settlement, but I am not at liberty at the moment to inform the House or the honorable member for Burke of what was discussed at that meeting. The State Premiers will receive letters on the subject through the normal channels of communication in these matters, namely the Prime Minister, probably later this week, and until then, I do not feel that I should disclose the suggestions which were made at that conference.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the desperate pleas that are still being received for assistance to relieve the suffering of refugees fleeing south from Communist-controlled Indo-China, will the Prime Minister ascertain whether any report has yet been received from the Australian Red Cross representatives who have been sent to report to this Government about that matter? If so, what action has been taken? This matter was first raised in the House many weeks ago, and the necessity for urgent assistance was then pointed out to the Government.
– I shall be glad to inquire from the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs about the precise position, and I shall endeavour to have an answer ready for the honorable member to-morrow if he will then renew his question.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that since the Government abolished the Australian Hides and Leather Industries Board last month, calf and yearling skins have increased in price by more than 100 per cent. Is it a fact that, as a result of that increase, leather prices have increased according to grade, from 16 per cent, to 43 per cent.? As the increased prices for leather will be reflected in higher prices for footwear, and that will be but one of a number of recent increases of the cost of living, when does the Government ‘ propose to take action to end the injustice to workers on pegged wages and static social services payments?
– This matter is within the jurisdiction of the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture who, unfortunately, cannot be here to-day because of ill health. I shall ensure that his attention is directed to the question of the honorable member.
– I ask the Prime Minister, who, at present, is representing the Treasurer, a question with relation to sales tax on aircraft. I point out that the last report of the Auditor-General, at page 27, states -
Recent inquiries revealed that sates tax of approximately £393,750 had not been paid by an airline company on aircraft imported since February, 1946.
Can the right honorable gentleman say whether there is any reason why the name of the company concerned has not been revealed ? Furthermore, what action has the Government taken to collect the amount of sales tax outstanding in this instance?
– The matter of dales tax was referred to in the budget speech and dealt with in the proposals under the budget.
– I address a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs-
-Order! The Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs is not in this House.
– Then, I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. Can he indicate what reparations have been made by Japan up to the present time under the terms of the peace treaty between that country and Australia? If he is unable to give the information at this juncture, will he have a statement prepared on the subject and present it to the House at an early date?
– I have not, at the moment, the information which the honorable member has requested. I shall ascertain the facts and see whether it is possible to make a statement on the subject as he has suggested.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to reports that the Australian display at the British Food Fair looked like “woopwoop “ compared with the Bulgarian display, a “coffee stall “ compared with the Russian display and “ a slightly animated billboard “ compared with the New Zealand display?
– Order! Is the honorable member asking a question ?
– If the right honorable gentleman’s attention has not been directed to such reports, will he immediately take account of them and ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, during his journeyings overseas, to ascertain whether they are correct and, if they are correct, to take steps to ensure that displays of Australian goods at exhibitions of the standard of the British Food Fair shall be arranged with the maximum of excellence?
– First, I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred. Secondly, I am sure that if such a report had been made it would, no doubt, be brought to the attention of my colleague the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture; and, thirdly, if it has been brought to his attention, the honorable member may be perfectly sure that it will receive the Minister’s usual prompt and thorough attention.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Liberal member for Collaroy, when speaking in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales recently, said that in that State alone 100,000 families, consisting of approximately 400,000 persons, were urgently in need of homes? Is he also aware that the New South Wales Labour Government has gone to the limit of its financial resources in constructing homes for the people? As a similar situation exists in varying degrees in all the States, will the right honorable gentleman state what the Government intends to do to provide for the stepping-up of home construction in order to meet a national problem which has grown to desperate proportions?
-Order! The quotation in this chamber of any remark that a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales may have made is out of order.
– I am glad to hear you say that, Mr. Speaker, because although I am a wide reader and broadminded, I do not read the New South Wales Hansard. Therefore, I am unaware of what was’ said in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly on the subject to which the honorable member has referred. I just make one minor correction in the honorable member’s question. I understood him to say that the Government of N ew South “Wales had gone to the limit of its financial resources to provide housing. The small emendation that I make is that that Government has gone to the limit ofour resources.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That leave , be given to bring , in a bill for an act to amend the Social Services Consolidation
Bill presented, and read a first time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 21st September (vide page 1457).
Proposed vote, £2,’962;000.
Australian Capital Territory
Proposed vote, £2,596,000.
Proposed vote, £20,400.
Papua and New Guinea
Proposed vote, £7,740,600. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I should like to say something to the committee by way of introduction to this bracket of the Estimates, so far as they relate to the Northern Territory, Papua and New Guinea, Norfolk Island and Nauru. My colleague, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) is, of course, responsible for ‘ the administration of the Australian Capital Territory. If honorable members study the Estimates they will observe that this year an additional provision of £3,500,000 is being made for the territories to which I have referred, as compared with the actual expenditure last year. In the ease of the Northern Territory the additional amount being made available under this vote is £1,360,000 as compared with actual expenditure last year, and in the case of Papua and New Guinea the Commonwealth grant is being raised by £2,100,000. Honorable members will appreciate, of course, that in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea there is also a collection of local revenue which now amounts to close on £3,000,000, and which is added to the grant provided by this Parliamentin order to finance the budget passed by the Legislative Council for that Territory. This increased provision for the territories of the Commonwealth, other than the Australian Capital Territory, follows a period of reorganization and consistent attempts to build up the efficiency of the services in the territories and, above all, the capacity of both the private sector of construction and the public sector of construction to handle the increased provision for works.
Before proceeding further I should like to remind the committee that the provision made for the territories in the bracket of divisions that we are now discussing is not the total provision made for the territories. In addition to the divisions which we are now considering provision is made for expenditure in the territories under divisions 96, 53 and 62 of the Estimates, and furthermore, such departments as, for example, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Defence, which exercise a responsibility in respect of the whole Commonwealth, also incur fairly substantial expenditures in the territories in addition to those that we are now considering. Then in the case of the Northern Territory, where certain services are provided by departments other than the Department of Territories, we get yet another series of expenditures. For example, the Department of Health has its own votes in respect of the Northern Territory. The Postmaster-General’s Department has its own votes and its own expenditure, part of which goes to the Northern Territory, and various other departments which carry out governmental functions in the Northern Territory have their own expenditures which are not included in the amounts we are now considering. It would be impossible to separate the Northern Territory component from the Papua and New Guinea component in all these votes. 1 mention that fact simply in order to prevent any honorable member or person -outside this chamber from falling into the -error of thinking that the actual items shown in this particular section of the Estimates are the only items of expenditure voted by this Parliament in respect -of our territories. Yet, as I have said, the expenditure directly and solely devoted to the territories has been greatly increased in this budget. If we go back to the period of five or six years ago, when, as I frankly acknowledge, the tasks -of post-war reconstruction were not yet complete, we find that the total provision made under these and related divisions for both the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea amounted only to £5,600,000, which -was voted by this Parliament for the year 1948-49. In the cut-
Tent budget now before us the corresponding figure is £15,900,000, which represents almost a three-fold increase of the amount voted in 1948-49.
In a developing country it is natural that, with great tasks of reconstruction to be done, and many of the basic services still to be provided, expenditure on capital works is necessarily a very significant proportion of the total expenditure. Out of the amount of £5,400,000 which appears under these items for the Northern Territory this year, more than £2,400,000 will be for capital works, and in Papua and New Guinea, both out of the grant that we are now being asked to vote, and from funds that the Territory collects for itself, a total provision of £3,000,000 will be made in the current year for capital works. If we go back again to 1948-49 and look at the budget of that year we shall find that the amount provided for capital works in the Northern Territory was scarcely a quarter of the amount being provided this year.
The main items of capital works expenditure in the Northern Territory in the current budget will be housing and living .accommodation for employees of the Government, and the related road services that are necessary as housing develops in the various towns of the Northern Territory. A sum of £500,000 is being provided in the budget for housing, living accommodation, associated roads and services. Apart from that, the largest single project is the building of a new wharf at Darwin, a wharf which will involve a total expenditure of more than £700,000, a significant proportion of which is being provided in the present budget. Other significant items in the works programme are the improvement of stock routes and water supplies, and the building of schools.
In Papua and New Guinea out of the £3,000,000 available this year for capital works, £1,300,000 will be available for the construction of residences, offices, hospitals and schools, £850,000 will be available for the construction of wharfs, roads and bridges, £450,000 for electric power supply and £145,000 for water supply and sewerage. In keeping with the general economic- progress that is taking place in these large territories, the local collection of revenue bas risen, and I think that all honorable members will be very pleased to see the growing contribution that the local communities are making to the support of their own services. Both of them are still a long way from being able to maintain from their own revenues the whole of the services which are necessary for them, let alone the whole of the developmental works which are so urgently needed.
But in Papua and New Guinea the total amount of local revenue in the current year is expected to be close on £3,000,000. That is at least a three-fold increase over the last six years. In the Northern Territory, most of the local collections of revenue, such as income tax, customs and the revenues of departments other than the Department of Territories, come direct into the general revenues of the Commonwealth and are not separable. If we look at the purely local revenues which are separable from the genera] revenues of the Commonwealth, we find that they, too, have been increasing significantly, to an estimated total in the current year of £640,000, which, as in the case of Papua and New Guinea, is about three times as much as was being collected about six years ago. I mention that increase in local revenues, not to attempt to foreshadow any policy on the part of the present Government to put the screws on the territories, as it were, but in order to give the committee an index of the way in which progress is taking place in those territories. It is fundamental, I think, to our conceptions of progress towards self-government - and, of course, selfgovernment is the eventual goal in those territories - that a community should be able to take a large responsibility for maintaining itself, for providing its own services, and for engaging from its resources in the various works essential for the maintenance .of a modern community. And in both these territories we see this very significant trend towards a greater measure of self-help. Over six years, a three-fold increase in revenue collections is, I think, a very healthy sign of the general vigour and growing sense of responsibility in those two communities.
In addition to the increased provision of £3,500,000 which the Government is proposing in this year’s budget for the two large territories, the Government has also introduced this year a very useful change to assist the forward planning of development in the Northern Territory and in Papua and New Guinea. Cabinet has accepted in principle the main features of a programme of development to be spread over three years in both of those territories, and, perhaps more important still, it has agreed on the procedure that in April of each year this programme will come up for review before a sub-committee of Cabinet of which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is chairman. That is to say, in April each year, Cabinet will be able to decide that so much of the three-year programme has been accomplished and will also be able to indicate which section of that three-year programme can be undertaken in the coming year. That will be of great assistance to us, both in the forward planning of our works in the territories and in ensuring that there is no hiatus in the period between the end of the financial year and the passing of the budget. Prom a Treasury point of view this is rather a novel procedure, but it is one which is essential if we are to get forward planning and steady progress of works in the territories, which lie so far from the main centre of government and which need to build up their works capacity steadily, over a period of years, in order to keep a continuous flow of work going. I believe that action of the Government, allied with its acceptance of the idea that there must be expanding expenditures in the territories as the capacity to use that money usefully grows, will be of great consequence in helping the forward movement which is now taking place.
During the coming years, as a result of our responsibilities in the territories, the urgency which I think all honorable members agree attends on our development of them, and the adoption of this principle of expanding expenditures, this Parliament will have to be prepared to make more significant financial contributions to each of the territories. In fields such as education and health, and in the general tasks of administration, the annual expense will necessarily grow, and it will be necessary for us, as our work proceeds, to provide more hospitals, more schools, and more administrative services until we can reach that point of normal and stable development which will become the foundation of the future stable 1’fe of the two territories. I trust that the Parliament, both in this year and in future years, will be prepared to accept this idea . of expanding expenditure in the confidence that the territories are of real importance to Australia and that only by development will the territories themselves eventually be able to stand on’ their own feet. They are still, both in the economic sense and in the social sense, at a stage at which they need the help of the rest of Australia in order that they may grow to that full manhood which the rest of Australia enjoys. Similarly, it is clear that this Parliament will have to be prepared for some years to make an expanding contribution to developmental undertakings, because the territories- are still without some of those basic services - even such simple things as roads and water supplies - which are necessary for the expansion of economic activity and for the advancement of social welfare.
In order not to occupy an undue proportion of the time of this committee. and to lengthen the time which may be available for the contributions of other members, I do not propose to go over in detail any of the particular items of expenditure in the territories. Before I conclude, however, I should like to say something about what the government is doing to discharge its responsibilities for advancing the welfare of the aboriginal people in the Northern Territory because I believe that, both in this Parliament and throughout Australia, there is a growing awareness of our human and Christian responsibility to those members of our community, and also a growing awareness of the need to tackle this problem as a social problem which affects ourselves. As honorable members know, we have accepted in the Northern Territory the policy of assimilation which has as its aim the advancement of the habits, the way of life and the general outlook of the aboriginal people so that eventually, as they are able to do so, they will come into our community as members of it on the same footing as all other members of the community. “We have demonstrated our faith in that policy by passing legislation which lays it down that the status of a citizen is the birth-right of all the people who live within our borders, no matter what their colour may be.
We recognize that those who live in a primitive tribal condition, and who are still not able to manage their own affairs, may need protection and guidance and special assistance of various kinds in the same way as any other neglected members of our community may need it. Therefore, provision is made in that legislation that persons who stand in need of that special care and assistance - and, at the present time, that means a very large proportion of the people of aboriginal blood in the Northern Territory - will be committed to the State as wards of the State. It will be the .responsibility of the State to look after them and, more than looking after them, to protect them from injury, to undertake the positive responsibility for their education, for the teaching of new ways of life, and, above all, for establishing them with an opportunity to enter into those occupations that will enable them to sustain for themselves a higher social status. It is fundamental that it is of no use to teach an aboriginal to sing European songs, to wear decent clothing, and to live in a clean and well-washed condition, unless, at the same time, he is given the means to sustain the higher mode of life by being enabled to enter an occupation in which he can sustain his own respect and independence as a member of the community.
It will be a long and difficult job to achieve the final goal of assimilation for all of the .13,000 aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. The job will require a great deal of patience, and wc know that it may be attended by a number of disappointments. But it is the Government’s firm resolution to press on with the task. As an earnest of that resolution I want to cite to the committee very briefly some of the expenditures that the Parliament, has voted in went years to assist the Northern Territory administration in pursuing the policy of assimilation. Expenditure on the advancement of native welfare falls under several headings. The first is direct expenditure, the main items of which are the maintenance of the native affairs activities of our own administration. The second is assistance to Christian missions so that they can carry on those works of education and healing that are in keeping with the administrative aim. The third is the salaries of the administrative officers who are directly engaged in native affairs. Taking the total of those three items, we can see the progress that has been made, and I am sure that the committee will rejoice at that progress. In the last pre-war financial year, 193S-39, when the aboriginal population was almost the same, numerically, as it is now, a total expenditure of £20,230 was made under those three headings. The post-war expenditures have been as follows: 1946-47, £67,950; 1947-48, £74,538; 1948-49, £98,505; 1949-50, £133,009; 1950-51, £219,383; 1951-52, £333,666; 1952-53, £330,S69; and 1953-54, £392,961. The estimate of expenditure for the current financial year is £548,000. I submit those figures to the committee as an earnest of the way in which this Government is attempting to discharge its special responsibilities to the aboriginal group of our population.
Other provisions are made in respect of aboriginal welfare in expenditure on health and education in the Northern Territory. Those items of expenditure are “not separable, because we adopt the principle that the health and education services of the Northern Territory are available on equal terms and conditions to all residents of the Territory, irrespective of their colour. Indeed, in respect of some features of the health services, for example, the aerial ambulance service, it is undoubted that the aborigines derive a far greater advantage than does the European section of the population. Also, expenditure on such activities as The treatment of leprosy is devoted almost entirely to the aboriginal residents of the Territory, and is little needed by the European population. The provision made in the current budget for expenditure on health services, which, as I say, apply to both Europeans and natives, is £659,000, compared with an expenditure in the last pre-war financial year, 1938-39, of £14.994. The figures for the post-war years are: 1946-47, £139,05S; 1947-48; £162,728; 1948-49, £200,124; 1949-50. £261,156; 1950-51, £447.453; 1951-52. £536,974; 1952-53, £596,367; and 1953-54, £609,736.
When we turn to education we sec similar progress. The schools of tie Northern Territory are available, without distinction as to colour, to all those children who can take advantage of them. A number of mixed-blood children, who live in decent homes under conditions similar to those of the white children, enjoy the full advantages of our education system right up to the leaving standard, and are taught in the ordinary schools of the Territory. In addition, there arc some children who still live in tribal or semi-tribal conditions on cattle stations, government missions and church mission, who. because of their deficiency in the English language, because of the wey in which they live, and because of their personal habits, ave not yet ready to enter into the ordinary schools of the community. In an endeavour to meet their needs, we have special schools teaching a special curriculum, on which expenditure is still modest. Last financial year the actual expenditure on the maintenanceof such schools amounted to £21,805. Wehave made plans for a steady expansion,, as opportunity offers in various parts of the Territory, so that the aboriginalchildren may have the opportunity tomake progress. It is not an easy job,, because, as some honorable members who. know the Northern Territory will realize, the parents of those children are often nomadic, and do not remain in oneplace long. But, broadly speaking, the parents of the aboriginal children are rather anxious that their children shall have the advantage of schooling, and are willing to enter into arrangements with the Territory administration to give their children a more stable life, so that they may have that schooling.
Another point that some honorablemembers will appreciate fully, is that at an early stage the children may be under the persuasion of something that might be called a double standard of education. They may still be living under the influence of their tribe, still being educated to become young men or women of the tribe by the old men who are trying to draw them towards their initiation as tribesmen and tribeswomen, at the same time as we, in our little bush schoolrooms, are trying to teach them a different way of life. The result is, possibly, a certain amount of confusion, difficulty and delay in making appreciable progress in the schooling of such children, solely because they are still partly under the influence of their families. That influence is quite different: from the influence that they would experience in the administration school,*, which tend to draw them more and more towards the European way of life.
In connexion with those attempts to educate the full-blood native children, I should like to express appreciation, first, of the great work that is being done on the Christian missions in assisting the Northern Territory administration in the education of the children, and. secondly, of the co-operation that the administration is beginning to receive from pastoralists. We believe that in many instances it would be far better, for the next generation or two, for the native child living with its family in the tribe on a pastoral station, to remain there, than to he attracted into the towns, where its disposition to learn had habits might impede its general advancement. The answer seems to be to establish schools on these pastoral stations where enough children are available to warrant it. We are seeking, and indeed have already obtained from some pastoralists, the co-operation of the station people themselves so that’ schools may be established on the stations and children will be enabled to grow up and stay there for the next generation or two until their education has advanced, and their habits of life have changed, and perhaps in due course they can begin to move elsewhere and mingle with others as ordinary members of the community. But until they can stand on their own feet, and until they can mingle with other people on equal terms, we believe that in many cases life under station circumstances provides them with better opportunities for occupation, and with surroundings which are more conducive to their welfare, than if they were gathered into settlements or herded into towns.
– Is that the missionary approach ?
– The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has asked me whether the approach that I have outlined is the missionary approach. Missionary views differ. Some would agree wholeheartedly with the viewpoint, that I have put, and other missionaries would prefer to have a system under which children were either separated from their parents or brought into mission settlements with their parents and kept there. Opinion among missionaries would be fairly well divided about that matter. This is a difficult matter, and it is hard to determine which is the more appropriate procedure. Having mentioned missionaries, I remind honorable members that we value the work that the missions are doing, and for some years past successive governments have tried to put the work of the missions, as far as it is temporal work, on a sound basis. In other words, we have, attempted to work out, in cooperation with the missions, a system to ensure that the medical care that they give to native peoples is up to the proper standard, that the schooling they give is up to the proper standard; and, that, having taught the children a different way of life, and have ing given them a basic education, that occupations will be provided for them so that they will not be left sitting down in idleness on some mission station.
The missions have co-operated very well indeed with the Government. That has been indicated by a mission conference held in Darwin under the chairmanship of the Administrator. We do appreciate the co-operation that we are receiving from the missions. We value their work, and we hope and believe that they appreciate the assistance that we are giving to them. That assistance is in the form of underwriting mission budgets so long as those budgets are directed towards the achievement of the practical tasks which the administration is also trying to carry out. The money voted by this Parliament for missions has been increased substantially. In 1938-1939 the money made available to missions was about £3,000. In the current year it will be £182,000. The annual growth of assistance to missions since 1946-1947 has been, in round figures, £4,000, £3,000, £17,000, £27,000, £50,000, £72,000, £126,000, £143,000, and in the current year it will be about £182,000. We are assisting the missions because we believe that they are most valuable adjuncts to the work that we are trying to do for the advancement of native welfare.
– Does the Government pay that money to the missions in lump sums annually?
– We underwrite the mission budgets. I shall not trespass further on the brief time available for honorable members to debate this matter, and shall not attempt to deal in detail with any other aspects of the Estimates for the Territory; but I should like to reiterate important points. The first is that increased provision is made in this year’s budget for the territories. The second is that a new method of expanding expenditures has been adopted by the Cabinet to allow forward planning of development. The third is that we are making a real effort in keeping with the will of the Australian people, to undertake in a more realistic way our great responsibilities to the aboriginal people who live on the mainland of Australia.
Mr. J. a. FRASER (Australian Capital Territory) [3.45]. - The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) referred to the fact that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) is responsible for the administration of Canberra. I listened with some interest to the remarks of the Minister for Territories, particularly when he touched upon the matters of self-government for the Northern Territory, the increased Commonwealth expenditure for the development of that Territory and the increasing attention that is being paid by the Australian Government to the assistance and development of the1 aboriginal people of this country. Perhaps the Minister for “Territories could not bring himself to bite the Minister for the Interior, but he might be able to infect him with some good ideas if he could persuade his colleague to study carefully the speech that he himself has just made.
