Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Join McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m.,. and read prayers.
ST. MARY’S FILLING FACTORY
Dr EVATT: BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES
– I wish to address a question to the Minister for Defence Production in view of his- answer to the question about the St. Mary’s ammunition filling factory, asked yesterday by the honorable member for Werriwa. I preface the question by stating that, last June, the Minister made his statement about the additional cost of £3,146,000. Yesterday, he stated that, at the end of. December last, he knew that the cost would be substantially increased. I now want to ask the Minister this specific question: Did he know before 30th June, 1956, that, although the architects were endeavouring to keep the costs down to the estimate of £23,200,000, the contractors had stated quite clearly to the Department of Defence Production and Government authorities that they estimated that the cost would be increased by approximately £3,000,000?
Mr BEALE: Minister for Supply · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP
– It is very easy to answer the question. First of all, I was not Minister for Defence Production in June, 1956. In any case, I have already told the House that my first knowledge of the increase of the cost above £23,200,000 came at the end of December last year.
– I asked about the estimated cost, not the actual cost.
– Or the estimated cost. My first knowledge of the fact that the architects had said that the cost of the project would be more than £23,200,000 came at the end of December last.
– I asked the Minister specifically about the contractors.
– I have no knowledge at all of what the contractors may have said. Our information is derived from the architects, who are acting for us. They advised us at the end of last year that the cost would be increased. The contractors had certainly never advised me one way or the other, because we do not deal with the contractors; we deal with the architects.
STEEL FENCE POSTS
Mr MALCOLM FRASER: WANNON, VICTORIA · LP
– Can the
Minister for Primary Industry say why the shortage of steel fence posts, which are essential to many primary industries, has become more acute in the last few months? Is anything being done to overcome the shortage?
Mr McMAHON: Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP
– For some time now, the Department of Primary Industry has been consulting the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to see whether the manufacture of steel fence posts can be increased. We have been informed that the existing factories are operating at full capacity. The company is increasing its capacity, but the additional plant will not be completed until early next year. Therefore, it does not think that any relief can be- given until then. I should point out to the honorable gentleman that there has been an abnormal demand for steel posts, probably due, first, to the fact that dry conditions this year have enabled primary producers to put in posts throughout the year; and secondly, to the flooding that occurred last year in various parts of South Australia and in other States. We are looking at this matter from day to day to see what can be done. The export position is being watched, and I assure the honorable gentleman that only one-tenth of 1 per cent, of Australianmade steel posts is exported. In addition, the import of steel posts is treated in a generous fashion by the Department of Trade. Here I mention that the big difficulty is that imported posts cost much more than locally’ produced posts.
ST. MARY’S FILLING FACTORY
Mr WARD: EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES
– Will the Prime Minister explain the reason for the delay of two years which occurred in the Cabinet reaching a decision to build a new munitions filling factory at St. Mary’s, in view of his repeated assertion that the arguments in favour of such a project were overwhelming?
Mr MENZIES: Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP
– I dealt with this mattin the first statement I made to the House. I have nothing to add.
Mr WENTWORTH: MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES
– Has the Prime Minister noticed recent reports that, at Harwell, <in England, great advances have been made in the production of energy from a controlled fusion reaction? Has an Australian been prominently concerned in these experiments, which are of the very highest significance? Will the right honorable gentleman consider making a statement on this matter in the near future for the information of honorable members?
Mr MENZIES: LP
– I will be glad to discuss this ‘ matter with my colleague, the appro:priate Minister, in order to find out how much can be said. I will be very happy to make any statement that can be made on this matter.
COMMONWEALTH HANDLING EQUIPMENT POOL
Mr COPE: WATSON, NEW SOUTH WALES
– I desire to ask the Minister for Supply a question. Will the honorable gentleman inform the House when a decision will be reached on tenders for the sale of handling equipment?
Mr BEALE: LP
– This matter is within the jurisdiction of my colleague in another place, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I will convey the honorable gentleman’s question to him, and no doubt the honorable member will receive a reply in due course.
Mr FAILES: LAWSON, NEW SOUTH WALES
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry make arrangements for early and adequate supplies of seed wheat for the corning season for those districts which have suffered a complete failure of the wheat crop this year?
Mr McMAHON: LP
– As the honorable gentleman is aware, the Australian Wheat Board is responsible for the distribution of wheat throughout Australia. In answer to a question on Tuesday, I mentioned that already the Australian Wheat Board has taken action to ensure that both New South Wales and Queensland have adequate wheat supplies in order to meet consumption in those States. At this moment I cannot see any reason why I should intervene and do anything contrary to that already done by the Australian Wheat Board. Nonetheless, I give the honorable gentleman an assurance that the position is under daily consideration. ‘
– I referred to seed wheat.
Mr McIVOR: GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the decision of the State Savings Bank of Victoria to lend up to £4,000 to home-seekers on the basis of the borrower finding one-third of the cost of the home, the interest charge being 6 per cent, and repayments being approximately £7 a week? Does the Prime Minister know that since the bank made this announcement, hundreds of personal and telephone inquiries have resulted? Will the Prime Minister concede that this rush of applicants reveals a grave housing shortage? Is he aware that it is estimated that there are in Australia 250,000 people who require homes, the majority of whom are young couples who are compelled to live in converted garages, in caravans, and under other undesirable conditions? In view of the alarming housing position, and the extreme difficulties that the average wage-earner would face in taking advantage of this offer by the bank, will the Prime Minister investigate this matter to ascertain whether the Government could introduce legislation to reduce the interest and repayment rates with a view to meeting the needs of the average .wage-earner?
Mr MENZIES: LP
– Without accepting the statements put before the House by the honorable member, I can assure him that the problem of housing receives the close and daily consideration of this Government, through the appropriate Minister. We think we have a very good record in the provision of finance and other assistance in the housing field. The rest of the honorable member’s question contained argumentative matter with which, I feel, I should not deal.
PAPUA AND NEW GUINEA
Mr FOX: HENTY, VICTORIA
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether it is a fact that land in the vicinity of the Goroka air strip, in New Guinea, is to be offered for sale by tender in the near future. Is it also a fact that the Administration requires the successful tenderers to spend £3,000 on development during the first nine months of occupation? If this is so, does not this policy favour the moneyed man who already has successful financial interests in the Territory?
Mr HASLUCK: Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP
– Matters relating to the details of land administration in the Territory are, of course, handled by the Lands Department in the Territory. I have no personal knowledge of these details and, normally, such information would not come into my hands. It is customary, however, when land is advertised for application in the Territory, for improvement conditions to be stated as a part of the terms of the lease. 1 assume that if this land is in the vicinity of the Goroka air strip it would be advertised for either business or residential purposes, and I do not .think that a condition which required the placing on the land of a structure of a value of £3,000 within the stated period is a very onerous one.
JAPANESE TRADE AGREEMENT
Mr WEBB: STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that the trade treaty with Japan was entered into on the understanding that Japan would at least maintain her high imports of Australian wool, and that she would purchase more Australian wheat? Is it also a fact that, according to the Japanese Ministry of Trade, that country expects to cut its wool imports by 30 per cent., and that because of this warning, wool prices have dropped a further 2i per cent.? Further, is it a fact that, due to drought conditions, there will be little export of Australian wheat? Is it correct that Australia will get no benefit from this treaty, in respect of our primary industries, to offset the grave harm that will be done to our manufacturing industries as a result of it?
Mr McEWEN: Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP
– In the first place, there will be no grave harm done to our manufacturing industries as a result of the treaty. In the second place, it was not part of the treaty, or of our understanding, that Japan would sustain at a certain level imports of Australian wool, any more than Australia ever would engage to sustain a certain level of imports from any other country.
– Was not the agreement supposed to assist primary industry?
– Order! The honorable member for Stirling will be quiet.
– The position is, of course, that no country can predict what its future balance of payments situation will be. The arrangement with Japan, in respect of purchases of Australian wool under the treaty, is that, of the total exchange made available by the Japanese Government for the purchase of wool, at least 90 per cent. will be available for the purchase of Australian wool. That is the firm arrangement. It is an arrangement of immense value to Australia, and is recognized as such by all except those hopelessly prejudiced or those who are seeking to gain some political advantage at the cost of inciting bad feeling between these two neighbour countries.
EXPORT PAYMENTS INSURANCE CORPORATION
Mr TIMSON: HIGINBOTHAM, VICTORIA
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and relates to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. Some time ago, the Minister indicated that a commissioner had been appointed to the new corporation, and it is understood that some administrative arrangements have been brought to an advanced stage. Can the Minister indicate when and where the corporation will, commence its operations?
Mr McEWEN: CP
– The corporation is already in business, and I think its address is Market-street, Sydney. I will confirm that information for the benefit of the honorable member. The corporation has been writing business, in the terms contemplated by the statute, for the last couple of months. On my present information, it has already issued more than £1,000,000 of cover.
ST. MARY’S FILLING FACTORY
Mr L R JOHNSON: HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether he will confirm or deny reports that among the many examples of waste and extravagance at the St. Mary’s filling factory is one concerning the construction of a railway station. Is it a fact that a railway station, constructed at great expense, was ultimately found to be too narrow to permit the passage of trains? Did this fortunate and timely discovery result in the reconstruction of the station, at great additional cost to the Australian taxpayer? If these reports are well founded, will the Minister advise the House who was responsible for this colossal blunder and what was the cost of the reconstruction?
Mr BEALE: LP
– I invite the honorable member to put that question on the noticepaper and he will receive a reply.
While I am on my feet may I supplement the answer I gave to the Leader of the Opposition? I have had the opportunity of refreshing my memory on the matter he raised. At an interdepartmental committee, meeting on 18th October, 1956, the representative of the contractor then and there stated to officers of the Government that he believed the project would be completed on time and for the original estimate. Neither I nor the officers of the department ever received from the contractor or anybody else any advice to the contrary until December of that year.
Mr BRIMBLECOMBE: MARANOA, QUEENSLAND
– My question is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Lawson. It is in respect of seed wheat, not feed wheat. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he will take action to see that adequate supplies of seed wheat will be made available in those districts which are suffering from the severe drought at the present time, and which probably will not produce any wheat at all for next season’s sowing.
Mr McMAHON: LP
– I regret that when I answered the previous question I did not answer it insofar as seed wheat was concerned. On receipt of the resolution of the Australian Wheat Board, the matter was considered by me and the department and immediately a query was raised as to what action was to be taken in connexion with seed wheat. Unfortunately, the resolution did not make that point clear. Therefore, we have asked the chairman of the board to make a decision on this matter as soon as possible and to inform us of that decision. I assure the honorable member that this matter is being looked at, and as soon as I get an answer I will let him and the honorable member for Lawson know what it contains.
Mr J R FRASER: ALP
– I ask the Prime Minister: Does the fact that the Russians have successfully launched a 180-lb. satellite, which has remained in orbit around the earth for two weeks, indicate that the Soviet has gone immeasurably ahead of the Western world in developing a solid fuel for the projection of rockets? If this is not so, would it be correct to state that to launch a 180-lb. satellite with liquid fuel, the Russians would have had to use a 100- ton rocket? Will the right honorable gentleman have the results of Australian and other investigations collated in order to present a full statement to the House on the alarming possibilities consequent on the Russian technical development?
Mr MENZIES: LP
– I am no more qualified to answer these highly technical questions, than, I dare say, my friend was yesterday. Therefore, I shall have them looked at by the experts.
EUROPEAN RABBIT FLEA
Mr DOWNER: ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
– My question is to the Minister for Labour and National Service as Minister acting for the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Can the right honorable gentleman say what progress has been made with the introduction of the European rabbit flea as a means of spreading myxomatosis? Has the Minister actually seen those fleas? Are they propagating rapidly throughout Australia? Do they resemble, in their habits, the ordinary flea with which some of us became so familiar during our years of war service, or are they more selective and more predictable in their targets, and happier in their results?
Mr HAROLD HOLT: HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP
– I am happy, in one sense, to be able to tell the honorable gentleman that I have not seen, nor come into any personal contact with, the European flea; but, knowing the importance attached to it by our scientists and people engaged in the primary industries who are looking for some effective conveyor of myxomatosis to rabbits in areas where other conductors cannot effectively introduce the disease, I have secured some information from the C.S.I.R.O. about the progress we are making with this particular “ animal “. The European rabbit flea apparently is a rather difficult but not unpredictable creature, from the scientist’s point of view. It is yet to be ascertained whether it will have harmful effects upon animals other than the rabbit, including Australian native species, and experiments are being conducted into this aspect of the matter. Sufficient’ quantities of the fleas-
– How big are these “ animals “?
Mr HAROLD HOLT: HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP
– I should have thought that the honorable gentleman might be one fully familiar with the “ animal “ and its effects. Sufficient quantities of the fleas will have to be accumulated to effect a successful introduction. This work is being carried out in Canberra under what, I am assured, are strict quarantine conditions. There have been occasions, in the last few days, when I have not been so certain as I should like to be that the quarantine is being completely enforced, judging by some events in this chamber. The fleas are being collected in England by an officer of the C.S.LR.O. and, on arrival, they are introduced to captive rabbits in the laboratory. Arrangements have been made for a continued supply of the fleas and attempts, not entirely successful I gather, are being made to breed them in the laboratory. This process, I am informed, is extremely difficult, and attempts by European scientists to breed the fleas under artificial conditions have so far met with failure. Our own scientists seem to be a little more successful. The fleas in Canberra have followed an expected trend, and are now grouping on the ears of the rabbits, and it can be confidently expected that eggs will be produced in the very near future. i DEPARTMENT OF SUPPLY.
Mr BRYANT: WILLS, VICTORIA
– I hope that the question that I now direct to the Minister for Supply will produce a flea in somebody’s ear. My question refers to vacancies for employment in the design establishment of the Department of Supply. I have in my hand a letter from the department which was received by a person outside after he had applied for a vacancy which had been advertised. The letter reads -
In connection with your recent interview for the position of Fitter’s Assistant at this Establishment, I have to advise that the position has now been filled and that your application was not successful.
That letter is dated 3rd October, 1957. I also have here a cutting from the “ Essendon Gazette “.
– Order! If the honorable member’s question is based on a newspaper report it is out of order.
– The cutting is of an advertisement inserted by the Department of Supply which conflicts with the letter that the department sent out. I merely want to put the Minister in possession of the facts so that we can get the answer. The “ Essendon Gazette “ of 10th October carried an advertisement for the design establishment of the Department of Supply, stating “ Vacancies exist for recognized tradesmen . .. . also fitters assistants “. First, will the Minister have an investigation carried out to see that all the original applicants for the positions received a fair chance of getting a job? Secondly, will he find out why the Commonwealth Employment Service is not used for the recruitment of men to these positions?
Mr BEALE: LP
– I, like my “colleagues, take the view that, where it is appropriate, one should investigate matters of employment carefully and sympathetically to see that no disappointment or injustice is suffered by an applicant. I do not know the circumstances of the case mentioned by the honorable member, but I will have it investigated and give the honorable member an explanation.
Mr LUCK: BRADDON, TASMANIA
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Because of the glut of low-grade potatoes on the Sydney market, the price has dropped to a level where the cost of shipping is more than the price received by growers. This, in turn, has reduced the price of choice, red soil, Tasmanian Brownell potatoes to a low level. Would it be possible to encourage the use of second-grade potatoes for stock feed, particularly in drought areas?
Mr McMAHON: LP
– I had not considered the use of second-grade potatoes for stock feed. It is obviously a very interesting suggestion, as are so many of the suggestions made by the honorable gentleman. I will put the matter to the committee that is dealing with this problem of dry conditions and the need to provide drought feed, and if I get a favorable answer I will let the honorable member know.
MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Mr MAKIN: BONYTHON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
– Can the Prime Minister say when this Parliament may expect the return of the Minister for External Affairs, so that honorable members may have the advantage of any information that he can supply, together with a review of the contentious and very serious implications of present world affairs?
Mr MENZIES: LP
– The present expected date of the Minister’s return is the first week of November.
RUSSIAN LETTERS TO LABOUR LEADERS
Mr ANDERSON: HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the right honorable gentleman seen a report that the Soviet Leader, Mr. Khrushchev, has. written warning letters to Labour parties in several important countries? Has the Leader of the Opposition advised the Prime Minister that he has received one of these warning letters? If not, is it possible that the delay may be occasioned by the letter being sent through the friendly offices of the Soviet Ambassador in Outer Mongolia?
Mr MENZIES: LP
– I have not received any such communication, but perhaps I do not qualify.
Mr SWARTZ: DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry say to what extent capless wool packs are now being used in Australia? Have investigations shown that this kind of wool pack is suitable for general use?
