22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CAIRNS presented a petition from 5,750 citizens of Australia praying that immediate consideration be given to increasing the rates of age, invalid and widows pensions to at least 50 per cent, of the basic wage.
Petition received and read.
Petitions praying that the pension rates be increased to 50 per cent, of the basic wage were presented as follows: -
By Mr. CREAN from 3,489 citizens of Australia.
By Mr. R. W. HOLT from certain citizens of Australia.
By Mr. BOSTOCK from certain citizens of Australia.
Mr. LUCOCK presented a petition from 32,500 electors in the States of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, praying that funds made available for educational purposes be used for the extension of the public school system which, it was stated, not only provided a high standard of general education to all children, but also made provision for Scripture teaching in its curriculum.
Petition received and read.
– I announce to the House that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is leaving Australia to-day to attend to several matters connected with his ministerial duties. In his absence, I will exercise general responsibility for policy in the Ministry of External Affairs and will be acting Minister. That is made feasible only by the fact that I have arranged that the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) will attend to detailed administrative work in the department. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization work will be attended to by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt).
– Yesterday, the Minister for Labour and National Service answered a question which had been asked by the honorable member for Macquarie in relation to the number of persons unemployed in Australia. Can the Minister tell the House whether there is any system by which he could inform the Parliament from time to time, such as from week to week, of the number of unemployed, having regard to two facts: First, that the total number of those in receipt of unemployment benefit clearly is less than the total number of unemployed, and secondly, that the number of unemployed may be, and I believe often is, greatly in excess of the number registered as seeking employment? Can the Minister state, looking at all the circumstances, the estimated number of persons unemployed at the present time, including juniors who commenced gainful employment at some time previously?
– I have never attempted to persuade the House that the figures which I give from this place in relation to the employment level do more than indicate trends. There is only one period when one can say with precision the total number of people out of employment in Australia, and that is when we take a census, the last having been taken in 1954 and the one before that in 1947. But I do believe that it is possible to get an accurate indication of the trends in the demand for labour and in employment levels generally from the sets of figures which come to my department from various sources. One of those, obviously, is the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit. That, clearly, does not represent the total number of people unemployed, because there is a test of income applied. A married woman, for example, offering for employment, may be excluded from unemployment benefit because of the income earned by her working husband. There are other obvious illustrations. On the other hand, the figure, which I make available each month, indicating the number of persons registered as awaiting placement also is not an accurate indication of the total number of unemployed because it includes people who have been referred by my department to an employer, but in respect of whom we have not been notified that they have received such employment. It includes, also, some people who, having registered with the department, secure employment by their own efforts and do not notify us that they have secured that employment.
The right honorable gentleman implies that the total number of those registered for placement at any time is less than the total number of persons unemployed because it does not necessarily include persons such as married women or retired persons who, in a time of high labour demand, are attracted back into the work force. That may be correct, but our experience of the census figures has revealed that the total recorded with us at those times as requiring placement was pretty closely in accord with the numbers shown by the census to be unemployed and available for employment. It would not be practicable to give weekly figures of all these trends, but I do secure weekly figures of the movement in unemployment benefits. It may be of some interest to the House to know that over the last two weeks for which figures have been received, the forecast I gave of a tendency for a lift in demand to come as we moved out of the winter period, is apparently being fulfilled, there having been a minor drop during each of those two weeks as compared with an increase of several hundred in the weeks immediately preceding them.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether the Government is still proceeding with the purchase of C130 transport aircraft. If so, when will they be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force? Will these aircraft supersede the DC3 aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force transport units? Further, will they be able to perform the full duties of transport aircraft of the armed services in respect of load and range?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “ Yes “. The acquisition of the aircraft is proceeding, and I understand that the entire twelve of them will be delivered during the second half of next year. In the main, these aircraft will supersede the present transport aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force, which, as the honorable member knows, now consist of a large number of DC3’s. I expect that there will be a continuing requirement for some of the DC3’s for lighter transport than would be provided by these very heavy aircraft which we are acquiring. The present transport capacity of the Royal Australian Air Force will be transformed by the CI 30 aircraft. They can carry a very heavy load - over 90 fully equipped servicemen, vehicles, and so on - their carrying capacity exceeding 13 tons. They can also undertake any journey within Australia, non-stop, with a full load, such as from Melbourne to Darwin or from Sydney to Perth. They can fly with a full load from Canberra to Townsville, unload and return without refuelling. They will be able, also, to fly from Darwin to Butterworth, in Malaya, with a complete load, non-stop. It is clear, therefore, that they will transform our capacity to transport either air force or army personnel, and will make these forces really mobile.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether a committee, set up by the Government, has, for some time, been examining the Commonwealth Electoral Act with a view to making certain amendments. Is it a fact that the committee has under consideration proposals for an alteration of the method of electing senators in each State, and of the system of voting? If these are facts, will the Minister state whether it is proposed to introduce legislation to make the amendments effective at the next federal elections?
– I can tell the honorable member that no committee has been established by the Government to consider possible amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. As I have indicated, I think in response to questions on previous occasions, we have given some consideration at departmental level to a review of the electoral machinery. The general public has been invited to give its views on various aspects, and I can tell the honorable gentleman that public interest on the subject is so wide that we have quite a volume of useful suggestions. The time is now approaching when we shall be able to sift that material and give some consideration to it. Some matters arising from suggestions will, no doubt, require considerable attention by the Government on a policy level, but 1 am hopeful that we may see some amendment to the legislation, perhaps in the early part of next year.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, has reference to the recent trade negotiations between Australia and Japan. Can the Minister say whether, as a result of those negotiations, it will be possible for Australia to send additional and more regular shipments of coal to Japan?
– One of the problems involved in meeting requests that reach the Joint Coal Board for the export of coal from Australia is the limit placed on our capacity to export by the loading facilities at Newcastle. I am advised that the board already has had to reject or discourage requests that come to it from overseas, because of this very circumstance. There have been occasions on which the board has had to indicate that coal from the northern coalfields of New South Wales, which is usually the coal sought by importers or prospective importers in other countries, would have to be sent by rail to Sydney because the facilities in Newcastle were fully committed for the loading of coal for the intra-state trade, interstate trade and overseas orders previously accepted. Consequently, at the present time, and until we have more satisfactory loading arrangements in the port of Newcastle, there is not much prospect of further exports of coal from that district, even if inquiries or requests from overseas countries could be stimulated.
– Will the Prime Minister exhort his Ministers to present to the House before the budget debate some of the basic financial reports, such as those by the Tariff Board, the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Commonwealth Bank, which in the last six, five and three years respectively have been tabled after the budget debate has been concluded? Will the Prime Minister also urge his Ministers to present, before the debate on the Estimates, the specific reports, such as those by the Commissioner of Taxation, the Repat riation Commission, and the Director of Social Services, and those on the Commonwealth Territories and business undertakings, which on previous occasions they have tabled after the Estimates have been passed, or in the following year?
– All Ministers have in fact been asked to provide, as far as is practicable, these various reports to honorable members before the relevant debates, for the reasons indicated by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether, in view of conflicting press reports regarding complications in the British and American poliomyelitis vaccination campaigns, he can give the House and the public a review of the progress and the success of the campaign in Australia, in order to reassure the Australian public and dissipate widespread rumours.
– I cannot say anything in detail about the British and American campaigns, except to tell the right honorable gentleman that a very large number of children have now been immunized in America. In Great Britain, certain reservations have been made about the manufacture of vaccine with the result that not such large numbers, proportionate to the population, have been inoculated there. In Australia, as the right honorable gentleman knows, all the vaccine used is manufactured at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. The reason for doing this is so that the Government can be sure of the uniform quality, potency and safety of the vaccine. Recently, the programme was held up for a short period because of some difficulty with infection in the media used for testing the vaccine. The Government has always declared that it will not release vaccine for use unless it has passed all the rigid tests which it considers necessary. These difficulties have now been overcome, and the vaccine is again flowing freely from the laboratories.
Up to the present, about 2,056,000 children have received two doses, another 220,000 have received one dose and another 123,000 have received three doses. It will be seen that we are now approaching the end of the period of inoculation of the priority age group - that is, children up to the age of fourteen years. In fact, I was informed by one State government this morning that it would very soon complete its third inoculation for all children in this age group and would be ready to proceed with the inoculation of older groups. Discussions are now taking place, and will shortly be finalized, between the Commonwealth Department of Health and the departments of health of the various States to arrange the conditions for the distribution of vaccine for older age groups. Obviously this will not be as simple a proposition as making the vaccine available for school children, who are easily gathered together. Distribution will not be as easy where the recipients, in many cases, will be people actively engaged in work, but I have no doubt we will be able to overcome all those difficulties.
The results of vaccination during the period have been extremely good. Very few cases have been reported in children who have been vaccinated. There have been no fatal cases and there have been no ill effects which can fairly be attributed to the vaccine. The response from the public has been most encouraging. I think it is fair to say that, despite a few difficulties, such as the temporary hold-up to which I referred, the vaccination campaign in Australia, in proportion to the population, has proceeded as rapidly and as effectively as has the campaign in any other country.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he agrees that there is a substantial case for a naval base on the Western Australian coast. Did he discuss this matter with the British Minister for Defence recently and, if so, would he be good enough to let the House know the result of that discussion?
– I am not able to offer any opinion that is worth anything on the validity or otherwise of the claims for this naval base. The matter was not discussed with the British Minister for Defence at any time when I was present, but I will ascertain whether it was discussed with him when I was not present. As far as I “know, there was no discussion. I will check up on that and advise the honorable ;member.
– Has the Minister for Trade received representations from the almond producers of South Australia requesting a revision of tariffs on imported almonds, fixed in the early 1930’s, to a level which takes into account the rise in costs and prices since that date? If so, has he yet reached a decision as to whether this matter should be referred to the Tariff Board?
– I have received the representations, and I have referred the matter to the Tariff Board for a report.
– ! direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the tremendous pressure being brought to bear on the Government by big business for a substantial reduction of company tax and pay-roll tax, and the implementation of the Hulme report on depreciation, in the forthcoming budget, have the right honorable gentleman and his advisers lost sight of the fact that consideration could be given to an amendment of the income tax law in order to make the expenses of travel to and from work allowable deductions for taxation purposes? This would, of course, remove a grave injustice which has been perpetrated for a great many years on the vast majority of the people.
– Obviously, the question involves matters of policy that may be discussed in the preparation of the budget.
– I should like to preface a question to the Minister for Health by saying that there has been, and is, a considerable amount of concern in the community over staphylococcal pneumonia or “ golden death “, as some newspapers have described it. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that, a few years ago, the staphylococcus was fairly easily controlled. Further, are the growth and the virulence of this virus attributable to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics? Finally, can the honorable gentleman indicate whether the Government has considered taking action abour what appears, on the face of it, to be widespread indiscriminate use of antibiotics?
– I think it is a pity that the press has allowed itself to indulge in flamboyant descriptions such as “ golden death “, which have been prominent lately, because this indulgence has added to the fears generated in the minds of the public by reports of staphylococcal infections. It should not be thought that infections such as staphylococcal septicaemia and staphylococcal pneumonia are new diseases. They are not. They are diseases with which the medical profession is familiar. The staphylococcus is a germ which is able very rapidly to acquire resistance to treatment by antibiotics and chemotherapy. This also has been known for a considerable time and, accordingly, the Department of Health has taken steps to restrict the use of antibiotics as a pharmaceutical benefit in cases of staphylococcal infection in a way considered appropriate by its advisers - the Antibiotics Advisory Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. Officers of the department and I are constantly in touch with our advisers on this matter. Last year, after discussions with the committee, it was decided that the procedure for making the antibiotics available for the treatment of staphylococcal infections should be altered. As a result, the conditions under which they could be used were greatly liberalized well before the present epidemic of influenza broke upon the country. lt is now a fact that practically all antibiotics are immediately available to doctors for use against staphylococcal infections. In fact, the Commonwealth Directors of Health in the various States have been instructed that, where doctors consider it necessary to have immediate recourse to the use of any antibiotics, they may be made available as pharmaceutical benefits.
I should explain that it has always been open to doctors to use these drugs without prescribing them as pharmaceutical benefits, but where large sums of public money are involved, as they are, my department considers that it is only proper that these drugs should be available for use against diseases on conditions laid down by those most qualified to do so. So they are made available as pharmaceutical benefits in the circumstances considered most appropriate by the committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, to which I have referred, and by the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Advisory Committee, which is the ultimate authority in deciding whether drugs should be made available as pharmaceutical benefits or not.
– By way of a supplementary question I would like to ask the Minister to deal with the suggestion that the overprescription of antibiotics makes the patient less responsive to further treatment with antibiotics. ls there anything in that theory?
– lt is a fact that inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics can very easily encourage the growth of resistance in organisms. In the past few years since these drugs have been available, my department and the various medical authorities in Australia have been most active in consulting together and drawing up such conditions as they consider most appropriate, and they will, of course, continue to do so.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement made by the Chief Secretary of Tasmania in which he alleged that this Government had instructed the Australian Wheat Board to deliver low-grade soft wheat to Australian mills for manufacture into flour for local consumption and at the same time had reserved all hard wheat of high protein value for shipment to Japan under the Japanese trade treaty?
- Mr. Speaker, I had not heard of the statement made by the Chief Secretary of Tasmania, but that does not stop it from being grossly inaccurate. This Government has neither given instructions to nor been in touch with the Australian Wheat Board about the sale of wheat to Tasmania. What has happened. I think, is this: Tasmania usually obtains its wheat in bags from South Australia rather than in bulk from New South Wales or Queensland. This means that it usually takes a low protein quality wheat. As 1 understand it, and if my memory holds good, this year the quality of wheat in South Australia is not as high as usual and there have therefore been complaints about the quality of that wheat.
The solution to this problem lies in the hands of the Tasmanian Government. It has been dithering for the last few years over the construction of facilities for storing premium wheats. For five years it has been attempting to construct silo facilities hut has not done so. If it wants to get pre.mium wheats in bulk from Queensland or New South Wales it should get on with the job of constructing those silos. One other thing that should be mentioned is that the Wheat Board itself is quite enthusiastic about the sale of low-protein wheats to Japan.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that in 1955 the General Synod of the Church of England requested him to use the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act or, if these were inadequate, to introduce legislation similar to the Sherman anti-trust law of America, with a view to halting the growth of monopolies in this country? If so, will he state what action, if any, his Government has taken to comply with the request of the Synod?
– I have no recollection of such a communication, but that is not to say that one did not arrive. I shall find out whether one came and give the honorable member the information.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by stating that claims have been made that quite a number of immigrants, although claiming to be skilled tradesmen, have been unable to obtain the necessary tradesman qualifications certificate from the Department of Labour and National Service. Would the right honorable gentleman indicate the process available to help these individuals, and also whether there has been any recent alteration of the relevant regulations?
– I think it would require an unduly lengthy answer to detail the processes which are gone through in this respect. There are various trade committees representative of the Department of Labour and National Service and of employers and employees which deal with particular applications when matters may be in doubt. 1 am not aware of any change in the regulations or in the principles applied over recent months nor, for that matter, have I had brought to my notice instances in which the system is not working satisfactorily. Occasionally there may be a case that is regarded as a borderline case but, generally speaking, I think the scheme works well. However, if the honorable gentleman has had one or more cases brought to his notice which he thinks call for further inquiry, I shall be glad to arrange for such inquiry to be made.
– My question to the Minister for Trade concerns the effect on Australia of the Japanese trade agreement. A manufacturer in Victoria has directed my attention to the fact that sets of water colours from Japan are on sale in shops in Victoria at the price of 5s. a dozen sets of tubes. The manufacturer concerned supplies such tubes of water colours, made in Australia, at a price of 14s. 6d. a dozen sets, and points out that the empty tubes alone cost 5s. in Australia, so that the price at which the Japanese product is retailed makes it impossible for him to compete. What action would the Minister propose to take in this matter, and what action could manufacturers who find themselves in a similar situation take in order to obtain some redress?
– If I have correctly comprehended the question, it is based upon the presence already in Melbourne of certain commodities. Those commodities must have been ordered before the Japanese trade treaty was signed, and, therefore, that treaty can have no relation to them.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question without notice. As the position of chairman of the Australian Apple and Pear Board is vacant, due to the death of Mr. J. P. Mills, will the Minister consider appointing a Tasmanian to fill this position? Will the Minister give weight to the claim of Tasmania to have a Tasmanian in this position on the grounds that Tasmanian apple exports represent in excess of 60 per cent, of all our exports of this produce, provided a suitable person is available from Tasmania to fill the post?
– Representations have been made to me from most of the States to ensure that a representative of the State making the representation in each case is appointed chairman of the Australian Apple and Pear Board. I have referred all of those representations to the Department of Primary Industry so that a report on the matter may be submitted to me. The honorable gentleman, who is probably the best informed man in this House on the problems of the apple and pear industry, himself made recommendations to me, and f give him my assurance that they will receive all the attention they deserve. As yet, the Department has not submitted to me recommendations relating to any particular individual. I shall take the claims of Tasmania into consideration before a decision is made.
– In view of the fact that the desire of more than a quarter of a century has now been achieved, and Queensland has been inflicted with a Liberal-Country party government, will the Treasurer consider granting to Queensland the financial assistance, which he persistently refused to grant to that State under a Labour government, for the development of the Burdekin Valley, especially in view of the ever-growing unemployment in this country?
– The honorable gentleman should know, and does indeed know, that the Burdekin Valley proposition that was put up was financially and economically unsound.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral been informed of a most disastrous fire which occurred in the northern part of the New England electorate, where a large part of the township of Bom. Ibo was practically wiped out? Included in the destruction was the local post office. I understand that the Minister promised, some time during the last few months, that a new post office would be erected at Bonalbo. Apparently, the plans are complete. Can the Minister give an assurance that the building of the new post office will be expedited so that the normal work of the township and district may proceed with the least possible hindrance?
– i am aware of the very regrettable loss by fire of a considerable portion of the township of Bonalbo, which I had the privilege to visit with the honorable member for New England some time ago. I can assure the honorable member that the plans for the improvement of the post office facilities there, which had been determined before this occurrence, will be given a higher priority because this fire has so seriously affected the township, and has affected the department’s capacity to carry on its appropriate services,
– In view of the concern that is felt in the Northern Territory as the result of comments made by an appeal board presided over by a supreme court judge who was hearing appeals made by two senior prison officers of the Darwin Gaol against their dismissal from the service, which dismissals were upheld by the board, will the Minister for Territories, since these dismissals arose out of a recent inquiry into the administration and control of prisons in the Northern Territory, take steps to have this report released at the earliest possible time?
– I will examine the request of the honorable member and let him have an answer.
– Will the Minister for the Army state whether it is a fact that army personnel and Bren guns were used in trying to eradicate the wild-goose menace on the rice-field owned by Territory Rice Limited at Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory? If so, what payment was received by the Department of the Army for the services rendered?
– I do not know whether it is correct that I should answer this question now because a similar question is on the notice-paper. But as an answer has been given to-day to another honorable member I do not mind repeating that assistance was given, and has been given for a number of years. On this last occasion, a Bren gun and two soldiers were allotted for a short period. The ammunition used in the operation to prevent these geese from destroying this new industry-
– Order! I think the Minister is out of order. A question is on the notice-paper dealing with the subjectmatter of this question.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question which arises from the fact that, as I am informed, an Austraiian citizen cannot obtain in Australia a visa to visit Viet Nam. It also arises from the fact that recently a new area was linked to Australia by a French airline that has begun to operate aircraft from Darwin direct to Saigon. In view of the approaching visit to Australia of the President of Viet Nam does the Prime Minister believe that this may be an appropriate time to consider whether Australian citizens should be able to obtain visas in Australia to visit Viet Nam?
-I am not familiar with the material affecting the point raised by the honorable member. I will at once put myself in a position to find out about it, and will then advise him further.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the Right Honorable the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on the ground of public business overseas, to the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas, and to the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack) owing to his absence from Australia.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) - agreed to -
That leave of absence be given for two months to the honorable members for Blaxland (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and Lalor (Mr. Pollard) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas, to the honorable members for Banks (Mr. Costa) and Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) on the ground of ill health, and for one month to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) on the ground of ill health.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Townley) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to increase the salaries payable to the holders of certain statutory offices and for purposes connected therewith.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Townley and Sir Arthur Fadden do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Townley, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of the bill is to provide increased salaries to the holders of certain statutory offices, as specified in the First Schedule, namely the Auditor-General, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, the Commissioners of the Public Service Board, the Public Service Arbitrator and the Commissioner and Second Commissioner of Taxation. Provision also is made, under section 182 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, for an increase in the bulk sum from which the salaries and expenses of chairmen and members of the Taxation Boards of Review are provided.
Following a general increase in Public Service salaries in December, 1954, the salaries of statutory office-holders were similarly increased as from 1st January, 1955, by Act No. 18 of 1955. As a result of subsequent arbitration action involving appeal by the Public Service Board to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration against an award of the Public Service Arbitrator, a substantial further increase in Public Service salaries was awarded by the court, with retrospective effect to December, 1954. The Government did not, at that time, take steps to provide for equivalent increases in the salaries of statutory office-holders and this has led to a shrinking of marginal salary which the Government now considers should be restored with effect from 1st July, 1957. The increase is £500 in each case.