I propose to deal with some matters that affect the administration of tha Department of the Interior in the Australian Capital Territory. There is an amount provided in the Estimates which will cover the erection of three eight-story blocks of flats in the suburb of Braddon, and I shall deal with that matter in a few moments. I mention it now hecause it must be remembered in all discussions about the development “” of this Territory, that the National Capital is a planned city, and must remain a city planned ‘ for the future. The plan that has been provided, and adhered to in the main, is a wise plan. In some respects, however, it has become out-dated. For example, it has provided for narrow roads which were envisaged before the motor age, and which aTe no longer adequate for our needs. But the wisdom of that plan largely lies in the fact that it foresaw hundreds of years of development for Canberra, and provided the necessary open spaces, parklands and recreation areas that a growing city will need. It would be a great pity if people to-day, whom we may describe as utilitarians, needlessly interfered with that plan in order to overcome a pressing problem of the moment.
The development of the National Capital should be progressive. It should not be, as it has been in the last few years, a thing of fits and starts, sudden indecisions and sudden reversals of decisions. We have seen the building programme, which was mounting, suddenly slackened, so that building tradesmen have left the Territory in large numbers. We have seen the building trade slacken to an alarming degree, and then have been faced with the problem of providing homes urgently for public servants who are to be transferred to this city. Conditions of that kind cannot lead to the properly, planned development of this capital. They throw on the departmental officers burdens that they should not have to bear, of facing immediate problems on an annual budget. The tendency now appears to be to provide for to-day, and to neglect the future planning of the city. The tendency is to say, “ Well, here is a parkland which is not dedicated “ - and I remind honorable members that in Canberra no parklands are specifically dedicated as they should be. The authorities say, “ Here is a parkland, and the services of sewerage and water supply and electricity are available. We shall take over that parkland and cover it with houses “. That sentiment is understandable if we need only houses. Of course, we do need houses, but I believe that the planning and the expenditure of money in Canberra as well as catering for the building of houses, should also cater for the development of the city in a proper fashion.
I mentioned a few moments ago a proposal to erect three eight-story blocks of flats in Braddon. Thar proposal has been before the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, which has recommended the project. It has hitherto been a requirement in this city that no building shall exceed three storys in height, although, of course, the Government is not bound by its own dicta nor its own regulations. So the Government may disregard, with impunity, the regulations which it requires citizens to observe. I believe that the proposal is bad, and that it has not been given the adequate consideration which it deserves. It has been before the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, but I believe that it should be referred back to that committee by the Minister, and that the committee should be asked to reconsider the proposal and take evidence from competent people who reside in the capital city itself. The proposal is for the erection of three eight-story blocks of flats allied on the same section of the suburb of Braddon with five three-story blocks of flats. The argument used is that it is necessary to increase the density of the population. That is the physical density of the population, the only degree in which the word “ density “ could be used in relation to the population of the Capital Territory.
– How many people would be housed in the flats?
– The proposal is for the erection of some 330 single or double bedroom flats. Admittedly, there is a need to provide housing for the people here, but I believe that the argument on which this proposal is based, is fallacious. There is not such an urgent need to build upwards in Canberra as there is in the congested cities of the world. We have an adequate area here for housing purposes. Extension outwards from the heart of the city would certainly mean the provision of greater water and electricity supplies, and other services, but I believe that the cost of those services would be more than outweighed by the additional cost of plumbing, foundation work and time involved in the building of eight-story blocks of flats. Furthermore, it is wrong that this development of flats, whether they be three-story or eightstory, should take place in one section of this city. Proposals have been made from time to time that hostels or flats should be placed in the salubrious suburb of Forrest. Any one who cares to study the Commonwealth Handbook will find that Forrest is the suburb which houses most of the senior public servants of this city. Those proposals have not been proceeded with but Braddon and the adjoining suburb of Reid are to become a colony of flats. A great majority of the flat-dwellers, if they are working for the Commonwealth, will be required to travel to the southern side of the city. The proposal for the erection of the flats is based upon the need to increase the density of the population, but an increasing strain will be thrown on the alreadycongested bus services and on the main link across the Molonglo River between the north and south sides of the city. I agree that wc must house people in flat3, although I oppose the suggestion that eight-story flats should be built, but I consider that some of the buildings should be placed on the south side, where they would be adjacent to the shopping centres in that part of the city and the central offices of the Commonwealth administration. I see no reason to place the flats where it is proposed to place them and I do not know what influence has been brought to bear to secure that decision, but, in any event, I think it is wrong that we should spend money on the construction of eightstory blocks of flats. Such a proposal is out of keeping with the planned development of this city, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider the whole matter. The plans have not been completed, and tenders have not been called, so I urge the Minister to refer this matter back to the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, and request it to reconsider the proposal and seek evidence from local authorities, and particularly architects and builders.
I stress, too, the need to be chary about interference with the plan for this city, particularly as it relates to the usurpation of parklands and recreation areas for a present-day utilitarian need.
The Minister has referred to the Public Works Committee a proposal for an increased water supply for the city. I am pleased that he has done so, and, no doubt, the initial investigation will be made during the current year. There are two proposals in relation to this matter. One is for the provision of a water supply from the upper reaches of the Queanbeyan River, and the other is for the utilization of the waters upstream from the present reservoir on the Cotter River. I myself favour the Cotter proposal very strongly against the proposal to utilize the waters of the Queanbeyan River. I hope that when the proposal comes before the Public
Work Committee, an opportunity will be given to- residents of the city experienced in this matter to give evidence on the subject. I think that the Minister may find that an earlier survey relates to the possible utilization of the head-waters of the Naas River and the Gudgenby River to supplement the Cotter supply. Those reports, I presume, are in existence, and perhaps they should also be considered hy the Public Works Committee when it is investigating this proposal.
So far as I can see, the Estimates make no provision for the establishment of a water supply for the village of Tharwa and the growing forestry settlement- of Uriarra. I believe that both supplies should be provided. There are alternative proposals for the provision of a water supply for Tharwa. One is to pump water from the Murrumbidgee River, which runs at the foot of the village itself, and the other is to bring water by gravitation from Springstation Creek to allotments in the village. I believe that the proposals should receive further consideration. ‘The residents of Tharwa have asked for a water supply for years, and at one stage, the service was promised to them if they would find the interest and annual charges on the estimated cost. I have already spoken of the need for the establishment of ,a water supply for Hall, and I now impress upon the Minister the needs of the residents of Tharwa and the rapidly growing forestry village of Uriarra. All those matters properly come within the .consideration of these Estimates.
There is also a great need to increase expenditure in the producing areas of the Australian Capital Territory. Considerable expenditures are taking place in the city itself, but far too little is being done to improve conditions in the country areas and the smaller settlements of ‘ the Australian Capital Territory. There is a need to. push ahead with a planned extension of the electricity supply to the settlements of Naas and Tidbinbilla. The plans have been made for some time, and assurances have been given that supply will be made available, but the work is just not going ahead.
The Minister for Territories has spoken of the work that is being done by the Commonwealth to provide better conditions for the aborigines in the Northern Territory, and for their assimilation into the community generally. I notice in the Estimates the item “ Care of aborigines at Jervis Bay Settlement, £3,500 “. That amount compares with the estimate of £3,500 and an actual expenditure of £3,227 last year. To my way of thinking, this sum is inadequate because it does not provide for the employment of the aborigines in eongenial avenues on their own station. At the present time, the aborigines on that station have available to them only the occupation of fishing, and in order to secure the advantages of a licence issued by the New South Wales authorities, they must make fishing their only source of income. The opportunity is available, as the Minister and the department have been informed, for the establishment of a saw-mill at or near the native settlement at Wreck Bay. The mill could be staffed by the competent members of that community, and managed by the present manager of the station, Mr. Brown, who is an aboriginal, and the first to “be appointed to that position. He is doing magnificent work. A sawmill, which would not need to be an elaborate concern, could be provided at a cost of £5,000 or £6,000. The mill could be staffed by the aborigines and logged up by contract, perhaps, from the adequate forest areas which surround the settlement. It would provide steady employment for the aborigines at Wreck Bay, and would be a source of profit to the Commonwealth. There is an urgent need for building materials, and there are adequate stands of suitable timber in the district. I believe, too, that consideration should be given to the assimilation of the aborigines at Wreck Bay, and particularly their school children. At present, those children are segregated. They are given excellent tuition in a modern school at Wreck Bay. But that system simply perpetuates divisions between white persons and those of aboriginal blood, although, at that settlement, there are only a few full-blooded aborigines.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I intend to address myself to the Estimates for the Northern Territory. I believe that all honorable members will agree that during the last five years greater strides have been made in the Territory than in any previous period of its history. This, progress has been due in part to external influences. For instance, the enormous increase in the price of beef lias enabled pastoralists in the Northern Territory to develop their properties, whilst the development of atomic energy and the discovery of uranium at Rum Jungle in 1949, and, later, at other places, have speeded up progress in the Territory. These will contribute to an even greater rate of progress in the future. At the same time, however, this Government can take credit for a good deal of the development that has taken place. To begin with, the appointment by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck’) of Mr. Wise as Administrator has been one of the soundest steps that any Government has taken in .the interests of the Territory. Mr. Wise is one of the most capable, if mot the most capable, of the Administrators that have held office in the Territory. The appointment of Colonel Rose some time ago to take control of the animal division at Alice Springs has also contributed to the progress that is now being made. Under his guidance, bores have been put dow,n -to open up stock routes which, previously, were at times impassable. In the past, if stock -could not get through in the wet season over these routes they had to be left where they were “until the following dry season. To-day, there is a better distribution of bores in the Territory than in any other region in Australia. Colonel Rose has also been responsible for valuable experiments that .have been carried out at Alice Springs.. I refer particularly to the growing of “lucerne by irrigation from a bore. I regret ‘that greater financial provision -could not be made available for the work that is being conducted by this officer, because he is doing a great job. This is, probably, .the first instance in which lucerne has been grown in the Territory. Previously, it had to he .transported hundreds of miles from centres in the south.
The claim can be made that the Territory is now being developed at a much quicker rate than in the past because of the alterations that the Government has made in respect of leases in the area. It has introduced a system of leases under which a differentiation is made between a person who intends to live in the Territory and absentee companies which, in many instances, are controlled by directors who reside in London or in the southern States. The Government has acted wisely in making available to resident settlers long-term leases provided that they reside on their properties and incur expenditure in developing them. A measure has been introduced under which lessees in the Territory will be entitled to additional assistance through the Commonwealth Rank by the guaranteeing of overdrafts that will be made available for the purpose of effecting permanent improvements. Owing to the enormous area of the Territory, finance is .a distinct problem. It has not been possible for persons to go into the Territory without considerable financial backing. To-day, an urgent need exists for the provision of a large number of bores <on all properties and for the erection of hundreds of miles of fencing. To the best of my knowledge, only one property in the Territory, at present, is completely fenced. There is a need to improve the stock and to introduce more stock, particularly shorthorn bulls and, perhaps, Santa Gertrudis bulls. All these improvements will involve a considerable financial outlay. Dams and other improvements must be provided. I commend the Government for ensuring that additional finance shall be provided to property owners in the Territory over and above that which is made available by the banks. I understand that a number of banks recently opened branches in Alice Springs with a view to financing pastoralists in the Territory. The Government has backed up that, move which, already, bas produced good results.
The Government is also providing .a subsidy for the air beef scheme. Whilst that scheme is not actually operating in the Territory it is of direct value to the north of Australia as a whole. The provision of that subsidy has resulted in a large increase in the production of beef. I understand that a committee has been set up to examine the provision of subsidies to assist in the development of the air beef scheme. Through the Department of Commerce and Agriculture the Government has concluded with the United Kingdom Government an agreement for the sale of meat under which agreement pastoralists in the Northern Territory will be guaranteed that prices for beef will remain at a payable figure for the next fifteen years. The actual payment of the guaranteed price may not be necessary, but, having regard to that agreement, pastoralists in the Territory can develop their properties in the knowledge that they will be paid adequate prices for their beef during that period. Under the agreement, the United Kingdom Government will make a lump sum payment to the Australian Government, and it will be difficult to decide how that money will be paid to the producers. However, I have no doubt that in time a formula, that will be acceptable to the producers, will be worked out.
Despite the fact that during the last five years there has been greater progress in the Northern Territory than in the preceding 50 years, an enormous amount of work still remains to be done. Although the area of the Territory is one-sixth that of Australia, it is represented in the Parliament by only one honorable member who has only a limited right to vote. That set-up is most unfair. I am aware that the number of electors enrolled in the Northern Territory is far below the quota that, in comparison with the size of electorates elsewhere in Australia, would entitle the representative of the Territory to full voting rights in the Parliament. However, such rights should be given to him, having regard to the fact that the area he represents is so large. I believe that the Territory should be divided into two electorates, the first consisting of the northern section around Darwin and the second consisting of the area around Alice Springs. The set-up in those two sections of the Territory differs entirely.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries much was said about the principle of no taxation without representation. Yet, in the twentieth century, the people of the Northern Territory are taxed but are not really given effective representation in the National Parliament. Recently, the Government established a legislative council in the Northern Territory, but the powers of that body are severely limited. It consists of elected members and nominated members, and the former are in a minority. That being so, persons who would be most suitable to serve on the council naturally, say, in effect, “Why should I give up my time to get on a council on which I and my other elected colleagues would be in . the minority ? And if we did succeed in winning over one of the nominated members, the Administrator, and then the Minister, have the right to veto any decision that may be made by the council “. The Government appoints the nominated members, who invariably, are public servants and who, after doing their period of service in a tropical area, return to centres in the south. If the Government believes that there should be nominated members on the council, it should nominate persons who have been in the Territory for a considerable period and understand its problems and who, later, will not rush to centres in the south.
The Territory is confronted with many other problems with which I shall be unable to deal fully in the time that is available to me. There is the need for improved transport facilities. The Australian Government has a duty to improve transport to the Territory. I was pleased to hear the Governor-General, in his “Speech at the opening of the Parliament, say-
My Government will closely examine the extent to which additional transport links, including rail links, are desirable for the development of beef production in North Queensland and the Northern Territory.
All honorable members believe that these additional links are necessary. In the case of the Northern Territory, I am not greatly concerned whether the railway from Adelaide to Alice Springs is extended to Darwin - under the Constitution, the Government is obliged to construct such a line - or whether a line is provided from Dajarra, through the Barkly Tableland, to link with the northsouth line at Birdum. However, I believe that the latter proposal would he preferable. During the last 25 years, practically nothing has been done to improve the railway facilities in the Territory. In 1939, the overland railway staggered into Alice Springs, and, recently, the old “ Afghan “ train was replaced by a diesel service. I understand that the diesel train was derailed on its first run, but, in spite of that fact, made faster time to Alice Springs than the “Afghan” train used to make. All who desire that Australia shall be developed believe that the time has come when something should be done to improve transport facilities in the Northern Territory. The Government is extending the- railway from Adelaide to Leigh Creek. That line, which is of 4 feet 8b inch gauge, should be extended through to Alice Springs, because the present road from Marree to Allice Springs is impassable.
I should like the Minister for Territories to inform me of what has happened to the committee that was set up to investigate the system of taxation in the Northern Territory. Up to the year before last, taxation was imposed under a system about which I was not happy because it contained many anomalies. For instance, whilst an employer was exempt, an employee was obliged to pay income tax. Furthermore, companies which had their head-quarters in London could register in the Northern Territory and thus qualify to be exempt from the payment of tax. At the same time, I am not satisfied with the present set-up. A committee was appointed to investigate it and I should like to know when that body is likely to present its report to the Parliament.
Lastly, I refer to health services in the Territory. If we are to attract people to that extensive region, we must provide efficient health services there. I am not satisfied with the present Government-run hospital system. Consequently, this morning I asked the
Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) whether he had succeeded in attracting any private doctors to set up in practice in the Territory, and it appeared from his answer that he has failed to do so. That is a great pity, because, at present, medical service is available only at hospitals. It is difficult for people who live a considerable distance from Alice Springs, or Darwin, to get a doctor to visit them. Generally speaking, in cases of emergency such persons contact the doctors at Alice Springs, or Darwin, on the pedal wireless. In such instances, the doctor usually says, “ Where have you got a pain ? “ The individual looks at a chart that is provided for the purpose and replies, “At No. 15”. Then, the doctor says, “ Take two sulphanilamide tablets “. That sort of thing is not good enough for the people of the Territory. Indeed, it is often said that when persons go to Alice Springs for medical treatment they return with more complaints than they had when they left their homesteads. At the hospital, they are obliged to take their place in a long waiting line which includes aborigines. At present, it is difficult for any person in the Territory to obtain medical attention between 5 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Monday. Recently. a stockman whose arm was broken when he was bucked off hi? horse and who was not found until a day after the accident happened, was rushed to Alice Springs but, because the day was Sunday, no doctor was available to treat him until the following day. That sort of thing is not good enough if we wish to attract people to the outback areas of this country. We certainly wish to induce people to settle in these areas, because we want to develop this nation. I congratulate the Government on its achievements in the territories, and on the fact that we are to expend an additional £350,000 this year in the Northern Territory compared with last year’s figure.
– I had the privilege last week-end of visiting the new project .at Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory. It was my first visit to the Territory. Of course, one cannot possibly comprehend,, in the space of a few days, the problems that exist in such a vast territory. It is, as the honorable member for Farrer (Mr.
Fairbairn) has said, a large area. It covers about 500,0.00 square miles, and has- a population of about 18,000 white people, and approximately 15,000 natives. It seems, to me. that the project at Rum Jungle, which the parliamentary delegation visited, at least, provides the northern part of Australia with a basic industry. At. the same time, it presents a number of new problems for the Territory. For one. thing, to. take a realistic view - and it is unfortunately necessary to take such a view - the Rum Jungle project ia likely to make the Northern Territory a much more attractive target in the event of an attack on Australia, by any of the Asian countries. It. is unfortunate that that should be so, but I do not wish to dwell on that, particular aspect of the matter. Various problems are associated with the. Rum Jungle project and I do not know whether or not the Government has. faced up to them.
We iri this country are prone to state that we are helping other countries by means of the Colombo plan, which - is designed to assist in the development of what we call “ undeveloped areas It would be true to say that the Northern Territory is Australia’s undeveloped, or underdeveloped:, area. Just as difficulties have been met in the implementation of the Colombo plan, considerable difficulties may also be met in relation to the pattern of development of the Northern Territory. Tip to date the development that has gone on there has made Darwin, a town of commerce, an outpost of Australia. It has a telegraph service, a naval depot and an airport, and around these services there has grown a commercial population. With the growth of Rum Jungle and the new town of Batchelor, which is 50 or 60 miles from Darwin, a new population of some 600 or so persons has settled in the Territory. Without doubt a cottage type of activity will grow up around Darwin and the new area at Batchelor. I understand that the growing of vegetables on a commercial scale has; already begun in the Batchelor area. Previously the growing of vegetables, and’ other such cottage type activities, were not. commercial propositions in that area becaust1 of the lank of transport, particularly for perishable goods. The lack of such industries as- vegetable-growing, in the Territory, has been one of the difficulties that the people in. that area have had to face in the past. The greater the. population of the Territory becomes,, the more will such undertakings comeinto existence. It seems, however, that the. Government, still conceives of thegrowth of the Northern Territory largely in terms of big pastoral holdings. If that is- the Government’s outlook there cannot be a very great future for the Terri, tory so far as a large, population is concerned.
In company with the honorable member for the. Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), to whom I should like to pay my personal” tribute for the very good work- he is doing in placing the problems of the Territory before this Parliament, and, in particular, before the members of his own party, a number of honorable members- visited some properties in the Alice Springs area. They were gigantic compared with the properties with which we in the south are familiar. Some of them cover 1,000 square miles instead of the area of 1,000 acres which constitutes normal holdings in some parts of the south. If such huge properties are to be the order in the Northern Territory - and it is estimated that only 250,000 or 300,000 square miles of the Territory are capable of that kind of development-we shall not have, a large population there. One of the things that greatly concern the townspeople of Alice Springs is the difficulty of attracting skilled tradesmen to Alice Springs from other parts of the Commonwealth, because of all sorts of local difficulties. The- people of Alice Springs are justly prOud of their town. We have difficulties in the south over the payment of margins to workers. Similar difficulties in a remote area like the Northern Territory, are even more serious.
The honorable member for Farrer talked about taxation in the Northern Territory, which means differential taxation, because the people in the Territory are taxed differently from people in other parts of Australia. That position is fraught with difficulties. During the term of the Labour Government a system of zone allowances was introduced so that an individual who lived between the Tropic of Capricorn and the southern boundary of the Northern Territory was allowed, I think, a remission of £20 of taxable income because he was deemed to live in zone A. People who lived north of the Tropic of Capricorn were regarded as living in zone B, and were allowed a remission of £120 of taxable income. Those remissions were not actual rebate of tax, but were the amounts by which the taxpayers concerned were allowed to reduce their taxable income. Of course, in terms of real value those amounts do not mean very much to-day. The people of Alice Springs are inclined to suggest that the cost of living in their area is higher than it is even in Darwin. Such problems are very real for the ordinary people of the Northern Territory. The Government has given a great deal of consideration to mining companies and big pastoral lease-holders in the Territory, but it has made little attempt to face up to the difficulties which beset the wage-earning da$s and the townsmen of the Territory. The development of the Territory is as rauch dependent on such people as it is on the big mining concerns and pastoral companies. I do not deny that we need them :all.