Mr McMAHON: LP
– Investigations have been made as to the possible use of capless wool packs, but I regret to state that there is a difference of opinion between the growers and the transport interests on the one hand, and the brokers on the other, as to whether the use of such packs would be desirable. I was informed - that about £400,000 a year could be saved if caps were not put on the wool bales. I was also informed by both the growers and the transport interests that the use of capless packs would lead to more effective movement of the packs themselves. However, the brokers have stated that they do not favour’ the practice, because it would react to the detriment of the producers themselves. I think it is better to let this matter take its own course. If the capless packs are introduced gradually, and can be shown to be to the benefit of producers, then I think we shall find that, irrespective of what the brokers think, they will come to be used more and more.
ST. MARY’S FILLING FACTORY
Mr KILLEN: MORETON, QUEENSLAND
– I ask the Minister for Defence Production: Is it a fact that on the 9th August the honorable member for East Sydney addressed a meeting at the St.
Mary’s filling factory, which occupied one and three-quarter hours? What was the purpose of the honorable member’s meeting? Was it to cement employer-employee relationships? I also ask whether the cost of the speech delivered by the honorable member approximated £1,100. Does the Minister agree that even conceding the dulcet tones that characterize the speeches of the honorable member, £1,100 - £10 a minute, or ls. 8d. a word - is rather expensive loquacity?
Mr BEALE: LP
– The honorable member understates the position. The honorable member for East Sydney did go to St. Mary’s on 8th or 9th August last to participate in a stop-work meeting which lasted from 7.30 a.m. until 9 a.m., as a result of which I think 1,248 workers - not all of the workers at St. Mary’s of course - who went there and listened to him lost wages totalling some thousands of pounds, and 3,348 man-hours of work were lost on Australia’s greatest defence project. The cost to the job was even more than the cost in wages lost; it is difficult to estimate that cost, but there have been estimates from £2,700 upwards in direct cost to the job as a result of the visit of this gentleman which caused the cessation of work. Foremen, drivers and many other men had to be paid - men who did not participate in the strike at all. It was unlawful, unjustified and stupid, and could only have been participated in by a gentleman like the honorable member for East Sydney.
Mr LUCHETTI: MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Has he read a report of the proceedings of the annual conference of health inspectors in New South Wales in which Major-General Dougherty expressed concern about the lack of adequate roads required for civil defence? In view of the substantial unexpended balance of funds for strategic roads, will he take immediate steps to proceed with this important phase of defence work, and thus employ our needy unemployed?
Sir PHILIP McBRIDE: Minister for Defence · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP
– I have not seen the report referred to by the honorable gentleman. I shall obtain a copy and peruse it to see if anything that he suggests is necessary or could properly be done.
Mr TURNBULL: MALLEE, VICTORIA
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether negotiations are proceeding with a view to submitting an amended stabilization scheme to dried vine fruits growers. Can the Minister give an indication of market prospects for dried vine fruits in the United Kingdom?
Mr MCMAHON: LP
– If I may deal with the second question first, it is thought by the Marketing Division of my department that the prospects for the sale of dried vine fruits overseas this year are exceedingly good because of crop failures in the United States of America and elsewhere. So we hope that there will be a ready market, at least for sultanas, internationally. As to the first question, about a stabilization plan, as the honorable member knows, the initiative in these matters comes from the Australian Dried Vine Fruits Association. That association thought that it would be wise to have the matter thoroughly thrashed out with its constituent organizations and among the growers themselves before it made up its mind as to what further action should be taken. It is implied in what the association has stated that, for the time being, it will not make additional representations to the Government.
Mr J R FRASER: ALP
– Does the Minister for the Navy know that the doctor at Jervis Bay is one of the tenants who are required to vacate cottages at Jervis Bay to enable the return of the Naval College to that area? Does the Minister know that the doctor is expected to vacate his cottage at the end of the coming week? Will this leave the civilian community remaining there without the services of a medical practitioner? Can the Minister say when a medical officer from the Navy will be taking over the area and whether the officer will be able to provide medical services for civilians, who include children at- the two schools in the two settlements? Will the Minister do what he can to ensure that this community, which is completely isolated, is provided with a medical practitioner service?
– My knowledge of the question raised by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is that, some time ago, the doctor to whom he referred applied for an extension of - his tenancy to 30th November. He had been instructed to vacate by, I think, 30th September. Such applications are a matter for discussion between the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Interior. The latter department is, of course, charged with the task of preparing the area for return to the Navy at the beginning of next year. The attitude of the Department of the Navy has been that any such matters must be determined by the Department of the Interior, because that department knows whether extensions would in any way impede it in the carrying out of its duties. In this particular case I know that an extension was granted to 31st October, and I feel sure, from my knowledge of my colleague’s administration, that if he were reasonably satisfied that proper efforts were being made to obtain reasonable accommodation he would be prepared to consider sympathetically the granting of a further extension. That is a matter that I shall discuss with my colleague, who is not present at the moment. The intention of the Department of the Navy is to establish a sick bay, attended constantly by a nursing sister and nurses, at the college itself, and that, for a start at any rate, the medical services will be provided from the air station at Nowra. It is considered that these arrangements will be adequate to deal with all cases that may occur.
– I direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the fact that some time ago in this House I suggested that the words “Post Office” should be preceded by the name of the post office at the entrance to all post offices, official and non-official, throughout Australia, for the convenience of travellers and other persons who do business with the post offices. At that time the Minister was somewhat impressed with the suggestion. Has he made any investigation of the matter, and has he any further information on the subject?
Mr DAVIDSON: CP
– I remember that the honorable member for Mallee made this suggestion to me some considerable time ago. I discussed it with the Postal Department. It is, I think, a very good suggestion. The name is now placed prominently on any new post office that is erected, and when any old post office is being renovated and it is possible to carry out the honorable member’s suggestion, this is being done’ progressively.
ST. MARY’S FILLING FACTORY
Mr CURTIN: KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES
– I ask the Minister for Defence Production whether it is a fact that 5,000 square yards of concrete floors were laid at the St. Mary’s project without supervision, and that the mixture was found to have been faulty, causing the concrete to crack and break into small fragments and preventing the laying of the floor tiles. Is it a fact that this area of floor had to be torn up and re-laid? Is it also a fact that 5,000 square yards of strawboard roofing material sagged when the waterproof material supplied by Ormonoid Roofing and Asphalts Limited, of Waterloo, was poured? Is it a fact that this roofing material was sub-standard and had to be torn down and replaced at enormous expense?
Mr BEALE: LP
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
Mr CLEAVER: SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
– Can the Minister for Air advise me whether it is the general practice to discharge automatically any member of the Royal Australian Air Force with hypnotic ability, under the regulation providing for the discharge of a member whose services are no longer required? Would not such a procedure be open to question if the serviceman so discharged had declared his interest in hypnosis as a hobby on his personal documents when enlisting?
Mr OSBORNE: Minister for Air · EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP
– It is not the practice of the Royal Australian Air Force to require that an airman practising hypnotic manifestations should be automatically discharged. Fortunately, it has never been found necessary in the Air Force to establish any settled practice in regard to such matters, because hypnotic practices are not ordinarily indulged in by. airmen. I am aware of the case to which the honorable member refers. I have looked into the circumstances in which an airman was discharged, and I am personally satisfied that the decision was correctly made. I will be happy, however, to discuss the matter further with the honor.able member if he wishes me to do so, and if he has any additional facts to place before me or any representations to make.
COMMONWEALTH CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION COMMISSION
Mr HAROLD HOLT: HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP
– Section 70 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1956 requires the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, once in each year, to furnish to the Minister for Labour and National Service, for presentation to the Parliament, a report on the conciliation and arbitration provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The President’s first annual report has now been received by me,, and I accordingly present it to the House. Copies can foe obtained, from the Clerk.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - First Annual Report, for year ended 13th August, 1957.
AUSTRALIAN CONTENT OF TELEVISION PROGRAMMES
Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay: BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion,, namely -
The urgent need of action being taken by the Government, the Broadcasting Control Board and all television licensees to secure that Australian actors, artists, writers and musicians should be guaranteed engagements and contracts on television performances as will ensure an Australian content, tone and atmosphere in this important medium of education, entertainment and broad Australian culture.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
Mr HAYLEN: Parkes
’.- The proposal of this subject for discussion as a matter of urgent public importance is completely sincere and genuine. In the limited time at my disposal, I shall present to the House a case which, in my view, cannot he refuted, and which calls for action. This matter concerns the broadcasting industry. The methods adopted in the broadcasting of television programmes have left out of consideration entirely the question of the Australian as an employee, and of the viewer and listener as an Australian. When the matter was first raised, during the consideration by this House of the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1956, the Australian Labour party declared, through the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the necessity to require a specified quota of Australian material to be used. We suggested that 55 per cent, of the material used in all programmes should be Australian material, in order that Australian actors and other performers, script writers, and others dependent on them for employment should be assured of a reasonable livelihood. We depend upon Australians employed in this new medium of mass communication to present the Australian viewpoint and the Australian way of life. We pressed for a specified quota of Australian material, because we did not believe -that private enterprise and commercialism, of their own volition, would -use sufficient Australian material, since they were looking for profits and not to the -propaganda value of the presentation of the Australian viewpoint.
Although the Opposition’s proposals were defeated in the Parliament, we received assurances from the responsible Ministers that the position would be watched carefully. We now tell the House that it has not been watched carefully enough, and that the Government has failed, time and again, to honour the promises that were made. I should like the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) to know that I think that he is trying to do his best. On the personal basis, I believe that to be true. However, because of the complex machinery of the bureaucracy behind him, we are not getting any results. Therefore, this has become a political question inasmuch as it relates to the situation against which the Opposition warned during the consideration of the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1956. It is a national question, because, on it, depends the sort of television that we. shall ultimately have. Therefore, the country should not be . held to ransom by licensees, whose licences we control, merely because we have not the guts to tell them that they must use Australian programmes.
I had the honour and .privilege to move amendments on behalf of the Opposition during the consideration of the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1956. In a general reply to observations that I had made before that bill was introduced, the Minister said -
I am in full sympathy with the need to ensure that TV programmes are adequately Australian in character, and I know that this view is shared by the Board.
In that instance, the board referred to was the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Minister continued -
The matter is regarded as one of considerable importance, and if in the future any action is considered necessary to protect the interests of Australian artists, you can rest assured that such action will be taken.
This morning, we call on the Government to take the action that the Minister promised, and we will prove, in the debate that will ensue, (hat considerable importance is attached to the fact that every promise made by the Minister has not been fulfilled. This is not necessarily his own fault. In addition, the requirements that are stipulated in the Broadcasting and Television Act have not been fulfilled. Therefore, the Minister must answer the case that the Opposition is putting.
As the Minister responsible to the ‘Government for the administration of broadcasting and television services, he must stand by his assurance that action would be taken, because, as I will explain later, television programmes have become simply programmes of cheap material obtained .from overseas. Some attempt has been made, notably by station TCN, to preserve a reasonable Australian content. However, most television licensees ace looking for revenue. They complain that they are losing money, that sponsors are scarce, and that television receiving sets are not being sold as freely as they had hoped. But that is not our worry. The television licensees came crawling to the Government, and succeeded in persuading it to give them licences, which, in the aggregate, had a total asset value of between £500,000 and £750,000. They assured the general public and the Australian Broadcasting ‘Control Board, at its inquiries into the granting of licences, that they did not expect to make profits, and that they would build up their programmes slowly, because television was a medium in which development had to be taken slowly. Although they knew all the problems, they are now trying to bilk the Australian listeners out of a fair enjoyment of ‘the expression of Australian sentiment and culture, simply because they have fallen for the cheap and nasty “ quickie “ that conies in a can, mostly from the United States of America.
It is astonishing to hear some Australians who should know better asserting that nobody is going to foist bad Australian programmes on them. My answer -is that cheap and bad foreign programmes are being foisted on them, and, to judge by the absence of protests, they seem to like it. There will be no such’ thing as a bad’ Australian programme, because the demand and preferences of the Australian public will see that Australian artists live up to what we know they can do, and also the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the Minister, and the Government will not be very tolerant of Australian productions that are not of high standard.
This matter involves the employment of Australians, but there- is another aspect of it that will touch the heart of the Government much more closely than the employment of artists and technical experts in a profession for which they are trained. Assets worth, I think, £3,500,000 - I do not wish to overstate the case - are tied up in television studios, which have been placed at a great disadvantage by this flood of cheap and nasty “ quickie “ rubbish from overseas. I have said that I do not wish to overstate the case, and 1 do not, because I want a serious answer from the Government. Australian television production studios are using about only one-tenth of’ their capacity, and, as a result, many actors, technicians, and script writers are merely standing by waiting for work.
When shall we lose our unfortunate feeling that Australian productions, particularly those in the art forms, are inferior? To-day, world audiences are enjoying two Australian plays that are among the finest ever written. One of them has revived the British theatre, which was in the doldrums and was very happy to get “ Summer of the Seventeenth Doll”. The Elizabethan Theatre Trust in Sydney, to come nearer home, was very proud indeed to. present a new Australian play, “ The Shifting Heart “. These things are evidence that Australians can deliver the goods, and that Australian productions need only financial backing to assure their success. Yet, faint-hearted Australians - mostly on the Government benches - say that they will not have cheap Australian programmes foisted on them. Australian programmes are nothing to be ashamed of.
However, I return to the Minister’s assurance that he would watch the position Carefully. The Opposition told him that it did not trust the television licensees, because they would look only to making profits as quickly as possible. What is the good of a protective section in an act if penalties are not prescribed for breaches pf it? I call on the Minister to-day to do what the Opposition asked him to do when the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1956 was being considered by the Parliament, and to require that a satisfactory quota of Australian material shall be used in television programmes in order that Australian artists, actors, script writers, and technicians may figure in the field of television as they have a right to do. The sort of thing that has happened in television in Australia could not have happened anywhere else in the world. In no other country would local talent and material be excluded from television programmes.
Does the House know that not one Australian drama has been televised since television was introduced into this country7 We have had newscasts, trots, horse races and interviews of the great, the near-great and celebrities who appear in the daily news, but not one play, even of a length of ten minutes, a quarter of an hour or half an hour, has been shown. The only answer to this state of affairs is the introduction, of a quota. The Government shrank from introducing a quota because it thought that would be an interference with private enterprise. Private enterprise is sponsored by the Government and, indeed, it issues television licences. With the experience that we have had, both as a government and as an Opposition, we thought the Government would impose a quota. The British people, have a splendid record for the production of entertainment, not only of the highest character, but also of comedy and the music hall type. It is all reasonably good entertainment, all entertainment in the genre character, and it has provided employment for actors and actresses, scriptwriters and playwrights in England. It was realized that this medium was mechanical and a million-dollar job and that the employment of artists should be protected. Accordingly, a quota of 80 per cent, was imposed. The United States of America imposed a quota of 100 per cent. Only American productions are shown on television screens there, and the rubbish, when it has been used, is exported to mug countries such as Australia, which is on the end of the line. Some programmes are years old. We ask again that a quota be imposed in Australia or, at least, that some effort be made to ensure that employment is not lost to Australian artists in the way that it has been. This is a valid case. »The Scandinavian Government also has imposed a quota, and many other countries have followed that course. The Postmaster-General knows that that is so and I need not reiterate the facts for him.
This new medium is of tremendous importance. It is as new in the entertainment field as Sputnik is in the satellite world,, and it is as revolutionary. Yet the Government has decided that Australians should not have any voice in it. That decision is completely preposterous and must not be conditioned by what television licensees think about it. If a quota is not introduced, I have a warrant from the party which I represent to say that we will closely examine the position, from the point of view both of quota and the issue of licences. That is not a threat but a solid attempt to do something for the Australian community. The problem goes deeper indeed than employment, which is important. It goes deeper than politics, which must be involved because the Government issues the licences. It goes to the very heart and soul of Australian culture. If we are not courageous enough to act through the tender, faltering steps of television and assist Australian talent, instead of making sarcastic rejoinders about the sort of programmes that should be shown, we are not much of a nation and have no integrity and no courage.
Having stressed the exclusion of Australian talent from television programmes, let us see what is substituted for the Australian programmes that cannot find a place on the television screens. Some little time ago, a group of listeners decided to analyse the types of programmes shown on television - the sort of programme they would see and the sort of material that would be shown to their children. They spent four days on this task. I shall give the House the result of their efforts. This group of citizens, whose names are available, found that the items I shall list, which came from America and other countries, were shown on Australian, television screens. With the notable exception that I mentioned, channel 7, which has made an attempt to do something for the Australian producer and actor, the television stations work on the slogan, “ Give them blood baths, TV is for blood, bud “ ! That is one of the slogans. A team of protesting actors came to Canberra. It is to the eternal disgrace of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), as an Australian) and the Postmaster-General, that they refused to receive a deputation from these actors. After that refusal, they had a long interview with the Leader of the Opposition. Surely, it is not within our province as parliamentarians to reject deputations that seek to interview us.