The additional provision under section 182 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act is designed to cover increased salaries and travelling allowances for the chairmen and members of Taxation Boards of Review. The individual salary increase will be £750, and the new level of remuneration will be £4,500 per annum for the chairmen and £4,000 for the members. There are three chairmen and six members of these boards.
The Second Schedule lists the various acts which will be amended by this bill. I commend the measure to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1933-1951, and for purposes connected with the amendment.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Mr. TOWNLEY (Denison - Minister for
Immigration) [3.24].- by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill makes provision for the GovernorGeneral to determine remuneration and allowances for the Commissioners of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. In the course of a general review of salaries and allowances, the Government considered whether it should continue the present provision for increasing remuneration by amendment to the act, or whether it should follow the modern trend in legislation for thesematters tobe determined by the Governor-General. It has been decided that the act should be amended so that the salaries and allowances shall be determined by the Governor-General. This decision was made in the knowledge that -
When the bill is amended, the chairman and members of the commission will receive remuneration increases, in line with the increases approved for the holders of other statutory offices, including those covered by the preceding bill. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to establish a Commission for the Development of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth, and for related purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Seat of Government Act, which established Canberra as the Federal Capital, looked forward to the establishment in Canberra of the Federal Parliament and, around it, the machinery of administration. Such a proposal called for the provision of public buildings and extensive residential accommodation in a city provided with all necessary services and amenities. The conception of the National Capital began to take some form when, in 1911, an international competition for the design of the new city was launched. Despite the difficulties which immediately followed, the acceptance of the Canberra plan and its publication in the “ Commonwealth Gazette”, of 19th November, 1925, demanded the development of a city worthy of the Australian nation.
Understandably, there has been both disappointment with the rate of progress and criticism of the delays by successive governments in implementing the proposals which brought Canberra into being. But it is to be recalled that the development of Canberra has been halted on occasions by two wars and a major depression. During the periods of recovery from each of these misfortunes there was a redirection of the economy away from projects such as those involved in the development of the National Capital for purely administrative purposes. Nevertheless, there has been a steadily mounting pressure for the provision of office accommodation, houses, works and services in the National Capital as departments have moved to Canberra, more and more of their central administrative establishments. More recently, as part of the national defence programme, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced the Government’s decision to transfer the policymaking core of the defence services from Melbourne to Canberra during 1959.
This move, involving as it does, some 1,100 public servants, together with their families, calls for greatly expanded provision of homes, schools, works and services which, when added to the standing requirement in Canberra, constitutes a works programme of considerable magnitude.
Thus begins a new phase of development in the National Capital which must continue for some years ahead, subject always, of course, to the state of the economy. To begin with, the Government has approved in principle of a five-year programme to meet the present requirements in Canberra, together with those generated by the defence services’ move, which must itself be the forerunner of additional transfers. Necessarily, proposals of this kind demand the closest examination of the machinery for planning, development and construction of the National Capital. In this connexion, some review of past experience in this field is worth while.
Even the casual reader of the monumental report produced by the Senate committee of inquiry into the development of Canberra in 1955 will, no doubt, have been struck by the number of advisory and coordinating committees and other organizations which have, over the years, concerned themselves with the development of Canberra. But since these agencies have been discontinued for one reason or another, recent years have seen the work of planning and development of Canberra divided between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works. Divided responsibility of this kind, which may be quite satisfactory in times of leisurely development, appears to be in need of review if the programme now before the Government is to be achieved on time.
I doubt if I can do better than quote the report of the Senate committee on Canberra which examined this matter rather exhaustively and came to the conclusion “ that the present form of administration is unsatisfactory for the task required of it. The blame for this does not lie with the officers of the various departments but with the type of organization “. The committee went on to suggest that the development of Canberra to permit the full transfer of administrative departments should be given over to a centralized authority and that the authority should be controlled by a single commissioner with power to take over those branches of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works which deal solely with the planning, development and construction of Canberra.
With the general recommendations of the Senate committee on this matter the Government agrees. The decision to establish a powerful and competent commission charged with the responsibility for planning, development and construction of Canberra results in the presentation to the House of this bill for the establishment of the National Capital Development Commission.
It might be worth while to point out that the period of greatest development here in Canberra occurred under the original Federal Capital Commission, which was established in 1925 and carried on its functions until 1930. That commission was responsible not only for the construction of the National Capital during the years from 1925 to 1930, but for the administration of all of the matters which normally would fall under local government. The proposed National Capital Development Commission differs from its predecessor in that it has no administrative functions, as a review of the bill will indicate.
The commission will be constituted by a commissioner and shall be a body corporate. The commissioner will be assisted by two associate commissioners appointed by the Governor-General. These associate commissioners will be required to give such advice and assistance to the commissioner as the commissioner requires, and shall perform such duties as the commissioner directs. The period of appointment shall not exceed seven years, but, of course, commissioners and assistant commissioners will be eligible for re-appointment.
– How long does the Minister expect this job to last?
– It is very hard, at this stage, to judge how long it will go on, but there is a five-year programme in principle, t think that will generate momentum and carry on until the original concept of Canberra as the seat of government has been fulfilled. I am sure that the honorable member will join me in the hope that that will be the case.
The bill then covers the normal machinery for appointments, for termination of appointments, for the appointment of an acting commissioner in the event of the office of commissioner becoming vacant and empowers the commission to delegate all of its powers except this power of delegation. This, of course, is a normal machinery provision in a matter of this kind.
The report of the Senate committee stressed the need for unifying all of the activities involved in the development of the National Capital. For that reason, the commission has been given the broadest possible powers in the statement of its functions which are “ to undertake and carry out the planning, development and construction of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth with power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done in connexion with, or incidental to, the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers “. Although liberally endowed with the power to perform the task in front of it, the commission is, nevertheless, required to keep the Minister informed of its decisions in respect of matters of policy. As previously indicated, the commission will not assume administrative functions of any kind. It will have transferred to it land for development and upon completion of its task it will hand the land and the completed work back to the relevant department for administration and maintenance.
I should like to point out that very little new administrative machinery will be required by the commission. The commission will have transferred to its control the functions and staff now existing within the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works which are engaged on those matters shortly to become the responsibility of the commission. It is also provided that the commission may arrange for the permanent head of any department of state of the Commonwealth to make available the services of officers or employees of his particular department Should the services available to it be considered inadequate or unsuitable the commission will have powers to appoint such officers or engage such employees as is considered necessary for the purpose of the act. In addition, provision is made for the availability to the commission, on transfer or hire, as the case may be, of vehicles, machinery, plant or other assets owned by the Commonwealth if those assets are required for the performance of functions now allocated to the commission. The rights of public servants appointed or employed under the act are adequately safeguarded.
Although the Government has accepted, in principle, the commitment involved in the five-year programme, finance will be provided for the work of the commission by annual appropriation. The commission will be required to expend its moneys only in accordance with estimates of expenditure already approved and to keep proper accounts and records which will be subject to inspection and report by the AuditorGeneral. It will be understood, I am sure, that the delegation of responsibility and power of this kind to a commission must necessarily be covered by adequate safeguards.
There will be those, both in the House and members of the general public, who will question the authority of the commission to alter the gazetted town plan of Canberra.
I am happy to reassure the House that subclause (5) of clause 11 specifies that the commission shall not depart from or do anything inconsistent with the plan of layout of the City of Canberra except with the approval of both Houses of Parliament.
– Hear, hear! That is a proper provision.
– I think that is true. Also, machinery is provided for the resolution of any difference of opinion between the Minister and the commission on matters of policy so that, once again in this important field, final authority is not taken out of the hands of the Government. Finally, the provision of funds by annual appropriation and the obligation of the commission to present an annual report and financial statement to each House of Parliament offers ample opportunity for the House to keep under close scrutiny the performance of the commission.
I should like now to turn to another important aspect of the present bill. The growth of Canberra physically and the fact that the National Capital is becoming increasingly the focus of national sentiment make it essential that the commission shall have available to it the most expert advice available on matters of planning and development. The bill, therefore, provides for the establishment of a national capital planning committee of nine members under the chairmanship of the commissioner. In order to promote the widest possible professional interest in the development of the National Capital, I have sought, and, I am happy to say, have’ received, the cooperation of the three major national professional organizations, which has been given readily. The Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the Institution of Engineers of Australia and the Town Planning Institute of Australia have each, agreed to submit a panel of nominations from which two will be selected for appointment to the National Capital Planning Committee. Two additional appointments to complete the committee will be made of persons with special knowledge and experience in artistic or cultural matters. This proposal needs no explanation and will, I feel, be generally applauded. In this way, I believe the professional bodies will be encouraged directly to take a positive interest in and play an important role in a task which requires of the participants great skill, technical training and wide experience. Some degree of rotation of membership of the National Capital Planning Committee is provided for by making the period of appointment three years, although retiring members will be eligible for re-appointment.
The appointment of the new planning committee will abolish the present National Capital Planning and Development Committee which for the past twenty years has functioned as an advisory body to the Minister under an ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory.
– Are the functions of the new committee purely advisory?
– Yes. I should like to take the opportunity of making it abundantly clear that this reconstitution of the planning committee does not imply any lack of confidence in the members of that committee. On the contrary, the Government and the people of Australia have been magnificently served by the members of that committee, and I should like to take this opportunity of expressing, for the public record, the Government’s thanks for a difficult job well done.
The chairman of the committee, Mr. B. J. Waterhouse, of Sydney, was an original member of the committee established in 1938. Mr. Waterhouse is a leader of his profession, and his interest in the National Capital goes back to the early days of development. His connexion with Canberra extended to adjudication in relation to architectural competitions for government buildings, and he has been on occasion adviser to the Government on the question of national memorials. The second member of the committee, Mr. H. M. Rolland, has been a member of the committee since 1945. As with Mr. Waterhouse, so Mr. Rolland has been associated with Canberra for many years. He was at one stage Director of Works in the Australian Capital Territory and later Director of Architecture in the Department of Works until his retirement. Mr. F. J. Walters was appointed to the committee in 1945. A consulting civil engineer of the highest repute, Mr. Walters has had extensive experience in private practice in Victoria, especially in relation to schemes for town planning, municipal engineering and water supply and sewerage, and he has acted as advisor to many local government authorities. The fourth appointed member of the committee is Mr. Frank Heath, a member of the Town Planning Institute of London and principal of a firm of practising architects and town planners of Melbourne. Mr. Heath is the recipient of awards for his distinguished contribution to town planning. He has been a member of the committee since 1954.
I have given honorable members some indication of the calibre of the gentlemen who, in their professional capacity, have assisted the development of this National Capital in magnificent style - and, I may add, in an honorary capacity. Ex-officio members of the committee have been the chairman of the Public Works Committee, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Lawrence), the chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, Mr. F. D. Quinane, and the Assistant Secretary of the Planning and Development Branch of the Department of the Interior, Mr. Rogers. To all these people I once again express the Government’s appreciation and trust that they will see in the reconstituted committee a logical extension of the work to which they devoted so much of their time and experience in an honorary capacity.
– Is there any provision in the bill for the appointment of ex-officio members to this new committee?
– No. There is no provision for appointments other than those I have listed.
Finally, the bill provides a regulationmaking power, since in a comprehensive programme of this kind it is not possible to cover by legislation every detail that will need to be dealt with by the commission. I am confident that through this legislation the development of the National Capital will move forward under the competent direction of a commission having available to it adequate powers and finance, the most competent advice and, I believe, the goodwill of the Australian people, who will see in the growth of their National Capital a physical indication of Australia’s continued march to a greater nationhood. For those reasons I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. J. R. Fraser) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That, in lieu of the maximum rate imposed by the Wine Grapes Charges Act 1929-1954, the maximum rate of charge on all grapes delivered to a winery or distillery on or after the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight, for use in the manufacture of wine be-
in respect of fresh grapes - Fifteen shillings per ton; and
in respect of dried grapes - Two pounds five shillings per ton.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McMahon and Mr. Fairhall do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Wine Grapes Charges Act 1929-1954 by increasing the maximum rates of levy on grapes delivered to wineries and distilleries. The levies, or charges, made on fresh and dried grapes used in the wine industry have applied since 1929 and are designed to finance the activities of the Australian Wine Board, that is, its administrative costs and contributions to research and trade promotion. The rates of levy are varied from time to time after consideration of reports or recommendations of the board.
The act at present provides for maximum levies of 10s. a ton on fresh grapes. Where dried grapes are used for distillation the rate of levy is 30s. a ton, that is, three times the rate on fresh grapes. Provision is made in the act for regulations to prescribe rates below the maximum if lower rates are desired. However, the present operative rates are at the maximum, namely, 10s. and 30s. a ton. Since the annual wine grape crop is about 150,000 tons this levy yields an annual revenue of around £75,000.
The act was last amended in 1954, when the maximum rate for fresh grapes was raised from 5s. to 10s. a ton. At the same time the board was authorized to use its funds for publicity in the Australian domestic market as well as overseas. Honorable members may wish to know why a further amendment is now necessary. The facts are that the board has found that its publicity activities in Australia and the United Kingdom are producing such good results that it wishes to extend them. Publicity is costly and as a result of light vintages in 1955 and 1956 adversely affecting the board’s income, together with increased commitments for publicity in the United Kingdom, the board was obliged to suspend i:s Australian publicity campaign in 1 956 for lack of funds. This gap in the programme caused considerable concern in” the industry and led to the board’s request to the Government for an amendment of the act to increase the maximum rate of levy. The Australian Wine Board, which comprises leading representatives of both wine-makers and growers, is doing excellent work in trade promotion and in building a high reputation for our wines and brandies. It is working closely with the newly formed Wine Research Institute and contributes to the funds of the institute.
Wine-making is one of our oldest primary industries. It has been estimated that the capital investment involved in vineyards and wineries is of the order of £70,000,000. The return to the industry from sales of wine and brandy exceeds £8,000,000 a year. Directly and indirectly many thousands of people, including returned servicemen, are dependent on grape-growing and wine-making for their employment. The charge imposed on wine grapes is, in effect, a tax levied by the industry upon itself for ils own welfare. The money is collected by the Commonwealth and handed over to the Australian Wine Board. The increase now proposed in the maximum levy from 10s. to 1 5s. a ton on fresh grapes and from 30s. to 45s. a ton on dried grapes is supported by the Australian Wine Board and also by the principal industry organizations, namely the Federal Grape Growers Council, i he South Australian Co-operative Winemakers Association and the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia.
The passage of this bill will enable the board to recommend new levy rates to apply to the 1958 grape crop and future crops, having in mind the publicity and other activities of the board in Australia and overseas. The new rate could be the maximum or any figure below the maximum prescribed in the act. If the maximum rate should be decided upon, then, on a vintage of 150,000 tons, the amount collected by way of levy for Australian Wine Board purposes would be £112,500. After providing for ils administrative costs the board would be free to use the balance of this money as it thought fit for any purpose calculated to improve the quality or promote the sale in Australia or elsewhere of wine and brandy. The amounts that would be allocated to sales promotional activities within Australia and overseas respectively would be a matter for the board to determine on its own judgment. The proposal is fully supported by the Government as well as by the industry itself. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate ( on motion by Mr. Calwell ) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 29), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The object of this bill is to establish in Australia, which is the biggest exporter of wool, a wool testing authority. The authority will be able to issue certificates in accordance with internationally recognized standards under the auspices of the International Wool Textile Organization. At the moment, the measure is limited to carbonized or processed wool, the object being to ascertain the moisture content of semi-processed wools for the benefit of the producer and the exporter. More than 50 per cent, of Australia’s exports during the last financial year consisted of woo). Therefore, any measure designed to encourage and preserve that asset is to be commended and for that reason we on this side of the House support the measure. The dangerous situation of our economy to-day is revealed when we realize that we depend on wool for the maintenance of our overseas balance of payments. The measures introduced by the Minister for
Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) at the end of the last session indicate the sedulous manner in which the industry is being encouraged. Every saving is being made so that the effect on our economy of a fall in the price of wool will be cushioned as far as possible. We saw the effect when the price dropped from 80 pence to 70 pence per lb. previously. We are in the same position to-day. If the fleece cuts lighter than in previous years, the quantity of our exports will drop and if the price recedes the return from exports will fall. To-day we are almost totally dependent upon one industry.
I should like the Minister later to explain how he arrives at the figure of £1,000,000 a year as the amount that will be saved by exporters with the passage of this bill. The system is a voluntary one, but I have full confidence with the Minister that exporters will avail themselves of the facility made available. I consider that a reflection is cast not only on this Government but also on previous governments by the fact that, though Britain has had a measure such as this on its statute-book since the end of last century, and Belgium and France have had similar legislation for some time, it is only in this year that Australia, the world’s biggest exporter of wool, has seen fit to give the benefit of such a measure to the people.
The substance of the bill centres on the capacity of wool to absorb moisture. Five or six years ago a firm of wool sellers in Australia sought clients who would send wool to it for sale on the London market. The main point made in stressing the desirability of selling wool on the London market rather than on the local market was that, with the ability of wool to absorb moisture en route, the freight charges would be paid by the time the wool arrived at its destination in London. I doubt very much whether that would be true to-day; the increase in shipping freights has probably reduced the force of such a contention. Since wool is able to absorb water equivalent to as much as 20 per cent, of its weight, one can readily understand the great saving in freight that could be made in the transport of greasy wool if the absorption of moisture could be prevented. Even though semiprocessed wool can be marketed overseas in dry condition, the lack of an internationally recognized Australian certificate as to its moisture content means that we cannot sell so much of our wool overseas as dry wool.
In conclusion, I ask the Minister again to indicate how the estimated gain of £1,000,000 a year is arrived at. For the reasons that have been outlined by honorable members on both sides of the House, the Opposition supports this measure.
.- The first point that I wish to emphasize is that this bill is not a hurried proposal. It stems from the expression of considered opinion after long investigation by a most competent and most representative committee, which studied all the relevant aspects of the great wool industry, the condition of which has a most profound effect on Australia’s economy. As a consequence, I consider that the necessity for the proposed Australian Wool Testing Authority has been thoroughly canvassed. This is borne out by an examination of the bill, and by the secondreading speech made by the Minister for Primary Industry ( Mr. McMahon ). It is obvious that this measure is so sane and sound that there will be no opposition to it. We have heard nothing said against it by opposition members, and one can safely say that, in this instance, we all are in complete accord with an administrative proposal made by the Government. Indeed, it is an example of the very best kind of government enterprise, by which government funds are to be provided to give the proposed authority a start and an impetus that will make it self-supporting.
The application of scientific methods to the manufacture and merchandising of wool is of the utmost importance, and it is a matter to which we should give our close attention. The proposals embodied in this bill will promote the speedy dissemination of information, improve the marketing of wool, assist to stabilize the industry, and enhance the prestige of Australia’s trade in wool. Australians should be ever conscious of what the wool industry means to the economy of this country. In the hackneyed phrase, we say lightly that Australia rides on the sheep’s back, but I think that we often fail to understand exactly what the wool industry means to the financial well-being of the nation, and, through its finances, to the living standards of the people. The fluctuations of the economy are so often traceable directly to the price of wool. We have found, in recent years, that fluctuations in the amount of wool marketed, and the prices obtained, have forced the Government to take special administrative action in many fields. That clearly indicates the necessity for this measure as a means of promoting future stability of the wool industry.
The amount of wool produced in Australia has been increasing since the financial year 1951-52. In 1952-53, production was 18.8 per cent, greater than in the preceding financial year; in 1954-55, 3 per cent, greater; in 1955-56, 9.9 per cent, greater; and in 1956-57, 11 per cent, greater. It is estimated that, in 1957-58, production will be 2.4 per cent, greater than it was last financial year. I ask honorable members to bear those figures in mind when they consider the remarks made yesterday by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark). The honorable member, shall we say, got out of the paddock represented by the scope of this bill, and wandered through the broader fields of party politics. He stated that the proposed wool testing authority should be considered in relation to another factor - the Government’s alleged restriction of credit, which he said was limiting the production of wool. The honorable member emphasized that allegation at considerable length. I do not wish to go beyond the scope of the bill, but I consider that such statements should be answered. Therefore, I want to point out that the amount of wool produced has been increasing in recent years. Also, the number of sheep increased from 139,124,000 in 1956 to 150,900,000 at 31st March, 1957. Also, the amount of greasy wool produced is increasing. The total production in 1956-57 was 1,565,000 lb., and it is estimated that, in 1957-58, production will total 1,603,000 lb. These figures indicate that the alleged credit restrictions mentioned by the honorable member for Darling have not hampered the wool industry, and that the proposed testing authority is very necessary in order to help us to market the increased amount of wool now being produced.
As I stated earlier, we owe a great deal to the wool industry which, since 1949, has regularly accounted for more than 50 per cent, of Australia’s export income. Perhaps it seems a somewhat uncomplicated industry to some of us, who may think that it involves merely raising sheep, shearing them, sending the wool to be scoured and carbonized, and selling it to either overseas or local buyers for manufacture. It is not so simple as that. The more one studies this industry, the more one finds that it is an intricate . industry with many technical complications. It needs a lot of experience, and it has been built up largely on the instinct for it gained by families who have participated in its development for almost a century. We often hear idle criticisms of graziers, and others engaged in the wool industry, made by people who seem to think that anybody could make a success of wool-growing if he had the opportunity, and who have not studied the people and the industry that they criticize.