We .have in the Territory, as in other areas, the problem of maintaining a proper balance of the various sections of the community. There are possibilities so far as mining development and pastoral development are concerned, but we cannot have such development unless a certain amount of labour power is attracted to the Territory. The more labour power we can attract there the more likely we are to get settled areas of population in which the provision of various amenities will not only become necessary, but will also become possible. Some systematic survey should be made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) now with regard to laying out the patterns of development. Sometimes we can learn from examples drawn from other places. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has pointed out on several occasions with regard to the Colombo plan, it is of no use for us merely to pour millions of pounds into a particular area, and then just hope for the best. Development cannot be achieved in that “way. As I listened to the Minister for Territories it seemed to me that he was taking great credit to himself and the Government because the amount being voted for expenditure in the Northern Territory is higher than the amount that was voted in 1948-49. I doubt whether that is a systematic approach to this matter, and I do not feel that the Minister thinks it is either. Of course, it is true that we cannot have development without the expenditure of money. I consider, however, as the result of conversations I had with people in the Northern Territory, that many of the problems, including the human problems, that exist in that region to-day are not receiving much attention from the Government. It is difficult to govern such an area as the Northern Territory from a distant place like Canberra. That difficulty is increased when a number of departments is concerned with the administration of the area. The departments that have a finger in the Northern Territory pie include the Department of Territories, the Department of Works, and the Department of Health, behind all of which stands the Treasury. All kinds of problems of government exist, and al! kinds of friction arise. A person who visits the Territory hears perhaps more about such grievances than do other people. Whether the grievances arcexaggerated is a question for the Government itself to determine.
When I was in Darwin I felt that the people there considered that, because of the remoteness of the head-quarters of the Department of Works, works in Darwin were not getting the priority that they deserve. When it is conceded that about £100,000,000 is expended each year on various works in the Commonwealth, and that of that total, works in the Northern Territory account for only about £2,500,000, it is obvious that, so far as the Department of Works is concerned, the problem of the Territory is of small importance, as well as being remote. The question arises whether the works that people in the Northern Territory consider ought to be given a certain degree of priority are in fact receiving it. It is all Tight for th, Department of Territories to lay out a plan of development, but, insofar as it involves expenditure on capital works, th, speed with which, and the basis of the priority on which, the department works not only in the Territory but also in other parts of Australia, ultimately determine whether the things that people of the Territory consider are most needed are done in anything like reasonable time. The Government is taking to itself some reasonable credit for the speed with which the Batchelor area has been developed. In about two years hundreds of dwellings, as well as a huge industrial undertaking, have been established there. But the people of Darwin consider that the same speed has not been evinced by the Government so far as works in Darwin are concerned. As individuals, at any rate, they have some grievances about the Government at Canberra, which is theoretically responsible for the Northern Territory, but which does not always seem to get down to the real aspects of the problem. I urge the Minister for Territories to call the appropriate officers of the various departments together in order to see whether something can be done to improve co-ordination in connexion with developmental works that are required in the Northern Territory.
.- I wish to address my remarks to the proposed expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory and for the Northern Territory, and in doing so I wish to confine myself to the particular problem which arises in the administration of both these territories from what is known as the margins dispute. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) referred, in passing, to the difficulties that arise concerning margins in the Northern Territory. The same difficulties arise with even greater force in the Australian Capital Territory, because it was there that the action of Mr. Commissioner Findlay, by granting an increase of margins shortly after an increase had been refused by Mr. Chief Commissioner Galvin in the metal trades, precipitated these difficulties with great force and clarity. The whole arbitration system in Australia has got into a state which, I believe, is incurable without considerable legislative surgery. “What are the facts of this margins dispute? We know that, in a time of grave emergency to the whole economy, the Full Bench of the Arbitration Court decided to do what is popularly called “ freeze “ the automatic adjustments of the basic wage. The court decided that, in the grave danger of uncontrolled inflation which then existed, the automatic variations of the basic wage could be, and indeed were, contributing factors’ to inflation, and could rapidly tend to force.it entirely out of control. Shortly before that decision was made. Mr. Commissioner Galvin, when asked to increase margins in the metal trades awards, had decided that the economy of the country at that time would not stand an increase and refused to grant an increase. That was the first step in the dispute. As honorable members well know, the metal trades are the determinant for many other trades; they are the lead and the guiding mark by which awards in other industries are frequently determined. The Full Court then decided that it must “ freeze “ the automatic adjustments of the basic wage. The next step was that an appeal was lodged against Mr. ‘Commissioner Galvin’s decision that an increase could not be allowed in the metal trades awards, and that appeal, I understand, has been stood over for further hearing.
I submit to the committee that this problem of the basic wage and the margins cannot be solved under the existing law. We have a series of propositions. The first is that, in a time of threatened inflation, automatic adjustments of the basic wage can be a cause of uncontrolled inflation. The second proposition is that an increase of margins can be equally as dangerous because - and this is my third proposition - margins for skill have become over the years an integral part of the general wage. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) pointed out beyond all argument in a statement which he issued a. few months ago. that margins had ceased to be merely margins for skill. The so-called margins for skill are now part and parcel of the general wage structure. One example which was used to illustrate the fact that hardly a worker in industry does not get a margin for skill of some sort was the case of the sweeper employed on light duties-1 in a factory who had, I think from recollection, a margin of 3s. That is the clearest illustration of the fact that margins have ceased to be margins for skill and have become a part of the general wage system.
– What has this to do with the Northern Territory?
– The honorable member should ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who raised the question of margins in the discussion of the Northern Territory Estimates. I am doing so for the same reason as he did. The fourth proposition is that, because margins have ceased to be margins for skill -nui are a part of the whole wage, any increase of margins in an industry means an increase of all wages in that industry. That is, I think, the point at which the real difficulty in this matter originates.
We cannot alter the margin for skill in any industry without varying the burden on the community of the total wage, and,’ under the existing law, the adjustment of the basic wage is considered to be, and is, the function of the court, whilst margins for skill are a function of the conciliation commissioners. From that fact arises the need for what I spoke of earlier as legislative surgery. This problem of margins for skill cannot be solved, I believe, without going to the root of the matter and having another look at the basic wage and the margins in all industries. In other words, it can be solved only by a new award of the court which lays down a basic wage which really is a basic wage and an upper margin for skill for the most skilled and experienced tradesmen. Added to this, there must be machinery whereby the varying degrees of skill and experience between the wholly unskilled and inexperienced at the bottom, and the most skilled and experienced at the top. can be assessed - machinery which will work out the share of the top margin which each worker should receive. Such a review of the basic wage and margins cannot be undertaken under the provisions of two sections of the existing law which were introduced in 1948 - sections 13 and 25 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Under section 25, the court has power to deal with standard hours, the basic wage, annual leave and the basic wage for adult females. Under section 13, a conciliation commissioner has no power to deal with those matters, but he has full power to deal with other matters, which means, in effect, that the duty of determining margins for skill lies on the conciliation commissioners.
Thus we have in Australia to-day no single authority who can review the whole wage structure, have a look at the basic wage, have a look at the margins, and re-determine the principles on which each should be established. And while that position exists, it is my firm belief that this margins problem cannot be solved. This is a matter on which I hope that, with some reflection, some members of the Opposition will support me because this is not a party political issue. We have an equal interest, as representatives of the Australian people, in seeing that the difficulty is overcome, and I put forward for the serious consideration of the committee, including the Opposition, the argument that it cannot be overcome until sections 13 and 25 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are repealed. I believe that, if they were repealed, and if the act were so reconstituted, that the full bench of the court had full power to deal with wages and to delegate its duties to single judges and to groups of conciliation commissioners, the court might well adopt then a logical re-arrangement of the whole arbitration system. The Full Court could hear an application for a review of the whole wage structure. There would have to be a dispute, of course, on which the hearing could be founded, but this country has never lacked disputes of that sort. It could again establish a basic wage which really was a basic wage. It could establish the upper margins, and it could give to single judges the duty of deciding, within groups of industries to which they had been assigned, the rates of margins for different degrees of skill and experience in those industries.
The single judges could be assisted by groups of conciliation commissioners who could advise them and help them to negotiate with organized labour for the allotment of the different margins within those industries. I believe then that we could reach a solution of this problem. The system would also hare very great advantages of other sorts. For example, the arbitration machinery would become very much more flexible than it is- now. It would be quite possible ‘ for negotiation between management and labour to be much easier and much more practicable than it is under the existing: system. Furthermore;, when we turn from wage-fixing: to the function of conciliation, it would also have great advantages, because- L think, the court, if allowed, to work, out logically the best use of its own powers and functions, would decide that, when, a dispute occurred in any industry,, it should be lie function of a conciliation commissioner to try to conciliate and,, if he failed to> bring the parties to- agreement, then to find what were the issues and refer them to his judge,, who could then arbitrate. Under the present system, when the individual or the authority who conciliates is known to both parties to be charged also with the duty of arbitration, conciliation, very rarely succeeds, because both parties know that, if they fail to agree, the conciliator will then have to arbitrate on the dispute. It is a fact from past experience that conciliation does not occur in those circumstances.
I have suggested in the course of these few minutes- a very sweeping reorganization of the arbitration system. I do not expect that it will be enthusiastically and universally accepted overnight, but I put it forward for serious, discussion in this chamber in the hope that others may see the virtue of what I have said; that they may see, as I do, that there will be no solution - and can be no solution - of this margins problem so long as the powers of the court are divided between the full bench and the conciliation commissioners, and so long as there is no single authority who can review the whole wage structure. It is true that this Government very wisely decided to allow an appeal from decisions of conciliation commissioners to the court, and it follows from that that the court may correct extravagances or mistakes of conciliation commissioners, but it can do so only after the event and cannot look at the whole wage structure and say that it needs revision or amendment in this or that respect. I put forward these suggestions for serious1 consideration by the committee.
– Order! I have allowed! the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorablemember for Evans (Mr. Osborne) considerable scope in the breadth of their remarks. I ask other honorable members who wish to discuss this bracket of proposed votes to- confine their remarks much more, closely to it.
Mr. NELSON (Northern Territory) [4.45J. - I was pleased to hear the announcement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) that he has persuaded the Cabinet to make a different approach to the method of planning and financing development projects in the Northern Territory. For some time past I have- advocated a change in the old system, under which money was allocated by the Parliament in such a manner that, owing to seasonal, and other conditions,, the Northern Territory Administration was unable to expend the vote. The proportion unexpended reverted to the Treasury to- be reallocated subsequently. A. long-term, policy of planning and’ development, stage by stage over the years, is the only practical approach to the. development of the Northern Territory. I trust that such an approach willi do away with the haphazard and disjointed methods of the. past, under which plans were made on a twelve-monthly basis. Under the old methods, the departments prepared their estimates, which were submitted to Canberra for departmental investigation, and eventually they came before the Parliament. The result was that, in many respects, the “proposal? submitted to the Parliament bore ho similarity to the original intentions of the departments concerned. I am pleased to learn that under the new policy the administration of the Northern Territory may make plans for development for a period of three years ahead. Even this period is inadequate. Plans should be based on a ten-year period, or, at the very least, on a five-year period. But planning on a three-year basis is a definite improvement on the former yearly basis. I trust that under the new policy planning and development will proceed more smoothly in the future than they did in the past.
The Government has taken great credit to itself for the increased vote for the Northern Territory, but I remind the Government and the Minister for Territories that the recent increased development of the Territory is due primarily to the uranium discoveries and the interest that they have aroused. Government expenditure in the Northern Territory i3 being far out-stripped by private spending. The expenditure of government departments on services such as roads, and on development projects, is not keeping pace with the spending of private concerns, which had their interest in the Northern Territory aroused initially by the discovery of uranium, subsequently by the mining of uranium ore, and, more recently, by the treatment of uranuim ore in the Territory. The Government must capitalize on these developments, even at the cost of taking risks, not only in uranium development, but also in other directions, so that outside interest in the Northern Territory will not lag. Consequently, government expenditure in the Territory must be considerably increased to maintain the population and the rate of development of the Territory, and to prevent frustration from causing private enterprises to withdraw their interest from it.
Mining’ of ores other than uranium plays a big part in the development of the north. According to a recent statement made by the Minister for Territories, the production of minerals other than uranium in the Northern Territory, in the financial year 1953-54, amounted £o approximately £1,500,000, most of which can be credited to the gold-mining industry. The principal gold-field in the Territory is at Tennant Creek, in the centre of the Territory. The Government should assist and encourage the development of deposits of gold elsewhere in the Northern Territory, as well as of deposits of basic minerals, such as copper, tin, silver lead and wolfram, which are known to be available in substantial quantities at a number of places. T was disappointed to see that an allocation of only £4,000- £2,000 less than in 1953-54-^-is to be made to assist and encourage mining during the current financial year. One would think that the present interest in mining would cause the Government to adopt a vigorous policy of encouraging the industry. Assistance to prospectors would pay rich dividends by encouraging them to exploit the gold-mining potential of areas such as Tennant Creek, the development of which, at present, is beyond the resources of individual prospectors.
I regret, also, that the Estimates makeno provision for expenditure on the overhaul of government-conducted ore treatment batteries in the Northern Territory. Government batteries were originally intended to enable prospectors who had located ore deposits in various parts of the Territory to get their ore crushed at nominal charges, so that they might be encouraged to exploit the deposits that they had discovered. The position in relation to government batteries at present is far from satisfactory, and is downright discouraging. The battery at the Maranboy tin field is inefficient, and the charges made for crushing ore are far too high. The plant has deteriorated to such a degree that the ordinary miner is unable to take advantage of it, because it allows half the tin content of his ore to go down the creek, and the quantity of tin recovered will not return enough for him to pay the high charges that are made for treatment.
– Item 22, under the heading “ Other Services “, in the Estimates for the general services of the Northern Territory, makes provision for the allocation of £2,000 for work on the Maranboy battery.
– I take the Minister’s word for it that that is so. Had he seen the condition of the battery recently, he would know that approximately £20,0C0 would have to bc expended on it to make it reasonably efficient. The battery was installed about 1914, and in the succeeding 40 years no major addition or overhaul has been made. The plant is completely worn out, and nothing less than the installation of a complete new modern battery, of the kind that was developed by experts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, would suffice to make the Maranboy tin field fully productive. If modern plant were available, large-scale development of the mineral potential of the Maranboy area would be encouraged. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is interested in the area, and has made extensive surveys. The Bureau of Mineral Resources, also, has made extensive surveys and has reported favorably on the results. The trouble is that the miners have been unable to develop their leases sufficiently to induce mining companies to invest money in the area. Prospectors cannot develop their claims unless they have available facilities for treating the ore so that they may finance continuing development work. The Maranboy tin field is one of the best prospective tin-producing areas in the Northern Territory, and its potential is being neglected because an efficient treatment battery is not available.
The situation at Tennant Creek goldfield is similar. Numerous mining leases in that area could be fully exploited by prospectors and small syndicates if sufficient plant for crushing the ore were available. Charges made for crushing the ore at the existing government battery are so high that no small syndicate or prospector can pay them and make a reasonable living from mining. The charge at the Tennant Creek battery is approximately £3 10s. a ton, whereas in South Australia, where prospectors are encouraged to develop mining fields, ore is crushed at government-owned batteries for less than 12s. 6d. a ton. This Government is ignoring a wonderful opportunity to develop the mining fields of the Northern Territory. The Hatches Creek wolfram field also has a government battery. Wolfram prices are rather unstable, but it is believed, I think reasonably, that adequate and efficient crushing facilities on the field would enable the miners to make secure livings. The Hatches Creek battery was acquired by the Government from a private company soon after World War II. Since it was acquired no major overhaul or addition has been made. Crushing charges are very high, and the proportion of mineral recovered from the ore is too low. The poor condition of government-owned ore-crushing batteries throughout the Northern Territory must be due to a policy, laid down by the Department of Territories for the Northern Territory
Administration, that the crushing plants must pay for themselves. If they are to do so, they can no longer give necessary assistance to miners to develop the mineral potential of the Territory. The miners need to be. able to have their ore crushed at reasonable charges at efficient plants, if they are ever to be able to demonstrate that any of the deposits arcsufficiently rich to induce a company to mine them on a substantial scale and develop large-scale fields that will support substantial settlements. The resident? of the Hatches Creek township depend for their livelihood on the mining activities at the field, which in turn depend on the operation of the ore-crushing battery. The settlement has a school and other necessary facilities, but unless the existing . battery is made efficient or a new one is installed, the residents will have to move elsewhere, and the town will decay. The Northern Territory cannot afford to lose centres of population. On the contrary, the existing centres must be enlarged, and those that depend on mining can be maintained only by making additional assistance available to mining prospectors.
The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) has made reference to health facilities in the Northern Territory. He made caustic comments abour the medical services in Alice Springs. Broadly speaking, I agree with his remarks about health services, but I do not agree that the medical officers in Alice Springs are in any way neglectful of their duties and of the service that they must provide for .the residents. It is true that in the past some doctors have not’ measured up to the required standard, but, on the whole, the medical officers of the Northern Territory have given fine service to the people of the Territory, and have done their best within the limitations imposed on them by the available facilities and funds.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The first period of the honorable member’s time has expired.
– If no other honorable member wishes to speak, I shall take my second period now. I point out that the Government, apart from its medical officers who do the medical work of the
Territory, is not quite measuring up to its responsibilities in this matter. Honorable members should consider the statement that was prepared by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), and recently put before this chamber. We should consider that statement against the background of the development that is taking place hi the Northern Territory, that is, the expansion of its population, industries and activities. If we do that we shall find that in respect of health services, the total vote will be £507,000 in 1954-55, which is an increase over last year’s vote of only £330. That small increase certainly does not indicate that the Government is measuring up to the responsibility that it carries in respect of the increased demand for medical services in the Territory.
There is no hospital at Rum Jungle. It is true that there is a clinic there, and that a doctor visits it periodically. However, there is no adequate hospital. Batchelor is an important town, and it is destined to be an even more important town as the years go by; but that settlement does not have a hospital, and does not even have a resident medical officer. If the men and women of that town need medical treatment, they have to go 70 miles into Darwin and then make an appointment to see a doctor. Honorable members can well understand the inconvenience and the annoyance that such a system causes to the residents of Batchelor, especially to the women, who have to go 70 miles to Darwin for treatment and then return. I believe that it is not fair to ask people to undergo those difficulties in order to obtain medical treatment.
The hospital at Alice Springs was built about twenty years ago, and except for some alterations of a very temporary nature, no additions have been made to it since it was built. Men, women and children patients are all put into a hospital building about 70 feet long and about 40 feet wide. Honorable members can well understand that with this grouping together of patients there will be many children in the hospital who create disturbances both by day and by night, while other critically ill patients are trying to obtain some sleep. I suggest that the recovery of many patients is definitely retarded because of the antiquated hospital facilities at Alice Springs. Therefore, I suggest that there should be a really worth-while construction programme of hospitals in the Northern Territory. There should be an isolation ward built in Alice Springs for infectious cases, and there should be separate men’s and children’s wards and. above all, a separate women’s ward. Moreover, the medical officers of the Territory have to labour under the bad conditions that I have set before this chamber. Katherine is very little better off as regards hospital facilities, and the progress of the Territory is being retarded because the Government is not providing the medical services that i; should provide.
Now let us consider the state of the native population in the Territory. The tuberculosis rate among natives is most alarming. Indeed, about 20 per cent, of the native people have tuberculosis. Medical officers go out to visit the natives and give them treatment, but they never know whether they will be able to find them to give them the next treatment. Medical officers may give treatment to natives at one place, and the next week the natives may be hundreds of miles away. Because of the partial treatment that is given to the natives, I suggest that unless the Government takes some definite action, types of germs will be let loose in the native community which are resistant to the recognized treatments for tuberculosis. If treatment of any disease is not persisted with, the germs of that disease in the patient are likely to become immune to further treatment. Therefore, something drastic must be done to isolate natives with tuberculosis and to provide special facilities for their treatment. Partially-treated natives are not only a source of infection to their own people, but they are also a danger to the white populations of the Territory.
I shall now pass to the important matter of education. In this field again, the present year’s vote will be less than last year’s. I can understand that, because certain major education works at Darwin and Alice Springs have been completed, and the need for a large expenditure may have passed for the moment. However,
I desire to correct an impression that may have been given to honorable members by the statement of the Minister for Territories that the Alice Springs school has been completed. Only the first stage of the planned school for Alice Springs has been finished, and I believe that the second stage of the building should be commenced without delay. The first stage, which has been completed, provides for staff blocks, ‘laboratories and some classrooms, but the second stage will consist solely of classrooms. Yet the very important second stage has not yet been started. I draw the attention of the authorities to that matter so that provision may be made without delay, by way of supplementary estimates, of finance to build the second stage of the Alice Springs school.
I am very pleased to notice that additional funds will be made available this year to build homes for the people of the Northern Territory. Home-building is a first priority, because if there are no homes available we cannot attract people to the Territory and, what is more dangerous, we cannot keep those that we already have there. Therefore, I am glad to see that provision has been made for the building of homes for administration employees; but I should have liked to have seen a building scheme introduced to cater for the home requirements of the ordinary citizens of the Territory who are not Government employees. Under the present system no such provision exists. It is true that there is a home finance scheme in operation and that through it people can get money to finance the building of their own homes. But conditions of lending, and the interest rate, are so onerous that very few are taking advantage of the scheme, and I suggest that the official figures would bear out my contention in that regard. We hope that speedy action will be taken to implement the promise made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the last general election campaign to the effect that he would extend and liberalize the home-building scheme in the Northern Territory.
I have asked the Minister for Territories to give consideration to allowing Government employees in the Territory to purchase their homes. This matter has been brought up in this chamber from time to time, and I believe that the Minister is favorable to it. But at the present time people in the Territory who have given a lifetime of service to the Government, and are now due for retirement, would like to know whether it will be possible for them to stay in the Territory by purchasing their homes, or whether they will be driven by lack of housing into the capital cities of the States.