Because my time is limited, let me illustrate what is being shown instead of Australian plays, which would provide employment for Australian actors and actresses. The survey revealed that ABN, the national station, showed nine stabbings, three stranglings, one attempted murder, one wounding, one suicide, three murders discussed and one murder demonstrated. Not one of those programmes was made in Australia. ATN, the commercial channel 7, showed six bashings, one maiming, eight brawls, one blinding, . one armed robbery, eleven murders, two woundings, two killings, eighteen corpses and a scene where a child described how she found the body. TCN, channel 9, showed two bashings, three brawls, four murders, one maiming, one armed robbery, one assault, two stranglings one wounding, two attempts to murder a child, one dope fiend showing his dope needle marks, and four murders discussed.
I appeal to the Postmaster-General, who promised to do something about the Australian content in television, to honour his promise. We know, from the union concerned, from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and from the force of public opinion, that Australians will not put up with the programmes that I have mentioned. The Postmaster-General has no alibi to enable him to say why Australian talent should not be used on television. He has had an opportunity to do what he wanted to do in his own wisdom,, but a quota has not been imposed. It is right up to him now to impose a quota, to so advise his leader and to so persuade his party. What we ask is only fair trade practice, but that has been -denied. When the Broadcasting and Television Bill was before the House, we issued a warning that no provision was made for Australian content in television. No work has been provided for employees in the theatrical industry and no Australian plays are offered through this mass medium of propaganda and entertainment. The broad cultural level of Australia is not dealt with at all. The Australian actor, looking for a job, has to pit his skill against Rin Tin Tin or something equally absurd. I appeal to the Postmaster-General to impose quotas and do something for the Australian actor, actress and technician.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr DAVIDSON: PostmasterGeneral and Minister for the Navy · Dawson · CP
– Let me say at the outset that I am glad of the opportunity which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has presented to me to discuss this important question. I am also glad that, to a large extent, he has submitted the matter in a reasonable way. He remarked on the fact that he had only limited time to deal with quite a wide subject. That also applies to me. I shall attempt to be brief and to answer only the main points that he has made. If 1 miss some of the points he has dealt with, then those who follow me on this side of the House will deal with them.
The honorable member for Parkes has charged me particularly with having failed to carry out an obligation and an undertaking that every effort would be made to use as much Australian talent as possible in the development of television programmes throughout Australia. I say that there has been no refusal to carry out the undertaking which was given by me on behalf of the Government. He said that I had no alibi for not using Australian talent. I reply that an alibi is not required because Australian talent is being used and will be used in increasing proportions. I make the point early that the best way in which Australian talent can be used on an increasing scale is- for all the elements involved in this difficult matter, including Actors Equity, to get together and by intelligent co-operation, instead of the use of threats, to create a state of affairs in which every one associated with this matter can derive the greatest benefit from it. Let me remind the House briefly that the Government’s policy on television and the use of Australian talent was expressed in the Broadcasting and Television Bill. New section 88 (I), provides -
The Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes.
That is the statement of Government policy. In some instances, that has been interpreted to mean that only those who belong to, say, Actors Equity or are musicians and so on shall be taken into account in determining what constitutes the ‘ Australian content of television programmes. I have never stated, and I have never accepted, any such thesis. The position is that this Government’s policy is to present television programmes which will properly portray the Australian way of life and which will include such items as drama, variety, children’s sessions, sport, news, talks and interviews, women’s programmes and the like. Australians will be used in all of those programmes, and they will present, not only to Australian viewers but also to those who visit our shores, a proper idea of the Australian way of life. That is the undertaking that has been given. That is the object at which we are aiming and which, when finally achieved, will result in a very high percentage of Australians, including actors, actresses, musicians, script writers, and so on, being employed in, and benefiting from, television.
It has been said that the Government and I have failed to honour an undertaking that we would watch the development of television and ensure that our policy was carried out. I want to point out briefly to honorable members that this undertaking has been carried out mainly by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is the appointed instrument of the Government to give effect to this policy. At the same time, of course, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has its own authority, and also is applying the general policy so far as its programmes are concerned. Shortly, I intend to indicate the actual programmes that have been put on by the commercial television stations and by the Austraiian Broadcasting Commission, and I shall show that a very high percentage of Australians has been employed!
The board -has been keeping .a constant watch on programme content, and <has reported regularly -to me in .this connexion. It lias a system of monitors who ‘Constantly watch all the programmes to ensure that they are >of , proper .standard, .and that the greatest use is made of Australian material. Also, -the <board has had several -conferences with representatives of ‘Commercial television -stations, -the .most .recent being held a .couple of -weeks ago. J must :say ,in (fairness, that ‘the board has -had .very -ready co-operation from the commercial licensees, whether (honorable, members opposite like to acknowledge it or not, and I am satisfied that these licensees -desire, just as .strongly as we do, to .build up .a .strong television industry which will rely mainly ion Australian programmes for its excellence.
Let us pause for a moment to consider some of the ‘important facts which have a bearing on the development of this “industry and the attainment of a high Australian content. -Let us remember that television in Australia is an entirely new venture. After alL only one of the .six stations at present operating has celebrated its first birthday, the first birthday in a life which will extend -far beyond our normal span of life. So, television can truthfully “be said to “be in its “infancy. The .present television licensees - and I am now speaking particularly df the commercial licensees - are the pioneers of this new medium df amusement and entertainment. They have expended, as the ‘honorable member -for Parkes has said, almost £4,000,000 in .the early stages of the development of the u> dustry. They are facing considerable losses each .year. That was expected to be so at the start, but we must appreciate that they are facing these losses on behalf of the whole of the community, because the stations that will be established later will benefit from the experience of the earlier ones and the expanded market which they will create. Station TCN, for instance, lost £250,000 in the first year of its operations.
In order to succeed, these pioneers must be able -to .present attractive programmes which will interest a large number of viewers. .In doing that, of course, their own advertising will .be developed, -so that they will .go from strength to strength and enable us to improve -further ‘the whole of the service. At the same time, these licensees are -required by Government .policy to increase the Australian content -of their programmes. They face :the position that .there is in .Australia mo established film production industry, producing films suitable for television, on which they can draw. They axe starting from scratch, so ‘far -as ‘obtaining films is concerned. They also face the position that -there ‘are no trained television technicians, -script “writers, directors .and peop’le of ‘that kind. All of this organization has to ‘be -developed, and these <are the .pioneers who are ‘doing that. I should point out that radio -experience does not necessarily constitute ‘a qualification for television capacity.
Yet, despite .these initial difficulties, which are very meal, in .the month -of August the commercial stations were .able to .provide programmes .containing .56 per cent, of Australian content
– They -were not.
– I say ‘they were. This percentage is not regarded as the ultimate aim by the board, myself, the Government, or the licensees, but in view` of all the circumstances, ‘I say that it is a ‘creditable performance. While it:is:net accepted as being finally satisfactory, ‘nevertheless .it is ;a performance whcih, ion “.the basis .of only one year’s :eff ort, certainly (does -not demand the imposition of conditions ‘which, as 1 said -in my second-reading speech, very probably would -result in holding back the future development >df -television.
In order to get this problem on -a proper basis, ‘let us remember that there are interests, .other than .the -licensees, .which have to be taken into -account. For instance, there is the Australian Film Producers Association, which .has <had two interviews with the .board. The members of that association .have very great problems, :to which I referred .a few moments ago, ‘that they must ‘overcome before they .are able -to cope .adequately with .the .production of films .and foe able ito .provide .films at a cost which will -make their .use .an economic proposition for the licensees. They have told us .that, first of all, they want the imposition of .quotas -for -Australian content in programmes. They .have .said, .however, that -quotas .alone will -be .of no value .to them -without the addition .of tariff .protection .and -the .assistance ;of subsidies .for then productions, the establishment of a finance corporation to finance them and to enable them to proceed with film production; and the blocking in Australia of the income of overseas producers, so that it may be turned back into the industry.
These are the problems that this section of the industry is facing, and they are problems that I have referred to my colleague, who will be speaking shortly on this matter. I mention them in passing in order to show that here is an important part of this industry, whose operations are essential to the development of a high content of Australian talent by the licensees, admitting that at present it is not in a position to meet these requirements. Can it be contended that, because of this, the licencees must be forced to have no reliance whatever on the import of films? Such a position would be disastrous to the ultimate success of the industry, because its ultimate success depends on attracting a large body of viewers who are satisfied with the quality of the programmes.
Reference to the viewers reminds me that they also represent a very important element in the development of the industry, because they purchase television sets, pay licencefees, and so on. They want good programmes. The reviews that have been taken to date show that they have Very catholic tastes. They do not want rubbish of any kind, whether from Australia or overseas. Therefore, to force on them a low grade type of programme of Australian production would be just as disastrous as to force on them any other low-grade production.
I turn now to the other group, the artists, musicians and playwrights, all of whom are equally entitled to share in the profitable development of television in Australia. But they also are required to play their part, and this is the point that I want to make for the benefit of the honorable member for Parkes, because he may have some influence with these people and be able to direct them along wiser lines than they are following at present. They cannot expect these benefits to be handed to them on a platter, such as is suggested in the resolution which states that Australian actors, actresses, artists and musicians should be guaranteed engagements and contracts. Engagements and contracts are there for them if they like to co-operate with those other sections of the industry which are trying, under difficulties, to establish it as rapidly and as efficiently as possible. I say that, by reasonable co-operation, the actors and musicians represented by Actors Equity of Australia can have the opportunity that they seek. It is there waiting for them to take it, but it cannot be acquired by threats and by direct action, which do more harm than good to the whole of the concept. In order to demonstrate what I have said concerning the opportunities available for the employment of Australian talent I should like to read some of the latest reports from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. However, since time will not allow me to do so, I advise the House that I have been informed by television stations TCN, ATN and HSV that they are already employing large numbers of members of Actors Equity and other artists who are available. From time to time they have made efforts to build up the presentation of Australian plays, but, with the exception of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, they report that they have received no cooperation whatsoever from Actors Equity. They say, further, . that if Actors Equity likes to get down to a basis of friendly and constructive co-operation with the licensees, it will find that without resorting to demonstrations or strikes it can build up its rate of employment very considerably. All commercial licensees have assured me that they desire to employ Australian artists and use Australian productions. I have that in black and white, and I accept their statement. They are just as much Australian as we are.
These people who are criticizing what is being done, are withholding a lot of information about the actual volume of employment. They should get down to a reasonable and sensible understanding of the other elements in this industry and take the opportunities that are available to them for employment. Because of its great importance, I propose to make such information available later by way of a statement.
Dr EVATT: Leader of the Opposition · Barton
– The point of view of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) is reminiscent of the attitude taken towards Australian artists 50 years ago when they took part in theatrical productions. They had little encouragement, and there was a considerable struggle for Australian actors, writers, and artists to get recognition. One would have thought that that attitude had disappeared. But no! This Government is so hostile to the Australian sentiment that it banned from the air - call it an anthem or song, it matters nothing - “Advance Australia Fair “, which was the theme song of Australia’s war effort. That shows how hostile to Australian sentiment the Government is.
– What about calling for a bit of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr C F Adermann: FISHER, QUEENSLAND
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney need not remind the Chair about keeping order.
– In the Seventh Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June, 1955, the board gave undertakings as to what would be done in the matter of employing Australian artists and musicians. It said -
Television should provide great opportunities for Australian artists and we agree with the Royal Commission on Television that “ There is an undoubted obligation on the operators of television stations to ensure that the best use is made of Australian talent “. We are satisfied by the evidence which was given to us on this subject- that is before the licences were issued - that licensees will discharge this obligation and we therefore do not propose to recommend that any specific condition should be incorporated in licences for television stations.
Then the board said that imported film material had to be controlled.
Of course, the Postmaster-General avoids the real issue. The decision of Parliament was taken, and I will read it. It is contained in section 88 (1.) of the act. That section provides -
The Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes.
But they are not doing that. The limitation there, according to the act, is simply the possibility of the licensees doing this; it does not say as far as it is economically possible to do so. It says they are to employ Aus.tralians in the production of television programmes. That is the relevant portion of it. Are they doing that?
– Channel 9 does not employ any Australians, to my knowledge,
– Ministers are deliberately talking in front of the microphone.
– It is certainly difficult to speak against the conversation on the other side of the table.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney is making more interruption than anybody else.
– I am doing nothing of the kind.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– I want order all round.
– Although the act provides protection for Australian artists, the PostmasterGeneral is not enforcing it. The Australian content of programmes, which the Minister says is increasing, includes matters which have no relation to what is of actual value from an Australian point of view - such as weather reports and news. The news does not relate to Australia only, but also to all the world. Does a news broadcast have an Australian content because an Australian reads it? The real point is that Australians must be used in the production of programmes. That means that Australian actors, musicians and writers have to be employed to the maximum possible extent. The act says “ as far as possible “, but that is being completely broken by the Postmaster-General and the Government to-day, and also by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The board has been most shameful in its neglect of its duties. It passes responsibility away from itself. What does the act mean? It means that this must be done, whether the Government intended it or not. It is an obligation to employ Australian artists.
I cannot understand why opportunity is not taken, positively, by the Ministry to see that this broad duty is discharged. What is the good of the Minister complaining about a particular organization such as Actors Equity because it protests? He says, in effect, that if Actors Equity behaves itself and like a good little union does everything that it is asked to do and adopts a timid, tame-cat attitude, . somebody will be graciously pleased to give its members further opportunity to be included in programmes. It is the old story. The Minister’s attitude is really one of resting too much- faith- in- the authorities. As far as the Postmaster-General himself is concerned, he is simply here as the spokesman for those authorities. He has made statements on the matter and’ says there is no easy way in this. Of course, there is no easy, way. It has to be worked: out; There ate matters in. which- he- must have assistance. A. play- for television may be written or produced not only by an Australian author, but from tame to- time the work of an overseas author or playwright may. be presented. That is reasonable enough, but the act provides that preference must be given to Australians. It is not limited to 50: per- cent, or 55 per cent, of Australian works or artists; the principle must be applied all along. I ask, on behalf of the Opposition that the statute be carried out and that the Broadcasting Control Board be not allowed to dodge- its responsibility as it is doing..
I turn- to the licensees of televisionstations. I cannot understand why they are not eager to put these- great Australian actors on the- programmes.
– But who owns the- tele, vision stations?
– They are owned, in substance, by the newspapers. The honorable member for Parkes has referred to outstanding successes by Australian artists, and that is common knowledge. I thought the fight for’ the- recognition and employment of Australian artists was over, but it seems that we have to- fight for Australian interests in this, and- in every field. Yet, the Government calls itself Australian. The: issue is that the act should, be enforced and that parliamentary, policy should not be treated with utter contempt. The policy is contained in the act, but the Government does not carry it out:. That is the- view of the Opposition.
Mr McEWEN: Minister for Trade · Murray · CP
: - The. Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has been quite explicit in stating what he describes as the policy of the Opposition in this matter.
– The policy of the act.
– It is an interpretation of the act which the right honorable gentleman- chooses to use and chooses to declare’ to be the- policy of the Opposition. Hi’s argument is simply that irrespective of any other consideration’ Australian artists must be used. There is- to- be no- limitation other than1 the- limitation of availability. Availability is to- be the only criterion.
– Possibility. That is* what it says, in the act..
Mi. McEWEN?- “Possibility!.” So the right honorable gentleman interprets, it in. the way he has’ done: Is this policy of the Opposition to be confined to television? Are Australians- in the artistic world capable of working only in television? Are we to look at only the paintings made by Australians? Are we to be permitted to read only books written by Australians? When we go to the movies are we to be permitted to see only pictures made in Australia by Australians? Is that the. policy of the Opposition.?
-. - You- know that that is a rotten argument.
– I know that it is a logical argument.
– It is. un-Australian: You ought to be ashamed of. it. You can sell wheat to> the Japs, can- you not?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– Order!. The House will1 come to- order.
– We only want a fair share.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes has already spoken in this debate.
– I was provoked, sir. This, is a serious matter..
– This is a debate which has been produced,, not in the interests of the viewers, but in the interests of those. Australians who,, it is claimed,, could present television programmes. Is there to- be no consideration whatever of the Australian viewer?’ Surely that is the prime consideration. The general sentiment of the Government’s policy and the legislation itself, on- reasonable- interpretation, is to see that, there is not an. exclusion of Australian talent, that there is, to the extent that Aus, tralian, talent is attractive to the- Australianviewer, employment of Australian talent. No other field of. Australian industry, enterprise, or culture is the subject of such an. incredible policy as that propounded by the Leader of the Opposition, that there should be- made available to Australian television viewers only those- things that are produced’ in Australia, to the exclusion of all other television programmes produced elsewhere. That is a completely indefensible policy. It is a completely contradictory policy on the part of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who only a few hours ago was arguing that the Australian public is being unwarrantedly denied access to such books as “ The Catcher in the Rye_”. He was the spokesman in this House last night against censorship. He is the most vocal man in the Parliament against control of what is to be available- to the Australian reading public. But this morning, in different guise - in the guise of an actor, if I may put it so - he.- is showing us to what a> transformation he has apparently been subjected. This morning he is advocating that there should be imposed the most absolute: form of censorship that I have ever heard propounded in this- place.