In one of the text-books studied by those who wish to become experts on wool, it is stated that the merino sheep is an animal which has been developed by man over centuries, and has reached its highest development, in numbers and quality, in Australia, largely due to the efforts of the men who controlled the great foundation studs. This authority states that the number of those men can be counted on the fingers of two hands. Their ability, interest and enthusiasm were responsible for the development of the great wool industry of Australia to which we all owe so much. We in Australia are fortunate that we have had such men, and that our climate and natural pastures suited the merino sheep so well that Australian wool has become recognized as the finest in the world.
One pound of wool has a surface area of about 800 square feet, but when the lanoline is removed it can absorb up to 5 or 6 ounces of water before feeling noticeably damp or cold. We know that this characteristic gives it a vast superiority over artificial fibres, especially when the wearer is subject to changes of temperature and rate of exertion. It has a capacity to absorb perspiration and it prevents chilling under such circumstances. The United States Army has tried artificial fibres for its uniforms, but it has had to discontinue these experiments and return to pure wool or cotton. It found that the artificial fibres were not suitable. However, these experiments in artificial fibres are a constant threat to the woollen industry.
It is well known that wool has further points of superiority over artificial fibres, such as its natural crimp, and against synthetics wool has held its own. But it will only hold its own if we continue research and if we continue improvements in every phase of its marketing and merchandising.
Wool may not be quite perfect in every way. Perhaps it is like the Persian rug, which is never perfect because the weavers say that only Allah is perfect and therefore no rug must be made completely perfect in every detail. It has great disadvantages in that it tends to shrink under the action of soap and hot water and unless specially treated is liable to attack by moths and other insects. However, in that regard the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is carrying out experiments which are proving particularly interesting and will be very effective in the future. We must continue our endeavours to improve wool so that we can safeguard this outstanding feature of our economy which affects every household, every individual, and every industry in this country. I do not wish to say much more about that aspect, because I think all honorable members are in thorough agreement that this is a bill which will produce something of benefit to the woollen industry.
I would like to return now to the area I represent in this House. In my electorate there is the Gordon School of Technology, which has a textile college attached to it. It dates back to the very early days of Victoria. Its origin was in 1869 when a school for encouraging technological and industrial instruction was opened under the auspices of a commission set up by the government. I emphasize that it was set up by the government. Right through its history “ the Gordon “ has been the subject of great interest by State and Federal governments. Geelong has developed into a major woollen centre with a compact growth of woollen and worsted mills. It has wool scouring and carbonizing plants. It is on the verge of some of the world’s best merino and cross-bred merino country, and during a season it probably handles over half a million bales. At the Gordon school there is provision for wool classing and textile training, and hand-loom weaving has been developed over the years since 1891. As an indication of the strong government interest which has always been directed towards this institution, in 1916 the then Minister for Public Institutions, the Honorable H. Lawson, M.L.A., who was later a distinguished member of this House, commenced inquiries which ultimately led to a site being selected, and money was subscribed by the public of the district. It was felt by the textile manufacturers of those days that Geelong would be the ideal centre for a textile college and it was decided to enlist the aid of the Commonwealth Government. The then Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Stanley Bruce, was approached by the Honorable J. F. Guthrie and the local State member of the time, Mr. W. Brownbill. So, over many years, through State and Commonwealth representatives there has been this interest in “ the Gordon “.
My predecessor, the Honorable J. J. Dedman, figured most prominently. Following a sub-committee report in 1943 that a higher textile college be established he announced a Commonwealth grant of £50,000, which, due to rising costs by 1949 - and this indicates that even under a Labour government there can be inflation - was raised to £90,000. I believe that Mr. Dedman was actuated by motives that were in the best interests not only of Geelong but also of the community generally. As a result, the college obtained status, prestige, and very great experience. It now has facilities for testing such as will be found in the wool testing houses to be developed in Melbourne and Sydney. A service has been available there for nineteen years, lt has been of tremendous value lo the woollen industry. The very fact that we are now proposing to establish wool testing houses under this measure shows that there must have been some value in the wool testing house in the Geelong textile college. It has been of very great value to the woollen industry and has conducted thousands of tests on its behalf.
The staff there is enthusiastic and capable and has proved itself to have the capacity for the work. The results of their testing have been accepted. I am going to ask the Minister, even though there will be these testing houses in Sydney and Melbourne, to include the Gordon institute in this particular set-up because of the work it has done in the past and the fact that it has proved itself capable of doing it. It is associated very closely with the woollen industry, being on the fringe of the western district, and it has wool-classing students there who undoubtedly would feel that they were getting the complete picture. There may be some apprehension about spreading the responsibility of testing, and that is a point that probably has to be considered, but the fact that in the past Geelong has done such a good job would, I feel, lead to any certificates issued there being accepted by overseas buyers.
Because of that, and because Geelong, in addition to being a big wool selling centre on the verge of a rich pastoral district, is a very great centre of the woollen industry - a circumstance to which the Gordon institute has contributed so materially - I bring this matter to the attention of the Minister. I strongly support the bill, and I congratulate the Minister on the thought that has gone into its preparation and development, and on the very thorough manner in which it has been presented for our benefit and information. However, I feel that the scheme will be complete only if the Gordon Institute of Technology at Geelong is included as a testing centre.
– I am sure that the House is indebted to the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) for his very informative address on the subject of wool, about which he is so well informed since the Bradford of Australia, Geelong, is in his electorate.
I should like to point out certain features of the bill that may have escaped the notice of members of this House and also of members of the public. The bill proposes to give legislative backing for the establishment of a wool-testing authority, and also to authorize the allocation of the necessary finance. It is intended initially to open wool-testing or conditioning houses in Sydney and Melbourne which will be capable of issuing certificates, acceptable to the international wool-testing organization, in respect of the moisture content of semiprocessed wools exported by Australia. The principle is not a new one. As other honorable members have pointed out, it derived originally from that great wool centre, Bradford, which has a similar institution, in 1891, and various other countries, including New Zealand, have used the principle. We feel that it will add a certain amount of prestige to, and give international recognition to, another very important and expanding section of the great Australian wool trade.
Australia has already established an international reputation for the production of wool, and I think that every one will agree that the Australian wool manufacturing industry has shown its ability to produce high-grade worsted and woollen yarns. But the legislation is concerned with a third and vital element - the export of semi-processed wools. I think this has a particular significance in view of our expanding export trade to the Far East and the possibilities of even further expansion of exports to such countries as India. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) asked why such a system had not been introduced into Australia before. I think the explanation is simply that the export of the type of wool with which the legislation deals is of comparatively recent growth.
One point that might have escaped the notice of certain honorable members, and which I should like to explain, is that there is no intention in the legislation, nor is it envisaged in the near future that such a principle will apply, to provide for the testing of greasy wools. I know that there was some apprehension in the minds of certain wool-growers in this connexion, because they felt that the imposition of a form of testing on the whole of the Australian clip of greasy wool, if carried out to its ultimate fulfilment, would have an adverse effect on the well-known and welltried system of wool auctions used in Australia. I should like to stress that there is no intention for such a system to apply although, in the long term, a situation might arise calling for the testing of greasy wools. T am informed by people who know the industry better than I do that the problem of applying wool-testing principles to greasy wools would be almost insuperable, because it would involve a terrific amount of testing being done.
Testing will be aimed initially at certifying the moisture content of processed wools for export, and the system will obviate the possibility of disagreement over the weights of wools invoiced for export. The trade generally observes several standards, which vary from country to country, as to the allowable moisture content for export. The various percentages recognized as allowable are: United States of America 131 per cent., United Kingdom 16 per cent., Continental buyers 17 per cent. Adherence to these standards without some form of testing would be almost impossible. That is why it is felt that in the interests of our export trade some form of official recognition should be given to a form of testing which will conform to international certificate standards.
When processed wools have passed through the normal drying process associated with either scouring or carbonizing they are literally bone-dry, and a certain time must pass before they can regain, either normally through atmospheric conditions or through travel by sea, the moisture content which would be allowable within recognized international limits. Where scoured wools are required for immediate delivery or shipment it is obvious that it is quite impossible, under normal conditions, for those wools to regain in time a moisture content that would be a significant weight factor in the total weight of the wool exported. This, in fact, means, as the Minister very ably pointed out, that the actual weights of wool delivered are greater than would be necessary under normally acceptable trading practices.
Whilst it is impossible to compute the exact results which this legislation will bring about, I remind the House of the point raised by the honorable member for Darebin when he asked the Minister how he arrived at the figure of £1,000,000 annually. The Minister replied - i would venture to say that the benefits which should, or would, accrue to Australia would be in the vicinity of £1,000,000 each year at a conservative estimate.
The reason is that no reputable wool seller delivering wool on contract to a buyer overseas would normally be prepared to take the risk of supplying wool of a higher moisture content than that allowed under the regulations of the country of destination. So, if the seller were going to err at all, he would err on the side of having a lower moisture content and would, in fact, export more wool than was necesary, and so would lose on the value of the wool exported.
The scheme envisages a testing house in Sydney and another in Melbourne, in respect of which the bill seeks financial authority for the expenditure of £40,000. It is expected that after some three, four or five years the scheme will be self-supporting and will be able to carry itself on the proceeds of the normal charges made for the testing of wool and the issuance of certificates. I feel that on these indications it is possible that it will be necessary to extend the system to certain other centres. The one which naturally springs to mind is Fremantle, which is the outlet for the expanding woolgrowing industry in Western Australia. It would be desirable to have such a centre in Fremantle because of the great distance that samples for testing in Melbourne would have to be sent. The tests which will be applied at these centres, and which the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) has mentioned as having been carried out at some of our institutes in Australia, will not necessarily in the future be confined to the moisture content. There has been a test to determine the scoured basis of certain wools by such bodies as the Wool Technology Section of the Sydney University of Technology, and also by the well-known Gordon Institute at Geelong. In order to maintain the international reputation of Australia in regard to wool, it has become necessary for some uniform standards to be maintained in the making of these tests. So the Government has decided to set up a statutory body, with all the authority of the law behind it, to achieve the necessary uniformity. At the same time, I do not think there is any need to fear that the services provided by other institutes will not continue to be available to those sections of the wool trade which require them. I feel that, as in the past, in order to confirm certain buying orders and shipments, tests will be made both by these institutes, and by organizations of a similar type which have the necessary staff and plant available.
There is one other development to which I direct attention. I refer to the expansion of the activities of our customers in the Far East, particularly in India. Those countries are building up quite substantial textile industries. I am very reliably informed that one of the features of the establishment of the textile industry in those countries is that they start from the finished article and work backwards. By that I mean that they start with the actual weaving and work backwards through the intervening process until they are carrying out the initial processing such as carbonizing and scouring. So it would appear that for the next few years, anyway, Australia will be shipping quite a substantial amount of semi-processed wool of a kind which is being dealt with under the legislation before the House.
I thought that those few points would be of interest. In conclusion, I should like to commend the Minister for Primary Industry on this legislation. I should also like to add my measure of praise to those other people in the trade who have given him their advice on the subject. I feel that this is just another example of the foresight and imagination which the Minister is bringing to the great problems of our exporting industries, on which squarely rests the prosperity of Australia and the high standard of living of this country.
.- It is very pleasing to hear honorable members pay tribute to the pioneers of the wool industry who, by their tenacity and skill, have brought Australian wool up to the standard which we know to-day. It is also very pleasant to know that there has been a great increase in t:rj sheep population, an increase that has been brought about chiefly by good seasons, and by the fact that many people who were not woolgrowers before have turned to sheep for what they consider to be a more stable income than they had from wheat and other cereals.
But all that is history. I want to make one point about the bill before the House. This point chiefly concerns where the testing centres will be located. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) has stated that they will be located where they are most required, and that the first will be at Melbourne and the second at Sydney. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) has put forward a plea for another at Geelong, which is also a great wool-selling centre. The Minister has stated in the notes with which he has provided honorable members that the establishment of wool-testing services would meet a recognized need by the Australian wool industry, and was necessary for the improved marketing of Australian wool and wool products. He said that it would benefit all sections of the wool industry, not only exporters and processors of scoured and carbonized wool, but also wool-growers. That is generally recognized. The Minister also stated -
By removing the element of risk involved in guessing the moisture content of scoured and car bonized wool, processors and exporters will be able to bid with greater confidence for greasy wool in. the auction room.
That brings greasy wool into the picture. The Minister continued -
This will assist the grower in obtaining the best price for his wool.
It is well known that the main wool-selling centres in Victoria are Melbourne and Geelong, but it should be known in this Parliament that it is recognized both in northern and western Victoria that decentralization should not be merely a catchcall, but that something practical should be done about it. If we just talk about decentralization and do nothing we might as well keep quiet. In my electorate of Mallee, in north-western Victoria, we regard Portland as the place from which wool should be exported. My constituents are now large wool-growers. There is a great wheat industry in that area, but many have taken to wool-growing, and the sheep population has increased, proportionately, much more, I would think, than in any other part of Australia. At the present time, a new harbour is being built at Portland, which will accommodate the largest ships afloat or likely to be afloat. The Minister has stated that the authority to be set up will decide where new testing stations shall be located. Let us see who will make those decisions after the stations at Melbourne and Sydney have been established. The authority will consist of one representative each of the Australian Council of Woolbuyers, the National Council of Woolselling Brokers of Australia, the Wool Scourers, Carbonizers and Fellmongers Federation of Australia, the Australian Wool Bureau, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Department of Primary Industry, and one additional government representative, who will be recommended by the Minister for Primary Industry.
I cannot see anything that gives me any great hope that the members of this authority will be willing to put a testing station at Portland, when another becomes necessary, in order to further a decentralization effort in Victoria. Besides being required for Victoria, a testing station will be required at Portland to serve the southeast of South Australia, a part that produces a great amount of wool.
– There is no selling centre at Portland.
– Of course there is not. Every one knows that, but it will not be very long before there is one there. It is said that the harbour will be ready to accommodate large ships in two years’ time.
– It will be finished then.
– As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), who so ably represents his constituency, interjects, it will be ready at the end of two years. The object is to have a woolselling centre at Portland. If it is started in a small way, as I think it will be, it will be at a disadvantage in attracting wool to Portland if a testing station is not established there. There is already a selling centre at the Gordon Institute in Geelong, and if buyers can get better facilities in Geelong and Melbourne they will not be attracted to Portland. There is, of course, a general feeling throughout the western part of Victoria that vested interests in Geelong and Melbourne are out to do everything they can to stop the establishment of a wool-selling centre at the decentralized port of Portland. I am making a request of the Minister and having it recorded in “ Hansard “ so that some one may take notice of it. I ask him to let me know whether, if wool selling is established at Portland, perhaps only in a small way to begin with, the Government will be prepared to set up one of these centres there with a view to encouraging the consignment of wool to Portland and, at the same time, giving our talk of decentralization some practical application - something that we have not done in the past.
The honorable member for Corio said that there was strong Government interest in wool selling at Geelong, and in the course of his remarks he referred to the time when Mr. Lawson, who afterwards became a member of this House, was Premier of Victoria. Of course, there has been and there still is strong Government interest in wool selling at Geelong. But does such interest extend as far as Portland? Of course, it does not! We hone thai it will.
Perhaps it will be said, “ What is the good of worrying about that now? There is no wool selling centre there. Why not wait until there is a centre? “ I suggest that one of the first steps in the establishment of such, centres is for the Minister for Primary Industry to get up and say, “ 1 am glad that the honorable member for Mallee has brought this matter forward. If wool selling is established in Portland, even though not on the great scale of that of Geelong and Melbourne, we are prepared to assist the export and sale of wool from that port by establishing a wool-testing centre there. We regard it as important not only for the sale of wool but also for the decentralization of population in Australia, of which Victoria is an important part and of which Portland is an important town.” By saying that, the Minister and the Government would be giving practical application to decentralization, about which we have been speaking in this Parliament, and in other parliaments, for decades but to which we have given very little practical effect. I suggest that the establishment of this testing station as soon as required would let the people know that we are sincere in what we say about decentralization.
– in reply - The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) is always an excellent advocate, not only for his electorate, but also for any cause that he espouses. Naturally enough, I should be one of the first people to give consideration to anything that he suggested in this House, or, for that matter, to any practical suggestions that he might make to me. However, this bill relates, in the initial stages at least, to scoured and carbonized wool and, therefore, applies to the erection or construction of wool testing houses near the places where the processing is to be done. I feel - and this is the departmental advice to me - that, at least for the next few years, it can be expected that the processing from greasy wool into the tops will take place near the main capital cities, Sydney and Melbourne. I can, therefore, assure the honorable member that, for some years to come at least, it will not be thought necessary, nor would the facilities be available, to establish a wool testing house in Portland. But, that does not mean to say that greasy wool could not be exported from Portland once the port was completed, and if it were found that sufficient ships came in and that shippers of wool were prepared to consign their wool to Portland for transport overseas.
The point raised by the honorable member is an interesting one. It will be referred to the authority and will receive consideration. I think that the honorable gentleman will agree with me that once the authority is established it will be wise to permit it to determine where future wool-testing houses are to be established, knowing that it is the wish of the Government to decentralize activities as and when that appears practicable.
I would like, also, to answer a question put to me by my colleague, the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn), relating to the method by which we have arrived at the amount by which our export income might be increased. The figures are these: In 1956-57, scoured and carbonized wool exported amounted to 90,700,000 lb., of an f.o.b. value of £A.38, 100,000. The average price per pound f.o.b. was 10Od It is probable that Australian scoured and carbonized wool averages about 13 per cent, regain, whereas the permitted regain for these classes is 16 per cent, in the United Kingdom and 17 per cent, on the continent of Europe. Hence, a gain of 3 per cent, to 4 per cent. - say, 3.5 per cent. - can be anticipated. Therefore, using this figure of 3.5 per cent., an average price of 10Od f.o.b. for exports of scoured and carbonized wool, and the 1956-57 recorded exports of 90,700,000 lb., the following figures emerge: If 40 per cent, of the exports were condition tested, the increase in export earnings would be £532,000; if 80 per cent, of the exports were condition tested, the increase in export earnings would be £1,070,000; and if 100 per cent, of the exports were condition tested, the increase in export earnings would be £1,340,000.
On the question of tops, 14,980,000 lb. were exported during 1956-57, of a value of £A.9,250,000 f.o.b., or an average f.o.b. price of approximately 1 1 2d. per lb. Commercial considerations make it probable that most of the exports would need to be condition-tested for moisture content. The permitted regain is 18.25 per cent, for dry combed tops and 19 per cent, for oil combed tops. A gain of 4 per cent, to 5 per cent, may be anticipated.
Assuming that 80 per cent, of the 1956-57 exports of tops would have been conditiontested, the increase in export earnings would be in the vicinity of £330,000. Therefore, assuming 40 per cent, usage for scoured and carbonized wool in the first year of the authority’s operations, the gain would be £532,000. Assuming that moisture content tests for tops were implemented in the second year, the increase would be, combined with an 80 per cent, usage for scoured and carbonized wool, £1,400,000.
The other tests anticipated - that is, yield of greasy and slipe wool, tops and noils, vegetable matter percentage, acidity and alkalinity of wool, fibre diameter measurement, &c. - are quality-control tests of indirect financial benefit to the industry, and it is difficult to place a specific figure on their direct gain in terms of export earnings. They will be of incalculable benefit to Australia.
In closing this debate, I wish to say how pleased I am that so many honorable members have taken part in a discussion relating to Australia’s greatest single industry. We must be actively engaged in the job of selling Australian wool and, for that matter, all of Australia’s primary products, if we are to earn the necessary export income for our continued development. I believe that we are increasingly getting on with the job of selling our wool overseas and that we are doing that job more effectively as the years go by. If we are to continue to sell effectively and if we are to get better prices and compete with the man-made fibres, it is essential that we should know the characteristics of the commodity that we are selling. The creation of these wool-testing houses, the wool-conditioning houses, will permit us to give specifications relating to Australian scoured and carbonized wools. It will be one further step on the way to knowing the characteristics of our wools. It will help us to publicize their characteristics and, by that means, to make certain that the purchaser will know exactly what he is buying, and just how good a commodity Australian wool is.
Therefore, sir, I repeat what I said before: I am very glad that so many honorable members have spoken during the debate and have shown their interest in this great national industry. I should like to thank all those who have helped me and given me advice during the formative stages of the bill and until the time when it was presented to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of an Australian Wool Testing Authority.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed (vide page 48).
.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, we move from wool to wine. The purpose of this measure is to enable the wine-growers of Australia to levy themselves, through the instrumentality of the Federal Government, so that more money will be available to the Australian Wine Board for research and trade promotion and for other purposes that might be determined upon by the board. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) said an hour or so ago when introducing this measure, the bill carries on the work started by an act of 1929. In his narrative of the activities of the board, the Minister reminded the House that in 1954 Parliament passed a measure permitting an increase of 5s. a ton - that is an increase from 5s. to 10s. a ton - as a maximum rate for taxing the tonnage of fresh grapes. The amount of money raised by that method yielded a considerable sum to the board with which it discharged its obligations to the industry and to Australia. The industry now feels that the mounts paid on the tonnage of grapes per annum is not sufficient for its purposes. The increase now proposed is to raise the maximum amount of 10s. to 15s. a ton on fresh grapes and from 30s. to 45s. a ton on dried grapes.