As recently as two years ago the Government abolished the taxation concessions that applied to residents of the Northern Territory, but I believe that now it realizes the mistake that it then made. Honorable members know that the system, as it operated before its abolition, was far from perfect, and that there were grave anomalies in it. Indeed, the system had not achieved that which it was designed to achieve, but, instead of rectifying the anomalies and extending the provisions to the people that the Government wanted to benefit, the Government abolished the whole scheme. The fact that the Government later became concerned about its action was shown when a committee of taxation experts was set up to reconsider the matter. This committee, which visited the Territory last year, or the year before, consisted of the deputy director of taxation in South Australia, and two others. I am led to believe, through rumour only, that the committee’s report was completely favorable to the granting of taxation concessions to people in the Territory, especially those in the lower income brackets and those whose incomes were derived from personal exertion. But the report of the committee, which I understand went to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), has never been tabled in this chamber, and no action has been taken to implement its recommendations.
I asked the Minister for Territories to lay that report on the table, or, at least, to indicate its conclusions to honorable members, so that we shall have the benefit of the opinion of the experts who so thoroughly investigated the taxation problems of the Territory. Honorable members should note that the committee which recommended the abolition of concessions in the Territory never even went to the Territory. The nearest it got to the Territory was Adelaide, and of course the people of the Territory could not place before that committee all the evidence that it needed in order to arrive at a proper conclusion. But the latter committee did visit the Territory, and thoroughly investigated the whole matter of taxation. Therefore, the people of the Territory would like to know at least the conclusions arrived at. I believe that it is desirable and necessary- that some taxation concessions should be granted to the people of the Territory on lower incomes, and that such a system of concessions would be the cheapest method in the long run of encouraging people and capital to flow into the northern regions. We know that substantial contributions have to be made by governments in order to develop any area, but I suggest that through the taxation machinery this Government can carry out valuable national development cheaply and efficiently. Moreover, the Government can encourage labour to enter the Territory by giving concessions or exemptions to those whose incomes are less than ?1,000 or, perhaps, les3 than ?1,500.
Industry could also- be given partial concessions during its initial development, because we all have to remember that we are now trying to develop the Northern Territory during an era of high taxation although the rest of Australia was developed when there was no income taxation at all. Therefore, the conditions under which we are attempting to develop the Territory are vastly different from the conditions under which the States of Australia were developed. I again suggest that the most satisfactory way in which any government could develop the Northern Territory, is by an adequate and proper series of taxation concessions to primary and secondary industries, and to individuals who work with their hands and their brains in that area. If the Government should do that, people would be attracted to the Territory and its development would be assured.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order! The honorable member’s second period of time has expired.
– Honorable members on this side of the chamber will agree with the statement of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) about the immense potentialities of that area. They will share his pleasure that, under this Government, the Northern Territory is developing faster than ever before in its history. They will also share his hope that further efforts will be made, and that the present unprecedented rate of development will be even further accelerated.
One thought which occurs to me is that honorable members are not sufficiently acquainted with the Northern Territory, or with the even more important Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I myself confess, with some shame, that I have never been to New Guinea, yet I, in- common with the other 122 members of this chamber, are charged with the responsibility of its administration and government. I know that a person, in a limited visit, cannot hope to get a real understanding “of the problems of a territory, but he can put himself in. the position where he can learn more, and be able to appreciate written reports in a way which he cannot do if he has never visited the place. For those reasons, I urge the Government to increase the facilities for honorable members to visit the territories whose administration is committed to their charge.
I agree with the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) that a great deal can be achieved by tours and visits under the conduct of departmental officers. Those visits are essential, but they are not the only thing, because on such tours a person sees through the eyes of his conductors. He sees the things that he is meant to see. He does not see the things which might be equally important, and which conductors might not want him to see. Therefore, I suggest that, whilst the conducted tours are good, and should be maintained and even increased, facilities should also be made available to honorable members to see with their own eyes, and to go to places, not those which are selected for them, but which they might think fit to visit.
I shall not labour the point which I made earlier in this debate, although I should like to mention it again, because it deals with the Australian Capital Territory. I make no apology for reiterating my belief that it is high time, in this age of an atomic threat to our centres, that more government installations were moved from Sydney or Melbourne, not into the centre of Canberra, but into the Canberra district. I believe that the expansion of Canberra should be not the expansion of one centralized town, but the creation of satellites around about.
I leave that subject, and if the committee will bear with me, I shall discuss one matter of detail which affects the Northern Territory. I refer to the possibility of obtaining some outlet for part of the Northern Territory, and, concurrently, that part of Queensland in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I know that this is a matter for the future. I also know that it is not practicable to dp anything this year or perhaps even next year. But I believe that we should be compiling certain information so that we may know the way in which the development should go, and so that the interim things we do will fit into the ultimate development.
By the courtesy of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Francis), I obtained access to the hydrographical information in relation to the Gulf of Carpentaria. I should like, at this stage, to acknowledge the help which I received from the Minister and his officer, Captain Tancred, who is in charge of naval surveys in Australia. He could not have been more helpful. The position, at the present moment, is that nobody in Australia, or elsewhere, has adequate hydrographical information about the Gulf of Carpentaria. Is it possible to construct a port on it? By a port, we may mean, I suppose, one of three things. We may think, first, of a deep-water port; secondly, of a port which can be used by shallow-draft vessels, particularly a vessel of the type which was developed during the war for tank landing; and, thirdly, a port such as exists at Whyalla, in South Australia, where there is a pier and a loading belt for handling bulk cargoes. I shall proceed to consider those three possibilities.
The Royal Australian Navy thinks that it will be impracticable to construct a deep-sea port, without incurring great expense, at any location except Vanderlin Island. The Navy says that it is not quite certain of that, and although it believes that to be the position, it will be unable, until more sounding is undertaken, to be quite certain that all other points must be ruled out. The Navy says further that it is nearly certain that the second class of port, which can take care of L.S.T’s. and craft of that kind, can be constructed in numerous places, but it is unable to name places definitely, or pinpoint them. Although the Navy is almost certain that this can be done, it is not quite certain. The third class of port, the Whyalla type of bulk-handling jetty, might be of particular importance if the mineral industry is developed in that part of Australia. The Navy feels great uncertainty about this, and is unable to say one way or the other.
I suggest to the Minister that those uncertainties should be cleared up, because unless and until they are cleared up, we cannot make sensible determinations about railway routes, and a general layout of future industries. I am not suggesting that it is practicable to construct a port straightaway. I do not think that. But I do believe that it is practicable to get information straightaway which would enable us to make some determination as to the practicability of this work. Although there is a great amount of generalized information lying about in the various departments, the actual particular information simply does not exist.
It is not a matter of great difficulty to obtain that information. A proper study of aerial photographs, combined with some degree of aerial reconnaissance, will enable some doubts to be cleared up, but for the actual sounding, it is necessary to get a boat into the area. It is not necessary to send a big boat, or to incur any great expense. The Navy has recently been acquiring, or is preparing to acquire, certain small portable sounding equipment which costs only £700 or £800. This equipment can be put onto quite a small boat, and can be operated by one skilled man over and above the normal crew. It would seem not unreasonable to put one of those inexpensive instruments onto a small boat.
For example, there is a small craft which is used by the Queensland Government in connexion with the pilot station at Karumba. Using one small boat, with this light equipment, we could clear up the present uncertainty in three or four months and lay down a pattern for future development that would fit in with the physical background which, I emphasize, is unknown at the present time. We are working, to some degree, in the dark. I am looking at the position from the basis of limited knowledge, and assuming what I believe to be true, but I am not quite certain that it is true that the only possible big sea port will be at Vanderlin Island. One supposes this, in the light of various reports which have been made available over many years and can be consulted in the library, and other reports in the possession of the Minister. Again, I gratefully acknowledge the help which the Minister for Territories has given to me in this matter, and the willingness with which he has made relevant information available to me.
The situation regarding Vanderlin Island, where any deep-sea port would have to be connected to the mainland by a substantial and expensive viaduct, may be changed, perhaps, by two factors. The first is the possibility that aerial transport will be used. I do not know whether or not that would happen, but I know, because it has been announced in this chamber, that the Government is studying that possibility. Air freight is not economical as a permanent expedient, but it may be economical as a pioneering venture, particularly if large air units like the Blackburn freighters have to be obtained anyway for defence purposes, and held in reserve for defence reasons. If that be so, and I have some reason to think that it is so, then those units could be used in the meantime for the transport of cattle and meat by air. If that bie so, then, in the first stages, Vanderlin Island could be used as a port without any physical connexion to the mainland.
I do not know, and I have not the means of knowing, whether there is a possibility of constructing cheaply an aerodrome on Vanderlin Island. I think a priori that there is, but I have been unable to find in the files here the relevant information to enable me to determine that matter with absolute certainty. I do not think that it would be very difficult to clarify that position one way or the other.
The other factor to which I have referred is that the use of a flatbottomed landing craft has recently been developed on the east coast of Queensland, in the Cape York Peninsula area, for the carriage of cattle and other stores. If this craft proves successful and if further investigations show that this kind of transport can be extended, Vanderlin Island may be developed as a deep-sea port for the Gulf, including Cape York Peninsula. These boats would converge on the cold stores with their cargoes, which would be loaded onto freighters for transport overseas. I do not know whether those things are possible. What I say is that further investigation is necessary, and that until we get roads giving easy, cheap and quick means of transport, and until we get the physical background, we cannot make any very sensible determination in regard to the whole position.
That brings me to the final point which I wish to make. It has been mentioned in this chamber recently by several honorable members. I refer to the so-called Dajarra railway. In locating the actual course of that railway before we make a final decision, we need to know the answer to the port question which I have posed to honorable members, not because I believe that the port would be constructed immediately, but because I believe that the railway should be placed in the position which would fit in eventually with a long-term scheme for the port.
– Order ! The first period of the honorable member’s time- has expired.
– As no other member has risen, I shall take my second period now. It is a mistake to think of building a railway via Dajarra instead of via Mount Isa. I visited Mount Isa recently and took the opportunity to go over the proposed rail route and have, a look at the position there. When the original Dajarra scheme was conceived, the line from Du eh ess to Mount Isa had not been built. Therefore, we arn now dealing with a position that is different from the position that existed when the original scheme was conceived. The distance from Dajarra to Camooweal is roughly 160 miles, and the intervening country is not good railway country. There is soft land, and there would he a dearth of ballast whilst the construction of a line in such country would involve bridging as bad floods often occur. The distance from Mount Isa to Camooweal is only 116 miles, but it would not be really necessary to construct a railway for that distance because, as honorable members may know, the new Mount Isa lode which is being developed lies alongside the route of the proposed line for the first fifteen miles. Consequently, in any event, a railway must be built over that section.
We are thus considering the merits of building a railway line for a distance of 100 miles from Mount Isa north to Camooweal compared with those of building a line for 160 miles from Dajarra to Camooweal; and of these propositions I believe that the former is preferable. The country between Mount Isa and Camooweal is flat and only one small watercourse crosses the proposed route. At the same time, there is good ballast and no constructional difficulties would arise. When we realize that either of the proposed railways would serve the interests of the cattle industry of the north and the needs of the Barkly Tableland, it would be better to build the less-costly line from Mount Isa to Camooweal rather than ft Une from Dajarra to Camooweal. Cattle could be transported from Camooweal to Dajarra, via Duchess. I do not know whether the route should go from Duchess south-east to the Channel country or make a small diversion westwards to Dajarra. I should not like to give any opinion on that aspect, because I do not know the facts. But the route via Mount Isa would serve the cattle industry equally as well as would the route via Dajarra, and such a line could be constructed more cheaply. Furthermore, it would be a better line because Mount Isa is growing and would be an important market for cattle. In addition, Mount Isa is going to be a great mining centre, and the traffic from Lawn Hill, which is heavy mineral country, would naturally go to Mount Isa. The route via Mount Isa would also give better access to any port that might be developed on the gulf.
In that respect, I am hedged round with uncertainty because we do not know the full physical facts about the possibility of a gulf port. We should ascertain such facts before making a final decision. However, looking at the economics of the matter, including the mineral traffic in addition to the cattle traffic that would naturally go to Mount Isa, and remembering that either of the proposed railways would serve equally the interests of the cattle industry and bring stores to the appropriate centres, I should say that the less-costly line via Mount Isa would be preferable to building a more expensive line via Dajarra.
.- The insignificant proposed vote for the Northern Territory reflects the attitude of the Government towards the development of that region of Australia. I have no doubt that, if given the opportunity to determine these matters free from dictation by the Cabinet, honorable members as a whole, faithful to their trust as Australians and in their determination to develop and effectively defend this country, would push forward with a vigorous plan for the development of the Northern Territory. However, despite the speech made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who directed attention to the need for railways and harbours and to the urgency of development generally, and despite also the excellent speech that was made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson); who dealt thoroughly with the many facets of this problem, all our talking will be ineffective and the position will remain precisely the same as it was when this discussion commenced. We shall find that we have not struck a real blow or accomplished anything useful in respect of the development of the Territory. That, of course, is most unfortunate. Such a state of affairs is to be deplored because one would expect that in a democratic institution of this kind the opinion and will of the majority of honorable members would prevail and that the Government would be obliged to adopt a policy that was really approved by a majority of honorable members.
The fundamental requirements for the development of the Northern Territory include water, transport, electricity services, housing, schools and health services.
With respect to the physical development of the Territory, we need to consider pastoral development, mining and primary production and also the need for a fi nan cial policy designed to provide for those activities. Just how are we to develop the Northern Territory? Recently. the Government appointed a committee to investigate certain aspects of the air beef scheme rather than tackle the major problems involved in the development of the northern part of Australia. On this score, I do not blame the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), because I believe that he desires to bring about rapid development in the north so that when he relinquishes his present portfolio he will be able to claim some credit for his administration of the Territory. However. I believe that despite the small increase in the financial provision that is being made for the Northern Territory this financial year, the Minister, when he relinquishes hia present office, will have no such achievement to his credit. I cannot help thinking that this Government differs very little from the BrucePage Government, which held office in the early ‘thirties and proposed to hand over to a private company the whole of the Northern Territory with the vast mineral and pastoral wealth, the rich tin of Maranboy, the wolfram of Hatches Creek and the mica in the central area of the Territory. All of that wealth would have been handed over to private interests by that Government had it not been for the vibrant protests that were voiced by Australians of every party against such a proposal to sell out this part of Australia. As a result of those protests, that proposal of the Bruce-Page Government was thwarted.
A study of the financial provision proposed to be made in respect of mining in the Northern Territory will indicate whether the proposed vote for tho Territory as a whole is adequate. What are the facts? Whereas the sum of £11,266 was voted last year for the item, “ Mines branch - maintenance of batteries and ore-sampling “, the sum of only £8,400 is being provided for that purpose this year. The proposed vote of £8,400 for the item, “Purchase of tailings “,. represents a slight increase in- the amount that was provided for this purpose last year. Whereas the sum of £6.000 was: provided last year for’ the development of the mining industry, the sum of only £4,000 is being provided for that purpose this year. Those figures are most disturbing. I join with the honorable member for the Northern Territory in voicing my protest against the proposed reduction in the financial provision for the Territory this year. The Government should, be eager to aid prospectors in the Territory. Those hardy and intrepid pioneers take their lives in their hands when they go out to search for mineral wealth in order that Australia may be developed. However, they are receiving little recognition by this Government. Rum Jungle would not have been discovered but for Jack White. Many other men of the same calibre are. similarly, testing Australia for its latent mineral wealth. If the Government is genuinely sincere in its desire to develop the Territory, it should recognize to a greater degree the value of the work that prospectors in that region are doing. The honorable member for the Northern Territory referred to the deposits of tin at Maranboy. Some time ago, I had an opportunity to inspect the treatment plant at that centre: I deplore the fact that operators there are obliged to treat tin by out-of-date methods. When I was at Maranboy not less than 50 per cent, of the concentrates was being lost. Such a position, is scandalous, particularly when only a thin vein,, the central reef, was being: taken to the crushing plant because of difficulties experienced in; getting the ore through the crushers.. Losses are’ also being incurred, in the crushing process.
Mining plays an important part in the development of the Territory. The industry is unequalled as an agency for attracting population to the Territory. Whilst farming: and agricultural pursuits, including- the growing of rice, may help in that direction^ fundamentally the effective peopling of the Northern Territory will depend, upon the development of the mining, industry. I have spoken: about the need to provide adequate water supplies. However,, the financial provision that it is proposed to. make for this purpose this financial year is most unsatisfactory. Last year, the sum. of £80,000 was provided, in respect of town water supplies and the same amount is to be provided this year, [f the towns in the Territory are growing, how can it be said that the amount provided for that purpose last year is sufficient to meet their needs this year? We should plan for Australia on the grand scale. We should not plan simply for the present, or for even 50 years hence, but for Australia unlimited, that is, Australia centuries hence. The proposed vote of £80,000 for town water supplies in the Territory is obviously inadequate. The sum of £150,000 is to be expended this financial year, on the maintenance of water supplies, roads and stock routes. But such provision will be totally inadequate. As greater opportunities are provided, for new settlers, larger sums must be expended upon the provision of the water supplies. We have every reason to be displeased with the Government’s record of encouragement to primary production in the Northern Territory. How pitiably small and shockingly inadequate is the rote of £3,000 provided for this purpose. It surely reveals that the Government is not seised of the importance of this responsibility. Recently the honorable member for the Northern Territory asked the Minister for Territories a question about rice-growing in the Northern Territory. The Minister’s reply indicated that the Government was negotiating with an American company in regard to the development of an area at Humpty-Doo for the purpose of developing a rice-growing enterprise. I believe that at the very time that the Minister made that statement the Government had already agreed to make leases available to the interests concerned. I am not opposed to the development of the Northern Territory. 1 want to see it developed and I have no objection to a company coming to Australia to aid with our development, but I believe that the Commonwealth should attempt to do in relation to rice-growing in the Northern Territory what the New South Wales Government experts have been able to do in New South Wales. Experience in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area shows that rice can be grown, even under difficulties, if we put our minds to it.
It has been proved there that ricegrowing is a commercial proposition in Australia. A challenge exists at HumptyDoo for the Government to go ahead and do the same kind of job there. A ricegrowing scheme in the Northern Territory could be linked with our immigration programme. It would be much better to bring immigrants to Australia to go on the land than to bring them here and leave them to congregate in the big cities. There are vast numbers of Australians who desire to settle in the Territory and make a niche for themselves there. I have written several times to the Administration seeking information about land that may be made available for the purposes of settlement and development, but invariably the reply has been that there is very little land available for small farms. It is also said that it would cost a substantial sum to obtain a pastoral holding. The time has long since passed when governments could afford to play with this matter. It will be much too late to attempt to develop the Northern Territory after a crisis has actually occurred in international affairs, and after Australia’s security has been actually challenged. We have heard Ministers warn us frequently that Australia is facing an international challenge, and that we have to do something about it. Here is an opportunity for the Government to act. Let it take over areas of land, at Humpty-Doo, or the Maraki Plain, or elsewhere, and give Australians and others an opportunity to develop them.
The honorable member for Mackellar has said that we have not sufficient precise information about that area. That may be true to some degree, but the fact is that over the years we have been provided with several fine reports about northern Australia. We have the excellent Clapp report on railways generally, which gives us a pattern on which to work. We have also the Payne-Fletcher report on territory development, and the excellent Kelly report on pastoral development, which can guide this Parliament on the programme of development in the Northern Territory. If we are to develop the
Territory properly we must have transport to and from it. The best type of transport required for development of the Territory is rail transport. It is all very well for the Government to talk about an air-beef scheme. Such a scheme will not aid the development of the Northern Territory. If we straddle the country with rails, however, and adopt a land settlement policy that will make land adjacent to the railways available for settlers, and if we also break up into smaller holdings the vast areas that are held by leaseholders at present, we shall be doing something real towards developing the Territory.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
I Quorum formed.]
.- Prior to the dinner recess, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) threw out a challenge to the Government. I understood him to say that the Government should accept the challenge posed by the need for development in the Territory. I think he referred to the Northern Territory. The truth is that the Government, and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in particular, have long been aware of the challenge of th;.Territories and have accepted it, as is shown by the amount of the proposed vote for the Territories in the group of the Estimates now before the committee. I refer, for example, to Papua and New Guinea. The Government proposes to increase the appropriation for that Territory this year by over £2,000,000. Surely that alone is an effective reply to the challenge thrown out by the honorable member for Macquarie. All honorable members doubtless realize the complexity of the problems that confront the Government in the Territories. Those areas have a vast productive potential, but, before they can be developed, they must draw largely upon Australia’s resources and the ingenuity of our people. Australians already living in Papua and New Guinea are doing much to hasten the development of the Territory. The Government has met the challenge of that area fairly and squarely and is devoting more money and energy to its development than any other government has done. Honorable members may say that even this i3 not enough, but the value of the Government’s efforts is reflected not so much in the amount of money expended as in the way it is being expended. The Minister for Territories has shown great vigour and has done a tremendous amount of work for Papua and New Guinea. His efforts have shown evidence of inspiration and determination, and he has been well supported by officers of the Department of Territories, who have a genuine mission for the development of the regions with the administration of which they are concerned. I congratulate the Government upon the work that it is doing now, and I hope that it will increase the amount made available for Papua and New Guinea in future years.