So the debate is to be recognized for what it is, Mr. Deputy Speaker - a stunt! It is an act in itself, designed to gain some political advantage for a political party that seems to be incapable ever of propounding anything other than things calculated to give it political advantage, no matter how trivial the instruments used may be.
The policy of this Government is to be discovered better by examining the results of its eight years of office. Australian industry and industrial enterprise have never experienced such a period of expansion as they have in the years of office of the present Government. Whatever aspect of Australian activity one may take as a measuring stick for this,. I venture to say beyond fear of just contradiction that there has been no other period of eight .years in the history of this nation in which Australian enterprise and skill have been so well catered for as during this Government’s term of office. That will continue to happen in regard to this new enterprise, television. The policy of the Government in respect of television is to permit not an accumulation of imported, film but just so much imported film as appears to be desired by the Australian viewer.
– The viewer has no choice.
– Of course he has not. What choice has the viewer?
– The viewer, for- the reasons stated by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) a few minutes ago; admittedly has not very much choice of films, because there is scarcely any Australian film industry for this specialized purpose. However, like other industries, it will grow, and, to the extent that an Australian film industry can be shown to be really capable of carrying on, the traditional protective devices will be available to if and regard will be paid; - I give that assurance - to any representations for tariff protection of a practicable kind. Let me remind the House, however, that at the present time to exclude television films from being imported would not be to deny films to the television transmitting stations because, of course, there has been an accumulation through the years of great numbers of older films of the kind that have- been mentioned in this debate - films such as those dealing with Rin Tin Tin, the performing dog. It is clear that even if there were no current import of films for television, there are plenty of films available in the archives for the television industry.
– At 30 “ bob “ a can!
– I know nothing of that. I say that you achieve nothing by imposing an embargo.
Mr.. DEPUTY SPEAKER__ Order! The honorable member for Parkes has spoken in the debate: and I ask him to keep quiet now.
– I have some sympathy for the honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Deputy Speaker. He is trying, by interjection, to recover some of the ground that he and his leader have so demonstrably lost in this pitiful exhibition they have turned on. There is really nothing that I require to add to what has been said by my colleague, the Postmaster-General. He has stated, the policy of the Government, and has given us the facts and figures, not in broadcast allegations, but as a result of actual experience. He said that in August television programmes had a 56 per cent. Australian content - A pretty good percentage in an industry which is not yet a year old, and which, I suppose, at that time was not nine months old. I venture to say that no other industry in the history of Australia has been able to claim within twelve months of its establishment that it was supplying 56 per cent, of Australian consumption. So I say that no case has been made out by the Opposition on this issue.
Mr BIRD: Batman
.- The information provided to the House by the Opposition has certainly vindicated the point of view we have submitted. Our only purpose in this debate is the express objective of stopping the unhealthy and un-Australian trend that has developed in the television industry over the last few months. As a matter of fact, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has, to take the most charitable view, engaged in nights of fancy. For example, he said that the primary consideration should be the Australian viewer. That is what the Opposition is concerned about. We contend that the Government is not looking after the interests of the viewer as it would be doing if it implemented the provisions of the act. Subsection (1.) of section 88 of the act reads -
The Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes.
But the latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June, 1957, does not sound too happy about the present position. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) threw out his chest and, with pride in his voice, told us that 56 per cent, of the programme material in August was Australian. The board states that the programmes represented by that percentage include children’s sessions, variety and talent sessions, news sessions, sport sessions, quizzes and panel sessions, women’s sessions, religious sessions, talks and interviews, and demonstrations. Taken at random, these programmes could include the trots, or the last quarter of the football in Melbourne. The panel shows and quizzes cost the television stations nothing.
The ninth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board contains this very significant statement, which the PostmasterGeneral apparently has not read -
The remainder of the programmes - a very, substantial portion indeed - are being provided on films from overseas sources . . . Many are excellent productions which provide much appreciated entertainment for Australian viewers, but others are of a type which, while in general complying with the Board’s standards, do not appear to the Board to represent the type of programme which would be desirable as a permanent feature of the Australian television services.
In other words, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is not very happy about the present trend of television services in Australia. The Minister himself seems’ to be extremely pleased with the trend. He stated that Australian drama was being used on television, and .it is quite possible that n’e has been misinformed by interested people, because there has not been one Australian drama televised on commercial television since the inception of television twelve months ago.
The Minister stated that the board had received co-operation from licensees. That does not seem to be on all fours with the statement made by the board that it is not satisfied with a lot of imported programmes. The Minister said that the viewers want good programmes. Of course, they do, and I suggest that the Minister should have a word or two with the viewers. I have had interviews with quite a lot of viewers in my electorate, and all and sundry say that, whilst there is quite a number of good programmes on television, the imported film content of television programmes is far too high. I hope the Minister will not conclude that television viewers are perfectly satisfied with the programmes. The hiatus in the sale of television receivers has been brought about, first, by the fact that the cost is too high, and secondly, by the predominantly poor overseas programmes which are being televised. I suggest that if television stations were prepared to put on decent Australian programmes, they would find that the sales of television sets would rise.
The Opposition’s objection to the present small content of Australian programmes is not for political purposes. We, on this side of the House, are concerned about an unhealthy development, and we say unequivocally that the Government must not allow television screens to become a medium for the dissemination of imported culture and imported ideas. That is what is happening to-day. There must be ample opportunity for the presentation of Australian culture and the Australian way of life. The Minister this morning painted a gloomy picture of the future when he said that we could not expect any improvement on the present situation. Australia will be inundated with importations from overseas. The Opposition pointed this out when the bill was being considered in 1956. At that time,, the Opposition said that there were already ‘ in ( Australia a large number of television films, which had been brought into this country for the purpose of flooding the market as soon as television was inaugurated. That has happened. ‘ Television stations intend to apply the same policy in the future, and it is clear that the Minister intends to allow the television stations to have an open . go.
What are the prospects for the future? America this year is producing 120,000,000 dollars worth of television films. Last year, 100,000,000 dollars worth were produced, and similar quantities have been produced in previous years. Many of those films have been dumped in this country at a fraction of their original cost. They were very profitable transactions years ago, and the owners of the films in America are quite prepared to send them out here for a mere fraction of their original cost, because if they do not get that money they will get nothing at all. This Government, up to a month or two ago at least, was able to prevent an extension of that policy by having a ceiling limit on the amount of films which could be imported - £60,000 worth - but to-day the sky is the limit. Television stations can import as much as they like, and I have no doubt at all, seeing that the original intention of the people who entered television was to make a profit, that they will buy on the cheapest market and sell on the dearest market. The cheapest market, as far as they are concerned, is the overseas market, and they have now received the green light from the Minister. I do not know whether the Minister is too naive or whether he is trying to put it over the Opposition, but the fact remains that last year he said -
In its report to my predecessor on these hearings, the Broadcasting Control Board pointed out that there was an obligation on the operators of television stations to ensure that the best use was made of Australian talent, and that licensees were ready and willing to discharge this obligation.
Surely in the light of what has happened over the last twelve months the Minister still does not believe that the licensees are ready and willing to discharge the obligation that rests on them. The fact is that Australian drama and culture are not find-> ing any place on television at all.
When it was recently suggested that a television station should employ six ballet girls at a nominal cost in order to produce an Australian show, the station said that a much cheaper film on ballet could be obtained, from overseas. What hope is there for Australian talent when this attitude is adopted by the television stations, and they are backed by the Minister? When the Government refused to insert the quota clause twelve or eighteen months ago, I hoped that the Minister would do the right thing, in accordance with the provisions of the act, and see that, as far as he possibly could, there would be a fair percentage of Australian material in television programmes. But. such has not proved to be the case. Knowing the Minister to be very sincere, I would have expected him to stand up to. the moguls of the television industry, but he has not.
Mr PEARCE: Capricornia
.- The Opposition, in making a noise about this matter,, exhibits its usual reckless disregard for facts. Opposition members have been presenting a case based on information supplied by other organizations. It would have been to the advantage of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) if he had checked the information given to him in his brief, and had given honorable members of this House a factual outline of the case, as I now propose to do. The honorable member for Parkes used the phrase “ blood baths “. This purist, this great exponent of culture, once wrote a play entitled “Blood on the Bottle”, or “ Blood on the Wattle “, so these phrases come readily to his lips.
Let us consider the facts in relation to the Australian content of television programmes, taking the Australian Broadcasting Commission first of all, and the way it has worked over the past twelve months. The commission has produced 26 live plays of half-hour or one-hour duration, in which a total of 150 professional actors or actresses were engaged. Three of these plays were specially written for television by resident authors. Like “ Blood on the Bottle “, their authorship is Australian. In the field of light entertainment, there were 883 engagements of Australian artists by the A.B.C. in its television programmes. How does that compare with the Tivoli as an outlet for the talent of members of Actors Equity? In the field of serious music, the A.B.C. has engaged 120 artists in Australia over a period of twelve months and has produced an opera on television, the only one that has been so produced in this country. In the children’s session the A.B.C. has used 149 live programmes catering especially for children* and in this regard 824 engagements were made. As far as the A.B.C. is concerned, in Sydney over a period of nearly twelve months the Australian consent has been 48 per cent., and in Melbourne 39 per cent.
Further, during August, of the people “appearing in live programmes from the national stations, 86.9 per cent, in Sydney and 89 per cent, in Melbourne were paid artists.
If we turn to the commercial stations and look at what they have to offer in this regard we find that on station TCN, 43.5 per cent, of all programmes are of live origin or concern happenings in Australia. That station says quite definitely that few live programmes for Australian artists of any quality and at a reasonable price have been offered to it. Indeed, it can give the list of programmes that was offered to it which it put on, but having no audience appeal attracted no sponsor. The stations complain that they have had no cooperation from Actors Equity in this matter, and I ask the honorable member for Parkes if he has any influence with Actors Equity, to induce its members to co-operate with those people who are anxious and who have demonstrated their desire to use Australian content in their television programmes, instead of coming along with this fatuous nonsense we have heard to-day. If anybody has a good live show or a good Australian film, and if it can command an audience .and a sponsor it will be given first priority by TCN and other commercial stations.
We go on then to station ATN. Although this station has been established for two years and has been transmitting for ten months, .apart from conferences with the court for the purpose of making awards it has not had any approach or offer of assistance or co-operation from Actors Equity. Where does Actors Equity expect to get if it will not co-operate or make offers of assistance? Neither before nor after its decision to strike in protest against the Government’s intention to make currency available for the importation of programmes has it approached the station or sought to ascertain what was proposed. The stations have not received the slightest assistance from /Actors Equity and, generally .speaking, have received little co-operation from the artists themselves. For some time past musical shows have been planned and scheduled for presentation before the end of the year, but the greatest difficulty has been experienced in getting good talent at reasonable fees. The fees that have been asked have ranged from £25 to £50 for a single half-hour performance. Is this .the sort of co-operation that is going to .ensure the employment of Australian artists on a television programme?
We now turn to station HSV. It has been regularly and consistently increasing the Australian content in its television programmes, but again not .a great deal of support or co-operation has been received from Actors Equity. That station says quite definitely that opportunities are being extended as production experience grows and the .knowledge and technique improves. The organization recently acquired station .HSV7 and will transmit from the end of this month a completely .new Australian series employing leading Australian actors; and the station has agreed to underwrite this locally produced series without .any revenue support, .as it has done on many occasions. What greater guarantee can one have of the faith and desire of a station to employ Australians when it is prepared at its own expense to start a programme, without any financial support in any way whatsoever, for the encouragement of these Australian artists?
Looking at the facts, it is clear that the Opposition has been led by the nose by Actors Equity, and I urge honorable members opposite to look a little deeper at the intentions or desires of Actors Equity, because it has received the greatest encouragement from the broadcasting and television stations. Immeasurably more -money comes to the artists and musicians of Australia from broadcasting and television than from any other medium. They have to sell themselves to the public, and instead of carrying on with their stupid demonstrations and furnishing stupid briefs to the honorable member for Parkes, they should clean up their own house. Why should honorable members opposite take their brief from men who are seeking to destroy the Australian way of life? We know of the considerable Communist influence under which Actors ,Equity works. Hal Lashwood, president of the organization, is well known for the part he has played in Communistsponsored peace campaigns and cultural activities.
– I ask that the honorable member be made to withdraw that complete and despicable lie. Mr. Hal Lashwood is not associated with the Communist party.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw that assertion, because it is entirely unparliamentary.
– I would like you to know-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw.
– Certainly; I hasten to agree with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Do you not think it is most unfair that the president of an honorable union should be libelled by this miserable rat who lives-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that assertion about the honorable member for Capricornia.
– I am sorry.
– So much for the president of Actors Equity. The secretary of Actors Equity, Hal Alexander, was the Communist party candidate for Grayndler in the 1955 election campaign. So, we have Hal Lashwood with his close connexion with Communist-inspired peace campaigns, cultural activities and Communist-sponsored youth carnival for peace and friendship, and Hal Alexander, the Communist partycandi date who stood for Grayndler in the 1955 elections. These people, who are known opponents of the Australian way of life, are the men for whom the honorable member for Parkes became the spokesman to-day in their efforts to destroy and capture the Australian TV programmes in this country.
Several honorable members rising in their places,
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker- Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative:
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 16th October (vide page 1456).
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed Vote, £4,060,000
Department of Trade
Proposed Vote, £1,733,000
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed Vote, £1,584,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
Mr DOWNER: Angas
.- I wish to resume the debate where we left off last night on the Department of Customs and Excise insofar as it relates to the administration of the censorship. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) entertained us to an amusing speech in characteristic style. I suppose that many of us, and the listening public, should be grateful to him for some of the interesting titles that he gave us. No doubt, there will be quite an amount of examination of those references. But he spoilt what would otherwise have been, from my point of view, a good case by descending into party controversy and attacking the Government. I should have thought that on a matter such as literary censorship we could have abandoned political divisions, for the time being at least, and tried to examine this whole question deliberatively and with some degree of adjudication.
The truth is, surely, that all governments have been culpable in this matter, over the years. If one wanted to be political, it is a legitimate objection to state that the Labour party was in office for eight years, between 1941 and 1949, and its administration of literary censorship left a great deal to be desired. But, I ask, is the Government, to-day, really happy about the way in which the censorship is being operated? Despite the speech last night of my friend, the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who was previously a distinguished Minister for Customs, I doubt whether it is. For myself, I shall say at once that I believe in the necessity for some degree of censorship. One has only to look at some of the frankly pornographic publications, usually written by American authors and displayed in some of the most reputable book-shops in Paris, to appreciate the wisdom of preventing this calculated, deliberate, filth from falling into the hands of eager schoolboys, excitable adolescents, and highly emotional or relatively uneducated people.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I suppose that if one wanted to be uncharitable, one could include in this compendium some honorable members opposite.
In Australia, we have gone to extremes. Books that circulate freely in England have long been banned here. Other honorable members have given the committee examples of such books. I would remind them of one or two others. Since the war, for example, a classic by the writer Apuleius, “ The Golden Ass “, was detained by the Department of Customs and Excise for quite a prolonged period. In this connexion, surely there is some appropriateness in that title. The same fate overtook a novel which I think was very dull indeed, called “ Love Me Sailor “, which appeared after the war, and which I first saw in a Methodist book shop in Adelaide, where it remained until it excited the departmental mind. We have now had the latest incident involving the novel, “ Catcher in the Rye “, which, I understand, has been circulating in Australia for six years, and has been for a long time on the shelves of our own National Library. These books, of course, to the great joy of their authors and publishers, become best sellers overnight when the interdict is lifted.
As I said a moment ago, I am not opposed in principle to censorship. I believe that some form of it is necessary. My point is that there is, surely, ample evidence now on which to question the present practices of our customs officers, of the Literature Censorship Board, and of the appeal censor himself. Inevitably one asks: Are people of sufficient talent, of adequate breadth of mind, of refinement, and of learning employed by the department on literary censorship work? What are the qualifications of customs officers for this work? Is there sufficient liaison between the customs officers and the Literature Censorship Board? Have members of the board the true personal qualities necessary to discharge a task demanding a rich maturity of mind and uncommonly good judgment? Finally, is the Government offering adequate recompense to the board of censors? I see in the Estimates an amount, described, truly enough, as honoraria, of £1,125 for distribution among these people.