The Minister has said that the request is supported by the wine board and by the principal industry organizations. The fact that the industry organizations are in accord with the Government on this matter must make the passage of the measure certain and without unnecessary delay. The organizations concerned are the Federal Grapegrowers’ Council, the South Australian Cooperative Winemakers* Association and the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia. Relying on my memory for the moment, I understand that the greatest quantity of wine produced in Australia comes from South Australia, and the most of it is produced in the electorate of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer).
– Do not forget the electorate of Barker.
– Barker has some claim to fame, but it does not lie in its vineyards.
– Some of the best wines are produced there, too.
– Having tasted some South Australian wine at the home of the honorable member for Angas, where I was an honored guest recently, I commend the honorable member as a connoisseur and also for the fact that the wine produced in South Australia is of very high quality. Returning to a consideration of the rates being levied under this bill, the figure stated as the maximum will not necessarily be levied. If the levy is made at the maximum rate on an expected harvest of 150,000 tons, it will bring to the board, for its purposes, a sum of at least £112,500. That amount of money will provide for administrative costs as well as for the other activities of the board. 1 know that a good deal of criticism is expressed from time to time throughout Australia about the failure of the Australian wine industry to promote the sale of Australian wines overseas. Sometimes the Government is blamed also for the fact that very little Australian wine of high quality is to be found on sale in Europe and, particularly, in Great Britain. Some returning travellers, and Australian citizens who have been temporarily abroad, have told me about the impossibility of securing good Australian wines. They have said that after having been entertained, often most hospitably by people in England, they have sought to return the hospitality with a gift that is a product of Australian soil, and could think of nothing better than wines produced in Australia. After fruitless efforts to secure the required quantities they have come back disappointed and disgruntled, and have, I am sure, written to the Government - the Minister would know this better than 1 - as other returning travellers have written to other governments complaining about the failure of those governments to introduce to the peoples of Europe wines produced in this country which are, in the eyes of Australians, as good as any produced on the continent of Europe. These people say that if wine promotion were seriously and properly undertaken we would earn more money for our overseas balances, and certainly much more than we are earning today. I have checked on some of the statements made by people who have returned from abroad, and I have found that they are true.
Even worse, however, than these complaints is the report that much Australian wine sold in Europe is blended with cheaper French and German wines and sometimes sold as Australian wine, under brand names such as “ Emu “ which make the product distinctively Australian, and certainly result in a significant loss of prestige for our wine industry. I do not blame the officers of the Department of Trade or the Department of Primary Industry for these happenings, but I say that so far we have not acquired the competence, the marketing ability or the general know-how to display our goods and to commend them to overseas purchasers, so that we may ultimately smile with satisfaction because our efforts have resulted in benefit to our overseas balances and to the prestige of our nation.
The Minister and his officers have been good enough to supply me with certain figures concerning the industry, and I believe that a consideration of them will prove useful. Wine production in Australia in 1938-39 was of the order of 7,500,000 gallons of beverage wine and 6,600,000 gallons of distillation wine, making a total of 14,100.000 gallons. The comparative figures for 1945-46 were 11,100.000 and 14.000,000. giving a total of 25,100,000 gallons. It can be seen that during the war years our wine production increased by about 80 per cent. In 1954-55, however, the production of beverage wine was even less than it was in 1945-46. Tn 1954-55, it fell to 11.000.000 gallons, whilst the production of distillation wine also declined, to 13.100.000 gallons, making a total of 24.100.000 gallons. This total was 1 .000.000 gallons less than in the year when the war ended, although we had the intervening years of peace during which we could have helped the industry in various ways, certainly by promoting sales overseas. In 1955-56, the production figures are estimated at 12,000,000 and 11,000,000 gallons respectively for beverage wine and distillation wine, giving a total of 23,000,000 gallons, which is less than the production for the preceding year. It may well be that 1955-56 was a poor year for production, because the estimated total production for 1956-57 is 27,000,000 gallons. Better years may produce better results. If that is so, it is all to the good, and we may be able, therefore, to export more wine than we have been exporting in recent years.
The figures showing our wine exports, as a matter of fact, are disturbingly small. In 1938-39, we sent to the United Kingdom 3,500,000 gallons, of a total of 3,700,000 gallons sent overseas. In 1945-46, our exports to the United Kingdom had dropped to 1,100,000 gallons, out of a total quantity exported of 1,800,000 gallons. In 1955-56, our exports to the United Kingdom had further declined to 900,000 gallons, of a total of 1,300,000 gallons exported. For the twelve months ended May, 1957, the figures had recovered slightly to 1,200,000 gallons to the United Kingdom and 1,600,000 gallons in all. When the Minister replies to this debate I think he should explain why our exports of wines have decreased from 3,700,000 gallons in 1938-39 to 1,600,000 gallons for the twelve months ended May, 1957. I had hoped that the latter figure would have been considerably higher. It may be that the difficulty in buying Australian wines overseas is caused by the big decline in our export figures, especially when one takes into account the blending of some of our good wines with inferior European products.
The stocks of wine in bond in Australia have not increased very considerably. In 1938-39, we had 18,400,000 gallons in bond. In 1945-46. the figure was 15,300,000 gallons. In 1955-56, it had increased to 22,700,000 gallons, and the estimate for 1956-57 is only 24,000,000 gallons. I hope the Minister will be able to tell us what is being done to promote increased production of wine in Australia. Our production should be increased, even if the product is held in bond.
The figures showing the annual consumption of Australian wines in Australia show up better. In 1938-39, fortified wine sold for consumption in Australia amounted to 3,600,000 gallons. In 1945-46, the figure rose to 6,400,000 gallons. In 1955-56, it had increased to 8,700,000 gallons, and the estimate for the twelve months ended May, 1957, is 9,500,000 gallons. When we add to that the 3,000,000 gallons of table wines produced annually, we have a consumption of 12,500,000 gallons of wine in Australia each year. When I speak of table wines I mean those wines on which no excise duty is payable. Honorable members will realize, I am sure, that excise duty is paid on the fortified spirit in the wine, and amounts to 4s. a proof gallon. The purpose of this bill is not to increase the excise duty but to put a levy on the grapes produced, so that the Australian Wine Board can carry out its work efficiently. The non-fortified wines, which include white wines such as champagne, chablis, riesling and hock, and red wines such as claret and burgundy, are not subject to excise duty; but the grapes used to produce them will, in the same way as the grapes used to produce brandy, be subject to the levy that the Government asks the House to impose on the industry at the industry’s own request. In one sense we are merely a taxing authority for the Australian Wine Board, and the persons who are to be taxed are not the general body of taxpayers but those who produce wine grapes. I suppose that ultimately the Australian people may have to pay more for their wines, when this extra cost is passed on; but, speaking generally, it is not to be imposed on the community. The measure is designed to help an Australian industry. In that sense it is worthy of support, and on behalf of the Opposition I commend its passage to the House.
.- I support the bill. This is one of the more agreeable occasions in the House when the Government’s legislation meets with the concurrence of the Opposition. I listened with great interest to the thoughtful speech of my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He has brought forward several interesting considerations which those engaged in the wine industry, when they read this debate in “ Hansard “, will appreciate. The increase in the levy under the bill is in effect a very modest sum, which will have no appreciable effect on the growers’ actual returns. That is one of the reasons why this measure has the general support, as I understand it, of the wine industry throughout Australia. It is quite true that last year co-operative wineries showed some hesitation in accepting an extra levy. I can speak with some knowledge of the position in South Australia. However, their misgivings have been overcome and they, too, are in accord with what is now proposed. In these days, I should imagine, there can be very little disputation as to the necessity for advertising any primary product. That goes for wine as much as for any other consumable article.
The improvement in Australian wines since the end of the war is really quite a remarkable story. Any one who is at all interested in wines will agree that the progress made in our dry wines, sherries and rieslings gives one great hope for the future progress of the industry. I should think from my own observations that the advertising of this increasingly appreciated product within Australia is good. Quite a lot of imagination has been employed by the wineries and the industry generally, and it is fairly widespread. As a result partly of the advertising and partly, I think, of the improved nature of the product, the Australian public is consuming very much more wine than it did in the year 1938. However, the situation as to advertising in the United Kingdom, whenever I have observed it, can only be described as most inadequate. This is a depressing story because representations have been made for many years now as to the necessity for a really imaginative advertising campaign throughout the United Kingdom. I do not know whether the industry is sufficiently well advised in this respect, but it is not making nearly so formidable a stride in British advertising as it has made within our own shores.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked a very pertinent question as to why there has been such a decrease in our exports in the years since the war as compared with the figure before the war, and he asked the Minister to reply. The Minister, no doubt, has an answer but, if I may interpose here and foreshadow one or two reasons, I should say this: To begin with, Australian wines have been hit very severely by the greatly increased British customs duties. Our own Government, as the House may be aware, has made repeated representations to successive British Chancellors of the Exchequer, but without any success. The British attitude has remained firmly adamant, whether it is a Socialist Chancellor or a Conservative Chancellor. I should imagine from the abortive efforts made by our own Government in the last seven or eight years that we would be foolish to bank upon any relaxation of the British attitude to lowering these duties. The trouble is that with these high British duties the differential in the selling rate is too low to be really attractive to the hard and fast consumer of the established Continental wines. If he is faced with the choice of paying, say, 18s. a bottle for Australian wine or 22s. a bottle for his favourite French or German wine, then, when those prices are charged for a bottle of wine, 4s. is neither here nor there and the consumer is not prepared for the sake of a slightly cheaper article to risk a vintage that may not suit his palate nearly so well. That is a practical difficulty caused by the high British duties.
Another reason for the decline in our exports to the United Kingdom - and this is one that not only the industry but also this Parliament must squarely face - is the strength of South African competition. Honorable members who have been abroad in the last few years and who may have tasted some of the excellent South African sherries and some of the other South African vintages available on the British market will agree with me, I think, that here we encounter a truly formidable obstacle. South Africa has been extraordinarily enlightened in its method. Its advertising has been good and the quality of its wines, particularly its sherries, has been of such a standard as to challenge some of the longestablished Spanish brands. The situation to-day is that many of my personal friends in England are drinking South African sherry as a matter of course instead of Spanish sherry, though that was their custom before the war. If one asks them about Australian sherry and maintains that we produce a sherry in various lines of equal repute and standard to that of the South African sherry, they look askance and remain to be convinced. This is one of the things that the industry has still to accomplish. The trade fairs that have taken place in the last two years, stimulated by this Government, have, it is quite true, been extremely useful and are bringing about some resuscitation of the interests of people in the old country in Australian wines. But it is only fair to remind ourselves that this deep undercurrent of prejudice against the products of this country remains and it will be many years before it is overcome.
I should like to take the opportunity afforded by the debate on this bill to suggest to the House five things that it will be necessary for the wine industry and this Parliament, insofar as it comes into it, to do in order to further the development of this important line of commerce. Firstly, much more imagination must be used in the advertising of Australian wines overseas. To that I would add that the advertising must be more widespread. Herein, as I see it, lies the chief justification of this bill, because it gives the Australian Wine Board the power to raise additional revenue to pursue its advertising campaign. Secondly, the vignerons, as some of them realize and some of them have already started to do, must undertake a much more colorful labelling of their product. The average bottle of German or French wine presents a far more attractive appearance than does an Australian bottle of a corresponding wine. Of course, nobody who really appreciates wines is influenced by the label or the shape of the bottle. But we are not concerned with those people. We are trying to induce people who know little about Australian wines to drink what we produce. Therefore, these superficial urges - or attractions, if you like - become of some importance.
Thirdly - and this is a matter that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition hinted at - we must try by every means in our power to increase our production of fine vintages. Many people are surprised to learn, when they complain of the difficulty that they have had in obtaining a good Australian wine in the United Kingdom, that most of Australia’s best wines are consumed in Australia. So we have the extraordinary situation that the vast potential market in the United Kingdom - and I hope in other countries - just does not know the quality of our best wines. Up to the present time, most of Australia’s wine export trade with Great Britain has been in the sweet wines. As some honorable members may be aware, most of it has gone to the Midlands and the north of England. Apparently, the people in those parts of the United Kingdom have tastes which, although they are to be applauded from the commercial stand-point, I, as one who is fond of wines, can only regard as debased. Thank heaven, though, that those people have such tastes, because they are of great assistance to our vignerons and grape-growers. But the startling thing is that very little Australian wine is consumed in the south of England and in the great cosmopolis of the City of London and the Greater London area. I feel that, if we could produce far more of some of these excellent vintages that we have come to acclaim in our own country, we could, over the years, with imaginative advertising, make big inroads on that market.
The fourth thing that I think the industry and this Parliament must do is not merely to be content with what has already been done in the United Kingdom market, but to look elsewhere and try to establish markets in other countries. An increasing trade is being done with our sister dominion of Canada, and from what I hear, there are still possibilities there. But we must not be content with that. This must be an unending quest. We must try to export our wines to many countries in order to develop this important industry.
The fifth thing that I suggest should be done - and this is something that lies completely within the purview of this Parliament and the Government - is to maintain the existing differential excise on brandy. I emphasize this, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because we are virtually on the eve of the budget, and I am quite certain that fairly strong representations have been made to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) by other interests to scale down this favorable differential excise, which has reacted so very advantageously for that part of the wine industry associated with the production of brandy. I am sorry to say that, in the last few months, brandy sales have shown a tendency to fall. Therefore, it is all the more necessary for the Government not to interfere with the rates of excise proclaimed in the last budget and the previous one. I hope that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) will see that this point is brought to the notice of the Treasurer, and that my representations will be supported, also, by my right honor able friend, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), whom I see now sitting on the treasury bench, and who has such good judgment and sound knowledge, and has been, in the past, such a good friend of the wine industry.
It is unnecessary for me to detain the House further on a non-contentious matter. It is a pleasure for me to see before the House this very modest bill, which is endorsed by the industry, and has the support of Her Majesty’s Opposition. I also accord it my support.
.- I have heard, in this chamber, many debates on the wine industry. Since honorable members on both sides of the House support this measure, I wish to make only a few general observations upon it. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), who represents an electorate in which the wine industry is of great importance, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who represents a constituency in which, of course, the best red wine in Australia is produced, are deeply interested in the development of the wine industry. I, as one interested in the publicity and merchandising aspects of the industry and, of course, in the product itself, cannot understand why a debate on this industry is approached by honorable members in such a solemn manner. In sharp contrast, whenever we are debating the excise on beer, every one is literally rolling in his seat in quite jolly fashion as if in anticipation of the taste of the product to which the debate relates. They are practically savouring it by osmosis, as it were - by absorption through the pores of the skin. Are we really the victims of some old fear which makes us feel that it is not nice to discuss wine in this House? If we debated this measure in a genuine fashion, I should expect the galleries to be thronged with people. The bon vivants should be here, and honorable members should crowd in to hear all about the wine industry. It is a most important and interesting subject to debate. Most of the poets of the world - particularly the best of the British poets - never ceased singing the praises of wine. We have Keats, for example, who wrote -
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim . . .
– What about the “ purple-stained mouth “?
– I was leaving that for the climax to which I was leading up. We finish by quaffing the beaker and joining the wine-bibbers’ association.
Are we to lag behind in the production of our extremely good wines, because we think of the grapes of wrath, and are frightened of wine? Visitors to Adelaide are told that it is the city of churches, but they are not told that wonderful wine is produced there and in the surrounding district, and that Bacchanalia are held in the Barossa Valley when the harvest of grapes is in, much the same as in France. The apparent approach to this subject is all wrong. I suggest to the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) who takes such great interest in the wine industry, and to those honorable members who represent wine-producing constituencies - the subject is inclined to make me tongue-tied already, and I almost had difficulty in pronouncing the word “ constituencies “ - that we should look to that aspect of the matter.
There are reasons why wine is always discounted as a beverage and a drink. Average Australians - the ordinary workers and the people whom I represent - do not get the good vintages, and their training in the drinking of wine embraces three distinct classes of beverage known respectively as “ plonk “, “ bombo “, and “ steam “. The respective atomic energy ratings are in the ascending scale. When one graduates to “ steam “ he has “ had it “. I want to point out to the honorable member for Angas that the wine industry is not blameless. Some of the stuff that it bottles would lead spies, if there were any in this country, to think that Australia had its own version of the atomic bomb. One has only to look at the bottles of so-called wine sold by the hotels to see that good wine is not being sold here. The honorable member for Angas has told us that we ourselves drink most of the wine produced in Australia. I say that we are indeed a virile people!
To be serious for a moment, we should do as the honorable member suggested, and study what has been done very effectively for South African wines by publicity. We should adopt a more reasonable attitude “than that of the purple-nosed snob in the club who says, “ Oh, no, my boy! It is not done to drink Australian wine. I would not have anything to do with a vintage that had not come from France “, and who, all the time, is drinking some horrible concoction from Algeria or some other French territory. There is a percentage of snobbery in the selling of wine as there is a percentage of lack of persistent value. There is no such thing in this country as a vintage. An honorable wine bibbing colleague and I occasionally dine together and sometimes, after we have landed a good bottle of wine in the refreshment rooms we say “ This is good; we will have another bottle to-morrow night”. But the wine which wafted us to the Elysian fields in our discussion of the absolute on the night before is not the same. It is not that we have changed; the contents of the bottle have changed.
– You had a hangover.
– Not at all. The wine would not last that long or we would buy the bin. There is not the standard. It has the same label and date and appears to be the same wine but is not. The thing to do is try to get some more regular standard.
The final point I would make is in relation to the general desire of the people to drink wine and the varieties that they are served. Surely it is not beyond the capacity of the wine-makers of this country, who are handling their own problems by increasing the tax on their own grapes, to create publicity and marketing organizations, to do something about getting a general wine in this country, a vin du pays, the wine of the country; just a rough red claret which people could drink with a piece of cheese or a light meal. But there is no standard. I do not know why. Perhaps some one who knows more about the wine industry can explain why, but if that sort of a wine can be produced there will be a big market for it. That is a deficiency I have often discussed but have never heard explained. I have discussed the matter with people in the wine industry in South Australia and they cannot say why it is so. It is over a century, I believe, since we established grape-growing in South Australia and other parts of the country, and it is a pity that there has not been some development of a wine of the country. Tn even the smallest countries of Europe and elsewhere the wine of the country is patriotically served. Tt is a sort of ritual that you should at least try it. There is nothing like that in this country, and that is a sales point that we should consider.
I am sorry that the wine industry is languishing, and the figures put ‘before us by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) indicate the gallonage of loss. It would appear that there has been a £500,000 loss of exports in the last twelve months. Whatever the figure is, it is regrettable. Publicity is important. We need the right kind of publicity to create the right kind of palate for Australian wines, lt may be unfortunate that in most things we slavishly followed the English pattern, although very often this is not thought sensible by the British. We call our homes “ Hillcrest “ and “ Devon “ when they should be “ Wockamidgery “ and “ Packamackamatooka “. Perhaps we might have had more success if we had been selling “ Murrumbidgee “, or “ Canberra “, or “ Molonglo “ wines. I am not suggesting that they possess the same qualities as the waters of this country, but in some way we could have made them distinctive. The South Africans have done that. 1 disagree on one point with the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), who is an expert in this field, and that is on the question of markets, lt is very good to have a home market and drink wines at home, but we can also develop a fine market overseas for our wines. In the long run quality will tell, provided the right sort of drive is provided and the right approach made to the markets. The final thing is that the wine industry, like every other primary industry of this country, is the victim of manipulation on the markets of the world. We know that our butter is blended. We know that our egg pulp is dumped or blended with Egyptian. We have no protection on the open markets. Cheap Algerian wine mixed with a little good Australian wine and sold as “ Emu “ nearly stopped the war in England. They said that if this was Australian wine they did not want Australia in the Empire any more. So in addition to propaganda and sales promotion there must be something done to preserve the purity of Australian products, particularly wines, when they arrive on the markets of the world.
.- I rise in this debate to call the attention of the House to what I believe to be the parlous condition of the grape-growing industry in Australia. As the Minister for Primary Production (Mr. McMahon) has pointed out, approximately £70,000,000 is invested in this industry. In the past it has produced a very large income for the people of Australia. Along the Murray it has been the means of turning water into gold and in the non-irrigated areas, Barossa and McLaren Vale in South Australia, it has in the past been a great primary industry. But during the last few years this industry has not been profitable to the growers. The price that has been paid by the wine-makers to the grape-growers has been totally inadequate. The terms of payment, which have not been cash on delivery but very often payment after three months, six months, or twelve months, have placed the growers in a very critical position.
I do not believe that this industry will get out of its difficulty by the imposition of further taxes. It is true that this is only a bill imposing what may be described as a minor charge, but it is only one of many charges that are thrust upon this industry, and, as the Scots say, many a mickle makes a muckle. This levy prior to 1954 was 5/- per ton. lt is now to be 15/- per ton or three times as much. The price that is paid by the wine-makers to the growers has not increased in anything like that proportion and one thing abundantly clear to-day is that the grape-growers are not paid sufficient to cover cost of production plus a reasonable profit. In fact they are not paid sufficient to cover even cost of production if the capital cost is taken into consideration.