The real wealth of Papua and New Guinea lies in the land. In the Northern Territory we have been somewhat dazzled by the discovery of uranium and other minerals and have allowed this wealth to overshadow the value of the cattle industry. But in Papua and New Guinea the gold resources are fading away. Returns from gold are becoming less and less. Therefore, we must acknowledge that the real development of the area must be based on agriculture. Admittedly, there is a great deal of oil research in progress in New Guinea. I believe, in fact, that about £12,000,000 has been expended there in the search. If oil i? found in that strategic area, the effect will be to change the whole economy, not only of Papua and New Guinea, but also of Australia. However, although so much money has been expended, profitable oil deposits have not yet been discovered. I shall confine my remarks, therefore, to agricultural industries which are of the first importance to the Territory. Cocoa production offers a good long-term prospect for agricultural development. The world consumption of cocoa, notwithstanding price increases, has risen by 17 per cent. New Guinea now has a great opportunity to foster cocoa production because in West Africa, which once was the main cocoa-producing area of the world, scientists have been unable to find a cure for the disease known as “ swollen shoot “. In fact, an expert adviser of the United Kingdom Government recently announced that the cocoa industry in West Africa was good for only ten more years. Cocoa production is taking place on a vast scale at Bougainville and the Gazelle Peninsula, as well as in other parts of New Guinea and PapuaProduction is carried on by both Europeans and natives, and the Department of Territories has been able to encourage planters by means of agricultural extension services and the provision of data gained from experimental work to determine the types of cocoa most suitable for raising in various parts of the territories. Natives have not only planted their own crops, but also have processed them and are now marketing them. The department has given them valuable assistance. It is paying special attention to the quality and the grading of cocoa. We must rely on Papua and New Guinea to satisfy Australia’s requirements for cocoa. The mainland offers a very valuable market to the producers, and the Territory could well supply al1 our needs in the future.
Another valuable agricultural crop produced in Papua and New Guinea is rice, which is used extensively as a part of the native diet to supplement root crops. Th* consumption of rice in New Guinea Ls between 10,000 and 14,000 tons annually. Production at present amounts to about 2,000 tons annually. Most of this is grown in the Sepik and Wewak areas, where little development has taken place yet, but which is familiar to many honorable members and other Australians who fought there during World War II. This industry is extremely important to the Territory and also to Australia, because we are a big rice-consuming country. The rice is not grown in flooded paddies, but is produced under natural rainfall conditions. I have seen many good rice crops raised there by natives. The immediate target of the rice industry should be, perhaps, to supply the needs of the Territory, but eventually it should be able to supply the whole Australian market, although we may have to wait a long time before it can develop sufficiently to do that. Another important agricultural product is coffee, which is grown at Wau and Goroka. Coffee, of course, . must be grown at a certain altitude if it is to bc suitable for the Australian market. The industry in the Territory is not big yet, but prices are high. There is a great deal of country suitable for coffee production there, and Australia should turn its eyes in that direction. The crop could be acquired for the Australian market.
The production of copra has reached a record level, which is a gratifying circumstance. Many people have criticized Australian planters in New Guinea on the ground that they are relying on the old German plantations and are not planting new trees in order to increase their output. However, the crop this year amounts to 100,000 tons, which, as I have said, constitutes a record. It is about 10,000 tons more than was produced in any season before the war. An example of a flourishing local industry is the copra crushing project at Rabaul, which processes about 15,000 tons a year, from which 10,000 tons of oil is produced and shipped to the United Kingdom under the terms of the agreement between Australia and that country. This contract is due to expire in 1957. It has been subjected to much criticism, but it is a long-term arrangement which has given great benefits to the producers. Prices under the contract may be adjusted according to market fluctuations, and the market has fallen recently, but there appears to be a good long-term prospect for the copra industry. Australia is vitally interested in this product of New Guinea. As honorable members know, edible oils are extracted from copra and can be used for the manufacture of margarine, the consumption of which in Australia has reached a high level. Rubber is another primary product of New Guinea which is of vital importance to Australia. Papua and New Guinea at present can produce only about 10 per cent, of Australia’s rubber requirements, but we should look to that area for our supplies of rubber, which is of great strategic value. We should encourage the industry so that we may be able to obtain larger supplies from it should Australia be cut off from other countries.
Honorable members have heard a great deal about Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited. One of the great romances of New Guinea has been the combined effort of this company and the Australian Government, on an equal basis, to produce high-grade plywood. The company established a plywood factory in record time and is now shipping a high quality product to the United States of America and thereby earning dollars. Australia should take great pride in the achievement of this company, which has been able to switch from gold production to the timber industry without a hitch. Timber will be harvested in New Guinea in perpetuity because the planting and cutting programmes will be controlled so that new supplies will become available each year. Thus, the timber industry of New Guinea will be somewhat like the gold industry in reverse. Gold eventually peters out, but the forests will go on for ever. The timber industry is of great importance to Australia.
– Is the factory producing only plywood ?
– The company produces other kinds of timber as well. There is another hig timber project at Wau which is producing very well. I 3hall not labour the importance of agriculture in our territories. I merely point out that the primary products of those areas are of great importance to Australia for defence purposes as well as for other reasons. The territories can be a ready source of supply, and Australia is their natural market. Therefore, we should encourage agriculture and forestry in those areas to the best of our ability. Above all, in order to encourage “the right type of settler, the land surplus to native needs should be thrown open for settlement.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. J. R. FRASER (Australian Capital Territory) [8.161. - I spoke this afternoon of the need for employment for the residents at the aboriginal station at Jervis Bay, and I should like to elaborate ii little on that matter. The aboriginal station is situated at Wreck Bay, 3 or 4 miles from Jervis Bay, on the shores of Summercloud Bay, and a place known as Mary Beach. Approximately 180 persons of aboriginal blood live at the station. Very few of them are full- bloods, and the skins of some are almost as white as our own. I should say that about 40 of the 180 residents of the stationare men aged between sixteen and 60, still in the active years of life and capable of undertaking work. Approximately 60 children attend the school conducted at the aboriginal station by the Department of the Interior, and are afforded every facility for education. Indeed, they are given a very fine grounding in all forms of education, particularly in handicrafts, and are taught by a teacher supplied by the New South Wales Education Department. In recent years the residents at the station have been provided with modern and comfortable cottages that are a credit to the Government that initiated the construction of those homes, and to this Administration, which has continued the work.
The aboriginal station is at present managed by Mr. Robert Brown, who is the first aboriginal to have been promoted to managership of an aboriginal station. Mr. Brown is one of the finest Christian men I have ever met. For a number of years he was resident on the station and acted as a father-counsellor for the 1 aborigines there. He has consistently worked for the betterment of their conditions. Having assumed the position of manager, he is continuing to perform, that work very well. Some twelve months ‘”’ ago, when Mr. Brown was resident at the station, he suggested to me that some form of industry should be established to provide the men of the station with ‘ continuous employment, and so enable’ - them to maintain a proper standard of living and contribute adequately to their ‘ upkeep at the station. They pay rent, .’ assessed on a fair basis, for the cottages ‘ that they occupy, but, in the words used . by Mr. Brown some twelve months ago, where are they supposed to find the ‘ money to pay their rent, as no provision has been made for employment for them?
I point out to the committee that the, only employment available locally is pro- ,fessional fishing, and to obtain from the New South Wales Government a licence to fish professionally, the aborigines must undertake professional fishing as their full-time and only occupation. The result is that they are engaged only on seasonal work, and in the winter months it is difficult for them to find work. Indeed, if they did take other employment during the winter they would breach the terms on which they obtained their fishing licences. The only employment available to those who do not take up professional fishing is to be found in the town of Nowra, some 25 miles away. Employment there would involve additional expense for board in the town, or the cost and inconvenience of travelling to and from the station to work daily. Some of the station women obtain work in Jervis Bay, doing household duties for the residents, but I very much doubt whether it is under award conditions and at award rates of pay.
Some twelve months ago, Mr. Brown suggested that, on or near the aboriginal station, and preferably on it, a saw-mill should be established, to be operated entirely by the capable and able-bodied men resident at the station. I might mention that Mr. Brown has had 31 years’ experience, in the timber-milling industry, and his considerable knowledge of that industry is widely recognized. In a letter to me twelve months ago, he said that excellent stands of blackbutt, sufficient to keep a mill working for about fifteen years, were available in the district. He stated, also, that approximately 100,000 super, feet of good millable timber were obtainable in the district from clearing the approaches to the naval air strip nearby. Mr. Brown suggested that a sawmill would provide employment for twelve or fourteen men. He is well capable of managing it. The proposal has been submitted to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) and to the department, and I understand that it has been investigated by officers of the forestry section of the department. I trust that their inquiries will lead to the establishment of a timber mill near the Wreck Bay aboriginal station, so that the men resident on the ‘station will have continuous employment. There is no doubt that they are capable of doing the work with credit to themselves.
A mill of the type suggested by Mr. Brown would not prove expensive to establish. He has suggested that it should be of the type known in the timber-milling “jargon as a spot mill. It need not be elaborate. I am sure that the Government could undertake to provide it in a simple form. I believe that the management and operation of the mill could safely be left in the hands of the residents of the aboriginal station, under the supervision of the present manager. Contracts could be let to local firms for the hauling of the logs required, and the mill could be logged up when conditions were suitable, so that continuous employment would be available for the men on the station who would operate it. I trust that the mill will be established, possibly in conjunction with a reafforestation scheme in the Jervis Bay area. The timber produced by the mill would find a ready market, not only in Nowra, but also in other towns along the coast in the electorate of Macarthur, and perhaps farther south in the EdenMonaro constituency.
I shall give an illustration of the effect of the lack of employment for the men of the aboriginal station. Every year combined school sports are held at Nowra. This year’s sports meeting is to take place next week. The children who attend the Wreck Bay school are proficient in athletics and have been keenly anticipating taking part in sporting events with white children from other schools in the district. However, because the fathers of the children from the aboriginal station have no employment in the winter months, and their income is therefore limited, the Wreck Bay children are unable to participate in the school sports because the Wreck Bay School Parents and Citizens Association is unable to afford £11 hire for a bus to transport the children to Nowra and return.
The time is rapidly approaching when the barrier that stands between the children of the aboriginal station and the white children of Jervis Bay should be removed. The Wreck Bay school is an excellent one. It is a fine building, which has been well equipped by the Department of the Interior, and it has an excellent teacher in Mr. Sheehan, whose services have been made available by the New South Wales Education Department. Though the children are given a fine education at the school, they are at present denied the opportunity to participate fully in the ordinary life of the Australian community, and their prospects of finding, suitable employment when they reach employable age are poor. The Wreck
Bay school must eventually be combined with the Jervis Bay school. Doubtless, many honorable members will recall that on the occasion of the visit to Canberra of Queen Elizabeth the Second all the children from the Wreck Bay school came to Canberra to take part in the school children’s display at the Manuka oval. Two small children from Wreck Bay had the great honour, which they carried off remarkably well, to present a bouquet to Her Majesty. What the future of those two children might be I do not know, but so that their future, and the future of the other children, may be as fruitful as possible, something should be done to provide employment for their fathers.
– During the consideration of the Estimates for the Australian Capital Territory, the National Capital itself has come in for a certain amount of criticism, and the Minister for the Interior, being the administrator for the time being of Canberra, naturally has had to accept that criticism, which is apparently directed at his own administration. But I am not worried about the criticism. It is a good thing, because, for a long time, no one worried very much about what was happening in Canberra. The fact that so many people are now coming forward with different ideas and different criticisms with respect to what is being done in Canberra shows that at last the citizens of Canberra, visitors and members of Parliament who pass in the night - I almost said ships that pass in the night - are taking a real civic pride in the National Capital. Originally, there was a lot of discussion and criticism about the choice of a site for the National Capital, and many people still think it a pity, perhaps, that Canberra was not built on the banks of a main stream instead of on what might bi termed a site under the shade of the coolabah trees on the edge of a billabong. Nevertheless, the site of the National Capital was decided long ago, and the development of Canberra has been such that every citizen of the city takes a natural pride in it. Members of Parliament are beginning to visualize more and more what the city will eventually look like when it has doubled in size, and, more important still, the citizens of Canberra themselves are taking an increasing interest and civic pride in the city. Sporting clubs are accepting on their own responsibility the expense of maintaining their own areas and greens, the upkeep of which previously was subsidized by the taxpayers. In all the various phases of life in Canberra, criticism of what is happening is really a very good thing, for the simple reason that people are now beginning to be really interested in the city.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) does not like eight-story flats. I suppose that some one else is strongly in favour of them. Some time ago there was appointed a National Capital Planning and Development Committee, composed, in the main, of leading architects and town-planners, the majority of whom are not resident in Canberra. That committee has been given the task of advising the Department of the Interior and other departments about the completion of the original Burley Griffin plan, which has been modified in certain minor details to fit in with modern ideas. The members of the National Capital Planning and Development Committee are the persons whose advice, in the main, is sought and taken in relation to such things as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has mentioned. I suppose that one could appoint another committee of architects and town-planners who would not approve of eight-story flat3. Some persons might want those flats to be built on the north side of the city. The honorable member for the Aus. tralian Capital Territory wants them to be on the south side. It seems that we shall never get uniformity of opinion with regard to the development of this city. However, all honorable members must have noticed that as year follows year the number of tourists who are coming to see the National Capital is rapidly in ere? sing.
There is no doubt that, particularly in the spring and autumn, Canberra is a very beautiful city, and considering its weather throughout the year it can be said that Canberra, enjoys a very good climate. But in view of the remarks that have been made about Canberra during this debate, I desire to summarize the features of the tremendous development that has taken place here during the postwar period, particularly since the end of 1949, when this Government assumed office. I, like the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), do not feel particularly thrilled when I look out from the windows of the Hotel Kurrajong and, in the words of the old song “see the moon shining over the c-cow shed “ - our new telephone exchange - but I know that the Postal Department has had great difficulty throughout Australia in providing permanent buildings in a short space of time for telephone exchanges. I suggest that these temporary measures are merely a passing phase of the development pf Canberra.
At present we are trying to develop this country so fast that we have now reached ihe stage when we have not sufficient labour or materials to supply all our requirements. Therefore, we have had to import a certain number of prefabricated buildings, but I hope that we have now seen the last of them and that we shall be able to erect permanent buildings from now on with our own Australian labour fmd materials. I assure the honorable member for Henty that I do not want to have to erect temporary buildings on the banks of the Molonglo, such as the building that has now been placed there for the National Library, but it is surely plain that we cannot do everything at once, and a decision was made by the Government that the Australian National University should have priority over the National Library in regard to buildings. In a few moments I shall give honorable members the figures relating to the amount expended on buildings for the Australian National University. This Government has to consider additions to the Australian National War Memorial, so that relics and records of World War II. may be adequately housed, and I hope that as soon as the medical school for the Australian National University has been completed our next big job will be those additions to the Australian National War Memorial. Then we hope to proceed with the additions to the National Library.
We must also remember that the Canberra pentagon absorbs a large amount of the money available for building in Canberra. That structure has been in course of erection since 1929, and when this Government came to office it changed the cost-plus system of construction to a system of firm tender, and consequently speeded up the work to an astonishing degree. In fact that building is proceeding so rapidly now, that I do not know whether we shall be able to build the houses, shops, schools and other buildings and supply the services necessary for the people who will be transferred here to work in the building upon its completion.
– Well, then, where will the people be housed?
– I was indicating our difficulty in that regard, but apparently the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) was not listening to me. He interrupts questions, and interjects when other honorable members are speaking, without knowing the substance of what is being said. If the honorable member would use his ears instead of his tongue for a little while it might be better for all of us. One of our main difficulties in regard to the Canberra building programme was the method of administration that we inherited from the previous Labour Government. The policy laid down by the previous Government was that the whole of the works programme should be halted each year until the budget passed through the Parliament, so that we often had to wait three or four months after the end of the financial year had started before our work? programme got back into full swing. That difficulty applied particularly in Papua and New Guinea, where the local budget is not passed until the wet season has almost started ; then, of course, there is a further wait before construction work can get well under way.
My department has expended a considerable amount of time in conference? with the Treasury and other departments, in order to try to get the works programme of Canberra and the other Commonwealth territories on a basis of smooth working throughout the whole of the year. The peaks and depressions in the works programme, like the temperature chart of a patient in a hospital, have made it difficult to maintain anything like the necessary work force needed in Canberra, and, indeed, we have lost a lot of building workers in the last eighteen months. I hope that as a result of the discussions that have taken place on high level policy with regard to doubling the population of Canberra in the next fifteen years, we shall be able to get the necessary labour force together and work as a team rather than in a lot of small separate compartments. I desire to say now, that I have received the fullest co-operation from the representatives of the Canberra contractors and from the president of the Canberra Trades and Labour Council in that respect.
– On what side of the river is the Minister going to put the tents?
– I think we should drop the honorable member for Watson in the river when it is in full flood. During the last five years there has been a more intensive building development in Canberra than during the whole of its previous history. The total amount expended on all buildings in Canberra to the 80th June, 1954, was £32,800,000, and approximately half of that was spent in the last five years. When this Government assumed office at the beginning of 1950, there was a strict system of building controls in force in Canberra, which had the effect of leaving practically all the developmental work to the Government. Because of that policy of the previous Labour Government, we discovered that shopping facilities were grossly inadequate and that all services were seriously lagging. Steps were immediately taken by this Government which resulted in the rapid development of Canberra, and I believe that it is worth while mentioning those steps to honorable members.
Early in 1950 the first variation of the statutory plan of Canberra was made, to delete the proposed railway which was to sever the city almost in half, and also to delete the proposed East lake. Those deletions enabled large areas of land to be released for houses, shop sites and minor industrial purposes. Those industrial purposes are very minor at the moment, but I hope that they will increase in importance later when we get the much to be desired cheap electricity from the Snowy Mountains scheme. Thirty-three minor industrial sites in Braddon were offered for lease in March, 1950. In May of that year the building operations control ordinances were re-> pealed, and in June, 1950, the policy of selling government houses to tenants waa instituted. I believe that since then 440 sales have been effected. In July, 1951, about a month and a half after I com,menced to administer the Department of the Interior, the first auction for city, leases was held. Since 1951, we have been regularly offering leases for house and shop building, and for industrial purposes. To the 3lst December, 1949,- there had been 731 residential, 96 business, three legation, twelve church, four denominational school, and 27 industrial leases, or a total of S73 leases, granted. From the 1st January, 1950, to the 31st August, 1954, 1,375 additional leases’ have been issued. In other words,, whereas only 873 leases had been issued before this Government took office, 1,375 have been issued since. Of that latter number 1,218 were residential leases, 97 business leases, and 33 industrial leases. In round figures that means thai the number of leases granted for private development in Canberra since January, 1950, has been about 60 per cent, more than that granted during the whole of the previous history of Canberra.
Therefore, honorable members will realize that, although perhaps they may not have personally seen the development or have been too close to it to notice it, Canberra’s development in the last four years has not only been the fastest in ita history but has also been far greater in proportion than the development of Melbourne or Sydney. It should also be realized that Canberra is the only’ city in Australia where all necessary domestic services are connected to houses as soon as they have been built. In Melbourne, a number of houses have been built, or are being built, in areas where! there are no roads, footpaths, water services, sewerage services, or other necessary services. In Canberra all the necessary services are available, except footpaths in some instances, as soon as houses have been built. Associated with those leases, building covenants have totalled about £2,600,000. Actually thevalue of the building that has taken place, or that is taking place, will amount; to a good deal more than £4,000,000. -<
Canberra’s population at the beginning of World War II. was about 11,000, but now it is about 30,000; and after the completion of the transfer of departments to the new administrative building there will he a further increase of at least 10,000 people. Since this Government came to office the number of dwelling units built in Canberra has increased from about 3,000 to 5,150, and because of the realistic policy of the Government in granting private leases, the number of privately constructed dwellings has increased from 676 to 1,100.
This Government discovered that in new suburbs nobody had thought of providing very essential corner shops, and, that, if a housewife wanted to buy a pint of milk or a tube of toothpaste she had to walk about 2 miles to Civic Centre, Kingston, or Manuka. We tried to encourage the building of corner shops in each of the new residential centres, and our only trouble at present is that we have not a sufficient number of those shops. We have thrown open large new shopping areas, such as the one at Civic Centre, where one building alone at present being erected will cost about £100,000. If honorable members care to visit the Canberra shopping centres they will see tremendous private building activity, quite apart from government activity. Indeed, we have been greatly encouraging private interests to help with the development of the city. Let us pause for a moment to consider the new suburb of Deakin, which is situated between the Prime Minister’s Lodge and Red Hill. Many fine privately built homes have been erected in that area. It is grand to know that people, who have lived in the surrounding districts, are now spending their retirement in Canberra. The two main shopping centres at Civic Centre and Kingston have had to be increased to cope with Canberra’s trebled population. Thirty-one major retail shop leases have been granted at Civic Centre, and a further ten retail shop leases at Kingston. Four leases have been granted at Kingston for banking and similar purposes.
The present Government has been responsible for the construction in the last five years, and has under construction, more permanent homes than were constructed in the previous twenty years of Canberra’s history. The number of private dwelling erected in the last five years, and being erected shows the same trend.
The Australian National University, on which a little more than” £3,500,000 has been spent on capital works, has been almost completely developed and constructed from funds made available by this Government. Of the total expenditure, I think that only £100,000 was spent prior to the beginning of 1950. With the completion of the new medical school, another £1,000,000 will be expended on the university. One matter which, 1 confess, worries me very much at the present time is the provision of secondary education for the increased population of Canberra. That problem is under consideration at the moment, and many people are giving serious thought to it. because we shall not obtain the service? of a large number of people, who are required to provide efficient administration, if by coming to Canberra, they will be faced with the tremendous responsibility of sending their children to boarding schools in Sydney or Melbourne te receive their secondary education. I hope that we shall be able to increase the facilities for secondary education in Canberra very rapidly, and elevate the Can berra University College to a university degree standard. Instead of being allied with the Melbourne University, the Canberra college would stand on its own feet, and be the university for the surrounding districts of New South Wales. That matter is also under discussion with the New South Wales authorities at present.