My submission this morning is that the whole subject of literary censorship should be re-examined by the Government. I do not wish to attack the censors personally nor customs officials. Customs officers, in my experience, are diligent, reasonable, courteous and most helpful men, but surely we all agree that censorship requires very special qualities which are not possessed by the great majority of people. Accordingly, I put three proposals to the Government. I suggest, first, that the task of book censorship should be taken away from customs officers and placed in the hands of a small committee or board, composed of men and women - and I emphasize “ women “, because I think their views would be extremely valuable in this respect - of wide knowledge and broad sympathies, possessing a true erudition, and also - and this is most important - with a practical experience of the world. Such a body would need to be available at short notice, preferably at immediate notice, to pronounce on books, magazines, and pictures that appear questionable to examining customs officers at the port of entry. The present Literature Censorship Board could, of course, be used for this purpose, but it should be required to give its decisions expeditiously and without the delays to which we have grown so accustomed.
My second suggestion is that from this re-constituted board’s decision an appeal should lie to the appeal censor, who would be obliged to give his decision within a period not exceeding two months. Thirdly, if we are to operate a book censorship system intelligently, we must- be willing to induce those responsible for this function to devote sufficient time and serious consideration to their work. If we expect this of them, we must be prepared to offer farhigher emoluments than appear in these Estimates. .
As it is, these recurrent controversies, with which we have become boringly familiar since the war, are making Australia look like a high-hatted, tightly.corsetted, lorgnette-gazing dowager, such as used to frequent South Kensington in London before the war, in the eyes of all serious-minded, thinking men and women throughout the world.
Mr WEBB: Stirling
.- My remarks will be directed to the Department of Trade. Recently, the Government of Western Australia applied for a permit to export 1,000,000 tons of iron ore from Koolyonobbing. It was told by the department that the known deposits of iron ore would approach exhaustion within 30 to 35 years. The Premier of Western Australia pointed out that even if this estimate was anywhere near being correct, the export of 1,000,000 tons would reduce that estimated period by only five weeks. In other words, the 35 years would be reduced to 34 years, ten months and three weeks. The Premier also pointed out that by exporting this 1,000,000 tons of iron ore, for which he could get £6 or £7 a ton, he could make a profit of £1,450,000, which he needed to expand the charcoal iron industry at Wundowie, and to establish a new plant at Bunbury. At present, iron ore is being brought from Yampi Sound and sold to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company at ls. 6d. a ton. When the agreement was first made with the company by the McLarty Liberal Government of Western Australia, it provided for a price of 6d. a ton, but the company voluntarily increased this price to ls. 6d., realizing that it was getting far too good a deal. It is clear that the McLarty Government let Western Australia down when it sold that iron ore at such a cheap price, particularly when it is found that it can be sold at present for £6 or £7 a ton.
There are deposits of iron ore at Yampi Sound and Koolyonobbing amounting to 200,000,000 tons, and there are other known deposits as well. I direct attention to that fact in order to emphasize the grave inconsistency of the policy of the Department of Trade. While the department regards the export of iron ore as constituting a danger to the national interest, it allows such valuable minerals and metals as manganese, coking coal, scrap iron and scrap steel to be exported to other countries.
– This decision was made by the Department of National Development.
– The point is that the application was made to, and a reply received from, the Minister for Trade, or his secretary, so that the matter involves his department as well. He is particularly concerned with the export of scrap steel, which I am emphasizing. I made reference to the other matters merely to emphasize the inconsistency of departmental policies. The Minister claims that fresh supplies of scrap iron and steel become available every day. That is so, but it is important to note that the raw material from which these iron and steel articles were originally manufactured was iron ore, and that the scrap is much easier to process into steel products than is iron ore. While it may appear that there is a surplus of scrap steel for immediate use in Western Australia, the position can change very rapidly. The depletion of scrap steel stocks in that State was intensified in the immediate post-war years to such an extent that negotiations were entered into to obtain this material from South Australia, when there was less than -three months’ :supply of this important material available.
Secondary heavy industries in Western Australia are negligible when compared with the large structural steel and engineering establishments in the eastern States. Consequently, Western Australia must rely for its supplies on the mining industry and government departments, and only 12 per cent, of the total weight of castings that come from the mines is recoverable as scrap. It can be seen, therefore, that very limited supplies can be expected from that source. Scrap dealers say there is a large surplus of scrap in Western Australia. Had it not been for the unfortunate closing down of the Wiluna and Hig Bell mines, users of scrap in Western Australia would have been in a very difficult position. At the moment, certainly, ‘supplies of scrap are available from the State railways, but this is only a temporary situation, due to the breaking up of old locomotives and wagons that have been replaced. As honorable members know, the life of a locomotive is between 20 and 30 years.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the sitting being suspended, I .had drawn attention to the inconsistency of the Government in refusing a licence to the Western Australian Government for the export -of 1,000,000 tons of iron ore whilst at the same time permitting the excessive export of scrap steel from that State. As I pointed out, scrap steel contains iron ore .and is much easier to process into steel products than is iron ore, I pointed out also that there was a .grave shortage of .scrap steel after the last war. Indeed, the shortage was .so great that we were in -danger of having to import scrap steel from South Australia. In addition, .as soon as .the source from which scrap steel is now obtained is finished, we will probably have another grave shortage. I do not say that an embargo should be placed on all scrap steel leaving the State, but I urge the Government not to grant licences to dealers to export this scrap. In competition with legitimate buyers, dealers have forced up the price, and consequently scrap steel has become more expensive to the foundries. I shall give an example. When Big Bell and the Wiluna mines closed down, Hadfields (W.A.) 1934 Limited, an engineering establishment in Western Australia, .tried to purchase all the scrap on those two properties for ore for their foundry as Bassendean, but dealers exporting to other countries outbid that company, as they have done from time to time. Consequently, the price was forced up. These dealers are reaping big profits from the export of scrap.
I wrote to the Minister on this matter on 4th June last. I shall not quote the letter because what I have said in the course of my few remarks here is what I said in the letter. In his reply, the Minister advised me that the export of scrap was referred to a committee and that the interests of the local users were closely examined. He pointed out, also, that there was no shortage at the moment. That may .be so, but we are concerned with the future and with the fact that licensed dealers are forcing up the price of scrap. I again emphasize that we in Western Australia want to know why the Commonwealth permits the export of scrap iron and steel, which is much easier to process into steel products, whilst at the same time it refuses a licence to the State government to export iron ore, on the grounds that it is necessary to preserve the nation’s resources. If the Government is anxious to safeguard Australia’s steel production, why should the export policy for iron ore be different from that for scrap steel, particularly as we have been able to show that the deposits of iron ore in Western Australia are ample?
I wish to refer now to the Department of Primary Industry and to deal with fisheries development. I take this opportunity to voice my disgust, and the disgust of many Western Australians, at the attitude of the Government in its decision to .base the trawler, which is being purchased for the fishing investigation project, on the eastern side of the Great Australian Bight. This trawler will be financed from the Fisheries Development Trust Account. That account, of course, was established with the proceeds of the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon in Western Australia to the Nor’ West Whaling Company. It is expected, according to the fisheries newsletter, that the project will be extended and that four or five trawlers will be purchased in the future. This is ;another instance of the State which I represent, with other honorable members on both sides of the chamber, being let down. I do not see .any sound reason why this trawler should not have been based at Albany. The finance for it came from the sale of the Commonwealth whaling station in Western Australia, and at least a good portion of the proceeds of the sale should have ‘been spent on fisheries development in Western Australia.
– Does the honorable member want all of the proceeds?
– I did not say all of it.
– That is adopting rather a parochial attitude.
– The honorable member can answer my points later, but I say that we were entitled to at least some portion of the proceeds. I do not say all of the money, but some portion of it. After all, the Western Australian Government pioneered commercial trawling in the Bight at a heavy cost, and is due for some Commonwealth assistance. There is a fish processing works at Albany, which is capable of rapid expansion, and up-to-date facilities are available there for processing and packaging fish. The view of fishing interests in Western Australia is that the more .powerful influences of the eastern States are robbing Western Australia of a chance to help itself. It is to be hoped that Albany’s claims will receive more consideration, so that some benefit will be derived by Western Australia from .the .fishing investigation project.
I have mentioned that the Fisheries Development Trust Account was financed from the sale of the Commonwealth whaling station at Carnarvon. Honorable members will remember that an offer to purchase that station was made by the Western Australian Government. Finally, the decision was that the station should be sold to the
Nor’ West Whaling Company at a .giveaway price. The merger of the two whaling projects has meant that the profit of the Nor’ West Whaling Company has doubled. The profit was given recently as £274,266. Had the bid of the Western Australian Government for the whaling station been successful, the additional profit that has gone to the Nor’ West Whaling Company would have been ploughed back into Western Australia, particularly the north-western portion of the State, to the advantage of the people.
– Why is the honorable member so sure of that?
– Because we had an assurance from the Premier, and surely we can take his word. One of the first steps .suggested was to build a good road between Carnarvon and ‘Northampton. The present road is in a had state because of the heavy traffic that goes over it and because sufficient funds are not available to build a good road. Other matters which could have received attention are jetties and the like. That is an added reason, in my opinion, why more attention should have been given to the interests of Western Australia in the fishing investigation project.
I shall refer now to the first annual report on the Fisheries Development Trust Account. Dealing with trawling, the report said -
Approval has been given for expenditure >up to £260,000 to cover the cost of procuring a trawler to test ‘the commercial potentialities of trawling in -the Great Australian Bight.
It is anticipated that the successful .development of this fishery will have an immediate effect on the supply of Australian-produced fish .for the fresh fish market ….
The interests of Western Australia should have been considered in that matter. Dealing with prawns, the report said -
Following requests from State authorities for a survey of the prawn resources off the east coast of Australia, approval has been given for the expenditure of £30,000 on a survey designed to find new prawning beds off the coast of northern New South Wales and Queensland.
The Western Australian Government is carrying out similar work and has asked for financial assistance. Surely, such assistance could have been given while the interests of the fishing industries in the other States were being considered!
Then we come to tuna fishing, and the report .states that it is known that there are considerable numbers of tuna in Australian waters. I am astounded by the attitude of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), and other honorable members opposite, to this matter. Are they not interested in trying to get financial assistance for Western Australia?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr JOSKE: Balaclava
.- I wish to discuss the subject of censorship. When one says “ censorship “, people’s hackles naturally rise. They do not like the idea of censorship because it is against their idea of freedom. But we have to remember always that there is a stage at which freedom can become licence. If we look at the matter from another point of view and ask, “ Do we want blasphemous, obscene and indecent literature? “, the answer immediately is, “No”.
Mr ALLAN FRASER: EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP
– Can the honorable member define any of those three things?
– There is the common law definition of obscenity, and if the honorable member cares to go to the relevant books he will find it there.
Mr ALLAN FRASER: EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP
– Would the honorable member give us the authority, so that we may be able to find the definition?
– Order! Speakers should be allowed to state their own case.
– I propose to make my own speech. The authority is to be found in the books. There has been power, under the Customs Act, to deal with obscene, blasphemous and indecent literature ever since 1901, when the act was first brought in. It is a part of the police power of the Commonwealth. When an honorable member says, “ Leave this matter to the police power of the States “, let it not be forgotten that there is also a police power of the Commonwealth, which the people of the Commonwealth expect to be exercised. If a government were to remove that provision from the Customs Act, I do not believe that it would remain in office after the next general election. There would be such consternation that it could not survive.
Certain books have been referred to in the course of this debate, including one called “ Redheap “, which was banned in May, 1930. A great song was raised by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr.
Haylen) about that banning. It was spoken of as a shocking thing on the part of the Customs Department and the Minister for Customs of the day. Who was the Minister in those days? It was the period of the Scullin Government, and unless my knowledge of history misleads me, the Scullin Government was a Labour government, and the Minister for Customs, I understand, was Mr. Frank Forde, a Minister of considerable experience. It was, therefore, the view of the then Minister for Customs that “ Redheap “ should be banned.
The honorable member for Parkes and his leader, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), endeavoured to manoeuvre the debate last night so that the present Government would be shown to be solely responsible for the way in which the Customs Department administers the regulations, and an attack was made on the regulations themselves. I point out that those regulations provide not only for an appeal, but also for an appeal upon that appeal. In 1930, when Mr. Forde was the Minister for Customs, there were no such regulations. The matter was entirely one for the discretion of the Minister. The regulations were introduced in 1937 by the then Minister for Customs, the late Sir Thomas White, during the regime of a Liberal government, the idea being that there should be appeals; not merely one appeal, but appeal upon appeal, under the regulations. We heard the right honorable member for Barton say, last night, that he denounced the system, and that the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) j who was at the table at the time, stood up for it only because he was himself once Minister for Customs’, otherwise, he would despise it. Of course, the right honorable member was merely indulging in one of his frolics with regard to freedom. “ I am Sir Oracle, And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark ! “ That is the right honorable member for Barton. If any one else happens to bark, and says to him, “You should not be the leader “, out he goes! That is the right honorable member’s idea of freedom.
The right honorable gentleman said that he would require the department to place the books, not before a civil servant or a professor, but before a court. I point out that a court can deal only with matters arising from a dispute between subject and subject, or between government and subject There is no power, under the Commonwealth Constitution, for a judicial tribunal to decide whether or not a book should be banned at the instance of the Customs Department. That is to say, the Customs Department cannot do that. All that it can do is to ask an administrative body or tribunal to decide these matters, and that is the very thing for which provision is made under the existing regulations: That there should be an appeal to one administrative tribunal, and then a further appeal afterwards. The very procedure that has been denounced by the right honorable member for Barton is the only procedure by which this matter can be administered.
Let us see how this lover of freedom, this denouncer, behaved when he, himself, was in power. As 1 have already said, these regulations were brought in in 1937. The right honorable member for Barton was the law officer of the Crown from 1941 to 1949. Did he denounce these regulations and say that they were to be despised? No! He allowed them to stand. He allowed books to be banned under them and did not utter so much as a murmur of objection. Therefore, as I say, his present denunciation is just a frolic on his part. There is no sincerity in it.
This is a matter on which, of course, people’s minds are greatly divided. No two people will agree at any given moment on whether a particular book is decent or indecent, obscene or otherwise. It is a matter on which opinions waver considerably; but there is a general instinctive feeling in the community that some things are decent and others not decent, and although the standard may vary from time to time, t that feeling continues to exist and must be accepted and acted upon. It is for this reason that this statute is in its present form, and has remained in that form for so long. Perhaps 1 can illustrate what 1 mean by referring to the remarks of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer). The honorable member referred to a book called “ Love Me Sailor “, and he said he thought it was a dull book. I am given to understand, however, that it had a somewhat more seductive title when it was translated into French. It was then known as “ Prenexmol Matelot “. The honorable member for Angas thought the book was dull, but it was the subject of a criminal prosecution in the Supreme Court of Victoria, before a jury, and it may well be said that on a matter of this kind a jury is the best judge. The jury found that the book was an obscene libel. In order to establish an obscene libel, it must be shown not only that a book is indecent, but also that it is likely to cause morality to be corrupted. That common jury found this dull book to be an obscene libel. That example indicates to honorable members just how possible it is for minds to differ on this matter. It shows that a common jury, a court of ordinary men in the street, may regard some of these matters as indecent and how men’s minds may differ on these subjects. That being so, I would say that whoever comes to decide - whether it is a small committee, or a board such as the honorable member for Angas asks for, composed of men and women of broad sympathies, possessing erudition and with a broad knowledge of the world, or whoever it is - there will he some people who, all the time will say, “ You have done the wrong thing “ either in allowing something through or in disallowing it. Nobody will get any praise who sits in judgment on these matters.
But the point is that someone must sit in judgment. Has anything been shown against the constitution of the Literature Censorship Board that at present exists or against the ability of the appeals censor to form a capable judgment - so far as judgment can be capable in this matter? I know that the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) would say that no one should judge these matters, the books must all flood in. That is where I join controversy with the honorable member, if that is his view. But on the basis on which I am putting it, I submit that the present Minister has shown, in connexion with the lifting of the recent banning, that he has the matter well in hand. If it is not the present practice of the department to refer books banned by officers immediately to the Literature Censorship Board I submit to the Minister that that should be the practice; that an appeal should come about, ipso facto by the very fact of banning. Furthermore, if the Literature Censorship Board bans a book, it should go, ipso facto, to further appeal before the appeals censor. Only by a constant regard being had to the matter of whether a book, being banned, should- continue to be banned1 can- we come to a- correct judgment on- what is a very’ difficult matter indeed.