Here we see a vast industry, one of Australia’s great primary industries, faced with a situation in which bulldozers are ripping up vineyards in property after property because the land on which the grapes are growing will produce far more from pasture and sheep than it will from grapes or dried fruits. I do not believe that the imposition of this additional levy will assist the grape-grower at all. To help the grape-grower we should be reducing, his costs, not increasing them. One way in which his costs should be reduced and one to which I have called the attention of thisHouse on several occasions is by the removal of sales tax on products containing dried fruits. For example, a bread roll is sold free of sales tax; but if it contains a currant, a sultana, or a raisin, it is subject to tax. We are faced with the fact that one of our great primary industries is threatened with a more difficult situation than affects probably any other primary industry, because it is being almost singled out for a tax on foodstuffs that are today a necessity for the people. I can only hope that the budget, which will be presented next week, will show that the Government has acceded to the requests that I and others have made for the removal of the sales tax on foodstuffs containing dried fruits, the products of one of our great primary industries. lt is suggested that by more advertising we can help this industry. Personally, 1 believe that in Australia wine is already over-advertised. If some of the money which today is spent by the wine-makers on advertising were spent in paying the growers a more profitable price, we would get much further with this industry than we will by imposing a further tax on it for the purpose of financing the advertising of wine. All along our roads we see advertisement after advertisement extolling the excellence of one brand of wine as against another brand of wine. Such advertising is not selling any more wine. It is simply an indication of wasteful competition between wine-makers who are not paying a profitable price to growers who are the lifeblood of the wine industry.
Now, let us come to the situation overseas. It has been suggested that as the result of more publicity we could sell more wine overseas. When I was overseas two years ago, everywhere I went my friends asked me why they could not get our beautiful Australian wine in England. One of them asked me to send him some Australian wine after I returned to Australia. Unwisely, as it turned out, I said I would be delighted to send him, as a present, a dozen bottles of Australian wine. After my return to Australia I made arrangements to purchase the wine and send it to my friend in England. The result was astonishing. The cost of the wine in Australia was £4 12s.; wharfage in Australia and freight to England cost £3 3s. 4d.; the duty in Great Britain was £4 2s. 6d., and the cost of customs entry, port dues and wharfage charges in England was £4 16s. 7d. So the wine which cost me £4 12s. to buy in Australia cost me altogether £16 14s. 5d. to get to my friend in England.
– It would have been cheaper to bring him to Australia.
– Yes, it certainly would have been cheaper to bring my friend to Australia and let him drink the wine here. As these figures show, the reason why we cannot sell our wine in Great Britain is not the quality of the wine, because it has a quality equal to that of the wine of any other country in the world, but, first, because of the high wharfage charges in Australia; secondly, because of the high freights between Australia and Britain; thirdly, because of the prohibitive British customs duty; and fourthly, because of the high wharfage and freights in Britain.
When Australian wine, which costs about 5s. a bottle here as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) has said, costs about 18s. a bottle in Britain, how can we expect the British people to buy it? I know that the Government has made strenuous efforts to get the British Government to reduce the customs duty on our wine, but I feel that if we are going to do something practical about the sale of our wine overseas we must tackle matters such as charges for wharfage and transport, within our own country, and overseas freights.
The reason why our wine is not selling in England is that the price is too high; and the price is too high, not because of the cost of production in Australia but because of the cost of getting that wine from Australia to Britain, and because of the duties imposed in Britain. So, I do not believe that this extra levy which the grape-grower will have to bear - because the wine-maker will simply pay the grape-grower 5s. a ton less than he otherwise would have paid him for his grapes - will enable any more of our wine to be sold either in Britain or in Australia. The Australian people are consuming more wine than they consumed a few years ago, not because of advertising, but simply because they know good wine is produced in this country and they want to drink it. Our export sales have been dwindling rapidly, obviously because of the prohibitive price of our wines overseas. So I ask the Government not to blind itself by the belief that this advertising will do anything worth while for the grape-growing industry. It will not. But the grapegrowing industry needs the assistance of the Government urgently. Otherwise, we will have the spectacle of millions of pounds worth of capital investment in vineyards being destroyed by the tractor and the bulldozer, which will churn up the soil of vineyards so that they may be replaced by pasture for wool-growing, which is more profitable than grape-growing is at present. We have to be realists in this matter. The grape-growing industry is definitely unprofitable to-day. Unless something is done, and done quickly, to remedy that position, it will not be many years before we will be importing grapes not only to make wine but also for use as dried fruits.
– That is absurd.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Angas is a prophet. I suggest to him that he have a look at the vineyards into which the bulldozer has already gone this year. Let him have a few words with the grape-growers in the Barossa district. Let him ask them whether grapegrowing is profitable. If he can find a grape-grower in the Barossa district who says that grape growing is profitable at the present time, I shall be quite happy to extend to him an apology. When an industry becomes unprofitable, it will not last long. Land where grapes will grow is the most valuable of our land. It will also grow luscious pasture. It will grow vegetables. People will not keep such land under vines if something more profitable will grow there. I am not conversant with the situation on the- Murray River. I shall leave that to- the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer). All I say is that the situation in the Barossa district and the McLaren Vale district is parlous at the present time, because the wine-makers are not paying a profitable price to the growers.
I was speaking to a wine-maker only yesterday, and he had no hesitation in saying to me that he agreed that the price being paid to the growers was inadequate and below cost of production. That has been going on now for a number of years. I have joined in this debate in order to direct the attention of the House to the fact that one of our great primary industries is threatened, because, during this year, last year and for some years prior to that, an unprofitable price has been paid to thegrower. T also want to urge the Govern- ment to do something practical to assist the grape-growing industry by removing the sales tax on products which incorporate dried fruits.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Nelson) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 47).
– The Opposition supports this bill with some reservations, particularly in respect of the constitution of the planning committee and the method of financing the commission itself. The bill, no doubt,, has been prepared after considerable consultation and effort, and it is a great pity, to my way of thinking, that the Parliament has not been given more opportunity to study the measure than has been afforded by the exigencies of the day. The bill was presented to the House only this afternoon, and we have’ had but a few hours- to study its provisions and to prepare our thoughts on the matter.
Those who are entrusted with the development of the National Capital have a very big responsibility. In the final analysis, of course, it is the Parliament itself which must accept that responsibility, because this is where the responsibility lies. lt is unfortunate, in my view, that many senators and honorable members do not get the opportunity, or accept the opportunity, to know more of Canberra than is involved in the journey from the aerodrome to the Houses of Parliament, or in walking along the pleasant paths that lie between here and the Hotel Kurrajong, the Hotel Canberra and the foreign embassies which it is our custom to visit from time to time. It is the duty of the Parliament to see that the task of building the National Capital is placed; in the right hands. We are building here not for the next ten, 50 or even 100 years; we are planning and building to-day for all’ the future that lies ahead of’ this country. We are building not merely a place for people to live in and work in, but a National Capital which, I hope all honorable members will agree, must become a symbol of the nation and the inspiration of its citizens.
We are building here not in the normal manner of town development. That is, we are not building outwards from a main street, as is the normal progress of development in towns and cities throughout the Commonwealth; but we are building to what is, in my view, a noble plan, drawn many years ago, it is true, and amended from time to time. It has been subjected, of course, to many criticisms, but nevertheless it is a plan which provides, on an adequate and inspiring scale, for the Seat of Government, for the functions of government, and an ultimate population in this city of approximately 120,000 people. We are building here, also, under the very eyes of the people of Australia. That the eyes of the people are increasingly on the National Capital is evidenced by the vast flow of visitors to this place. It is on record that, in a year, more than a quarter of a million tourists visit Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. Mostly, they are people from the States of the Commonwealth who come here to see what exists in the Natonal Capital. I am certain that the people of Australia demand of us that we should build worthily. I believe they are willing to provide the money that must be spent to develop the National Capital as it should be built.
I think it is true to say that some of the severest critics of the hasty, ill-planned development that has taken place from time to time are the taxpayers themselves. Some of the strongest critics of our mistakes are those who come here as tourists and visitors. They want to see this place develop as a city of which Australia may be proud. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the National Capital cannot be built by men of narrow outlook - by men of little vision. It cannot be built by men of a niggardly nature who lose sight of the ultimate aim and seek always to pare expenditure on this place, perhaps driven by the fear of criticism that may come but which, in my view, will not come, from the States of the Commonwealth. The National Capital, as it is envisaged, can be built only by men who can see the vision splendid, and can build, on these sunlit plains at least, a symbol and an inspiration for this nation. The development of the National Capital demands, in the Parliament itself, men of wide outlook, who are strong to resist the doubts and fears of timid men, strong to demand expenditure at the proper level anr! to defeat attempts to whittle down their estimates of what is fit and proper for thedevelopment of this place.
I should like, if I may, to quote from avery valuable document - the report of theSenate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra - in the course of which reference was made to the Federal Capital’. Advisory Committee, which was established’ in the very early days of this place and’ which, in its final report in 1924, said this -
An important responsibility rests upon thoseconcerned with the building of a modern city, and in handing on this trust to its successors - the Members of the Federal Capital Commission - the Committee trusts that they will beenabled to maintain the best ideals of modern town planning, and that no purely economic or immediate considerations or compromises will, be permitted to stand in the way of the development of the Capital on sound practical and aesthetic lines, in order that Canberra may beindeed a “ city beautiful “, affording to its inhabitants all the social advantages which may bereadily obtained from the high degree of technical skill and experience now available, and that it may at an early date become a source of” national pride and inspiration.
Those words, I believe, are true to-day, although I think that in the interveningyears we have succumbed to compromiseand expedience when, indeed, we should have been looking to the future and building for that future.
The bill before the House provides for the establishment of a National Capital Development Commission. The commission will, in fact, consist of one man, a commissioner, who will have with him two associate commissioners. The functions of the commission are set out in clause 11 of the bill, which provides that - (1.) The functions of the Commission are toundertake and carry out the planning, development and construction of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth. (2.) For that purpose, the Commission is empowered to provide, or arrange for the provision of, within the Australian Capital Territory, buildings, Toads, bridges, works for the supply of water or electricity, sewerage or drainage works and other matters and things for, or incidental to, that purpose. (3.) The Commission has power-
And I repeat that the commission will beone man - to do all things necessary or convenient to bedone for or in connexion with, or incidental to,, the performance of its functions and the exercise;of its powers. (4.) The functions of the Commission do not include the undertaking or carrying out (except as incidental to its other functions and with lawful authority) of development or construction upon land owned, or held under lease, by a person other than the Commonwealth. (5.) The Commission shall not depart from, or do anything inconsistent with, the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the “ Gazette “ on the nineteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and twentyfive, as modified orvaried, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, in accordance with law.
As will be seen from the bill, the commission is given very wide powers. I suggest that the success to be attendant on this plan for the development of Canberra depends very greatly on the personnel of the commission, both as to the commissioner himself and the associate commissioners. For these, I suggest that the Government must seek the very best men available. Nothing is mentioned in the bill about salaries to be paid to the commissioner or the associate commissioners, insofar as any amount is concerned, but these payments must be such as to attract and keep the very best men. As I say that, I have in mind the thought that no doubt the Government, in its wisdom, has in mind already the appointments it will make to the commission both as commissioner and assistant commissioners.
The commission itself must not be starved for money. The Governmentmust be prepared to accept responsibility and finance the commission adequately. In that regard the Minister’s second-reading speech contained this reference to the financing of the commission -
Although the Government has accepted, in principle, the commitment involved in a five-year programme, finance will be provided for the work of the commission by annual appropriation.
I think that is a mistake. Had the Government, in adopting the recommendation of the select committee of the Senate to establish such an authority, gone a step further and provided for continuing finance for the commission, it would have taken a wise step indeed. Too often in this place have we seen the fits-and-starts developments that stem from an annual vote. Unless adequate finance is made available, no body or commission or any organization can plan ahead its responsibilities so as to have a continuing progress in the development of the National Capital.
From time to time, in recent years, announcements have been made about stepping up the development of Canberra. It has been said that houses are to be built in great numbers but, regrettably, the Government has failed to provide the finance necessary for this development plan. I believe that it is a mistake to limit the finances of the commission to an annual appropriation. I believe that it should be extended, as was recommended by the Senate select committee. The Government has, of course, adopted largely the recommendations of the Senate committee in the establishment of the commission, but it has chosen not to accept recommendation 8 on page 72 of the report of the select committee, which is as follows: -
That the Authority be guaranteed, by an appropriate provision in the enabling Act, sufficient finance to permit it to carry out a long-term balanced programme; and that the Treasurer be enabled to make advances to the Authority for the purposes of the Act.
I believe the Government would have been wise to have adopted some provision such as that because continuing development is so essential. In Canberra the population is continuously increasing. At present, it is between 37,000 and 38,000. That is double the population of eight years ago. In the last eight years there has been interruption after interruption to the building programme because towards the end of each financial year it has been found that the moneys available are not adequate to carry on the development programme. That has meant not only delay in the completion of the work but has meant also that the men who have been attracted here to participate in the building programme have had to leave this place and go elsewhere to find work. It is very difficult once men have left this place to attract them back to it. The Government should have second thoughts on this aspect and seek to provide more continuing finance than can be provided by an annual appropriation. That makes it dependent on the budget from year to year.
The power that resides in the commissioner is evidenced in the bill itself. The bill delineates the duties or powers of the associate commissioners. Clause 3 provides - (2.) The Commission shall be constituted by a
Commissioner who shall be appointed by the Governor-General.
Clause 4 provides - (1.) The Commissioner shall be assisted by two Associate Commissioners, each of whom shall be appointed by the Governor-General. (2.) An Associate Commissioner shall give such advice and assistance to the Commissioner as the Commissioner requires and shall perform such duties as the Commissioner directs.
So, a great power and great responsibility in this matter rests in the hands of one man. It is most important, therefore, that the proper man be chosen for the position. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, referred to possible variations of the Canberra plan. Indeed, reference to that possibility is made in the bill, but the Minister went a little further than the bill provides. I think I am quoting the Minister correctly when I say that in his second-reading speech he said that no alteration of the Canberra plan could be undertaken without the approval of both Houses of the Parliament. The bill has this to say in clause 1 1 (5.) -
The Commission shall not depart from or do anything inconsistent with, the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the “ Gazette “ on the nineteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and twentyfive .
There is provision, of course, in the Seat of Government Act that no variation of the plan of the City of Canberra can be made unless the proposal for that variation is tabled in each House of the Parliament for fifteen sitting days. That is a passive act. It contains no specific requirement that the proposal for the variation of the plan shall be submitted to the Parliament. It is tabled, and if no member of either House, or if neither House takes any objection to it within the fifteen sitting days, then the gazetted alteration of the plan becomes a fact. However, early this year the Government saw fit to establish a joint committee on the Australian Capital Territory comprising members of this place and of the Senate. I hope I am quoting the instrument establishing that committee accurately when I say that it was provided that any alteration or proposed alteration of the Canberra plan must be referred to that committee and that that committee must present its report to each House of the Parliament. A safeguard does exist there, although it is not specifically provided in the bill now before the House. I think it is important that any proposed variation should come specifically before the Parliament; not merely by the method of tabling a document but also by a specific presentation to either House of Parliament of the proposed alteration of the plan and a report from the competent committee on that matter.
I turn now to the second part of the bill. As I said before, I regret that I have not had more time to study the measure and to think about it. Clause 25 provides for the setting up of a National Capital Planning Committee in these terms - (1.) There shall be a National Capital Planning Committee to advise the Commission as to the planning, development and construction of the City of Canberra. (2.) The Committee shall consist of -
It is at this point that I find it necessary once again to criticize the measure before the House. To my way of thinking, the National Capital Planning Committee, whose duty it will be to advise the commission on matters relating to architecture, town planning and engineering, should be completely separate from the body that it is to advise. There is provision for a membership of nine on the National Capital Planning Committee. Eight of the members are to be chosen in the manner suggested by the bill, and the ninth is to be the commissioner himself, and the commissioner shall be the chairman of the committee. The body that is to advise the commission on architecture, engineering and town planning will have as its chairman the commissioner himself. To my way of thinking that is a mistake. There may be reasons that prompted the Minister or the Government to insert such a provision, but it seems to me that the advisory body should be completely separate from the commission.
– Whom should it advise?
– It should advise the commission, but surely in the suggested set-up we will have the commissioner, as chairman of the advisory body, advising himself.
– The Minister should have a look at the bill. No matter how much he shakes his head, that is the provision in the bill, and the man who is to be advised is the chairman of the advisory committee. There may be reasons for the provision. Perhaps the Minister, when he is replying, will annihilate my argument and give the reason that prompted him to insert the provision.
I have one other criticism of the provisions regarding the town-planning committee. The existing National Capital Planning and Development Committee, which will be retired by the adoption of this measure, has as an ex officio member a representative of this Parliament, in the form of the chairman of the Public Works Committee. That gentleman has been of very great value to the committee itself. Another ex officio member of the present committee is the elected chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. There is no provision for any elected representation on the planning committee as set out in the bill. I admit that clause 25 of the bill provides for the appointment of two other persons with special knowledge and experience in artistic or cultural matters. I believe that the Government might have gone a step further and provided for citizen representation on that committee. Perhaps the Minister will reply to that comment when he is replying to the debate. Canberra is now a city of some 37,000 or 38,000 people. It is the National Capital of the Commonwealth, and as such it incurs expenditure the funds for which are provided from the public purse through this Parliament. It must be maintained as the National Capital; it is, as we have said, a place that will become the symbol of the inspiration of this country. But we must never overlook the fact that this City of Canberra is also the home town of 38,000 people at present, and 120,000 people in the ultimate. We are now approaching a population one-third as great as our ultimate population will be. I believe that the citizens of a city of such size should not be denied some say in the planning and development of the city itself, through representation on the body responsible for that planning and development.
Those are my comments regarding th-2 provisions in the bill concerning the National Planning Committee. I now wish to read to the House portion of an editorial which appeared in the Canberra “ Times “ of Monday, 26th August, 1957. Let me say at once that the Canberra “ Times “ and its proprietors have consistently fought for the proper development of the National Capital. The editorial reads as follows: -
Inherent in the proposal for a commission which will undertake the development of Canberra is the replacement of the National Capital Planning and Development Committee by a new body which will conform more closely to the pattern of the Fine Arts Commission in Washington. Hitherto, the Planning and Development Committee has been endeavouring to cover the ground of two Washington bodies - the National Capital Planning and Parks Committee and the Fine Arts Commission. The first of these two bodies operates at the District level and includes in its membership an architect practising in the District of Columbia, but otherwise has no citizen representation. On the other hand, planning in Washington is not made the secret activity that it has been kept in Canberra. The citizens of the District of Columbia are kept fully informed on district planning, development and zoning proposals, and frequent hearings as well as representations of the views of citizens and interested local bodies are encouraged by the District Commission. Indeed, although there is no citizen representation in the Government of the District of Columbia, its citizens are taken more fully into the confidence of the administration than are the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory, or, indeed, the people of the Commonwealth.
The model which has been taken for the new Canberra committee is the Fine Arts Commission which figured so obviously in the conclusions of the Senate Committee on Canberra Development. This body has no connexion in personnel with the District Commission, and it would be fatal for the proposed Canberra committee to include any officer of the Canberra administration, for the reason that it should be able to approach consideration of all matters within its purview without influence or pressure from those who have formulated proposals that will come before it. On the other hand, it will be essential that in the formative stage of planning and development programmes, there should be a much more liberal approach to consultation with the people of the Australian Capital Territory and their public bodies. For this reason, whatever body embodies citizens representation in territory administration should be kept fully informed of the development proposals and be able to express views concerning planning matters long before they have assumed the form at which they should come before the artistic standards committee.
I believe that that editorial contains much food for thought. Provision should be made for citizen representation similar to that which has been provided for in the National Capital Planning and Development Committee. The Minister was quite correct in paying a public tribute to the members of that committee for the work they have done and the time that they have expended on that work over the years. I think it is fair to say, however, that although the committee was envisaged as the watchdog of Canberra, and as a body to ensure that the development of Canberra would proceed in the way it had been intended to proceed, the committee at times fell down on its job. It was not the watchdog that it should have been. Indeed, from time to time it was by-passed, and its opinion was not sought on matters that were of vital importance in the planning and development of the National Capital.
The Minister stated in his second-reading speech that the Government, in presenting this measure to the Parliament, has adopted recommendations of the Senate Select Committee. The Minister has said that nothing is provided in this measure affecting the administration of Canberra, and that the provisions of the bill and the duties of the commission will relate to the planning and construction of Canberra. I think everybody who knows the Canberra situation will agree with his view that it was necessary to end the division of control between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works in these matters. It is true to say - and this is not criticism of any one in particular - that the very division of control between the two departments, the authorizing department and the constructing department, or the planning department and the constructing department, has led to delays, interruptions and undesirable features in the development of the National Capital. We have seen in recent years examples in which the results could be attributed to that very division of control between the two bodies responsible for the planning and the construction of the capital.
I turn again to the report of the Senate select committee which made recommendations for the development of the National Capital. The Government has adopted in part a recommendation of the select committee by establishing the commission, which the committee referred to as an authority. It is pertinent to ask why the Government has not taken some action to adopt other recommendations of the Senate select committee which have a more direct bearing on the lives of every one in the National Capital. I refer to recommendation 18, which reads -
That a Legislative Council be established to discharge the legislative function of the Australian Capital Territory at a State level in respect of the powers suggested in Appendix “ K “;
That appendix lists the powers that might be exercised by the legislative council. The recommendation continues -
The Governor-General to have the right to delegate further powers, and Parliament to retain the right of disallowance of any ordinance.