New schools for infants have been constructed at Turner and Narrabundah, and an infants’ school at Griffith will be completed shortly. Additional classroom facilities have been provided at the Telopea Park and Ainslie public schools. Contracts have been arranged for the construction of primary schools at Turner and Griffith, and an infants’ school at Yarralumla. Approval has also been given for extensions to the Canberra High School to assist us to meet the secondary education problem that I have mentioned. Of the eleven pre-school centres which are now operating, seven have been constructed since the 1st January, 1950.
In all this development, we have had to amplify the water supply and other services. I know that there is a difference of opinion about what should be done to provide a water supply to meet the further expansion, but I can assure the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory that the work will be done on a very carefully planned scale from now onwards. I, therefore, referred the matter of the water supply of Canberra to the Public “Works Committee, in order that it could take evidence and get the best advice on that particular problem. The construction of a bridge over the Molonglo River has been talked about for a very long time. Again, there are some people who want one kind of bridge and other people who want another kind of bridge. Therefore, I referred that matter also to the Public Works Committee, which, I think, is the suitable body to take evidence about the future traffic requirements, in order that the new bridge, when it is constructed, will bo able suitably to serve the traffic for many years to come, and will not be out of date in, possibly, ten or fifteen years’ time.
Over 50 miles of new roads have been built since January, 1950, and this is in addition to many miles of logging roads in the forest areas. Approximately 35 miles of concrete footpaths have been laid down, and all new subdivisions have been serviced with sewerage and storm water drainage. Since this Government has been in office, electricity ha3 been supplied to Weetangerra, Tharwa, Majura, Gungahlin, Hall, Cotter, Tuggeranong and Uriarra.
– Hall was served long before the Minister’s day.
– The electricity supply has been completed. I do not say that all those works have been done, but all those supplies have been provided mainly during the term of office of ,this Government. I am aware that the honorable member feels that we should provide a water supply for Hall, but it is just impossible to put a water supply into all the small surrounding villages while those other very big developmental works are in progress. Again, it is not a matter of not wanting to do the work. It is a question, of priorities. In that respect, I am sorry that we have not been able to carry out the promise made by the previous administration about the Hall water supply, but with the development which is proceeding and with the supplies of materials and labour available, I do not see any possibility at the moment of doing that work.
The Canberra aerodrome has been developed to a stage at which it can be used by any aircraft, including the new Viscounts, which, I expect, will shortly be coming to this city. There has been some criticism of the new swimming pool. Some of that criticism has been fully justified. I myself have uttered some of it. I hoped that the pool would be in full operation by this summer, but, apparently, the dressing sheds are not likely to be available until very late in the summer, or probably in the following summer. I hope that the pool itself will be in operation before the end of the year. Perhaps I am being a little optimistic, but I can assure the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory that I am driving it along as hard as I can. The swimming pool had not been started by the previous Government. I suppose it was thought of. There is not much which has not been thought of. But the fact remains that nobody had taken any action before we finally got the work under way. Now at least, it is something more than a hole in the ground. I hope that, the pool mil be operating at the earliest possible moment.
I have mentioned the administrative building, and there is no necessity for me to make further reference to it.
– Except- that the Labour Government started .it.
– I understand that it was started in 1929.
– We started the present building.
– I know that the Labour Government could not .do anything else at the time, but the costplus system has been the most wasteful and slow method of building that I have ever experienced. I am glad to say that we have been able to wipe out the cost-plus system, and get back, very largely, on to firm tender prices. 1 Another matter which I wish to mention is the brickworks. I realize that at the present moment the brickworks are in what may be called the doldrums, but we have already got the foundations in for the new brick kiln, and I hope that within about seven months, the output from the brickworks will be increased to 10,000,000 bricks a year-
– Are they all firstclass bricks? “Mr. KENT HUGHES.- Yes, they all are the old semi-plastic bricks, as I think they are called. As a matter of fact, it is not the common brick, but is so close to a face brick that it is really almost too good to be used for interior work. The Canberra bricks have always been the hardest common bricks made anywhere in Australia. The reason we are having trouble at the moment should be mentioned briefly at this point. I do not want to Start criticism of any particular individual, but some one took several 44-gallon drums of material to England, and tested it with what is known as the dry pressers, and decided that dry pressers would be suitable for the Canberra brickworks. We have had all the experts we can get from Melbourne and Sydney to help us in this matter, but about 8,000 in every 78,000 bricks still have to be discarded as the result of the use of the dry pressers method. A new grinding machine for the semiplastic bricks is already on order, and we hope to have one in operation in two months’ time and to have three working within a short space of time.
Many of the troubles in Canberra at the present time are what may be termed growing pains. It is not easy to administer a capital city. Washington has never been able to decide what is the best method of administration, for a city where the government finds most of the money, and the ordinary local government administration cannot be installed. This problem has troubled many more brains than we have here in Canberra, and no satisfactory solution seems to have been found up to the moment. Most of Can berra has been run on the small-town basis. It does not matter whether it was the brickworks, the electricity undertaking or anything else. The city grew up so rapidly, and alterations were not made at the same speed. Thanks to the courtesy of the Victorian Government, I have recently had one of the best men in the State Electricity Commission, on the business side, to go through the small electricity concern here in order to report, and advise on the best method of managing it in future. As I have said, we have also had experts here to deal with the brickworks.
Our saw-mills are now milling sufficient timber even to meet the demands of the proposed expansion, and, in that way, we are trying, step by step, to improve the administration, increase supplies of materials, and build up the labour force so that this steady, planned development of Canberra, due to a large degree to the finishing of the administrative building, can be carried through to successful completion.
We have had various other people give us advice on many other matters. We have, at the moment, a proposal which, I hope, will be carried out shortly, to put the rent position .in order. We have always had this peculiar position here that the older and larger houses have been occupied, in the main, by those on the higher salaries and leased at a very much lower rent than the more modern and smaller houses which are now being built. That is another matter which needs correction. I have arranged with the Department of the Interior to get advice from towns of a similar size to Canberra on valuations and rates, because those matters have been causing me considerable concern. In all those ways, we are trying, step by step, to improve the administration of Canberra. We have even instituted two garbage clearances weekly in the summer time, instead of one, which, I think, has been one of the causes of the large plague of flies which we seem to get here in the summer time.
Mr. Bowse interjecting,
– T hope that we shall have no flies in Canberra, but the surrounding district may cause us a lot of trouble. In all the ways I have mentioned, we are going steadily on, trying to improve each phase of administration in Canberra. I know that there will bc criticism. No matter what type of building is erected, somebody will want a different type, but so long as the criticism is healthy, helpful and constructive, no. one should growl about it. I hope that when I lay down the reins of office, T shall, at least, have kept Canberra going steadily along the highroad ofevelopment on which it has been travelling for some time past. If I have been able to increase the speed of development just a little, and bring about improvements in various ways, I shall feel that, perhaps, I have not wasted my time as Minister for the Interior.
.- T give the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) credit for having established two garbage clearances a week in Canberra and for keeping down the flies in this city. I admit that he has speeded up the development of the National Capital a little; but I join issue with him when he claims that during the last five years this Government has provided more houses in Canberra than were provided by all governments combined that held office during the preceding twenty years. The truth is that this Government has not actually let a contract for housing in Canberra. It is liv ing on the work that was really initiated by the Chifley Government. This Government did not let the contract to A. V. Jennings and Company Limited for the construction of houses at Yarralumla at a cost of £3,000,000. The Chifley Government let that contract; and it also let the contract for the construction of the administrative block.
– We have carried on that work.
– This Government has carried on that work so slowly that although the contract was let in 5 94? on the condition that the building was to be completed in 1953, this is now 1954 and the first section has not even been finished. The Minister also said that the Government had improved the water supply in Canberra. The work of raising the Cotter Dam an additional 60 feet was initiated by the Chifley Government. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr.
Evatt), the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin), the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon), the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson), the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordon), and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and other honorable members as well as myself were members of the Labour Cabinet that planned works for which this Government now claims credit. All that this Government l.ad to do, in many instances, was to take down barricades after the work had been done. In a recent speech that I made. I gave credit to this Government for being a good imitator; but it is not a creator. What has it done in the Australian Capital Territory during the last five years? The credit for the Australian National University belongs not to this Government but to the Chifley Government. That institution stands as a monument to Chifley and Dedman and to those who considered that Australia should have a national university in order to provide opportunities for post-graduate students so that they would not be lost to this country. Who brought back to Australia Sir Howard Florey, Professor Marcus Oliphant, and Professor John Eccles? Judging from what the Minister has said one might be lod to believe that, in addition to providing two garbage clearances a week in Canberra, this Government has been responsible for every work that has been undertaken in the Australian Capital Territory during the last five years.
I propose now to say something about the Northern Territory.
– Is the honorable member an authority on the Northern Territory ?
– I go often to the Territory. I have been in hotels along the road where one must provide his own towel and soap. I have travelled in the company of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), although I have not roughed it as he has done. I have visited the Kimberleys and Arnhem Land with the object of seeing at first hand that region of Australia which is so vulnerable and important to the nation as a whole. The Leader of the Opposition stated Labour’s policy with respect to the Territory during the recent general election campaign.’ He then declared that if Labour were returned to office it would establish a portfolio solely for the administration of the Northern Territory. Labour wants to see the existing governmental and local government authorities in the Territory integrated. Our party also desires that the member for the Northern Territory should have full voting rights in the Parliament ; and we want the member for the Australian Capital Territory also to enjoy full voting rights in this chamber. Labour stands for the vigorous development of the Northern Territory. 1 1 proposes that something should be done in respect of taxation for those people who are of our blood and who are living in that outpost of our civilization. As far as possible, the people in the northern parts of Australia, all residents living north of the 26th Parallel, should, be relieved of taxation in order to encourage them to live in those areas. I am not concerned about absentee companies. I do not like absentee landlords, whether they live in London, Melbourne, Adelaide or Sydney. But the people who are battling in the Territory are entitled to all the assistance that any government, regardless of party, can give to them. I do not say this in criticism of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). He visits the Territory regularly, and he has given a good deal of attention to its problems. .
Of course, I am not the only one who has visited the Northern Territory. Honorable members on the other side of the chamber who have been there include the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler), whilst honorable members on this side who have visited the Territory include the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan), the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clarke), the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue). Those honorable members know what ought to be done in the Territory in order to make that area habitable for our people, if the great development that is taking place to-day is to be of permanent value to the nation as a whole.
At present, private enterprise is expending £250,000 in Darwin. The Bank of New South Wales, after twelve years, has replaced the roof on its building at Darwin and has pulled out a tree that ha3 been growing in its banking chamber since the Japanese air raids in 1942. Building activity is going on all round Darwin, and the Government’s expenditure there should match that which is now being incurred by private enterprise. Last year, the sum of £4,053,122 was expended from revenue on the Northern Territory, compared with an expenditure of £3,630,S42 in 1952-53, £3,322,364 in 195.1-52 and £3,175,714 in 1950-51. This year, it is proposed to expend something more than £500,000 extra on the Territory than was expended last year. But what is that amount, having regard to the vast area of the Territory, which is one-sixth of the area of Australia and onethird of the area of the northern half of this continent ? If we are to have development, we must expend, not £5,000,000, but £40,000,000, and even £50,000,000 on the Territory. The Government should build railways in the Territory while there is yet time. The present road that runs through the Territory would not now exist but for World War II., and travellers would still be following the old telegraph track that extends for 600 miles from the bottom to near the top of the Territory.
Labour expended £160,000 on civil aviation in the Territory in 1949-50, and, this year, the Government proposes to expend £500,000 for that purpose. Whereas Labour expended £16,000 on the provision of post offices in the Territory in 1949-50, this Government, during the first three years of its term of office, has expended only a little more than that sura for that purpose. Last year it expended only £1,600 moTe than was expended in 1949-50 on the operation and maintenance of services but that sum, when the increased cost of living is taken into account, would represent less than the amount that Labour made available for that purpose in 1949-50. Whereas £123,239 was expended under this heading by Labour in 1949-50, last year only £178,898 was expended for this purpose by the present Government. In 1949-50, Labour expended £23,300 on engineering and capital works in the Northern Territory for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, but last year this Government expended only £29,000 to provide post offices to serve the Territory which, as I have said, is one-sixth of the area of Australia. No part of the new world was developed without railways, and we shall not develop the Northern Territory unless we provide railways there. The honorable member for the Northern Territory can tell the committee with certitude that, within the next two years, Australia will be the greatest producer of uranium in the world. What armed forces have we got in the Northern Territory that would enable us to defend that part of Australia? At present, goods must be hauled by road for a distance of 600 miles. An up-to-date railway must be provided right through to Darwin as soon as possible.
The provision of adequate water supplies in the Territory is a serious problem. Some weeks ago, I visited Tennant Greek and found that owing to the shortage of water residents were obliged to pay £7 10s. for 1,000 gallons. That position existed in a town which has a population of 1,000 people, and which is the centre of a region containing substantial deposits of copper, gold and mica. Surely, the Government should be able to provide an adequate water supply in such a centre. Why should it not be prepared to expend £1,000,000 for that purpose? Why does it not give greater powers to the Administrator in order to enable him to co-ordinate the activities of various government departments in the Territory? I believe that there has never been a better Administrator of the Northern Territory than the Honorable Frank Wise, who is an agricultural specialist, a university graduate and who, at one time, was Premier of Western Australia and has proved his ability as an administrator. Honorable members had the opportunity this evening to view a film which showed the ceremony at which a home was opened at Alice Springs for aged people. That is the only home that is provided for that purpose in an area of 500,000 square miles.
– There was none there at all when Labour was in office.
– That is true; but when Labour was in office Australia was recovering from World War II. and, at the earliest opportunity, we tackled the problem of the development of this country. The present Minister has let lease? on plans that were evolved by the Labour Government. This Government has had five years in which to do something for the Territory. All I suggest is that the Minister should see whether he can get other people to help him in the provision of homes for aged gougers and other sections of the community who have spent their lives in the Territory. Step3 should be taken to provide adequate medical services for the young people in the Territory. I have seen young men working on the wharfs at Darwin who were1 afflicted with rodent and tropical ulcers. Those men are obliged to come to centra? in the south for medical treatment. When they make a journey for that purpose they are obliged to pay their own fares to and from Darwin. In addition, they are not allowed a deduction for income tax purposes in respect of amounts that they expend on fares, accommodation in Adelaide and so on in order to obtain proper medical treatment. Why should the Government take it out of young people who are rearing families and doing something to develop the Territory, when persons who live in semi-luxury, or, at least, under pretty good conditions in centres in the south, are not subject to similar treatment? Recently, my attention was directed to the case of a woman, a resident of Darwin, who was ordered to go south for medical treatment because she was having trouble in respect of an impending birth. Her husband was obliged to mortgage his home in order to obtain sufficient to pay her fares back and forth on that journey. The woman lost her baby unfortunately, but, in addition, she and her husband are loaded with a big debt. They are now a long way behind scratch. Cases of that kind should not be permitted to occur in the Territory. Yet, the Government proposes to deprive residents of the Territory of medical and hospital benefits. Pharmaceutical benefits, which should be available to them free of charge as a right, have been taken from them.
This Government has increased the registration fee for motor cars and trucks in the Territory to £15 in respect of each vehicle. Does it not realize that one owns a car or a truck ? There are only 18,000 persons of our blood ia the whole of the Territory, but, instead of encouraging those people to live there, the Government continues to place exactions upon them. It has even abolished exemptions from the payment of income tax which, previously, primary producers enjoyed in the Territory. This concession should be restored immediately, because the persons who work on the farms and on cattle properties should be encouraged to retrain in the Territory. On Victoria Downs, which is the property of the English Bovril company, one will find eight scrub bulls to every cow. That state of affairs has developed because the land is not being properly worked; and some absentee landlords could not care less. In order to serve the interests of the Territory, the Government should dam »very river in that area, including the katherine, the Daly, the Piora, the adelaide, and the Alligator rivers. Then t could settle an Australian exserviceman on every square mile of the frontages on such rivers. Labour, when it was in office, resumed 6,000 square miles of the total area of 12,000 square miles of the Victoria .Downs property and subdivided such land into three properties on each of which an Australian ex- serviceman was settled. I know that the J’”’ lister is eager to do more in breaking up large properties in the Territory, and I commend him in that respect. Such a policy is essential for its proper development. The Government should also treat old aborigines and half-castes in a decent manner. Those people have been treated very badly in the past and are still denied age and invalid pensions.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- As I listened to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) my mind went back to the recent general election campaign, in the course of which the party to which he belongs made a bid to gain control of the treasury-bench, The honorable member has just said that the Government should expend £40,000,000, of even £60,000,060, on the development of the Northern Territory. When I heard him make that statement, I wondered where, if Labour had gained control of the treasury-bench, it would have found that money. During the recent general election campaign, it was clearly shown that it would not have been possible for Labour to find anything like sufficient money to give effect to the promises that, honorable members opposite then made to the electors. If Labour were now in office, where would it get the money that the honorable member says should be expended on the development of the Northern Territory? Talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy land. I am concerned with the results on the pockets of the taxpayers. -If the suggest tions of the honorable member for Melbourne were followed, there is no doubt that the country would be bankrupt, and that development in the Northern Territory would be held up for 20 or 50 years. Conditions in the Northern Territory have improved greatly in recent times. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) knows a young man, with whom I am also acquainted, who dame from Alice Springs to live in an important town in the Wimmera district. He married while he was in that town, and has gone back to live in Alice Springs because he is tremendously satisfied there. The honorable member foiMelbourne said the Government had not built homes for aged people in Alice Springs. There is a very good home there, which- the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) opened. When the honorable member made that statement I pointed out by interjection that there was no home for old people there during the Labour Government’s regime, and the honorable member for Melbourne admitted that that was so. The Government is making a forward move by building such homes.
– It is not building them, it is only assisting the organizations that, build them.
-Well, it is making a forward move by assisting in the building of these homes.
– The Presbyterian Church built the home that the honorable member has mentioned.
– Well, the Presbyterian Church built it. Let me say then, that that church has had enough faith in the Northern Territory to build that home for aged people and more of this Spirit is needed. I do not pretend to be intimately acquainted with the Northern Territory, although I have visited Darwin and other places in the Territory. It seems to me, however, that honorable members opposite who have been in the Territory on a visit that lasted Only a day of two, during which time they saw Rum Jungle or some other part of the Territory, have come back with the idea that they have a perfect knowledge of the whole situation there. The honorable member for Melbourne encouraged them by saying that some honorable members opposite had been to the Northern Territory and knew what was wanted there. In the next breath he mentioned the VastnesS of the Territory and said it would take a long time to develop it. We should not take much notice of such speeches. They arc made on the spur of the moment without much thought. Honorable members Whose direct knowledge of the Northern Territory is limited to the knowledge that they gained while they were there for a few dayS last week really know very little about it. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has lived there. When he Speaks about the Northern Territory I listen to hia with attention, because he knows hia own electorate. I do not believe that tins honorable member for Melbourne Or the majority of honorable members opposite know much about the Northern Territory, despite their claims to great knowledge about iti £ believe that the greatest step being taken to get more people into the Northern Territory is the exploitation of the uranium field at Rum Jungle. That project will do more to bring people permanently into the Northern Territory than anything else will de* We knOw that, despite all that the honorable member for Melbourne has said Oil the subject to*night> when the Labour party was in office it did not do much about breaking up large stations held in the Territory by big pastoral companies. The honorable member has always been against the nan who is prepared to go out ant! pioneer the land, because he fears that such a man might get a little bit too much land. He always expresses opposition to the kind of people he refers to as “ squatters “. After all, the squatter in Australian history has been the man who came from overseas in the early days and pioneered this country. The squatters did more for Australia than any similar number Of people that can be named has ever done for it. When the history of our times is written, and truth gets a hearing, the squatters will be given full credit for their part in the development of Australia. I know that some of the areas held by big land-holders in the Northern Territory are far too large, but the fact remains that the people who have been! prepared to work to open up this country have been the pioneer squatters.
I do not wish to devote the whole of my speech to thrashing the Opposition. I wish to make some reference to the proposed Vote for the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) Spoke about the great progress that has been made in Canberra. All the direct knowledge that I have about Canberra is the knowledge that I gain by looking around me when I am here during sessions of the Parliament. People have mentioned to me the great air of prosperity around Canberra. Of course such an air of prosperity exists here, but it is tremendously artificial. It is brought into being by the expenditure of millions of pounds of money provided by the taxpayers. It is with that aspect of
Canberra that t am concerned at the moment. The Estimates provide for a proposed vote of £510,000 for the maintenance df roads and bridges in the Australian Capital Territory. The gardens and parks of Canberra, with their flower’s, and treeS are a fine sight, but the maintenance of them costs a terrific amount of money that is provided by the Aus-“ tralian taxpayers.
Mr. Pollard inter jecting,
– If the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) wants to interject I shall stop speaking and. let him have his say.
– The honorable member ‘for Mallee does a fair amount of interjecting himself,, in this chamber.
– Well, I am giving the honorable member an open go now.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor must not interject further. The Chair has already called him to order. The honorable gentleman is keeping up a running fire of interjections.
– The proposed vote for the maintenance of parks, gardens and recreation reserves in the Australian Capital Territory for this year is £240,000, which is almost a quarter of a million pounds. Those parks, gardens and reserves should certainly be good, when all that money is to be expended on them. General lands services are estimated to cost £24,000 this year. I come now to a point which worried me when I was in opposition, and still worries me because I can never work it out, and I should like the Minister to explain it to me. Rabbit and dingo extermination in the Australian Capital Territory is expected to cost £15,000 this year. Has any honorable member, including the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), seen a dingo around the countryside here?