I feel that something1 should be: said with regard to the customs officer,.. A customs, officer is. a civil servant, and,, as- I have’, known civil servants, they are men of responsibility. I do not think, that the honorable, member fori Parkes was in any way fair to-, the. department and its- officers when he. referred! to. this, banning as: being a- banning by an office boy. He did himself a great deal of harm in- his. speech by referencesof that- sort. What I put to the Minister isthat there- should be- a constant overseeing of banned books; and- 1’ would go so far as to- say that with- regard to the long list which at present exists, the time has arrived when it should be reviewed’. Some of the’ books were published’ many- years ago and’ public opinion, or public standards, as to what should be banned fo-day may be very different from- what’ they were 30 years ago. Therefore, the time has arrived when there should be: not only this constant overseeing by the tribunal’s of any books which officers ban: - but also a general review of the list of banned’ books.
Mr CLARK: Darling
.- I wish to refer to a. matter which comes under the control of the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry. No thought is being given and. no practical, action is being, taken by those two departments, to promote the proper development and population of Australia’s open spaces; Proper interest in the expansion of Australian primary industries, and in developing our export industries by extending settlement on the land is most, important indeed,, but. ways of increasing primary production have been sadly neglected by the. present Government.. I shall substantiate that statement, by drawing upon the latest information which was furnished to me by the Statistician in a. letter dated 13th September last. It shows, among other things, that.in 1949 the population- of Australia was 7,900,000, and in that year there were 247,100 rural holdings in* Australia. In 1956,. the latest year for which figures areavailable, the population had- increased to 9,400,000,. an increase of l’,500;000: However, by that times our rural holdings: had’ increased to- 247,800s, an increase of only 700: holdings- in- Australia in- seven years. That is- a very- serious state of affairs’ indeed,
– Are those figures taken from the census?
– These, figures were supplied, to me. by the Bureau of Census and Statistics in a. letter dated. 1.3th September, last. The point I want to make is a. very, important one. Since the last war, 8,044. returned soldiers have been, settled on the land. It is reasonable- to assume that there would be that number of additional holdings, or even a greater number, taken up,, because many civilians also must have gone on the land during that period. But the fact is that although 8,044 returned soldiers have been settled on- the land, there were only 700 more rural holdings than wereoccupied in 1949.
That is a very serious state of affairs. If this Government were doing its job it should be promoting closer settlement in Australia. Since 1949, a vast number of immigrants has been brought into Australia. Many of these newcomers should be settled upon the land, but that has not been the practice. The number of males employed’ upon the land, full time, in 1949, was. approximately 352,800. In 1956 the number was 351,600, a decrease of 1,200. Those: figures include: owners, lessees, share farmers, and- relatives of owners, lessees orshare, farmers not receiving wages, or salaries. Every male engaged on the: land, to-day is included in those- figures. In> trieperiod from 1949 to 195:6 the number of persons employed’ on- pastoral and primary, production holdings, throughout Australiadecreased by 1,200. In< % country like ours which has such wide open spaces andi which requires the Government’s help in rapid’ development, it is indeed a very sorry state of affairs when there is such a substantial decrease of> the number of people employed on the land at a time when our population has increased by 1,500;000 in a few years. As I have said, the immigrants arriving inthis country are being absorbed in the cities; and many of them are unemployed instead of being engaged in increasing primary production-, as they should be.
In the Budget speech the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) said that less money was spent on farm- equipment in 1956-57 than in the previous: year. That fact is, in itself, a» indication that- fanning activities in this country ‘axe being- allowed te languish, because if we were progressing- as-‘ we’ should’ be- in that- respect we- would be spendingmore on1 farm equipment and1 development, t have here a pamphlet by a Mr. W. S. Kelly, O.B.E., a man of very great prominence in the pastoral’ world, and a member of the Consultative Committee- on Import Policy, in’ which- he points out, among other things -
Pre-war we exported 70,000 tons of Iamb out of a total production of 114,000 tons. Last year we’ exported only 37’,000: tons out of a. total production of 114,000 tons.
The point, there is that, the export of. this commodity has. fallen very substantially - indeed, by about half- in the period between the pre-war years and now, although our production has increased slightly. I say- that that is another indication that our. primary industry is being allowed to languish. When the Labour party was in office it set about establishing a number of agreements for guaranteedprices over a period of years, for our primacy products., Among them- was the meat agreement with the United Kingdom which is, still in operation. I understand that there is a. very substantial meat equalization payment coming to. the Australian exporters. I. believe it is. about £2,000,000. The point that I want to. make- now is that, the actual producers of the product will not receive payments from this fund: The only persons who will receive any payments from it are the exporters. I think that the prime purpose of having a long-range agreement- to assist, the primary producers should- be that the benefits of it- in this case £2,000,000 - will be distributed to the producers of the product and not to the exporting interests. I say that the Government has abandoned, to a very large degree, the policy laid down by the Labour pary in respect of guaranteed’ prices over a long term.
– What guarantees did the Labour government give?
– The Labour party’s policy was1 for guaranteed prices for all primary products. The Labour government was the first to- introduce such’ a policy. Now we have a government which includes a section- of the Australian Country party, which claims to* represent the country people-, but really misrepresents them. When members of the Australian- Country party get here- they are more interested’- in obtainingportfolios than< in pressing- the interests of the- primary- producers-‘ whom they claim1 te represent. They are letting’ the primary producers down.
The figures- 1 have given speak for themselves. They emanate from the Commonwealth Statistician, and they speak volumes on what has been done and what has not been done to assist the primary producers. In contrast- to- what is’ being’ done by this Government to assist the- primary producers, F inform the committee that, in Britain, according to the- “ Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics “, of July, ll957, there have been recent changes in United Kingdom, farm price and marketing, policy. The review states. - . a. new system, of livestock guarantees was agreed upon for the 19S7-S8 season. For cattle, and sheep, seasonal scales of weekly guaranteed prices- with higher prices, for winterfed than for Grass-red animals, have been established- . . . Deficiency payments are now made weekly, the rate being the amount by which the guaranteed price foc the* week exceeds the. average of the last, four weeks’ actual- market prices- and. the estimates, for. the following four weeks- . . . This new method is expected’ to ensure that, over the year; the- average’ return to- the producers-
I emphasize, the word “ producers:”- will-, come close to the basic guarantee.
The1 guarantee is paid off quality and other factors, and seasonal1 conditions’ are in this’ way recognized. The point is that there is; in. England a scheme which provides for paying the subsidy, direct to the primary producers,, who are receiving, the benefit of that scheme,, whereas, under the Government’s system of guaranteed prices for export meat the benefit is going to the exporter and. not to- the actual producer. I believe that the meat producers should organize to see that the marketing of meat is on. similar- lines to that of wheat, so that they will get the full value for their product-
Last year, we had before us the matter of; the- distribution of about £750-,000 in respect of the United Kingdom meat agreement. That was distributed, as future amounts will be distributed:, to the exporters,, the middle- men, and not to- the: primary producer,. The: Government can. assist rural industry by giving greater financial assistance to the. people engaged in it. To-day, these- people are finding great difficulty in obtaining advances from the regular financial institutions. A large number’ of the 400 buyers operating in the Australian wool market to-day, buying wool for export, are rinding it very difficult to operate because they are not able to obtain adequate financial accommodation from the financial institutions. As a result, the purchasing of Australian wool is getting into the hands of small minority of four or five buying interests which are buying for various parts of the world and are establishing themselves as a monopoly. They are able to force down the prices of this product. I believe that 90 per cent, of these buyers represent foreign interests. So it is very important that the Government should do something in that regard.
I have here a copy of an article written by the financial editor of the “Sydney Morning Herald “, in which that gentleman states -
Yet it was a reminder that a large part of Australia’s trading future will be in awakening Asia.
The Government is doing nothing about developing markets for our primary products in that area. We have heard from various sources that China, for instance, is exploiting the markets of the East and other parts with its manufactured products. China and many other countries to-day are becoming potential purchasers of Australian products. We should go after those markets to our very utmost.
There has been a reduction of primary production in many of the countries of the Soviet bloc while they concentrate their energies on the development of secondary industry. There are markets in these countries now, we are informed, for wheat, meat, dairy products, steel, aluminium, building materials, machine tools and many other things. Australia could provide many of those commodities. I have not heard of the Government’s making any substantial move to try to promote markets for Australia in these areas. I say that if the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry were doing their job in developing our rural industries a greater measure of prosperity and success would be brought to those industries, and our overseas balances must be improved.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Timson: HIGINBOTHAM, VICTORIA
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Mr DEAN: Robertson
.- The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) began his speech by complaining about the small number of people who have gone onto the land in the last eight or nine years. I should like to ask him to direct his remarks to the Government of New South Wales, because most of the matters about which he spoke are the responsibility of that government. It is of no use, when a State government falls down on its job, to say, as the honorable member said, “ Let us forget about the State government, and see whether the Commonwealth Government can do something about it”. Honorable members on this side of the House believe in the federal system, under which the sovereign States must accept their responsibilities in these matters. Without going into too much detail, I shall cite some examples of the failure of the New South Wales Government to discharge the responsibility that rests on it.
The honorable member says that the people of New South Wales should be encouraged to go on the land. The New South Wales Government has discouraged them, first by greatly increasing rail freights and fares to country areas, and secondly, by failing to provide water storage facilities with reasonable expedition and at reasonable cost - and I particularly have in mind the Glenbawn dam in the Hunter River area. A scheme to supply water to the central coast of New South Wales was mooted ten years ago, but it has not yet reached the drawing boards. I give those examples to show the responsibilities that the States have in these matters about which the honorable member for Darling has complained.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) said that he wished to register his disgust at the placing of the Commonwealth trawling vessel on the eastern side of the Great Australian Bight. I should like to say to the honorable member for Stirling that if the vessel had been placed on the western side, or at Albany, as he suggested, no doubt the people of South Australia would wish to register their disgust. I agree with the well-known Australian who, some three weeks ago, said that if ever there was a time in Australia’s history for us to get away from parochial thinking, and to think on the national plane, now is the time. I suggest to the honorable member for Stirling that quite a number of things must be taken into consideration in deciding the most suitable base for the trawler. It is necessary to consider not only the geographical situation, but also the matter of markets. The location of markets would be a most important consideration, and to my way of thinking was probably one of the deciding factors which influenced the decision to base this trawler on the eastern side of the bight. I only cite that as an example, but I plead with the honorable member to think nationally on that matter, as on all matters before this House.
I want to say something about the Department of Trade. In the last few years, the Department of Trade has had a most difficult job in its administration of import licensing. Those of us who sit on this side of the House, who believe in true, liberal government do not like at any time to increase controls upon organizations or individuals in Australia. It obviously became necessary several years ago for certain import restrictions to be imposed, and I am very glad to say that, as conditions have permitted, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the department have relaxed those controls. I wish to pay my tribute, not only to the Minister, but also to his officers, for the manner in which they have administered the restrictions and the understanding way in which they have acted. Their work was not easy, and it is easy to see that anomalies could arise. In paying that tribute, I mention the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz), who has had a great deal of responsibility in this matter.
I wish to mention the Tariff Board, and in doing so I am not pointing the finger of criticism at any person in the department, or any member of the Tariff Board itself. I refer to some of the delays that have occurred in getting decisions from the board. I shall give one illustration in the hope that investigations may be made with the object of preventing a recurrence of such a happening. I refer to the inquiry that the Tariff Board made into the importation of passionfruit juice and pulp into Australia. The original inquiry was held some two years ago, and in due course the Tariff Board made its report to the Government, and the Government, in its wisdom, referred the report back to the Tariff Board, enlarging its terms of reference. I have no criticism to offer about that action. The Tariff Board, acting on the enlarged terms of reference, held its sittings - I speak from memory - at the beginning of the second half of 1956. At that time, I made representations to the Minister and the board, on behalf of the growers, asking that the report be made available prior to the harvesting of the summer crop, because the findings of the board would affect the industry and the preparations it would be making with regard to the crop. I know that the chairman of the board was most understanding. I know that the Minister realized the position and was also understanding, but the fact remains that, so far, the report has not yet been presented to this House, and the next summer crop will soon be harvested. I suggest that the evidence that was taken at that time - say, in October, 1956 - will not be applicable to the present situation. In other words, some of the assistance that the industry was asking for under the terms of the inquiry will not now be required because circumstances have changed. If the report of the board is to be of benefit to the industry - I am not saying which side of the industry, the growers or the processors - it will be necessary to make the report available to those interested much quicker than in the past.
In conclusion, I wish to mention something under the heading of our trade commissioner service. I think it is necessary for us to increase our trade with those countries to the near north of Australia, those within the British Commonwealth of Nations, and those which are joined with us by such treaties as Seato. As I understand it, one of the difficulties of increasing our trade is the irregularity of shipping services to quite a number of the ports in the areas I have mentioned. It is comparatively easy to obtain a cargo from Australia for certain ports, but it is most difficult to get a return loading. Therefore, it is necessary, I believe, for our trade commissioner service to investigate further the possibilities of reciprocal trade with certain of these countries. I mention, for example, timber. There is a great deal of goodquality timber coming to Australia from such countries as North Borneo and Malaya. I think it would be true to say that a great many people in the timber industry in Australia believe that it is necessary for Australia to import her Oregon requirements and other timbers for joinery work from dollar sources, but I have been informed that quite a lot of the timber from South-East Asian countries would be suitable for that purpose. It would be a much shorter haul, and dollars would not be involved to anything like the same extent. I just give that as an . expression of my belief in the necessity for reciprocal trade between Australia and the countries I have mentioned.
Mr CHAMBERS: Adelaide
– I desire to criticize one aspect of the work of the Literature Censorship Board. A deputation from .booksellers waited on me some time ago in my own city and complained about the time that elapses between the arrival of imported books or literature and the time they are returned to the importer from the censorship authorities. I inform the Minister of one specific case. He knows that lists are compiled of books imported from all countries. The book to which I refer was listed among those imported from India. A purchaser or an interested party went to the owner of the business and requested that this book be imported for him from India. This was eventually arranged and the book arrived in Australia in one particular month. The ordinary procedure was then followed. At the end of the month correspondence passed between the Department of Customs and Excise and the bookseller as to when he could expect to have the book returned to him. There was no reply until another month passed, which meant this book had been held <up by the department or by the censorship authority for two months. I then made a request to the department for information, and a couple of weeks later the book was returned to the owner and he was permitted to sell it. He then brought the book to me ito show me its condition when it was returned from the Literature Censorship Board. The book cost the -purchaser approximately 60s., but I want to tell the Minister ‘that when the book was returned it was not worth 5’6d. It was in a deplorable condition.
My two complaints - and I think the Minister will be just enough to give .these matters consideration - are these: .First, -the time that elapses between the arrival of literature in Australia after being ordered - and .business is .keen to-day in Australia, the same as it is anywhere else - and the date on which it is returned to the importer; and secondly, the deplorable condition, in which books are returned to the bookseller. Those two important points should be investigated immediately.
I do not know whether the Literature Censorship Board meets periodically, or whether some one person has authority, immediately a book is submitted for censorship to direct that it be perused immediately and returned to the bookseller or the importer as soon as possible. It is even more important, particularly with a costly book, that every precaution be taken to see that it is not damaged during that time. I believe that the Literature Censorship Board is actually doing a grand job. I have no complaint other than in respect of the matters I have mentioned. They are two important factors which should be taken up by the department immediately. I appeal to the Minister to take particular note of my complaint because I think what I have said is sufficient to indicate there is some desirability and some need to have a look at the particular instance I have mentioned to ensure that remedial action is taken immediately.
Mr ANDERSON: Hume
.- J wish to speak on the Estimates for the Department of Primary Industry and to deal with the point raised by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark). I was astonished at the statement he made. He is supposed to represent a .rural .seat, but as his electorate is dominated by the City of Broken Hill, his ignorance about the point he raised is understandable. He dealt with the number of rural holdings, and quoted figures in respect of the period from 1949 to 1956. He said that in spite of the enormous increase in population, the number of rural holdings had increased by only some hundreds. He implied that there has been accretion of land in the hands of the few. I cannot believe he does not know the truth, because I am quite certain he would like to give the truth rather than mislead.
The Bureau of Census and Statistics, for its purposes, regards an area in excess of one acre as a rural holding. But in the true sense of .the word one acre is not a holding. However, in the hig cities, particularly Sydney .and Melbourne, -thousands of rural holdings of that area in the suburbs have been .absorbed in the expansion of those cities, and that is why the number of rural holdings has decreased. In fact, tremendous sub-division has taken place in rural areas throughout Australia. But the honorable gentleman, because of his socialistic training, wishes to imply that more and more land is falling into the hands of fewer and fewer people. That is not true.