Recommendation 19 is -
That the Legislative Council consist of 13 members, comprising 6 nominated by the Governor-General, 6elected by the voters of the Territory, and the Commissioner of the Canberra Authority who shall ex officio be President of the Council.
Whether or not one agrees with the specific terms of that recommendation, at least it is a recommendation to this Government. Regretfully, we have not had an opportunity to debate the report in this chamber, though it was suggested a year or so ago that means would be found to have the report brought before this chamber so that it could be discussed. The report, in recommendation 20, continues -
That there be established as Canberra’s development and circumstances warrant: -
a Canberra Municipality for the City of Canberra, and
a Shire Council for the balance of the Australian Capital Territory both bodies when constituted to be responsible to the Minister through the Canberra Authority.
Recommendation 21 is -
That these authorities have power to deal with such matters at local government authority level, as are delegated by the Minister from time to time.
It may be that reference is beyond the provisions of the bill now before the House, but it is pertinent to ask, when the Government is prepared to accept part of one recommendation from a body which heard a vast amount of evidence and presented a most comprehensive report to the Parliament, why some action is not taken to adopt other recommendations which bear so strongly on the day-to-day lives of the people, and why, when we are establishing an Australian national capital, we should make it different from every other community in Australia by denying to the people of this city the right enjoyed by the people of every little village or hamlet of electing those who will govern them in their daytoday affairs! As that reference is probably beyond the bill, I shall leave it at that. 1 hope that the commission, when established, will proceed with the development of the National Capital on the lines that I have suggested tonight. I regret that provision is not made in the bill for continuing finance for the commission. I believe that annual appropriation is a mistake, and that yearly budgeting for a project of this kind cannot be satisfactory. It has been shown in recent years to be completely unsatisfactory and I should have thought that at this stage the Government would have made provision for continuing finance. The commission will have very wide powers and very wide responsibilities. Not the least of its responsibilities will be to the people, not only the people of Australia but indeed the people of Canberra - those to whom this place is home town and those to whom this place will be home town when the transfer that is projected for 1959 takes place and when subsequent transfers bring here all the Commonwealth departments at present situated in other States.
It may be heretical but my view is that the responsibility of a government, where it enters the field of housing, is lo build largely what the people themselves want in the way pf housing. Unfortunately, the trend in Canberra has been to build houses, to allot them to the tenants who have, perhaps, been waiting for years to get a house and say, “ That is the house you can have; admittedly, if you do not take it you can wait a little longer and get one somewhere else “. But by and large little opportunity is given to the people of the city to have any influence on the design and architecture of the houses that are provided for them. Some tragic mistakes have been made in recent years and some of them trace to the division of control between the Department of Interior and the Department of Works. In recent years we have seen developing - and it is apt to refer to this because these matters will come directly within the control of the commission - the practice of building on ever and ever smaller blocks. The argument has been put forward that we cannot have a city that continues to spread outwards as Canberra has. We are told that we must increase the density of the population, that one way of doing so is by erecting multistory blocks of flats and that another way is by making the blocks on which the houses stand even smaller. If the city is confined, expenditure on water supply, electricity, street construction and such services will be kept to a minimum.
I do not think that any one who knows this city will deny that the most pleasant suburbs are those that were built in the early days and even those built in the years immediately after World War II., but we have seen perpetrated in various sections of the city what I think are crimes against the aesthetic sense of the people. Houses have been jammed so close together that it is impossible to drive a motor car between the house and the side fence of the allotment. Houses have been sited one behind the other, all looking exactly the same, with my front window looking into my neighbours’ bathroom, as it were, and that has continued right down the street. Examples can be seen by any one who drives around the city. To cite an example which is very easy to find, I mention La Perousestreet, Griffith. The houses on the eastern side of the street were built just after the war. They are of a similar type. Mostly they are what are known as monocrete houses, but there is a sprinkling of brick. They are set on adequate allotments, and, though the houses are largely of the same type, the individual plans have been varied so that no two houses look exactly alike. On that side it is a very pleasant street. However, on the opposite side within recent months we have seen erected a row of houses, all identical with the exception of a window placement here and there; all with the front windows of one looking into the back windows of another, and all, as the final seal of uniformity, having the same coloured roof tiles. There is not an atom of variation. There the contrast is provided in one street.
Development of that kind may be something that suits the modern town-planner or the modern architect; it is certainly not something that suits modern people. In these matters, the view of the people should be paramount and the Government, which is expending public money on the building of homes, should have regard to what the people themselves want. For that reason I again stress that it is essential to have citizen representation on the planning committee which is to advise the commission, i hope that the commission, in its wisdom, will see that the concept of Canberra can toe spoiled by parsimony, lt can be spoiled if we are not prepared to think big enough about it to provide that building allotments shall be not only of adequate area, but also of adequate frontage. This should be a place of gracious living, lt should be, as the Federal Capital Advisory Committee said in 1924, the city beautiful. The garden concept has been partially destroyed in recent years, but it is still there, ant! it can be developed. 1 wish the proposed commission success. I hope that the persons appointed to it will be the very best that the Government can find. I hope that they will be paid a retainer or salary in conformity with the importance of their positions. I hope that the Government will give further consideration to the method of financing the commission, because J am convinced that annual budgeting under an annual appropriation is not adequate for a continuing programme of development for Canberra. I hope, too, that the Government will see the need to provide, and the wisdom of providing, for some form of citizen representation on the planning committee which is to advise the commission. My final hope is that perhaps the Minister, having taken steps towards the establishment of a development commission, and having recognized that it is necessary to end the division of responsibility between the constructing and planning authorities, may see the light and take the further steps of providing for some form of local self-government for the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
– I largely agree with the statements made by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), but I do not agree that most of the delays in the development of Canberra have been due to a division of authority between the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior. I know that those departments have been criticized and held responsible for the delays that have occurred. I know that they, like myself and other Ministers, have made mistakes. However, the only person who never makes a mistake is he who never does anything. A great deal of ill-informed criticism has been directed at both departments. The responsibility for the delays that have arisen should be laid at the door of those people who have the final powers in relation to the approval of the programme and the financing of it.
This is “ a bill for an act to establish d Commission for the Development of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth, and for related purposes “. It has my approval, lt gives effect to one of the main recommendations made by a Senate committee of inquiry into the development of Canberra in 1955 - a committee that I was delighted to see appointed. I congratulate the Senate on the work don2 by the members of that committee, and on the painstaking report that was submitted by them. This bill deals with plans for the future development of the National Capital by the establishment of a commission for its development.
Every citizen of Canberra is likely to be affected by this measure. I am glad to see that the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) is present on the front bench, because 1 want to complain very bitterly, and very strongly, but, nevertheless, in a very friendly way, about the procedure of bringing in bills such as this, asking honorable members to debate them immediately after the responsible Ministers have made their second-reading speeches, and trying to put them through within 24 or 48 hours. It constitutes a complete contempt of this Parliament. Politically, I was brought up in a different atmosphere in a State parliament where, usually, there was a delay of at least a week, and generally a fortnight, before bills of major importance were passed, unless it was particularly urgent that they be put through quickly. If this measure is passed to-night, as it possibly will be, the citizens of Canberra will not have the opportunity to see even a clause of it, much less read about the provisions of the bill in the newspapers, before it is passed. They will have no chance to make recommendations about it, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. I do not see the need for this sort of haste. Therefore, in the most friendly way possible, but, nevertheless, in the strongest terms, I appeal to the Leader of the House to end this procedure of trying to push bills through just because the Government happens to have the numbers to do so. At best, it is not parliamentary democracy, and it only brings the Parliament into ill repute with the people.
Canberra is a very lovely National Capital, and it is being appreciated more and more every year. As the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has said, that is evidenced by the increasing number of tourists coming to visit it. They now number 250,000 a year, which is an indication of very great interest. So far as I can gather, most of them are very greatly impressed. Indeed, most of the praise of Canberra comes from the visitors. Most of the criticism, on the other hand, comes from the citizens of the city. Any city such as this, which has been born and bred as a political national capital, suffers from growing pains, some of which are perhaps very vicious. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory mentioned Washington. I do not think that the people of that city are satisfied with its administration.
All honorable members should realize that, regardless of the appointment of commissions, advisory councils, or anything else, the local administration of a capital city such as this presents many complex and difficult problems. In this city, and in every city like it, most of the generals of the Public Service live. They all are accustomed to giving opinions, commanding large administrative departments, and dealing with great administrative problems. But the extraordinary fact is that, when it comes to questions of town planning, architecture, and the like, no two of them seem to have the same opinions, or to be able to agree. That makes the problems of administration much more difficult and complicated. In some ways, the situation here reminds me of a prisoner-of-war camp that I once heard of, and perhaps knew. In it, there were 200 full colonels and officers of higher rank. They were the most awkward squad that the services had ever seen. Every one wanted to command, and no one wanted to obey. In some respects, the generals of the Public Service are like that. I do not criticize them for their keenness and their civic pride in Canberra, but it is very difficult for any Minister, or any department, advisory council, or planning body, to achieve results when there is so much interest and so much divergent criticism. I think that civic spirit and pride are good, but I want to excite some sympathy for the responsible people who are caught up by these whirlwinds that blow in different directions.
Various forms of administration have been tried in Canberra. We began with a commission. We are now going back to a commission. I wish it the best of luck, and if I can do anything to help it or the Minister who is responsible, I shall be very happy to do it. But no new kind of administration, in the form of a commission, or in any other form, can be effectiveor successful unless it receives considerably greater backing from those who are really interested in Canberra. I do not suggest that it should not be subjected to criticism, because criticism is good for any one. It must receive more mature criticism, greater backing, and more interest from Ministers, members of the Parliament, governments and the citizens. Otherwise, we cannot expect it to do the job required of it, whatever the form of administration or whoever the Minister for the Interior mav be. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory also said that nothing could be done without an assured or guaranteed financial programme. I realize that money has to be voted from year to year, but unless there is more or less guaranteed financial support or a definitely approved programme of development it is almost impossible for any form of administration to succeed.
I hope the commission, when it really gets under way. will not bc frustrated bv Government or Treasury changes of policy or withdrawal of finance. Neither the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is one of the keenest and most enthusiastic citizens of Canberra - in fact, he is virtually the lord mayor because he is the final authority - nor the members of the Advisory Council, nor the citizens of Canberra, can expect much from the Minister or the commission without those two things about which I have just spoken. A Minister cannot succeed when, every time he gets a programme and thinks he has finance approved and is just about ready, he suddenly finds the mat pulled from under his feet. Put another way, every time he gets the horse to the starting gate it is disqualified by the stewards. He cannot win under those conditions. That is probably one of the main troubles of the past.
I make no apologies whatever for any efforts 1 made when I was Minister for the Interior to further the development of Canbeira. I know that I made mistakes. The only person who does not make mistakes is the person who does nothing. It was very difficult under the conditions that existed to get any programme really going. Nevertheless, in 1953, “ Operation Admin.” got under way and it had a most frustrated and chequered career. Originally it was based on the administration building being finished this year. After all the delays and frustrations since the original foundations were laid in the 1920’s, it was desired to see that the building was occupied as it was finished. It was realized that if public servants were to be moved from Melbourne or Sydney to Canberra, in fairness to them, they should be given at least two years’ notice that they would be required to move to Canberra. They had their own domestic arrangements to make; they had the schooling of their children to think of. Therefore in 1953 we started on “ Operation Admin.”, knowing that that building would be finished this year. As a matter of fact, it will be finished in a month or two months at the outside. In an undertaking of that nature provision has to be made for water, sewerage, electric light, roads, footpaths, shops, schools, and a whole host of things that the community needs. The population of Canberra was to be doubled.
So we went ahead. First of all a committee decided that all the departments except the defence departments should be moved to Canberra and housed in that building. Six months later, just as that plan got going, an alteration was made. It was thought that the defence services should come to Canberra. It took another committee of the Public Service six months to make a decision on that. Then it was decided that part of the defence services should come to Canberra, and that plan took almost another six months. So, time went on until finally, “ Operation Admin.”, like most of the rivers in northern Australia that run west from the Australian Alps, had run into the desert sands of frustration, changes of policy, and the stresses and strains of the public servants who did not want it to move at all.
That is broadly the story which has been told in newspaper reports from time to time, and now, in spite of all the efforts, for at least two years, Canberra’s “Pentagon “ is going to be two-thirds empty, or else it will be peopled and its corridors will resound to the heels of the overflow of departments now in Canberra. Or perhaps it will be left to the moaning of the ghosts of the cost-plus system which so delayed its construction. The fact remains that part of this building, which has cost a lot of money, is apparently to remain empty, as far as I can ascertain for at least two and possibly three years while another programme gets under way.
Finally we got a programme going, and I thought the thing was really starting, with £27,000,000 to be spent over seven years in bringing the whole of the remaining departments to Canberra. Unfortunately, at that time St. Mary’s came on the scene. Rightly or wrongly - and I do not go into that question at all - St. Mary’s had priority and once again the mat was pulled from under the Minister’s feet. A few other things besides were pulled from under his feet, but that does not matter so far as Canberra is concerned. Now what is the result? St. Mary’s is to be finished this year and, as far as I can see from the portents in the sky, it is going to be half empty for at least three years. So these two projects, St. Mary’s and the “ Pentagon “. are each to be half empty and lying idle for a period of two or three years. Such mistakes must be avoided in the future at all costs if possible.
I hope and trust, therefore, that when the Minister for the Interior and the commission get this new programme under way they will be given a guaranteed annual amount of finance and the programme will not be changed because somebody does not like the look of flat-topped houses or something of that nature. The waste that goes on - and every member of this House is aware of it - in the travelling between Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney by heads of departments and other officials is deplorable. 7 know what it was like when I had the Department of the Interior in Canberra and the Department of Works in Melbourne. I was lucky in that 1 had my home in Melbourne, but the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) has his home in Newcastle. The travelling may be very profitable to Trans-Australia Airlines, but it is an enormous waste of time, money and man-power as far as the Government is concerned. Therefore, I am delighted to know that at last a decision has been made, but I am still apprehensive, knowing what happened to previous decisions. I trust that it will be given effect, and I sincerely hope that this time delays will not occur.
There are all sorts of problems in Canberra that need attention. Take traffic problems, for example. There is only one highlevel bridge and that trembles and quivers every time there is a flood in the Molonglo. The Department of Works has attended to it, so I suppose it is not right to say that the city is in danger of being cut in half at any time by a major flood, but the Senate select committee, and other people, recommended that we should go ahead with the Kings-avenue bridge. If that had been done, it would have been built by now, but just as the project started to get under way, the financial foundations were pulled from under it and so we still have the one highlevel bridge in Canberra. I could mention many other problems. One of the greatest “ musts “ in Canberra, if the rest of the Public Service is to be moved here, is an undergraduate university. When we first started “ Operation Admin.” and it was suggested that one department in Melbourne was going to move to Canberra within two years, quite a number of excellent young and middle generation officers started to look for jobs outside, not because they were dissatisfied in the Public Service, but because they felt that their chances of promotion, in the normal course of events, were such that they could not afford to pay up to £400 or £500 to send each of their children to a university, should they come to Canberra. Yet, what is the position? I owe a lot to my Alma Mater. I was university-trained. I hope it did me some good.
Far be it from me to criticize any university, but the M.F.N. - the “ mostfavoured nation “ - clause with regard to a university in Canberra applies to the Australian National University, which is fortunate that it is under the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department. The Canberra University College, on the other hand, is, unfortunately for it, under the administration of the Department of the Interior. The result is that most of the available money goes to the Australian National University, which has built up a lot of side-shows, probably quite useful in some ways but nevertheless side-shows compared with what the university was originally established for - namely, medical scientific research and research in the physical sciences. It now covers all sorts of social studies. Had we not had a spare hostel in which to house the Canberra University College after its original quarters, which were not very luxurious, had been burnt down, heaven knows where it would be now. New South Wales does not want to build a university in this region. Everybody in this House knows that there is a shortage of undergraduate universities in Australia, and that the proper place in which to build an undergraduate university to serve the surrounding region of New South Wales, as well as the Australian Capital Territory, is right here in Canberra. Yet, we do not go ahead with it. It is not in the most-favoured nations’ department. Yet, as I said, it is essential, if we want the younger generation to move to Canberra when we have completed what we are appointing the commission for. The lack of an undergraduate university is one of the few handicaps which still exist in the City of Canberra as compared with other cities.
I hope also that the new commission will be unfettered by the prejudices of old conservative ideas. I was born in the very late nineties, and I prefer the old style of architecture; but I do not consider myself either a connoisseur or an expert on architecture, and I do not criticize, and have not at any time criticized, modern architecture. I have been criticized and thrown out on my pink ear, so to speak, because some people thought there were too many flat roofs in Canberra. Anybody who looks at the private homes being constructed in Canberra will probably find more flat-roof structures among them than they would find among government homes. People like these modern houses. They are cheaper to run; they are insulated and are warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Far be it from me to criticize. I know a mistake was made at Narrabundah Heights by putting houses on too small allotments; but the actual frontages were approved by the National Capital Planning and Development Committee. I do not say that the actual position of the house was approved. That is a mistake which will not be repeated. But Canberra is too widespread at the moment to be able to be provided with a decent transport system, so we have to go in for a few more buildings of two-stories, if not higher buildings. The problem has to be looked at from the practical point of view as well as from the desirable and idealistic point of view.
I hope there will be no more criticism of the Department of Works on the ground, in effect, that some of the department’s architects are as modern as outside architects, and because somebody prefers a garage, as I do, to a car-port. When I was Minister I had a lot of criticism in that respect from people who ought to have known better. I hope that such criticism does not continue under the present Minister, and will not be directed against the new commission.
The other day the Minister was criticized for not living in Canberra. When I was Minister I was criticized when I rented a house for six months in Canberra but, owing to very serious illness in my family, T could not live in it for two months. The critics did not bother to find out why, and one does not necessarily parade these things. But, now that I am no longer Minister, I am giving the reason. The Minister for the Interior does not have to live in Canberra. If he can, so much the better; but he would not get any credit for it. 1 hope, therefore, that in the future criticism of the new commission, or of the Minister, whoever he may be, will be a little more mature and a little more humane than it has been in the past.
While I was Minister for the Interior we tried to do our best. We attacked monopolies. There was an awful row when I granted a licence for a drive-in theatre. The view was taken that it should have been given to the people who were already running a picture theatre. There was trouble over the opening up of the Brisbane Building shopping centre. Will any housewife in Canberra to-day tell me it has not been a good thing from the point of view of reducing prices? We tried to open up as many areas as we could, putting in services beforehand in order to reduce the premiums being paid at that time on home sites. I was criticized very heavily at the time for eliminating sports subsidies for the wealthy sports clubs in this city which has the greatest proportion of motor cars to population in Australia. There is not a public servant who would criticize that action to-day. They all feel that they are much better off running their own shows. We built a swimming pool in Canberra. I did it despite the authorities, and they are probably still dancing a wake over the corpse of the Minister - mine. But will anybody to-day deny that Canberra deserved that swimming pool? Let anybody who does so go and see it on an ordinary summer’s day. The only trouble is that it is not big enough. It paid more than its working costs in the first year, which the old pool never did in any year.
I merely give these facts to show not what I was doing - I should say, not what “ we “ were doing, because it is the officials of the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior who put up the ideas - but to show that, whoever may be in office, there are people in the two departments, as well as in the City of Canberra generally, who are keen to see this city developed soundly and on the right lines. I hope that our efforts to put the business undertakings on a business basis will be carried out. I got the best expert 1 could on electricity matters to come here and investigate the electricity supply system. He made certain recommendations. He made an estimate of the capitalization of long transmission lines - which should not be charged to the consumer, but charged against the city itself because of its lay-out - in order to find out what was the proper charge for electricity in this city. He made certain recommendations, and in trying to carry them out, I went against the direct will of two senior government departments which would do nothing. I hope that the present Minister will have more success. I also hope that the first block of cheap power from the Snowy Mountains scheme will be taken, as it can be taken, for the Australian Capital Territory, because this is an electricity town. It is impossible to buy coal here except at a prohibitive price, and firewood is becoming scarcer. As an electricity town, Canberra deserves to get electricity at the cheapest possible price, particularly as the Commonwealth Government is providing all the money for the Snowy Mountains project - and I hope that nobody challenges that in the High Court.
– What were the two departments you ran up against?
– I will leave it at that.
– I mean, besides the Treasury?
– I will leave it at thai. Another thing which I hope the commission will consider is the new Parliament House. Some people say that that is an extravagance. This building is already bursting at the seams, and unless the walls are built with a two-way stretch they will have burst completely outwards by the end of another ten years. It would take almost that time to draw up plans and get them approved, and to hold any competitions that might be desired. But this building would not be wasted. There are various plans for its use which would be of very great advantage, and all the space of the two chambers will be required for administration, or for the meetings of associations which are coming to Canberra more and more, or for the National Library.
– It would make a wonderful pub.
– Some people’s minds run continually on that subject, which relates to another trouble which arose during my period of office and which concerned the closing hours of hotels. I do not envy the commissioner his task in dealing with a National Capital Planning Committee that will consist of two architects, two engineers, two town-planners and two cultural brains. There will be eight different ideas on how to plan the National Capital. However, I wish the Minister the best of luck, handicapped as he will be. My remarks have been made in the spirit of this remark by the grave-digger in Shakespeare’s - not the “ Canberra Times “ Shakespeare - “ Hamlet “ -
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
– Alas, poor Yorick!