Opposition members. - You !
– Let me emphasize that I said “ around the countryside “, and I said it advisedly. Has anybody seen a rabbit . around these parts?
– Have the authorities in the Australian Capital Territory tried the use of myxomatosis to cope with rabbits? All these matters should be examined. The eradication of noxious weeds in the Australian Capital Territory is estimated to cost £2,000 this year. Although I have not seen a dingo or a rabbit in Canberra, I have seen plenty of noxious weeds. Honorable members will recall that on one occasion I brought a large skeleton weed plant into this chamber. I had found it growing between Parliament House and . the Hotel Kurrajong. Skeleton weed is thriving in the Australian Capital Territory. This proposed vote of £2,000 could be extended on the eradication of skeleton weed alone, because other parts of Australia are waiting to see what the Govern ment intends to do about that scourge. Expenditure of £2,000 on the eradication of weeds would be helpful in other parts of Australia, especially my electorate. We should get moving with these things. There are plenty of noxious weeds very close to Parliament House, and we should be getting to work on them.
– There are also some in it.
– I said, very close to Parliament House. I did not mention any weeds in it.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! There are too many interjections. They must cease.
– It has been stated that the new swimming pool at Canberra will be in use during the coming year. The Estimates provide an amount for swimming pool maintenance. I take it that that amount does not refer to the building of a swimming pool.
– There is already a swimming pool at Manuka.
– Maintenance for this coming year is to cost £6,000.
– What is wrong with that?
– It appears to me to be a very high figure. The point is that the people should know about the proposed expenditure of this large sum on the maintenance of a swimming pool.
– The residents of Canberra pay to swim in that pool.
– The Estimate? show that the loss on the operation’ of government hostels is estimated at £15,000 in the current year. Last year the actual loss was £24,000. I am pleased to note the discrepancy between those two figures, because it indicates that something has been done to reduce last year’s loss by an estimated £9,000. That is a move in the right direction.
The Minister for the Interior mentioned the Canberra brickworks, and spoke about something being done to put them on a better footing. The loss on the brickworks last year was £30,000, and the estimated loss for this year is £18,000. The point is that houses are being built here, and surely if these losses are being made on a government instrumentality like the brickworks, the bricks produced must be cheaper than are bricks produced in other places that do not run at a loss. The construction costs of houses in Canberra, therefore, should be cheaper to that degree. But, if the bricks produced at that loss are the same price as are bricks produced by privatelyowned brickworks that show a profit, there is something radically wrong.
– The honorable member should not direct his remarks to the Opposition in that regard. He should direct them to the Government.
– I rose to speak about the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in a nonparty manner. However, certain honorable members opposite do not like any honorable member to make a non-party speech, and they keep up a running fire of interjections. I did not rise to-night to attack the Opposition, although I have attacked it on many occasions. I rose to point out certain features of the Estimates that we are considering. I believe that the responsible Minister should introduce the Estimates of his department and explain how the proposed votes are to be expended. The Minister for the Interior, for instance, could have told us about Canberra’s roads andgutters and other services and mentioned the sums that they are expected to cost. The artificial prosperity of Canberra will certainly continue to take money out of the pockets of the tax- payers..
Icompliment the Minister for Territories for hastening with discretion in the Northern Territory, and keeping within our financial capabilities, and I hope that he will visit the Territory often to see what is really necessary and will act accordingly.
.- We are dealing witha most important section of the Estimates, particularly as it relates to the Northern Territory. I was interested in a speech made by an honorable member opposite to-day, in which reference was made to the need for the construction of a port on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Certainly the informa tion we have regarding the Gulf of Carpentaria is vague, and the honorable member made in clear that there is little information available about the type of port that should be built on the Gulf, if any port can be built at all. Some years ago the Queensland Government sent an expert to investigate tidal influences in the Gulf of Carpentaria. He found some peculiar tidal phenomena there. Whereas, normally, two tides flow in 24 hours, sometimes only one tide would flow in the Gulf in 24 hours, and perhaps there would be no tide in the following 24 hours. Honorable members can appreciate, therefore, some of the great difficulties that would beset the establishment of a port in the gulf. Plans for the provision of a port and the construction of an overland railway were a live issue in Queensland politics in the closing days of the last century, but the building of the port has never passed beyond the idea stage and, after 50 years of federation, it is tragic that the Navy has not seen fit to take soundings and plumb the depths, if there are any depths, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, at least in the interests of defence.
Although the proposals made by the honorable member were worthy of consideration, we must be practical in this matter. Any port in the Gulf of Carpentaria obviously would be used for the purpose of shipping meat from the Northern Territory and north-western Queensland. The provision of a port on that basis would be economically unsound because the slaughtering of beasts in northern Australia for the beef export trade is merely a seasonal occupation, and the port would be in use only while slaughtering was in progress. There would be no activity there for the rest of each year. The Queensland Government, however, has submitted to this Government a proposition for the development of areas adjacent to the Northern Territory, and of the Northern Territory itself, which is well worth consideration.
At the risk of boring the committee, I propose to refer again to the suggested rail link between Dajarra in Queensland and Newcastle Waters in the Northern Territory. This proposition has been discussed in this chamber for many years by advocates of the development of the
Northern Territory, but their proposals seem to have been met with counter proposals put forward, I fear, merely to block the expenditure of large sums on the Dajarra line. Only last week we were told by honorable members who support the Government that a committee appointed by the Queensland Government had made a recommendation against the construction of the suggested line.
– .The Treasurer said so.
– It is particularly unfortunate that the right honorable gentleman is not here to comment on the subject to-night, because only yesterday the Premier of Queensland tabled the report of that committee in the Legislative Assembly. A copy of the report is in the hands of this Government.
– It was in the hands of this Government two years ago.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for that information. Leading public servants of Queensland were members of that committee. The chairman was Sir John Kemp, who was then Co-ordinator-General of Works. I would describe him without fear of contradiction as Queensland’s most prominent public servant. Other members of the committee were Mr. Moriarty, the Railways Commissioner; Mr. Bell, of the Department of Agriculture; Mr. Creighton, of the Lands Administration Board ; and Mr. Hope, of the Queensland Meat Industry Board.
These officers inquired very closely into a proposal for the construction of a line from Dajarra to Newcastle Waters in two stages, one of 158 miles from Dajarra to Camooweal, and the other of 360 miles from Camooweal to Newcastle Waters. They reported most favorably upon this plan, and I remind the committee again that their report is in the hands of the Government and has been tabled in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. It is true that the committee reported that the construction of a line only from Dajarra to Camooweal would be of no value. The link, if it is to be of real value, must be laid from Dajarra to Newcastle Waters, and this project, according to the committee, would cost £15,000,000. We must take the view that defence and development go hand in hand. 1 am not permitted to discuss defence with reference to the proposed votes now under consideration, but I point out that the construction of the railway recommended by the committee of experts would lead to great development in the Northern Territory.
Honorable members who have visited north-western Queensland and the Northern Territory will realize that the best industries for promoting development in that great region are the mining and pastoral industries. The turn-off of beef from the rich Barkly Tableland is very considerable, but, unfortunately, it is impossible, under present conditions, to move cattle from that area during a period of drought. The beasts could be moved to the fattening areas of Queensland, if the proposed link were provided, so that ultimately they could be slaughtered at the meat works on the Queensland coast. That would be an ideal arrangement for the slaughtering of beef for export. The expert committee in Queensland reported that the loss occasioned by the 1951-52 drought in the Northern Territory was £4,500,000. That was a colossal waste of money. As the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) must be aware, droughts occur fairly regularly in the Territory, and settlers who have braved the hardships of nature often have to stand by and watch their wealth destroyed. The committee has suggested that the Australian Government and the Queensland Government each contribute to the construction of the railway extension. The proposal is that the Queensland Government should bear the cost of construction of the line from Dajarra to Camooweal, that the Australian Government should pay the balance of the cost of the full proposal, and that the line should be under the control of and be operated by the Railways Department of Queensland. Freight charges would be a matter for adjustment between the two governments.
It is true that the line would be operated at a loss, but when we realize that the Government expects to subsidize the Canberra bus service to the tune of £60,000 this year, a loss of about £360,000 on the operation of a railway surely would not be too great a burden to bear for the sake of developing north-western Queensland and the Northern Territory. The pastoral and mining industries have contributed to the development of the region in recent years, but it would be futile and unfair to ask settlers to face the hazards of pioneering it as our forefathers did in the last century. The Government has a heavy responsibility in this matter. “We all should acknowledge our duty to encourage meat production in northwestern Queensland and the Northern Territory. That part of Australia is ideal for the raising of beef cattle. Shortages of beef frequently occur in the southern parts of the continent, and the meat needed to overcome the shortages must be brought from Queensland. As the population of the southern part of Australia increases, the shortages will become more frequent and more severe, and every effort must be made to meet the situation in advance. The time for action is now. Therefore, I commend to honorable members the report made by the committee of officers headed by Sir John Kemp, which was submitted to this Government a considerable time aso. I hope that it will not be pigeon-holed or obstructed by the air-beef committee which, according to the Treasurer, is to “be appointed. The graziers of Queensland have discussed this proposition at considerable length, and the president of the Graziers Association, whom I regard as an expert on the pastoral industry, has announced definitely that the proposed rail extension offers the only means of encouraging the production of beef cattle in north-western Queensland. I believe that it would also give a great stimulus to the development of the Northern Territory. Therefore, I hope that the report will bring quick results.
.- About three years ago, from my place in this chamber, I sounded a note of warning with regard to the development of the National Capital at Canberra and the danger that faced us of building up a certain class in the community unless we looked upon that development in a different light. My remarks brought me, I believe, into disfavour with some residents of Canberra, but I have been very pleased to notice that, during the last three weeks, several honorable members have spoken on the same subject in similar strain. Even the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. K. Fraser) has given strong support to my views, without referring to the remarks that I made previously. Some of his reported statements were almost identical, word for word, with statements that I had made. I want to emphasize again, for the benefit of the Government, the urgent necessity for some action to be taken to change the method of developing the Australian Capital Territory. We have reached a stage in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia at which this National Parliament has assumed tremendous responsibilities for fiscal policy, defence and national welfare, and it should be absolved of the need to act as a local governing authority, which is one of its duties at present in the National Capital.
I am aware of the existence of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. In fact, I am astonished to learn that the importance of this council is so great that the allowances and expenses of its members are expected, according to the Estimates, to amount to £f 00 for the current year! The estimated cost last year was £1,300, but actual expenditure was only £1,152. This year, apparently, the allotment is to be reduced. This council is, I assume, comparable with a local governing body except that it has no actual powers. Let us compare the proposed vote for the council with the amount of £2,000 set down for the maintenance of the Canberra City Band. The council has extremely important duties and responsibilities in relation to development, the maintenance of services, and the general administration of the affairs of the Australian Capital Territory. I am of the opinion that the existing set-up must be changed. The time is now ripe for the Government to give consideration to the appointment of a commission, or a council - call it what you will - to administer the affairs of the Territory, with autonomous powers and responsibility for raising revenue, making expenditure, and placing local public services on a paying basis or of getting the local citizens to contribute, as do citizens in other parts of the Commonwealth through taxation, towards the maintenance of local services, where the charges made for the use of the services are not sufficient to meet the costs.
The administrative arrangements for the Australian Capital Territory are entirely different from those in other parts of the Commonwealth, and the Australian Capital Territory should be brought into line with the rest of Australia. The national practice is to give local governing authorities responsibility for the maintenance of roads, bridges and the like. An authority responsible for the general administration and welfare of the Australian Capital Territory as a whole is required. I do not suggest that two bodies are necessary, but something more than a mere shire council or roads board is needed. Something between a State parliament and the usual local authority is required. Whether it be called a provincial council or be given some other title, let it be a body with responsibilities. It is utterly ridiculous to expect a Minister of the national government, who is engaged on matters of national importance, to worry about the expenditure, for example, of a vote of £200 under one of the small items that is listed in the Estimates for the miscellaneous services of the Australian Capital Territory - compensation for the destruction of cattle infected with disease and the control of undulant fever - on which a mere £15 was spent last financial year. Such small matters should not be the direct concern of a Minister in a national government and of the members of the national Parliament. Under the present administrative set-up it is impossible for the affairs of the Australian Capital Territory to receive a fair measure of consideration. More important to me, it is impossible for the residents of the Territory to get a complete picture of the manner in which the Australian people generally live, and to understand the domestic economic problems that are caused in other Australian communities by changing circumstances. It is impossible for residents of the Australian Capital Territory to appreciate the problems of citizens resident elsewhere in Australia unless Territory residents have first-hand knowledge of the problems and responsibilities of individual citizens and communities.
I emphasize the fact that it is important that persons who live in the Australian Capital Territory should understand these problems, because some of them are advisers to the Government, and they have tremendous powers. How can they be expected to understand the problems of citizens of the States unless they themselves have a personal knowledge of the domestic problems of other citizens. I am aware that many highranking officers of the Commonwealth Public Service from time to time spend periods of residence in the States, but they also live for many years in Canberra. I am fearful that, as they pass on out of the Public Service, their shoes will be filled by their children and their children’s children, who will have lived for the greater part of their lives in this select, secluded, isolated and favoured community of Canberra, confined, as I remarked on a previous occasion, within a wall of hills that might be likened to the great wall of China. I appeal to the Government to give consideration to the appointment of an administrative body for the Australian Capital Territory, with delegated powers, responsible in the ultimate ‘ to this National Parliament, as it cannot be otherwise, but with powers that will relieve the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) of the necessity to make decisions about such small matters as the expenditure of £15 on the destruction of diseased stock. The body that I suggest should be more responsible than one the worth of which is measured by an allocation of £800 for its expenses, in contrast with a vote of £2,000 for. thi expenses of a city band.
Now I shall refer briefly to thE Northern Territory and to the suggestions that have been made that the Commonwealth might take the northern portion of Western Australia under its wing and accept the responsibility for its development, as it has done in relation to the Northern Territory. I am not at all happy about that proposal, and I am not willing to sell a square inch of Western Australian territory to a central government, whatever be its political colour. The arguments that I have advanced in respect of the Australian Capital Territory apply equally to the
Northern Territory and the northern part of Western Australia. Development, not only of the Northern Territory, but also of the entire northern part of the continent, which includes the northern area of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the northern part of Queensland, is urgently needed, and wcmight do well to consider the establishment of a new State, assisted initially by the Commonwealth to a substantial degree, with State powers and a local government organization, and with the responsibility to deal with problems peculiar to that northern part of the continent. The problems of the Northern Territory are not peculiar to the Territory. They are common to the entire northern part of Australia. The new State, or province, if one likes to give it that description, through its own local government administration, would attend to minor matters such as the destruction of diseased animals, and so relieve the National Government of the necessity to worry about them. It is ridiculous that the National Government should be concerned with such minor matters. Even the State governments are not immediately concerned with such problems, which are within the province of the local governing authorities. Under a unified system of government, which some Opposition members want, the central government might have the responsibility for such small matters. But it is physically impossible to establish a unified system of government, for many reasons that I do not propose to canvass. It is necessary that government be decentralized, and the sooner the better.
I appeal to the Government to give consideration to the suggestions that have been made by honorable members from both sides of the chamber in relation to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, especially to the views expressed from time to time by honorable members who represent north Queensland electorates, and to the urgent need that has been emphasized by honorable members from Western Australia for assistance for the development of the northern part of Western Australia. It is completely beyond the capacity of the Western Australian Government at present adequately to develop the northern part of Western Australia. 1 urge this Administration to give the matter consideration from a wide national point of view, not from a narrow consideration of whether any one will be giving something away. Though the Commonwealth might appear to be giving some of its territory away if a new State were established to administer the entire northern part of Australia, tremendous benefit would result to the southern par;, of Western Australia. Moreover, the increased development that would occur in the north would promote the security of the southern Suites, which would undoubtedly be willing to give financial assistance in return for that security.
– I agree with the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) that northern Australia must be considered as a whole in relation to development problems, but events within the borders of Western Australia and Queensland are the province, administratively and constitutionally, of the State governments. The Northern Territory, because it is a territory under the complete control of the Commonwealth, is in a different position. The administration of the Northern Territory would be more effective if a legislative body existed. A Legislative Council already functions, but it has little power except to pass nominal ordinances for the Territory. A directly elected body is needed. It should be entrusted with the responsibility for public expenditure in the Territory, so that better value might be obtained for the expenditure made, and a better system of priorities arranged in the allocation of funds. In the current financial year, for instance, the total expenditure in the Northern Territory on general services and capital works is estimated to be approximately £5,400,000, which is less than one-half of 1 per cent, of the total revenue of the Commonwealth. It would not be reckless for the Australian Government, as an act of statesmanship, to inform the people of the Northern Territory that it realizes that for many years the revenue will have to be provided by the Commonwealth, but that greater reliance will be placed upon local administration in the Territory for determining how expenditure should be made. To a degree that is the practice that has been adopted in relation to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Commonwealth is responsible for the raising of revenue for that Territory, but the expenditure is ordered by the Legislative Council of the Territory. That would be a better pattern to follow in the future administration of the Northern Territory. The local administration is more likely to be aware of the most pressing problems, and, as any autonomous government would do, it would have to order its expenditure according to its revenue. This Government would control the total revenue, but the local body would have authority regarding the disposal of the sum allocated to the territory for local activities.
The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) said that we people who flit through the Territory for a few days are not able to argue about its problems. I say that it is quite true that we cannot fully comprehend all the problems of the Northern Territory, but by talking with those with whom we come into contact we become aware of the problems that exist in the Territory. One, for example, is the matter of education. At present a great undertaking is developing at Rum Jungle. That will call for skilled tradesmen, mining experts and men with experience in metallurgy. I suggest that one immediate step that could be taken by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is to set up an adequate technical school f or the training of such people at Darwin.
– There is a technical school at Darwin and another at Alice Springs.’
– But those technical schools do not at present teach all that the persons engaged in industry in the Territory require, I recently spoke to the father of & boy who needed technical training. That man told me that he had been forced to send his son to Victoria so that be Gould obtain the technical ((duration that he required, because it was unobtainable in the Territory, . Therefore, I suggest that we lave not got technical schools in the Territory that provide courses to meet die requirements of the people who live there. Health is another matter that needs serious atten tion, but there again there is a division of responsibility. Expenditure on health is largely the responsibility of the Department of Health, as distinct from the Department of Territories.
Alice Springs was one of the places that I visited during my recent trip to the Territory, and in that town I saw an aboriginal settlement known as “ The Bungalow “. There is a native population settled there, and about. 60 native children attend its school. In the school yard the manager of the station indicated to me a native boy aged about five or six years, whose feet were badly distorted. The manager informed me that the complaint from which this boy was suffering required orthopaedic treatment, which could not be obtained in the Territory. If that boy is not to become a cripple’ in a few years time he will probably need to be sent to Adelaide to obtain treatment. Whose is the responsibility for ensuring that that boy obtains adequate treatment? I know that the Minister for Territories is interested in native welfare, and I hope that perhaps during the next month or two he will prepare, for the information of honorable members, the programme that has been decided upon by the Government about the important matter of native welfare. There are about 15,000” native people in the Northern Territory, and at .present, in many respects. they constitute the most pitiable section of the community. There is nothing worse than seeing those natives come into a town like Alice Springs. They are alien to our civilization. I urge on the Ministerthat he should make this Parliament aware of what the Government intends to do for the natives by delivering a statement to honorable members about the Government’s plan for native welfare.
Another case that I desire to bringto the notice of honorable members concerns white people. The child of onemarried couple at Alice Springs had a very serious illness, and it was necessary for the mother to take the child 4o Adelaide for a first period of a fortnight, and later for another period. The return fare from Alice Springs to Adelaide iB about £40, and although these people were only ordinary wage-earners the cost of the two Tetum trips and the accommodation for the mother and child in. Adelaide amounted to more than £100. This family was forced to pay out the money which the father had set aside to provide a holiday for himself and the family, and they had to forego that holiday. Of course, as with all families, the interests of the children came first, and when sacrifices had to be made matters like holidays had to go by the board. I have no doubt that that is only one isolated example of what must often occur in the Territory, and I suggest that in cases like that fares to medical centres should be provided by the Territory administration. If proper medical facilities are not available in the Territory, and people have to go long distances to obtain treatment, that course should be taken by the Government. The people of the Territory would probably organize a service like that for themselves if they had its control within their own hands.
A matter I mentioned earlier this afternoon was the all-important subject of taxation. My colleague, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), asked the Minister to place on the table of this chamber the report made by a certain taxation committee about taxation in the Northern Territory. However, I do not know whether taxation relief is the sort of relief that should be provided in the Territory. Perhaps a better method would be for the Government to subsidize consumer and durable materials that go into the Territory. Not long ago, when there was a housing shortage in Australia, the Government paid a subsidy of about £300 in respect of each prefabricated housing unit that was imported from Austria or Germany. That subsidy was paid to make up the difference between the cost of the imported house and the cost of building a house in Australia, if labour and materials were available here. If a similar practice were carried out in the Northern Territory, and the Government subsidized the difference between the prices of building materials in Adelaide, and in Darwin, Alice Springs or Tennant Creek, or any other centre, that would be another method of making up the difference between living costs in the Territory and those in the capital cities of the Commonwealth.
Special consideration has been given to big pastoralists and mining companies by way of depreciation and other taxation allowances, but very little, except by way of zone allowance which is out-dated because of the increase of the cost of living, has been done for the ordinary man. 3 suggest that the future of the Northern Territory does not lie only with the success of mining companies or pastoral undertakings, it also lies with the decent men and women who live and work in the Territory. Honorable members should remember that people will go to the Territory only if there are reasonable amenities and facilities for living there. Many people like the warm climate in that part of Australia, but they will not go there if ordinary living facilities are not available. Of course, there are transport problems in the north, and there is the question of where the railways should be built ; but again I suggest that the people of the Territory are in at least as good a position as anybody else to find the solution to both problems for themselves.