Again he claimed that under this Government the number of workers in rural production has fallen. Of course it has, because .there has been a revolution in primary industries. . -But he would not know it, because his outlook is dominated by ‘Broken Hill. There has ‘been such a revolution m the last seven years. The rural industries have been mechanized as a result of the policy of this Government. If one wants to ascertain Labour policy on rural production, one need only read the White Paper on full employment of 1945. The whole -emphasis of the Labour party’s policy was on secondary industries, irrespective of the imbalance that its policy would have brought about. The only reference the policy made to the primary industries was a casual allusion to war service land settlement. These are serious matters because the life of the nation depends on the policies which guide our balanced expansion.
I cannot believe that the honorable gentleman is so ignorant as he exposed himself to be. He charged the Government with failure to encourage land settlement. Surely, he knows that land settlement is primarily a State responsibility. The Government of New South Wales has failed dismally to implement any agricultural policy. The policy of the Government seems to ‘be directed towards making it harder for .the people Who are engaged in rural production. If we want .to have more rural production we must have more and more subdivisions and more and more people settled on the land. That can be done easily by the State governments. It is not the concern of the Federal Government
The honorable member for Darling talked about our policy in .relation to the selling of products. I remember .that when this Government took over from the Labour government it inherited the terrible tragedy of the butter producers. One of .the first acts of the Parliament after the Menzies Government took office was to restore the proper relationship between the selling price of butter and the cost .of production. As a result, the butter industry has benefited by about .£130,000,000 in subsidy in the last seven years.
The honorable member also mentioned farming conditions in the United Kingdom. They are completely different from conditions -in our own primary industry. There, a system of subsidies is relied upon because the United ‘Kingdom has had to import a great quantity of food in time of war. Consequently, the United Kingdom Government has deliberately encouraged the production of foodstuffs, even at the expense of the .exchequer. That is .a policy which is governed by environment. We should not foster a policy whereby primary production jests on subsidies. The policy of the Government is .to get away from subsidies .and allow production to improve as a result of the methods of primary industry. But the Government has done an enormous amount for Australia since it has been in office. The mechanization of primary industry was accomplished by a deliberately planned fiscal policy. Thirty per cent, of all foreign loans raised by the Government have been .spent on agricultural machinery. That is why primary industry is .now mechanized. It has been the result <of a designed policy. People have also been encouraged to put capita] into primary production by the Governments policy of permitting depreciation allowances, for income tax purposes, on capital equipment. The success of that policy has been proved by the enormous increases that <have taken place in production in primary industry. Any party that attacks -the Government on the ground that it is ‘laggard’ly in its interest in primary producers is not talking facts.
What has been accomplished in New South Wales has been -accomplished despite the Labour government. .As the honorable member for Robertson lias said, -the Labour government’s policy has .apparently been deliberately designed to make it harder for the man on the land to produce. The State government has increased the price of .rural electricity and .has taken other action which .bears heavily against the man on the land.
The industry which has been much affected is the timber industry. It is becoming extremely hard to sell timber. Timber was originally carried by sea but the policy of the railways eliminated that means of transport. By offering cheaper freights, at the cost of the national exchequer, the railways killed the sea trade of the northern rivers in timber. As soon as the sea trade ceased, the railways put their freights up. There is also a problem in moving timber from Tumut to Canberra. It has to go by road and road tax has to be paid on it. Everything is designed to mitigate against primary producers. After all, the timber industry is a part of primary production.
Then the honorable member for Darling talked about wool selling. He said that under this Government the purchase of wool was falling into the hands of fewer buyers, and that therefore prices were being forced down. That is nonsense. Does the honorable member not know that brokers are paid commission on the value of their sales? Does he think that they would try to bring prices down and so get a lower commission? This allegation illustrates the foggy Labour thinking that goes on the whole time. The wool sales are conducted entirely by free auction and any possibility of lot splitting is very carefully watched by the brokers and producers. The price of wool is not affected. Is not the fact that brokers are paid commission according to the value of their sales sufficient to ensure that the sales are made at the highest possible price? This is in the interests of the primary producers and of the national welfare.
The next matter referred to by the honorable member for Darling was the meat agreement. The benefits of that agreement are spread throughout the industry and the agreement has had a most important effect on the production of beef. It has given security of markets for the next 15 years. On the question of marketing, it is interesting to recall that every member of the Labour party opposed the Japanese trade treaty. Is not that a marketing treaty? Yet the honorable member for Darling said that we were not interested in improved marketing! Under the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) the whole of our marketing technique has undergone a revolution and I suppose that it is now as advanced as techniques anywhere else in the world. In view of the Labour party’s attitude to the Japanese trade treaty, it should not accuse the Government of lack of interest in marketing. Surely that treaty was designed to secure wider markets for primary industry. Yet the honorable member for Darling, who is supposed to represent a rural seat, has attacked the Australian Country party for neglecting the farmer! It does not make sense. I think the Government’s record as far as primary producers are concerned is a very enviable one, and there is still new drive being applied to make the record even better in the future.
Mr WHITLAM: Werriwa
.- Like the honorable members for Darling (Mr. Clark), Robertson (Mr. Dean) and Hume (Mr. Anderson), I wish to direct my remarks to the Department of Primary Industry. I do not wish to commence with any detailed attacks on State governments or previous speakers. I shall deal merely with one point raised by the honorable member for Hume who criticized the honorable member for Darling who had previously spoken on this subject. I usually speak before the honorable member for Hume and he Usually has the opportunity to make personal remarks about me, I appreciate his highly combative character. I give him all ‘Credit for it. He is one of those people who believe in a fight even if there is no particular point in indulging it it. On this occasion I will not take up my fifteen minutes by referring to his remarks other than the point which he made about the honorable member for Darling.
If one is to deduce anything as to the character of State governments from the number of rural holdings in their States, I think it might be significant to point out that between the financial year 1938-39, the last full pre-war year, and 1955-56, the last year for which any figures are published by the Commonwealth Statistician in the “ Commonwealth Year Book “, the number of rural holdings increased in New South Wales and Queensland, the only States which throughout that time had Labour governments, and the number decreased in Victoria and South Australia, the only two States which throughout that time either had Liberal governments or had Liberal majorities controlling legislation in their upper houses. In Tasmania, and Western Australia which, respectively, have had all
Labour governments and mostly Labour governments, the number of rural holdings has remained stationary. The honorable member can find that information in the “ Commonwealth Year-Book” for 1957 at page 881, I give that reference because I see that the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) will seek to follow me and he, similarly to the honorable member for Hume, very much likes a fight. I have not referred to the area of rural holdings, for it would be a singularly unprofitable pursuit to compare average holdings in Queensland, which is primarily a pastoral State, with average holdings in Tasmania which is primarily a horticultural one. It is the garden State.
The matters that I wish to refer to in dealing with the Department of Primary Industry are matters that concern the Commonwealth. They are matters in which the States cannot be blamed, and in which the various honorable members who have spoken in this debate cannot be blamed. To illustrate my remarks, I shall refer to the poultry industry since it suffers from all the disabilities suffered by any other primary industry and enjoys none of the government assistance received by nearly every other one. We have not yet been given the report of the Australian Egg Board for 1956-57. The report for the previous financial year was tabled on 31st October, 1956, and we have been given pretty nearly all the primary industry reports for 1956-57 except that of the Australian Egg Board. Secondly, we have not been given the Bureau of Agricultural Economics’ publication, “ The Egg Situation “, which, as honorable members will recall, came out in July, 1955, and July, 195*6, but did not appear in July, 1957.
The egg industry singularly illustrates all the difficulties which surround marketing in Australia. There are difficulties in marketing all the products of which we produce a surplus except when the overseas price is higher than the home price or where the Australian or United Kingdom Government subsidize our export losses. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has complete control over the marketing of exports. It controls the amount of exports of any commodity and the destination of the exports of any commodity. ,The Commonwealth, similarly, is in the, best position to gather and disseminate information on marketing conditions abroad as when- the former Minister urged the egg industry to increase its exports for 1952-53. Next the Commonwealth alone is in the position to do anything about remedying the situation with regard to internal marketing. It is useless to criticize the States for the internal marketing situation, since Section 92’ of the Constitution denies them power, as it denies us power. But the Commonwealth alone has the power to seek an amendment of the Constitution which would enable internal marketing to be carried on by the Commonwealth or by the States, or by the States with delegated powers from the Commonwealth. It is only by seeking such amendments, as was done by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he was Attorney-General in 1937, and by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) when he was Attorney-General in 1946, that we can correct the chaotic internal marketing conditions which exist in Australia.
The egg industry is peculiarly susceptible to the abuse and exploitation which flow from section 92. This is particularly so in Victorian, which is a very compact, highly developed State, where the producing areas are close to the borders of other States. These conditions have encouraged the growth of two bodies of exploiters, defying all marketing schemes sought by all their fellows in the industry. The first of them is Carter Bros., whose property is situated near Werribee. They are the largest and most efficient egg producers in Australia, and they send all their products across the border, thus exploiting section 92. In this way they make no contribution towards paying for the export losses which are inevitable in this and any other seasonal industry. The second of these exploiters in Victoria is the firm of Barrow Bros, in Victoria, which has set up some of its employees as directors of a subsidiary company called the Tocumwal Trading Company Proprietary Limited. As its name implies, it is situated on the New South Wales side of the Murray River. Victorian producers are encouraged to sell their eggs to this company, which then sells the eggs back into Victoria, again avoiding all the equalization charges and pool levies which every other person in the industry who is any distance from a border has to pay in order that the Australian people may have a continuous supply of fresh eggs.
As I have mentioned, the Commonwealth alone has power to regulate the .export market, and the Commonwealth alone can seek an amendment to the Constitution which is necessary if there is to be any decent, orderly internal marketing.
In many forms of primary industry subsidies are necessary, and, in fact, one was paid by the Commonwealth to the egg industry on the eve of the 1954 elections. Despite an answer that was given to me by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) when I asked a question supplementary to one which the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) had asked the Minister, it is impossible for the States without our consent, to grant any aid to or bounty on the production or export of goods. lt is possible for the Commonwealth alone to pay them.
– Have another look at section 91, which provides that a marketing subsidy can be paid.
– It is significant that none has ever been paid.
– The States can do it if they want to.
– I leave it to the good sense of the laymen in this committee to see for themselves what sections 90 and 91 mean.
– The best advice I can get is that marketing control is provided for.
– I asked the honorable gentleman, as I recollect, a few weeks ago if he would assist the passage through both Houses of this Parliament of something that would certainly put the position completely beyond dispute - a resolution of both Houses authorizing the payment of such subsidies by State governments to producers within their borders. You know, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the general plan of the Constitution on the question of subsidies and excise duties. Those two matters, which concern production within Australia, should be on a Commonwealth basis, not on a compartmented basis between the various States. If the Minister is right, nothing is more certain than that there would be a challenge in the High Court of the validity of any State legislation that was passed, by Attorneys-General of States that did not like to have other States pay ing subsidies and so granting an advantage to some of Australia’s primary producers and not to others.
I have mentioned the three matters in which the Commonwealth is predominantly or solely responsible, and in which the States cannot be blamed. There are some other matters in which, I would suggest, the Commonwealth is in the best position to give assistance. One concerns financial assistance of the character of loans. In the United States of America a financing agency, the Farmers’ Home Administration, has been set up by the union government,, the- Government at Washington. The practice that has been followed by the United States Government in assisting industries such as the egg industry has been recommended as a procedure to be followed by the Australian Government, in a report on the commercial poultry industry in the United States which was published on 30th September Of this year. It will be remembered that the Minister for Primary Industry told me on 12th September that the report had been published and widely circulated, but in fact it was on 30th September that a news item appeared to the effect that the report was available, and honorable members received it on the 30th. It is now appearing for the first time in trade journals of the industry.
– The honorable member knows that that is wrong. I told him that there was a distinction between the two documents, and there is no use piling burden on burden. The honorable member knows that the other document was published. He admitted it himself. All the information, with the exception of the report of the Australian Agricultural Council, is in that document, or is in the two documents. So the honorable member knows that it was published long ago.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Falkinder: FRANKLIN, TASMANIA
– Order! The Minister must allow the honorable member to make his speech.
– The facts are clear in the minds of honorable members, I believe. It is true that a roneoed version was published, or was given to eight persons whom the Minister mentioned, and to technical experts of an unspecified number. It was confidential. But a printed version is now available. Do not let us be side-tracked.
I appreciate the Minister’s assistance in this matter. He has given the most informative and .civil reply that I have .received from him since, in the Estimates debate ‘a year ago, <I traversed his answers .to questions in the House, showing .that in every case he had said .that the subject-matter of the question was a matter for another Minister or .a State .government. Since .that time I have never received a civil reply from him, although he has given most fulsome replies to questions by honorable members on the Government side. The recommendation to which I have referred appears on page 22 of the published report.
The ‘Commonwealth should help to educate the ‘public and the producers on the problems of the industry. The public should be shown, as -it is not shown by the metropolitan daily newspapers, such as the Sydney “Daily Telegraph”, which is always on the -side of the exploiters, that this is a seasonal industry and that fresh eggs can ‘be obtained only at ‘certain times of the year in the same way as fresh fruit ran be obtained only at certain times o’f the year. The -difference between this industry ‘and other seasonal industries is that eggs cannot be stored !for more than ten or twelve weeks, if they are to remain fresh, whereas most other seasonal products, such as butter and cheese or dried fruits, can be stored for years, if necessary. The public should be advised of the benefits of organized marketing. It should be shown that only the exploiter, the big producer and big retailer, benefits from section 92 and that orderly marketing is necessary if huge fluctuations are not to occur in both the supply and the price of fresh eggs. The .surplus must be disposed of on the export markets, where inevitably losses are suffered, and all producers and consumers should share those losses.
Those engaged in the industry should be assisted with advice. The Commonwealth is in the best position to give advice and, to a certain extent, it is doing so. Those in the industry should be told how they can increase productivity and decrease costs by improving the layout of farms, the feeding of birds and the collecting of eggs.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN:
The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES: Chisholm
– I wish to discuss items 85 to 10.7 :for the Department /of Trade. Those litems -relate to the Tariff Board and the “Commercial Intelligence .Service. Towards the end of -.the nineteenth century, most trade expansionist .movements believed in the old adage that trade followed the flag. In this part of the twentieth century, the position has been reversed for the communistic, imperialistic expansionists and the belief now is that the flag follows the trade. In -this .respect I should like to draw the attention of honorable members to the existing lack of liaison between representatives of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Trade in overseas posts. This -problem has already caused considerable embarrassment to the Government and is likely to cause more embarrassment in the future. In addition, it is a .continual source -of danger to our international relationship.
Whether -the reversal of the old adage is true or not, the fact remains that nearly all -Communist countries are using trade as a -major weapon in *he cold war, particularly in Asia. Trade is used as a “bait to -catch the bigger fish that they wish to fry and consume a’t leisure. Recently, we have had variations of the old nursery rhymes as a result of “ Sputnik “. For instance, we have had “ Little Bo-Bleep has lost its . Peep “, and other rhymes of a similar nature. But nobody has suggested, “ ‘ Will you come into my trade parlour ‘, said the red-backed spider to the fly “. Yet that probably -sums up the position of many df the trade relationships that exist in countries close to us. No sensible survey of any trade .relationships or agreements .with -Communist countries can ignore the advice of expert after expert - that is, that such trade agreements are fundamentally political and only incidentally economic.
How does that affect the appointment of our trade commissioners to overseas posts? Recently, the Department of Trade and Commerce was split into two. I do not say this with any direct reference to the department but, like the lowest forms of life, the one cell, when it splits, multiplies rapidly - and -that happened in both the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry. That increase may or may not have been necessary, and it is not something that I wish to discuss. No doubt, ;the Cabinet sub-committee which is investigating the Public Service will look into it. On the other hand, the increase in the appointments to overseas posts has also been fairly rapid. That again may be necessary; I am not criticizing it. However, it brings into very sharp relief the necessity for the review of the method of operation of overseas posts. As I understand it, appointees are independent of the Public Service Board. I shall leave that for the day. Secondly, they are responsible to and report directly to the Minister, and, thirdly, they work almost entirely independently of their colleagues who are representatives of the Department of External Affairs in the particular country. Since the war, the line of demarcation between external affairs and trade has become more and more blurred as a result of the development of trade on a political rather than an economic basis. The question arises whether we should continue our overseas representatives in those two departments as completely separate entities or whether we should try to get, at least, a very much closer liaison so that the reports on trade questions should be received here at head-quarters concurrently with comments by the diplomatic representatives.
In some ways, some of the postings are difficult to understand. I mention as an instance Hong Kong and Tokyo. In Hong Kong, which is a most important trade market and which is also one of the two most important listening posts in the Far East, we have a trade commissioner, an assistant trade commissioner, and, I think, a third secretary or junior officer of the Department of External Affairs. On the other hand, in Tokyo, where the volume of trade is very much larger, we have an ambassador and the ambassadorial staff, but only a commercial counsellor and an assistant trade commissioner. Why that should be so, I do not know. Personally, from the circumstances that exist in Hong Kong, I think it would be much better in some ways to reverse the position so that we would have high external affairs repre. sentation and a much lower trade representation, when we remember that trade with red China is, as I said, fundamentally politically based.