– Perhaps I was too bold in my reference to imperious Caesar, but as for poor Yorick, I could not care less about him. He is in another incarnation where he is more happy. But if what I have said can in any way deflect the winds of ill-tempered criticism from the shoulders of those who have had to bear them unfairly on to those who should bear them I shall not have spoken in vain.
.- The bill that has been presented by the Minister for the Interior ( Mr. Fairhall ) has, Ibelieve, been presented with the best of intentions. 1 hope that something will be done to speed upthe development of the capital city. The selection of this site for the National Capital has been responsible for a scandalous waste of money. I say, as a Queenslander, that it. would have been as sensible to select a town like Cecil Plains or Barragoola and to develop it as the Australian National Capital. This Territory, in the old days, was noted for its ability to produce good wool and bushrangers. It has quite a lurid history of bushrangers. The proprietors of the sheep stations, many years ago, were paid an inflated price for their land, which then went out of production, and Australia has lost considerably through the land no longer being used for the production of wool. There is a cynical section of the community which states that the bushranging element still exists in this area.
However, whilst many citizens of Australia are very caustic in their criticism of the establishment of the National Capital in this area, the fact is that it has been established and we must accept it. Many millions of pounds of public money have been poured into the Molonglo during the construction of the city. Many hundreds of millions more must be spent to complete the work so as. to make of Canberra a worthy National Capital for a very great young nation.
The proposal of the Minister for the Interior is a worthy one. I do not share the apprehension of the two previous speakers. I believe that the Minister is making a determined attempt to improve the rate of construction and the rate of development of the City of Canberra. As I see it, it is proposed to establish a commission which may be likened to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority - a commission which will be charged, in the words of the bill, with undertaking the planning, the development and the construction of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth.
There has been much critical reference, particularly from the former Minister for the Interior (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), to the obstacles which have been placed in the way of the development of the city in recent years. I have no doubt that the present Minister is well aware of this situation, as is evident from the fact that he has introduced this bill. In the short time that I have had to read it, I can see that the drive for which the Minister is noted is very much in evidence in all clauses of the bill. Apparently, he is determined to speed up the development of the city and it is hoped that he will do the job as cheaply as possible, keeping in mind the interests of the citizens of Australia generally and not merely the interests of the citizens of Canberra.
The development of this city, because of its layout, must be very costly. It is not possible to construct cheaply a city of wide open spaces and huge parks, when the necessary amenities required in a modern city have to be run through nonproducing or dead areas such as exist in the heart of this National Capital. The cost must necessarily be high when these services have to be carried through areas where there is no demand for them. But there is an obligation on the administration - and at the moment that means the Minister - to see that costs are kept at a reasonable level.
I would say, as a recent comer to Canberra, that there has been a good deal of wasteful expenditure in the construction of many of the buildings and services in the capital. But development need not continue along those lines. Something must be done to ensure efficiency, and an attempt must be made, within reason, to ensure that the taxpayers, the citizens, the people who buy cigarettes and beer and contribute largely to the revenue of this Government, get a proper return for their money.
We are aware of the scandal associated with the “ Pentagon “ building, so named by the previous Minister for the Interior, the honorable member for Chisholm. Viewed from the outside, it is an excellent building, but the history of its construction is a public scandal. I have no doubt that the quarter of a million citizens of Australia who come here to view the beauties of Canberra each year experience a thrill of pride when they learn that the building is to be used to house public servants who, in the main, will be planning the defence of this country. But alongside of the building are to be seen the “ tombstones “, evidence of shocking waste and inefficiency. I could use stronger words, but perhaps you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, would object. I am sure, however, that honorable members will know what I mean. I refer to the remains of the condemned concrete founda tions, originally laid by a contractor, that: had to be rooted out and dumped because; they were incapable of bearing the building.. Those lumps of concrete are reminders of bad administration in years gone by. Asone who takes pride in this city, I hope that the Minister will be able to find in hisvotes sufficient money to remove those slabsof concrete which, as I say, are a reminder of shocking administration and bad construction in the past. We should not attempt to make political capital out of this; rather should we be ashamed of what took placein the past and do our best to obviate a similar occurrence in the future.
With the establishment of this new authority and the vesting in the hands of the commissioner of so much power, we should be able to look forward to an improved rate of construction and also to improvedplanning and development in Canberra. I do not wish to be unfair to the previous Minister for the Interior, but since the present holder of that office has been administering the department there seems to have been a pronounced speeding up in the rate of building construction in Canberra. We are now seeing here many of the ordinary amenities, such as improved roads and footpaths, which one expects to see in a city. It may be that the previous Minister was responsible for this improvement because he prepared the plans, but the fact is that the improvements are being carried out during the term of office of the present Minister, and, consequently, I feel that he must be given full marks in this respect.
It seems to me that the National Capital Development Commission is to be established on lines similar to those of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The new commission will have the powers referred to in the bill, and which I have already mentioned. I do not share the apprehension which has been expressed by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and the honorable member for Chisholm regarding the financing of the commission’s activities. Provision is made for an annual budget which, in my opinion, is a good thing. The money will be voted by the Parliament. The citizens of Canberra will not be asked to make any direct contribution. They will not be subjected to the levying of a rate, such as are the citizens of all other cities and shires throughout the Commonwealth.
– Yes, they will be.
– There will be no rate levied by the commission.
– The citizens of Canberra pay rates.
– They will pay rates to another authority. There will be no rate levied by the commission. The Parliament itself will make a grant or a vote to the newly established commission. This body will be fortunate, compared with other local authorities throughout Australia, particularly local government authorities in Queensland which are being starved of funds because of the peculiar position that obtains in that State in relation to the raising of funds for local government. But because there are restrictions on funds for local government authorities in Queensland I do not say that there should be similar restrictions in Canberra. Here, at least, the Parliament will see that all the programmes submitted by the commission for the development of the National Capital are financed by the grant of money each year. The commission is to be charged with the preparation of estimates, a report and a budget, and these documents will be submitted through the Minister to the Treasurer. The commission will know just how much money it will receive, and it will be able to plan its development accordingly. The commission will not, I am sure, because of over expenditure in the early part of the year, find in the last three months of a financial year that its funds are depleted and that it will have to dismiss employees - a matter that was raised by one of the previous speakers. I am sure that the commission will see to it that its expenditure is balanced throughout the year and that there will be continuity of expenditure, with consequent continuity of construction.
The commission will have power to engage, not only its officers, but also its employees. That is most important. It will mean that the commission will be able to establish its own building undertakings throughout the city. In this respect, I am thinking not so much of the construction of buildings as of the provision of amenities which are usually associated with local governing bodies. If the commission establishes its own construction groups, such as for roadways, footpaths and drainage, with competent administration and under competent engineers, gangers and so on, we shall receive a better return for the money that is expended than we have received in the past. Many honorable members, in conversations with me, have referred to the waste that has taken place in connexion with the construction of roads and footpaths in Canberra, mainly because of lack of adequate supervision. I have no doubt that the commission will ensure that there is satisfactory supervision which, in turn, will ensure that the rights of those who contribute the revenue for the development of this city are adequately safeguarded. 1 wish now to refer to the concluding section of the bill, namely that dealing with the establishment of the National Capital Planning Committee. This is a most important feature of the bill. Many of us are inclined to sneer at town planning, and planners are never well received by the critics, but they play a most important role in city development. I will admit, and I agree with the preceding speaker, that the committee proposed in this bill will be rather unwieldy. Every planner I have met during many years of local government experience seems to have a different idea about the development of a city. This proposed committee will have eight members and I have no doubt that they will have eight different ideas to place before the commissioner. I would say that the value of the commissioner sitting on that committee will be that he will hear the ideas of the eight members - the architects, the engineers, the planners, the aesthetic and cultured individuals - and he will then have to sift those ideas for himself, discover the best from the contribution made by each one of them, and come to his own conclusion. As a result, I feel that some good will come from this committee. There is ample room for its function in this city.
I wish to make some observations on a few of the mistakes that I have seen during the short time I have been in Canberra. Ons building in particular stresses the need not merely for a planning committee but also for a commission. I refer to the telephone exchange that has been constructed opposite the Hotel Kurrajong. The honorable member for Chisholm, who was the previous Minister for the Interior, said that he loved the conservative type of architecture. I wish that when he was the Minister, at the time that telephone exchange was being constructed, he had loved. the old conservative type of building with its beauty and tracery in stone, Gothic arches and Gothic windows. 1 imagine that those things were in his mind when he spoke along such lines, but why did he, as Minister, allow a building such as the new telephone exchange to be constructed in the heart of the City of Canberra? It is built apparently of either galvanized iron or aluminium strips. It has earned a name which will perpetuate the memory of the previous Postmaster-General; it has been called “ Anthony’s blot “. It is a disgrace to any city and it is a disgrace to this National Capital. I wonder if it can be camouflaged in an attempt to make it appear to harmonize, architecturally, with the Patents Office, that beautiful building which houses the Supreme Court, and also with the more modern Canberra Post Office, which is adjacent to it. This telephone exchange is a glaring example of the need for a planning body and for a fully established commission which will ensure that the development of Canberra shall conform to a dignified and uniform plan.
The City of Canberra has some excellent roadways to carry its traffic and a particular feature of them is the fine principle of divided carriageways. That is a magnificent system which will carry ten or fifteen times the volume of traffic that is carried now. But in many cases the divided roads are side streets. Other principal roads are not wide enough. As an example, the road which runs past the Canberra Post Office and along the back of Parliament House is a bus route. It has a carriageway of perhaps 24 feet and during the peak period - and Canberra does experience heavy peak-period traffic, morning and evening - very great congestion develops on this roadway, particularly with motor vehicles and bus traffic. These are matters which the planning committee must look into. Blunders have been made in the past, but if a competent authority is looking after the planning of the city and advising the commission, those blunders need not be repeated. Some of them, perhaps, cannot be rectified because of works which have been carried out, but at least some mistakes can be rectified. I can see an immense amount of merit in the appointment of the proposed planning committee.
I said earlier that T feel that the present Minister for the Interior is endeavouring to push on with the development of this city and I sincerely believe that when the bill becomes law and is implemented under his administration we shall see a great improvement in the development of Canberra. Now that the capital has been established at this place it must be developed as a national capital and as a national shrine in which the citizens will take a great deal of pride. This can best be done by pushing on with its development in a dignified way, and hope that the original plan of that great architect who designed this capital city will be followed. Do not let us tinker at the original plan. Let us be game enough to go ahead with it. As the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory said, in his excellent speech, we are building a city not for 50 years or 100 years but one that will last as long as this nation lasts; and we owe it to the future generations to see that the foundation is well laid. We must play our part in the construction and development of the city to ensure that future citizens will be very proud of it.
.- I rise to support the bill, but I do not propose to speak at length on it. I do not feel that I am as capable of talking about Canberra as is the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) or the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who was Minister for the Interior for so long and had control of this area. However, I support this bill, as I am certain other honorable members support it, because I believe that it will, within a very few years, enable many of the proposals outlined in the Burley Griffin plan to be brought to a successful completion.
A lot of the delay has arisen from the dual control of the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior. Both departments can exercise certain controls but very little authority. They are really subject to the decisions of the Treasury, which is constantly watching the amounts of money being spent by both those departments. Much criticism has been levelled at them and particularly at the Department of Works. Although there may be some justification for the criticism of the Department of Works, I believe that much of it is unjustified. A great deal of the work that that department carries out is done for client departments and they are really the departments which should be blamed. My experience of the officers of the Department of Works has been that they are most efficient. They are keenly interested in the job they have to do and if they were to go outside the Public Service and engage in private enterprise they would be able to earn much more money than the salaries they are now receiving. I wish to extend my congratulations to these men, who are putting the affairs of the nation above their own personal interests.
The commission that is proposed will be in a different position. A certain amount of money will be made available to it each year, by parliamentary appropriation. It will be able to spend that money very much as it thinks it should be spent, and it will be directly responsible for the spending of it. I suggest to the Minister, however, and through him to the Government, that if at the end of a period for which money is made available there is an amount unspent, that fact should not be taken into account when making the appropriation for the following year. I believe that much money is wasted by departments towards the end of a financial year, when they see that they have underspent and fear that their estimates for the following year will be reduced simply because they have not spent the money that was made available to them. Although I know that the problem is fraught with difficulty, any suggestion should be considered by the Government and an effort made to establish continuity in the provision of funds.
The most important clauses of the bill are clause 3, which provides for the establishment of the commission; clause 4, which states that the commissioner shall be assisted by two associate commissioners; clause 11, which tells us what the commission may and may not do; clause 24, which provides that a report must be furnished to the Minister every quarter regarding the activities of the commission and the money spent by it; and clause 25, which provides for the National Capital Planning Committee to advise the commission.
At present a body known as the National Capital Planning and Development Committee advises the Minister on matters that are directly referred to it. This committee investigates all kinds of problems and advises the Minister on them. The work that it has done has covered such matters as sub-divisional planning and the allocation of sites for public buildings, institutes, embassies and even private homes. It has investigated shopping facilities. The work of the committee has included investigation of the government centre, or the government triangle as we know it, and the supervision of designs for all kinds of buildings. It has considered plans of buildings for the Canberra Community Hospital and various schools. It has inquired into the introduction of prefabricated buildings, and has recommended that no more of those buildings be erected in Canberra. It has considered the possibility of railway development in this area. It has investigated the advisability of developing an industrial area in the Territory. It has been responsible for making recommendations concerning the Australian-American Memorial, the Australian National Library and the King’savenue bridge. It has considered the advisability or otherwise of establishing a mint in Canberra. It has been very active in making recommendations regarding the Australian National University.
The Minister today has paid tribute to the four members of that committee, who were appointed by the Governor-General. I wish to add to the tribute that has been paid to Mr. Waterhouse, Mr. Rolland, Mr. Walters and Mr. Frank Heath. When L was elected chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, 1 became an ex officio member of the National Capital Planning and Development Committee. Before attending a meeting of the committee, I had heard reports that it was composed of old fogies who had old ideas and were serving no useful purposes. I am sure that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who preceded me as the chairman of the Public Works Committee, and the Minister for Customs and Excise ( Senator Henty ), who was also at one stage chairman of that committee, will agree with me when I say that the work done by the four men I have mentioned has been of tremendous value to the people of Australia. I may add that this work has been done by them in a completely honorary capacity, by Mr. Waterhouse since 1938, by Mr. Rolland and Mr. Walters since 1945, and by Mr. Heath since 1954. Also on that committee is the executive member, Mr. Rogers, who is an officer of the Department of the Interior. Another ex officio member of the committee is the chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, Mr. Quinane Although we have not been able to give much technical advice to the committee, we have been able to use our common sense in making recommendations that would be helpful to the Minister in arriving at his decisions.
I feel that I can speak with some authority on Canberra, because in the eight years that I have been here I have tried to interest myself in the development of this great city. Many people think that Canberra is a failure. I cannot agree with them. Canberra has been described - I suppose with some truth - as being two suburbs without a city. Well, Rome was not built in a day. Canberra will not be built in a day, but I am sure that Griffin’s foundations were sound, and on those foundations we will raise a city of which we can be justly proud. In one sense I am sorry that on this planning and advisory committee there will be no representative of the Parliament. I believe that the provision for ex officio membership of the chairman of the Public Works Committee, whoever he might be, should be continued. That member could act as a liaison officer between the committee and the Parliament.
I also believe that we should have retained the ex officio membership of the chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council.
– Those provisions can still be inserted.
– As is suggested by my colleague, the honorable member for Chisholm, suitable provisions can still be inserted in the legislation, and I hope the Minister will give my suggestion sympathetic consideration.
I wish to speak at some length on clause
I I (5.), because it deals with possible changes of the Burley Griffin plan. The sub-clause reads - (5.) The Commission shall not depart from, or do anything inconsistent with, the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the “ Gazette “ on the nineteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-five, as modified or varied, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, in accordance with law.
As the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has said, it is very easy to change the Burley
Griffin plan without the people being conscious of that change. We have only ourselves to blame for any changes that have been made. 1 do not attach blame to any particular person when I say that it has been suggested that the change of the Canberra plan which eliminated West Lake was done in a rather underhand manner. Whether that is so or not I cannot judge, but honorable members know that all that is necessary to have the plan changed is to have notice of the change published in the “ Commonwealth Gazette “. The notice cannot be published in the “ Gazette “ until it is signed by the Minister. If the Minister happens to be very busy, or if another person is acting as Minister for the Interior, it may be quite easy to have a notice signed. It then goes into the “ Gazette “, and it is supposed to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament for a certain number of days. I thought it was 30 days. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory gave the figure as fifteen. I do not know; it is one or the other. What happened was that nobody noticed that West Lake would be eliminated or, if they did, they did not realize the significance of it. I shall read an extract from the report of the Public Works Committee on the Commonwealthavenue bridge. The report reads -
That is also described very well in an unpublished report, which I shall not read, on the work of the National Capital Planning and Development Committee. It shows that what was said in the report of the Public Works Committee was true. We could very easily have had included in this bill a provision requiring notification of any change of this plan to be given to Parliament while the House was sitting.
I want to stress that this is a national capital and it must be developed at the expense not only of the residents of Canberra, but also of all the people of Australia. That makes it difficult to set up in this community at this stage a municipal or local government council. Great difficulties exist because here we have streets wider than normal, parks and gardens much more extensive than in other cities and types of buildings erected for the benefit of all the people of Australia. Therefore, the taxpayers, through the Government, must be responsible for financing these matters. It certainly means that there are difficulties in coming to some satisfactory arrangement for the division of the funds to be made available for this purpose. I am certain that those who visit Canberra, particularly when the trees are at their best during the third week in April, when we have the lovely autumn tones, or about a week from now when we will have the spring blossoms at their best, appreciate that spending public money on making a place like this is worth while. Many people think Canberra is a failure. I cannot agree with them. I think Canberra is a place of very great beauty, and I believe that it will not be very long before we can be even more proud of it than we are to-day. The commission will have powers to make this place even better, and will be able to go on with those things that Burley Griffin predicted should be built in this area. I am certain that Sir William Holford, the town planner from London, who was here recently, will make recommendations which will be of great value to us. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he was here and had a discussion with him for about half an hour.I was most impressed with his enthusiasm for making Canberra the place that it should be.
We have a tremendous number of visitors to Canberra. The number of visitors to the city itself is estimated at 250,000 a year. I asked the attendants at the door of Parliament House the other day whether they kept records of visitors to Parliament House. They told me that no records are kept while Parliament is sitting but at other times an average of 90,000 people a year visit the House. I am certain that those people will agree that this must become the city that was envisaged so long ago. I look forward to the time when people, not only in Australia, but from all over the world, will feel that their travel pleasure has not been carried to its final stages until they have visited Canberra and enjoyed the beauty and friendliness of this wonderful area.
.- The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and I are possibly the only two members remaining of the Parliament that was responsible for the transfer of parliamentary life from Melbourne to Canberra. I have seen this city grow from its very beginning. My earliest recollection of the National Capital is before one brick had been placed upon another and when great works were being undertaken to service the city with water, power and sewerage. The development that has taken place in about 35 years is really wonderful. Identified with early thought about a capital city in this area is a suggestion made by the Right Honorable J. C. Watson, the first Labour Prime Minister, to Sir Joseph Carruthers, of New South Wales, that a site somewhere around Lake George should be selected for the National Capital. Following the ardent advocacy of Sir Austin Chapman, built upon the suggestion of Mr. Watson, Canberra was conceived as a suitable place for a national capital to be established. The development that has since taken place has made this a beautiful city.
Any one who has no appreciation of Canberra has no appreciation of real beauty and the part that it can play in the conception of a city. There are some matters in Canberra that require correction, and certain features of development are long overdue and should be undertaken immediately.
I commend the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) for his consistent and untiring advocacy of the development of this city to provide facilities and a way of life that will commend themselves to all who have to live here, do business here, or visit here, and to inspire them with a deep appreciation of what Australia’s national capital represents. I wish that we in Australia had a national outlook among our own people as well developed as might be desired, and a true appreciation of the meaning of their National Capital. An understanding of what it means must be brought home to them more and more. Until they capture in their own imagination something of what the people of the United States of America feel for Washington, of what the people of the United Kingdom feel for London, and of what the people of Canada feel for Ottawa, we in Australia shall not be able to conceive the true national spirit in which the people of the nation will look towards their National Capital as the centre of the nation.
We can do much to help increase the feeling for our National Capital, and to this end I warmly support the suggestions that have been made about the building of a permanent Parliament House. In other countries, the edifice that houses the National Parliament is the symbol of the nation’s greatness. Having seen the buildings of the national parliaments in a number of other countries, I feel that we in Australia are dwarfed in a very real sense, because this building, with all its appointments, by no means bears comparison with the buildings of the national parliaments of other countries with which we should stand on an equal footing, and to which we should in no sense feel inferior.
I was privileged to share the life of the people of Washington for nearly five years. In that period I came to recognize the national spirit that is most pronounced among the people of the great United States. They built their national capital with great vision, and with a fitting sense of the greatness of the nation of which it was the living symbol. When one sees the congressional buildings, and the public buildings along Pennsylvania-avenue and Constitutionavenue, in Washington, one recognizes that in that city at least is to be found a proper conception of what national buildings should be. This concept is carried over also into the residential hotels that provide the very best of service for those who find occasion to go to that national centre. Canberra, in many ways, is comparable with Washington, which, I understand, was the result of a political compromise in the choice of a site for the national capital, just as Canberra was. The designer of Washington, the builders who built in accordance with his plans, and the forestry service, which beautified the surroundings, have shown what is possible when a nation puts its heart into doing a job in a big way. We should now undertake the preliminaries to the building of a permanent Parliament House, and I hope that the job will be undertaken with a proper vision of Australia’s future and a proper conception of what the symbol of the Australian nation should ultimately be. A fitting home for the Parliament would do much to help make Canberra a place of dignity and an imposing symbol of Australia’s national life.
At this point, I should like to say that I think the airport terminal and the railway station used by visitors to this city are a downright disgrace, and should have been improved long since. I condemn in the strongest terms the neglect to which those terminals have been subjected. They are anything but an advertisement for the National Capital in the impression that they convey to the visitors who use them. If there is any Commonwealth body that should be housed in Canberra, it is the High Court of Australia, which should sit in the National Capital.
– It could be housed in this very building.
– If the Parliament is provided with a new building commensurate with the importance of the Australian nation, this building in which we now meet would adequately provide for the needs of the High Court. I make that suggestion to the Government, although it may not be possible to give effect to it immediately. We should not dismiss the matter from our minds lightly, for it is one of the important things that must be borne in mind by the Parliament and the people if we are ever to have a true appreciation of Canberra as Australia’s National Capital. I warmly commend the views that were expressed by the honorable member for the Australian
Capital Territory and I share with him the feeling that it is desirable for the people themselves to be represented upon any body that deals with the determining of conditions of life in this National Capital.
With regard to the supply of money, if I have any complaint about Canbera it is not that too much has been spent, but not enough to do the job as it should be done. There are other matters that might engage our attention. I have long thought that while the circuit system, upon which this city is designed, may have many features of beauty, it is more appropriate to a provincial town or city than to a National Capital. However, I recognize that we cannot alter that plan now. Instead, I would seek to effect such improvements as would help to overcome difficulties that are arising.
We all recognize the danger that lurks on Canberra roadways because of their circuitous nature, and the obscuring of the view by the hedges and bushes that are part of the ornamental plan of the city. I think that there should be some recognition that, as time goes on, this will become an even more hazardous and more pressing problem. There should be a widening of the thoroughfares now, while it can be done; we should not wait until it will be necessary to resume land and demolish buildings to provide for the necessary widening. Our roadways could be much more adequate to meet the needs of the future than they are at the present time.
It is time we got busy and did something with the bridge which to-day seems to divide this city. I earnestly suggest to the Government that this might be put on the urgent list with a view to providing something more adequate for the traffic moving to and from one of the principal parts of the city, Civic Centre, which is constantly increasing in size and importance. The existing link is so inadequate and so outdated and out of keeping with the general outlook of this National Capital that it long since should have been attended to. It is an antique that might rightly be put in the museum rather than left where it is.
I hope that my constructive observations will at least be a contribution to an understanding of what is felt by many people of Australia regarding the needs of this
National Capital in future if it is to be in keeping with the prestige, standing and dignity of this great Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hamilton) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- 1 ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who is at the table, whether he will contact the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) in an endeavour to ascertain what has happened about the undertaking given by the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt), a former Minister for Immigration, last evening, that what was said in the House on that occasion and recorded in “ Hansard “ would be passed on to the Minister for Immigration concerned for his consideration. The case I mentioned last night concerned a young man who is to be deported to-morrow. Obviously, if any further consideration is to be given to his case it will have to be done immediately, and we want to know exactly what the decision of the Minister is. I hope I am able to get that information before the House adjourns this evening.
The matter about which I rose to speak particularly this evening concerns the Department of Social Services. In my opinion this case reveals a most disturbing and outrageous decision by that department concerning an invalid pensioner. In Sydney there is an organization known as the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association. This is an organization of invalids who have formed themselves together and by a co-operative effort have established a workshop. They are hoping, by training and co-operation, to make themselves useful members of the community. In the correspondence which I received from the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) the Minister claims to have encouraged these people. His department has not given them any direct financial assistance, although they sought some aid, either from the State or Federal Government, in expanding their workshop and providing the facilities for these unfortunate people to train, in the hope eventually of becoming useful citizens and perhaps in some cases doing without a pension.
What the Minister did point out to me in correspondence was that he was encouraging this organization by allowing the pensioners in. it to have an income of up to £3 10s. a week without affecting their pension. As a result, quite a number of people were anxious to enter the workshop for training. One of these was a young lady - whose name I will not mention in this debate but will provide for the Minister - who for a number of years has been regularly attending the Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney, being treated for asthma. It is a very distressing case. She has to attend the hospital at least two or three times a week. She was advised by the doctor who was treating her, a Dr. Maurice Joseph, that her condition had somewhat improved and that he thought it would be a good idea for her to go into a sheltered workshop, such as this one run by the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association, to see if it were possible for her to do some form of work. The lady readily accepted the advice of the doctor and she was accepted into this establishment. According to the report from the organization, she has never been able to undertake work successfully, although they point out that she is very conscientious and endeavours to do more than her physical condition will permit. She tires very easily, has to take frequent rest periods, and attends hospital at least once or twice a week. I understand that she has to attend the hospital even more often than that. The organization has become very alarmed at the situation, because there is a number of such people involved. This unfortunate lady has now had her case reviewed. I think anybody in the House would realize the condition of this unfortunate woman from the remarks made in the report by the person in charge of the workshop, who is able to ascertain her capabilities for any form of employment. Now that her case has been reviewed, it has been decided to cancel her pension because, it is said, she is no longer permanently incapacitated for work. She has been back to Dr. Maurice Joseph, who has been treating her for a number of years, and he says that from his personal observations this lady is not fit to engage in full-time employment. He has recommended that her invalid pension be restored.
The Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association is very disturbed over the situation, because it is quite easy to understand that this Government, in its anxiety to reduce expenditure on social services, which it has never supported or welcomed, is now setting out to do whatever it can to deprive such unfortunate people as the members of that association of benefits to which they are entitled. The letter which this lady received from the department read, in part -
A recent review of your case shows that you are not now permanently incapacitated for work, and it is necessary to cancel your invalid pension.
Based on what? On the fact that this unfortunate woman has been endeavouring to carry out some form of training in this workshop, and on nothing else! There is no suggestion that suitable employment can be found for her. Anybody will recognize that a woman who has to attend for treatment at a hospital two or three times a week, and whose doctor says she is not able to work regularly, and who is stated in the report of the workshop authorities to be unfit for work, should not be treated as this woman is being treated by the department, which claims that she is not 85 per cent, incapacitated and therefore not eligible for the invalid pension. The letter from which I have quoted goes on to say -
It is suggested that you register for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Officer at Dispensary Hall, Enmore-road and Reiby-street Enmore, and, if suitable employment has not been obtained by 22nd August, 1957, you should immediately make application for unemployment benefit.
As everybody knows, if she goes off the invalid pension on to unemployment benefit there will be a serious drop in her income. If the Government regards this woman as now being able to work, and no longer 85 per cent, incapacitated, is not there an obligation on it to prove the correctness of its assertion by finding her some position for which she is qualified? But, in actual fact, the Goverment does not do that. The letter goes on to say -
In addition, the Social Worker from this Department has been requested to see you, in order to give you every help and advice with your plans.
What plans could this unfortunate woman have? It now means that, as the result of the inhumane act of this Government and of the department, the miserable allowance .she now receives in the form of an invalid pension is to be greatly reduced. I think that it constitutes a scandal that any department or departmental officer should act in this manner towards this unfortunate woman and unless this wrong is corrected the organization might as well wind itself up, if this kind of treatment can be considered to be in accordance with the Minister’s statement that he was encouraging these people because he thought it was a worth-while undertaking, and was doing what he could to assist them. He also said that their work was not affecting their pensions if they were not earning more than JE3 10s. a week. Unless the Minister takes action to restore the invalid pension to this woman, then, in my opinion, the organization I have referred to should immediately disband and discontinue its activities, because there will be other people concerned who are trying to make themselves independent of the community. I hope that the action in this case has been taken without the knowledge of the Minister, and, now that his attention has been directed to it, he will take immediate steps to have the wrong corrected.
.-I want to raise this evening a matter which I believe has some of the characteristics of something that is shabby and rather sad. That matter is the telegram sent by a gentleman purporting to be the private secretary of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) to His Excellency, the United States Ambassador to this country. There may well be differences of opinion among honorable gentlemen as to the background that prompted the sending of not only the telegram sent by Mr. Dalziel but also the telegram sent by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) to the same ambassador. I do not propose to refer to that background, because I believe it is only incidental. However, I believe that the House should not lose sight of the fact that the telegram sent by Mr. Dalziel some three or four weeks ago does not achieve any degree of respectability by the effluxion of that period of time. I believe that the telegram may be described as unrivalled in insolence, impertinence and impudence.
– Read it out.
– I will read it out for the benefit of the honorable member for KingsfordSmith in a few moments, if he will calm down his enthusiasm. I believe that if this Parliament does not take unto itself the right to censure and condemn the action of Mr. Dalziel in sending the telegram, it has lost and shed all sensitivity and regard for propriety. It is a singular and important fact that there has been no public rebuke of Mr. Dalziel by the right honorable member for Barton, whose private secretary he is. So, one can only presume that the telegram sent by Mr. Dalziel represents the sentiments of the Leader of the Opposition. I do not deny for one moment Mr. Dalziel’s right to make statements but, having regard to the position which he occupies, he should exercise due caution and discretion in what he does and how he does it. I am informed that Mr. Dalziel is not subject to the regulations of the Public Service. If that is the case, then I believe the regulations of the Public Service require examination, and pretty promptly; because I think it is a rather grim thing when the private secretary of the Leader of the Opposition in the National Parliament can send a telegram couched in terms of at least quasi-levity to the ambassador in this country of a great and friendly power.
– He has his rights as a private citizen.
– Let me concede that. He, indeed, has his rights as a citizen. Equally, Mr. Dalziel must be prepared to face up to the criticism and condemnation of all sensible and thinking people for his action. I believe that it is incumbent on the Leader of the Opposition to make his attitude in this matter plain. I repeat that I do not believe that Mr. Dalziel’s action achieves any degree of respectability or propriety simply because three or four weeks have passed since it was taken. I believe that there is ample time, even now, for the right honorable member for Barton to say whether or not he agrees with the action of Mr. Dalziel in sending that telegram to the American Ambassador.
That brings me to another point. 1 would be interested to know who paid for the telegram. The telegram was signed by Mr. Dalziel, “ care of the Leader of the Opposition, Sydney “. If Mr. Dalziel was making that declaration in his capacity as a private individual, that is quite O.K. If. on the other hand, he associated himself with the Leader of the Opposition in respect of it, I believe there is some responsibility on the Leader of the Opposition to make his attitude and his stand clear.
From where was the telegram sent? Was it sent at the expense of the taxpayers? I believe that is a pertinent and important point, and I ask the Minister in charge of the House to ask the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to find out from where that telegram was sent. I believe that if that telegram was sent from the office of the Leader of the Opposition - in other words, if taxpayers’ money was used to send a telegram of that character to the American Ambassador - it represents a first-class scandal. I appeal to the Minister in charge of the House to ask the Postmaster-General to make a thorough and searching inquiry into the source from which that telegram came.
I repeat that I do not propose to become involved in the background which prompted Mr. Dalziel to send the telegram, because I believe that that is incidental. What is important, and the principle at stake is simply this: Has a member of the Public Service, even if his status is altered, in some way or another, as a result of his position in the office of private secretary to the Leader of the Opposition or any Minister of the Crown, the right to have normal Public Service principles cast aside so that he may do and say as he likes? If that is the case, I believe it is high time that this Parliament looked to the job of correcting what is, in all conscience, a scandalous and dangerous position.
.- Unfortunately, I was not in the House to hear the whole of the statement made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who, I believe, made a demand in regard to a telegram sent by Allan Dalziel, private secretary to Dr. Evatt. 1 take it from his remarks that he takes umbrage at the fact that the secretary exercising his own rights as an Australian, decided to send a telegram to the American Ambassador. The honorable member is not concerned with the background. He is concerned, not about the fact that this man felt that something should be put on record but about the fact that somebody has bilked the Postmaster-General’s Department for a sum of money. He asked whether Dalziel paid for the telegram, and he added that if Dalziel did not the matter amounted to a public scandal. What damn nonsense!
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I am sorry.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it. I have no reason to resent your ruling on the matter, Mr. Speaker. But why does not the honorable member for Moreton come out into the open? He has been dredging these things for the months that he has been here. Being a junior member of the Liberal party he feels that his only way to fame is to be consistently aggressive concerning the Labour party and the only line he can take is that everybody in the Labour carty is a red. No matter how he disguises it with his apologetics, the fact remains that this is an attack on Dr. Evatt through his secretary
Let me appease his mind in regard to the payment for Dalziel’s telegram. When Dalziel was unjustly called before the Petrov commission as an ordinary worker he was proved to be completely in the clear. His bill for legal fees amounted to £600, but the Government has repudiated all liability for that amount and so has the department. He has had to carry that liability in order to clear his name. Yet, the honorable member for Moreton talks about 6s. 8d. for a telegram! Why does he not come out into the open and say all these things are propaganda for the benefit of his own little mind? He is not concerned about the telegram; it is a way of getting in on Allan J. Dalziel and trying to tie up the fact that being Evatt’s secretary he is involved in some way in a great attack upon the American Ambassador.
– I rise to order. The honorable member should refer to the secretary to “ the right honorable member for Barton “ or to “ the Leader of the Opposition “, not to “ Evatt’s secretary “.
– I should think that the honorable member for Chisholm is the last man to be pernickety when one is trying to defend a friend who has not the right to sneak in this House. As he was quite out of order in speaking out of his place and you were quite generous in the matter, Mr. Speaker, I will let it pass. To return to the matter of Dalziel, I am at a disadvantage in not having heard the first part of the speech made by the honorable member for Moreton; but I think one can pretty well translate it from the last part of his remarks. Is it the contention of the honorable member that Dalziel should not have sent a wire to the ambassador? If that is so, the honorable member must accuse me to a greater degree, and I shall be prepared to defend myself anywhere as an Australian. It is about time honorable members on the Government benches started thinking in terms of the British Commonwealth of Nations instead of adopting this supine attitude towards Americans. What happened in relation to the American Ambassador was that Mr. Sebald stepped outside his brief, and he got clouted. Once he retreated within that brief there was no more comment from me on the matter. But what a miserable thing to do - to say, “ Here is a public servant who is completely vulnerable. Let us down him.” I do not suppose it is long since the junior member for Moreton was down himself in the economic race. Does he not have a feeling for these people outside? Dalziel has no chance of defending himself. Yet, the greatest question that the honorable member can bring before the National Parliament is, “ Who paid for the wire? “ If Dalziel has not paid for it, we will look after the wire. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has a fund from which wires are paid for. The Prime Minister has made generous provision by which executive officers of the Opposition can pay for any Opposition work. The honorable member should not get caught up in this miserable thing. He is not concerned with the justice of the case or with whether Dalziel was right or not; he is concerned about who paid for the wire. What a miserable attitude towards a matter in which a man is trying to justify something he feels. I do not want to worsen the position in. regard to the ambassador, but in his statement he referred to the Petrov commission and the Chinese community; he referred to a lot of things in a most unguarded statement. My own statement to the ambassador was couched in moderate terms.
– It was not.
– Well, it has been a complaint in this chamber that this House lacks invective. I hope that we shall not hear any more about that nonsense. But it is a miserable action to attack a public servant, particularly one who works for the Opposition, and particularly in regard to the expenditure of 2id. on stamps. We shall find out from the relevant sources who paid for the telegram. But is that the point when the Government morally owes Dalziel over £600 for legal fees?
– The Minister for Defence could get that amount from a paddock of his merinos, but Dalziel is only a worker. The Minister has plenty of merinos, but he could not get Starfighters. Is there not any justice? Should not a man who has been unjustly accused, and who has cleared himself of that accusation, have’ his legal fees paid? But because so many hatreds burned on every side in this Petrov set-up, Dalziel did not get justice. The telegrams that he sent were splendid. Honorable members may see them quoted in “ Hansard “. The matter should not be attacked on that basis. I suggest to the honorable member for Moreton - and I am disqualified for making an adequate speech on his attack - that it isa pretty low-grade thing to get into these public servants, particularly when they work for the Labour party. One of these days, if by the injustice of time he himself becomes a Minister, he will realize that he has to defend all members of the Public Service. In attacking Dalziel he attacks the whole institution of loyal public servants. If Dalziel holds a point of view on which he feels impelled to make a statement and sends a telegram it shows that he has a good deal of courage - he is nota stooge, he is- an Australian. He feels he is not completely bereft of all rights and civil liberties because he is a public servant. Dalziel has upheld- that right, and’ I support his action in doing it and congratulate him. upon it.
– It has not helped him.
– Order! The Minister for Defence will cease interjecting.
– All I can say to the
Minister is, “ Heaven help you. You have the brain of a merino.”
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– Well, I will say that he has not the brain of a merino.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw that remark. He is reflecting on the Minister.
– I think he should withdraw it. It is an exaggeration.
– Order !
– Do you really think it reflects on the Minister, Mr. Speaker?
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw the statement.
– In deference to you, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it unreservedly. But it is a pretty poor thing to attack a civil servant for having the courage to express his own point of view. This is still a democracy and the greatest exponent of democracy in this House is the honorable member for Moreton. But he is blinded by the fact that he sees only two colours in the world - the true blue of his own party and the bright red of this party. He is completely wrong. He has no judgment on this matter and we should not let him, as a novice in this Parliament, get himself caught up in being the stooge for every lousy little rumour that is circulated. He puts it into the news by voicing it in this House. I suggest to honorable members that Dalziel asserted his rights as an Australian citizen while being a civil servant and I congratulate him upon that. Secondly, he has a genuine gripe against the department which complains that he spent 6s. 8d. on a wire, while it genuinely owed him £600 for defaming him before the Petrov commission and not paying his legal expenses. That is the position.
I suggest that the supporters of the Government consider those facts and that the next time they want to have a public servant on, at least they might have the courage to deal with the matter in the way in which honorable members of this House should deal with it.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
There were no new buildings provided nor alterations to existing buildings effected at any of the centres in question during the period concerned. However, the following summarises the amount expended on the other items in respect of which information was requested: -
Newtown. - Repairs and maintenance to the building in the amount of £1,799 were completed on the 30th July, 1956, and an amount of £50 was expended on providing improved amenities at this office.
Erskineville. - Certain repairs were carried out to the exterior of the building and the structure was painted externally at a cost of £600. An amount of £60 was provided for new fencing. Provision has been made on the department’s 1957/58 works programme for general repairs and maintenance to the building and it is hoped that the work will be put in hand during the coming financial year.
Enmore. - During the past twelve months a sum of £3,275 was spent on repairs and maintenance, the work being completed in January, 1957. No additional improvements are contemplated at present.
Marrickville. - A general repair and maintenance project, costing £3,256 is now being carried out and it is expected that the work will be completed shortly. No further improvements are to be carried out at this centre during the coming financial year.
Dulwich Hill. - The last amount expended on the Dulwich Hill post office was £2,175, when routine repairs and maintenance were carried out in 1955. No immediate plans for providing additional improvements are contemplated at this stage.
Summer Hill. - Although no amount was expended on this building during the last twelve months, repairs and maintenance in the amount of £5,968 were completed in January, 1955. It is not proposed to carry out additional improvements at Summer Hill during the next twelve months.
Petersham. - An amount of £5968 was expended on this office in March, 1956, and a proposal is now being developed to enlarge the telephone exchange and extend the post office building, upon completion of which the first floor of the post office will be converted as a self-contained flat to provide accommodation for the postmaster. The work is estimated to cost £40,000, and it is hoped it will be undertaken during the next financial year.
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There are no approved applications outstanding in these suburbs and six public telephones were established in the suburbs concerned during the last twelve months.
olt asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Corner Strathmerton-street and Royal-parade, Reservoir. Corner Dwyer-avenue and Corbenstreet, Reservoir. Corner Barwon-avenue and Plenty-road, Reservoir. Corner Boldrewoodavenue and North-road, Reservoir. Corner Outhwaite and Waterdale roads, Heidelberg West. Corner Ebony and Blackpool parades, Heidelberg West. Corner Oriel-road and Bell-street, Heidelberg West. Corner Ramu-parade and Waterdaleroad, Heidelberg West. Corner Gotha and St. Hellier-streets, Heidelberg West. Corner Haig and Elliott streets, Heidelberg West. Corner Wau and Gona streets, Heidelberg West. Corner Dresden and Bell streets, Heidelberg West. Corner Bamfield and Southern roads, Heidelberg West. Corner Oriel and Outhwaite roads, Heidelberg West. Corner Ramu-parade and Kila-street, Heidelberg West. Corner Alamein-road and Sebanicrescent, Heidelberg West. Corner Liberty-parade and Garrett-crescent, Heidelberg West.
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Rates of postage for newspapers registered at the General Post Office for transmission as newspapers are -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570828_reps_22_hor16/>.