The Northern Territory is a vast area, and is capable of supporting a much greater population than it has at present. But people will be encouraged to go there only if the Government adopts a more humane approach to the living problems of the area. Such a humane approach would be effected if the Government established a proper system of self-government by the people in that area. The Minister for Territories has been very attentive during the course of this debate, both this afternoon and to-night, and I have no doubt that he is vitally interested in all the matters that have been discussed. However, the problem of the Territory is very small in comparison with all the problems that face the Australian Government. When the Minister asks for another £1,000,000 or another £500,000 he is only one in a long queue of Ministers waiting to apply to the Government for money. The £5,000,000 that is to be expended in the Territory is only about one two-hundredth part of the total expenditure of the Australian Government. Nevertheless, all the problems of the Northern Territory should receive sympathetic consideration by this Government.
, partly because of the position he occupies in his own party and in this chamber, and partly because of the undoubted interest that he has personally shown in the Northern Territory by making frequent visits to it. I am not »ure whether it is the more pleasant climate and the kindlier people that he meets in the Territory that attracts him, but for whatever reason he chooses to leave here and go to the Northern Territory, I certainly believe that he has profited from his visits. Indeed, I hope that in time the Territory will also profit from the knowledge that he has gained from those visits. It is perhaps a pity that in the not yet foreseeable future, when a change of government takes place, he is likely to be occupying such an eminent position at the head of the new cabinet that he will not be able to ca»ry out the equally important administration of the Territory. However, that is a matter about which honorable members opposite will be able to speak more precisely than I can. The honorable member for Melbourne laid great stress on development. He said, “We want development in the Northern Territory”, and this chamber echoes his sentiment and says, “ We want development in the Northern Territory “. But I remind honorable members that speeches made ‘ in this chamber will not bring development, and that after having made all these protestations of good faith we have to ask ourselves exactly how we are to procure this very desirable development.
– Spend some money on it.
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) has made one of his typical comments, “ Spend some money on it”. That is the comment of a person who has never engaged in the task of development. We have to get down w, th a spade and dig post holes, and get bulldozers or other earth-moving equipment and sink dams. We have to do all the operations which require a good deal of perspiration, which the honorable member for Watson has probably never spilt. The speeches and the interjections we make here, and the cries for more money and for more rapid development, will not make the least bit of difference to the development of the Northern Territory. Fundamentally, we have to ask ourselves how this development is to be procured. Honorable members opposite, with their socialist faith, will probably say, “It is to be procured by governmental schemes “. Well, we have the lesson of sorghum in Queensland and peanuts in East Africa to point the rather dismal way to failure along those lines. The faith of the Government is that the development of the Northern Territory, like the development of any other part of Australia, will be brought about when the efforts of the people of Australia are liberated, and when the people themselves can find an incentive to apply themselves to the task of development. The development of the Northern Territory will not come out of governmental schemes, or as the result of the expenditure of governmental money.
– The Government has had five years in which to develop th* Northern Territory.
– We are now getting the results from our efforts in those five years. When we consider the’ possibilities of change in the Northern Territory, our attention must be concentrated on three possible lines of activity - the pastoral industry, which is still the biggest and most important industry in the Northern Territory, the mining industry, and beyond that, the agricultural industry. The development of the Northern Territory will not be fully rounded, and the Territory will not support a significantly large population, until those three industries have been developed to a considerable degree. We conceive the role of government to be fundamentally to provide those basic services and establish those works which are necessary to enable private enterprise to proceed with the job of production. We have attempted, over the past few years, to do more in the way of building roads, providing water, establishing stock routes, constructing the harbour at Darwin, and providing the services of administration, and the significance of our achievements in contrast to those of the previous Government, is easily shown in the actual figures of expenditure on capital works. Those expenditures are wholly devoted to the provision of the necessities to which T have referred, or to the addition of social benefits and amenities which make life possible in the outback. The total provision for capital works for the Northern Territory in 1949-50, when the honorable member for Melbourne was a member of a government, was £707,000. In the current budget, we are providing £2,464,000, and that significant increase is a measure of the attention which this Government is giving to the provision of the basic works and services of the Northern Territory in comparison with the attention which the previous Government gave to them.
Then we believe that another one of the responsibilities of the Government is to carry out investigations and experiments in order to establish the possible lines on which industry may proceed. Both before our time, and since the change of government occurred, work has been proceeding quite steadily in the Northern Territory on that sort of investigation. At the Katherine Experimental Farm, which has been conducted by officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization on behalf of the Department of Territories over quite a number of years, experimental work has been carried out on fodders, the methods of cultivation of a variety of crops, and a great number of matters which affect the conduct of the pastoral and possible agricultural industries in the Northern Territory. That work is continuing. More recently, and luckily owing to the expert knowledge of the Administrator, we have been able to extend that work into a series of field trials which have shown very satisfactory results, particularly in the growing of pineapples and the cultivation of rice. The results from the field trials, which have been conducted in the last few years, have been most encouraging, and the work will continue during the next few years. “We also know, in respect of such commodities as peanuts, tobacco and sorghum, that possibilities have already appeared for an expansion and a widening of the range of cultivation and production in the Northern Territory.
The third responsibility, which we recognize as being the responsibility of government, is to conduct research and maintain services for the control of pests and diseases, for the eradication of noxious weeds, and for the overcoming of any of those natural or introduced impediments to production which beset the way of the primary producer. I should like to refer, in this connexion, particularly to the work of the Animal Industry Division at Alice Springs, which, under the direction of a very capable officer in the person of the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Territory, has done some most remarkable work which has attracted attention in other parts of Australia. The division has tackled not only such immediate problems as plant poisoning in the pastoral industry, and diseases such as the Kimberley disease or the Birdsville disease, but has also carried out moi-e fundamental research into a variety of matters affecting the well-being of those great industries. Under both those headings, which we regard as being in the proper field of government activity, we have shown increased energy and increased results.
The honorable member for Melbourne also made a great point about the need to help those who might be described a? the small people - the people who are battling in the Territory and who are actually engaging on the spot in the arduous job of production. Honorable members will follow me in my general thesis when I say that it is not the Government which raises cattle, or grows crops, and that it is not honorable members who produce minerals from the earth. Production is not the result of any votes that we pass in this chamber. Production, when it takes place, is the result of activity by the people on the spot, and the honorable member for Melbourne very properly asked, “ Well, what is the Government doing to help the people on the spot to engage in this job of production ? “ Of course, we, as a Liberal and Australian Country part Government, place our faith in private enterprise, so that challenge comes in a very timely way to us. I do not wish to traverse those activities which were carried out during the time of the previous Government, but I should like to refer to several measures which have been taken during the life of this Government. First of all, we made a fundamental change in the land tenure system of the Northern Territory so as to encourage the resident owner. Under the new Crown Lands Ordinance, we give more favorable conditions to the resident owner, such as a longer tenure and better conditions, than we give to any other lease-holder in the Territory. Thaiaction was done on purpose in order to encourage the resident settler in the Territory, and to give him an opportunity to get a better security in his land.
– “What has been the effect of that change?
– The effect is just beginning to be felt, because the conversions are just beginning from the old leases to the new leases. Consequent upon that change of policy, we took the nextlogical step, which was to extend the credit facilities available to the settler in the Northern Territory whether he is a settler on a pastoral property or whether he intends to embark on agricultural production. Honorable members are aware that a bill has been introduced in this chamber which is intended to give a guarantee, through the banking system, to enable a new settler, whether he be a pastoralist or an agriculturist, to raise credit more readily, and beyond the limit that would be available under the ordinary terms of banking. Side by side with that provision, we have taken steps to assist the very small man in the Territory - the man who is engaged in the growing of vegetables, the raising of poultry or pigs, or the production of foodstuffs for the towns of the Territory. I think that reference was made to this class by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) this afternoon. For a long time, the Encouragement of Primary Production Ordinance made it possible for the small man to obtain a repayable grant up to a limit of £600. This year, the Government has increased that limit to £3,000. It is a modest sum. ft is intended to help the small man to construct his sheds, buildings or fences, to procure plant, such as a tractor or rotary hoe, to establish his water supply, and so on. That is additional evidence of the real encouragement that this Government is giving to the producer. Then, too, in a much smaller way - perhaps we would admit an inadequateway - we have introduced a system under which a home builder can obtain an amount up to £2,000 to finance the erection of a home. It is a matter of current discussion whether that amount is adequate for the purpose.
The honorable member for Melbourne, after his remarks on the need for development, asserted again and again that we should spend more money. He places his faith in the expenditure of more money to achieve results, and I assume that he has in mind the expenditure of more money by the Government. I have tried to indicate that the spending of government money, is necessary in order to provide the basic works and services of the Northern Territory, but it will not, in itself, produce development. I admit the need for the expenditure of steadily increasing sums of money on that essential part of governmental activity which is necessary to stimulate production.
I shall quote the actual expenditure, but before I do so, I should like to point out to the committee that during the whole post-war . period, which embraces the life of the previous Government and the present Government, there have been limits on the amount of money we can spend. The rate of spending is not set. by the amount of money and the value of spending is not determined only by the sums spent. Indeed, if more money is made available than can be used, wastefulness and extravagance are the result. The limit of expenditure is set by the availability of men and materials. Honorable members will be fully aware of the circumstances with which we have been confronted since the end of the war. I refer to the circumstances of full employment, great developmental activity all over this continent, and the great tasks of reconstruction, and an increase in the production of materials. The limit of expenditure in the Northern Territory has been set, not by the availability of public funds, but by the availability of men and materials.
Speaking with a full sense of responsibility, I point out that, during my term of office at least, and possibly during the term of my predecessor, no major undertaking in the Northern Territory has been held up by lack of finance. Works have been held up by lack of capacity on the spot to do them. So a good deal of our activity during the past few years has been directed to trying to build up the efficiency of our own organization and the capacity of our constructive industries, to prepare for the day when we can effectively spend more money. We feel that we are now approaching the point where that forward movement can be made, and where the voting of more money will be accompanied by the translation of the vote into actual material changes.
Having made those remarks, I wish to remind those honorable members who, by speech or interjection, have asked that more millions of pounds be provided for the north, that millions of pounds for the north or anywhere else can be provided only at the expense of some other phase of governmental expenditure. I, personally, and, as I know, many other honorable members might be happy to see, perhaps, the expenditure of certain other departments of government cut down. But would all those honorable members who have vociferated to-night in favour of another million for the Northern Territory take it off the Estimates for, say, the Postal Department? Earlier to-day, those honorable members were saying that the Government should provide more post offices. Honorable members must bear in mind that there are not limitless millions available and that an increase of £1,000,000 in the vote for one department must mean so much less for some other governmental activity, [t is a question of the committee reaching a considered opinion about which activity should have the highest priority.
Having made those precautionary remarks, I direct the attention of the committee to the funds that have actually been made available by various governments in respect of the Northern Territory. The figures that I shall cite in this respect have been compiled from the vote for general services for the Northern Territory plus the sums provided for works services, health services and capita), works. The yearly progression of those various sums since 1946-47 has been, in round figures, as follows: £1,250,000. £1,150,000, £1,670,000, £2,060,000; then, following a change of government, £3,100,000, £3,250,000, £3,560,000 and £3,970,000, and, for the current year. £5,426,000.
– Why does not the Minister give those amounts of expenditure in terms of the real value of money to-day ?
– Translated in actual work, or the command over services and works, honorable members will find that those figures to-day represent a substantial increase upon any provision that was made by the previous Government under this heading. But I readily admit that if the previous Government, had it felt so disposed, had voted additional money for this purpose, such action would have been useless because, at that time, the capacity to use such money in the Northern Territory did not exist. If I am permitted to take any pride myself, or, on behalf of the Administrator, to express pride in anything that has been done in the Territory, it is not pride in the fact that a sum of over £5,000,000 is being voted for the Territory this year, but pride in the good work that has been done by Mr. Wise and those working under him in the Northern Territory as a result of which we are now able to make use of the money that is being provided. That ir one of the biggest changes that has taken, place in respect of the Northern Territory.
Some honorable members have referred to the port of Darwin. I shall tell the committee briefly what has happened there. As a result, partly of age, partly as a result of war damage and partly asa result of uncertainty, the port of Darwin got into a condition in which it was almost derelict. There were two wharfs, the principal one being the town wharf, which was a very old wharf, and a temporary structure known as the timber wharf, which also was falling into disrepair. We faced a situation where it became actually urgent in a race against time to ensure that Darwin would not be left without any wharf at all. In this matter, we took two steps. The first was to recondition, at a cost of £22,000, the timber wharf so that it would provide one serviceable berth immediately. Then, we undertook,- at an estimated cost of over £700,000, to rebuild the town wharf as a substantial and permanent structure. That work is proceeding, and two berths at the town wharf will be provided early next year. “When that work is completed, it will mean that for the next ten years, or so, we shall have at Darwin three berths for ordinary coastal vessels, and one of those berths will be suitable for larger overseas vessels.
A good deal of attention has also been directed in the course of this debate to the subject of transport in the Northern Territory. It is undoubtedly, as several honorable members have remarked, one of the fundamental problems in the Territory. Some progress has been made. There has been an extension of some thousands of miles of road. Improvements have been made to aerodromes, and, as I have indicated, harbour facilities at Darwin have also been improved. Nevertheless, the transport problem in the Territory has not yet been overcome. One impediment in the way is the difficulty that was referred to by several honorable member.;. It is the element of uncertainty that still exists about the form which transport should take. This problem is often represented as a simple straight-out choice of rail, road or air services. I, myself, believe that it will probably be found that that is a wrong presentation of the case, and that, in fact, when the final pattern of transport in the Northern Territory is determined, it will be found that we shall be using all three forms of transport. In some parts, it will be found that rail transport is conducive to development; in other parts that road transport is the most suitable; and, in other circumstances, it may be found that air transport will do the job better than the other two means. But, whatever the result may be, our task at the moment, to which we have been devoting our attention, is to try to remove uncertainty and to ensure that the great expenditure that will be involved will be worth while and will produce not a fancy result that may look good -on a map or sound well in a speech, but will actually serve the needs of the Territory. At present, as honorable members art aware, at the instigation of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), a committee under the chairmanship of an honorable member, and composed of persons of good standing and having considerable experience in respect of the development of the northern part of Australia, is about to commence a further investigation of one particular aspect of that problem. I trust that the result of the work of that committee, which I may call the Davidson Committee, will be to bring us nearer to the end of this uncertainty.
Several honorable members have referred to taxation. It seems to me that the position in that respect in the Territory was presented in a way that was not quite historically accurate. Previously, there existed a system under which the primary producer, the miner and the pearler, received remission of taxes in respect of income gained from primary production, mining and pearling. Thai system, which contained many anomalies, led to many abuses, and it was ended. It was not merely abolished. At the time that it was ended, the Government introduced into the Territory a number of concessional deductions and special concessions which did not apply to taxpayers in other parts of Australia. The effect of a few of those concessions were found to be uncertain; and, also, it was not known whether they would have the precise results that the Government had intended. In those circumstances, a- departmental committee - it was not a committee of public inquiry - was sent to the Territory to talk with taxpayers and discuss with them their actual problems and to see how those problems were affected by the new system that had been introduced. The report of that committee, which is a departmental report, is in the hands of the relevant departments and is now the basis of further discussion and inquiry to determine the proper method by which taxation can be used as an instrument in the encouragement of the development of the north.
Hurrying to a conclusion, I shall comment upon certain figures in respect of education which, were cited by one honorable member. It seems to me that those figures did not take into account the whole situation in the Northern Territory. Actually, the position is that during the term of office of this Government, we have built substantial schools at Darwin and at Alice Springs. The building of the school at Alice Springs, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory indicated, is the first stage and not a complete structure. Additions will be made as the need arises to make further provision for the children at Alice Springs. It is necessary to lu more in respect of education because in recent years the number of pupils has increased considerably. At present, there are over 2,000 children attending schools in the Northern Territory. Approximately 1,600 are attending government schools and approximately 400, or a little more, attending convent schools. I think that 1 an say with full assurance that the standard of education which those children are receiving from primary level up to the leaving certificate will compare with that of education that is being provided in any of the States. I take this opportunity to express gratitude to the South Australian Government with which we have an arrangement for the supply of teachers. The Australian Government, of course, pays the ‘ salaries of those teachers and expenses incurred in respect of them. But honorable members will realize that in a small educational system, such as the system in the Northern Territory, we could not maintain a sufficiently large teaching staff, or provide teachers’ training colleges and other similar institutions. Consequently, we have entered into an arrangement with the South Australian Department of Education by which we borrow teachers from it for the Northern Territory, and those teachers are under the authority of the Australian Government while they are in the Territory. That system has worked out very well, and I assure the committee that the children of the Northern Territory are receiving an education equal to that which is being provided in the southern States.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) referred to mining. I shall not go into that subject in detail, but, in passing, I desire to correct an error that he made, apparently unintentionally, when he quoted a figure which he suggested showed that there had been a reduction of the sum to be provided this year for the encouragement of mining compared with the sum provided for that purpose last year. Actually, he quoted the sum that was voted but not the sum that was actually expended last year. “From the latter sum he would have seen that we are increasing the financial provision for mining in the Territory this year. Similarly, in giving attention to one item he overlooked items 23 and 24 in the Estimates ; and when he was referring to the encouragement of agriculture, he made a mistake by referring to item 20 in respect of which a sum of £3,000 is being provided, and overlooked item 30, in respect of which a sum of £26,000 is being provided for agricultural work.
In conclusion, on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), I desire to take up a few points with respect to the health system in the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) said that it was a great pity that private doctors had not been attracted to the Territory. The position is that under the previous Government a nationalized system of medicine operated. That system has been continued up to the present time. The beginning of private practice must be the possibility for a private doctor to charge fees. It is impossible, to establish private practices without the possibility of charging fees; and, as a beginning, a scale’ of fees has been laid down. When conditions necessary for private practice have been established, medical and hospital benefits now applicable in the southern part of Australia can be extended to the Northern Territory. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) mentioned hospital facilities at Rum Jungle.
– Order ! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes for the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Norfolk Island and Papua and New Guinea has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -
That the following resolution he reported to the House: -
That, including the sum already voted for such services, there be granted to Her Majesty a sum not exceeding £440,140,000 for the services of the year 1954-55, viz.: -
Resolution reported and adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -
That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year 1854-55, there he granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £289,138,000.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That SirEric Harrison and Mr. Kent Hughes do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Eric Harrison, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the Senate.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motionby Sir Eric-
Harrison) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Sir Eric Harrison) read a first time.
The following papers were presented : -
Explosives Act - Explosives Regulations - Order directing Berthing of a Vessel.
Public Service Act - Appointment - Depart ment of Commerce and Agriculture - B. L. Gardner.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determina tions - 1 954 -
No. 41 - Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia.
No. 42 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 43 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
War Service Homes Act - Annual Report, for year 1953-54.
House adjourned at 10.53.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, -
Is it a fact that the Government, in the name of Australia, intends to sponsor or second the inclusion of Japan in the Colombo plan?
– The answer to the honorable, member’s question is as follows. -
It is expected that, at the meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Colombo plan, due to commence in Ottawaon the 4th October, consideration will be given to an application made by Japan for membership in the plan. There is no reason to expect opposition to this application from the seven Commonwealth and: three other governments participating as the full members of the committee. The Australian Government will for its. part support’ it. Honorable members will be aware that the Colombo plan is for the economic development of South and South-East Asia and that, by definition, Japan would not be a, recipient of aid. We believe,however, that, the Japanese might have something to offer in the way of technical assistance and- specialized skills which would help the people of the area. It is our view that Japan should be given opportunities to co-operate with nonCommunist countries and, in particular, in this successful venture to improve economic and social conditions in a part of the world which is of great importance to Australia.
Mr.WARD asked the Minister repre senting the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister acting for. the Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: - 1, 2 and 3. An overseas postingin the External Affairs service, whethermade under the Public Service Act or otherwise, is made with an eveto the requirements of the service and totheprofessionalqualificationsand claims of the officer concerned; in general, the officer’s personal affairs arc his own responsibility. TheMinister or department of course, not post an officer overseas in order to enable him to evade his domestic obligations. An Australian officer sawing in an, overseas diplomatic post does not. thereby obtain any immunity from maintenance proeeedings brought against him in an Australiancivil court. But in respect of some courts, there may be difficulties in contain countries in effecting service of documents on such a person.
asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for’ the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
e asked the Minister act ing for the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2 and 3. Both positions were added to the board’s establishment on the 7th September, 1951, an executive officer (undesignated.) requiring respectively persons with journalistic experience, and accountancy or economic qualifications.One position, the designation of which was changed to “Public relations officer” in July, 1954, has not been filled to date. The other position was filled when it was created but later the occupant was transferred to other duties. In December, 1953, the position was re-designated “General administrative officer “ and filled temporarily. An appointmentto the position was made on the 30th August, 1954.
e asked the Minister actingfor the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Were the following advertisement!)of positions vacant inserted by or on behalf of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board:(a) an advertisement which appeared on page 47 of the SydneyMorning Herald and on page 30 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Saturday, the 21st August, 1954, beginning “Legal Officer (Chief), £1,564 to£ 1,750 per annum”; (b) an advertisement which appearedon page 47 of the SydneyMorning Herald on Saturday, the 21st August, 1954, beginning “Legal Officer: Annual salary up to £1,380”; and (c) an advertisement which appearedon page 32 of the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, the 25th August, 1954, beginning -‘Accountant: Salary commences £1,300 per annum “.
– . The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19540922_reps_21_hor5/>.