Eighteen months ago, the trade commissioner at Hong Kong was sent by the Government on a visit to Peking, partly as a result of which, newspapers have reported, we are now to have a trade delegation from red China. According to reports,, in the “ Far East Asian Economic Review “, which is published in Hong Kong, Opposition members, during their recent visit to red China, did much to further the visit of that trade delegation to Australia. I cannot understand the logic of the Opposition’s argument that the trade agreement with Japan is bad and a great danger to Australian industry, but that increased trade with red China is everything to be desired. Everybody knows that the Chinese would undersell the Japanese, probably in the normal course of trade, but certainly in textiles. If they could not undersell the Japanese from the economic point of view, then they would use their political power, because this is all done through the importexport department. They would under-sell the Japanese any day of the week that they wanted to do so. Therefore, what logic there is in the arguments which members of the Opposition have been placing before the Parliament and the people of Australia with regard to trade with Japan and trade with red China, I just do not know. I am not aware of the position regarding the trade delegation, and whether it is actually coming here. I understand that it has not been invited officially, but if it is coming, one cannot entirely ignore it, although some people may be very embarrassed if they are asked to look after it.
When we consider the question of increased trade with red China, the prospects are not very bright. We have to remember that, in the first place, between 75 per cent, and 80 per cent, of the present trade of red China is tied to Moscow in order to pay for industrial goods that the Chinese have already received, and for a very large amount of war-like goods which certainly do not contribute to peaceful coexistence with those countries. Secondly, there is the desire to gain political face, and in this respect I wish to remind honorable members that a part of Mao Tse-tung’s programme, which was taken to Moscow by Chou En-lai in 1953, read as follows: -
Diplomatic offensive: The United States must be isolated by all means possible. Britain must be placated by being convinced there is no possibility of settling the major issues between East and West and that the Communist and Capitalist countries can live in peace. Opportunities for trade will have a great influence on the British mind.
In other words, those who are advocating increased trade in this respect have to remember that one of the main items of foreign policy, and one of the considerations underlying the trade policy of red China, is the need to drive a wedge between the United States and Britain, in the first place, and between the United States and other countries, in the second place. I know that when I first directed attention to that policy I was not very popular in certain quarters, but it .has since been adopted as a fact and as the official policy.
Finally, I think we have to recognize that trade dealings with red China would be used as a step towards demanding recognition of the existing government and weakening the anti-Communist front in South-East Asia. Therefore, I emphasize again that the appointment of a trade commissioner to Hong Kong should be looked at in the light that our representative in Hong Kong should, first, be an expert in international relations, and secondly, have a knowledge of trade, instead of the position that applies at the present time. On this subject, I wonder whether the trade commissioner in Rangoon has been asked about, or has reported on, what has happened as a result of the trade treaty between Burma and red China, under which, for 20 per cent, cash and 80 per cent, barter, Burma agreed to sell fairly large quantities of rice to red China. -It is well known - it has been reported in Far Eastern newspapers - that Burma has received in exchange many goods which are fairly highly priced - I think that that is probably a classic understatement - and also many goods which she does not actually want, or does not want in the quantities in which they have been delivered. Then, to add insult to injury, her own rice has been exchanged for Ceylon rubber at less than the ruling market rate. In other words, the rice which has been sold or bartered to red China is used to undersell Burma in her own markets, as a result of which the whole Burmese economy has been considerably dislocated.
Has the trade commissioner in Tokyo been asked about the result of the trade agreement between Japan and red China, whereby the Japanese were told that China required a large number of Japanese goods, particularly the products of secondary industries? Again, although the bait has been ‘ dangled, very little has materialized.
All these facts must be taken into consideration by anybody who advocates that we should increase our trade with red China. I notice that the . honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is in the chamber. As we know, he is very keen on such an increase of trade, and I think he has been one of the chief critics of the trade agreement with Japan. It would be very interesting to know how honorable members opposite square their arguments on these two points. I have referred to these incidents, and cited the facts, to indicate to honorable members very conclusively the necessity for the closest possible liaison between our representatives of the Department of External Affairs in overseas posts, and our trade commissioners or assistant trade commissioners. Such liaison does not exist at the present time, and I believe that its absence constitutes a very great danger.
In conclusion, I point out that there is no embargo on the export of goods to Hong Kong at the present time. Hong Kong has removed the China differential, in accordance with British policy, and therefore there is no actual bar, so far as the differential list is concerned, to prevent Australian goods from going into red China. We could apply an embargo, but I understand that that has not been done. I think it Would be far better if we were to be honest in declaring our policy rather than to resort to a subterfuge of this nature which will not endear us to our friends and will only gladden the hearts of our opponents. If our policy is that we do not agree with the abolition of the China differential, we should place an embargo on the type of goods, covered by the list, going to Hong Kong.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr BRYANT: Wills
.- The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has been dealing with the subject of trade with red China. Like the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), I think that we should trade with red China, and with Japan as well. In fact, we on this side of the chamber think that Australia should trade with everybody. We believe that there is some truth in the saying that if trade does not cross frontiers, armies will. If the honorable member for Chisholm refers to “ Hansard “, he will probably find that, in my speech on the
Japanese trade agreement, I dealt with all the matters to which he has referred, that I covered them adequately and even, perhaps, in accordance with the high standard he sets.
I want to refer to censorship, a subject which has been raised here in an incidental kind of way. It is a very difficult subject, as honorable members on both sides of the House will agree. The honorable members for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) and Angas (Mr. Downer) both spoke of the matter in a general way, and in much the same manner as honorable members from this side have discussed it. I am a little astonished by the attitude of honorable members opposite, an attitude that they sometimes take in connexion with matters of this kind, in assuming that they personally are under attack. The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) may rest assured that I do not want to lay at his distinguished door responsibility for everything that has happened during the 57 years of censorship. The responsibility lies with this Parliament.
I have been through the “ Hansard “ indexes for the last few years and have found that this subject has not come up for general discussion for some years, and has, been mentioned only in an incidental way on relatively few occasions. That is a bad thing. Nobody denies the very great importance of the principles underlying it. I think it was the honorable member for Balaclava who said that the whole notion of censorship was against our ideas of freedom. The problem that faces us, therefore, when we stand up to speak in this debate, is that we in fact know very little about the subject of Australian censorship. That is the first point I make. It is the very anonymity of the matter which put it in a poor light, so far as I am concerned and also, I think, so far as most honorable members are concerned. This anonymity is quite a serious thing. The important thing is not that the names of the books are not published. There are approximately 1,100 books on the list. Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) asked whether the Minister could give the names of the members of the Literature Censorship Board and those of the appeal censors. The Ministers said that he could not recall them all and it would not be reasonable to expect him to do so. But when a subjectmatter of this kind comes up for debate, the people who are charged with the responsibility of deciding what every one of us from the Chief Justice of the High Court to the humblest petitioner of this Parliament shall be allowed to read, should be required to bring the reasons for their decisions before us for examination. To that extent I agree with honorable members on the Government side.
It is very important that all of us should consider the subject of censorship from that angle. Is there any party political element in censorship? We do not know. There is nothing new in censorship. It has been one of the great problems of civilized society. The various States have passed measures relating to obscenity. The Objectionable Publications Act of Tasmania provides for the setting up of a board, to be known as the Publications Board of Review; the functions of which are -
To examine and review publications with the object of preventing the distribution in this State of objectionable publications or of any parts thereof.
That board has to decide whether publications are objectionable. In Queensland, the Objectionable Literature Act provides for the establishment of a literature board of review. That act provides, in Section 10 - (1.) The board may by its order prohibit the dis tribution in Queensland of any literature for that that literature or some part thereof is, in the opinion of. the board objectionable.
(a) an order of the board prohibiting the distribution in Queensland of any literature - (i.) Shall apply with respect to all copies of that literature including, in appropriate cases, all copies of every addition, part. number, or series thereof.
The New South Wales Obscene and Indecent Publications Act defines all kinds of things which are to be prevented from being distributed. So, in Australia we have a system to prevent the distribution of literature of various sorts. We have assigned to the Customs Department, for some obscure reason - perhaps we could relate it to the constitutional setup - the task of deciding what kind of literature we shall read. All Australians are bothered about the anonymous, rather ambiguous and capricious nature of the censorship that prevails. Examples have been quoted of expensive editions being allowed entry whereas cheaper editions of the same works have been prohibited. Anybody who does any reading at all will probably find in editions of Shakespeare, “ The Arabian Nights “’, “Pepys’ Diary”, “The London Journal”, and even parts of the Bible itself, passages which would- probably fall within the ambit of the acts that have been passed by State parliaments. We should face- this matter with a great deal of concern and bring the scrutiny of these- things’ into the light of day1. I believe that the people responsible for censorship should’ have to table in Parliament a report of their activities so that it might be examined and debated here.
After all, the censorship of literature and the decision of what shall’ be distributed in the community is not a matter of literary criticism; it involves a different kind of judgment altogether. I believe that, on the whole, we start from the wrong end in dealing with this matter. The general attitude is that we must prevent certain: kinds of publications coming, in whereas: we should rather be primarily concerned to ensure freedom of publication. The onlyway in. which that can be done is through discussion in this Parliament.. Therefore, the Literature Censorship Board, the appeal censors or the Customs: Department must be placed in a position where its judgment can be open to debate in Parliament. I cannot see the rationale of preventing’ the distribution of even the names of certain publications.
This is a contentious subject, but I do not think that honorable members could do much better than to read the work of John Milton entitled “ Areopagitica “, written 300 years ago. Although he makes an eloquent and fluent appeal for the licensing of writings, if we examine his works we will find that even Milton fell from the Olympian heights of true tolerance when considering religious literature. In this work he wrote -
I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the. Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men;: and. thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors. For books, are. not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progency they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living, intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively and as vigourously, productive, as those fabulous dragons’ teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to- spring up armed, men. And yet,, on: the other, hand-, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book.
Every honorable member, ought to give serious- consideration to. this problem. A. final note sounded by Milton in dealing with this matter reminds us. that when we set ourselves up as censors we are sitting in judgment on people who are fundamentally equal with ourselves and who are as capable of exercising the same kind of judgment that we seek to pass on their works. Perhaps, the eloquent words of Milton express this far better than I can. He wrote -
Lords and Commons- of England, consider what Nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors: A Nation not slow and dull, but of a quick, ingeneous and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point, the highest that human capacity can soar to.
An English judge, in discussing censorship in a famous case, had this to say -
If literature is to be controlled, having regard to the lowest common denominator in the land, then there is no literature at all..
I say again that censorship should be subject to the fullest examination in public debate, and that the decisions of censors on behalf of the people of this country should be open to the closest and most careful scrutiny.
Mr OSBORNE: Minister for Air · Evans · LP
– Before the committee closes the debate on the matter of censorship, there are a few matters on which I should like to reply. In Milton’s, day the government was not faced with problems with which modern governments have to deal. To-day, there is a great flood of commercialized Vice, of no literary value whatsoever. The problem is to know how to control production of volumes of that class of printed material about which there is a general concensus of adult opinion that it is valueless and harmful. A Labour government, in spite of the words of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) last night, would not dare and would not be permitted to abandon control over the flood of this sort of material which would appear in quantity if it were not for some discrimination by customs officers, who, at the same time, are very conscious of the need to preserve the freedom of the public to read works of literary value. As I have already said; there is a large volume of works of no literary value at all, about which people- generally agree that their appeal is only to the- innocent, or immature children, or people with the minds of children, whom it is necessary for the community to take some action to protect.
Some honorable members who have taken part in this debate have spoken airily of the need for this censorship to be exercised only by an approved committee, or a court. Those honorable members do not stop to think of the enormous volume of imported material that has to be examined by customs officers. Now, the Customs officers who are assigned to this duty are selected either on their records and from among the staff of the Department of Customs and Excise, or, on some occasions, . are enlisted from outside the department. They are people of education.
– Why do you not deal with literature in the same way as you do with films?
– Films are much fewer in number than are books. That is why it is possible for a board to examine the films imported by Australia, whereas it is not possible to establish a high level board charged with the duty of reviewing every printed article that comes here. The best example of the class of literature of which I am speaking is the horror comic. It is not enough to say that the Federal Government should retreat from the censorship field and leave the police power of the States to prevent this kind of printed matter from circulating, because the State police power will be evoked only in cases in which somebody complains about the distribution of that sort of article. That is like closing the stable door after the horse has got in.
Due to our island situation we in Australia are in a different position from the United States or the United Kingdom, where most of the objectionable material is produced indigenously. The police powers of the States are able to deal fairly adequately with objectionable material locally produced, but the Department of Customs and Excise still has the duty of exercising some scrutiny over the great quantity of imported material. The Leader of the Opposition argued last night that there was an inherent absurdity in the division of authority in this matter between the Commonwealth and the States. That is not so. It is no different from a dozen other examples that one could take, where, in this federation, the exercise of a particular power is divided between the Federal Government, in relation to one aspect, and a State government in relation to another. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) suggested that it was strange that the Department of Customs and Excise should be charged with this duty. It is not strange at all. The Department of Customs and Excise is the authority that supervises imported goods, and the Commonwealth Government’s power of censorship of literature is absolutely restricted to censorship of imported printed matter. It is perfectly natural that the department should continue, in this day. to exercise the duty that was placed on it by statute in 1901.
My own position is perfectly clear. People have a right to read. Adults have a right ot select what they should read. The process of learning to select what one will read and to exercise discrimination is part of the process of growing up, and the adolescent has to learn to exercise the power of discrimination. It is perfectly true that any system of censorship must be carried out with a liberality that does not impair that sort of thing. But, I repeat, the problem is, while not interfering with the proper rights of individuals to choose the literature they will read, and of the right of adolescents to have available material on which they can learn to exercise a sense of discretion, at the same time to protect the young and innocent against the harmful effects and the worthless commercial appeal of horror, fear and the basic forms of pornography. Therein lies the problem. If the Australian public examined this matter it would not for one moment tolerate the opening of the doors of Australian commerce to anybody who likes to bring into this country for purely commercial purposes anything of the nature of the publications of which I am speaking. That is why I think I can say with justice that the Leader of the Opposition was quite irresponsible last night in putting forward the view that, in effect, the Commonwealth should retreat from this matter entirely. I do not believe that any responsible Labour party would ever accept that as part of its policy.
I was asked last night to say who were the members of the Literature Censorship Board, and I had to say that I regretted that I could not remember at the time. I am able now to tell the committee who they are. The chairman of the board is Mr. K. Binns, former Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian, a man of knowledge and long literary experience, with a trusted record as a true public servant of the Australian people. The members of the board are Professor E. R. Bryan, Professor of English at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and Professor D. P. Scales, Professor of Modern Languages at the Canberra University College. The appeals censor is Dr. L. H. Allen, emeritus lecturer in English and Latin at Canberra University College. He is very well known to many members of this House. He succeeded the late Sir Robert Garran as appeal censor. Members of the committee will not be surprised to know that Sir Robert Garran, even in his latest years, continued to exercise a judgment on these matters that was in the finest humanistic tradition. I recall one occasion during my period of responsibility in these matters when there was a divergence of opinion among the members of the board on one of those difficult cases on which people do have conflicting views. Sir Robert Garran’s view, as appeal censor, was exercised in favour of the admittance of the disputed book.
What I want to emphasize is this: That those cases in which books are referred to the Literature Censorship Board are the cases in which some question has been raised as to the validity of their exclusion by the wide sieve of the customs examination. The method of ensuring that the wide sieve of the customs examination does not exclude things of literary value is dependent on protests by a person interested. The fact that protests such as that over the exclusion of “ The Catcher in the Rye “ are made is not evidence of the stupidity of the system. It is evidence that the system is working, and that an article of value is re-examined by the appropriate authority and, generally, is re-admitted.
I cannot pursue this matter any further in committee. I myself agree with the honorable member for Wills that some purpose could be served by having a wider examination of this matter at present. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) is well aware of that himself, as is obvious from a press statement that his department issued on 3rd October last, which read -
The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) conferred to-day with the Literature Censorship Board andthe Appeal Censor and discussed with them aspects of an overall review of the existing long standing procedures on Literature Censorship.
Senator Henty also asked the Board for suggestions as to the best means of overhauling the present list of banned books with a view to recommending to him whether any of these books should now be released.
So honorable members can see many of the things that they themselves have been suggesting are at present being carried out.
Mr HAMILTON: Canning
.- I think we have to get the record straight-
Motion (by Sir Philip McBride) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Proposed votes agreed to.
TARIFF PROPOSALS 1957
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 6); Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 2); Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference)